Haslam Students Gain Real-World Sales Practice with Rocky Top Golf Tournament

April 11, 2024

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Haslam College of Business held its inaugural Rocky Top Golf Tournament on April 2 at Topgolf Knoxville. This unique event, spearheaded by the student-run Professional Sales Leadership Program (PSLP) and presented by Axle Logistics, served as an experiential learning and networking opportunity as well as a fundraiser to benefit the PSLP and Haslam’s Department of Marketing.

Coaching and encouraging our sales students while they sold tickets and sponsorships for the Rocky Top Golf Tournament was so fulfilling as an educator,” says Jason Greenway, lecturer and PSLP faculty advisor. “They were nervous about cold-calling businesses and members of the UT community, yet continued to improve their sales techniques and began closing deals.”

Students’ efforts paid off. The event drew more than 220 participants, including 55 Haslam students. Attendees also included Department of Marketing faculty and donors, Haslam staff, representatives from the event’s 52 sponsoring companies, members of the department’s advisory council and the Haslam Young Alumni Board and other UT alumni. Company representatives networked with students, clients and prospective customers throughout the evening, which featured tournament and freestyle Topgolf gameplay, a longest drive contest, dinner, drinks and a silent auction.

Christine White, director of partnerships and growth initiatives for the Department of Marketing, says, “The first year of this event outpaced our anticipated fundraising goals, thanks to the generous support of all in attendance and sponsorship.”

Unique Experience Meets Innovative Setting

The Rocky Top Golf Tournament’s casual atmosphere offered ample opportunity for students to mingle and connect with alumni and company representatives. “Topgolf encouraged both attendees with golf expertise and those who have never picked up a club in their lives a chance to all come together and have fun,” White says.

Greenway says the event offered students a one-of-a-kind opportunity to hone sales skills that will help them stand out in the job market. “Students gained real experience in generating leads, creating value propositions, identifying the needs of a prospect, making cold calls, responding to objections and closing the deal. They can populate their resume with these skills and speak the language of sales in an interview with a future employer.”

Junior Haslam student Patrick Vergona appreciates how Haslam programs like the PSLP give students the chance to steer their own educational and professional development. “Events like this are only possible because we are part of such a storied school with students who not only appreciate where we are, but also are always looking for ways we can grow the school,” he says. “This golf tournament is one of those ways.”

Registration is now open for the second Rocky Top Golf Tournament, scheduled for October 17, 2024.


Stacy Estep, writer/publicist, sestep3@utk.edu