From the outside looking in, the golf pro's job looks pretty good: golf anytime, work only in good weather, make more money than the pediatrician in Thursday afternoon's foursome.
"Yeah, sure," pros will scoff in reply: the business side leaves little or no time for golfing, the days are long, and they only wish they made that kind of money."I'm here early taking tee times and spend my day making reports to the city, doing all the banking, handicapping for the Utah Golf Association, selling merchandise, giving lessons - there are a myriad of things to do," said Rose Park pro Lynn Landgren, who found time to play only four rounds of golf last month.
"It looks pretty glamorous, but what a lot of people don't realize is the number of hours we put in - 10 to 12 hours a day, seven days a week - and all of the responsibilities we have."
Most public course pros work on contract
He and most of the other public links pros work under contract. They get base pay of as much as $63,000 plus a percentage of gross receipts. That comes to more than $150,000 at some courses, but Salt Lake Recreation Director Scott Gardner notes that the pros must pay their assistants and cover all of their own expenses.
"I would like to dispel the myth that pros make these incredible salaries," Gardner said, citing a recent audit that shows Salt Lake's pros taking home about $35,000 at the nine-hole courses and $60,000 at the 18-hole courses.
Bonneville's Dick Kramer was shown with $77,000, but Gardner said that figure may be inflated by unde-ducted expenses.
According to Gardner, the audit demonstrates that the cost of putting the pros on the city payroll at a competitive salary level - including the standard 28 percent benefits package - would actually be higher than the current arrangement.
Also, he argues that pros on contract give more to the job because they have a personal financial stake in the success of the operation. "Now, they're running a business; they're running our business."
3 S.L. County pros now on payroll
Salt Lake County recently switched its three pros from contract to payroll, a controversial decision that is being widely evaluated and debated as government golf agencies look for ways to maximize revenues and control costs.
Pam Boyles, the county's sports and golf director, said the change has gotten mixed reviews. "A lot of people in Utah and from other states have expressed interest in what we're doing. It's getting a lot of attention because, like us, they're trying to build up their enterprise funds to bond for new courses."
Gardner concedes the change is giving the county's golf fund a financial boost now, but he predicts it will cost more over the long run because of the steadily increasing scales and benefits packages.
Pros make golf courses a success
Utah Golf Association Executive Director Joe Watts doesn't doubt that a good pro will maintain a good course - whether on salary or contract - but he worries about what he considers a growing tendency to downplay the importance of the golf pro.
According to Watts, some course operators have even discussed the possibility of using starters or course managers rather than pros, which he says would seriously hurt the game.
"It is extremely important to have knowledgeable people running the courses. In order for golf to function right, you need the kind of leadership that a good pro can offer. Where you have a good pro, you have a good golf experience."
Gardner said, "The success we're having with our golf courses today is due in large part part to our pros."