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Career: Get an edge with environmental expertise

Spotlight your environmental and sustainability-related skills to stand out from a packed pool of golf course superintendent job candidates.

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Career: Get an edge with environmental expertise
Many of your daily duties keeping the golf course in peak condition entail advanced knowledge of the environment and its well-being. Photo courtesy of Paul L. Carter


The past decade has been marked by a hyper-focus on all things green in all areas of business. The golf industry is a leader in environmental stewardship and the management of natural resources, and your typical day probably consists of many eco-friendly efforts you think of as just part of your job. Why not use this to your advantage? As you take steps to advance your career in the golf industry, consider highlighting your skills and achievements in the realm of environmental stewardship and sustainability. Here are three strategies for framing such responsibilities and career wins in your résumé or a job interview to optimally showcase your environmental expertise, leadership and commitment.

Specific projects

First, convey your dedication to environmental stewardship by citing specific golf course improvement projects. As I critique GCSAA members’ résumés and read list after list of course improvement projects, in my head, I’m always asking why? Why did you do that project? Merely listing course improvement projects that generally all candidates will have experience with won’t help your cause in differentiating yourself. Instead, try mentioning course improvements along with their environmental impetus or impact. For example, if you include that you created native areas on the golf course, note the reasons behind it — less irrigation, fewer chemical applications, less labor and greater biodiversity — to ensure hiring committee members are aware of the “why.” Offering explanations that your audience can understand and relate to will exhibit your environmental competencies while also setting you apart from a crowded field of candidates.

Success stories

Connect your environmental leadership to your current golf facility’s overall success. How does your knowledge of green practices and sustainability contribute to the long-term goals of your facility? At my home golf club, we completely rebuilt our golf course in 2004. At the time, the price to purchase water from our local municipality was negligible. During the planning stages of the remodel, our superintendent advocated for implementing an engineered irrigation system to catch rainfall on the property and funnel it through a pond system to apply as irrigation. I still remember him saying that water costs would go up in the future, and that this would be extremely beneficial financially down the road. Fast-forward 13 years, and we are grateful we followed his advice, as local water prices soar higher each year, meaning our club saves thousands of dollars by using our own water system. What have you done or are you doing to assist the long-term success of your golf facility through sustainability initiatives? Find a way to incorporate that into your résumé and interview responses.

Match skills to values

Turf industry hiring committees are seeking professionals who can be trusted to navigate regulatory compliance and environmental issues related to their specific property. For example, if you are applying at a golf course where water conservation and costs are a high priority, hiring committee members are going to value your experience and career accomplishments in dealing with water constraints. What if your target golf course is already part of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program? This indicates that the stakeholders at that facility value environmental stewardship, so mentioning some skills and achievements related to wildlife habitats or management of natural resources in your résumé and interview answers will demonstrate that you would be a good fit with their particular business culture and values.

The next time you begin building your résumé or preparing for a job interview, consider your career through the lens of environmental know-how and leadership. Use these qualities to your benefit by presenting them as earth-friendly wins for your golf facility and its customers. This may be just the edge you need to succeed in your next job search.


Carol D. Rau, PHR, is a career consultant with GCSAA and the owner of Career Advantage, a career consulting firm in Lawrence, Kan., specializing in golf and turf industry careers. GCSAA members receive complimentary résumé critiques from Rau and her team; résumé, cover letter and LinkedIn creation for a reduced member rate; and interview preparation and portfolio consultation.

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