Careers in turf management involve working outdoors with plants, people, and Mother Nature. Turf managers are employed at various turfgrass facilities worldwide. Although advancement into a management position normally requires a two- or four-year college degree, there are various nonmanagement positions for those who choose not to attend college. Below are various career opportunities in the turf management industry.
A golf course superintendent supervises the maintenance of a golf course. Depending on the course, the superintendent may oversee two to more than fifty employees with a budget ranging from $100,000 to over $1,000,000. Some superintendents enjoy the challenge of hosting a professional golf tournament or building a new course, while others enjoy the more relaxed atmosphere of a daily-fee public course. Salary range for head superintendents was $35,000 to $150,000 in 1999. Graduates with a two- or four-year degree in turf management start their careers as a first or second assistant superintendent. Starting salaries ranged from $25,000 to $35,000 in 1999. Advancement to head superintendent can occur within one to five years.
A sports turf manager oversees the maintenance of one athletic field or an entire sports complex. Professional sports facilities need educated turf managers to maintain the fields used by professional baseball, football, and soccer teams. Universities, colleges, high schools, community parks, horse tracks, polo clubs, tennis clubs, and cricket clubs are beginning to recognize the need for a professional turf manager to maintain their athletic complexes. A well-maintained field reduces injuries and offers better playing conditions. Graduates with a two-or four-year degree in turf management usually start their careers as an assistant field manager. Some may even start as head field manager. In 1999 salaries ranged from $25,000 to $80,000.
Lawn care managers often work as supervisors, consultants, or technicians for professional lawn care franchises. Many start their own company. Responsibilities can include mowing, fertilization, pest control, renovation, sales, and evaluation of home lawns. College graduates normally start as technicians or managers. Lawn care is the largest sector of the turf industry. Homeowners in the United States spend about $15 billion on their lawns and landscape each year.
A grounds manager maintains an institutional site landscaped with turf, trees, flowers, buildings, and roads. They can be hired by colleges, universities, municipalities, park and recreation facilities, office parks, residential communities, hotels, resorts, theme parks, and cemeteries. Education in turf management, landscaping, ornamentals, and business is helpful.
Sod producers grow, harvest, and sell mature turfgrass to various customers. Customers include homeowners, landscapers, golf courses, and athletic fields. Many producers own and operate their own sod farms. Sales and service people also sell and/or service the materials and equipment that turf managers use. Indeed, there are sales and service representatives associated with just about anything purchased in the turf industry—mowers, fertilizer, pesticides, seed, sprayers, and amendments . Education and experience in turf management and related fields is helpful.
Researchers and educators develop the grass or fertilizer of the future. They teach turf management at a technical school, college, or university as well. Consultants give turf advice in exchange for money. Clients include homeowners, golf courses, athletic fields, institutions, and landscape management companies.
see also Economic Importance of Plants; Grasses.
Douglas T. Linde