Teeing Off Right: Onboarding Strategies for Golf Course Success

Right now, hiring key staff such as assistants and equipment managers presents a ridiculous challenge. According to nearly half of the respondents in our 2024 Golf Course Superintendent Employment Trends Report, filling these key positions could take 3-4 months.

As the golf season hits its peak across most of the country, golf course superintendents and club leaders find themselves with even less time to devote to recruiting and hiring.

Yet, one fundamental area that needs constant attention is employee onboarding.  

In this two-part series, we’ll explore the elements of effective onboarding.

Investing into onboarding procedures, while often overlooked, is a critical step in ensuring success in a small period of time.  

Few things are more frustrating than finally filling a long-vacant position, only to watch your manager fumble the critical onboarding phase, effectively undoing all your hard work.

Expecting a new hire to understand all the fine intricacies of your operation, just because they have seasons of experience on the golf course or hold an accredited degree, does not excuse failing to invest in onboarding.

Leaving the new employee to fend for themselves and figure things out alone surely spells disaster. Within weeks (…sometimes days) the individual is not up to speed at work, not understanding the basics when it comes to their job, either quits or is completely disengaged.  

Gallup found that 88% of companies are bad at onboarding. Most companies don’t recognize that their managers are not comfortable or experienced in how to onboard employees.  

Effectively managing employees’ early experiences, and providing advice without it taking too much time is a fine balance.  It needs to be simple, easy and personalized. 

Onboarding isn’t just about learning the ropes; it’s about integrating into the team.

A well-structured onboarding process equips team members to grasp their roles, understand team dynamics, and see how they fit into the larger picture. 

Implement a 30/60/90 day plan to clearly outline the achievements expected of the new employee and define what success looks like. If you need a template, download here.

Encourage senior team members to welcome new hires on LinkedIn and other platforms, craft a short hype video to flaunt your culture in 60 seconds or less, and develop a first-day tipsheet that includes helpful contacts and fun facts about co-workers.

Clarify that the initial weeks will focus on mastering the basics of operations, workflows, club benefits, and culture. Set preliminary goals, take time to informally meet with the new employee, and perhaps establish a buddy system to connect them with trusted colleagues.

The first days in any role can be daunting. Since each golf course operates uniquely, new employees, including managers, often lack a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities.

Simply having multiple seasons on the golf course or an accredited degree does not suffice; it is no excuse for skimping on a thorough onboarding process.

The subtleties of the course, member expectations, and operational standards can differ greatly. It is common for employers and new hires to have different views on processes, operational pace, and quality standards.

Remember to include small yet crucial details like a course map, emergency contact information, a golf calendar, standard operating procedures, communication protocols, and quality control measures.

Effective onboarding should include both theoretical and practical training sessions that enhance their confidence and competence, empowering them to make informed decisions and take initiative.

Investing in an effective onboarding process leads to smoother operations, improved team dynamics, retention and ultimately, an exceptional golfing experience for members and guests.

If you’re in need of further insight and best practices, set up a FREE Talent Strategy Call with our team.



Are you ready to build a top-performing team that drives results? Our proven framework, methodologies, and implementation is based on our personal track record of developing world-class teams. In addition to talent acquisition, we provide leadership development and ongoing consultative services for the golf course and club industry. Our team has personally coached and mentored dozens of future golf course superintendents across the United States. 

The Art of Effective Interviewing

By Mitch Rupert, Communications Manager for Tyler Bloom Consulting

It may not seem like it, but the ability to interview other people is like a muscle that has to be trained to get stronger. Unfortunately, unlike a physical muscle which can be trained in a gym before being put into practical use, the best way to get better at interviewing people is to do it often.

Throughout 20 years as a sports writer before getting into the golf industry, I’ve conducted more interviews than there are grains of sand in a greenside bunker. Those question-and-answer sessions have come under a massively different set of circumstances. I’ve asked Major League Baseball’s last 30-game winner Denny McLain about intentionally serving up a meatball to Mickey Mantle so his childhood hero could hit a home run. I’ve asked a teenager how he dealt with the news that he had been diagnosed with cancer. And I’ve even asked my current boss, Tyler Bloom, about taking a Division I pitcher deep in a high school playoff game more than a decade ago. 

How you ask questions and how you approach the interview process is just as important as the questions you ask in that setting. I’ve asked good questions. I’ve asked really dumb questions. I’ve been caught rambling with no sense of direction before finally finding my point. It’s the nature of the ebbs and flows of getting better at the interviewing process.

But it’s a process which has prepared me well for my role with Tyler Bloom Consulting, where I spend my days running four to five job interviews, trying to gather information from candidates to see whether or not people are a fit for a job at any number of clubs throughout the country. And believe it or not, many of the same techniques I’ve used to help me interview coaches and athletes from Little League to professional sports, are the same techniques I use daily in job interviews.

Here are the five tips to how you can run better job interviews for your club:

  1. IT’S A CONVERSATION, NOT A QUESTION-AND-ANSWER SESSION

An interview setting is intimidating enough. Most people aren’t used to being on the end of what can feel like an interrogation. So as an interviewer, if you approach the interview as a conversation more than a Q&A, you’re going to allow your candidate to relax and provide better information on their experiences and thought processes, because at the end of the day, our goal is to gather as much information about the candidate as possible. 

