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stealthduffer

Greenskeeping

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Beginning to give thought to my retirement plans. Still have a dozen years to go but a good time to start putting pieces in place.  Not the type of person to want to sit around or play golf 100% of the time so was giving thought to looking for work in the course management side of things - mowing or even something more "technical" than that.  Has anyone out there taken this route and have any helpful suggestions? I'll probably only change my mind 20 times or so but it's my current path!

Thanks!

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We have a couple of retired guys that work part time at the course I belong to, and they do a great job. By patr time, I mean they work during the growing season. They are there regular hours from mid March until November. I would think that a lot of courses would love to have responsible workers. A nice benefit will be free golf.

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This all depends on the area labor market's "supply and demand" for landscape workers.

You might ask the greenskeeper at a couple of local courses what they want out of their workers, whether they have "extras" in warm weather.

The local junior college or vo-tech school might have a few classes which could help you build a useful skill or two in this area.

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I have a similar plan, my goal is to retire btwn 55-60 and do something I enjoy at that point. I worked at a golf course in college, grounds crew. I really enjoyed it, it was a relaxing atmosphere (other than the occassional golfer who would hit into me while mowing the green or something). And I got free golf at the course I worked at and free golf at the other 2 sister courses (owned by same company). There were a few retired ppl I worked with and they would work 3 days a week cutting the fairway, rough, etc. Several of the starters and rangers were also retired and worked there a few days a week. From a pay standpoint, it was a little better than minimum wage. I was on the general crew (not the greenskeeper or assistant keeper), so I cut greens, fairways, fixed sprinkler heads, general landscaping, etc. Nothing too difficult. To echo what WUTiger said, it will really depend on the need for staff when you start looking to actually do it. But it shouldn't be too tough to get the job if the timing is right.
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    • Lessons, depending on your arrangement with your home course, can be a much better way to make money than if you just work in the shop.  In the shop I would imagine you're not making much more than $15 an hour, even as a professional, assuming that you aren't salaried to run the golf operation for a city. Even if you charged a relatively cheap rate of $50 an hour for lessons, and the course took half of your inexpensive fee, you would be making $10 more an hour than you would otherwise and it might be more enjoyable that pro shop work for you. Playing lessons could be even more lucrative depending on your rates, and you can even play some golf yourself (either playing with the player or demonstrating a shot, for example).  Youth programs can be highly profitable if that's something you're interested in. A local course with two PGA professionals has a weekly group lesson for junior golfers at $20 per person. On the days that this program is running they easily have 30-40 kids ($600-800) out there working on chipping and putting (and then the kids go out to walk nine holes afterwords). Depending on how your course operates and how busy it is this is something you could look into organizing. Put up flyers both on the course and in public areas where you are allowed to post things to get the word out. If you are somewhat tech and business inclined it might be a good idea to look into starting up a small business of your own selling golf apparel and equipment. Take advantage of your PGA membership and start up accounts with the major brands such as Titleist, PING, Taylormade, Scotty Cameron (they kind of do their stuff separate from Titleist) and put up a storefront on your own website. Squarespace is one web-hosting company I know of that does an excellent job of making it easy for you to put together what you want. Nearly everything in most golf shops is marked up at keystone pricing or higher, so there is definitely profit to be made if you can get some web traffic (and it never hurts to have it up for people to stumble upon).  Look up public courses in your area and figure out who the person in charge of contracting out the golf courses is. The title in my city is the "Golf Operations Manager", but this varies from city to city. Get to know this person and learn when the management contracts for various courses expire so you can put your bid in to run one of the courses on behalf of the city. This is where you'd likely end up making the most money, but it would be the most administrative of the options. You would likely be responsible for hiring, firing, reports, and other day to day tasks but the big advantage is that the city, in most cases, will allow you to use the pro shop to sell your own merchandise. This becomes huge since then the profits (or at least a large portion of them) from every pro shop sale goes into your pocket, though it does come with the added work of managing inventory and negotiating terms with the city. This is, though, by far the most lucrative option that would be somewhat easily (with enough background work and a good proposal/interview) attainable. One other thing, along the lines of the previous point, that you could do is see if there are any professionals that are contracted to run two golf courses through the city. My city currently works this way, but the professional has to subcontract the second course to another PGA professional in order to manage everything smoothly. As a result of this the professional at the course I work for (the subcontracted professional) is now a near shoe-in to win the bid to manage the golf course he's been running when the city contract becomes available this January, just because he has been running the show there for the last four years. Continuing to excel at your current position at the golf course while networking and getting to know your customers (a large factor for the aforementioned pro is that he has developed close ties with the clientele and has increased revenue as a result) is something that will be viewed favorably if you later put in a bid to manage the course.
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