Balancing career and family. This is one topic that will always be relevant to golf course superintendents.

Fifteen years ago, I first learned about the challenges superintendents face in maintaining healthy and happy lives in both career and family when I interviewed several of them for a story I wrote titled “Career and Family: The Balancing Act.”

I remember learning that the profession had a perceived high divorce rate. While there weren’t any statistics supporting that, many superintendents assumed that many of their peers were divorced. One superintendent I interviewed for the story, who divorced after 13 years of marriage, told me that a whopping 80 percent of the superintendents he knew were divorced.

The main reason for this, of course, was the long work hours. “My wife didn’t understand that I sometimes had to work seven days a week,” the superintendent told me. “People who aren’t in this industry can’t relate to that.”

He’s right. Even after 18 years of covering this industry, I’m astounded at the number of superintendents who work 70, 80 and even 90 hours a week.

A lot of superintendents are married to their jobs. But in many cases, they have to be.

I’m not saying that being married to your job is a good or bad thing – it certainly can be either, depending on the circumstances – but I have a feeling that more superintendents are married to their jobs these days than perhaps ever before.

Here are the three reasons why:

  1. The demand from golfers for excellent conditions continues. We are a nation of people who want our money’s worth, which is why this will never change. Realizing this, superintendents feel the pressure to deliver constant results, which equates to more time at the course.
  2. Most superintendents’ maintenance budgets have stayed the same or gone down the last several years. They are not hiring more staff. Many superintendents, in fact, have had to decrease their staffs to meet their stagnant or lower budgets. Their crews are doing more with less – and they are leading the way.
  3. Even though they aren’t hiring ad-ditional workers, many superintendents are having problems finding good help when they do hire to replace capable workers who leave. Again, it boils down to having to do more with less.

These three elements add up to a superintendent who has to work even more hours – maybe 75 instead of 65. Considering there are only 168 hours in a week, that’s a big increase.

Consider the superintendent who works 75 hours a week during the busy season. Let’s also say he sleeps seven hours a night, which equates to 49 hours a week. Between work and sleep, that superintendent is eating up 124 hours of his week. Throw in time for traveling to and from work, running a few errands, etc., and that superintendent doesn’t have a lot of time left for family and friends.

Back to my earlier statement that balancing career and family will always be relevant to superintendents. This month, we asked the members of Superintendent magazine’s editorial advisory board how they balance career and family.

Our board includes superintendents from all walks, and it’s clear that finding a balance is challenging for them. But I urge you to read their responses. You may find wisdom in what they have to say to help you in your own efforts to find the appropriate balance between career and family.

Again, let me say that there is nothing wrong with being married to your job, whether you are single or have a spouse. I have never met a group of people more passionate about their profession than golf course superintendents. You love what you do. Not everybody can say that.

But when there are others involved with your lives – be it spouses, significant others or children – you have a responsibility to them to find that happy balance.