A big change for potential
superintendents like these at GCSAA's Turf Bowl Competition is
the increased emphasis on internships while in college.
the right assistant
strong educational background and practical work experience are
becoming even more important as competition for better golf course
management positions increases. To be competitive in today's job
market, the modern-day superintendent should consider specialized
education or training.
One of the changes over the last
five years, according to Jeffrey V. Krans, Ph.D., professor of
agronomy in the plant and soil sciences department at Mississippi
State University, is the mandatory internship for four-year
programs. He says, "Turf programs can't operate without
having internships. They are essential for the student's and
Internships allow students to
learn from superintendents "by not only asking questions, but
watching how they manage people, how they manage time and how they
interact with golfers," says Paul Rieke, Ph.D., professor
emeritus in the crop and soil sciences department at Michigan
Another change is the increase in
the number of business electives. Al Turgeon, Ph.D., professor of
turfgrass management in the department of agronomy at Penn State
University, says, "All of our students typically take enough
business courses to actually have a minor in business management.
We wanted to better equip them to deal with a multiplicity of
challenges rather than just entirely focus on the turfgrass."
Resources are more abundant for
this generation of students, says Keith Karnok, Ph.D., professor
in the crop and soil sciences department at the University of
Georgia. Karnok comments, "Having access to the Web has
opened up a whole new world of possibilities. They can get
up-to-date product information instantly, and/or, if they desire,
they can even take turf courses from other institutions. Likewise,
teaching students today is more challenging because of the Web.
It's not uncommon for an industrious student to come in with
information obtained from the Web that the teacher wasn't even
aware of. Ten or 15 years ago students were pretty much limited to
the resources available on campus, which were often the same as
those in the teacher's office."
Turgeon says, "I think we've
got a somewhat more sophisticated technical manager we're trying
to create today. These students are in a field where the
challenges are greater. The playability characteristics and
standards that they are trying to achieve and sustain are higher
than ever, historically."
"Be patient and select jobs
carefully, working for well-known superintendents," is advice
Krans gives to his graduating students. He also says, "The
assistant superintendent jobs are not extremely tight (to get
into). It is the head superintendent positions that are becoming
tight." Turgeon says, "There is a more complex
organization within golf courses, sometimes involving positions
like director of golf, several superintendents, maybe first and
second assistants. They have more of a hierarchy and that creates
more opportunities, particularly for young people entering the
Krista Wagner is GCSAA's
copywriter and promotions specialist for career development.