CHOOSING A CAREER / JAN. 12, 2015
version 4, draft 4

How to Become a Golf Course Superintendent in the US

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Are you a golf enthusiast? Do you fancy pursuing a career that enables you to spend so much time on the golf course without having to hold a golf club? Well, if this is a description of you, keep reading to learn what it takes to become a golf course superintendent.

What Do Golf Course Superintendent Do?

The primary responsibility of these superintendents is to maintain the environmental health of a golf course. Their job involves:

  • Reporting the condition of the golf course to the owners of the golf club
  • Supervising the construction and maintenance of the golf course- This includes supervising greenkeeepers, landscape architects and other golf course workers
  • Monitoring the environmental factors that affect the condition of the golf course
  • Educating the community on how the immediate environment affects the health of the golf course
  • Developing the budget for maintaining the golf course
  • Keeping an inventory of golf course properties such as the golf cars and maintenance equipment
  • Maintaining positive relationships with suppliers of golf course equipment.

Work Environment

Golf course superintendents oversee the maintenance and use of courses from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. Since many golfers practice or compete during the weekends, you should also be prepared to work on Saturday and Sunday.

Although these superintendents have offices within the golf clubs, they spend most of their day outdoors where they can be exposed to unfavorable weather conditions.

Salary

How much do golf course superintendents make in a year? Find out below:

Level of Seniority

Average Annual Salary (As of 2013)

Assistant golf course superintendents

$40,138

Golf course superintendents

$82,573

Source: Golf Course Superintendent Association of America (GCSAA).

Entry Requirements

To become a golf course superintendent, you need to earn an undergraduate certificate or bachelor’s degree in golf and turf management. Either of these programs equips you with the technical skills to maintain functional turf grass environments and the human relation skills to manage golf course workers. Examples of topics covered include:

  • Plant science
  • Recreation management
  • Turf grass science
  • Landscaping
  • Horticulture

As part of the coursework, golf and turf management students complete internships at golf courses, where they gain some hands-on experience.

Some of the institutions offering these programs include:

  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Jersey
  • Penn State University, Pennsylvania
  • University of Minnesota Crookston, Minnesota

Many employers also prefer superintendents with a valid driving license.

Important Qualities

To be a competent golf course superintendent you need:                  

  • An understanding of the rules of the game of golf
  • Excellent problem-solving and decision-making skills
  • Strong communication skills
  • Excellent skills in personnel management
  • Strong practical and technical skills
  • A passion for nature and the environment
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Good record keeping skills
  • Good planning skills.

Career Development

After meeting the entry requirements, you will start out as an assistance golf course superintendent. After gaining some work experience, you can then be promoted to the senior superintendent position.

To enhance your chances of moving another step ahead, you should:

  • Become a member of the GCSAA
  • Obtain a professional certification from the GCSAA – To achieve certification, you must meet education and/or experience requirements and pass an examination
  • Pursue a master’s degree in golf course management.

Job Opportunities

The employers of golf course superintendents include:

  • Golf clubs
  • Country clubs
  • Lawn care and landscaping companies
  • Hotels and resorts that have golfing facilities

After gaining vast work experience and advanced qualifications, you can move into top-level positions, such as director of golf. With a graduate degree, you can be hired as a lecturer by colleges and universities that offer turf management programs.

Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t compile data for golf course superintendents, you should not shy away from pursuing the career. There are golf courses in every state, and many others are under construction. This mean you have strong employment prospects.

So if you love golf and want a job that helps you keep in touch with nature, perhaps you should become a golf course superintendent.

 

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