During my 25+ year career I have been fortunate to play or prep for tournaments some 400+ golf courses across the country of all types, lengths and shapes. FYI: You learn more about a golf course preparing it Rules-wise for tournament play than playing the course itself.
Out of this blend of personally inventoried golf courses, I have been able to make the following observations:
Top 100 Classic Golf Courses:
I have played, or officiated at 53 of the top 100 courses.
Universal Observation: As expected, the Top 100 golf courses are maintained impeccably and their clubhouses designed and operated to match.
The Balance of the 500+ Golf Courses:
Unexpected Observation: Where you find weak clubhouse operations, you will virtually always find a similarly weak golf course maintenance program because weakness begets weakness.
Key Observation: Conversely, whenever you find a golf course impeccably maintained you will virtually always find an impeccable clubhouse operation. In all my years, I have never come across a strong golf course maintenance program coupled with a weak clubhouse operation.
The reason for this is because once members/players become accustomed to a first class maintenance program that allows them to have pride in their golf course, they will not tolerate less quality within clubhouse operations because this would threaten golf course quality.
What Lesson Have We Learned?
Quite simply for the first time we are seeing the golf course superintendent in a new light: as the "determining quality factor" throughout the full spectrum of club operations.
While this acclaim when earned is not broadcast far and wide throughout the campus, club administrations and player communities know the true score. How do we know this? Because every possible effort will be made to ensure that the superintendent understands that his career will be best served by staying with his present employer.
From Day One golf course superintendents have been identified as the only essential work force in golf -- a recognition that is presently being seen in a new and better light.