To do this, don’t stick to a script. While it is highly advisable to have a list of specific questions you want to get to, understand you don’t have to strictly stick to that script. It’s more important to use it as a guide. Let your conversation carry you to your next point with the candidate. 

  1. DO YOU LISTEN, OR JUST WAIT TO TALK?

In a deleted scene from the movie Pulp Fiction, Uma Thurman asks John Travolta this question. It’s a quote which is written on a Sticky Note and hung on the wall behind my computer because it’s an incredibly important idea in the interviewing process, and it ties in nicely with the No. 1 tip on this list. Are you absorbing the information being passed to you in an interview setting, or are you just merely waiting for the candidate to finish speaking to get to your next point? Taking the information provided to you from the candidate and using it to swiftly move from point to point allows you to form that conversational setting which is going to allow the candidate to relax and produce a much better interview result.

  1. ASK YOUR QUESTION AND GET OUT

The goal in an interview is to let the candidate share as much information as possible. As such, if your questions are long-winded ramblings, you’re only going to confuse the candidate with what the crux of your question really is. So be pointed, ask your question directly and get out of the way. I see it all the time in the sports journalism world where the question-asker is trying to qualify their question so much that they end up answering the question for the subject, and in the long run they end up sounding like Michael Scott trying to explain his sales philosophies to David Wallace. 

In fact, your questions don’t even have to be questions to get the point across quickly. For example:

  • ‘Walk me through your experience on (insert subject matter).’
  • ‘Tell me about a successful fabrication project you’ve worked on.’ 

The candidate understands exactly what you want to know, and they can take the conversation from there. Fill in any holes with pointed follow-up questions. 

  1. YOUR MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION IS ‘WHY’ OR ‘HOW’

Your most important questions are the ones you ask as follow-ups, especially ‘why’ or ‘how?’ It’s easy for a candidate to say they cut costs, or they reduced the amount of manpower needed for specific tasks. But what is more important is how they did those things, or why they did those things. Those two simple questions can help take a candidate’s answer to another level to give you a better understanding of their skill set. 

  1. HAVE FUN WITH THE PROCESS

If you, as an interviewer, are tense and uptight during an interview, your interviewee is going to be tense and uptight as well. The interview process is overwhelming enough for a candidate, especially those who may struggle with some kind of anxiety issue. Find a way to break that tension early. Go to the same school as the candidate? Discuss your shared experiences. Work at the same facility? Share a story about your time there that invites the candidate to share a story about their time there. Remember, interviewing isn’t just about determining who has the right skill set for the job, but it’s about finding a cultural fit for your crew as well. The more you allow a candidate to relax and share their personality, the more you’re able to get a feel for how the candidate fits into the role.

If you’re in need of further insight and best practices, set up a FREE Talent Strategy Call with our team.


About The Author

Mitch Rupert joined our firm in July 2021. He facilitates candidate communication, interviews and due diligence reports. In addition, Mitch assists with outreach and digital content. Mitch boasts an impressive tenure of over two decades in sports


Are you ready to build a top-performing team that drives results? Our proven framework, methodologies, and implementation is based on our personal track record of developing world-class teams. In addition to talent acquisition, we provide leadership development and ongoing consultative services for the golf course and club industry. Our team has personally coached and mentored dozens of future golf course superintendents across the United States. 

Book a Talent Strategy Call

Leading Through Transition: Lessons from the Sidelines to the Fairways

Love them or hate them, the University of Alabama football program has been a mainstay in sports culture for the last two decades. 

After 17-years of historic dominance, the monumental shift in leadership from Nick Saban to Kalen DeBoer within a remarkable 49-hour period will have a profound impact on the university’s culture, economics and future direction.

The transition marks the end of a monumental chapter in American sports, comparable to the departures of coaching legends like Bear Bryant and John Wooden, but unique due to modern challenges like the transfer portal and NIL considerations.

Leadership transitions, especially in high-profile organizations like Alabama football, are littered with both opportunities and challenges. 

While a golf course superintendent or executive leadership transition at clubs may not have as much high-profile stakes, navigating leadership transitions in clubs share several operational and strategic similarities due to their prominence, stakeholder engagement levels, and the premium placed on vision and legacy. 

Navigating leadership transitions within golf clubs is often overlooked in favor of more apparent aspects of management.

Let’s Dive In

Whether due to performance related issues or natural succession, I’ve personally witnessed both good and bad leadership transitions and the downstream effects. 

Despite its significance, leadership transitions are often overshadowed by more visible or glamorous pain points. However, overlooking the importance of finesse, strategic planning, and understanding club dynamics can lead to tumultuous transitions, jeopardizing the club’s reputation, member satisfaction, and long-term success.

Discerning and thoughtful clubs recognize simply replacing one leader with another demands a nuanced approach, requiring finesse, strategic planning, and a profound comprehension of the club’s distinctive dynamics.

Therefore, recognizing and prioritizing these aspects in leadership transition projects is essential for ensuring the seamless continuity of operations and the preservation of the club’s unique identity and culture.

Challenges and Opportunities

Changes in leadership spark discussion, skepticism, uncertainty, and organizational realignment. These transitions can profoundly impact the organization’s culture, performance, and future direction. 

The loss of institutional knowledge, disruption in operations, delays in efficiencies, continuity concerns amongst the team, risk of golf course performance, economics or conditions creates a very uncertain time for all stakeholders. Most importantly, trust amongst all parties can be extremely fragile.

