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Golf Operator's Guide to Employee Termination

Golf Operator's Guide to Employee Termination

No manager enjoys firing an employee, but there are times when, after exhausting the various steps mentioned below, termination becomes the only option. Whether caused by a single incident or a pattern of poor performance, the termination of a staff member must be handled professionally and with compassion. Before initiating the step to end the employee’s relationship with your facility, the following measures should be facilitated.  

Provide feedback

Management should provide clear communication that informs the employee of their performance, openly addresses any deficiencies, and outlines what must be done to rectify them. Whatever the reason for the poor performance, taking notes will provide you with the opportunity to communicate precise details about issues such as customer complaints, inappropriate behavior, missed deadlines, or failure to meet agreed-upon goals. Frequent communication, with examples, will give employees ample opportunity to up their game and meet the standards for which they were hired. The feedback can take many forms such as immediate feedback or regularly scheduled performance reviews.

Develop an improvement plan

Within this frequent communication should be a detailed improvement plan that states the issues and also provides steps the employee should take to improve upon their misgivings. Every discussion on the matter should be documented for possible future reference. This documentation will serve management well if the plan is not followed and improvement not made. You should make sure that the employee understands the consequences of not improving performance according to the plan as well as the steps necessary to succeed. 


As a manager, you are also a coach. You coach your entire staff and this involves positive reinforcement as well as the correction of errors and deficiencies. Understanding that no manager wants to fire their employees, coaching them toward improvement should be incorporated into your schedule. After all, managers should not simply be there to hire, fire, and submit payroll in between. Nurturing your team is a vital aspect of a manager’s role, and doing so at a golf course or club, where service is looked upon more heavily than virtually any other aspect of the business, amplifies its importance. 

Prepare documentation

While communicating and coaching are important, documenting your actions shouldn’t be overlooked—not only to have a backup as it pertains to the specific employee but also as a future reference of what worked and what didn’t when coaching staff through some unfortunate job performance periods. As human beings, we’re not at our best all the time, but when alerted to our shortfalls those who truly care about the tasks of their job will generally step up and improve their performance. When providing written notice of termination, the documentation you’ve accumulated throughout the process is significant, especially if particulars like severance or contracts are part of the equation.

Scheduling the meeting

When all other corrective actions have been exhausted, and termination is the only resort, the employee should not be surprised that they are being fired. Termination must always be done face to face, and usually with a neutral third party present. Although technology has provided a multitude of new communication methods, this step must be done in person (or via video conferencing if working remotely). A letter, email, or phone call is not sufficient. During this meeting, take the time to talk to the employee and properly communicate your reasoning—even if they’re probably already aware. This is not the time to air your dirty language but rather a learning opportunity for both the employee and yourself.

Leaving with dignity

Unless the situation turned particularly ugly and hostile, you should allow the terminated employee to retrieve their belongings and say goodbye to their coworkers. The use of security in escorting the individual from the premises should be implemented only in extreme situations. In addition, if the employee is entitled to a severance offer, give the employee a few days to review the details before signing anything.


Terminating an employee is probably one of the tasks managers hate the most. Having to tell someone you see on a daily basis that they are no longer an employee is never easy. However, it’s crucial for golf operators to properly go through the termination process to avoid repercussions such as being pursued for wrongful dismissal. Without clear communication and documentation, it becomes a “he said, she said” scenario where the burden lies on the employer to prove their actions. While we hope you won’t have to go through the termination process this season, keep in mind that you are dealing with peoples’ livelihoods and that there’s a correct way of letting someone go. 

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