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Industry Data Tells The True Superintendent Story

Jim McLoughlin


Yes, golf can't be played unless the golf course superintendents across the country maintain the golf courses and cut the grasses. But we acquire a new insight once we look into the staggering numbers that dominate the superintendents' world that virtually no one is taking notice of today. For example, based on recent industry data across the United States:


Superintendents are responsible for maintaining an estimated 1,925,000 acres of golf course lands.

Data Derivation: 15,400 golf courses multiplied by an estimated average of 125 acres (includes  9-hole, 18-hole and larger courses) per golf course.


The estimated total real estate value of all golf course properties is $19.2 trillion.

Data Derivation: 1,925,000 total acres (see above) times an estimated national average of $10,000 of value per acre. (FYI: The U.S. Gross Domestic Product [GDP] is roughly $17 trillion.)


Superintendents are responsible for managing operating budgets cumulatively totaling an estimated $10.7 trillion per year.

Data Derivation: 15,400 golf courses times an average operating budget of $700,000 (includes all types and all sizes of golf courses).


There are an estimated 223,200 golf course greens, which translates into an estimated 56,246,400 individual greens being cut per year.

Data Derivation: 15,400 golf courses of all sizes translates down to an estimated 12,400 equivalent 18-hole courses times 18 greens per course; then, times seven cuts per course per week times an average country-wide season of 36 weeks.


Golf course superintendents manage an estimated 7.53 billion gallons of water to irrigate the nation's golf courses each year.

Data Derivation: An estimated 2,312,700 acre-feet of water per year times 325,800 gallons per acre-foot. (Environmental Institute of Golf)


Superintendents collectively are paid $8.47 billion in salaries per year.

Data Derivation: 15,400 golf courses times an estimated average salary of $55,000 per year (i.e., for all types and sizes of golf courses).


Over the past decade golf has been on average a +/- $70 billon annual business with an approximate ranking at the 66th percentile of all U.S. industries -- exceeding that of the newspaper, performing arts, spectator sports, motion picture and video industries.


All of the above reflects the indispensable work of the golf course superintendent who without fanfare lays the foundation for providing over two million jobs industry-wide annually - as current industry surveys indicate.


One of the better ways to promote the profession nationwide is to educate the golfing public to the full statistical scope of the golf course superintendents' world via GCSAA and chapter web sites; and the regularly available PGA, LPGA and Champions Tours' 30-second tournament TV commercials.


The spot TV Tour ads are vehicles that the GCSAA uses regularly to effectively promote itself -- as it should -- but not yet to help America's golfers identify with the educational depth, essentiality and totally unique skill sets of the individual golf course superintendent.


The profession as a whole is recognized, but not the individual golf course superintendent; i.e.- something analogous to focusing on the forest without noticing the trees.


It is time for an "up close and personal" look at the humanity and professionalism of the golf course superintendent; i.e.- for GCSAA to use its available resources and TV opportunities to shine the light on its members' substance... because no one else will!


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