Turf Management Career Overview
To be successful, it is important that you choose a career you love, give it your best, continue to learn as much as you can, and seize the opportunities that present themselves to you. So, you love sports and want to spend your time in the great outdoors, not behind a desk? Well, a career in turfgrass management may be your dream come true. If turfgrass management is the path you choose, we are here to help you learn and grow.
Working on a golf course combines sports, the great outdoors, and environmental issues all in one amazing and well-paying career. Turf managers frequently cite a love of golf or the opportunity to work outside as reasons to get into the field. Today’s golf course employees have a passion for the diversity and complexity of golf course operations, made even more complex by Mother Nature and the elements. Most enjoy their special role as stewards of the land, as well as serving the needs of players and members.
With the right mix of hard work, ambition, education, and experience, you can land a great job in the golf turf industry. In fact, thousands of Rutgers graduates work as golf course superintendents and assistant golf course superintendents throughout the world. However, students who graduate from the Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School don’t just work on golf courses. Learn how our programs can prepare you for many other types of turf-related jobs that will give the opportunity to work outside every day.
Turf Management Career FAQs
What Are the Responsibilities of the Golf Course Superintendent?
The golf course superintendent’s responsibilities are numerous and varied. They include turfgrass management, environmental stewardship, research, personnel management, budget development, accounting, event management, inventory control, communications, and a variety of other tasks. The golf course superintendent must manage labor, time, materials, and finances in a manner that is compatible with the environment, meets financial goals, and ensures the playability of the golf course. In order to carry out these myriad responsibilities successfully, the best golf course superintendents rely on a combination of experience and education. Visit our webpage focused on Today’s Golf Course Superintendent to learn more.
How Can I Prepare for a Turf Management Career?
Golf courses are complex business operations. The golf course superintendent is responsible for managing the playing fields of golf and is entrusted with the management of the maintenance operations.
The job of a golf course superintendent requires much more than just technical ability. Formal education in plant sciences, landscaping, business management, personnel administration, and public relations is essential. Attending the Rutgers Two-Year Certificate Program and/or Three-Week Turf Course is one way to learn the skills you need to succeed in the turf management field.
Getting Started in the Golf Industry
To explore a potential career in golf course management, it’s a good idea to work at a golf course, ideally on the 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.
Getting Ahead in the Industry
The golf course superintendent profession is highly competitive. In order to land a superintendent position, it is advantageous to have a strong educational background and some practical work experience. Interning on a golf course is a great way to gain experience for newcomers to the industry. Even after attaining a degree or certificate, continuing education is critical for a superintendent to keep current on the advancements in maintenance practices, new turfgrasses, and equipment.
An Outdoors Job
Golf course management is a job with a lot of variety. A golf course superintendent enjoys an attractive employment setting with frequent opportunities to be outdoors on the golf course. Students in the Rutgers program frequently cite a love of a golf or a love of working outside (or both) as the reason they got into this field.
Portions adapted and reprinted with permission from the GCSAA
Is Education Necessary to Succeed in the Golf Turf Industry?
Managing a golf course is a demanding, yet rewarding job. So many different skills and knowledge bases are necessary to keep ahead of the many challenges including: agronomic science, water and soil relationships, pest and disease management, business and budgeting skills, mechanical technologies, course design, maintenance practices, and motivating/managing employees, to name but a few.
It is hard to imagine any superintendent today earning a reputation of success without a broad portfolio of education. And let’s not forget the all-important communication and customer service skills, without which a superintendent will not be able to thrive in his or her role.
At Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School, we firmly believe that education is a necessary ingredient to achieve greatness and that a turf manager’s education should be ongoing throughout his or her career.
If you’re contemplating whether to earn a turf management certificate or embark on a degree program, visit our Turf Management Degree or Certificate page to learn more about the different turf education options offered by Rutgers University.
How Can I Find a Turf Management Job?
Are you looking for a turf management job or internship opportunity? Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School maintains a comprehensive list of turf industry employment postings in partnership with the Rutgers Center for Turfgrass Science. This resource is updated regularly, so we encourage you to bookmark the page and check back often for new and exciting turf career opportunities!
What are the Salary Expectations for Turf Managers?
Golf course superintendents generally earn a good living. It is not unusual for superintendents to earn a six-figure income. However, there are many factors that impact the salary a turf manager can expect to earn, including years of experience, geographic location, specialized skills, and golf course type (private, public, or municipal). Level of education also plays a significant role, as evidenced by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America’s (GCSAA) Compensation and Benefits Report, with Two-Year Certificate holders among the top earners. Visit our Golf Course Superintendent Salary Expectations webpage to learn more about the GCSAA Compensation and Benefits report and how a formal education in turf management can help increase your earning potential.
What Makes a Successful Golf Course Superintendent?
For insight into how to become a successful golf course superintendent, check out our article titled 30+ Years…30+ Lessons: Words of Wisdom from a Seasoned Golf Course Superintendent. From starting each morning with a healthy breakfast to walking the golf course every day, this collection of tips and advice comes Fran Owsik, a Rutgers Turf alumnus and superintendent of Lakewood Country Club in Lakewood, NJ. Fran generously shares his pearls of wisdom with up-and-coming greenskeepers who aspire to become superintendents.
What is the Role of the Assistant Golf Course Superintendent?
Although each golf course operation is unique, assistant golf course superintendents usually report directly to the golf course superintendent and may be expected to serve in the superintendent’s capacity during his/her absence. Listed below are examples of some typical job responsibilities and minimum requirements for the job.
Assistant Superintendent Job Responsibilities:
- Directs and participates in the maintenance of the golf course including tees, greens, fairways, bunkers, cart paths, and the rough
- Supervises the maintenance and repair of motorized and other mechanical equipment
- Assists the superintendent in supervising the crew and dispersing daily crew work assignments
Minimum Education and Experience Typically Required
- A degree or certificate from a 2-year or 4-year program
- 2+ years experience (internships count!)
Get the Education and Experience You Need!
How Can Rutgers Can Help Me Become a GCSAA Class A Member or CGCS?
The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) offers the most widely recognized professional designations in the golf industry to acknowledge superintendents for their high level of achievement. Earning the status of GCSAA Class A Member or Certified Golf Course Superintendent (CGCS) involves a combination of formal education, work experience, and continuing education. Completing the Rutgers Two-Year Certificate Program can help you meet these requirements. Learn more about how Rutgers can help you become a GCSAA Class A Member or CGCS.
To learn more about your career options in the turf management field, check out profiles of successful Rutgers Turf alumni and meet our instructional team.
Profile of a Golf Course Superintendent: Jennifer Torres
Get the Education You Need to Launch or Grow Your Turf Management Career
The Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School offers students a respected credential that opens doors and helps them advance their turf management careers. You bring determination and a hardworking spirit, and we’ll supply the rest!
If you are ready to invest serious time in your turf education with more in-depth training and want to get experience doing an internship, learn more or apply to our Two-Year Turf Certificate Program today.
If you don’t have the time to take a two-year program or you’re not sure yet if a career in turf management is for you, get your feet wet with our introductory Three-Week Preparatory Turf Course. Held every January, there’s no application process — just register and learn!