In case you missed it, your profession made one of those “most” lists recently. Unfortunately, it wasn’t “a most pay” or “most prestigious” list. I hate to tell you, but CNNMoney ranked golf course superintendent as one of 15 “Stressful Jobs That Pay Badly.”
There’s even more bad news: The CNNMoney list is based on a survey from you.
According to the survey, about 82 percent of superintendents say they’re stressed in their jobs. Restaurant managers, at a whopping 92 percent, topped the list.
Also ahead of superintendents in the fraught and harrowed category are home health coordinator, emergency services dispatcher, mental health counselor, daycare director, loan processor, deputy sheriff, transportation coordinator, auto service center manager, production foreman, store team leader, veterinary technician and assistant hotel manager.
As far as “the jobs that pay badly” tag, CNNMoney estimated the median pay among superintendents at almost $54,000. That’s not bad for some professions, but it’s not good for a profession that demands many more working hours than 9 to 5, not to mention dealing with demanding and sometimes unreasonable people (golfers).
I know a lot of superintendents have seen the salary surveys from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. According to the GCSAA, member superintendents make an average of more than $85,000 annually. If there’s a message here, it’s that superintendents should join the GCSAA, and they will make more money.
But something tells me that’s not entirely true.
I have a feeling that if more superintendents did join the GCSAA, that average salary figure would decrease, especially if these superintendents are from mid-level and low-level public and municipal courses. A reason that a lot of superintendents from these courses haven’t joined the association in the first place is because their courses won’t pony up the money for them to do so.
I’ve seen other surveys that list the average salary for all golf course superintendents, not just GCSAA members, as being in the mid $50,000 range. So I have a feeling that the CNNMoney survey is spot on – and that most superintendents are indeed in a profession that is stressful and pays badly.
There are exceptions, of course. Superintendents at top private clubs can make several hundred thousand dollars annually. But just as they’re at the high end of the pay scale, they may also be at the high end of the stress level. I visited one of these superintendents not long ago, where the members are as demanding as Olympic judges. When I remarked about the superintendent’s weight loss, he admitted it occurred because he was stressed.
Plenty of superintendents who make $55,000 are stressed and for good reason. Their budgets have been reduced and they’ve lost staff. They’re working more hours now when they were already working too many hours before.
Many times I’ve heard industry people, including superintendents, say that golfers need to curb their expectations for excellent course conditions. If that happened, it would indeed lessen the stress factor for superintendents. But it’s not going to happen. Golfers who pay $40 to $400 for a round of golf will always expect the best bang for their buck.
It’s also unlikely that golf course maintenance budgets will grow, so superintendents can hire more people, especially in management roles, which in turn could lessen the hours that superintendents work and lead to less stress.
It just seems that superintendents, even if by their own choice, will always work a lot of hours. Still, too much work can cause much stress for individuals and their families.
If there’s one thing that needs to change in the “Stressful Jobs That Pay Badly” equation, it’s the pay. The average salary of superintendents needs to go up – significantly. The supers at the pressure-packed, big-name clubs need to make more money, even if they’re already making well into six figures. The superintendents with 20 years of experience at mid- and low-end clubs who are busting their butts and their bodies by doing everything from digging ditches to composing budgets should make more than $50,000.
Courses and clubs need to fess up. If they value their superintendents and really do consider them the most important people at their courses, they need to pay up.