A golf club professional is an expert golfer who helps run a golf club
and teaches others how to play the game.
The specific duties of golf club professionals, or "golf pros," vary depending
on the size and type of club where they work. The smaller the club, the more
likely they are to wear many hats.
"Your office is the golf course," says Joanne Lefson. She's a former professional
golfer living in California. "It's in the outdoors. The club, generally, is
a nice atmosphere to work in, and it's very professional.... I think it's
a great thing to go into."
Typical duties of golf pros include:
- Providing golf lessons
- Arranging for tee times for golfers
- Working in the pro shop (ordering merchandise, selling products, balancing
- Answering telephone inquiries
- Arranging golf tournaments
- Consulting on equipment
- Keeping golfers informed of grounds conditions
- Meeting with grounds crews and support staff
In addition to being an excellent golfer, a golf pro must be a good manager,
administrator and public relations representative for their golf course or
"When I say 'golf professional,' (most people) think I'm one of the guys
on TV, playing golf for a living," says Mark Csencsits. He's a PGA professional
head teaching pro in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
"I tell them, there are 300 guys on tour -- between all the tours -- making
a living playing golf," he says. "But 27,000 of us -- men and women -- belong
to the PGA of America. That's a different sub-category, and we run golf courses,
we do tournaments, we run golf shops, we do your outings, we teach golf lessons.
That's the majority of us."
Business skills are increasingly important for golf pros. The people who
own the golf clubs want pros who can make management decisions when it comes
to budgeting and other financial matters.
"Being that it is so hectic, you have to have some kind of organizational
skills so that you can balance your day and surround yourself with good people
and be able to delegate some of the duties, or you're never going to make
it," says Csencsits.
The golf industry employs many people at the management level. These are
just a few of the management positions held by golf club professionals:
- Head Golf Professional
- Golf Retail Store Manager
- Rules Official
- Director of Instruction
- General Manager
- Tournament Director
There are also many support positions at golf facilities. A few examples
- Golf Course Maintenance
- Accounting / Finance
- Food and Beverage
- Retail Store Staff
- Equipment / Golf Car Maintenance
- Merchandise Manager
There are millions of avid golfers in North America. That means there are
lots of golf courses and a variety of settings for golf pros to enjoy. Some
golf pros work year-round in a golf Mecca such as Florida, while those in
the northern United States can expect to work seasonally.
Golf pros should also be prepared to move around. Most golf club pros change
jobs every few years.
Some golf pros are former competitive golfers. And some manage to do both
-- working as a golf pro while competing on the side.
"To be good at either requires a lot of hard work, and most players that
respect the game would not want it any other way," says Terry Zachary. He's
a former professional golfer.
Golf pros can expect to work long hours, especially during the golfing
season. Not surprisingly, there's a high burnout rate in this profession.
Many golf pros retire by the age of 45.
"You're talking 12- to 14-hour days," says Csencsits. "If I choose to take
off for the winter, I can, but I work a full year in about seven months' time....
There are some days where I'm working 16 hours a day, so it's not as envious
and glamorous as everybody [sees] it. They think I hit balls all day and play
golf. But there are group lessons, I [teach] a lot of juniors and ladies,
there's club fittings for me, there's teaching."
Don't be surprised if you see new golf courses springing up where you live.
Golf is a fast-growing industry with many new courses and facilities being
developed each year.
Golf is becoming increasingly popular as our society ages and enjoys more
To prepare for this career, get out and golf as much as you can. Get a
feel for the industry and make contacts.
"You've got to be dedicated," says Lefson. "Especially today, there are
just so many people that want to do the same thing that everyone else wants
to do. I still think... probably anyone who goes through the whole process
can become a golf professional, teaching professionally, but I really think
that the ones that stand out are the ones that are passionate about it, that
are genuinely wanting to help people.
"There are some sacrifices you have to make in order to get to that level,
but the rewards are always greater than the sacrifices that are made."