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A Needed Wage Increase in the Golf Industry

Manual labor jobs never pay much. This cannot be more true in the golf industry. Looking it up, that national average for a grounds crew or course maintenance worker in the United States is $13.25. The work is hard enough that the pay is simply not worth it, even if it means free golf.


Waking up and driving to work is one of the hardest parts. Work at any golf course starts early in the morning. Graveyard shift hours. One has to get up as early as 3:30 in order to punch in at 4:00 or 4:30. One of the nice parts of the job is that you get to see the sunrise, but oftentimes, you just don’t have enough time to appreciate the spectacle. For me, the drive to work was always dangerous; I’ve hit the guardrail on Lake Shore Drive at least three times, ran into two deer, and side swiped a parked car. Thankfully, the job started early enough that there was nobody on the streets for me to injure so everyone was just fine. If you’ve driven tired before you know that tired driving can oftentimes be more dangerous than drunk driving. (I theorize that Tiger Woods in his recent car accident was tired driving… the profile and time of the accident give me that idea). Anyways, if you can’t start the day without a cup of coffee and maybe a half-an-hour of self time to wake up, I suggest staying out of a golf course maintenance shop.


Work is work is work. Golf course work offers its own unique set of problems or criteria if you will. Yeah, manual labor jobs are tough and the ones at a golf course can be extremely grueling, but it’s a great way to stay in shape or get in shape. One year I committed to doing the grunt work at two different courses and lost about forty pounds in seven months. The much needed boot camp that came from this work experience has shaped me, quite literally. With the pro of working at a golf course aside, the cons, to me, are what really stand out.


Early morning work with heavy machinery never mixes well. On top of that, making a course look beautiful and play in perfect condition means clearing obstructions on all these outdoor havens. What do I mean by that? Animals shit all over the course, and this shit needs to be cleared for golfers throughout the day. Now I’m making it seem like it’s a giant task. In some courses it’s really not. These courses seem to be the ones that are fenced in and don’t have much of an animal presence.


My first grounds crew job working in Hawaii there were peacocks all over. I mowed the greens every morning, which also seemed to be the place peacocks used to like to go to the bathroom. You had to use a backpack blower to blow the shit off the green and into some longer grass. No big deal. You didn’t have to touch it or anything. Just put up with the smell. That wasn’t, necessarily, the bad part. Tree maintenance proved to be where things got tricky. Peacocks would sit in trees and go to the bathroom. Certain trees were worse than others. All I know was that it never seemed worth my $11.30 / hr to end my day covered in peacock shit.


So eventually my time with the peacocks came to an end and before I knew it, I wound up working the same type of job at a public course in Chicago. Being done with the peacocks was glorious but short lived. Yeah, there was coyote shit, but they seemed to respect where exactly they took relief. I only think I had to use the backpack blower one time to remove the unwanted fecal matter of a coyote. What I have come to learn is the worst kind of shit comes from none other than the raccoon. Raccoons, like the peacock, sit in the trees and go to the bathroom. All day long I would take a weed-eater and weed-eat the treeline. Twenty-five percent of the time, I found myself weed-eating right through raccoon shit. The shit would get everywhere, including on my mouth and under my nose. The smell was so bad that it made me stop working and collect myself.


As the daily grind comes to an end, a worker at any number of these courses is pretty tired. We work six days a week and even though the day is over at 2:00 pm on most days, it’s hard to do much else. Yes, most of the time you have the chance to play a round of golf before you go to bed. However, a shower, a cold beer, and a little television before your 8 o’clock bedtime are much more likely to come next. The pay in a job like this really isn’t worth it. First off, if you’re just starting off, you’re likely to get minimum wage. It is not till you learn the equipment and put a few years or summers under your belt until more pay comes your way. Without a spray-tech license, or better, an agronomy degree, there is just no money in the game. It’s really sad and sorry to see. People pay good money to golf, you’d like to imagine that more money trickles down to the guys making the course as beautiful as it is day in and day out. During the pandemic golf has played a vital part in people’s lives. It would be nice if the pay of golf workers reflected the mass increase in player participation. Anyway, my suggestion, if you have a local course you play at, bring in a couple dozen bagels or donuts for the maintenance crew a time or two. Free snacks go a long way.


The Players Championship: TPC Sawgrass


Winners Picks: The Players offers an especially competitive field with a unique nature of being extremely unpredictable… I would not bet on winners but rather top 20 or maybe 10. With that said, here are my picks. Also, if you can find a way to bet for a Korean Champion, making a country bet, I’m getting the feeling that the group is due (I do not have odds on that bet nor can I find it although I know it’s possible.


Patrick Cantlay - (+2000)


Viktor Hovland - (+2800) - hottest player in golf with great odds; he’s young, but best value.


Rory McIlroy - (+1600)


Louis Oosthuizen - (+8000)


Jon Rahm - (+1400)

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3 Ball Bets (Day 1):


Chris Kirk (+131) over Luke List and Bo Hoag

Tommy Fleetwood (+117) over James Hahn and Harold Varner III

Jason Day (+140) over Jason Kokrak and Francesco Molinari

Marc Leishman (+141) over Robert Streb and Justin Rose

Daniel Berger (+120) over Adam Scott and Shane Lowry

Colin Morikawa (+205) over Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson

Jordan Spieth (+206) over Patrick Reed and Jon Rahm *This whole group can finish in the top 10 and with Reed at +214 it might not be a bad idea to throw some money on him as well.

Rory McIlroy (+134) over Sergio Garcia and Webb Simpson

Justin Thomas (+160) over Viktor Hovland and Patrick Cantlay… I have the latter two in the winner circle so throwing money on Thomas in order to hedge my bets. Probably a good idea not to bet heavy with this group.

Louis Oosthuizen (+138) over Lee Westwood and Robert MacIntyre - always double down on your favorite golfer.


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