Superintendent Salaries Don’t Match Today’s Mega Purses

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The numbers just don’t add up. The increased rate of prize money for professional golfers has experienced a meteoric rise, while many of us in the golf business have had the “pleasure” of gutting operating budgets over the last six years just to keep courses afloat and prices stable. There are a handful of operations that have pumped cash into their courses, but overall, budgets have not willingly increased. The costs of labor, fuel, insurance, parts, pesticides and fertilizers have all gone up every year, and the shell game of covering these increases has hit the wall. Cutting back on labor and/or not fertilizing your course in an effort to hit the budget is not an option any more. You should call your Superintendent “Superman” for keeping your course in the best possible condition given their resource restrictions. They need more money.

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According to the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America Compensation and Benefits Report, “Employers of GCSAA superintendents continue to reinforce the value they place in these golf course managers as the average salary for the profession in 2013 climbed to more than $82,500 annually.

The $82,573 average for all head superintendents (Classes A and SM) is an increase of $1,529 (1.9 percent) over 2011 salaries, and continues the trend of increases every year since GCSAA began tracking such data in 1993. The 1993 average was $44,500, meaning the 2013 figure is an 86 percent increase.

Certified golf course superintendents (CGCSs) are those who have achieved the highest level of recognition through education, service and experience. Their average salary of $98,187 in 2013 is a 3.1 percent increase over the 2011 average of $95,264.”

The yearly salary ranges for superintendents that host a professional event are from $125,000 to $400,000, according to GuideStar.org. It’s a huge range and the operating budgets are all over the place.

An increase of 86 percent in twenty years sounds good but doesn’t even come close to the increases in prize money for a professional golfer to pocket for just four days of work on your course. I have been a part of thirteen televised golf championships in the last twenty years, and have tracked superintendent salaries and budgets, as well as player prize money. I remember the days when the PGA TOUR actually paid the host Club a site fee of $250,000. Today, the PGA TOUR wants the Club to donate $250,000 to them for the privilege of hosting the event. It will cost a sponsor anywhere from $4.5 million to $8.0 million to get their name in lights for a PGA TOUR event. Pretty crazy isn’t it? Some of the money that is generated from the event does go to charity however, the majority of the money goes home with the players.

Here are the break downs of just how fast and big the some of the purses have grown.

The Ford Championship at Doral
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2004 Craig Parry Australia 271 (-17) $900,000
Total purse $5,000,000
A year later at Doral.
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2005 Tiger Woods (1) United States 264 (-24) $990,000
Total purse $5,500,000

I ran the 2004 and 2005 Ford Championship Tournaments at Doral (I also ran the 2006 tournament) and I can assure you neither my budget nor my salary increased at all from 2004 to 2005. On the contrary, we cut expenses by 15%. I had to work three months straight without a day off, and guess what my prize was? A cool picture with Tiger on the #18 green.

Tiger Woods won this year’s WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral and took home $1,400,000.
Total purse of $8,750,000

The US Open is right around the corner and the money purse is bigger then ever.
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2013 June 13–16 Merion Golf Club, East Course Ardmore, Pennsylvania Winner $1,520,000
Total purse projected to be over $8,000,000

2003 Jim Furyk Olympia Fields Country Club, North Course Olympia Fields, Illinois 272 (−8) $1,080,000
Total purse $6,000,000

The US Open will reflect a $2,000,000 increase over the last ten years; a difference for the winner of an additional $444,000.

Oh by the way, if you win the US Open, you are pretty much set for life.

Superintendents that are in the spotlight should be paid accordingly. Putting in long hours away from families, battling mother nature, managing golfers expectations, massaging tight budgets, combined with expanding job responsibilities and tournament stress, should equal more of that mega prize money hitting their, and the crew’s, paychecks.

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Trump Continues to Mix it up at Doral

New Trump fountain at Doral Resort in Miami
Donald Trump wasted no time installing his signature fountain at Doral Resort in Miami. Mr. Trump purchased Doral back in February for $150 million dollars and started renovations to the entire property almost immediately. Team Trump has installed two new irrigation systems on the Red and Gold courses, purchased over $4 million dollars of turf equipment, hired a new team of turf professionals to manage the place, and reportedly spent $150,000 on this new fountain.

Here is a picture of the old fountain behind the putting green at Doral. This fountain was first built for the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. The former Doral owners, Al and Doris Kaskel, bought the famous fountain, shipped it to Miami and installed it for the world to see. If you look closely in this picture you can see a bust of Al Kaskel. The Kaskel’s travelled around the world purchasing art work and statues. They spread these treasures around the Doral property for their guests to enjoy. Today many of these art works are gone. I hope Mr. Trump brings them back and keeps some of the Doral history.
1964 World's Fair Fountain at Doral Resort in Miami, Florida
Trump will tackle the Blue Monster, with golf course designer Gil Hanse, after the 2013 PGA TOUR World Golf Championship. Many of the common areas and hotel rooms are receiving a face lift as we speak. I can’t wait to see these much needed improvements to this historical resort over the next year.