On the flip side, fresh perspectives and ideas can improve operations, morale and member satisfaction. Most importantly, a new leader can enhance accountability, attention to detail and a voice to connect with the team to drive growth and development.

Strategic Communication

From my experience, the foundation of a successful transition lies in establishing honest and open communication from the top. 

Whether it’s welcoming a new leader or beginning the search for a new team member, fostering a trusting relationship sets the tone for collaboration and productivity. 

Throughout my career, I’ve observed that the most successful transitions occur when there’s a mutual exchange of information and a genuine effort to understand each other’s expectations and preferences.

Involving key stakeholders whether club boards, executive team or key department figures can diffuse concerns. Providing regular updates, key milestones, and considering their input can alleviate stress, and provide confidence the club is moving forward in a positive direction.

Whatever “elephant in the room” or low-hanging fruit that exists, address concerns proactively. 

Engage the Team

Change can sometimes be unsettling, leading to feelings of isolation or frustration among team members. As leaders, it’s imperative to acknowledge and address these concerns through clear and concise communication. By articulating expectations and providing a roadmap for success during transitions, leaders can alleviate tensions and foster a sense of direction and purpose within the team.

During the transition process, I’ve found it invaluable to engage in honest conversations, asking questions like “Here’s how we do things. How do you like to do things?” This two-way exchange not only promotes transparency but also helps in aligning expectations and setting a solid foundation for the future. Introductions to established team members further facilitate the integration process, ensuring that everyone is on the same page from day one.

Other best practices include: 

  • Provide support and resources to address change management
  • Reinforce core values, and encourage a shared vision for the future. 
  • Manage expectations and outline plans to address any changes in operations
  • Educate new leaders about ongoing or legacy issues within the organization
  • Leverage internal strengths to embrace key personnel
  • Celebrate successes during the transition

Navigating leadership transitions, whether in the high-stakes world of collegiate football or within the strategic operations of club operations, demands a foundation built on open communication, mutual respect, and a unified pursuit of success. 

By embracing change with an open mind, fostering trust through transparency, and celebrating collective achievements, organizations can not only weather the storm of transition but emerge stronger, more cohesive, and poised for future triumphs.

If you’re in need of further insight and best practices, set up a FREE Talent Strategy Call with our team.



Are you ready to build a top-performing team that drives results? Our proven framework, methodologies, and implementation is based on our personal track record of developing world-class teams. In addition to talent acquisition, we provide leadership development and ongoing consultative services for the golf course and club industry. Our team has personally coached and mentored dozens of future golf course superintendents across the United States. 

Book a Talent Strategy Call

Unconventional Leadership

By Pat Sisk, CGCS

Using Moneyball Principles to Build a High-Performing Golf Course Maintenance Team

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” is a book by Michael Lewis, published in 2003, about the Oakland Athletics baseball team and its general manager Billy Beane. It describes the team’s non-traditional approach to assembling a competitive team in a hyper-competitive hiring environment.

Today, the game of golf and the prospects for continued growth is in a superior position. The success of your operation and future professional advancement may depend on your ability to reimagine your hiring practices and team development initiatives. Those who embrace an unconventional approach will likely enjoy the best chance for future success and career advancement.

In the world of golf course maintenance, leadership is no longer confined to traditional roles or backgrounds. Much like in sports, where unconventional players can make a significant impact, identifying and developing non-traditional leaders can positively transform a maintenance team. By applying Moneyball principles—leveraging data-driven analysis, identifying undervalued talent, and fostering a culture of innovation—golf course managers can assemble a dynamic team capable of achieving excellence. This article explores how to implement these strategies to identify, hire, and develop non-traditional leaders for your team.

1. Redefining Leadership Criteria: In traditional hiring processes, leadership qualities may be narrowly defined, focusing primarily on experience and formal qualifications. However, Moneyball techniques advocate for redefining leadership criteria to encompass a broader range of attributes, including creativity, problem-solving skills, adaptability, and passion for the work. Look beyond conventional resumes and consider candidates who demonstrate a strong work ethic, innovative thinking, and a willingness to creatively challenge the status quo.

2. Data-Driven Talent Identification: Moneyball emphasizes the importance of statistical analysis in talent identification. Similarly, golf course managers can utilize data-driven metrics to assess candidates potential for leadership roles. Analyze performance indicators such as productivity levels, project outcomes, and team collaboration to identify individuals who consistently deliver exceptional results. Consider implementing assessment tools and performance metrics tailored to the specific requirements of golf course maintenance practices to evaluate candidates objectively.

3. Cultivating a Broad Talent Pool: Diversity is a cornerstone of effective leadership. Moneyball strategies encourage managers to cast a wide net and actively seek candidates from nontraditional backgrounds and skill sets. Consider recruiting individuals with experience in related fields such as landscaping, agriculture, business or environmental science, as their expertise may bring fresh perspectives and innovative solutions to the maintenance team. Embrace diversity in age, gender, ethnicity, and educational background to foster a creative and forward-thinking work environment.

4. Investing in Training and Development: Building non-traditional leaders requires investment in training and development initiatives. Moneyball principles advocate for identifying raw talent and providing opportunities for growth and skill enhancement. Implement mentorship programs (such as apprenticeships), leadership workshops, and continuing education opportunities to nurture emerging leaders within the maintenance team. Encourage cross-functional collaboration and knowledge sharing to cultivate a culture of continuous learning and professional development.

