skip to main content

Like many industries, golf is challenged with a shortage of both experienced and inexperienced labor. We have failed to establish a sustainable recruitment and retention model for those seeking a future in golf course maintenance. In the end, it takes an entire team of trained maintenance professionals to take care of a golf course – and like a wise man once said: “No golf courses, no golf.” 

To help address these pressing labor challenges, the USGA has partnered with Sandhills Community College and local golf courses to establish a one-year golf course maintenance apprenticeship program in Moore County, North Carolina. The Greenkeeper Apprenticeship Program (GAP) removes traditional barriers to education like cost and time. The program doesn’t cost the participants anything and is designed to provide them with a strong base for a lifelong career in golf.

The classroom-based education through Sandhills Community College is designed around students’ full-time work schedule on a local golf course, where they will also receive on-the-job training from world-class leaders in the golf course maintenance industry. Through ApprenticeshipNC, the North Carolina Community College System and the U.S. Department of Labor, GAP graduates will earn two college credentials and a Journey Worker Card to exhibit proficiency in golf course maintenance. The curriculum includes in-depth instruction in turfgrass science, water management, soil science, turfgrass fertility, pest management and other key areas.

Successful students will earn not only a free education, but also pay raises while enrolled and again upon completion of the program. With perfect attendance to date, the first USGA GAP cohort consists of 21 students, representing 11 golf courses. We are currently recruiting for our next cohort and are excited about the opportunity to build upon the rich history of golf in the Sandhills of North Carolina. For more information, please reach out to

Southeast Region Agronomists:

Chris Hartwiger, director, Agronomy –

Jordan Booth, Ph.D., director, USGA Course Consulting Service –

John Rowland, Ph.D., agronomist –

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service

Contact the Green Section Staff