NGCOA-NCA survey provides cost benchmarks

The 2008 Golf and Club Industry Compensation and Benefits report compiled by the National Golf Course Owners Association and the National Club Association reveals that private clubs are where the money is and rising health care costs are pummeling the owners and employees of public and private facilities alike.

The survey of more than 1,000 NGCOA and NCA members and multi-course owners showed that private club salaries on the course and in the kitchen were dramatically higher than their public facility counterparts.

The lead agronomic manager/head superintendent at private facilities surveyed earned an average of $118,186, compared to an average salary of $72,222 at public facilities. Private club head chefs, meanwhile, averaged $77,250 compared to $44,982 for their public course counterparts.

Public or private, the determining factor at the chief executive or general manager level was the facility's annual gross revenue. At facilities generating over $7.5 million per year, the top executive's average total compensation was $208,706. The compensation was much lower at facilities generating less than $2 million per year — $72,222.

Both owners and staffers took a hit from the nation's rising health care costs. Facilities responding to the survey reported paying $5,337 in health care premiums per staff member in the most recent fiscal year, compared to $4,889 a year earlier, for an increase of more than eight percent.

With facilities reporting an average increase of 11.1 percent upon their most recent health care plan renewal, many have passed some of that burden along to their employees.

Over 60 percent of facilities said they are increasing the deductible amounts for employees, over 40 percent are hiking employee contributions for coverage, and 34 percent are increasing the maximum limits on out-of-pocket expenditures. Four percent fewer facilities offered employee health coverage at all in the last year.

The study of 1,043 NGCOA and NCA members and multi-course owners was conducted by Industry Insights, an independent research and consulting firm based in Columbus, Ohio. The full report is available to NGCOA and NCA members for $150 and to non-members for $225 and may be ordered through the associations' respective web sites.

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