5. Encouraging Challenge and Innovation: Non-traditional leaders often thrive in environments that encourage risk-taking and innovation. Embrace a culture of experimentation and creative problem-solving within the maintenance team. Encourage team members to explore new techniques, technologies, and practices that can enhance course conditions and operational efficiency. Celebrate successes and learn from failures while fostering a culture where individuals feel empowered to challenge conventions and pursue innovative solutions.

6. Promoting Leadership from Within: Effective leadership development entails recognizing and promoting talent from within the organization. Moneyball strategies prioritize internal talent cultivation, leveraging insights gained from firsthand experience and institutional knowledge. Identify promising individuals within the maintenance team who demonstrate leadership potential and provide them with opportunities for career advancement and increased responsibilities. Create a supportive environment where aspiring leaders feel empowered to pursue leadership roles and contribute to the team’s success.

7. Evaluating Performance and Providing Feedback: Regular performance evaluation and constructive feedback are essential for developing non-traditional leaders. Implement frequent performance review mechanisms that assess not only quantitative metrics but also qualitative attributes such as communication skills, decision-making ability, and team dynamics. Provide actionable feedback and mentorship to help individuals identify areas for improvement and capitalize on their strengths. Foster a culture of accountability and transparency, where feedback is valued as a catalyst for personal and professional growth.

8. Embracing Change and Adaptability: In today’s dynamic landscape, adaptability is a hallmark of effective leadership. Non-traditional leaders excel in environments where change is embraced and opportunities for innovation abound. Encourage flexibility and agility within the maintenance team, empowering leaders to navigate challenges, seize opportunities, and adapt to evolving industry trends and technological advancements. Embrace change as a catalyst for growth and transformation, positioning the maintenance team for long-term success in a competitive market.

Leveraging Moneyball principles to identify, hire, and develop non-traditional leaders can empower golf course managers to build a high-performing maintenance team capable of achieving excellence. By redefining leadership criteria, embracing diversity, investing in training and development, encouraging innovation, promoting internal talent, evaluating performance, and embracing change, managers can foster a culture of leadership excellence and drive continuous improvement within the team. As the golf industry evolves, cultivating non-traditional leaders is essential for maintaining competitiveness, enhancing operational efficiency, and delivering exceptional course conditions that delight golfers and elevate the overall experience.

If you’re in need of further insight and best practices, set up a FREE Talent Strategy Call with our team.


About The Author

Pat is an experienced golf industry professional with a demonstrated history of facility and team transformation. High-level performer who has utilized his skills to produce world-class playing conditions. Skilled in Budgeting, Landscaping, Turf Management, Renovation, Project Management and Team Building. Strong community and social services professional who graduated from the University of Massachusetts.


Are you ready to build a top-performing team that drives results? Our proven framework, methodologies, and implementation is based on our personal track record of developing world-class teams. In addition to talent acquisition, we provide leadership development and ongoing consultative services for the golf course and club industry. Our team has personally coached and mentored dozens of future golf course superintendents across the United States. 

Book a Talent Strategy Call

2024 Golf Course Superintendent Employment Trends Report: Key Takeaways

One of the more exciting projects our team has recently been working on with Pat Jones (Flagstick LLC) is a national study regarding golf course superintendent employment trends. We had over 300+ respondents, and over 1,000 comments about career satisfaction, career development and some real deep insights into the opportunities, threats and real-issues concerning the profession.

Not everything is rosy, but the sky isn’t falling.  A couple key takeaways for me were the following.

  • By and large, golf course superintendents absolutely love their careers, and clubs can make simple strategic shifts to keep them happy, engaged and fulfilled.
  • The #1 skill set golf course superintendents want to learn and develop is the ability to market themselves.
  • Golf course superintendents are increasingly standing firm on work-life balance issues especially when salaries, budgets and resources may not increase at the pace of their area peers, and smart clubs will recognize that.

The heartening revelation from our study is the profound love golf course superintendents have for their careers. Despite facing myriad challenges, the overriding sentiment is one of deep satisfaction and commitment to their roles.

We will continue to dive into the findings over the next few newsletters.  We hope you get a chance to read through the full report by downloading here.

Key insights hint that compensation, work-life balance and a good ‘GM’ are important to golf course superintendent career satisfaction

As the 2024 Golf Course Superintendent Employment Trends Survey’s findings began to emerge in January, the diverse feedback stirred and confirmed my own reflections over the last four years.

The allure of the golf course superintendent’s role, as seen through the golfer’s eyes, often belies the complexity and depth of the position. Despite an apparent scarcity of candidates, an alarming 43% of superintendents are in pursuit of opportunities that more closely match their professional desires and personal needs.

This significant figure highlights a sense of unease within the profession, propelled by compensation challenges, the quest for work-life harmony, and a desire for acknowledgment and stability.

It’s all about the money

Central to these concerns is compensation. Half of the survey’s respondents report that their earnings do not mirror the industry benchmarks in their regions, a revelation that is particularly striking given their perceived value by their clubs. This disconnect paints a picture of professionals torn between their passion for their craft and the realities of economic necessity.

What, then, defines the ideal scenario for those tasked with managing a golf course, often referred to as the club’s #1 asset? The answer weaves through various layers, including the aspiration for a secure role within a supportive and well-structured team, ideally at a renowned club.

