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How to break in, without going broke?

 smashdn ·  
smashdnsmashdn Let's cut them trees down.Members  2645WRX Points: 1,044Posts: 2,645 Titanium Tees
Joined:  in Courses, Memberships and Travel #1

I am just at a career standstill at the moment. I don't find enjoyment in what I do any longer and frankly I am tired of factory work/manufacturing. I love golf. That is why I am here. I'm not good at it but I love everything about. The turf side, the architecture, the business side of it, the customer interaction and the essence of providing a service and experience. The actual playing is oddly enough pretty far down on the list as to why I love golf.

I took a few classes in college (CG Management) but that was really only to fill out my class schedule at the time. My school was not know for cranking out high quality turf guys or golf course managers. At the time it didn't cross my mind that that should have been my field. Honestly, what I was doing was my passion and may still be my passion but the actual career it has carried me into is not. I was big into water and hydrology and geology. Have an Environmental Science degree but mostly do compliance management including environmental, OSHA and worker's compensation. I'm burned out on factories.

How can I get in to the golf business? Run a course, or run a shop (non-PGA, remember I'm a 13 and won't pass the playing test) or even work for a design firm re-designing or giving face lifts to existing courses? I like to think I have a good eye for not only what will play well and be challenging but will be maintainable and sustainable and not cost a ton of money to create.

The caveat to all this is that I also have a family to support. I can't drop everything and start by raking bunkers at the local muni part-time. Not that I am above the work or wouldn't actually enjoy that, but that financially I cannot swing that.

You may have read my other thread "Buying a Closed Course." If that was the champagne dreams I am now looking for something more along the lines of a beer budget way to get in.




  • Z1ggy16Z1ggy16 Members  9789WRX Points: 1,672Posts: 9,789 Titanium Tees
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    I reeeealllllyyy wish I could work at or even own my own business like Ian at TXG. I'd never take lessons from somebody who couldn't go out and shoot 75 twice, but... to be a good fitter, do you really need to be an incredible player? I love the science and physics of golf and I'm border line obsessed with golf gear and all the ins and outs of it. It's like every person who comes in is a little puzzle, and you need to solve a different one each time.

    Unfortunately, I'm in your boat. 0% chance I could just quit my 6 figure job and go work at True Spec fitting people. Plus the reason Ian got so popular was because of his pedigree, which really started with being a good player and being in the golf business for years and years prior to owning his own company.

    GL to you but I imagine it will be quite the uphill battle.

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  • farmerfarmer Members  8895WRX Points: 1,328Posts: 8,895 Titanium Tees
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    Write to some firms doing course design or redesign/renovation work. They might be looking for a guy with experience in environmental issues, albeit in a different field. I suspect that environmental concerns are pretty high up when it comes to designing and building a new golf course.

  • smashdnsmashdn Let's cut them trees down. Members  2645WRX Points: 1,044Posts: 2,645 Titanium Tees
    Joined:  edited Sep 3, 2019 #4

    Hadn't thought about that. I could probably do an ESA or help with a section 404 permit if needed. I know a little GIS from school but am probably way rusty since I don't use it at work. Not shy with a transit. I can read a print and a topo though. I doubt guys even use paper anymore.

  • caniac6caniac6 Members  3634WRX Points: 1,301Handicap: 4Posts: 3,634 Titanium Tees
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    I went back to college in my 30s, and got a turf degree. Absolutely loved it. Retired now, but really enjoyed school ( NC State), and working at the course. It's hard work, very time consuming, worked a lot of weekends, but it sure was a lot of fun. Back when I did it golf was booming, and there were a lot of opportunities.

  • mallratmallrat Members  3343WRX Points: 482Posts: 3,343 Titanium Tees
    Joined:  #6

    So 4 years ago I was returning to work after being a stay at home dad for 4 years. Wife and I talked it through and money was not the biggest factor so we decided that it was a good time for a career change (I was a restaurant manager). Most money I spent was on golf so free golf and discounted products was a big deal so I found a turf care job. 3 months later I had found a passion.

    Now I got lucky and was hired by a superintendent who is very highly regarded in the region. Then he left and the new super really took a liking to me. I golfed so I saw things the other guys didn’t see, I worked hard and asked questions and had a lot of experience managing people. 2 years later he offered me a position as 2nd Assistant Super. I’m 45 and currently going back to school for my 2 year degree in turf care and about to take my spray license test. I chose a 2 year degree because we would have to move for a 4 year degree and the certificate is almost the same amount of schooling as the 2 year degree.

    This is an incredibly rewarding career but doesn’t pay great. Personally I love the hours and 2-3 days a week go to the short game area or range after work. Courses are ALWAYS hiring and you can look around and figure what type of course fits you, Top 100, high end public, country club, private, muni or mom & pop, they all offer different positives.

    You can get experience on a course and equipment and use that to lead into conversations with course architects/restoration companies but for that you have to be willing to be on the road for extended periods. But there is a lot of hand work along with the heavy equipment experience.

    Hope this helps.


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