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Four Golf Careers You Hadn't Considered

Golfers in a pro golf shop

Many of us have a passion for golf. However, with less than 250 cards issued between the PGA and LPGA Tours and only a little more in Europe, the vast majority of the 80 million who enjoy the game won't be able to make a living playing at the elite levels.

However, the golf industry is on the upswing, and it's particularly noticeable in America. With more courses than anywhere else on the planet - over 16000, more than two and a half times closest rivals Japan and the United Kingdom combined - around 25m Americans play golf. The golf course industry is estimated to be worth $26bn a year to the United States economy, employing over 300,000 people. The golf sector as a whole is valued at around $84bn. That's 22% growth in the past decade from a market value of $68.8bn in 2011.

With the sheer scale of the facilities, consumers and stakeholders in golf, building a career in the game covers many more facets than simply playing. Even a club's in-house pro will have more on their plate than putting and pitching – often their responsibilities will involve sitting on the club committee and running the club shop alongside instruction and PR work. Specialist jobs on the course can include greenskeeping, club cutting and tree surgery. Off course can be almost limitless, from reservation booking agents through marketing execs to the organizers and broadcasters who put together glitzy tournaments.

Let's take a look at fore (sorry - four) pathways to success.

Events Coordinator

PGA Tour events require an army of staff; however, even the smallest of golf clubs will have an annual tourney. Many clubs also like to integrate with their local community; charity tournaments and games featuring local celebrities or dignitaries - and the resulting media coverage - are hugely popular. That's not to mention functions that members may wish to hold, like birthday parties, anniversary dinners and weddings. Liaising with everyone from the in-house banquet team to outside caterers, to local businesses for sponsorship to local press and TV stations for exposure doesn't require a golf background but does require a can-do attitude and a willingness to work hard.

Course Mapper

Course mapping involves assembling the pinpoint accurate 2-D maps you'll see of the course on televized tourneys and the 3-D maps of ground contours you may have come across in the latest hyper-realistic video games. It's becoming increasingly popular amongst courses of all levels and sizes. Florida - which has the most courses of any U.S. state - frequently has to remodel courses due to hurricane damage. Course mapping makes the process far less painful, offering detailed data quickly. Course mappers come from various backgrounds, with CAD design, civil engineering and surveying all good entry points. Technology has made its way into every aspect of the modern game; GPS helps golf players; now, it's helping those who make play possible.

SEO Executive

For those who are computer literate and perhaps less keen on being out in the field, SEO is hugely important to golf courses. Golf tourism is forecast to grow by $5.36bn globally in the period 2020-2024, and it's paramount that courses rank highly on search results to reach potential players. The broader tourism industry has been focused on SEO for years, honing and adapting its content and keywords to fit branding, ad campaigns and target audience. SEO is a fast-moving industry - literally daily as the search engines tweak their algorithms and website publishers must stay on top of their pages to stay at the top of the 'leaderboard'. It means those working as SEO specialists in other roles can easily move over to other industries. Indeed, skills are highly transferable between industry sectors and someone starting in SEO for a retailer, say, can move to golf fairly seamlessly.

Sales Representative

Popular buyer's guide Golf Cart Report ran the numbers and worked out that the average bag of clubs is going to run players somewhere in the region of $2,000. Inventors of the 'Big Bertha' driver, Callaway, have revenues of around $2.8bn per year. If you're not averse to driving on the highways as well as the fairways, there's green to be made as a golf sales representative. Typically, reps may come from similar positions in other industries. However, there's always room for golf specialists. While the big hitters in the apparel stakes, like Nike and Adidas, moved into golf quite some time ago, there's still space for startups in the sector.

The average golf club employs around 30 people. There is lots going on behind the scenes to set the scene for a perfect afternoon's 18 holes. If your current career leaves you feeling under par, golf might be an avenue to take a swing at.