Military veterans are often seeking quality employment, and like many industries across the country today, the golf industry needs quality candidates to fill open jobs.
By 2024, two organizations hope to have addressed these two issues simultaneously.
The Warrior Alliance, an organization with a mission to help connect transitioning veterans and active-duty service members to a network of employees nationwide, is teaming up with the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) to move military veterans into careers in the golf course maintenance industry.
Both organizations have started work on a nine-week skills development program focused on job opportunities in the golf industry. According to a GCSAA press release, the program will be formed through the Warrior Alliance’s Operation Double Eagle program, and take place in Augusta, Ga.
The golf maintenance program plans to go live in 2024 and include golf-related classroom, online, hands-on and apprenticeship experiences for its participants, according to GCSAA’s CEO, Kevin Sunderman.
The golf industry has all types of roles available, Sunderman said, from the most entry-level positions involving operation of basic equipment to more technical and supervisory positions.
“You could have that entry-level position, but then we have technician positions that specialize in irrigation or they specialize in fertilizer or chemical application, or they specialize in equipment maintenance,” Sunderman said. “We have various levels of technicians in that field. And we go from there up into supervisory roles, whether it’s foreman positions that lead crews, or assistant superintendents or even golf course superintendents. We feel like the men and women that come through this program have the opportunity to climb that ladder to whatever rung feels most appropriate.”
The program’s goal is to reduce the labor shortage in an industry that surged in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic and has yet to slow down, as courses across the country report dramatic increases in rounds played since the shutdowns of 2020.
“Just like every industry and every part of the country, labor is a challenge,” Sunderman said. “Especially when you’re looking for skilled labor and who wants to show up for work early in the morning, work diligently through the elements, bring attention to detail, and bring a desire to do things right.”
Sunderman speaks from experience. Before rising to his current position, he was a course superintendent in the Tampa area, where he had success hiring veterans for both full-time and part-time work.
“One of the reasons why veterans are a good fit has a lot to do with their (military) training, their attention to detail,” Sunderman said. “They’re procedure-oriented, and that naturally makes them a good fit in this industry.”
“We are proud of our Operation Double Eagle program’s success in providing skills development and new careers for individuals who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces,” said Scott Johnson, president/CEO of The Warrior Alliance. “The partnership with GSCAA will enhance the training and expand the labor resource pool beyond veterans to address rising labor shortages.”