Assistant golf pros don't have the worst job in the golf industry, but their life is far from the glamorous existence of the touring pros seen on television. Assistant pros handle a bulk of the tasks of running the pro shop and course, including managing inventory, running the handicap service for members, giving lessons and providing tournament service. Because they're so busy in the shop, assistant pros don't spend a lot of time on the golf course while on the job.
An assistant pro job is the entry level for those wanting to work as golf professionals. Most facilities require applicants to be at least registered PGA apprentices who are making progress toward certification. According to Glassdoor.com's salary survey, the starting range of assistant pros ranges from just below $20,000 to $35,000 as of 2010.
Economic Downturn Takes Toll
The golf industry took an overall hit as the U.S. economy declined in 2008. For example, a 2006 Golf Digest survey pegged assistant pro average annual salaries at $36,000 nationally, but a PayScale.com survey of 69 openings as of January 2011 listed salaries for those jobs ranging between $20,371 and $29,311 per year.
Salaries for golf assistant pros are higher in cities with a higher cost of living. In SalaryExpert.com's survey, assistant pros in Dallas earn an average annual salary of about $27,500 as of 2011, while assistants in Boston average nearly $42,500 per year. Regional cost of living isn't the only factor. Some golf hotbeds in Sun Belt cities such as Orlando ($39,517) and Atlanta ($41,524) compete for top professionals, raising the salary tide in those regions.
Pay improves with experience, as with any job, and assistant pros who lead a facility's instruction program earn higher pay. First or lead assistants who have attained a higher level of PGA of America certification earn annual pay in the $30,000 range, which trends higher for pros working at top golf resorts or well-known private clubs. For example, a January 2010 opening for a senior assistant at Kiawah Island Resort in South Carolina was listed between $35,000 and $38,000 per year on Glassdoor's site, which collects salary postings from openings across the United States.