Golf Course Management

NOV 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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16 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 11.18 staple of home lawn care — would be a mas- sive understatement. Opportunistic law firms have taken to late- night TV looking to drum up business with similar lawsuits. To date, those commercials have apparently worked — Reuters reports that there are thousands of such cases pend - ing across the United States. Professionals who use glyphosate products in the course of their jobs — landscapers, lawn care operators, sports turf managers and, yes, superintendents — are getting an earful about the case and about Roundup. at's why the timing of a story pitch GCM received from a pair of esteemed turfgrass sci - entists was so appropriate. Rick Brandenburg, Ph.D., from North Carolina State, and Liliam Martinez Bello, Ph.D., have presented often on how to effectively communicate complex scientific information as a means to combat misinformation — or "fake news," to steal a relevant phrase — and wanted to expand on that message through a story in the magazine. I couldn't have accepted their offer any faster. For some time, I have followed Branden - burg's steadfast efforts on social media to dis- pel myths about scientific information that take hold among the general public. Some - times those myths relate to turfgrass man- agement, and sometimes they don't, but I've always been impressed that his approach in these posts falls in line with the advice that I've always tried to provide. He sticks to the facts, he doesn't let emotions get in the way, and he unequivocally positions himself as an expert in the field. Adding the perspective of someone as respected as Martinez Bello to the mix, who lists "science advocate" and "communicator" among her key qualifica - tions, made publishing this month's story ("'Fake news' and the superintendent," Page 44) a no-brainer. We live in a complicated world, where news and information come at us at an of - ten-dizzying pace. Learning to make sense of that and helping others do the same can be an overwhelming challenge, but our hope is that stories like the one written by Branden - burg and Martinez Bello will go a long way in helping superintendents overcome those chal - lenges and do a little bit to take the sting out of trying to process so much "fake news." Scott Hollister is GCM 's editor-in-chief. Scott Hollister shollister@gcsaa.org Twitter: @GCM_Magazine Taking the sting out of 'fake news' (inside gcm) In my years with GCSAA, I haven't always worn GCM-colored blinders. Oh, the magazine and the publications de - partment have always been at the top of my priority list, and those duties dominate what I do on a day-to-day basis. But like a lot of folks around this association who regularly help out in areas not always directly related to their job titles, I've had the opportunity to spread my wings a little bit and take on some broader communications and public relations duties from time to time. In that role, I've often been called on to provide counsel to individual golf course superintendents and GCSAA chapters fac - ing particularly tricky, sensitive situations that are garnering public attention. Maybe there's been a workplace accident or a pend - ing court case with the potential to raise ques- tions about how superintendents manage their golf courses. Regardless, the main question has largely been the same — what do we do when golfers or the local media ask us about these situations? I've tried to be consistent in the advice that I've provided when it seems that golf and su - perintendents are under attack. Don't dodge the questions. Be open to the conversation. Be sympathetic and compassionate when the situation calls for that. Avoid being defensive. And, above all, be honest and truthful with the information you're sharing. Don't hesitate to position yourself and other superintendents as the experts on these matters, but stick to the facts when doing that. Lately, it seems superintendents and the golf course management industry as a whole have had plenty of opportunities to practice these techniques. I've been made aware of countless potentially touchy situations on the local level in 2018, but on a national scale, one story in particular has captured the lion's share of attention — the California case be - tween agribusiness giant Monsanto and a groundskeeper who claimed the company's flagship product, Roundup, caused his can - cer. At the time of this writing, the outcome of the case remains in a state of flux — in early October, a judge said she is considering throwing out most of the original judgment in the case, which awarded the man $289 million in damages. But to say this case has stirred up a little chatter — not just about glyphosate's use on golf courses, but also as a Don't dodge the questions. Be open to the conversation. Be sympathetic and compassionate, when the situation calls for that. Avoid being defensive. And, above all, be honest and truthful with the information you're sharing.

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