As golf course superintendents prepare for the upcoming season, there are many challenges facing them before the season even starts. Not only do they have to worry about spray programs, budgets, equipment maintenance, and golf course supplies, they also need to motivate current employees and find new ones. Labor often makes up half of a golf course’s budget.

With interest in the turf industry dwindling in the universities and turf program attendance on the decline, finding good help and responsible individuals to rely on is also at a shortfall. There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t hear a superintendent tell me about the difficulty of finding and maintaining employees. Many superintendents in my area have relied on temporary hiring services for employees. These employees will often work one or two weeks at most and then disappear. Golf course budgets are being slashed and, therefore, so are their labor budgets. So, what can YOU do about it?

The off-season (winter) is the best time to address this issue. Start with your current employees and try to boost their morale. Giving them a raise is not always in the budget. During these winter months, try taking time out for team building. Take your crew out to lunch, go bowling, or go for afternoon cocktails.

Give your salary personnel additional time off to make up for all the hard-working hours they put in during the summer, weekends and holidays. Make sure you evaluate each employee to ensure they are keeping positive attitudes. A poor attitude can be cancerous to an entire crew, especially during the dog days of summer. Just because a crewmember “knows how to do everything,” doesn’t mean they are necessarily a good fit for your crew.

Continue to motivate the crewmembers and encourage them to take part in local turf programs and associations. This will help them determine if managing turf is something that they would like to go to college for and possibly, pursue as a profession.

It’s often a good practice to get feedback from your employees so you can determine their needs and wants. This also helps to reinforce you are all working toward the same goals. Don’t forget to reach out to last year’s seasonal employees to ensure that they will be coming back again this season. This will allow you time to find a replacement if they choose not to come back.

Most importantly, stay positive in YOUR own attitude. This will increase productivity, unity, and efficiency. It is your job as the superintendent or manager to provide a positive work environment. Keeping your shop atmosphere fun and lighthearted will boost a person’s attitude. Be sure to lead by example. As you continue to prepare for the upcoming 2018 season, I wish you all the best!