Superintendent Salaries Don’t Match Today’s Mega Purses


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.

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 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
2004 Craig Parry Australia 271 (-17) $900,000
Total purse $5,000,000
A year later at Doral.
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.

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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New Rules for IRS-Recognized Nonprofit Country Clubs Will Be a Game Changer

New York City by Eric J. von Hofen

Home of the Nonprofit - New York City

For years people have tried to figure out how nonprofits work and where the money trail goes. The IRS feels that enough is enough and that more transparency needs to take place. There are thousands of nonprofits in the United States and, believe it or not, Country Clubs will have to play be these new rules. The IRS has beefed up reporting requirements with respect to compensation, and these new requirements will apply to Country Clubs and other nonprofits alike. The changes were prompted by audits showing discrepancies in what nonprofits across the country were disclosing. In 2012, after the Club’s taxes are filed, the lists of the top money makers and their compensation amounts will be be made public. This reporting will be done on the new IRS Form 990. Will you be on the list and ready for that public relations nightmare?

GuideStar Logo

GuideStar Monitors Nonprofits

This information will be streamlined directly to the web site. According to GuideStar, they have a database of more than 1.8 million IRS-recognized nonprofit organizations. Many people use this web site to monitor their favorite charities to see the good work that they are doing and where the money is going. Well, now your members will be using this site to see how much you are making. This “SuperLeak” will have many golf course superintendents running for cover and wanting to give up that company truck. I think that this process will forever change the mystery of what the top guys in the country are making. No more speculation or rumors on who got what in the last big deal. The GCSAA will have to rewrite the results of their compensation study to show the facts.

I hope there is a silver lining around this cloud, and that Country Clubs will see the value of their top people and take care of them. But I feel that there will be some losers in the deal and they will be compared to the guy down the street and the cuts will follow. This is truly a game changer.

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Assistant Superintendent position
Riviera Country Club in Coral Gables, Florida is looking to fill an open assistant golf course superintendent position. Riviera is a 1925 Donald Ross designed course. The Club is located one mile from the University of Miami in historical Coral Gables. Riviera is on the list of Top 100 Platinum Clubs in America. This is a full service five star Club. We have 1,100 members with 575 of them being golf members. The golf course will be going through a re landscaping project this summer. More details on the Club:

Course Type: Private Membership
Annual Rounds: 26,000
Open Year Round: Yes
Primary Grasses: Tifeagle Greens, Paspalum Tees and 419 Bermudagrass Fairways
Staff: Crew of 23
GCSAA member: Preferred
Education: Bachelors or Associates Degree in Turfgrass Management
Experience: Must have three years of golf course experience. Warm season grass experience is a plus.
Salary: $40,000 to $42,000 per year.
Benefits: Health insurance, annual vacation, meals, dues paid for GCSAA membership, golfing privileges, and 401(k)
Duties: Golf course maintenance, payroll, record keeping, fertilizer/pesticide applications and irrigation management.

Send resumes to: Eric J. von Hofen at

Postion available immediately. Application deadline is April 29, 2011
Eric von Hofen and Riviera CC #13 fairway bunkers

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Past Champions play von Hofen’s Mayakoba course today

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, México — Today the Mayakoba Golf Classic celebrated the fifth year as México’s only PGA TOUR event. The past four tournament’s champions competed in a nine-hole Skins Match at El Camaleón Golf Club. All of the money earned by each Mayakoba Golf Classic champion was donated to tournament charities. PGA TOUR players Fred Funk, Brain Gay, Mark Wilson & Cameron Beckman played the back nine of the Greg Norman designed course with a good crowd of media and locals on site to see the battle unfold.

“It is extremely rare for a tournament to be able to host all of its champions for a special event such as this,” said Larson Segerdahl, Tournament Director. “Winning here had a special meaning for each of our champions and we are not only grateful but excited they all agreed to participate in a special charity event and help us celebrate our fifth year.” Gay had a total of four birdies during the nine-hole match played on the back-nine at El Camaleón Golf Club. Gay won all four of his skins late, with a 25-foot birdie on the par-four 16th and a 20-foot birdie on the par-4 18th. His first two skins were worth $4,500 USD at 16. After a carryover on 17, the two skins on the final hole were worth $7,500 USD. Gay’s 7-iron approach shot hit the flagstick and he made the putt for the victory.

Golf Course Superintendent and member of the GCSAA, Kurt von Hofen, has the course in great shape according to Fred Funk who commented on the course conditions at the opening dinner to the event on Monday night. “We finally have some rough here,” said Funk. “I played a quick practice round and met Kurt on the course and told him the place has never looked better. I’m going to tell the rest of the guys on Tour to get them to come down and play in the event. ”

The PGA TOUR’S Mayakoba Classic will be held on February 23-27, 2011

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Golf Course Superintendent job wanted!

I’m going to dip my toe into the water again about this topic and explain some of my findings and help some people out. Some of you might have already read my side of the story in Golfdom, September Issue page 24, where I debate the topic of hiring superintendents for assistant superintendent jobs. It has been over 6 months since I posted that job posting heard around the world, “current and past superintendents will not be considered”. I’m not going to debate that anymore but today I’m going to give you some direction on where to look for job openings.

I have tracked the job postings for Golf Course Superintendent positions on GCSAA, Turfnet and on a great application on the the Iphone and web called Indeed. It is very interesting on what I have found. It seems like large employees like Troon Golf, American Golf, ClubCorp, Hyatt, and Century Golf never post a job on the GCSAA site. Why is that? Cost or the type of candidate they are looking for. They all want a Certified Golf Course superintendent but won’t post a job on the GCSAA site. These jobs are mainly posted on their companies web site and you have to dig thru many pages to find the job listed. Turfnet gets a 3 to 1 ratio over GCSAA for the jobs posted on the internet. They do a great job and it’s easy to find the information. Now we have another tool called Indeed. This application picks up all the jobs posted on the internet except the GCSAA postings. Indeed is a great tool, you can just search once and let it do the work for you. It will remember your last search and you can come back two days later and see how many new jobs have been posted.

Another thing I noticed is the large pay scale gap between the sites. GCSAA gets superintendent posting from a low $40,000 range to just under $200,000. Granted their have not been many of those lately, but there are still some out there. Turfnet is good for the $40,000 to $75,000 jobs and Indeed is about the same as Turfnet. So keep your head up and use this tool to refine your search. Follow Tim Moraghan’s advice and get your resumes up to date and on the launch pad. Good luck out there.

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