Golf Course Management

AUG 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 08.19 this week with a simple tweet from GCM's editor-in-chief, Scott Hollister. In Moline, Ill., for John Deere's Golf Technology Preview, he sent out a video of a prototype of an au - tonomous fairway mower actually mowing a fairway. Autonomously. (You can read more about it at ). Now, I'm not naïve. I know several com - panies are working on this technology, and all indications are that, before long, self-driving mowers on the golf course will be as ubiqui - tous as self-driving cars on the highway. Sure, they'll be pricey and they'll need adult (trans - lation: human) supervision, but ultimately they'll do a more consistent job, won't call in sick or make unreasonable demands, like money and insurance and such. ese next steps in handing over yet an - other task to our eventual robotic overlords won't happen tomorrow, or even the day after, but there's little doubt it will happen. Which brings me back to that dreadful Christmas morning. My wife gamely gave the Roomba a go. Two, three, maybe four times, we dutifully charged the little cutie up (she refused to name it), and two, three, four times we set it loose on the kitchen floor. As her cats cowered in the other room, the Roomba bounced off walls and table legs and only got caught up, oh, a half dozen times, under the dishwasher, the chairs, the rug. We set it free, and it bumped along before finally running out of battery. We emptied the catch basket and were surprised to see it had vacuumed up strikingly little dust, and only a cat hair or two. e robot that was going to revolutionize house cleaning was a bust. I've kept an eye on the company that in - vented the Roomba — iRobot — in the nearly two decades since my purchase. It has released robotic shop cleaners and pool cleaners and gutter cleaners. All indications are its newest robotic vacuums are better and smarter and more efficient than ever, and, most impor - tantly, at their (mechanical) heart, they're also really good vacuums, which my early model clearly was not. Which is to say, tweets be darned, the fu - ture is not yet today. But it's close. Very, very close. And GCM has the video to prove it. Andrew Hartsock is GCM 's managing editor. Andrew Hartsock Twitter: @GCM_Magazine The future of mowing (and gift giving) (inside gcm) Not so many years ago, I committed a car- dinal sin. See, my wife is spectacularly difficult to buy gifts for. After years of putting up with my "gee you shouldn't have" purchases of jew - elry and tolerating "Do you have the receipt in case it, uh, doesn't fit?" gifts of clothing, she finally wised up and now provides a me - ticulous spreadsheet of product names, specs, sizes, colors and hyperlinks, all helpfully click- sortable by price. It makes holidays oh so easy. But in the earlier days of our marriage, before Excel came to the rescue, I was a mess around all the gift-giving holidays. One year, after a swing-and-a-miss on her birthday, I vowed for Christmas to wrap the best, most-thoughtful gift since frankincense and myrrh. I dutifully studied her every word in hopes I'd glean some hint, some clue about a gift that would land me in the Good Hus - band Hall of Fame. When she mentioned that she hated — hated! — cleaning the hardwood floors in our kitchen ... voilà! e gift idea to end all gift ideas hit me like a lightning bolt. Christmas finally came, and I surrounded her Best Gift Ever with a couple of little tchotchkes to distract her and bring her ex - pectations down just in time for the big reveal. Her eyes twinkled as she tore into her trea - sure. Bows soared and paper flew and … she blinked. en blinked again. "What's a Roomba?" I went all out of breath as I explained it was a robotic vacuum cleaner. "ey're brand new," I explained, "and you set up a little geo - fence and it vacuums the floor for you and you don't even have to be home and it beeps when it's full and you empty it and it bounces off the walls and avoids obstacles and … " I took one look at my wife, and the disap - pointment hung in the air like the stench of bad fruitcake. I didn't get it. I thought it was a wonderful gift. It was shiny and technological and, most importantly, it got her out of doing a job she absolutely abhorred. Later, over a cup of wassail, a friend ver - bally smacked me over the forehead about my decision. "You bought her a what? A vacuum? Geez, man, what were you thinking?" he asked in his usual understated manner. Per - haps it was the wassail talking. I explained my rationale, but all he could do was shake his head in amazement tinged with disappointment. All these memories came flooding back These next steps in handing over yet another task to our eventual robotic overlords won't happen tomorrow, or even the day after, but there's little doubt it will happen.

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