The average salary of a golf course superintendent (plus 5 other monetary findings)

The 2021 GCSAA Compensation and Benefits Report was filled out by 3,320 GCSAA members.

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Welcome to Super Secrets, where we pick the brains of the game’s leading superintendents. By illuminating how course maintenance crews ply their trades, we’re hopeful we can not only give you a deeper appreciation for the important, innovative work they do but also provide you with maintenance tips that you can apply to your own little patch of paradise. Happy gardening!

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The most lucrative jobs in golf go to those who are really good at hitting greens. But people who are good at maintaining greens don’t do terribly, either.

Last year, in fact, the average salary for a golf course superintendent in the United States was $97,354. (By comparison, the average American worker earned $53,383 in 2021, according to the Social Security Administration.)

The superintendents’ figure comes from the 2021 GCSAA Compensation and Benefits Report, the latest iteration of a biennial survey commissioned by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. The findings draw on responses to an online questionnaire, which was filled out by 3,320 GCSAA members between December 2020 and January 2021, representing a 43 percent response rate, with a 1.3 percent margin of error.

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In presenting their results, the report’s authors noted that the findings should be taken as “guidelines rather than absolute standards,” given the many variables than can affect compensation, including the size of a club, an employee’s prior work experience and the duration of their current employment.

Sample sizes can also sway the stats, the authors noted, as categories with fewer respondents have greater margins of error. But even with those caveats, there’s plenty to dig up in the data. Here are five key takeaways from the report.

1. The First State in the Union is First in Average Salary

Among many other categories, the report breaks down average salaries state-by-state. Given the cost of living, you’d expect places like California and New York to be high up on the list, and they are. But No. 1 in this category might surprise you: Delaware. Here’s a look at the top five.

1. Delaware: $130,011
2. Rhode Island: $127,756
3. Connecticut: $126,870
4. California: $125,267
5. New York: $123,108
(Note: Delaware had only 9 respondents, compared to 119 for New York)

2. Private Pays More than Public

Not all courses are equally priced or accessible. Not all pay the same, either. Here’s a look at average superintendent salaries, based on the club type where they work.

Private: $120,002
Semi-Private: $80,967
Daily Fee/Public: $77,039
Municipal: $75,934

3. Size Matters

The more holes you care for, the more you earn. Here’s how average salaries compare at 9-, 18-, 27- and 36-hole facilities.

9 holes: $64,873
18 holes: $94,693
27 holes: $103,145
36 holes: $116,570

4. Education Correlates to Income

Superintendents who opt to become certified — by meeting certain educational and experience requirements — earn an average of $119,558, more than $20,000 above the industry-wide figure.

5. It’s Better to be the Boss

The average salary for an assistant superintendent is $48,481, roughly half the average for the top post.

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Josh Sens

Golf.com Contributor

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.