Golf Course Management

FEB 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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28 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 02.19 Editor's note: is story was originally published in the No. 4 2017 issue of e Greenerside, the official publication of the GCSA of New Jersey. I've been a superintendent for almost 40 years, and I sometimes fall into the trap of becoming agitated while in my personal turf- related bubble. If I see golfers driving through newly laid sod, I wonder how such conduct is even possible. Unrepaired ballmarks can feel like personal attacks. I've despaired at twosomes who disrupt our carefully planned maintenance schedule by driving around the course and teeing off on random holes and known, with conviction, that they were doing it to make my life miserable. I've learned, though, that it is healthier to take a step out of the "bubble" and take a look at things from the outside, through the eyes of those playing your golf course. e golf - ers ruining the new sod weren't looking at the world as I do; they just didn't know what new sod looks like. e discourteous behavior on greens might be as simple as golfers driv - ing their carts to the rear of the green and, as a result, not walking by their ball mark, or maybe they were preoccupied with the con - versation they were having with their play- ing partners. And the people who distribute themselves throughout the course when we are trying to get work done are usually mem - bers who are simply trying to enjoy their club, to "get a few holes in." When I look at these situations through my members' eyes, I find that my perspective changes, and I maintain my composure. We can be responsible for similar torment to our golfers. One surefire way is to not pay attention to what they view as important. Pro - viding hard greens when they want them soft, for example, or fast greens when they prefer average speeds are simple ways to get under their skin. If you are trying to present a "play - er's" golf course to retirees who want "green and fun," then you've successfully developed a disconnect in communication, and, very likely, you've annoyed your golfers. You can add to the pain by surprising the golfers at your course with, let's say, aerified surfaces when they don't expect it, especially if they have brought guests. Having an army of workers buzzing around a group that is play - How (not) to annoy your golfers (business) Chris Carson echolakecc@aol.com ing an important match can do the trick, too, as can shocking your bosses with an unex - pected and unexplained budget overage at the end of your fiscal year. Other guaranteed annoyances are to make promises that you don't keep. is can begin as early as the job interview by saying you will renovate and improve everything in sight but then fail to make progress in your early years as their superintendent. e seasoned veteran can get in on this, too, by not accomplishing the goals outlined during the budget presen - tation. A variant to this irritating behavior is to not follow through — if your intent is to increase their pain, then forget the timetables established for important reports, miss your finish dates on projects, and maybe, for good measure, never tell them why. Hiding from your employers when there are problems on the course is another great way to turn up the heat. If you stay invisible until the course is better, you will be doing an admirable job of bringing your figurative pot to a boil. And if you really want to go for it, if you are all-in on annoying your golfers, then never offer solutions to the problems you identify, have a negative attitude — any time a cus - tomer offers a compliment, explain to them that they are wrong and that, in fact, the course is loaded with troubles — and play the golf course more often than your members do. ere are all kinds of ways to annoy your golfers and members, and if that is your goal, it can easily be achieved. But if your aim is to thrive in our business and to be viewed as a valued professional, then being aware of these behaviors and avoiding them is prob - ably the better play. It's entirely up to you, but I have found that a happy member beats the alternative. Chris Carson is the GCSAA Class A superintendent at Echo Lake Country Club in Westfield, N.J. He is a 33-year mem - ber of GCSAA. I've learned … it is healthier to take a step out of the "bubble" and take a look at things from the outside, through the eyes of those playing your golf course.

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