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A Career as a GCsAA Golf Course superintendent




                 enhance the enjoyment, growth
                  and vitality of the game of golf
                 Today’s Golf Course
                 superintendent
                 Today’s GCSAA superintendent is an educated leader with a broad base
                 of facility management skills. They are trusted stewards of the land
                 and oversee a facility’s largest financial asset.Technology has taken the
                 industry from grazing livestock and horsedrawn mowers to computer-
                 ized irrigation equipment. The superintendent manages labor, time,
                 materials and finances in a manner that is compatible with the environ-
                 ment, meets financial goals and enhances the enjoyment of the game.
                 The professional GCSAA superintendent is responsible for working with
                 other management team members, owners or board of directors, green
                 chairs and committees, golfers, vendors, suppliers, golf professionals,
                 golf course architects and others in the golf industry. Additionally, the
                 GCSAA superintendent is called upon to educate community groups
                 and the media about golf course and turfgrass management in today’s
                 changing world.


                 The superintendent usually reports to the golf course owner, a general
                 manager or green chairman. When a city owns the golf course, the super-
                 intendent may report to the director of parks and recreation. In managing
                 the golf course, the superintendent works together with the club manager
                 and golf professional to ensure the success of the entire facility.


                 GCSAA superintendents generally earn a good living. Those who vol-
                 untarily complete a rigorous certification program, administered by the
                 GCSAA generally earn even higher salaries and have a greater opportu-
                 nity to advance in the profession. It is not unusual for GCSAA superin-
                 tendents to earn a six-figure income as they advance in their careers.
                 GCSAA superintendents will often go on to other areas of management,
                 such as general manager of a facility.
representation




                 If you have a passion for being outside working with nature, people,
                 technological equipment, love the game of golf and making decisions
                 concerning the environment, you may consider becoming part of an
                 exciting world within the golf industry as a GCSAA superintendent.


                 To find out more about the profession and see if this is the career for
                 you, contact a superintendent at a nearby golf course and consider
                 working there, or visit gcsaa.org for more information.
                                                                                                                communication


                                                                       history of the Golf Course
                                                                       superintendent Profession
                                                                                                      The first written reference to golf was in Scot-
                                                                                                      land around the 15th century. It was played on
                                                                                                      barren land referred to as links. Coastal sand
About GCsAA                                                                                           blew into dunes and was covered by grass,
The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America                                                resulting in terrain with the appearance of
                                                                                                      wavelike outlines and sandy soil. These areas
is the professional association for the men and women
                                                                                                      were unpopulated by people, and generally
who manage and maintain the game’s most valuable
                                                                                                      used by sheep for grazing. The animals would
resource — the golf course. Today, GCSAA and its
                                                                                                      huddle together on the side of bumps and
members are recognized by the golf industry as one of the                                             ridges, rubbing themselves into the sandy soil
key contributors in elevating the game and business to its                                            to escape the wind. This action made sandy
                                                             “Old” Tom Morris (1821 – 1908),
current state.                                               one of the most influential figures in   hollows, which formed natural bunkers.
                                                             the early history of golf, was a great
                                                             player, clubmaker, greenkeeper and
GCSAA is a leading golf organization and has as its focus    course designer.                        The game was played on the land as they
golf course management. Since 1926, GCSAA has been                                                   found it. A hole would be placed at some
the top professional association for the men and women                 distance from the previous one and a flattish piece of land would be made
who manage golf courses in the United States and world-                into a green. The players, rules and equipment all had to adapt to fit the
                                                                       existing conditions. With the introduction of inland courses, machinery was
wide. From its headquarters in Lawrence, Kan., the asso-
                                                                       used to create the banks, hollows and lakes found on modern courses.
ciation provides education, information and representation
to more than 20,000 members in more than 72 countries.
                                                                       As the popularity of the game increased, the rules became more formal-
GCSAA’s mission is to serve its members, advance their                 ized and maintenance of the course became a necessity. Just as the game
profession and enhance the enjoyment, growth and vitality              itself changed, so did the role of those in charge of the playing field.
of the game of golf.
                                                                       By the 1850s, newly created private clubs had hired “greenkeepers” to
The Environmental Institute for Golf, the philanthropic                care for their golf courses. Often these individuals also would help design
organization of the GCSAA, is a collaborative effort of                and build courses, teach golf lessons, make balls and clubs, and repair or
the environmental and golf communities, dedicated to                   improvise available equipment.
strengthening the compatibility of golf with the natural
                                                                       GCSAA came into being in 1926 because golf course superintendents saw
environment. The Institute concentrates on delivering
                                                                       a need to network and share their experiences on the maintenance and
programs and services involving research, education and
                                                                       upkeep of the golf courses.
outreach that communicate the best management prac-
tices of environmental stewardship on the golf course.                 Over time, the industry has evolved from the art of greenkeeping, to the
                                                                       science of turf maintenance, to the business of golf course management.
                 education