Yet, beyond the allure of elite positions, what do superintendents treasure in their “perfect job”? Insights from the survey spotlight the significance of:

  • Reporting to a good General Manager, and being a part of a team
  • Job stability
  • Remaining in their current locale.

The Importance of a Good General Manager

Among these, the importance of a supportive General Manager emerges as a pivotal factor. Indeed, while challenges from “armchair agronomists” or club presidents can be garner borderline unrealistic expectations, a strong relationship with the General Manager can mitigate many issues.

So, what does a “good” relationship with a General Manager look like from a superintendent’s perspective? Respondents shared key attributes throughout their comments:

  • Leaders who acknowledge the rigor and commitment needed to upkeep a golf course, making efforts to grasp the job’s intricacies and seasonal challenges.
  • An atmosphere of open communication, encouraging superintendents to voice ideas and concerns without fear of backlash.
  • Support for ongoing education and professional development, whether through leadership training, marketing skill enhancement, or specialized turf management programs.
  • Strategic leaders who recognize the essential role of the golf course and its superintendent in realizing the club’s future aspirations.
  • Build bridges between all departments  given the typical physical separation of the maintenance facility
  • Inclusion of superintendents in decision-making processes, particularly those affecting their domain or team.
  • A fair negotiator, who does their research and rewards not just the superintendent, but the entire operation.
  • Advocacy for maintaining realistic expectations around budgets and staffing.

Some of the best General Managers I worked with made it a point to come down to the maintenance facility frequently, engaging with our team from the initial onboarding of new employees, spending time on the golf course with myself and integrating our team with the rest of employees through various functions ranging from employee parties, golf, and meals.

In our search and consulting projects, the best General Managers connect to learn industry trends and best practices, despite not necessarily having a “green thumb” or geek out on the latest technology.  They seek information to help advocate for the department, necessary infrastructure improvements, while also keeping a pulse on operational enhancements to improve member experience.

It has been consistent in my travels, General Managers are also enforcing work-life balance policies – written or unwritten.  Understanding the grind most superintendents put themselves and their teams through, also requires a self-aware leader to keep the team focused and fresh.

For astute General Managers and club leaders, these insights offer an opportunity to reflect on and enrich their relationships with their golf course superintendent and agronomy teams, paving the way for greater achievements.  It may also uncover similar themes that are reflected in the other areas of club operations!

How to Become a Strategic Partner at Your Facility

Close-up of Human Hand

Editor’s Note: The following article was published in Golf Course Industry, December 2023 (https://www.golfcourseindustry.com/news/strategic-partners-golf-course-superintendents-clubs/)

A few months back, I had an insightful conversation with Golf Course Industry managing editor Matt LaWell. He asked me a thought-provoking question: “What was one of the most surprising observations over the last year?”

As I look back at not only the searches we’ve conducted in the last year, the courses I visited coast-to-coast, and the daily interactions with golf course superintendents everywhere, we get a good flavor of surprises ranging from staffing, technology, agronomics, club politics and everything in between.

But there is one engagement that continues to surface from very competent and accomplished superintendents to newcomers in their leadership roles that throws me into a loop. The engagement is often filled with frustration, disappointment, and stress mixed with a blend of openness, vulnerability, and a sense of feeling undervalued.

Naturally, in each of these interactions, there were some similar challenges on the surface: budgetary constraints, lack of recognition, unrealistic expectations, communication gaps, lack of awareness about the complexities and technicalities of golf course management, and inability to undertake key action steps towards a brighter future.

I explored deeper, and a common theme emerged. Superintendents are not often seen as strategic partners within their facilities, but more as operational supporters, limiting their influence in decision-making processes with little voice in the broader strategic and governance decisions.

As I reflect on the superintendent search processes our team has conducted, I’m surprised by how often there is a disconnect between the golf course superintendent and club leadership.

When we uncover some of the root issues and opportunities facing clubs and their operations, there is often a communication breakdown leading to growing frustrations, and in some cases deteriorating course conditions. The end result leads to change – voluntarily or not. While it would be easy to point the finger at the superintendent for not taking ownership of his/her destiny, often I am finding there is a layer of bureaucracy that prohibits superintendents from effectively communicating with decision-makers, share insights, advocating for course improvements, or developing advocates.

Whether implementing advanced maintenance practices, investing in new technologies, pursuing environmental sustainability initiatives or staff development, key actions and shared visions cannot be accomplished, because the professional expert has been shielded. While it has come a long way in image and importance, the superintendent profession still often operates in isolation or without sufficient interaction with the most influential decision-makers.

Why is that?

First, the day-to-day demands of maintaining a golf course can be all-consuming. This leaves little time for engaging in broader strategic discussions or collaborating with other departments.

When it is the heat of the growing and playing season, it is tough to focus on much beyond keeping grass alive, member service and operations. In most of my peers’ cases, they are doing this with limited skilled labor.

Secondly, the specialized nature of the work of golf course maintenance can lead to a disconnect between superintendents and others in the organization. Whether it’s the individuals they report to or the casual golfer, the intricacies of their work can create natural separation in day-to-day operations. It places great importance on effective communication in laymen terms with decision-makers.

While digital platforms have helped bridge some of these communication gaps, many still don’t fully grasp the importance of factors like aeration, frost delays, maintenance schedules or the balance of providing high-level service and quality with limited resources amid a talent shortage of skilled labor.

