1 in 3 greenkeepers looking for work outside of golf

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 11, 2022 17:47

A survey of 1,300 greenkeepers in the UK has found that more than a third are currently looking for work outside of golf.

The British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) poll of its members asked them to provide details of working conditions at their facilities, in addition to commenting on their job satisfaction.

More than half (56 percent) of respondents said they were happy working within the greenkeeping profession, but 35 percent admitted they were currently looking for opportunities outside the industry.

With regard to issues of recruitment, 53 percent are running with teams at less than full strength, while 83.5 percent said they struggle to recruit new staff.

Less than two percent of greenkeepers say they’re finding it easy to get staff in place if they have a vacancy, with 47 percent saying this is ‘very difficult’.

The boom in golf that followed the first coronavirus lockdown has translated to a general increase in staffing numbers, with golf clubs having on average one extra full time greenkeeper compared to the previous poll in 2019. In 2019 the average 18-hole golf course had 5.5 full-time and one seasonal greenkeeper. In 2022 that number has increased to 6.3 with 1.6 seasonal greenkeepers.

However, investment in staff welfare facilities hasn’t materialised, with, for example, only one in five facilities offering single sex changing facilities and toilets for female team members. Despite increased reliance on technology, nearly half of clubs don’t provide internet connectivity within the greenkeeping facility.

Thirty percent of clubs don’t provide an office for the greenkeeping team and 29 percent don’t provide greenkeepers with kitchen or changing facilities.

The average course manager or head greenkeeper has been in their role for nine years and six months. This is a drop from the 12 years and three months in 2019, suggesting a greater number of people changing jobs or leaving the industry entirely.

More than 70 percent of clubs do not follow the Committee for Golf Club Salaries guidelines for pay for greenkeepers.

BIGGA CEO Jim Croxton said: “We know anecdotally that there are major challenges regarding the recruitment and retention of staff and also that pay, conditions and welfare are major contributors, but to see in black and white that nearly 35 percent of greenkeepers are looking for work outside the industry is truly a concern.

“Equally, finding out that only one in five facilities are equipped for female staff members shows that the sport’s laudable ambitions to improve equality and diversity are not translating into our side of the game.

“But the key question is what the game of golf does with this information? It is widely known that there is currently a general challenge in recruiting and retaining staff across society. In order to continue functioning, many sectors have responded with significant pay increases and improvement in working conditions. Golf requires an integrated approach by the entire sport to overcome the challenges laid out by this survey. This approach will need to clearly lay out the challenges, create targets and devise plans to achieve our ambitions.”

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 11, 2022 17:47
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6 Comments

  1. Course Manager July 17, 17:48

    This has been on the cards for years and anybody managing a team will know this, yes organisations like BIGGA, The R&A,England golf can help but ultimately it’s going to be up to us as Course Managers to try and persuade our Boards, Committees and owners that it’s our department that needs invested in and that’s even tougher in this economic climate, but we have amazing people in our profession who can make the difference. Its not just in pay although that does play a big part it’s pensions, bonuses, training and staff development, welfare facilities, uniforms, a motivated boss, a vision, safe reliable equipment the list goes on…all creating an environment people want to not just work in but thrive in. It can be done !

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  2. Wildlife Manager July 13, 14:31

    After speaking to many ground keepers last year I was amazed and shocked how low the pay is considering how much members pay for annual fees etc, the courses are immaculate in all weathers all year around, bad working hours and they pay I have heard certainly doesn’t reflect the workers skills and commitment.

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  3. SAmey July 13, 12:50

    Low pay industry. I worked various golf courses for years and no matter how much experience or education you got it’s low pay. You are not looked after. Some courses have extremely poor facilities also for staff. #intherearwiththegear

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  4. Simpson July 13, 10:12

    Why don’t the golf courses give the green keepers a small percentage of the green fees quarterly and this would be a great incentive to keep guys staying and save on cost of new staff having to be trained , pros used to get a percentage of green fees years ago on top of the retainer . Thoughts !!

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  5. Meade July 12, 10:11

    Because for the most part a golf job is a vocation; and golf as a business is a not a real contributor to domestic product and is highly susceptible to economic downturns.

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  6. TLowe July 12, 02:43

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the same as many industries at the moment but… “The Grass Isn’t Always Greener”!

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