Environmental stewardship to win your next job

GCSAA and the golf industry have worked to be leaders in environmental stewardship, land use and resource management. Use this to your advantage.


golf course in autumn
Add distinction to your résumé by emphasizing a commitment to environmental sustainability and stewardship. Photo by Adobe Stock

The primary question most job seekers in the golf industry ask me is how to separate themselves in a crowded field of candidates. There are many ways to do this, but a great start is to not focus on just your basic experience and job titles (that most of the other candidates possess as well) but rather to showcase the key qualities hiring managers are seeking to show that you are a great fit for their particular golf facility and customers.

Hiring managers in the golf industry seek to hire professionals who are capable in environmental management. GCSAA and the golf industry have worked diligently to be leaders in environmental stewardship, land use and management of natural resources. Use this to your advantage. As a professional in the golf industry, your typical day probably already consists of many duties related to environmental stewardship, even if they seem like typical tasks. In this month’s Career column, we will explore ways to frame these responsibilities and career achievements in a résumé or interview to showcase your environmental expertise.

Connect your environmental leadership to your golf facility’s overall success. How does your knowledge of green technologies and sustainability contribute to the long-term goals of your golf facility? For example, at my home golf club, we completely rebuilt our golf course several years ago. At that time, the price to purchase water from our local municipality was negligible.

During the planning stages of the remodel, our superintendent advocated for implementing an engineered irrigation system to catch rainfall on the property and funnel it through a pond system to use as irrigation. I still remember him saying that water prices would go up in the future and this would be extremely beneficial financially down the road.

Fast forward to 2022, and we are grateful we followed his advice as local water prices soar higher each year, saving our club thousands of dollars by using our own water system. What have you done or are you doing today to contribute to the long-term success of your golf facility through sustainable operations? Find a way to incorporate those things into your résumé and interview answers.

Frame golf course improvement projects through the lens of the environment. If you are a golf course superintendent applying for a similar role, the vast majority of the qualified candidates will list maintenance projects, course remodels and golf course infrastructure improvements on their résumé. I encourage you to not just simply list these projects, but to also incorporate why it was done.

For example, if you merely list that you created native areas on the golf course, hiring committee members may not be aware of why you did it — less irrigation, fewer chemical applications, less labor time and more biodiversity. Including reasons that your audience can understand and relate to will go a long way in displaying your environmental competencies and setting you apart in a crowded field of candidates.

Demonstrate you can be trusted to navigate regulatory compliance. This can be a top concern for hiring committees in states with complex and strict regulations related to environmental management. Become familiar with any special considerations for the golf facility you are targeting for a job. Does their property have particular constraints or issues? Is the property near a protected habitat? Are there local or state guidelines you should learn and be able to articulate if you are asked during the hiring process?

Research of your target golf facility can be pivotal as you consider points to highlight in your résumé and interview. What if your target golf course is part of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program? This is a huge clue. This indicates the stakeholders of that facility value environmental leadership. Listing skills and achievements related to wildlife habitats or management of natural resources in your résumé and interview answers would be crucial to your success at that particular golf facility. And most importantly, it would be a powerful way to demonstrate that you would be a good fit with their particular business culture and values, which is the No. 1 way to rise to the top amid a sea of qualified candidates.

Carol D. Rau, PHR, has been a career consultant and speaker with GCSAA since 2005 and specializes in golf and turf industry careers. Rau is a frequent speaker at national, regional and local GCSAA conferences and teaches GCSAA webinars.