For some, the sport of golf can become an obsession. You can spend 20 hours a week on the course, watch every second of the week's PGA Tour or LPGA Tour tournaments and still not get enough. Having a job in the golf industry is one way to feed your need to be on or around the course, allowing you to be one of the first to try out new equipment, hone your skills and help others to get more enjoyment from the game.
The occupation of golf professional should not be confused with being a professional golfer. But there are some similarities. Although being a golf pro doesn't require that you win on tour to collect a pay check, you still need to have a solid scratch golf game (you'll be tested to prove it). To go along with your talents on the course as a golf pro, you need to have a solid overall understanding of the various components that go into running a golf course.
As a golf professional, you need to have a variety of learned skills including the latest teaching techniques, a cordial attitude and ability to converse with a wide variety of club members, the latest information on new equipment and business savvy to deal with the financial aspects of running a course. You have to be certified to be a golf pro and a member of the PGA of America. Before you give up on the dream, there are schools where you can go to learn the trade, including The College of Golf, Golf Academy of America and the Jim McLean Golf School.
Although there are schools that will teach you what you need to know to be a golf professional, you can also start out as an assistant in the pro shop and learn on the job.
Golf Course Superintendent
The beauty of a course comes partially from the layout and partially from the skills of the people maintaining the course during the year. A golf course superintendent has the responsibility of making sure that the greens, fairways and roughs are cut to specific level, that the grass is watered, the pins are moved, the tee boxes maintained, the pesticides and lawn chemicals are applied and that the lawn equipment is properly cared for.
There are a variety of paths that one can take to becoming a golf course superintendent. If your lucky enough to get in to a course where the current superintendent is looking for someone to mentor, you could be set. Generally, going to school to learn about agronomy is your best bet for landing a job.
Golf Course Architect
If you love looking at golf courses, you might have a future as a golf course architect. The way courses are, you might think that you have to be a former touring pro in order to be able to design a course, but some of the best courses out there are designed by people who never had their PGA Tour card (see Robert Trent Jones Jr.). There are essentially three requirements that most golf course architects (those who aren't named Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer) must meet in order to find success in the field.
They have to have a degree in either architecture, landscape design or engineering. They need to have been educated in turf management and environmental sciences. Plus, it helps to have some experience working under the wings of a golf course contractor. Although it might be difficult to break in to the design part of golfing, and it's a longer haul than other golf careers, what you create lasts a lifetime.