Lastly, historical precedents, internal politics, and traditional governance models have not evolved to include roles like the superintendent in decision-making processes. I believe this is a major opportunity for our industry associations including the CMAA, GCSAA, and PGA to advocate for this expanded role in governance.

As I personally experienced, trying to fulfill responsibilities independently, without adequate support or understanding from club governance creates a feeling of being undervalued or not heard.

Managing differing opinions, and conflicts of interest, and aligning visions and goals can be a constant challenge, whether at the governance level or within the leadership team. Achieving team goals can be difficult even in the best of times. Throw in mistrust, miscommunication, and misalignment, and then barriers of governance can implode the best-performing leaders.

Having professional recommendations or decisions routinely overruled or ignored by a general manager, club owner, or the board, especially in matters critical to the health and playability of the course, is deflating. I remember feeling like I was on an island with no direction or support. Looking back, I realize that improving communication and building stronger relationships would’ve been a critical turning point. Building relationships is integral, not optional.

Here are some other suggestions to overcome this obstacle:

Gain a thorough understanding of the board’s goals and strategic vision by actively listening and participating in board meetings or requesting documentation of their long-term and short-term objectives. This will provide opportunities to link your performance and the department’s output to the overall goals of the club. Agree on key performance indicators that link course conditions to member satisfaction, financial performance, and larger business objectives. Ensure these KPIs are specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and timely, and regularly report on them to keep the board and other key stakeholders informed and accountable.

Provide structured updates to the board on course conditions, maintenance schedules, and challenges through the proper channels – whether via your general manager, green committee, or directly – using data and case studies to support your communication and decisions.

Facilitate conversations around results and your duty to uphold the board’s priorities, not persuading others out of necessity to fill operational needs.

Develop maintenance plans aligned with the board’s priorities, such as enhancing member experience or ensuring financial sustainability. Present these plans to the board for feedback, approval and outline any potential gaps or pitfalls in achieving the goals. Do not shy away from telling the truth or reservations you may have.

Offer educational sessions for board members to increase their understanding of agronomy, course management, and environmental stewardship. Clearly explain how course maintenance practices impact broader strategic goals. Consider soliciting outside perspectives from consultants, peers, or other comparable clubs to support your case.

Start by seeking opportunities to collaborate with other departments, share knowledge, and actively participate in the broader business aspects of managing the golf course. While staying in your lane is important, it will strengthen your capacity to emphasize and lean into supporting other departments, build relationships and create a service-centered approach that will trickle down.

Implement mechanisms for board members to provide feedback on course conditions and maintenance issues constructively. Don’t be afraid to address potential struggles head-on, which not only increases your credibility but also improves cohesion and makes progress in building awareness of the challenges within the role. This will ultimately help accomplish your goals.

By fostering a more strategic relationship with the board and ensuring their actions align with the club’s strategic direction, superintendents can enhance their role as vital partners in the success of the organization and the game of golf.

Book a Talent Strategy Call

About The Author

Tyler Bloom is the founder of Tyler Bloom Consulting. A former golf course superintendent and turf professional, Tyler’s love of all things golf began at the age of six when he stepped onto the course for the first time. 

Tyler has an Executive Certificate in Talent Acquisition from Cornell University and a degree in Turfgrass Science from Penn State University. With 20 years of experience in the golf and turfgrass industry, Tyler has worked directly with reputable club leaders at some of the most prestigious clubs to place over 200 professionals in executive and management-level positions throughout the United States.


How to Address Pay Gaps

Editor’s Note: The following article was published in Golf Course Industry, December 2023 (https://www.golfcourseindustry.com/article/golf-course-employee-financial-compensation/)

A few months ago, I was sitting in an executive meeting alongside a club president, a vice president, and a general manager. We spoke candidly about the future of the industry, challenges within the workforce, sustainability obstacles, government intervention, the changing landscape of careers, and the subsequent business shifts that would be needed. 

As we approached the conversation around salaries at different levels, I could sense the general manager becoming increasingly nervous to discuss the rapidly changing landscape.  

To put him at ease, I directed the conversation elsewhere, mentioning a host of other challenges. We later revisited salaries. At the core of the issue was the fact that the individual himself wasn’t being compensated at industry standard; it wasn’t an area he was comfortable negotiating, not only for himself but ultimately for other employees as well.

Fair and competitive salaries continue to be one of the most consistent issues we heard about in 2023. We also heard a lot about the challenge of wage compression when there is minimal difference in pay between employees at different levels of an organization.

During the pandemic, employers faced pressure to raise wages for essential frontline workers, such as groundskeepers, servers, bussers and bag-room attendants. This sometimes led to wage compression, where entry-level and frontline workers saw significant pay increases, but the gap between them and higher-level employees remained relatively small.

This must be done thoughtfully to ensure that existing team members’ wages are not overlooked or left stagnant. A well-structured compensation strategy is crucial for attracting, retaining, and motivating employees.

To create a fair and competitive compensation package, employers must consider various factors, including industry standards, local cost of living, experience, performance, and skills.

Conduct a compensation review

Before making any changes to your compensation structure, it’s essential to conduct a thorough review of your existing practices. 

Begin by evaluating your current salary and compensation framework. Understand how different roles and experience levels are compensated within your organization.

Compare your salary levels to industry standards and similar positions in your geographic area with similar demographic clubs and/or those to which you aspire to be compared. This benchmarking process will help you determine whether your salaries are competitive. Share the results from your local survey with participants.

