Golf Course Groundskeeper
To win readers over we need to write characters so authentic they feel like real people. How do we do this? By brainstorming a character’s backstory, personality, needs, desires, and their day-to-day world. Lucky for us, one aspect of their daily life is a goldmine of characterization: the type of work they do.
Think about it: a job can reveal personality, skills, beliefs, fears, desires, and more, which is why Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi created The Occupation Thesaurus, a writing guide that profiles 124 possible careers and the story-worthy information that goes with each. To help with this project, I’m sharing my experience as a Golf Course Groundskeeper below, in case this career is a perfect fit for your character!
You can find the full list of Contributed Occupation Profiles and check out The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers at Writers Helping Writers.
OCCUPATION: Golf Course Groundskeeper
Golf Course Groundskeepers maintain the turf in impeccable condition for the best playing conditions possible. This often requires early mornings, long hours, and exceptional observation skills. Education is strongly suggested for those desiring a career in this field, and competition for Superintendent positions is high. Positions are often filled by Turf Management students for work-study or internships. It requires skillful and detailed operation of expensive mowing and grooming equipment.
Management positions usually require a degree in Turf Management, though time-spent can be extremely beneficial. Experience in identifying turf diseases and pests is mandatory. Familiarity with chemicals and fertilizers appropriate for the climate is essential. Knowledge of soils and water management is also essential. Irrigation training is often available from the supplier companies.
USEFUL SKILLS, TALENTS, OR ABILITIES
ABLE TO GET UP EARLY IN THE MORNING, CONCENTRATION, DETAIL-ORIENTED, ENJOYS BEING OUTSIDE IN ALL WEATHER, GARDENING, GOOD DRIVER, GOOD LISTENING SKILLS, GOOD WITH NUMBERS, MECHANICALLY INCLINED, MULTITASKING, OBSERVATION, RESPONSIBLE, RESPECTFUL, SELF-STARTING AND MOTIVATING, STAMINA, STRATEGIC THINKING, STRENGTH, TEAM PLAYER
SOURCES OF FRICTION:
Have to get up very early in the morning and function at a high level
Have to work long hours in the summer/warmer months
Have to be courteous to golfers, especially members on private courses, when they want to play through
Have to be respectful of rules of the course, dress codes, members, the environment
Have to be careful when using machinery, and alert to breakdowns or problems
Have to be careful when applying chemicals
When disease strikes the grass and members complain about closures or off-conditions
Must be able to get a pesticide application license for management positions
Not usually much time off
WRITERS SHOULD KNOW…
This is a position that is often occupied by college students in Turf Management programs on summer break, so turnover is very high from one year to the next. Management structure is one of Superintendent-Assistant Superintendent(s)-Irrigation Specialist-Horticulturist (on private and larger courses)-Spray Technician. Many, many chemicals are used on golf courses, which are expensive, and must be used in highly regulated ways under specific conditions. Golfers do not hesitate to complain to the grounds workers about the slightest thing, so it can be stressful. Tournaments take a lot of preparation, weeks in advance, and usually require very early start times (4-5 am). This is a very repetitious job, while the grass is growing it must be maintained in specific ways every time something is done. It can be challenging to keep up with grass growth in optimum growing seasons. Management positions usually require Turf Management and/or Golf Course Management degrees, and sometimes business management as well. Crews may get out before 4 or 5 pm because of the early start times.
Have any questions about this job? I’d be happy to answer. Just leave a comment below!
*photo credit to pxhere, free for use.