Career planning: Turn goals into reality

Your professional aspirations in golf course management will come within closer reach if you revisit and refine them more frequently than just to update your résumé.


Filed to: Job search

Grass puzzle
To complete the vision, you must know the necessary pieces. Photo by Getty Images

If you and I sat down for a career consultation right now, would you be able to answer these two questions: What are your career goals, and what is your plan to reach those goals? Moving the pieces of the puzzle into place to secure your dream job in golf course management must happen long before you’re conducting a job search, and the first of those pieces is to establish a basic inventory of your goals and to chart your path to achieving them.

What are your career goals?

Clients’ answers to this question vary greatly, ranging from holding a specific position at a specific golf facility to more general aspirations, such as wanting to be a superintendent and contribute to the golf industry in meaningful ways. To help you narrow your focus, consider how your professional and personal desires match up to characteristics of certain jobs. For example, do you want to work in a particular region of the country? Near family and friends? At a private golf club?

Other common considerations for golf industry jobs include whether the facility is multi-course, a resort or tropical property, formal or casual, or a professional athletic field. Factors such as work culture and whether the position offers the opportunity for golf industry leadership, community involvement and tournament hosting may also influence your assessment. Identify which of these and other qualities of a job pertain to your goals, and then prioritize them to gain a better sense of what you’re aiming for.

What’s your plan to reach your career goals?

After you’ve taken time to pinpoint your professional objectives, you can begin to determine your path to attaining them. Components of your path will likely include obtaining education in a certain field, certifications, professional development in leadership and business, and experience and skills with turf varieties and facility types.

I recommend creating target time frames for completing the different components of your career plan to keep you motivated and moving toward your ultimate destination. As you progress through the stages of your career, you must also seek out strong mentors and managers to build your network and to help guide you in your career moves.

One GCSAA member’s story

Each year, I provide one-on-one consultations at the Golf Industry Show as part of GCSAA’s complimentary career services for members. A superintendent I met in San Antonio this past year stood out as a good example of clear, defined goals providing framework, motivation and perspective during his career.

The member’s résumé showed the fairly typical progression in golf course management, with education, internships, assistant superintendent roles, and then successful years as a superintendent. When we met, though, he had recently resigned from his superintendent job to accept a position as assistant superintendent.

What? How can this be a model of exceptional career planning?

If you merely look at job titles, yes, this may appear to be a step down. In reality, however, it was a well-calculated stride closer to reaching his ultimate goal.

The member explained that his dream job is to be superintendent at a golf facility that hosts PGA Tour events, and early in his career, he’d zeroed in on this goal and mapped out a route to get to it. After acquiring the business and leadership experience inherent in a superintendent role, the last piece of the puzzle was to gain firsthand knowledge of hosting PGA Tour events.

So, when he learned of an opening at a PGA Tour site hosting an upcoming major, he jumped at the opportunity. During our conversation, he talked about the privilege of working under one of the most respected superintendents in the business. He also spoke about working hard and learning as much as he possibly could in the upcoming years about preparing the course for the tournament as well as about the actual event management.

While this more unconventional route doesn’t suit everyone, in my more than 20 years as a career consultant, I’ve learned that every person’s career follows a unique path, which makes it even more important for you to identify your goals so you can begin working toward your target. Your dream job awaits.

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.

Filed to: Job search