Sports turf managers are involved in all aspects of the turfgrass industry,
from athletic field management and golf course operations to sales of turf
products and sod production.
If you enjoy sports, have an interest in the science behind plants and
soils and have good people skills, then a career in sports turf management
is seriously worth considering.
As a sports turf manager, your management practices will greatly affect
the safety, aesthetics and playability of the golf course or sports field.
Playing the sport regularly is a must so that you understand the strategies
of the game or sport. For instance, as a golf course manager, you will play
the course to get a working knowledge of the safety and playability. You may
even be asked to play other courses so you can compare them.
A high degree of executive ability is required, especially in terms of
problem solving and decision making. For instance, you must decide what programs
are the most suitable for your sports field or golf course, what type of pesticides
to use during certain climatic conditions and how golf course design impacts
Inspection of the golf course or sports field is necessary to make sure
that the turf is free of health hazards to players and spectators.
The key to advancement in this career is getting lots of practical experience.
Your practical know-how will get you into a senior management position,
if that's where you want to go. If not, you can work for yourself. Either
way, you will be responsible for managing a team of people usually referred
to as your crew. The average number of people in a crew is 16.
Good money sense and understanding of budgets and finance is also important
in this line of work. You may be responsible for an annual budget of anywhere
between $200,000 and $2 million, depending on the size and number of sports
facilities. A nine-hole municipal golf course will have a smaller budget than
a 45-hole private resort.
"It helps to be mechanically inclined, be able to lift 75 pounds and like
to work outside in all types of weather," says Lisa Perkins. She is a turfgrass
Sports turf managers are employed by private resorts and clubs, professional
sports facilities, schools and municipalities. They can also be self-employed.
Golf superintendent Gord Lang offers the following advice to those interested
in pursuing a career in sports turf management: "Get your education and then
get as much practical experience as possible."