Survey Finds Better Wages at Private Clubs vs. Public Facilities

When it comes to compensation in the golf and club industries, size matters. It also pays (literally) to work at a private facility vs. a public-access facility. Those were among the findings of the 2008 Golf and Club Industry Compensation and Benefits Report issued by the NGCOA and the National Club Association.

Average total compensation (base salary, bonus and commission) for the chief executive staff person/general manager position at facilities with annual gross revenues of more than $7.5 million was $208,706, according to the survey of NGCOA and NCA members earlier this year. In contrast, employees in the same position at facilities where annual gross revenue is less than $2 million took home $72,222.

The lead agronomic manager/head superintendent at a private facility earned an average salary of $118,186 compared to $75,351 at public-access facilities. The salary difference between the head chef at private and public facilities is even greater - $77,250 compared to $44,982.

In addition to compensation, the survey looked at trends in health care, which showed the golf and club industries are not immune to rising costs and pressures affecting other employers. The responding facilities reported paying $5,337 in health care premiums per staff member in the most recent fiscal year, up from $4,889 a year earlier, more than an 8 percent increase.

Responding facilities experienced an average increase of 11.1 percent during their most recent health care insurance renewal, up from the 9.4 percent that was reported in the 2007 survey.

In efforts to control medical insurance and health care costs, 61 percent of golf and club facilities are increasing the deductible amount of their employees' coverage, 41 percent are increasing the employee contribution to cover premiums and 34 percent are increasing out-of-pocket maximums.

Indicative of the financial strain many courses and clubs are under, the number of facilities providing health insurance dropped from 94 percent to 90 percent in the past year.

The study was conducted earlier this year for the NGCOA and NCA by Industry Insights, an independent research and consulting firm based in Columbus, Ohio.

The full report, which is available to NGCOA and NCA members for $150 and to non-members for $225, may be ordered from the associations' respective websites, and