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    From your GCSAA Field Staff, Kevin Doyle:

Labor continues to be a struggle for many superintendents in the northeast.  Whether attracting them or retaining them, the process is difficult and costly.  In one of my recent presentations we spoke of how hard it is managing and communicating with a multi-generational workforce. No easy feat, and challenges in dealing with younger employees dominated the post-presentation discussions.  Much like our favorite sports teams, there needs to be an element of youth within our staffs and industry workforce to succeed now, and, more importantly, in the future. 

This piece isn’t meant to be a means to fix problems associated with attracting new and vibrant turf professionals, nor is there a magic bullet on molding millennials into the perfect future assistant superintendent.  I could simply write “let them do whatever they want, whenever they want, tell them they did an amazing job and give them a participation trophy.”  But honestly, that sounds good to me too, and I’m far removed from my younger years.  It is meant to focus on who we are trying to attract, ways we might be able to reach them, and resources available to everyone that may assist in attracting young people to our industry.

Lots of superintendents started working on golf courses at young ages.  Whether on the grounds crew or as a caddy, the “I want to work on a golf course” seed was planted very early.  Enter insurance issues and many of those opportunities are gone.  Very few superintendents hire employees under the age of 18.  At that point they have graduated high school, gotten their first or had multiple jobs, and have considered a non-turf career path that they believe they will be on the rest of their life.  We need to look even younger than high school-aged individuals.

Our mission at GCSAA to “enhance the enjoyment, growth, and vitality of the game of golf” cuts right to the heart of this matter.  In order to grow the game, we need to engage the younger people without hiring them.  The First Green initiative is about opening up our courses as a learning lab to young students.  Allowing access to our property and game may never happen otherwise.  Showing them what we do at our facility and how we do it is a key step to a possible future with golf in it.  Bring them to us and teach them about the career we all enjoy so much. (more on The First Green can be found here: www.thefirstgreen.org)

Many superintendents are going the other direction and headed back to school.  Going to a son’s or daughter’s class and talking about our profession.  Targeting the local golf teams (already interested in golf) or attending career days at local schools.  GCSAA has developed some marketing tools to promote our profession to younger individuals.  Our office might be slightly different than many others, and that may appeal to more kids than we think!  Reach out if you need help or materials.

Perhaps giving every toddler you know a Fisher Price lawnmower might be a good start.  Reaching out and engaging school aged children about the passion and enjoyment we share in our industry may also reap future benefits.

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