Analyze your compensation data to identify any wage disparities within your organization. 

Are there significant pay gaps between employees in similar roles or with similar experience levels?

Implement a minimum wage increase

Setting a minimum wage that meets or exceeds local regulations is a crucial step in ensuring fair compensation. 

Ensure that your organization complies with minimum wage laws and regulations in your area. Paying at or above the local minimum wage is essential to provide a fair base salary to all employees.

Pay particular attention to entry-level staff when implementing a minimum wage increase. These employees often have the most to gain from a higher base salary, and it can significantly improve their financial stability. Graduated pay scales allow employees to progress in their careers and earn higher wages as they gain experience and contribute more to the team.

Let’s reveal ways to create them.

Develop pay scales or salary bands that consider factors like experience, tenure and performance. These scales should provide clear guidelines for wage progression.

Encourage and recognize outstanding contributions by offering promotions or salary increases to employees who consistently perform at a high level. Three common approaches are:

  • Performance-based pay
  • Skill-based pay
  • Equity adjustments
  • Regular compensation reviews

A well-designed compensation strategy is essential for fostering employee satisfaction, motivation and growth. 

By conducting regular compensation reviews, implementing a minimum-wage increase, establishing graduated pay scales, and incorporating performance- and skill-based pay, organizations can create a compensation framework that not only attracts top talent but also supports the development and success of their existing workforce. This, in turn, contributes to the overall growth and prosperity of the organization.

Balancing entry-level staff wages with those of other team members is essential for creating a motivated and satisfied workforce. 

Members’ expectations have evolved significantly, necessitating broader and more diverse offerings from golf facilities. The demand for great services and facilities continues to climb and ultimately needs to run parallel with the compensation of its employees.  

Golf facilities are no longer the sole providers of leisure and entertainment. They now face stiff competition from alternative venues and experiences. To stand out and maintain their appeal, clubs must offer unique and distinctive offerings that capture the interest of potential employees from entry level to executives.

By implementing these strategies, employers can not only boost entry-level staff wages but also address the compensation needs of all team members effectively without feeling nervous or pressured.

Book a Talent Strategy Call

About The Author

Tyler Bloom is the founder of Tyler Bloom Consulting. A former golf course superintendent and turf professional, Tyler’s love of all things golf began at the age of six when he stepped onto the course for the first time. 

Tyler has an Executive Certificate in Talent Acquisition from Cornell University and a degree in Turfgrass Science from Penn State University. With 20 years of experience in the golf and turfgrass industry, Tyler has worked directly with reputable club leaders at some of the most prestigious clubs to place over 200 professionals in executive and management-level positions throughout the United States.


3 Most In-Demand Skills for 2024

In 2024, hiring teams will focus more on skills vs. education. But which skills are the most in-demand? Based on my conversations with club management, leadership-based communication and emotional intelligence top the list. Professionalism is a close third.

Leadership-based communication

You don’t need to be in a leadership role to adopt leadership-based communication. At any level, it’s an important skill to have — and a career-advancing one too. Leadership-based communication includes and inspires your colleagues. It gains others’ trust, encourages collaboration and creates a positive environment. It includes active listening, empathy, and transparency.  

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is your ability to understand and manage or respond to emotions, both your own and others’. People with high EQ tend to be good at building relationships, resolving conflicts, and motivating coworkers. A high EQ is also good for more selfish reasons. People with high emotional intelligence tend to be strong leaders and are more likely to be promoted. One study even showed that the higher your emotional intelligence, the higher your salary.

How do you measure your own EQ? Let’s use this assessment from the Predictive Index to start.

Professionalism

This should be a basic tool in every job seeker’s bag, but it’s often lacking. Infuse professionalism into every touchpoint you have with a potential employer: starting with your application. Because it’s such a rarity today, professionalism can be a key differentiator that helps you land the job. And it really isn’t that difficult. Find out how you can incorporate it into your job search in my new blog post, Is This Missing From Your Job Search?

Book a Talent Strategy Call

About The Author

Tyler Bloom is the founder of Tyler Bloom Consulting. A former golf course superintendent and turf professional, Tyler’s love of all things golf began at the age of six when he stepped onto the course for the first time. 

Tyler has an Executive Certificate in Talent Acquisition from Cornell University and a degree in Turfgrass Science from Penn State University. With 20 years of experience in the golf and turfgrass industry, Tyler has worked directly with reputable club leaders at some of the most prestigious clubs to place over 200 professionals in executive and management-level positions throughout the United States.


Is This Missing From Your Job Search?

In today’s job market, there’s a secret sauce that can help you rise to the top.

Professionalism.

This should be elementary. However, in my experience, professionalism is sorely lacking among golf job seekers, even at the executive management level. What should be low-hanging fruit seems out of reach for many.

Here are four easy ways your professionalism can be a key differentiator that helps you land that job.

The first impression happens before you arrive at their door.

Long before you show up for your interview, your interviewers will have an opinion of you. It starts with your application. Ensure your cover letter and résumé are specific to the job, well-crafted and typo-free. Include all information and materials requested and follow the instructions for how to apply.

Now, take a look at your online presence. What does it say about you? Golf clubs increasingly use social media to gain insights into applicants. Your LinkedIn profile should be complete and current. Bonus points if you share quality golf-related content on it and engage with others’ posts. Your other social media profiles should also reflect positively on you. Clean up any content that doesn’t.

