Certified golf course superintendents earn distinction to be a cut above the rest (Sept 16)

September 16, 2015 – Matthew Allen, 37, wants to open doors to better his career. Ted Horton, 72, just wants to keep pace with the newest technologies in his business. They look at it differently, but the two Golf Course Superintendent Association of America (GCSAA) members agree that being a certified golf course superintendent (CGCS) makes them someone special within their profession.

The distinction of CGCS is like having an advanced degree for a golf course superintendent. It requires a combination of continuing education, written testing and on-course management that can take up to a year to complete.

“The certification process is very detailed and it’s pretty intense,” said Jenny Pagel-Guile, senior manager of certification for GCSAA, the association that administers and awards program certification. “There are 33 portfolio items and a list of competencies that must be met. And once you have attained CGCS, you must meet renewal qualifications every five years.”

The objective for the program that was founded in 1971 is two-fold: to demonstrate knowledge and achievement within the profession and to give employers an easy way to know they’ve hired one of the best. There were 17 superintendents first certified in 1971 and there are just 12 who have become newly certified in 2015. Allen is one of them.

He has already been through a course closing and a bankruptcy in his young career, but instead of giving up he chose to earn CGCS status as a way to gain an advantage in a shrinking marketplace. Today, he is in his second year as head golf course superintendent at Los Alamos Municipal Golf Course in Los Alamos, N.M.

“This is a great program if you want to distinguish yourself from everyone else in the business,” said Allen, who is one of only about 1,500 who have earned the CGCS distinction from among 17,500 GCSAA members and 30,000 superintendents nationally. “I knew I had to find a way to distinguish myself, and I want to get ahead in the golf course management business. I know it will open doors for me later in my career.”

Horton is even more bullish on the program, which he undertook in 1976 when he was the head superintendent at legendary Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

“It was important to me 40 years ago and it’s important to me now,” said Horton, who is doing part-time consulting and living in California. “It’s a challenge that we have to measure ourselves to be the best. Superintendents are as well trained as anyone in any business and this is how we can demonstrate that.”

About GCSAA and the EIFG

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) is a leading golf organization in the United States. Its focus is on golf course management, and since 1926 GCSAA has been the top professional association for the men and women who manage golf courses in the U.S. and worldwide. From its headquarters in Lawrence, Kan., the association provides education, information and representation to nearly 18,000 members in more than 78 countries. The association’s mission is to serve its members, advance their profession and enhance the enjoyment, growth and vitality of the game of golf. Visit GCSAA at or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

The Environmental Institute for Golf is the philanthropic organization of the GCSAA. Its mission is to foster sustainability through research, awareness, education, programs and scholarships for the benefit of golf course management professionals, golf facilities and the game. Visit EIFG at or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

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