Golf Academy of America closes after 44 years in business

Golf Academy of America, which operated five locations around the United States, is ceasing operations after 44 years in the business of training hopeful golf professionals.

The privately held Education Corporation of America, which owned the five golf schools, announced Wednesday that it would shutter all of its roughly 80 campuses in the wake of declining enrollment and losing its accreditation. Employees have been notified that their positions will be eliminated, and most of the company’s approximate 20,000 students will not be able to able to finish their programs unless they were in their final semester.

Golf Academy of America said on its website that it has trained more than 11,000 students, with graduates employed in the golf industry in all 50 states and around the world. Its five campuses are in Myrtle Beach, S.C., San Diego, Dallas, Orlando and Phoenix.

The golf programs offered students training in the business of golf, course operations, teaching, technology and mentorship. The company said each campus employed PGA of America members.

ECA said on its website that it offers various associate degrees, diploma/certificate courses, master’s degrees and baccalaureate degrees at various campuses and online through its Brightwood Career Institute, Brightwood College, Culinard Institute of Virginia College, Ecotech Institute, Golf Academy of America and Virginia College.

ECA received word Tuesday that the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools had suspended its accreditation, Inside Higher Ed reported. That impacts students’ ability to participate in federal student aid programs and the ECA’s ability to secure capital needed to operate its campuses.

MarketWatch reported that ECA had failed to meet a federal gainful-employment standard that indicates students will earn enough income after graduation to repay student loans. Students attending an ECA facility have the right to have their federal loans discharged so long as they do not complete a similar program at another institution.

ECA had announced earlier this year that it would close dozens of campuses, and the company unsuccessfully sued the Department of Education to gain access to federal financial aid while in receivership. The company had struggled to meet payroll and pay rent at various campuses.

“After many years of training students for new careers, it is with a heavy heart that today we announce that Education Corporation of America is closing all its career colleges effective with the completion of the current module or term for most students,” Diane Worthington, a spokeswoman for the company, said in a written statement. “We will work with students to ensure access to their transcripts so they can complete their studies at another school.”

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