The British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) has issued the results of a major industry survey, with some of the findings representing a stark warning to the golfing industry.
Fairway mowing at dawn
Image by David Ball at Thetford Golf Club
More than 1,300 members of BIGGA, representing golf clubs across the United Kingdom, responded to the survey, which asked them to provide details of working conditions at their facilities, in addition to commenting on their job satisfaction.
With talk of difficulties regarding the recruitment and retention of staff common, BIGGA undertook the survey to gain solid evidence of the challenges at UK golf clubs, and the results have raised a number of concerns.
Although 56% of respondents said they were happy working within the greenkeeping profession, 35% admitted they were currently looking for opportunities outside the industry.
With regard to issues of recruitment, 53% are running with teams at less than full strength, while 83.5% said they struggle to recruit new staff.
The boom in golf that followed the coronavirus lockdowns in the past two years has translated to a general increase in staffing numbers, with golf clubs having on average one extra full time greenkeeper compared to the previous poll in 2019.
However, investment in staff welfare facilities hasn't materialised, with, for example, only one in five facilities offering single sex changing facilities and toilets for female team members. Despite increased reliance on technology, nearly half of clubs don't provide internet connectivity within the greenkeeping facility.
Further details and a results breakdown is available on the BIGGA website at: https://www.bigga.org.uk/news-listing/greenkeepers-bigga-workforce-survey.html
BIGGA CEO Jim Croxton said: "I'm pleased to be able to present robust data to the wider golfing industry that lays bare some fairly frightening statistics on the challenges that exist within our profession."
"We know anecdotally that there are major challenges regarding the recruitment and retention of staff and also that pay, conditions and welfare are major contributors, but to see in black and white that nearly 35% of greenkeepers are looking for work outside the industry is truly a concern."
"Equally, finding out that only one in five facilities are equipped for female staff members shows that the sport's laudable ambitions to improve equality and diversity are not translating into our side of the game."
"But the key question is what does the game of golf does with this information? It is widely known that there is currently a general challenge in recruiting and retaining staff across society. In order to continue functioning, many sectors have responded with significant pay increases and improvement in working conditions. Golf requires an integrated approach by the entire sport to overcome the challenges laid out by this survey. This approach will need to clearly lay out the challenges, create targets and devise plans to achieve our ambitions."