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.