Vital Skill Sets: The Golf Course Superintendent

This month I would like to talk more about some of the vital skill sets in the golf industry starting with the Golf Course Superintendent. This is not the golf course construction superintendent who manages the design implementation, earthmoving, drainage and construction of the golf course but the caretaker of the core asset of your facility – the golf course. The Turfgrass Encyclopedia (2005) defines the golf course superintendent as, “a professional agronomist who has direct supervision and responsibility for the maintenance of a golf course including the turf, trees, shrubs and flowers, bunkers, water features, drainage, irrigation and most importantly emphasis on the presentation of the turf grass playing surfaces. “

In other words, this is the person responsible for providing the playability of the sporting field for the game of golf at your facility. Yes, that is right, a golf course is a sporting field… it is not a garden, tree farm or a place wet enough to grow lilies.  The Superintendent needs skills in soil science, plant pathology, horticulture, irrigation systems and scheduling techniques, drainage, insect and weed pest management methods, computer applications, rules of golf and good interpersonal relationship skills when dealing with staff, members, owners or green committees.

It has been my experience that many golfers, committee members, owners and others related to game of golf do not have a clear enough idea of what a professional golf course superintendnet must do to create and maintain a golf course to high standards.

In his role, as can be seen above, there are many professional skills required to maintain a golf course. Hence,  it would only make sense that one would need to be competent in all the areas above and not only some to be an effective golf course superintendent.  He would also need to know the theory and practical application of each of these skills, and that comes with a good apprenticeship and time.

One of the things required to become great in this field is commitment. Most golf course superintendents that I know devote themselves completely to his trade more as a passion than as a job.  This is not always easy in many areas when Mother Nature is often trying to return the golf course back to jungle.  Add to this the fact that the superintendent must plan around periods of heat, cold, insect invasions, diseases, floods and droughts to provide a good golfing experience for his members or guests at the golf club.

So next time you see your golf course Superintendnet give him a wave and a smile for his dedication to provide you, as a golfer and captain of industry,  a nice place to recreate amid nature and fine turf, flowering trees and with your family and friends!

Feedback and comments are valued!


Tony Taylor                                                                                              GCSAA Certified Golf Course Superintendent