What greenkeepers value most in their jobs

A problem is emerging in the world of greenkeeping. Last year, the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association found that many greenkeepers are thinking about quitting and exploring opportunities beyond golf. Our Players 1st Survey of Danish greenkeepers reveals the role of satisfaction in this.

Lucas Balleby
October 4, 2023

Have you ever wondered what would happen to golf courses if there were a massive lack of greenkeepers? Well, this unpleasant scenario might happen in the near future. 

In fact, about a third of greenkeepers in the UK are considering leaving their current roles to seek opportunities beyond the golf industry, exploring whether the grass truly is greener on the other side. This trend worries the greenkeeping community since finding new staff remains challenging golf clubs. 

These alarming insights come from the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA), who surveyed greenkeepers in the UK about their working conditions last year.

Now contributing to the discussion, a recent Players 1st study about employee satisfaction in Danish golf clubs reveals how to increase greenkeepers' job satisfaction and prevent a potential lack of these much-needed staff members going forward. 

Chief greenkeepers seek better leadership 

First, it's worth bringing up that both the BGGIA and Players 1st studies tell us that greenkeepers, in general, are quite happy with their jobs. But much like with golf members and guests, higher satisfaction often leads to greater retention rates.  

And this is where the employee survey comes in handy. By understanding what greenkeepers value in their jobs, you can provide them with the things necessary to make them even happier and keen to stay in the long run. 

The survey responses show that greenkeepers and chief greenkeepers care about their jobs slightly differently. When it comes to chief greenkeepers, they especially look for better guidance and support. They believe that strong and clear leadership from the board and immediate supervisors is one of the biggest things influencing how satisfied they are with their workplace. 

How boards can improve chief greenkeepers' satisfaction. Source: Players 1st
How boards can improve chief greenkeepers' job satisfaction. Source: Players 1st

Amongst other things, the chief greenkeepers highlight how the club follows up on different situations, handles conflicts, and provides time for collaborative learning.  

When asked about strategy, chief greenkeepers also gladly see clearer goals for the club. Naturally, they want to feel like their work is part of a bigger vision. So, golf clubs like yours could consider including chief greenkeepers in planning sessions and giving them a greater role in deciding where the club is headed. 

Something else worth addressing is salary and benefits, which also makes up an area that you should look into. Even though salary and benefits aren't always the main reasons behind job satisfaction in general, chief greenkeepers find them quite important. But, of course, a pay raise may not be possible in many cases.  

So, another way to reduce their focus on salary could be to add more value to their job by fulfilling some of their other desires, such as giving them more impact on the club strategy and ensuring that there is strong and clear leadership from the board. 

The board also plays a big role for regular greenkeepers  

When we take a closer look at the responses by the regular greenkeepers, the influence of the board stands out once again. Generally, the greenkeepers value a board that is present and available to them. 

How boards can improve regular greenkeepers' satisfaction. Source: Players 1st
How boards can improve regular greenkeepers' job satisfaction. Source: Players 1st

To create an environment where greenkeepers feel valued and understood, it's crucial to encourage open communication, actively seek employee input, and genuinely consider suggestions to enhance work conditions and efficiency.  

Greenkeepers also value the nature of their work, professional growth opportunities, and having a solid basis for their tasks. These things make a big difference in how satisfied they feel, giving them a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Unlike chief greenkeepers, salary and benefits don't have as big an impact on how happy they are overall. This shows that they rate other parts of their work more important, and a focus on those areas will improve the chances that they become happier and possibly stay. 

About the results

The data in this article is gathered from a survey on employee satisfaction in Danish golf clubs, conducted by Players 1st in 2023. The results are based on nearly 500 responses across Danish clubs.

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