Exploring sports turf management as a career

Playing surfaces in stadiums and outdoor athletic facilities need people to take care of them. Explore a career in sports turf management and begin preparation as early as high school.

What do the following sports have in common: football, baseball, golf, soccer and field hockey? Yes, someone may think they are sports played outside, which is true. They are also played on natural surfaces, grass or turfgrass. At times and depending on the field, they are played on artificial turfgrass too. Instead of focusing on the sport, let’s focus on the playing surface of turfgrass. Did you know there is a career in turfgrass science or turfgrass management for sports called sports turf management? Have you considered a career in sports turf management?

Shana Brenner gives five reasons to consider a career in sports turf management on WorkInSports.com. They are job security, growth opportunities, applied sports knowledge, leadership roles and the work environment. On Inside Jobs, sports turf management may involve some of the following duties:

  • Managing the playing field for a golf course, school or other sports facilities.
  • Managing groundskeepers as they carry out their needed responsibilities for the playing surface. (Starting off as a groundskeeper may be a good start towards becoming a sports turf manager.)
  • Assisting with maintenance duties.
  • Irrigating and watering responsibilities.
  • Protecting the playing surface from pests and diseases.
  • Budgeting and employment needs.

A good step to become a sports turf manager is to pursue a certificate or bachelor’s degree in an area related to sports turf management. Michigan State University offers certificates in Golf Management and Sports and Commercial Turf Management in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. These are two-year certificate programs. Students interested in a bachelor’s degree (four-year degree) can pursue one in Turfgrass Management.

If you’re a student in high school, you can begin preparing for a career in this field now. Michigan State University Extension recommends checking with the sports turf managers or groundskeepers for your local high school athletic fields, city parks and recreation departments to see if you can assist with the grounds and maintenance. Another option is to find ways to assist with lawn care for a business or become employed by a lawn care business. You can also join a 4-H club and participate in projects relating to plant and soil sciences.

As a student, be sure to take the necessary steps to explore this career field if you’re interested. Resources are available to assist students and youth to become what they desire to be in their career. One resource is the “Build Your Future: Choices, Connections, Careers” curriculum which is a National 4-H curriculum. Take advantage of the opportunities and resources to pursue a career in sports turf management.

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