How to Address Pay Gaps

Editor’s Note: The following article was published in Golf Course Industry, December 2023 (

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.

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.