Paper Chasing: Chase the Experience, Not the Money

by Brian Dobak
April 2, 2010

Money is grease that makes it easier for the world to spin on its axis. But grease is dirty and messy, and so is money. Don't chase it. Money is a complex subject. If you’re on the job boards and your priority is to make money, you may be going down a messy road. You’ll see well-paying jobs at lesser-known clubs, and you’ll see lesser-paying jobs at well-known clubs. Which ones do you go for? If you’re an assistant professional in this business and money is your priority, then you might be in the wrong business. Its not until you're a Class "A" professional do you have any kind of leverage when it comes to compensation.

Employers don't pay apprentices based on what they think they "deserve", they pay assistants based on qualifications, what they want to pay them, and especially in this day and age, what their budget allows them to pay assistants. You arguably don't "deserve" anything until you achieve your Class "A". Even then, most jobs requiring a PGA Professional pay more, but they are still "commensurate with experience" and pays very little relative to industries across the board.

Following the money is like following an invisible dollar attached to a string being pulled by the golf industry machine. We make ourselves believe it's there, but the reality of the situation is that generally speaking, the money just isn't there as an assistant golf professional. Chase the experience, not the dollars. If we chase the dollar, we’re going to be in a perpetual circle of missed opportunities and lost experiences. It’s okay to want to make money; we all want to make more money. We all have bills to pay and some of us have family obligations. But if you’re single and don’t have any major attachments, or your family and ambition is flexible and boundless, don't make money your priority. Don't let money be the reason you're passing up on golden opportunities.

Instead of focusing on the money, we need to focus on the experience. As assistant professionals, if we temporarily sacrifice money to work at dynamic, well-known, upscale clubs, the money will come down the road. We just have to be patient. Don't pass up on golden opportunities because of the pay rate, or you may be shooting yourself in the foot and you may not be able to recover. Time and experience are more valuable than money. We can always get more money if we really want to, but we cannot get more time back and often times we can’t get a missed opportunity back.

Another reality is that generally speaking, assistants are largely replaceable. For reasons largely having to do with the golf professional employment landscape that has evolved, employers aren't going to pay replaceable assistant professionals a lot of money from their budget. Are there well-paying assistant professional positions out there? Sure. But they probably aren’t well-paying from a salary standpoint; rather a majority of the income in these positions is derived from endless teaching opportunities at extremely active clubs.

You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don't make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing and pursue the places you want to go. If being a golf professional is your passion, then do the job so well that people can't take their eyes off you. Although you won't be paid well in the process, when it comes time to searching for a Head Professional position, hopefully you'll have chased the experiences. Hopefully you’ll be able to quantify your experiences, and you’ll have made yourself marketable and a "must have" in the eyes of the hiring committees.

There is a relatively well-known fact floating around out there, but seldom accepted. No matter how much money you make, you're always going to want more. That's the catch. It’s an everlasting, uninterrupted episode that will cloud your ability to make solid career decisions. Ben Franklin once said, “Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.”

Ecclesiastes 5:10 states quite simply, "Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income."  In conclusion, taking a career path as a golf professional is undeniably a rough road as an assistant professional. You're paid very little and you work very much. As assistant professionals, what we have a hard time realizing is that, if you chase the experience, it will gradually cultivate unforeseen opportunities for better jobs down the road, thus more money. Not to mention its fun working at active, dynamic, upscale clubs.

Chase the experience, not the dollars.