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Five Gift Ideas For Your Golf Course Superintendent


All you Green Committee Chairmen need to listen up. You need to take care of the most important person at your Country Club, and not with a $5 dollar tip. The Golf Course Superintendent works day and night to make sure your course is perfect and on the right path. He deals with everything that no one else wants to deal with. Weather, employees, construction, inspectors, contractors, budgets, members, insects and the list goes on. Here are a few ideas for you to take care of your number one guy.

1. The keys to your apartment in New York City for the weekend.
2. Dump 50,000 AMEX Rewards points into his account so he can use them to travel.
3. A gift card to Sunglass Hut or Capital Grille.
4. Hook him up with your college roommate, that is a member at Cypress Point, for a round of golf.
5. Tell him thank you for everything he does and buy the entire maintenance staff breakfast at a nice place in town.

Any one of these ideas would be a big hit. So go out there and do the right thing.

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Rolex Celebrates 40 Years of The Explorer II

New Rolex Explorer II by Eric J. von Hofen

New Rolex Explorer II Watch


Rolex has done it again…they have designed another instant classic. The new Stainless Steel Explorer II Oyster is bigger and bolder than its 40 year old cousin. This new classic watch has increased the case size from 40 mm to 42 mm with the same scratch proof Sapphire Crystal that looks like a picture window. The dials come in Black or White and that is it. The new Explorer II boasts a stunning orange 24-hour hand that jumps out at you when you see it in person. The old Explorer had a red 24-hour hand which looks great with a white dial. Rolex does not make the 40 mm size anymore so hold on to one if you have it.

New Rolex Explorer II next to the old Explorer II by Eric J. von Hofen

New Rolex Explorer II next to the old Explorer II


This picture shows just how much bigger the new watch is. Its bigger and more expensive, if you can find one. The new Explorer costs around $8,000 which is $1,500 more than its older cousin. Rolex has controlled the release of this new watch with the same precision it takes to build one. Thousands of people bought and paid for their new watches and walked out of the store empty-handed. Rolex released and shipped all of the purchased watches at the same time around the world in early October. They used this tactic to prevent the second-hand market from ruining the demand and pricing of this instant classic. Now that Tiger Woods is back on the payroll at Rolex, I’m sure this is what he will be wearing off of the links. For more history and fun facts on Rolex watches stop by Jakes Rolex World. Its the best Rolex site I have ever seen. Check it out.

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Chelsea Piers -“THE” place to putt and drive in New York City

Golf Club at Chelsea Piers New York City
Chelsea Piers is a series of historic piers on the West Side of Manhattan in New York City that was a passenger ship terminal in the early 1900s. It is located in the Chelsea neighborhood, on the northern edge of Greenwich Village and the Meatpacking District.

The Golf Club at Chelsea Piers offers a year-round outdoor golf driving range, a teaching academy, two full-swing simulators and two private event rooms. The driving range has four tiers, is weather protected and heated and utilizes a Japanese-technology automated ball tee-up system. Each floor has 12 bays on it. On some days you better be ready to wait. You have to make a tee time on the weekends.
Chelsea piers in New York City

The piers are currently used by the Chelsea Piers Sports & Entertainment Complex. The new complex includes film and television production facilities, including those for CBS College Sports Network and Food Network, a health club, a day spa, the city’s largest training center for gymnastics, two basketball courts, playing fields for indoor lacrosse and soccer, batting cages, a rock climbing wall and dance studios. In addition there is an AMF Bowling center, and two full sized ice rinks for skating.

This place has something for everyone. This HD video shows you the only place to putt and drive in New York City.

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COOL GREEN SPACE CREATED IN NEW YORK CITY

HIGH LINE landscape project in New York City by Eric J. von Hofen
High Line, New York City’s new green space project, is an elevated area that runs along the old train tracks on the lower West Side.  The first section of the project opened on June 9, 2009, and runs from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street.  The second section, from West 20th Street to West 30th Street, opened in June 2011.

