Golf Course Management

JUN 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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12 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 06.19 Golf course superintendents are, at their core, problem-solvers. The problems they solve, however, are as different and as varied as the golf courses they manage. You can attribute much of that to location. Disease pressures faced by superintendents in Florida differ greatly from what superin - tendents deal with in the Pacific Northwest. Courses in the Southwest don't get enough water; courses in the Upper Midwest probably get too much. Some states have serious legis- lative and regulatory requirements that turf- grass managers must navigate, while profes- sionals in other states have a much easier road to travel in that regard. If there is one challenge common to many superintendents in every corner of the coun- try, it is labor and finding individuals who are willing, able and, maybe most importantly, qualified to do the work required to maintain a golf course. That hasn't always been the case, of course, but it's certainly been a top-of-mind issue for superintendents that I've interacted with in my role as GCSAA president. I've had my own challenges in this area in my management of Boca Grove Golf and Ten- nis Club in Boca Raton, Fla. In our case, find- ing general laborers to work the golf course has not been a significant issue. Instead, identify- ing people to fill more senior roles within our organization has proved far more challenging. We have tried all of the usual methods to fill these roles — from online job boards to good old word-of-mouth — with little suc- cess. Where I have found success, however, has been by employing a more robust promote- from-within strategy than I have in the past. I think most of us would prefer to promote qualified candidates who already work at our facilities when at all possible, but that's not al- ways an option. So at Boca Grove, I've made a very deliberate effort to increase the training of staff I think might one day be capable of making that leap. I push their limits and give them more responsibilities than I might nor- mally be comfortable with, all with an eye on the future. So far, those efforts have paid off. We have been able to fill some of our most recent open- ings from within, those individuals have flour- ished in their new jobs, and we have other tal- ented people within our organization who are showing potential for the future. Rafael Barajas, CGCS rbarajas@gcsaa.org Twitter: @rbarajas001 The problem-solving payoff Certainly, innovation and thinking differently about problems such as labor are key to discovering suitable solutions. (president's message) Certainly, innovation and thinking dif- ferently about problems such as labor are key to discovering suitable solutions. GCSAA has tried to help turn a spotlight on some of those solutions through resources available to mem- bers, most notably educational seminars and sessions at our annual Golf Industry Show such as "Help Wanted: Staffing Solutions for Your Golf Course," which took place in San Diego earlier this year. GCM is doing its part to help in these ef - forts, examining the industry's labor crunch and the solutions superintendents are ex- ploring through a series of stories that it has published in 2019. The most recent of those appears in this issue and examines a South Dakota superintendent who turned to an un- likely source — a nearby women's correctional facility — as an option for good, reliable labor for his course (see "Unlocked potential," on Page 44). Speaking of innovative problem-solving, I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the success of one of the most innovative programs in our business, one that was born out of an effort to boost waning funding for turfgrass research — Rounds 4 Research. This pro- gram was started regionally by the Carolinas GCSA and is now administered nationally by GCSAA's Environmental Institute for Golf. The most recent edition of this effort, which raises funds for turfgrass research through an online auction of donated golf rounds, net- ted a record $364,000, an increase of $51,000 over the proceeds raised in 2018. That's a grat- ifying result, and one that will obviously ben- efit the golf course management industry, now and in the future. Solving problems is a required skill for superintendents. And whether it's through fundraising for turfgrass research or finding unique and different ways to staff their crews, GCSAA members continue to flex those skills to the betterment of their facilities and the golf industry as a whole. Rafael Barajas, CGCS, is the director of golf course opera- tions at Boca Grove Golf and Tennis Club in Boca Raton, Fla., and a 33-year member of GCSAA.

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