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The Wage Issue in Golf Course Maintenance

Zach Nicoludis | Published on 11/20/2023
By: Zach Nicoludis, regional director, Central Region

Golf courses typically offer wages that are several dollars less per hour when compared to industries requiring similar skillsets. This makes hiring staff a challenge.

Hiring employees to perform daily maintenance tasks continues to be one of the greatest challenges for golf course superintendents. Unfortunately, it does not look like this issue will go away any time soon. The labor shortage throughout the country is part of the problem, but the wages in golf course maintenance are a major hurdle as well.


Golf courses are relatively competitive with each other when it comes to hourly wages, but compared to industries that require a similar skillset, golf courses offer several dollars less per hour on average. Without a doubt, wage offerings are weighed heavily when potential candidates are determining whether to apply. Of course, there are certain benefits that golf courses can provide – like complimentary golf and a beautiful place to work – that the roofing and landscape industries cannot, but at the end of the day, money talks.

Based on current data from, golf course maintenance wages are still falling short of industries that are competing for the same workers.

Looking at the current national averages, the golf course maintenance industry has gained significant ground when compared to the numbers we reported in the 2019 article “Labor by the Numbers.” However, golf course maintenance still lags behind similar industries. The obvious solution is to offer higher wages, but anyone familiar with golf course maintenance budgets knows this is easier said than done. Labor typically makes up the largest portion of a golf course maintenance operation budget, so a hefty budget increase would be necessary to accommodate wage increases for new hires. You also have to consider the wages being paid to current agronomic team members. If new hires are offered higher compensation, it can be expected that more-experienced employees would be in line for a raise as well. 

A “do more with less” philosophy has been in place for far too long in golf course maintenance. With golfer demands and expectations increasing every year, something must give. For playing conditions to continue meeting expectations, the proper funds must be provided to account for increased labor costs and the rising cost of materials and equipment. For more information on golf course maintenance budgeting, reach out to your regional USGA agronomist.

Central Region Agronomists:

Zach Nicoludis, regional director –

Paul Jacobs, agronomist –

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service

Contact the Green Section Staff


(616) 834-0450