Study Golf Course Management: Courses, Diplomas & Online

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Diplomas and courses in golf course management can lead to careers in management of turfgrass and golf operations and outlet. Get the truth about the requirements, courses and career options, and find out what you can do with your training.
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Studying Golf Course Management: Diplomas and Courses at a Glance

Courses and diplomas in golf course management can help you find work in not only the care and upkeep of golf courses, but also in outlet operations. Golf course grounds include everything from the grass and trees to the soil they grow in. It might be your job to keep the grounds healthy and in proper shape for the particular course's design and construction.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) groups greenskeepers with grounds maintenance workers. The BLS projects that jobs in grounds maintenance are expected to grow 20% between the years 2010 and 2020. This percentage is considered faster than the average job.

Courses Diplomas
Who Is this Course for? People already working in the golf industry who want to add to their education or people pursuing a job position in greenskeeping or grounds maintenance. Those with an interest in working in the golf industry, particularly on golf course grounds or the operations of golf outlet.
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Pesticide handlers, sprayers, and applicators for vegetation ($30,000)*
- Grounds maintenance workers, general ($25,000)*
- Landscaping or groundskeeping workers ($23,000)*
- Golf course superintendent ($43,000)** Note: salary varies with years of experience, location, and number of people you manage
-First-line supervisors of landscaping, lawn service, and groundskeeping workers ($42,000)*
- Assistant golf course superintendent ($28,000)** Note: salary varies with years of experience, location, annual budget, and number of people you manage
Time to Completion 1 day to 1 semester Varies with program, but usually less than 2 years
Common Graduation Requirements - None other than requirements for completing the course - Occupational experience
Prerequisites - Application
- High school diploma or GED
- High school diploma or GED (some colleges don't require these for admission, but require you to have one or the other before you get half-way through the program)
- Assessment tests in reading, math, and writing
Online Availability Some courses available online Not at this time

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), ** (May 2012 figures).

Courses in Golf Course Management

If you prefer not to complete an entire diploma or certificate program, you can take individual courses in the field of golf course management. This is a good option if you already work in the golf industry and would like to further your career, especially towards a management position. Courses are usually offered through a school's continuing education program, where you can apply to enroll in one or more courses. Some courses are very short and last only a day or two, while some are full semester courses. If you want to take more than one course at a time, take note of the school's credit limit per semester for continuing education students.

Pros and Cons


  • You can choose what specific courses you want to take to advance your career in a certain direction.
  • Some courses only last one day.
  • Taking only one or two courses at a time can allow for more flexibility when working around your current job schedule.


  • Some courses might only be offered once a year.
  • Continuing education students are not always eligible for certain scholarships or financial aid.
  • Much of the work in the field requires a lot of physical labor.
  • Work is done mainly outside, which might expose you to dangerous weather conditions.

Courses and Training Requirements

Some courses are offered for the purpose of supplementing the education of a person already working in the field. You may also take individual courses that are part of a certificate, diploma, or degree program. Course subjects that might be available to you include:

  • Golf course management, design, and layout
  • Marketing and technology
  • Turfgrass management regarding disease, insects, weeds, and organic practices
  • Proper usage of soil and plants in golf course construction and landscaping
  • Irrigation systems
  • Maintenance and repair of mechanical equipment

Online Course Info

Online courses in the field of golf course management are available. They might be part of an online degree program or formatted as online workshops and training modules. Some of the online workshops and training might be used towards certain certification or recertification in pesticide application in certain states.

Stand Out with these Courses

Because technology is finding applications in many job fields, it might benefit you to take a course that applies the latest technical knowledge and skills to the subject. This might include the controllers and wiring of irrigation systems or the engines of landscape equipment.

If you plan to apply your courses to a diploma or degree program in the future, look to take credit courses rather than noncredit courses or workshops. Some schools do allow you to change your status to degree-seeking student after you have completed a certain number of credits, but take note that you must now complete any application requirements for the program you wish to enter.

Diplomas in Golf Course Management

Diplomas generally require more credit hours than a certificate in the field and less credit hours than an associate's or bachelor's degree. A diploma in golf course management might qualify you for a job as a golf course superintendent or an assistant superintendent. Golf course superintendents are responsible for the upkeep of a golf course as well as the budget and course maintenance employees. Superintendents also interact with golf club members, so skills in communication and conflict resolution are desirable in job applicants.

Pros and Cons


  • Your job may combine your interests in golf and plants.
  • Much of your work will be done outdoors.
  • You have the potential to advance from an assistant golf course superintendent to a higher paying position as a superintendent.*


  • Precautions must be taken to protect your body when working with mechanical equipment and performing strenuous physical labor.
  • You might come in contact with pesticides that might be harmful to your health.
  • Some superintendent jobs list a preference for applicants with a 2 year degree in the field.*
  • Source: University of Massachusetts Amherst, Stockbridge School of Agriculture.

Common Course Requirements

Courses in golf course management programs will teach you how to manage a golf course from the soil and grass to the bushes and trees growing above. You might learn about engines and other mechanical aspects of landscape equipment. Other more applied subjects might include how to plan and install an irrigation system and how to apply pesticides to grass and surrounding plants. Subjects such as soil and turfgrass health will support the skills you learn. Golf course design and construction are also important subjects included in many programs. Some programs include a course about the game of golf for those who might not have an in-depth knowledge of the sport.

Online Course Info

Currently there are no golf course management diplomas that can be completed online. Some schools do offer some individual courses online. These courses might be completed 100 percent online or done as a hybrid course with some work done through the Internet and some in-class. Sometimes core education courses are the only online options available.

Stand Out with This Degree

Because golf course management is a hands-on field, it might be a good idea to enter a program that requires students to have some sort of work experience. The benefit to you is that this experience is part of your program and you earn credit towards your diploma at the same time you develop applicable skills for your profession. If you feel your diploma program is lacking in a certain subject, you could look into taking individual courses from a different golf course management program.

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