Career: Leverage your love of golf to get a job

Job seekers who know how to show their appreciation of and dedication to the game of golf have a leg up on the competition.


Filed to: Job search

Love of golf
Photo by Ludwig Schreier/Unsplash

The No. 1 question I receive from GCSAA members when they’re conducting a job search is, “How can I stand out in a crowded field of qualified candidates?”

There are many strategies to stand out, and in this month’s column, we will explore a simple yet powerful tactic: conveying your commitment to growing and advancing the game of golf. This may seem fundamental, but it is surprising to me how many professionals in the golf industry miss this important piece in their job search message.

Show engagement

As professionals in the golf industry, each of us is part of continuing the story of this game we love so much. Candidates who acknowledge and embrace this will set themselves apart. An easy place to start is by listing your involvement in industry organizations such as GCSAA, the EIFG, First Green, local affiliate chapters, and partner organizations such as The First Tee and USGA.

When listing career achievements and wins in your résumé, use language such as, “In an effort to grow our membership,” and, “As part of our commitment to both the legacy and future of our golf course, we completed the following renovation projects.”

Also, in your cover letter, establish a tone of how you view your role by using a phrase such as, “I am passionate about the game of golf.” Consider who will be reading your cover letter and résumé: golfers!

Particularly if you are applying at a private equity club, the typical hiring committee is composed of a general manager and members who undoubtedly love the game of golf, so go ahead and address the elephant in the room: Yes, you are fully invested and dedicated to the game of golf.

Golf, anyone?

I recently presented a seminar at a state conference and had the privilege of watching the keynote presentation by Steve Mona, who is the CEO of the World Golf Foundation and former CEO of GCSAA. I was inspired by his message, which was that we all play an important role in advocating for and growing the game of golf.

Mona left attendees with advice for how to answer the question that we sometimes get in job interviews and that we all get once acquaintances learn we work in the golf industry: “How often do you golf?”

He recommended our answer convey two things: “I play golf as often as I can, and I can’t wait to play again.” His advice was profound and, I believe, helpful as we consider our message during a job search as well as in everyday social settings. I will forever answer that question differently than I did before I heard Mona’s message.

Grow the game of golf

When considering achievements to describe in your résumé and interview answers, include ways in which you value all golfers/members, including women and junior golfers. This is particularly effective if you are targeting a family-friendly golf facility or country club.

When you’re asked in an interview for examples of your job performance, choose stories that highlight your involvement and leadership in growing participation in golf, and share why that’s important to you. Did you set up the course with tees in the fairways once a month to encourage beginner golfers? Did you work with the pro shop staff to create a ladies fun day? Perhaps you hosted regional junior golf tournaments?

Overall, think of ways you lead your team to grow and boost golf participation at your course and in your community. Also, consider adding someone to your reference list who can speak to your involvement in and commitment to the game.

The next time you begin a job search and are selecting which points in your career to highlight, frame your achievements through the lens of loving, growing and advancing the game. Your message will resonate with your audience of golfers and give you a common starting point from which to tell your story.

Carol D. Rau, PHR, is a career consultant with GCSAA and the owner of Career Advantage, a career consulting firm in Lawrence, Kan., specializing in golf and turf industry careers. GCSAA members receive complimentary résumé critiques from Rau and her team; résumé, cover letter and LinkedIn creation for a reduced member rate; and interview preparation and portfolio consultation.