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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The Next Generation of Tee Lines

Installing new Turfhound Mats by Eric J. von Hofen
When it comes to practice tee surface area, size does matter. Sometimes there is no other option when the practice area turf does not meet the requirements of the afternoon driving range junkies. You have to something to hit off of and Turfhound has what you need.

Removing old range mat material by Eric J. von Hofen
I look at it like this, Turfhound has developed the 5th generation of synthetic practice area material. Twenty five years ago, I remember hitting off of small pieces of Astro Turf at driving ranges in Northern Ohio. It worked and we didn’t know any better. Then we had the continuos roll of Astro Turf and we thought was great. One day someone thought to add sand and ground up tires into the Astro Turf. That didn’t work. Then developers looked at Nylon as a better surface to hit off of and it was for about six months until the sun and heavy use compacted the material. Polyester was next in line and that worked for about a year and a half. Polyethylene, the main ingredient in PVC, is the latest and greatest. In the picture above, we are removing a two year old tee line made of polyester.

The Turfhound mat is installed in interlocking pieces by Eric J. von Hofen
The TurfHound’s modular design makes it easy to add or remove turf panels and frame to adjust length as desired. I really like this option because we can spread out the wear and tear throughout the entire tee line.

This unique design allows the golfer to have three different options to hit from. Off the deck, off a tee and out of the rough. The moment you step on a TurfHound Tee Surface, you can feel the amazing difference compared to a conventional golf mat. It’s just like you’re standing on natural turf. Swing a club, hit a ball and the sensation continues. There’s no club-head bounce as you swing down and through the ball. No painful shocks to your wrists, elbows and shoulders. We installed this product three days ago and have received an incredible amount of positive feedback. If you are looking for another option to solve your tee line problem contact Rick Reynolds at Turfhound. His number is 877.377.3100.

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Surfing in the English Garten Munich, Germany

This is great for the 19th Hole. I have been to this spot many times in the English Garten in Munich, Germany. I have always seen at least 5 to 7 surfers hanging catching the waves of the river. Water is always cold. I have never seen any one get hurt or drink a beer while they have been surfing. Crazy. Check it out.

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Welcome to

Welcome to and the home of the von Hofen Turfgrass Scholarship. Using my 26 years of golf course maintenance experience I plan on giving a different behind the scenes look at what is really happening in the golf world. I have worked at and managed some of the best golf courses in the world. Muirfield Village, PGA WEST,PGA NATIONAL, Calusa Pines, Naples National, John’s Island Club and Doral just to name a few. I have hosted 13 PGA TOUR televised events which has allowed me to make contacts and friends around the world. There is a lot of great things happening in golf around the world and the story should be told. I will have feeds from Asia, Germany, Greece and every corner of the United States. Come back a check us out.

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