Preparing for a career as a golf course superintendent
Golf facilities are complex business operations. Superintendents need much more than just technical ability. Formal education in plant sciences, landscaping, business management, personnel administration and public relations is essential. GCSAA superintendents also are encouraged to learn to play the game of golf.
Golf course management carries a variety of responsibilities. Superintendents enjoy an attractive employment setting with frequent opportunities to be outdoors on the golf course. The profession is highly competitive. It’s advantageous to have a strong educational background and some practical work experience.
To explore a potential career in golf course management, it’s a good idea to work at a golf course, ideally on a GCSAA superintendent’s maintenance staff. If you inform the superintendent that you are interested in a golf course management career, he or she will likely be glad to tell you how to get started and answer any questions you may have about the profession and the required educational background.
Golf course management education
More than 100 universities/colleges offer degree programs in golf course management. Most bachelor of science programs require the student to complete a minimum of 120-200 credit hours (units) for the degree. Associate of science/applied science degrees normally require a minimum of 60-100 credit hours (units). The same curriculum outlines a typical four-year program to give you a more concrete idea of the courses you may take in pursuing your degree or program. A two-year curriculum generally has fewer general education courses and electives than a four-year program.
The majority of these schools also have an official GCSAA student chapter. By participating in a chapter, students receive an understanding of the importance of professionalism, continuing education and other attributes focal in becoming a successful golf course superintendent.
It also is important to intern on a golf course. Many start the profession as a crew member or an assistant superintendent and advance through the ranks of GCSAA superintendent. Some make the extra effort to become a GCSAA Class A superintendent or a GCSAA certified golf course superintendent.
Even after attaining a degree, continuing education is critical for keeping current on the advancements in management practices, regulations, new turfgrasses and equipment. GCSAA also has set certain levels of competencies for the GCSAA superintendents’ varying career paths and provides comprehensive continuing education for GCSAA members to achieve their goals.