Become a Golf Operations Manager: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Find out how to become a golf operations manager. Research the education requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in golf operations.

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  • 0:01 Should I Become a Golf…
  • 0:53 Earn an Undergraduate Degree
  • 1:48 Gain Work Experience
  • 2:22 Seek Professional…
  • 3:13 Advance Your Career

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Should I Become a Golf Operations Manager?

Degree Level Associate or bachelor's degree
Degree Field Golf complex operations, professional golf management, business management
Certification Voluntary; Certified Golf Club Manager
Experience Golf-related experience is essential
Key Skills Strong time management, customer service, and communication skills; ability to lead and train employees; understanding of equipment and products related to golf course operations; valid driver's License
Salary $85,204 (2015 average for golf operations managers)

Source:, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America

Golf operations managers are responsible for the day-to-day business operations of golf courses. They oversee maintenance and staffing at these facilities and may help organize on-site, golf-related events. These professionals often work weekends, when golf courses are busiest. The work can sometimes be stressful, since golf operations managers must oversee other employees and ensure customer satisfaction at all times.

So what type of income can you expect as a golf operations manager? According to a salary report published by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, these professionals made an average salary of $85,204 in 2015.

Let's take some time now to walk through the steps toward a career in golf operations management.

Step 1: Earn an Undergraduate Degree

A career in golf operations management generally requires formal education. Candidates typically hold an associates or bachelor's degree in a related field, such as business management. Some schools offer degree programs in golf course management, which include coursework in hospitality, human resources, leadership development, turfgrass maintenance, and golf club management.

When selecting a school, keep in mind that employers may prefer candidates who attend programs accredited by the Professional Golfers' Association of America. These degree programs may require a U.S. Golf Association handicap of 12 or lower for admission. During college, it may be beneficial to complete an internship program with a golf course, parks and recreation area, or golf-related supplier. This type of training provides experience with golf operations and helps students build a network of industry contracts.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

Individuals may want to seek entry-level employment in the golf industry to gain experience in golf operations. Such entry-level golf industry professionals include grounds maintenance workers, technicians and mechanics. Keep in mind that employers seeking golf operations managers also look favorably on those with experience in business or hospitality management.

There are no set number of years of experience required for advancement to management in this field. Employees tend to move up the ladder by demonstrating golf operations knowledge and leadership skills.

Step 3: Seek Professional Certification

Golf operations managers may want to pursue professional certification to demonstrate golf operation knowledge and skills. The U.S. Golf Managers Association offers a Certified Golf Club Manager credential, which requires completion of an online course covering topics such as customer relations, agronomy, budgeting and accounting, merchandising, and golf operations procedures. Certified managers may pursue continuing education through membership publications, educational videos and e-mail subscriptions.

Additionally, the Club Managers Association of America offers more generalized certification programs for managers of membership clubs. Golf operations managers might pursue the Certified Club Manager and the Certified Chief Executive designations to demonstrate their professional skills.

Step 4: Advance Your Career

After gaining experience and maintaining certification, golf operations managers may advance their careers into regional or national management positions. Networking can play a big role in advancement opportunities so you may find it beneficial to attend industry forums, fairs, expos and other networking events. Some golf operations managers even go on to start their own golf clubs.

To become a golf operations manager, you generally need an associate's or bachelor's degree in or related to, golf course management, as well as extensive experience in golf operations, and certification and networking may help you advance in your career.

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