The average salary of a golf superintendent in 2021

The 2021 GCSAA Compensation and Benefits Report was completed by 3,320 GCSAA members.

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The most lucrative jobs in golf go to those who are really good at hitting the greens. But people who know how to maintain the greens don’t do very well either.

Last year, in fact, the average salary for a golf course superintendent in the United States was $97,354. (By comparison, the average American worker earned $53,383 in 2021, according to the Social Security Administration.)

The superintendents figure comes from the GCSAA’s 2021 Compensation and Benefits Report, the latest iteration of a biennial survey commissioned by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. The results are based on responses to an online questionnaire, which was completed by 3,320 GCSAA members between December 2020 and January 2021, representing a response rate of 43%, with a margin of error of 1.3%.

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In presenting their findings, the report’s authors noted that the results should be seen as “guidelines rather than absolute standards”, given the many variables that can affect pay, including club size, an employee’s previous work experience and length of current employment.

Sample sizes can also influence the statistics, the authors noted, because categories with fewer respondents have larger margins of error. But even with those caveats, there’s a lot to dig into the data. Here are five key takeaways from the report.

1. The first state in the Union is the first in terms of average salary

Among many other categories, the report breaks down average salaries state by state. Considering the cost of living, one would expect places like California and New York to be at the top of the list, and they are. But the No. 1 in this category might surprise you: Delaware. Here’s a look at the top five.

1. Delaware: $130,011
2. Rhode Island: $127,756
3. Connecticut: $126,870
4. California: $125,267
5. New York: $123,108
(Note: Delaware had only 9 respondents, compared to 119 for New York)

2. The private sector pays more than the public sector

Not all courses have the same price or are not accessible. Not everyone pays the same either. Here’s a look at the average salaries for superintendents, depending on the type of club they work at.

Private: $120,002
Semi-private: $80,967
Daily/public rate: $77,039
Municipal: $75,934

3. Size matters

The more holes you care, the more you earn. Here’s how average salaries compare at 9, 18, 27 and 36 hole facilities.

9 holes: $64,873
18 holes: $94,693
27 holes: $103,145
36 holes: $116,570

4. Education is correlated with income

Superintendents who choose to become certified — by meeting certain education and experience requirements — earn an average of $119,558, more than $20,000 more than the industrywide figure.

5. It’s better to be the boss

The average salary for an assistant superintendent is $48,481, about half the average for the highest position.

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A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes to all GOLF platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Have Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.

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