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Golf course superintendents have been struggling to recruit and retain workers. From leadership positions to entry-level staff, there are holes in the maintenance teams taking care of our courses and superintendents face dwindling amounts of staff time to accomplish an endless list of tasks. In response, the USGA has been working with a range of industry and academic partners to develop a new pathway that will help recruit and retain the next generation of greenkeepers. The Greenkeeper Apprenticeship Program (GAP) trains students on the latest in golf course maintenance technology and best management practices, provides mentorship for career success, and creates opportunities to earn valuable credentials and increased wages. 

How the program works:

The GAP program removes traditional barriers to professional development – cost and time. The program doesn’t cost participants anything and the classroom-based education through Sandhills Community College in Southern Pines, North Carolina, is designed around students’ full-time work schedule on a local golf course. They engage in a curriculum that includes in-depth instruction in turfgrass science, water management, soil science, turfgrass fertility, pest management and environmental stewardship. Additionally, superintendents, industry partners and leading scientists make appearances in the classroom to provide their invaluable insight. Students are paid their hourly wage while in class. Participants also receive on-the-job training from world-class leaders in the golf course maintenance industry. 

What students earn from the program:

Through ApprenticeshipNC, the North Carolina Community College System and the U.S. Department of Labor, GAP graduates earn two college credentials and a Journey Worker Card that exhibits proficiency in golf course maintenance. Participants also receive membership and continuing education from the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association and a predetermined pay raise from their employer. 

How to apply:

For more information about the GAP program and to apply for the next class, please reach out to program coordinator Carson Letot at