Program Overview

For many, golf is a lifetime passion. It is an escape from the world – where players go to get away from it all. People often spend decades trying to perfect their game. A good experience for the golfer depends on how well the course is managed, maintained and operated. You can provide a relaxing and enjoyable experience for your customers with the skills you'll learn with a degree in golf enterprise management.

The UW-Stout Golf Enterprise Management (GEM) program was developed at the request of golf industry professionals to address their management needs. You'll receive a comprehensive education with courses in business, customer service, food and beverage and retail management, in addition to golf-specific content in customer development and retention, golf course design and turf management.

While most golf management programs stress player aptitude, UW-Stout's Golf Enterprise Management degree is focused on developing business management skills related to golf. The program is not about playing the game of golf, but rather about the business of golf.

The National Golf Course Owners Association Board of Directors voted unanimously to endorse the development of this program — the only endorsement of its kind ever conferred by the NGCOA. The NGCOA considered UW-Stout a perfect match for the program because of our hospitality programs, excellent customer service offerings and emphasis on applied learning.

The future success of the industry depends on the availability of golf business professionals who have a keen understanding of financials, marketing, economics and sales. At the same time, the tradition of golf must be maintained, with a strong focus on player development, agronomy and - most importantly - customer service. These are the skills you'll learn in this unique program.

Preparing for UW-Stout

High school courses such as business and communication — as well as mathematics and human relation skills - are recommended. Taking speech, marketing and computer classes will also help prepare you for this field of study.

Starting Out

Course work in your first few semesters combines general education with major foundation courses. General education courses include English composition, speech, mathematics and economics. As you progress, you'll learn about business, retail, plant and earth sciences, industrial management and service management.

As You Progress

Golf management - and related golf businesses — are complex activities that require a broad array of skills and knowledge. Courses in your junior and senior year focus on food and beverage management, retail sales, service management, turf management, marketing and human resource management.

As a course manager, you'll also need to know how to handle events management, such as tournaments, league play and golf outings. You'll learn to select and maintain the equipment and supplies needed to keep your courses in prime playing condition, and market your courses effectively to create customer loyalty and recruit new customers.

With help from your program director, you'll choose 29 elective credits to prepare for your specific career goals and objectives. You may decide to take a minor or specialization to fulfill the elective credits. Minors in areas such as business administration, human resource management, tourism, or Spanish give you the edge over the competition when looking for employment in the golf industry. Help with course and career choices is also available through the Advisement and Career Centers, the Counseling Center and Career Services.

This program has a strong experiential component. You'll complete two co-operative education or field experiences for a total of 800 hours. This practical experience will expose you to a broad variety of golf course operations and functions. The Career Services Office at UW-Stout and your program director will help you set up co-op education experiences in Golf Enterprise Management.

Entry Positions

The general outlook for the future of golf course businesses in the U.S. remains positive. There are over 16,000 golf courses in the U.S. alone. Minnesota and Wisconsin rank among the leading states in the country for numbers of holes per capita, numbers of players and best courses. As a result, management careers in the golf industry are accessible and the salaries are attractive. Salaries do vary with location, experience and the type of golf facility, but annual salaries in Wisconsin and Minnesota for Assistant General Managers are $37,750 and for General Managers $56,700. Salaries in locations where golf courses are open throughout the year are higher.

In addition to careers in golf course management, graduates of the GEM program will be prepared for entry-level management within corporations that manage multiple courses, golf retail businesses, tourism businesses and many other golf-related businesses.

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