According to the Friends of High Line website, “The High Line was built in the 1930s, as part of a massive public-private infrastructure project called the West Side Improvement. It lifted freight traffic 30 feet in the air, removing dangerous trains from the streets of Manhattan’s largest industrial district. No trains have run on the High Line since 1980. Friends of the High Line, a community-based non-profit group, formed in 1999 when the historic structure was under threat of demolition. Friends of the High Line works in partnership with the City of New York to preserve and maintain the structure as an elevated public park.
View on the tracks of HIGH LINE by Eric J. von Hofen

In 2004, Friends of the High Line and the City of New York conducted a process to select a design team for the High Line. They selected the team of James Corner Field Operations, a landscape architecture firm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, an architecture firm, and experts in horticulture, engineering, security, maintenance, public art, and other disciplines.

In November of 2005, The City took ownership of the High Line from CSX Transportation, Inc. (who donated the structure), and the City and CSX signed a Trail Use Agreement.  Taken together, these two actions effectively preserved the High Line south of 30th Street.”

Over the next four years the first section of the above ground park began to take shape. The tracks were removed, cleaned and stored for later installation in the landscape design. The team began to bring in dirt and to install the plant material. Walkways and stairs were added for access throughout the track system. Tracks were then reinstalled into the design as the final touch, reminding anyone visiting the High Line that they are standing on a part of New York history.

The next time you are in New York, check out the must-see High Line project and support the Friends of High Line. This project is truly something special and it will be enjoyed by everyone for many years to come. This HD video shows the final product – the result of years of hard work to build new green space in New York City.

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LEARN HOW TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE TURF AND ORNAMENTAL INDUSTRY

FTGA Conference September 13-16, 2011
I will be teaching a session on using social media in the Turf and Ornamental industry on Thursday, September 15, 2011, at the Florida Turfgrass Associations 59th Annual Conference & Show in Palm Beach Gardens.  Learn about Blogging, Tweeting, Facebook, Linkedin and YouTube.  I will show you the ins and outs of  using social media and how to establish yourself on the web.  Educate your existing clients and become a source of information for new clients.  Grow your bottom line using social media. For details go to https://www.ftga.org/attendees and download the Attendee Brochure.  See you in Palm Beach Gardens.

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TURFUNDERGROUND’S TOP 5 VODKA LIST

Grey Goose, Ketel One and Belvedere Vodka's
Had a rough day at the golf course? Well, being a golf course superintendent, you might have said “yes”. Sometimes you need to knock the edge off and relax a little after mother nature has kicked your butt up and down for most of the day. I usually hit the gym to blow off some steam but sometimes only a nice vodka and soda will do the trick. I’ve tried them all, and below is my top five list:
1.Ketel One
2.Grey Goose
3.Belvedere
4.Roberto Cavalli
5.Hanger 1

Don’t try these at work. At home only. Remember don’t drink and drive your car or your golf cart.

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TURFUNDERGROUND’S TOP 5 GOLF SHIRTS FOR THE SUPERINTENDENT

Polo and Peter Millar by Eric J. von Hofen
Ask any of my former employees and they will tell you my saying. If you dress like a farmer on the golf course, they will treat you like one. As a result, I have always dressed up the part and have kept my golf shirts on the cutting edge. I have based this list off of price point, durability, cut, and style. Superintendents spend just as much time on the golf course as some teaching pros but we have different needs in our shirts. Here it is, the top 5 shirts superintendents must have.

1. Polo by Ralph Lauren
2. Peter Millar
3. Fairway and Greene
4. Donald  J. Ross
5. Nike Golf

I’m not much into the performance materials(polyester), although they do provide some better UV protection than the cotton threads. To me they seem hot and tend to have a “plastic” smell. Nike Golf makes some that don’t smell.  My preferred material for the shirts listed above is cotton. Hit up your golf pro and have him get you the same deals they get from the manufacturers. You can get these shirts at cost and you will look like a million bucks watering that green.

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TURFUNDERGROUND TAKES YOU TO THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL

Eric von Hofen at the Cannes Film Festival
For over 60 years during the month of May, actors, film makers, directors, investors, and on lookers from around the world take over the French Riviera for the Cannes International Film Festival. I have been lucky enough to be invited to Cannes and think it is the best festival in the world. When you arrive at the airport in Nice, you know you just landed in a special place. The French put on a show like no others. Everything is first class and the access to the movers and shakers is top notch. Champagne flows on the yachts and the deals are made on the next big movie release. Which by the way, the yacht parties are where you want to be.

The rules are if you are attending one of the movies, small or short, you wear a tux period. This unwritten dress code just sets the stage and the feel of the event. Another point, if you are attending a movie showing and you don’t speak the language suck it up and watch it. Remember it’s an international festival. This brings you closer to the film makers and you just might learn something. I have meet people in the crowds from around the world and have stayed in touch with them. It’s pretty cool. Last point, take the time to fill out the grading card when the movie if over. Everyone involved in the production of it really wants to hear your comments.

This video shows you a quick look on the action taking place in Cannes. Enjoy.

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