Golf Course Superintendent – Recreation Career Opportunities

Career Profile

Duties: Maintains, operates, and manages a golf course

Alternate Title(s): Golf Course Manager

Salary Range: $70,000 to $90,000 and up

Employment Prospects: Fair to good

Advancement Prospects: Good

Best Geographical Location(s): All; any region where golf is played year-round or seasonally with many courses; greatest opportunities may be in warm climates

  • Education and Training—A two- or four-year degree in golf course management, turf grass management, or related fields
  • Experience—Prior golf course experience as an intern and then assistant golf course superintendent
  • Special Skills and Personality Traits—Knowledge of the science of golf course management; strong communication and leadership skills; extensive understanding of rules and strategies of golf
Career Ladder

Director of Golf, Golf Courses, or Parks and Recreation; General Manager; Green Chairman; Golf Course Owner

Golf Course Superintendent

Assistant Superintendent

Position Description

Imagine working on a golf course every day, ensuring sure the conditions are ideal for playing. A superintendent of a golf course is responsible for this. These experts use a combination of scientific and agricultural expertise, leadership and communication abilities, as well as a devotion to and enthusiasm for the game of golf, to maintain, operate, and manage golf courses.

A normal golf course day When the superintendent gets up at five in the morning, they check the weather. Golf Course Superintendents arrive at the facility by six and tour the facility to determine what needs to be done that day and assign tasks. It may be necessary to rake sand traps and mow, water, or spray the greens. The superintendent of the golf course assesses the situation and ensures that the job is completed.

The science of maintaining a golf course is important and involves extensive knowledge of turf grass management, agronomy, and plant science. Golf Course Superintendents need to know what pesticides to use and in what quantities in order to maintain the course. They must understand the threats to the course such as weeds, bugs, and weather and how to minimize these threats. All the while, they take into consideration environmental concerns with regard to chemical applications.

Additionally, Golf Course Superintendents oversee the golf course’s surrounding properties, which may include pools and tennis courts, wooded areas, and open spaces, as well as all golf course equipment and grounds. They are responsible for construction and capital improvements of the course. They develop plans to submit to management regarding renovation and other projects, and when these plans are approved, they supervise the construction projects, either using in-house staff or outside contractors. Golf Course Superintendents use their knowledge to determine which projects make the most sense financially and aesthetically.

As managers, Golf Course Superintendents supervise assistant superintendents as well as the maintenance staff responsible for caring for the property. Frequently, these are large staffs of 20 employees or more. They interview, hire, and train their staff and work closely as part of a team. They are responsible for scheduling and delegating responsibility. Golf Course Superintendents also prepare budgets and decide where to best allocate funds.

Additional duties include:
  • overseeing inventory control
  • approving spending
  • keeping records of pesticide and chemical applications
  • maintaining records of payroll and inventory
  • understanding safety laws, rules, and regulations
  • playing golf regularly
  • advising management with regard to construction and improvement
  • maintains course equipment
  • planting shrubs and applying fertilizer
  • preparing the course for tournaments

Golf course superintendents may work for private membership-based clubs, public golf courses that are owned by cities, or golf courses that are a component of resorts, hotels, and country clubs. The reporting structure varies depending on the situation. They might answer to a director of parks and recreation at a public course while answering to a green chairman at a private course.

In either case, golfers may anticipate playing frequently with management. Since golf is the game that has brought them all together, this is a means for golf course superintendents and management to establish a solid working relationship and interact in a more relaxed situation. Golf course managers are present at board and green committee meetings at exclusive clubs.

Golf Course Superintendents work long hours beginning early in the morning, especially holidays and weekends when people are apt to play golf. A typical workweek might range from 41 hours per week in the winter to 60 hours per week in the summer. They deal with demanding golfers and must meet their challenging expectations, working outdoors in a variety of weather conditions. However, for those in the field, it is a way to constantly be around the sport they love. The beautiful surroundings and the ability to be involved with golf make the work of a Golf Course Superintendent a dream for many.

Employment Prospects

Golf Course Superintendent positions are in demand, but there are chances for individuals with the correct training and credentials. The edge will go to those who have a bachelor’s degree and have completed an internship, as this gives them the chance to network and form connections with possible companies. Additionally, finding out about employment openings can be done by contacting professional organisations. The finest prospects are for individuals who can relocate easily and are open to working at various public and private institutions of higher learning.

Advancement Prospects

Golf course superintendents have high career opportunities for advancement. With additional experience, individuals might be qualified for optional certification and greater pay. Another step might be to go from a smaller course to a larger one. Additionally, they may go into management by taking on jobs like green chairman, general manager, or director of golf, parks, and recreation.

Education and Training

Although some golf course superintendents rose through the ranks from the maintenance team, a two-year degree in a related profession is a minimal requirement. A bachelor’s degree or even a graduate degree can assist open up more prospects and provide advancement freedom. Agronomy, horticulture, turf grass management, golf course management, and other disciplines are related fields.

The GCSAA maintains an online college guide of colleges and universities that offer two-year associate/ applied science degrees, four-year bachelor of science degree, graduate programs and certificates in golf course management, turf grass, or related fields. Search this database at Search.aspx. Internships are an essential part of the training process, according to insiders.

Spending a summer or semester working alongside Golf Course Superintendents, trying out different grasses, seeing different courses, and learning the ropes is invaluable. These programs may provide housing and additional perks, such as free golf.
Additionally, the GCSAA offers a professional certification program for Golf Course Superintendents enabling them to be recognized for their superior levels of achievement in golf course management.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Typically, after graduating, golf course superintendents start as second or first assistants. The fundamental abilities they acquired during their internship are expanded upon in this role, and they also get additional experience with managing a budget, overseeing others, applying chemicals to the turf, planning competitions, and other crucial abilities. Depending on their learning curve, golf course superintendents could spend a few years or even longer working as assistants. They frequently relocate to several golf courses in order to get a variety of instruction and experience.

Technical skills are required for the job in order to understand turf grass management, irrigation techniques, plant physiology, and chemical applications. As managers, Golf Course Superintendents should have excellent leadership and communication skills. They need to work with staff, management, and players. Furthermore, they need to have experience playing golf, with knowledge of the rules and strategies of the game.

Tips for Entry
  1. Explore bachelor’s degree programs in golf course management such as the ones offered by Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan and the State University of New York in Delhi, New York
  2. During the job application process, make sure to target your résumé and cover letter toward each particular course and Golf Course Superintendent. Photographs of your projects can be helpful supplemental material that can demonstrate your knowledge of maintenance.
  3. Get a summer job working at a golf course as soon as possible. This will give you an important background and help you to decide which position is right for you.
  4. Both the GCSAA and the USGA have extensive career information on their Web sites—be sure to explore both at and www.usga. org.
  5. Search for Golf Course Superintendent jobs and career information on search engines such as Google. Much career information is out there, including “day in the life” pieces and other features.