Greens - The green is the most intensely managed area of the course. It
is where golfers play their shots and where the ball rolls toward the hole. Dur-
ing the golf season, greens are mowed daily at most facilities.
                                                                                   Managing the
Fairways - The fairway gives the golfer a consistent playing surface.
The level of the cut must be low enough to make sure that there is no grass        Golf Course
between the ball and the clubhead at the time of contact.
                                                                                   Every day, the superintendent communicates with his/her
Tees - The tee is the area where a golfer starts the first shot. The tee           maintenance staff to assign tasks and plan for the day’s play.
surface must be as flat as possible. It may slant slightly forward, backward or    Crew organization and management directly affects golfers’
sideways, but the tee itself must be flat and even. Tees are normally cut every    enjoyment of the game. According to a survey by Golf Digest
second day, or three times a week.                                                 Magazine, avid golfers ranked well-maintained greens and
                                                                                   bunkers as the most important aspect to their enjoyment and
sand Bunkers - In the Rules of Golf, a bunker is defined as a hazard
                                                                                   satisfaction in playing the game of golf.
consisting of a prepared area of ground, often a hollow, from which turf or soil
has been removed and replaced with sand and positioned alongside fairways
and greens. Bunkers should be raked daily. Mechanical rakes are often used         Superintendents schedule times throughout the season/year
along with hand-held ones for the edges. The edges must be kept manicured          for watering, fertilizing, topdressing, seeding/sodding, drainage,
to characterize the shape.                                                         verticutting and other primary maintenance duties to ensure
                                                                                   the health and beauty of the course. Superintendents also are
hole placement - For the superintendent, moving the hole on the
                                                                                   involved in construction and renovation of the course, planning,
green contributes to the quality of the turf. Changing holes on larger greens is
                                                                                   management, budgeting and various other business related
not as difficult because the overall wear can be spread out easily. On smaller
greens, moving the hole is difficult because the number of hole locations is       activities at the facility, including staffing and training. All daily
limited. Superintendents may make decisions to preserve the prime locations        tasks assigned, including dew removal and trash pick-up are
for weekends or other prime days and may have to place holes in more difficult     equally important in getting the course ready for play.
places in order to preserve the quality of the green.

Rough - These are the largest areas on the golf course and take the skill of
a well-organized superintendent. The rough is usually a blend or mixture of dif-
ferent turfgrasses and needs to be cut regularly, especially in the spring when
the grass is actively growing. The rough can be any area of the course except
water bodies, trees, bushes, flowers, roads and buildings.
Golf Course Etiquette
In order to play the game and preserve its heritage, certain etiquette must be followed. Golf course etiquette ranges from the way
you dress, to respect for the course, to the way in which you position yourself respective to the other players.


Golfers who adhere to rules for replacing divots, driving golf cars and repairing ball marks make the game safe and enjoyable for
other participants. When patrons repair marks and replace divots, the result is a better-conditioned golf course and respect for
fellow golfers.


If you are unsure about a course’s rules or procedures regarding treatment of the golf course, ask the superintendent for specific
instructions. However, here are general rules of thumb for golfers:




