Golf Course Management

JUL 2013

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

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Inside GCM by Scott Hollister A major success story In August of 2005, I climbed aboard a plane headed east with what, at the time, was a unique assignment. My final destination was Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield Township, N.J., and that year's playing of the PGA Championship. My assignment was to report on the activities of the golf course maintenance team in real-time on a blog we had created especially for the occasion. Remember, this was almost eight years ago. Facebook was hardly a blip on the radar of public perception. Twitter didn't even exist yet. Certainly, the digital revolution had already begun, but few realized just how far it would eventually go. And from our perspective, we had no idea if anyone out there would care enough to read about what the golf course superintendent and his crew did during a major golf championship, and if they did, if they'd turn to the Internet to do that reading. It was a complete crapshoot. But there were a few things in our corner — an audience particularly invested in the work of a superintendent and his team, a major international sporting event to galvanize that interest and a cooperative maintenance team at Baltusrol, most notably director of grounds Mark Kuhns, CGCS, who at that time was a sitting member of GCSAA's national board of directors. We thought this had a chance to work. Lo and behold, it actually did. People seemed to be genuinely interested in what happened during early morning rounds, how the maintenance team responded when a large limb crashed to the ground behind the fourth green during play and the long-term effects of turning several fairways on Baltusrol's Upper Course into gravel-covered parking lots. The numbers on the blog weren't overwhelming (ESPN.com had nothing to worry about) but they were enough to convince us to continue providing this kind of inside-the-ropes reporting from the sites of major golf championships. Last month's U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club just outside of Philadelphia showcased the full evolution of that strategy. Howard Richman's excellent reporting on the GCM blog (http://gcm.typepad.com) attracted more than 12,000 unique page views during the week, and ESPN and Golf Magazine, among others, picked up stories from the blog. The Facebook and Twitter accounts for both GCSAA and GCM were packed with regular updates for the more than 10,000 people who fol18 GCM July 2013 low those accounts. And GCSAA TV (www.gcsaa.tv) had new video features posting daily throughout the week. When you include the updates provided by Penn State's turfgrass team throughout the week and the coverage from other trade publications and online sources, it had to be the most thoroughly covered professional golf event — at least from a golf course management perspective — in history. And even though we're not usually the types to toot our own horns around here, that does make us just a tad proud. It Remember, this was almost eight years ago. Facebook was hardly a blip on the radar of public perception. Twitter didn't even exist yet. Certainly, the digital revolution had already begun, but few realized just how far it would eventually go. also justifed the decision we frst made back in 2005 — that GCM readers and GCSAA members had a genuine curiosity about the unique brand of golf course management that is practiced at major golf tournaments — and the decisions we continue to make regarding providing this kind of coverage for our readers. That's why I'll be spending a few days this month with Eric McPherson, CGCS, and his crew at Omaha (Neb.) Country Club offering behind-the-scenes insights from the U.S. Senior Open. It's why I'm off to Oak Hill Golf Club in Rochester, N.Y., in early August to share the stories of Jeff Corcoran and his team as they prep for the PGA Championship. And it's why GCM plans to be on the ground in Columbus, Ohio, in October with Paul B. Latshaw, CGCS, and the gang at Muirfeld Village Golf Club for the President's Cup competitions. Our reports from Omaha will begin Sunday, July 7, while the frst PGA Championship blogs will appear Sunday, Aug. 4. GCM Scott Hollister (shollister@gcsaa.org) is GCM's editor-in-chief.

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