Why the golf industry is worried about visas

Published online: Aug 29, 2017 Golf News

The government is allowing American employers to hire 15,000 more foreign workers for seasonal jobs. But it's too little, too late for one industry that needs the help.

Golf courses rely on seasonal workers to tend greens, manicure the grounds and serve as maids, cooks and caddies. When the Department of Homeland Security announced the expansion last month, most golf courses were already well into their seasons.

"We wish this had happened earlier," said Bob Helland, of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. "A lot of this isn't going to help our members who needed workers by April."

Winter cold shuts down golf in many parts of the country, and the golf season generally runs from April through November.

The permits for season workers, known as H-2B visas, are given out twice a year -- 33,000 for April through September and 33,000 for October through March. The 15,000 additional visas Homeland Security granted this year were a one-time thing.

Employers have to demonstrate that the jobs can't be filled by American workers. And the competition is stiff: This year employers put in two applications for every visa that was granted.

For golf courses, that means jockeying with landscaping companies, restaurants, seasonal businesses and even the horse racing industry. The window for summer visas opens in March, and many golf courses don't start hiring until April or May, putting them at a disadvantage because the visas go out first-come-first-served.

Source: www.news4jax.com