Golf Course Management

JAN 2019

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

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14 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 01.19 "Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got. Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot. Wouldn't you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came." While attending a recent industry meet - ing, a good friend and I engaged in a conversa- tion about his current position. This individ- ual is a respected professional who has served in a variety of roles in his career. He informed me that his current position was obtained in large part because of his interpersonal skills, not his considerable grass-growing ability. He added that the individual he replaced also had sound agronomic skills, but that person was more comfortable behind the scenes. The conversation reminded me of a team- building seminar I attended several years ago. The instructor, Kurt Kuebler, started the class with a slide containing lyrics from the theme song to the TV show "Cheers." I recognized it immediately because "Cheers" is one of my all-time favorite sitcoms, with Sam, Woody, Norm and the rest of the show's colorful cast of characters. For those too young to remem - ber, most of the episodes take place in the front room of a bar, and when Norm entered the bar, he was always greeted with a warm "Norm!" and had a beer waiting for him. With the slide on the screen, Kuebler told us, "You know, ultimately, Ted Danson (who played Sam, the bar's owner) had it right." He then played a few bars of the theme song and asked us, "Why do you go back to a particular restaurant, bar, or, for that matter, any busi - ness?" As I thought about the question and my routines, I completely understood. I do frequent the same restaurants, businesses, etc., routinely, and while I don't get a "Darren" or a beer automatically slid across the bar when I walk in, I do always receive a warm welcome and a genuine feeling of belonging. In part, this connectivity ensures my return. As we all know, golf course management professionals wear many hats, and although judged by the playing surfaces we provide, we are more than agronomists. We are edu - cators, resource managers, and, to be highly successful, we must also have the ability to ef - fectively communicate and possess business management skills. We are key in the success Darren J. Davis, CGCS darrenjdavis@aol.com Twitter: @DarrenJDavisGCS Where everyone knows your name Without question, providing quality playing surfaces is the primary reason a golf course superintendent is hired, but if your facility is not attracting and retaining customers, will conditions really matter? (president's message) of our businesses. And, regardless of the type of business, successful owners or managers understand the importance of attracting and maintaining customers. Obviously, the product we provide must be good, and, in our business, that means out - standing playing surfaces. However, as I rou- tinely say, growing grass is a given. One must also be a valuable member of the facility's business team, and the strength of that team is its ability to attract and retain customers. This brings me full circle to what I like to call the "Cheers Business Management Phi - losophy" and how Ted Danson's character did have it right. Several years ago, the National Restaurant Association did a survey that asked people why they returned to a restaurant. The No. 1 response was a "warm greeting." This was closely followed by a "fond farewell." When you combine these two very basic items with the fulfillment of the patrons' other needs, you will attract and retain customers. The same can be said for a golf course, I believe. Without question, providing quality playing surfaces is the primary reason a golf course superintendent is hired, but if your fa - cility is not attracting and retaining customers, will conditions really matter? As a part of your facility's business management team, are you doing everything you can to make your cli - entele feel welcome? Do you frequently greet golfers, preferably by name? When appropri - ate, do you engage in casual conversation with your golfers? Do you provide a fond farewell? These are basic things, but they can make a difference in the success of your facility. While a "Cheers Business Management Philosophy" seminar will not be offered at this year's Golf Industry Show in San Diego, GCSAA is offering a business management track to help you hone these valuable skills. The association also offers related online ed - ucation for those interested in the webinars. And whether at GIS or throughout the year at GCSAA-affiliated chapter meetings, I hope you'll take advantage of the opportunities, in both formal and informal settings, to interact with and learn from your fellow golf course management professionals. You never know when a seemingly casual conversation with a peer can make a difference in your life. Darren Davis, CGCS, is the superintendent at Olde Florida Golf Club in Naples, Fla., and a 29-year GCSAA member.

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