Groundskeepers serve a valuable role for golf courses by performing a variety of important tasks that go beyond cutting grass. A high school diploma may be all that’s necessary to gain a job as an assistant groundskeeper at many courses, but prospective groundskeepers also can receive extensive PGA-approved training at a number of U.S. colleges and universities.
An assistant groundskeeper at a public course will have very different responsibilities than the head groundskeeper at an elite country club. Typical groundskeeping duties include grass and bunker maintenance, caring for flower beds and other decorative plants, trash removal, cleaning fountains or other structures, operating a variety of vehicles and making repairs to the grounds or the course’s structures.
Professional Management Program
As of 2012, there are 20 PGA-accredited universities in the United States that award degrees in golf management. Programs include groundskeeping courses, but also focus on areas such as golf course management, marketing and teaching. North Carolina State, for example, offers classes in golf course turf management and golf course architecture. At Florida Gulf Coast University, courses required for a golf management degree include Turfgrass Management Operations.
Aspiring groundskeepers looking for a more focused curriculum can pursue a degree in turfgrass management or turfgrass science. Penn State University, for example, offers everything from a 15-credit Turfgrass Management Certificate to a Master of Professional Studies in Turfgrass Management, which requires an undergraduate degree plus 30 additional credits. Turfgrass Management Certificate program courses at Penn State include Turfgrass Insect Pest Management, Turf and Ornamental Weed Control and Case Studies in Turfgrass Management.
PGA Tour Staff
PGA Tour agronomists visit courses about eight to 10 weeks before a tour event and work with the local groundskeepers to prepare the course for tournament play. PGA Tour agronomists typically have degrees in agronomy or turf grass management. For example, the PGA Tour’s Director of Competitions Agronomy (as of 2012) held a Bachelor of Science degree in Agronomy from Michigan State University and a Master of Science degree in Agronomy from Texas A&M.