While the world of the golf course superintendent has advanced considerably educationally, technically and therefore performance-wise through the years…
…the profession has done little, if anything, from Day One to stem the tide of widespread job insecurity and abuse throughout its ranks.
When the question is asked “why” this has been allowed to happen, the not so obvious answer has to be because there has been a lack of personal leadership throughout the superintendents’ ranks for all these years, which translated means that the superintendents have been waiting a long time for somebody else to solve this problem for them.
As a result, nothing happens, and until the natural born leaders (i.e., within the general membership and including past, present and future Board members) mobilize their respective chapters (through an effective up-to-date Long Range Planning concept) to address the many employment inequities that superintendents will continue to face year in and year out, the idea of job security will eventually become a faint memory and a difficult concept to re-constitute – especially within an economy that will continue to punish the job environment for some time to come.
This will not be an easy task to address because there is a lot of long-standing inertia to overcome. Nevertheless, my short six-part “Chapter Update” blog series (January 16th through March 25th) provides a solid starting “plan of action” for those aspiring to help lead their profession out of the present employment malaise to identify and get underway with quickly.
Until each chapter has modified its mission statement to include the following:
…the primary function of a regional chapter is to promote the career welfare and to enhance the job security of its members…
…nothing constructive will be accomplished job-wise within its membership base. (See my January 26th blog message for a complete presentation of a model chapter mission statement; also see my March 16th and 25th blog messages to identify the pivotal role an Executive Director should play within a job securing scenario.)
If superintendents do not stand up to fight for better employment conditions now; if they do not learn how to secure their own jobs through collective chapter initiatives – they will soon default from the position of being considered golf’s proudest and “noblest” profession to that of a complaining crowd. Clearly, it is time for leaders to lead.
(My next blog message will state why only the chapters can lead the charge to effectively address job security issues; and why GCSAA’s role remains critically important, but in a supportive position.)
Near the end of last week’s blog I made the point that “there can be no golf without the golf course superintendent” because there would be no golf courses to play; and, therefore, no need for tournaments to telecast, or memberships to sell, or equipment to manufacture, or students to teach and so on.
That’s $72 billion of industry-wide revenues that golf course superintendents keep in play each year; i.e., a greater annual revenue flow than the country’s entertainment industry. No industry is so singularly dependent on one profession than is the golf industry.
The Great Disconnect
Why then do American golf course superintendents reap so little reward for the truly indispensable work they collectively deliver; i.e., rampant job insecurity (78% by poll); political victimization; inadequate compensation/separation packages and the like. Can there be a greater disconnect throughout American industry?
“Why all this disrespect for the golf course superintendent?” The answer to this question tells a long-standing but still troubling tale; namely…
…that because well-performing superintendents earn a deep-seated respect throughout their course operations – insecure GMs and power-seeking chairmen, etc. too often maneuver to either negate, or to seize this power for themselves.
One point that has been made clear through the years is that the country’s golfers would never tolerate the abuse directed toward their home-course superintendents if they knew the degree to which “internal politics” undermines their careers and family stability.
Accordingly, educating the golfing public to the pivotal employment issues impacting the careers of golf course superintendents should become the highest priority for GCSAA and the nation’s regional chapters; i.e., by each redefining their individual “mission statements” to plainly state that their “primary function is to promote the career welfare and to enhance the job security of their members.” (See my recent March blog messages to identify the role a chapter Executive Director might/should play to effectively implement this mission statement concept.)
FYI: The mission statement for every “Fortune Top 500” company includes the policy statement that “the” primary responsibility of the company’s Board Of Directors is to protect the “interests” of its constituents.
Unfortunately, because this concept must be fought for and established primarily at the regional level, not one of the approximate 102 regional chapters includes this concept within its present mission statement; and, accordingly, too many superintendents’ careers are unnecessarily being put at risk – a situation that will likely get worse within a deteriorating economy.
Clearly, it is time for the chapter Boards Of Directors to stand up, to educate effectively and to begin to fight for their members’ careers (and by so doing, stabilize a deteriorating golf economy) because no one else will.
I’ve often said that the world of golf course maintenance interfaces with a rich statistical environment that to this date goes untapped and begs for attention. For example, the following statistics tell an intriguing story that sheds an illuminating light on the world of the golf course superintendent – as never before seen:
- Nationwide: golf course superintendents maintain an estimated 2,062,500 acres of golf courses.
Data Derivation: 16,500 golf courses multiplied by an average of 125 acres (includes 9-hole, 18-hole and larger courses) per golf course.
- Nationwide: the estimated total real estate value of all golf course acreage is $20,625,000,000.
Data Derivation: 2,062,500 total acres (see above) times an estimated national average of $10,000 of value per acre.
- Nationwide: golf course operating budgets cumulatively total an estimated $11,550,000,000 per year.
Data Derivation: 16,500 golf courses times an average operating budget of $700,000 (includes all types and all sizes of golf courses).
- Nationwide: there are an estimated 189,000 golf course greens, which translates into an estimated 47,628,000 individual green cuttings per year.
Data Derivation: 16,500 golf courses of all sizes translates down to an estimated 10,500 equivalent 18-hole courses times 18 greens per course; then, times seven cuts per course per week times an average country-wide season of 36 weeks.
- Nationwide: golf course superintendents schedule the placement of an estimated 821,520,000,000 gallons of water throughout the country’s golf courses per year.
Data Derivation: 130,400,000 gallons (or 400 acre-feet) per course per year within southern climates and 26,080,000 gallons (or 80 acre-feet) per course per year within northern climates roughly averages to 78,240,000 gallons per course per year throughout the country times 10,500 equivalent 18-hole courses.
- Nationwide: Golf course superintendents collectively are paid $1,072,500,000 in salaries per year.
Data Derivation: 16,500 golf courses times an estimated average salary of $65,000 per year.
The above statistical data establishes the premise that the golf course superintendent is “imperative” to the Game because there can be no golf without the golf course superintendent – playing-wise, sales-wise, manufacturing-wise, or any-which-way-wise.
Chapters should tell and annually retell this revealing statistical story to their members and throughout their regional golf communities by publishing the above data via their newsletters and web sites.
There is no more effective way to promote the professionalism and job security of the golf course superintendent or to grow pride throughout a profession.”