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Know Your General Manager...

Jim McLoughlin

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Industry data tells us that there are roughly 4,600 private golf clubs throughout the country, about 2,800 of which are operated through the general manager concept -- a category breakdown of which follows:

  1. The Good Guys (about 60% of all GMs): If general managerships are the best form of governance in golf (and they are), the reason for this is primarily because the majority of the time the professional men and women who occupy these positions are gifted and staff sensitive.

 

Job Prognosis for Superintendents: Best recognized working environment in golf. If a superintendent is lucky enough to work for a good GM - don't look for another job unless the demands to advance your career require it and then always vet the GMs where you are applying for a job and stay away from those who will ham your career.

 

  1. The Power Brokers (about 25% of GMs): This category of general manager routinely is employed at a club before a superintendent is hired and, accordingly, have already established their power base within the club but are leery about incoming qualified superintendents becoming too popular, thereby, indirectly undermining their authority.

 

Job Prognosis for Superintendents: It is possible to build a trusting relationship with GMs within this category but just not routinely. If trust is not forthcoming in their relationships with GMs, superintendents should defensively manage their jobs (see Jan 05 blog) and look for a solid next job, which should provide job security. (See Nov. 6th blog.)

 

  1. The Bad Guys (about 15% of GMs): These are the most career adverse type of general managers to work under that are usually hired after the golf course superintendent at a club. They come to a club without an established power base and do not look kindly at staff professionals who might -- knowingly or unknowingly -- get in their way of developing a power base.

 

Job Prognosis for Superintendents: Difficult to build trust here because GMs are always thinking of themselves first. Once again, superintendents should defensively manage their jobs and be looking for a solid next job - sooner rather than later.

 

FYI: Roughly two-thirds of all wrongfully dismissed superintendents are let go by Bad Guy general managers.

 

Experience surprisingly indicates that less than 10% of candidate-superintendents check out the character of the GM (easily done via grapevine, network etc.) they would work under if they accepted a job offer. Be forewarned, working under the wrong GM can distress a career.

 

Take-home message: It is better to take a job with the better GM than a better salary.



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