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The Golfdom Files: Are your course maintenance $$ spent wisely?

By |  September 21, 2023 0 Comments

According to a GCSAA wage study, superintendent salaries have never been higher than they are in 2023, with the average superintendent earning $109,621 annually. In this article from the September 1968 issue of Golfdom, agronomy consultant, Dr. Marvin H. Ferguson ponders whether it’s worthwhile to hire a top-level superintendent at $15,000 annually. View the full article here.


There are three major elements of golf course maintenance that influence the amount of value derived from the money spent. These are: (1) the quality of the supervision, or the ability and competence of the golf course superintendent and his assistant, (2) the quality of the golf course crew, and (3) the amount and quality of equipment available for maintenance.

(Photo: Golfdom Staff)

(Image: Golfdom Staff)

Insofar as the first of these elements, the golf course superintendent is concerned, most of the nation’s golf clubs are fortunate indeed. There are many excellent golf course superintendents. This is a profession that has made remarkable strides in a relatively few years. Pride and ability on the part of the top superintendents combine to provide excellent value for every dollar expended in the form of salary.

Those clubs fortunate enough to have the services of competent men should make sure their superintendents are not taken for granted and permitted to be lured away by a little more money offered by a neighbor club. There are many good men, but there are not enough top men to fill all the positions.

It has been demonstrated many times that a club that pays more for supervision will receive much greater value for the money spent on labor and machinery. When the relative costs of supervision are weighed against the total budget, it makes sense to acquire the best supervision and planning ability that is available.

The second element mentioned is that of the golf course crew. Labor costs are usually calculated wrong. In the second case, a man with a spray gun overlapped some areas with a fungicidal spray. The overdose caused burning of the grass.

“Cheap” labor is very costly indeed when its use creates damage of this kind. Observations made on many golf courses offer convincing demonstrations that it is more economical to hire more competent and more reliable men. Then if money is a limiting factor, find ways to get by with fewer men, but do not settle for incompetents.

The late O. J. Noer stated on many occasions that money should not be wasted on a golf course, but he also said to beware of trying to save money on the golf course to the detriment of expensive turfgrasses. Club memberships are much less forgiving of poor golfing conditions than they are of a budget that was exceeded in an effort to provide good playing conditions.

This article is tagged with and posted in From the Magazine


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