Weather, budget constraints, membership — golf course superintendents operate in a world in which much is out of their control, says Keith Smith, a former superintendent who is now a financial adviser with Morgan Stanley in Hudson, Ohio. “But you get to control your savings and retirement,” Smith said during a personal-finance-focused education session at the Golf Industry Show on Monday. “It’s all about what you want and how you want to live.”
Smith (right) spoke as part of the panel of “Another $hade of Green,” a 90-minute rundown of all things finance-related, from 401(k) advice to affording college, building an emergency fund to calculating your net worth, everyday expense-trimming strategies to saving for long-term goals — all geared toward the unique professional circumstances of the golf course superintendent.
Joining Smith were session moderator and GCSAA past president Dennis Lyon, CGCS — who noted that he served as the association’s president in Orlando 27 years ago — superintendent Chase Cameron of The Country Club of Waterbury (Conn.), and retirement adviser Mark Nothnagel of Mariner Retirement Advisors in Leawood, Kan.
The presentations spotlighted some surprising statistics. Among them, that 70 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, that the cost of college goes up about 6 or 7 percent every year, and that 35 percent of female collegiate golf scholarships go unclaimed (get clubs into those daughters’ hands!).
Cameron, whose interest in money matters was piqued at a Golf Industry Show seminar on the topic a few years ago, said most turf managers already possess a savvy for saving. “We’re all trying to get the most for our money in the workplace — just take that home,” Cameron advised. He also emphasized the value of challenging yourself to set aside more for savings than you may think you can, as you can always tap into the funds later, but may also find that you don’t need to.
Nothnagel concentrated on 401(k) management, and said his biggest takeaway for attendees was that they should increase the percentage of their income that goes to their 401(k) every year, and that, depending on the capabilities available via their employers, they should automate the process as much as possible.
As Smith summed up: “Save early, automatically and often.”