Employing Sports Turf Management Staff

The ASTMA is in a great position to assist your facility to find a Sports Turf Manager, or any other maintenance staff requirements for your facility.

The ASTMA has documented a process you can follow to successfully employ sport turf maintenance personnel. The steps involved are provided as a guide only and must be adapted to suit the requirements of individual grounds. Please note that it is a violation of the ASTMA Code of Ethics for an individual to discuss a position of employment that is presently filled without having such a notice either from the Facility or ASTMA. It is therefore important that the current sport turf manager has in fact retired, resigned or if their contract is not being renewed the intention to seek a new manager is well known to him or her.


1. Appoint a selection committee 

Although it is primarily the role of the General Manager or Committee in many Facilities to select the sports turf manager, the ASTMA also recommends that one other independent member of the facility be involved in the selection process. Committees chosen for employing sports turf Managers are often chosen on the basis of their own expertise in sports turf management. If this is the case the chairman of the selection committee must ensure that any partial knowledge or understanding of sports turf management of one of the selection committee not be used to discredit an applicant who will have a full and thorough knowledge of the subject. The person selected as the sport turf manager will be the highest authority on sports turf management at the facility, and as an employee and a professional sports turf manager they should be provided with the respect afforded to any professional person employed by the facility.
When employing an Assistant Manager, or other Management staff, it is critical that the Sports Turf Manager lead the employment process. 


2. What do you want your Sports Turf Manager to do?

A sports turf manager needs to be one of the most flexible individuals on your staff. Not only do they need to be turf manager, turf pathologist, agronomist, chemist, irrigation technician, but also personnel manager, business manager, strategic planner, accounting officer, promotional officer and finally a politician and communicator. The extent to which each of these is required will vary from facility to facility and the selection committee needs to clearly define the specific needs of their facility and sports turf. Some facilities require more hands on management while others require more emphasis on overall business management.
If the facility has a Strategic Plan, review it and note any specific tasks that must be undertaken by the manager to ensure the successful implementation of these plans. Once identified, rank the requirements from that of most important to least important and apply a weighting to each. Each applicant can then be assessed directly against the exact requirements of the facility.


3. Write a job description and identify the type of individual sought

Once the selection committee has established what they want their sports turf manager to do, write it down as a clearly defined job description. The ASTMA has provided a draft job description below (please note this is a guide only). The purpose of a job description is to clearly define the roles of the job and a particular working position in a management structure. Once you have more properly defined the job, it's time to consider what kind of person it will take to successfully carry out your duties. No one person probably could rate as an expert in all facets of sports turf management, but certainly they should rank high in the areas your committee feels are most important.


4. Advertise the position

The ASTMA will advertise the position to all of its members both within Australia and overseas. This will be undertaken through advertising on this website under the Positions Vacant section, and also through ASTMA Social Media platforms to provide the widest coverage possible. The ASTMA can also assist in the preparation and wording of the advertisement. The facility should make available copies of the job description, annual report, and Strategic Plan for the applicants to review prior to writing their applications.


5. Receive and screen applicants 

When the facility receives resumes, it is best to reduce the number of applicants to a short list to interview. You may wish to first interview applicants, then second interview the final two applicants. The ASTMA office in Melbourne is available for use by facilities free of charge to undertake interviews.
Once you have screened the various applicants and narrowed down to a final small group (six is a reasonable number), we recommend you contact them and provide the applicant a range of alternate times, to schedule in interviews.


6. Interview selected applicants 

The following interview selection process can be used for interviewing sport turf managers.

  • Make the candidate feel at ease. Ask them about his habits, interest in golf, pastimes - relaxing small talk.The interview should be held in a room that is private and quiet. The candidate should be given your undivided attention for his allotted time. Don't schedule his interview at a place or time that this isn't possible, and avoid phone calls or conversation with anyone but the committee. You owe the applicant and your fellow members a professional approach to filling this important job.
  • Know everything possible about the applicant prior to the interview and a great place to start is by inquiring generally about his employment history, background and experience.
  • Determine the specific questions you want answered prior to the interview, avoiding for the most part those which can be answered with just a "yes" or "no".
  • Review the job description and the reasons you have set the priorities you have listed. Ask the applicant to present his plans on how he will handle these specific goals.
  • Be good listeners. The committee chairman should conduct the majority of the interview to make certain that the specific things in which you have the greatest need for more information are covered in an organised manner. He should only talk enough to give the interview direction and the other committee members should hold their questions until the end of the interview.
  • If the applicant makes a solid impression, he should be told at this time that he is either (1) going to be considered, (2) will be notified of the Board's decision (if their approval is required), or (3) will be asked back for a second and final interview.

The more thorough your preparation for the interview, the better the chance you will choose the right person for the job. Finally, don't interview candidates unless you consider them a serious contender. It's both time consuming and expensive to do so. It is also suggested that each member of the committee makes notes about the candidate during the interview. These additional observations might relate to an overall subjective impression and reaction to that person.

After the interview, each committee member should complete the rating as soon as possible and then review the evaluation as a group. The result might be total agreement on the candidate, rejection or need for a second look. After the final interview, you should be well prepared to appoint your new employee.


7. Make selection and discuss a contract 

Once you have decided who is your number one choice, start discussions regarding the remuneration to be offered and whether there is a need for a formal contract of employment. It is important to note that a contract is a binding document which regulates the rights and obligations of the employee and the employer.

The ASTMA will provided an employment contract (available only to full members - coming soon) which highlights some of the areas which the ASTMA believes should be covered.  Where facilities and their manager do not wish to sign a contract, both the facility and sport turf manager remain protected by the minimum terms and conditions laid down in the relevant Industrial Relations Law. In this case the ASTMA suggests that, at the very least, a detailed job description is agreed upon and that there is also a letter of offer.


8. Notify candidates and the ASTMA

Notify the ASTMA office telling them whom you have engaged, their official position and the effective commencement date. Contact the other finalists with a personal letter thanking them for their participation, complimenting them on their presentation. All resumes should then be returned to the other applicants with a covering letter. Announce your decision and thank them for their interest.