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From Pebble Beach to Key West, public golf courses and private clubs employ a lot of workers. Golf course positions range from entry-level jobs to skilled professional roles. Although you likely won't earn a fortune as a golf course employee, you can enjoy working outdoors in one of America’s most popular sports.
Which States Have the Most Golf Course Positions?
In 2017, golf courses employed more than 300,000 people, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS estimates show that more than 43 percent of people in golf course positions work in just five states, including:
34,656 * Texas
22,745 * Pennsylvania
13,975 * North Carolina
Some public courses need only a minimal staff to make reservations, collect greens fees and tend the grounds. Country clubs typically have clubhouses with restaurants, bars and event spaces, which require much larger staffs. But most golf courses employ a few key professionals.
Golf Caddy Job Description
Golfers hire caddies to carry their golf bags and perform basic tasks. Caddies assist their golfers by handing them clubs as needed and storing them back in the bag after shots. Before each hole, a caddy must clean the golfer’s ball and clean the clubs throughout a game.
Using an automatic rangefinder, a caddy calculates the distance between a ball in play and the green. Caddies who don't carry rangefinders calculate the distance mathematically, using distance markers located along fairways. At the green, a caddy must remove and replace the flag stick as the golfers make their putts.
If a golfer lands a ball in a sand trap, the caddy must rake the sand after the shot to restore an even surface. When a golfer creates a divot in the fairway when taking a shot, the caddy must repair the green and plug the patch of grass.
Typically, employers prefer caddies who have a thorough knowledge of the game. According to the ZipRecruiter career website, golf caddies earn an average annual salary of around $35,000.
Golf Course Greenskeeper Job Description
Greenskeepers maintain greens, fairways, roughs, and sand and water traps. They install and repair course fixtures, such as tee markers and benches, and at times move holes on greens. Greenskeepers prune hedges, trim trees and tend flowerbeds. Their job includes regular mowing and watering and applying herbicides and fertilizers.
Head greenskeepers manage teams of workers. They create annual plans, manage supplies and oversee budgets. They organize or lead employee training programs and ensure their staffs comply with federal, state, and local safety and environmental regulations.
Most employers do not have educational requirements for greenskeepers, although some prefer high school graduates. Some employers favor applicants who hold landscaping certifications. Some state and local governments require licenses to apply fertilizers and herbicides.
According to BLS estimates, grounds maintenance workers earned a median wage of more than $14 per hour in 2018. The median salary represents the center of the grounds maintenance pay scale.
Golf Ball Harvester Job Description
Golf course divers descend into the murky waters of ponds to retrieve golf balls. Equipped with scuba gear, divers spend up to 10 hours per day underwater. Divers usually work in teams of three or four people, swimming across the bottom to collect balls by hand.
Some harvesters retrieve balls using a roller contraption, which rolls along the bottom, capturing balls between metal discs. Workers pull the roller using cables and winches and remove balls after each pass.
Golf ball harvesters often work independently or for a service. Golf courses wash, package and sell retrieved balls.
In 2018, commercial divers earned a median salary of around $59,000, according to the BLS. However, some golf ball harvesters forego monetary compensation and work for the balls they retrieve, which they clean and sell.
Golf Professional Job Description
Golf professionals, commonly called golf pros, are members of the Professional Golfers' Association. Most golf pros coach individuals and small groups to help them improve their technique. They oversee and implement golf workshops, summer camps for children and golf tournaments.
In many private golf clubs, golf pros manage the golfing operation. They supervise pro shop employees, manage tee time schedules and generate sales reports. In managerial roles, golf pros create staff schedules and supervise greenskeepers.
Many golf courses prefer golf pros who have earned a college degree. They may favor pros who have completed the PGA Professional Golf Management Program or hold United States Golf Teaching Federation certification.
Pros often earn the highest golf course employee salary. According to a Payscale survey, golf pros take home an average annual salary of more than $47,000.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Golf anyone? A look at golf courses and country clubs by state
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Grounds Maintenance Workers
- Rutgers: Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School: Sample Superintendent Job Description
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Golf ball diver
- Western Golf Association: Caddie Manual
- Professional Golfers' Association: PGA Role Descriptors
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Commercial Divers
- PayScale: Average Head Golf Professional Salary
- ZipRecruiter: Golf Course Caddy Salary Salaries
Michael Evans’ career path has taken many planned and unexpected twists and turns, from TV sports producer to internet project manager to cargo ship deckhand. He has worked in numerous industries, including higher education, government, transportation, finance, manufacturing, journalism and travel. Along the way, he has developed job descriptions, interviewed job applicants and gained insight into the types of education, work experience and personal characteristics employers seek in job candidates. Michael graduated from The University of Memphis, where he studied photography and film production. He began writing professionally while working for an online finance company in San Francisco, California. His writings have appeared in print and online publications, including Fox Business, Yahoo! Finance, Motley Fool and Bankrate.