So you want a career in golf? Great! You are about to start the process of an exciting journey!
Having a career in golf is a lot of work but is very rewarding. I have met some fantastic people on my journey and have worked at many some very prestigious courses. The job, like any job, has its ups and downs but it is worth it in the end!
But how do I get started?
To get started with a career in golf, you first have to decide what about the game peaks your interest. Is it the teaching of new golfers? Is it the business angle of a golf course? Is it cutting grass?
Different Golf Jobs Available
There are many different avenues you can choose as a profession in the field of golf.
Here are a few options:
- Head Professional
- Assistant Professional
- Superintendent (Grounds)
- Tournament Coordinator
- Instruction (Teacher)
- Pro Shop Manager
- Golf Course GM
- Sales Representative
- Outside Operations
- Locker Room Manager
- Caddy Master
- Simulator Manager
- Golf Coach
Most of these jobs will be held at a golf course and will require you to join the Professional Golf Management Program. (More on this down below) Other jobs like a golf coach, instructor, simulator manager or a sales representative may require you to work independently of a golf course. It’s up to you where you choose to work so take a look at the PGA website here and follow the steps below towards becoming a PGA Member.
Finding a Job at a Golf Course
To find a job at a course search here through the PGA job website. This job page will show you all of the courses in your area that are hiring along with the hours and pay expected during the golf season. Next, create a cover letter and a mission statement to send to your local courses. Your mission statement should highlight your desire for a career in golf so that management will know you are serious about joining their staff. I would recommend doing this while you are still currently employed so there is less stress and you can take your time applying!
PGM Program (Professional Golf Management)
The Professional Golf Management Program is a series of classes and tests that individuals go through to become PGA members. What is a PGA member? A Professional Golf Association Member is an individual who is highly knowledgeable about the game and who can hold prestigious job positions in the field of golf. (See above for some examples of golf positions). To become a member, you can elect to take PGM courses online through the PGA website, or, enroll at a college that offers a PGM degree. I went the route of completing my courses online.
After you get a job at a golf course or golf facility, the next step will be to join the PGM program through the PGA website. Go here to fill out an application to the program and complete the requirements to apply. After you apply for the QUALIFYING LEVEL, you will schedule a playing test where you have to shoot a target score during two rounds. (Yes you have to be a good golfer to join the program ????).
Is the Playing Ability Test Hard?
The PAT can be tricky because you have to score well for two- consecutive golf rounds, back to back! An example would be a target score of 157 for two rounds. This means that to pass the playing ability test, you would have to shoot a 78 and a 79 for 18 holes. If you are up to the task and have been honing in your golf game, great! I would recommend taking a look at my article here on how to make “in-game” adjustments because playing 36 holes in one day is a lot of golf! There are a lot of mistakes that can happen.
After you complete both the application process and Playing Ability Test, you can then obtain your PGM prerequisite material and prepare for a multiple choice test on:
- Introduction to the PGA Program
- PGA History and Constitution
- The Rules of Golf
Once these tests are completed, you can then enter the PGM program! Ask your head professional or director of golf if your course will assist with PGA dues and payments For a list of pricing through the PGM Program, click here.
Levels: There are three levels you must complete during the Professional Golf Management Program. For each level, there will be PDF books about Golf Managment that you will look over and review. To move from one level to the next, you will need to travel to Port St. Lucie in Florida where you will spend a week going over various PGM training classes and group activities. The following is a list of the course materials that are expected for you to understand throughout all three levels:
- Business Planning
- Customer Relations
- Golf Car Fleet Management
- Golf Teaching and Club Performance
- Tournament Operations
- Golf Operations
- Turfgrass Managment
- Golf Club Alteration
- Human Resources
- Food and Beverage
- Player Development Programs
Now I know this may seem like a lot of information you need to learn! Don’t worry though. You are allowed two years to complete each level for a total of six years if you wish to take your time with the material. After you complete all three levels, you then will be awarded PGA membership where you will be able to use your knowledge for whatever golf career path you choose!
PGM College Degree
The other method to obtain your PGA Membership is to graduate from an accredited PGM university. Use this list to determine which college you would like to join to receive your PGM degree! When students graduate, they will receive a bachelors in management and be classified as PGA Members.
Perks of Membership
Acquiring the PGA membership by completing the PGM program will allow you lucrative management positions and perks only available to golf professionals.
- The PGA offers an employment consultant that guarantees job placement.
- You will be able to network with other professionals and play many top rated golf courses around the country free of charge.
- You will be able to play in State held professional events such as chapter events and section events for money.
- There are opportunities for substantial discounts on golf apparel, clubs, and equipment for yourself and others.
- You can choose to be sponsored by a brand name golf company.
- PGA Members recieve competive salaries with potential to earn tips, lessons revenue, sales bonus, club repair revenue and much more.
- Courses usually offer benefit packages for individuals or family with the possibility of retirement savings options.
Again, you can choose many different career paths after you complete the program giving you a lot of options and freedom to decide what is best for you!
Is This Career For You?
Know that you know how to get started for a career in golf, is this path right for you? If you are frustrated by being inside all day or never moving up the corporate ladder, working at a golf course may be a good choice! Don’t get me wrong, working at a golf course is a lot of hard work and sometimes requires 55+ hour weeks. I will admit during the season, I do get tired of working on the weekends and the occasional 12-hour shifts. But when I make an impact in a students golf game or when I see the excitement of someone getting their first hole in one, I remember why I started a career in golf in the first place!
What if you don’t want a “career” in golf but rather a sweet summer job? Golf courses offer a wide variety of seasonal employment that you can look in to. This is a great way to get the golf course experience without having to work as many hours. Here is a list of potential jobs you can apply for:
- Cart Attendant
- Pro Shop Attendant
- Tournament Coordinator
- Golf Advertising
Most of these jobs are part-time or seasonal. However, you can still take advantage of playing privileges and other benefits that can make for a great side job or some extra income on the side.
Having a career in golf is hard work but can be worth all of the effort! Every day is new and exciting when you are organizing different golf events and meeting many different people. Remember, do your research using the links listed above on the PGA.org so you can gather more information about your potential career. A career in golf gives you the ability to apply anywhere in the world! Golf is still a prevalent sport and being apart of its growth from a business perspective can be exciting! But if a full-time gig isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other job opportunities you can look into to join a golf course team.
**Update: At the time of me writing this article, the PGM program is introducing an updated lesson plan for their curriculum. Click here to head to the front page of the application process.
So If you are serious about starting a career in golf, start looking today and start a new life for yourself where you can immerse yourself in the wonderful world of golf!