Golf Course Management

SEP 2018

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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Page 47 of 101

44 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 09.18 his wife, Collette — they were so great, so understanding and supportive. But then they had the opportunity to sell the place. Walt came to me in December 2015 and says, 'Look, I don't know how this is going to shake out. But I feel I need to let you know, this might happen. e sale. You need to be thinking about the next option.' at was a hard thing for him to tell me, knowing me and my story. But I'm grateful that he leveled with me. "In a lot of ways, the decision to move ahead with Turf Cloud was made for me." Turf Cloud is born VanBuskirk had been developing the idea of a Turf Cloud system since 2010, but he didn't beta test it until 2015. Even then, he wasn't ready to bring it to market. Clearly, he couldn't go back to a full-time superintendent's position, either. His family obligations wouldn't allow it. "I did interview for a bunch of jobs, sales-counterpart positions in the golf in - dustry," VanBuskirk says. "ey all needed me in the office by 8, on the phone or on the road this many hours a day. I didn't want to hold out the pity card. ere were some good offers, but none of them made sense. And I had this need to see what Turf Cloud could really be about. "It was a big leap, and it seems like I had enough chaos and uncertainty in my life already. "But one day, my mechanic, Justin Parker, had me write down all the things I was already doing for friends: blog construc - tion, video editing, social media, network stuff," VanBuskirk says. "I was the techie guy that people called for this stuff. He urged me to put a price on all that 'project work,' so I did. He told me, 'You're gonna vomit when you see how much you're giv - ing away. But here's the upside: You already have a brand.' "en I had that talk with Walt and went for it. My thought process was, I didn't really make the call. It was made for me, and the Lord has better plans for us than we will ever know." VanBuskirk had recruited Ohlson, his college buddy and fellow superintendent (at the Country Club of New Bedford), by this time. Together, they attempted to grab hold of the New England market — reach - ing out first to folks in their respective net- works, but especially all those people Jason the Tech Geek had serviced over the years. Because networks often beget entirely new networks, those Turf Cloud customers in New England soon introduced the product to their colleagues farther afield. "My extended family had to be on board, because if I'm on the road all the time, they'd have to take care of my family when I couldn't," VanBuskirk says. "And my dad said, 'You can't even think about doing this without going all in,' so that's what I did. Started driving all over New England. And you know what? We never moved out of our house. We lived tight but never missed a bill payment. "I wanted these fellow supers to know that we have a digital job board that's going to rock their world. But it's more than that. We're going to upend what you're doing now, and supers are crazy creatures of habit. I had to learn the sales and market - ing process, the customer-service process. I could always talk the talk, but two years ago I was scared to go pitch the super at a nine-hole golf course. at was the scariest thing ever. "Just the other day I sat down with Mark Kuhns at Baltusrol. at was scary too, but our platform is so much better now. I'm so much more confident now. It's not quite so scary." Since Turf Cloud was acquired by Green- Sight Agronomics, VanBuskirk (left) has worked closely to integrate the two technology platforms and introduce it to turfgrass managers such as Ryan Blake, the assistant superintendent at Dedham Country and Polo Club. Photos by Rick Bern "I wanted these fellow supers to know that we have a digital job board that's going to rock their world. But it's more than that. We're going to upend what you're doing now." — Jason VanBuskirk

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