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Being a greenkeeper is an extremely tough job - unpredictable weather conditions, limited running costs and sometimes lack of staff are just some of the problems they face on a regular basis.
Moreover, in a recent survey conducted by Hillier Hopkins, it seems that their pay is also reducing, with head greenkeeper remuneration packages at 'members' clubs falling for the second successive year. The proportion earning in excess of £50,000 reduced from 29% in 2019 to 24% last year, then again to just 21% in 2021.
It's not much better at 'proprietary' clubs, with the head greenkeeper's remuneration package also lower than that of previous years. In 2019, all were in the £35-£45,000 range. In 2020, 17% were even in the £50,000+ plus range. However, this year, over half (52%) are now earning between £25-£35,000.
Currently, an average greenkeeper's salary in the UK is £20,000 per year, around £10.26 per hour, some £6,000 less than the average salary in the UK which, in 2021, stood at £25,971. It is also worth noting that entry level positions start at around £17,955 per year, whilst the most experienced workers can make up to £26,500 per year.
This is somewhat sad to see considering that, in a recent BIGGA survey, the majority of course managers express concern about a member of their team's mental health.
The BIGGA survey of 200 members, found that - 7% constantly worry about their own mental health, 20% frequently worry, 41% admit to sometimes worrying, whilst a very high 80% said they had worried about the mental health of someone they work with, with 8% claiming that their worries were constant.
The Hillier Hopkins survey, which involved 72 'member 'clubs and 29 'proprietary' clubs, reported around an 80% increase in membership over the last year, making it a worrying time for greenkeeping staff. More traffic on the course means more work needs to be done. Is that to be expected from someone who is now earning less money?
Not only has membership increased, but overall golf participation has sky-rocketed, with a recent survey revealing that more than 5.7 million people played golf of some form in 2020, up from just over 2.3 million participants in 2019. It has also been revealed that the number of rounds of golf played in Great Britain continues to rise, increasing for the fourth consecutive year in 2021.
With an increase in earnings for roles like Secretary/Manager, with both 'members' and 'proprietary' clubs seeing a significant percentage rise, why haven't greenkeeper wages increased? How is that their pay has reduced while the club's income hasn't?
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Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.
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