This blog message is longer than most because the subject matter warrants it. Readers are encouraged to be patient; get through the blog message because they will not likely see another comprehensive presentation on the subject of multi-course contract employment soon in their lifetimes.
Up until about 20 years ago multi-course contract companies were looked upon as the scourge of the industry because they out-competed individual superintendents for jobs.
This is no longer the case today because contract firms wait for superintendents to come to them for jobs; i.e.- they have more applications for their vacant superintendent jobs than they have jobs to fill. There is a reason for this.
The best-kept secret throughout golf is how monumentally effective multi-course contract companies are today both for superintendents and golf course maintenance operations.
TWO TYPES OF CONTRACT COMPANIES
- Multi-Course Management Companies (80% of inventory) that manage every operation throughout a property from the golf course to the clubhouse -- including its food program. (Troon Golf is a classic example of a company in this category.)
- Multi-Course Maintenance Companies (20% of inventory) that only manage golf course maintenance programs. (ValleyCrest is an example of a company in this category.)
There are upwards of 200 multi-course contract companies in the U.S. that range in size from a low of five golf courses per company to upwards of 200 courses per company.
About one-third of the contract companies are well established; one-third are growing into maturity; and one-third are too small/young to judge. For further insight, Google America's Top 20 Largest Golf Management Companies.
DUE DILIGENCE SEARCH GUIDELINES when considering multi-contract company employment:
First: Make sure the contract company you may have an interest in operates in a region of the country where you are willing to work.
Second: Due diligence should look into the history of targeted contract companies in the following quality-defining areas: the number of client courses; do they own the golf properties they manage (some do) and what this means; years in business; the financial worth of the company; are superintendents being paid in correlation with the standard norms for the region; and the quality and timeliness of company support to its client clubs.
Due diligence plays a more pivotal role within the world of contract company employment than within the traditional job seeking market because more variables are in play that need to be evaluated.
Third: Apply for a job with a contract company in the same manner as for a routine job as earlier blog messages in this series suggest - always including a well prepared personal career web site and a maintenance program web site. (See blog dated Oct. 2nd.)
GUARANTEED BENEFITS TO SUPERINTENDENTS
- The opportunity to extend careers as superintendents beyond traditional age norms.
- The opportunity to have post-superintendent careers in company management.
- Salary-protected guaranteed employment (i.e.- written contract protection).
- Compensation and budget support commensurate with industry norms.
- Guaranteed industry-standard retirement (401k) planning.
- Bonuses for published articles, CGCS status, chapter board service, community service, etc.
- Immediate company expert crisis management support to address course emergencies.
- Superior educational training and communications access.
- Continued educational opportunity to earn CEU credits.
- Human resource support available as needed; i.e.- legal, outreach, family planning, etc.
- The opportunity to report up the chain of command to company professionals instead of lay administrations.
The multi-course contract setting is the ideal employment environment for golf course superintendents.
WHEN TO CONSIDER CONTRACT COMPANY EMPLOYMENT
- As a general rule, this blog message is not suggesting that superintendents consider leaving secure traditional jobs to pursue working for a contract company, unless they freely elect to.
- Having said this, however, there might come a time in established superintendents' lives when the opportunity to work for a contract company would add a welcomed dimension to their careers; for example: the opportunity to have access to written employment agreements.
- There also might be a time when established superintendents have a need to get away from bad employers, or unfair employment agreements.
Reminder: Because contract company jobs are always in demand and generally not immediately available, superintendents should complete the necessary due diligence and apply to get on contract company waiting lists ahead of time.
GUARANTEED BENEFITS TO COURSE MAINTENANCE PROGRAMS
- A collective purchasing power will discount supply and equipment purchases by 10% (roughly an average of $150,000 per course).
- Access to experienced company crisis teams dedicated to resolving critical fiscal/budget, safety and operational problems expediently -- a vital safety net service not available anywhere else in golf.
- At no further cost, outside agronomic auditing companies will be engaged annually to objectively evaluate and report contract company course management effectiveness directly to client club/course administrations.
- OSHA regulations and federal/state regulatory safety issues will be constantly monitored by contract-company personal to avoid the legal entanglements of mismanagement.
- Routine access to the much sought after commercial partnerships with the industry's leading golf course maintenance vendors that invite client courses to participate in equipment and turf grass testing programs; and dedicated webinars/workshops on contemporary subjects.
- Clubs/courses will have the option when signing on with contract companies to either retain ownership of their maintenance equipment, or of selling it to the contract company.
In either case, contract companies will maximize preventive maintenance practices to extend equipment replacement cycles.
Net-Net: Golf course operations that affiliate with proven contract companies pay less for a superior maintenance service and get peace of mind as a bonus.