Every communication says something about you.

Give every communication with the club’s hiring team the same TLC you gave your application. Proofread messages before you hit send. Respond promptly and communicate only when necessary.

Soon after the interview, follow up with a note expressing your appreciation and reiterating your interest. It’s a nicety many job seekers skip, so this seemingly simple gesture makes a lasting impression. As the saying goes, common courtesy isn’t all that common.

Use the interview to walk your talk.

On interview day, show up prepared, well-groomed, and 15 minutes early. Smile, offer a firm handshake, and maintain eye contact. Be friendly and polite to everyone you meet.

Listen carefully during the interview, don’t interrupt, and give thoughtful, honest responses that demonstrate your expertise and integrity and show them you’ve taken the time to learn about their club. Never speak negatively about past employers. Nothing says “unprofessional” like a person who bad-mouths their last workplace.

Didn’t get the job? Don’t stop now.

If you don’t get the job, use it as an opportunity to demonstrate the true pro you are. Thank your interviewer again and ask them to keep you in mind should other suitable roles arise. Connect with them on LinkedIn, and nurture that connection by sharing useful content with them when relevant.

The golf industry is a small world. People talk. When you behave like a professional, your good reputation will precede you.


About The Author

Tyler Bloom is the founder of Tyler Bloom Consulting. A former golf course superintendent and turf professional, Tyler’s love of all things golf began at the age of six when he stepped onto the course for the first time. 

Tyler has an Executive Certificate in Talent Acquisition from Cornell University and a degree in Turfgrass Science from Penn State University. With 20 years of experience in the golf and turfgrass industry, Tyler has worked directly with reputable club leaders at some of the most prestigious clubs to place over 200 professionals in executive and management-level positions throughout the United States.


Are you ready to build a top-performing team that drives results? Our proven framework, methodologies, and implementation are based on our track record of developing world-class teams. In addition to talent acquisition, we provide leadership development and ongoing consultative services for the golf course and club industry. Our team has personally coached and mentored dozens of future golf course superintendents across the United States. 

Book a Talent Strategy Call

5 Tips for Negotiating Your Salary Like a Pro

salary discussion

Asking can be daunting though. In the study, only 30% of people recalled asking for a higher salary the last time they were hired, so let’s explore how you can go into your negotiation feeling confident about asking.

Research industry standards

Before you do anything, research industry salary standards for the role you’re applying for. You can do this in a few ways — the more sources and people you consult, the more accurate a picture you’ll get.

Set your salary goals

After you’ve done your research, you’ll be ready to identify a salary range you’re comfortable with. What’s the minimum you will accept, and what’s your “stretch goal”?

Consider things like your current or previous salary, your experience, the role and its responsibilities, its market value and your cost of living. You might even think about how badly you want or need this job or how long the commute is. For your stretch goal, be optimistic but reasonable — you don’t want to price yourself out of the market.

Once you’ve established a range you’re happy with, discuss it with a colleague to ensure it makes sense from a more objective perspective.

But don’t reveal your number first

So how should you answer if asked what your salary expectation is? Your strategy will vary depending on the situation but could include:

  • Turning the question back on them and asking what their budget is.
  • Deflecting. If it’s too early to give an informed answer, it’s okay to deflect by saying you’d like to get a better sense of the role.

Factor in benefits and perks

Salary is only one aspect of your compensation package. Other benefits and perks golf clubs offer may include health insurance, a retirement plan, vacation time, flexible work hours or course access and equipment discounts. These can add significant value to your overall package. So, if the base salary is lower than what you’d like, try to negotiate on the other elements to make up for it.

Prove your worth

If you’ve made it to the salary negotiation stage, you’ve proven your merit, but now’s not the time to get comfortable. Be prepared to articulate how you will contribute to the club’s success and bottom line. Share how you’ve made a difference in other jobs. Did you introduce a procedural change that resulted in lower operating costs? Have you helped golfers improve their game, maybe even go on to win tournaments? Quantifiable achievements make a strong case for a higher salary.

Practice your pitch

Practicing your delivery beforehand will build your confidence and ensure you’re ready for the actual conversation. Enlist the help of a friend or colleague to role-play the discussion. This can also help you anticipate potential objections from the employer and ensure you have answers for them.

Your starting salary is the anchor that future raises, bonuses and other perks will be tied to — it’s important to get it right. By doing your research, articulating your value and going in prepared and confident, you can maximize your earning potential. You got this!


About The Author

Tyler Bloom is the founder of Tyler Bloom Consulting. A former golf course superintendent and turf professional, Tyler’s love of all things golf began at the age of six when he stepped onto the course for the first time. 

Tyler has an Executive Certificate in Talent Acquisition from Cornell University and a degree in Turfgrass Science from Penn State University. With 20 years of experience in the golf and turfgrass industry, Tyler has worked directly with reputable club leaders at some of the most prestigious clubs to place over 100 professionals in executive and management level positions throughout the United States.


Are you ready to build a top-performing team that drives results? Our proven framework, methodologies, and implementation is based on our personal track record of developing world-class teams. In addition to talent acquisition, we provide leadership development and ongoing consultative services for the golf course and club industry. Our team has personally coached and mentored dozens of future golf course superintendents across the United States. 

Book A S.E.R.V.I.C.E. Call