                       Ball Mark Repair                                                    storm safety

                       Indentations created by the ball landing on the green obscure       Storms can ruin your round of golf, but they can have far
                       the putting line. No matter the facility or level of play, every    greater implications.
                       golfer is responsible for mending their marks. This process
                       takes only a moment, but it provides for fair play and pre-         Many choose not to take the threat of a storm seriously, but
                       serves the quality of the putting surface.                          more than 300 people lose their lives to lightning strikes
                                                                                           every year. More deaths occur from these strikes than by
                       Raking Bunkers                                                      other storm factors including floods, tornadoes or hurricanes.
                                                                                           Lightning tends to strike golf courses because of their open-
                       Bunkers pose enough trouble themselves. Imagine playing
                                                                                           ness with individual trees. Therefore, attempting to finish a
                       from them when they are left unraked. To avoid leaving a poor
                                                                                           round when a storm is nearing is extremely risky.
                       playing surface, follow these tips:
                       • Enter and exit the bunker at the point closest to your ball.
                                                                                           In the event of a storm, follow these instructions to ensure
                         This will ensure you do not displace too much sand.
                                                                                           your safety and the safety of others:
                       • Alternate between pulling the sand toward you and pushing
                                                                                           • Seek shelter away from water immediately.
                         it away from you to make the surface even. This will make
                                                                                           • If your shoes have metal spikes, remove them immediately.
                         the bunker surface even without sand displacement.
                                                                                           • If the course’s warning system sounds, take cover.
                       • All holes and footprints should be smoothed over upon exit-
                                                                                           • If possible, get off the course and find a designated light-
                         ing the bunker.
                                                                                             ning shelter.
                       • Be sure there are no indentations in the previously disturbed
                                                                                           • Stay away from your golf car, clubs and surrounding water.
                         sand.
                                                                                           • Do not stand under a lone tree. This is a hazard.
                       • After rake completion, the USGA recommends that the
                                                                                           • Avoid close contact with others. Spread out 15-20 feet
                         bunker rake should be placed outside the bunker laying flat
                                                                                             apart.
                         and facing the direction of play.
                                                                                           • Avoid open spaces.
                       • USGA reminds golfers that the proper term is “bunker,” and
                                                                                           • Seek ditches, trenches or the low ground.
                         never “trap.”
                                                                                           • Seek clumps of shrubs or trees of uniform height.
                       Golf Cars and Paths                                                 • Seek a low, crouching position, feet together with hands on
                                                                                             ears to minimize acoustic shock from thunder.
                       Notices regulating the movement of golf cars should be strictly     • Keep a high level of safety awareness for 30 minutes after
                       observed. Rules vary in car driving procedures from course            the last observed lightning or thunder.
                       to course. Your golf facility’s rules must be observed to avoid
                       damage to the course, accidents and injuries.
                                                                                                               preservation



                                                   Golf Courses and the Environment
                                                   GCSAA golf course         communities to help with environmental efforts such as recycling, water
                                                   superintendents utilize   conservation and pollution prevention.
a variety of environmental stewardship practices including water con-
servation, integrated pest management, wildlife management, pollution        Water Management
prevention, recycling, and other best management practices within
                                                                             Superintendents are responsible for irrigation and water resources on
their operations. There are approximately 16,000 golf courses in the
                                                                             the golf course. They must carefully monitor the weather and assess
continental United States and the average 18 hole golf course utilizes
                                                                             the temperature, evapotranspiration, soil moisture, soil composition
approximately 150 acres. On average, about 23% of this acreage con-
                                                                             and playing conditions to know when to water and how much water to
sists of non-turfgrass landscape areas like forest, grasslands and water
                                                                             use. Golf course irrigation systems can be technologically advanced to
features such as ponds, wetlands and streams. The superintendent
                                                                             ensure efficiency and conservation. Routine maintenance of the irrigation
must professionally manage these landscapes and resources.
                                                                             systems helps prevent loss and ensures conservation. Sprinkler heads,
                                                                             controllers, valves and pumps require constant monitoring to maintain
Superintendents have a source available to support them in their envi-
                                                                             high efficiency.
ronmental stewardship efforts. The Environmental Institute for Golf, the
philanthropic organization of the Golf Course Superintendents Associa-
                                                                             Some golf courses use reclaimed water from the local waste water treat-
tion of America (GCSAA), is committed to strengthening the compat-
                                                                             ment plant. The reclaimed water arrives at the wastewater treatment
ibility of the game of golf with our natural environment. The Institute
                                                                             plant from homes and businesses in the community. The water is filtered
provides more than $1 million annually toward environmental programs
                                                                             and treated, but is still not suitable for drinking. The use of reclaimed
including research, education, outreach and scholarships. The Institute
                                                                             water provides a great benefit to the community by using the turfgrass
funds programs and projects with the goal to enhance the environmen-
                                                                             as a filter to trap particulates and allows microorganisms that exist in
tal, recreational and economic needs of their community.
                                                                             the turf habitat and other natural processes to degrade the impurities.
Wildlife and habitat Management                                              The reclaimed water that is applied to the course is actually cleansed
                                                                             by the turfgrass before it makes its way back to the lakes, streams and
Golf courses can provide habitat for many wildlife species and espe-         groundwater.
cially within urban areas golf courses can provide critical corridors for
wildlife.
                                                                             Conservation and Pollution Prevention

