Based on 25+ years of interacting with and counseling golf course superintendents through their careers, the following is an upside vs downside rating listing of the full spectrum of jobs that golf course superintendents might consider applying for at one time or another during their careers -- presented in the priority order of the better jobs first:
A+ CHOICE: With Established Multi-Course Contract Company
Upside: Maximum job security with unique job advantages. (See Mar 12th blog)
Downside: There are too few jobs available -- only about 15% of superintendents work for contract companies today -- a figure that should double in the coming years.
A- CHOICE: Within Private Sector "Good Guy" GM Operations
Upside: All the benefits of working for the best GMs in golf. (See Mar 5th blog)
Downside: GMs change jobs and no one knows who will replace the outgoing GM.
B+ CHOICE: Within Private Sector Board/Committee Format
Upside: Highest salary potential; plus best chance to work at prestigious golf clubs.
Downside: High salary superintendents are terminated in tight economies; never-ending political atmosphere combined with the constant turning-over of Board and committee rosters translates into survey-tested 80% job insecurity.
B- CHOICE: Within Daily Fee Course Operations
Upside: Great jobs when right owners and right superintendents match up.
Downside: While "high fee" operations generate max revenues, owners are too often inclined to maximize profits by squeezing operations and staff budgeting. Pressurized working environment because bankruptcy is at times never more than one bad weather season away. Job security often tenuous!
"Low fee" operations attract the worst kind of owners that operate within the thinnest of financial margins; there is no plus side here; take job if necessary and move on sooner rather than later.
D+ CHOICE: w/i Private Sector "Power Broker/Bad Guy" GM Operations
Upside: A job is a job.
Downside: Weak GMs think of their welfare first and employees after that -- all of which translates into pervasive job insecurity. Job candidates must do their due diligence to identify this category of GMs before accepting jobs.
B+ WHEN A Municipal Golf Course Job Is An EARLY Career Choice
C+ WHEN A Municipal Golf Course Job Is A LATER Career Choice
Upside: When municipalities directly hire staff to manage their golf courses (versus a contract company): an opportune early career job for superintendents and assistants because it presents the opportunity to prove to future employers that they can deliver top-level course maintenance with minimal budget resources.
Early in careers municipal employment can be excellent springboard to future quality jobs in the private, daily fee and public sectors of golf provided superintendents deliver the rarely seen combination of high quality course maintenance with tight fiscal efficiency. The opportunity is always there.
Downside: Few in the municipal chain of command understand course maintenance and job descriptions reflect this. Compensation tied to low-paying muni-wide salary schedules.
Second Option: Many municipalities hire outside contract companies to maintain their golf courses because of the municipalities' lack of familiarity with this task.
The inherent value of the above job listing is that it will help candidates to effectively pursue the better jobs while at the same time avoiding career mis-steps that many superintendents are not generally aware of.