Golf Club Professional  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotA 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."

dotTypical duties of golf pros include:

  • Providing golf lessons
  • Arranging for tee times for golfers
  • Working in the pro shop (ordering merchandise, selling products, balancing cash)
  • Answering telephone inquiries
  • Arranging golf tournaments
  • Consulting on equipment
  • Keeping golfers informed of grounds conditions
  • Meeting with grounds crews and support staff

dotIn addition to being an excellent golfer, a golf pro must be a good manager, administrator and public relations representative for their golf course or country club.

"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.

dotThe 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 include:

  • Golf Course Maintenance
  • Accounting / Finance
  • Food and Beverage
  • Retail Store Staff
  • Equipment / Golf Car Maintenance
  • Merchandise Manager

dotThere 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 leisure time.

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."

At a Glance

Help run a golf club and teach others how to play golf

  • Pros need business and management skills, as well as a good golf game
  • Earnings vary according to experience and location
  • A pro has to be a good manager, administrator and public relations representative