Golf Course Management

MAR 2019

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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56 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 03.19 Club at Newcastle in Newcastle, Wash., just outside of Seattle, where the minimum wage is $15 or $16 per hour, depending on company size. "It's hard to hire people when you know wages are going through the roof. You have to pay more, which means you have fewer people to keep to your labor budget." Phelps said he considered the crew at the 36-hole, daily-fee course fully staffed at 38 members. He hit that number for a grand total of one week last summer. He says his staff size has shrunk 25 percent in his 11 years at e Golf Club at Newcastle. "When I started here, obviously employment was down," says Phelps, a 28-year GCSAA member. "It was pretty easy for me to pay just over minimum wage and not have a shortage. Just five years ago, it became obvious that one of the main pipelines supplying the golf course superintendent talent pool was drying up. Rapidly. A 2014 GCSAA survey of United States turf schools showed a marked downward trend in turf program enrollment. According to the results of the GCSAA's 2018 Turf School Survey, that trend, at the very least, might be slowing. Back in 2014, the answer to the question, "How have enrollment numbers in your turf pro - gram changed over the past 10 years?" revealed a doom-and-gloom response: 70 percent of re - spondents reported lower numbers than in 2004, while just 10 percent noted an increase. Five years later, both numbers have changed drastically. Though 54 percent of respondents reported lower numbers for the five-year period ending in 2018, 23 percent — more than double than in 2014 — reported higher numbers. The remaining 23 percent reported enrollment was "about the same," a slight uptick from 20 percent over the previous 10 years. Broken down further, some of the increases are significant, perhaps significant enough to off - set some declines. For instance, only 15 percent of respondents with declining enrollment reported declines of 65 percent or more: 10 percent reported declines of 75 percent, while 5 percent reported a 65 percent decrease. However, among those who reported enroll - ment increases, 33 percent reported increases of 65 percent or more. Those increases were split evenly: 11 percent each for increases of 65 per - cent, 100 percent and more than 100 percent. Golf course management is the "most at - tractive" area of interest among respondents' incoming students: 85 percent, well ahead of sports turf management (64 percent), landscape design/maintenance (31 percent), turfgrass re - search (15 percent) and "other" (15 percent). Also notable is the fact that participation in online courses has increased in the last five years. Although less than half of respondents (38 percent) reported that their turf programs offered online courses for students, programs offering online coursework saw a significant (47 percent) or slight (13 percent) increase in participation. Of the respondents, 85 percent offered a bachelor's degree in their turf programs, 36 per - cent offered an associate degree, and 18 percent offered a certificate. The survey was sent to 68 turf school admin - istrators from a list provided by the Department of Education. There were 40 responses. — A.H. Turf enrollment: A slowdown in the downturn? 27% 32% 15% 10% 7% 5% 4% 4% 4% 2% 2% 1% 1% Landscape Construction Fast food Golf courses/ competitors Restaurant Factories/ manufacturing Retail Lawn Oil Service Hospitality Contractor Agriculture In general, who are you competing with for labor in your area? Are there any industries or competitors that are using up an increasing amount of the available labor pool?

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