Is There A Crisis In Golf Greenkeeping?

A new BIGGA survey has been released to discover whether there's a crisis in the industry

Greenkeeper driving a John Deere vehicle
(Image credit: Future)

BIGGA, the British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association, has launched a survey for its members to find out if there is a crisis in the greenkeeping industry.

The crisis specifically relates to a lack of new greenkeepers coming into the industry, with golf clubs struggling to fill vacancies. Reasons given for this shortage include the requirement to work anti-social hours, lack of appreciation and a relatively low entry salary.

"One of the biggest problems facing greenkeepers is recruitment and recruiting greenkeepers," Wallasey GC Course Manager John Mcloughlin recently told Golf Monthly. "There seems to be a huge shortage of greenkeepers in the industry and there's a huge shortage of people coming into the industry. So there's a huge labour shortage, which is becoming extremely difficult within the industry.

"It’s not necessarily low paid but it could be classed as sort of anti-social hours. They’ve got to get up really early, they’ve got to work weekends and starting at the bottom the wages are low. And then I suppose there's a lot more jobs for the millennials rather than working outside. So there’s jut not people coming into the industry, which is probably one of the biggest factors presently facing course managers and golf clubs. That is starting to drive up salaries, which is a good thing. However, in the long-term it's not a good thing, if you've got no staff."

A BIGGA survey last year also showed the mental health struggles facing greenkeepers in a relatively lonely job where pressures of course conditions are high along with the anti-social hours and low entry level pay. The survey showed that 7% of greenkeepers constantly worry about their own mental health, while another 20% frequently worry and 41% admit to sometimes worrying about their mental state. 80% said they had worried about the mental health of someone they work with.

BIGGA Chief Executive Officer Jim Croxton said: “With the ongoing cost of living crisis at the forefront of our minds and the Covid-19 pandemic having caused many people to consider their priorities, the golf industry faces a very real challenge to engage sufficient staff at club level, to effectively deliver the sport to the nation’s five million regular golfers. Participation in the sport is booming at just the time that recruiting and retaining greenkeeping staff is at its most challenging. It is vital the golf industry – utilising real data – considers positive solutions to the ongoing labour issues.

“We encourage all our members to respond to this survey, which we believe will benefit all greenkeepers and golf club staff.”

Head greenkeepers, course managers and other members of the turf management team at golf clubs are invited to complete the survey.

Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016. He graduated in Sports Journalism in 2016 and currently manages the Golf Monthly news, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He has also covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as three Open Championships including at Carnoustie in 2018 when he was inside the ropes with Tiger Woods. He has played 31 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Alwoodley. He currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 4-6. His golfing highlight is making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, and he has made one hole-in-one.

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Honma TR20

3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max

2 iron: Mizuno MP-18 MMC Fli-Hi

Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x