Sports Turf Manager  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotSports 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.

dotAs 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.

dotA 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 on playability.

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.

dotThe 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.

dotGood 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 management instructor.

dotSports 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."

At a Glance

Take care of sports fields

  • You need good problem-solving and decision-making skills
  • You could work for private resorts and clubs, professional sports facilities, schools and municipalities
  • Study soil science, horticulture and business management