Wildlife areas on golf courses include native plants such as mixed           Energy conservation on the golf course is achieved through many tech-
grasslands, forested areas, wetlands or areas planted with specialized       niques including the use of solar powered lighting, electric vs. gas golf
plants to attract birds and butterflies. Superintendents carefully assess    cars, low energy consumption equipment, and automatic timers on lights
their courses’ features, neighboring landscapes, native ecosystems and       and pumps. Superintendents can recycle oil and utilize green purchasing
environment to develop professional management and maintenance               guidelines to use “recycled” or environmentally friendly products such
plans for those areas. Additionally, many superintendents incorporate        as recycled paper. They protect the environment with special storage
education outreach activities for schools, local civic organizations         and mixing facilities for pesticides and other chemicals. Superintendents
and others to encourage bird watching, fishing, science projects and         may also utilize innovative recycling systems to filter and reuse the water
more. Many superintendents carry their skills and expertise into their       needed to clean equipment.
Preparation 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 administra-
tion and public relations is essential. GCSAA superintendents also are
encouraged to learn to play the game of golf.

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 inter-
ested 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 carries a variety of responsibilities. Su-
perintendents 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.
Over 100 universities/colleges offer degree programs in golf course
management. The majority 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 profes-
sion 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 Certi-
fied superintendent.

Even after attaining a degree, continuing education is critical for keep-
ing current on the advancements in management practices, regula-
tions, 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.

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). We have included a sample curriculum
outline of a 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 elec-
tives than a four-year program.
       sample Curriculum for Golf Course Management
      A. GCsAA recommended                                    B. GCsAA recommended Major Courses
         General Education curriculum
         (Basic Core)                                         Plant Sciences
                                                              • Botany
      Educational institutions set minimum general ed-        • Plant Pathology
      ucation requirements for all students, regardless       • Plant Propagation
      of the major, as well as specific general education     • Principles/Introduction to Turfgrass Science
      requirements for particular fields of study. GCSAA      • Plant Physiology
      places an emphasis upon students successfully           • Irrigation Systems Management
      completing courses in the GCSAA recommended             Integrated Plant Management
      general education curriculum listed below as part       • Weed Identification
      of a student’s general education studies. GCSAA         • Entomology/Nematology
      further recommends that educational candidates          • Safe Pesticide Management
      contact their chosen schools of interest to verify      • Integrated Pest Management
      the institution’s ability to offer the following rec-   Agronomy
      ommended general education studies.                     • Soil Science
      • English Composition                                   • Plant Fertility and Nutrition
      • Speech (and/or) Oral Communications                   • Environmental Quality
      • College Algebra (and/or) College Algebra and          • Turfgrass Management
        Trigonometry                                          • Physical Properties of Soil (Elective)
      • Social Science (Intercultural communications or       • Soil Conservation (Elective)
        multi-cultural awareness)                             Horticulture
      • Foreign Language (Spanish is highly                   • Woody Plant Materials
        recommended)                                          • Herbaceous Plant Materials
      • Introduction to Economics                             • Irrigation and Drainage Systems
      • Introduction to Small Business Operations (and/       • Landscape Management (Elective)
        or) Business Management                               • Landscape Design and Construction (Elective)
      • Introduction to Marketing                             Business Management
      • Computer Science (Computer Applications in            • Golf Course Operations
        Agronomy is highly recommended)                       • Accounting
                                                              • Business Management
                                                              • Human Resources/Personnel Management
                                                              • Financial Management
                                                              • Business Writing and Communications
                                                              • Written and Oral Communications
                                                              • Statistics (Elective)
Our Mission                                                   • Computer Science (Elective)
                                                              • Introduction to Marketing (Elective)
GCSAA is dedicated to serving its members, advancing
their profession and enhancing the enjoyment, growth          Internship or Cooperative Work Experience
                                                              Many programs offer/require credit for working on a golf course.
and vitality of the game of golf.
                                                              If an internship or cooperative work experience is not part of the
                                                              program you select, it is recommended that you work on a golf
                                                              course during your summer break or as time allows.




                      Advocacy   Professional Development   Community
                           Environmental Stewardship   Responsiveness

				
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