Surveys Indicate Golf Course Superintendent Profession is Advancing

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 toward golf course management. Both surveys were follow-ups of ones previously conducted. 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:

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.

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