Two recently conducted surveys reveal the golf course superintendent profession has strengthened its position in the marketplace.
Earlier this year, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) commissioned one study on its members‘ compensation/benefits and another of avid golfers‘ attitudes/perceptions towards golf course management.
Employing the resources of the National Golf Foundation, GCSAA repeated its 1996 survey “Avid Golfer Attitudes and Perceptions: Report of Key Findings Regarding Golf Course Conditions, the Environment and Superintendents.” An online survey of 510 avid golfers (those who play 25-plus rounds annually) from across the nation provided the feedback. Among the key findings were:
91 percent of avid golfers believe that golf courses are in better condition than they were 10 years ago, compared to 84 percent in 1996.
It appears the superintendent is the most critical key to the success of any golf course. Course conditioning is again the single most important reason avid players select a course, far outdistancing price, speed of play, name designers and proximity. 90 percent of respondents selected it either a five or six (1 – least important to 6 – most important) for the reason in course selection. In 1996, that figure was 82 percent.
Unrepaired ball marks and poor bunker conditions remain the most cited problems in 2002, just as they did in 1996.
In 1996, 22 percent viewed the superintendent as “the person who mows the greens” compared to only five percent in 2002. The amount of avid golfers who viewed the superintendent as the person who manages the golf facility jumped from 13 percent in 1996 to 27 percent in 2002.
75 percent of avid golfers identified the term “superintendent” (rather than “greenkeeper”) as the appropriate designation for the person in charge of course conditioning, compared to 61 percent in 1996.
Last year, 63 percent of avid golfers knew the name of the superintendent at the facility they play most often compared to 56 percent six years ago.
The survey’s top line findings can be accessed at: http://www.gcsaa.org/media/special/NGF.asp
“The findings validate what we have been hearing anecdotally in recent years,” said GCSAA president Jon D. Maddern. “Avid golfers are gaining a greater understanding and appreciation of the superintendent and golf course management issues. Ultimately that leads to a better decision-making process at facilities and a more enjoyable experience for the golfer.”
GCSAA contracted with Survey Research Associates LLC to compile its “2003 Compensation and Benefits Report.” Again, the results were encouraging. The average salary for golf course superintendents in 2003 jumped 10.5 percent to $63,065 from $57,057 in 2000. For certified golf course superintendents, salaries rose 9.8 percent to $77,023 from $70,134 in that same time frame.
The typical employment profile shows the median budget for maintenance, capital equipment and payroll increased 4.7 percent to $584,500 in 2003 from $558,000 in 2000. There was a negligible increase in GCSAA superintendents employed by management or maintenance management companies, climbing to 15 percent in 2003 from 14 percent in 2000.
“Certainly the period from 2000 to 2003 has been a challenge to golf facilities from an economic perspective,” Maddern said. “But it was extremely gratifying to see that golf facilities have increased resources committed to GCSAA members to manage golf courses. Owners, employers and other decision-makers understand the value GCSAA members add to their facilities.
“The two surveys provide strong feedback that the golf course superintendent profession has improved its stature among golfers and the golf industry. I believe the results reflect the increasing value those groups place on the individuals who manage golf courses.”
Since 1926, GCSAA has been the leading professional association for the men and women who manage golf courses in the United States and worldwide. From its headquarters in Lawrence, Kansas, the association provides education, information and representation to more than 22,000 individual members in more than 65 countries.