Golf Course Management

OCT 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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THE INSIDER: assistants Jon Atkins Data: Keep the light turned on What is data? We know it is important because we hear about it so frequently in the turf world. NEWS & notes Rain Bird has announced the schedule for its 2013-2014 training season. The new Rain Bird Factory Trained Program teaches installation, operation and maintenance best practices for Rain Bird systems, and is designed for irrigation contractors. Rain Bird Academy provides technical, college-level training for green industry professionals of all skill levels, helping them launch new careers or hone their skills. The academy will help attendees earn Irrigation Association certifications, including Certified Golf Irrigation Auditor. Individuals also can attend the Rain Bird Academy's four-and-a-half-day Boot Camp to quickly learn how to install and maintain irrigation systems. Both the Rain Bird Factory Trained Program and Rain Bird Academy are intended to help irrigation and landscape professionals expand their skill sets and increase their marketability within the industry. To register for an event or to learn more about the training events throughout the United States and internationally, visit www.rainbirdservices.com/training. 32 GCM October 2013 We read about it nearly every day in trade magazines, research journals, turf blogs and product bulletins. Surprise! The result is the direct opposite of More important, we use data on a daily basis. Think about how often we look at temperature, the original assumption. Essentially, data from soil moisture, ET, salinity and/or humidity val- last year just rendered the need to lower the ues. All these passively absorbed numbers that we height of cut on the walk-behind mowers unnecprocess and use to help us do our jobs represent essary and has effectively saved your greens some added stress at the same time. data in one form or another. Maybe it is just me, but it seems that turf Although broadly defned as the facts that establish the basis for reasoning or reference (what managers are eerily good at using data in the we know), data is simply information that is hap- daily contours of the job. The problem many of pening all around us, all the time. When refned us have is that we often do not have the data that and codifed into a value, data becomes useful we need to make those really important decinot only in mathematical analysis, but also for sions. Our only remedy is to make a conscious our daily purposes. Although using good data choice to collect daily data that is valuable to comes naturally enough to most of us in the in- us, analyze it and write up a report when it bedustry, collecting practical data for our purposes comes necessary. No matter the outcome, this often demands a greater investment. is a benefcial process for several reasons. First, For example: You are talking with your staff the act of documenting information helps bufabout the differences in green speed between fer the shortcomings of our limited memories. your walk-behind greens mowers and your triplex Just like journaling, recording data helps us to units. Past experience has shown that the greens remember. Second, data collection helps us think seemed to exhibit higher speeds after they were objectively about issues, getting us beyond the mowed with the riding units. Therefore, it is sug- circumstantial and moving us into the territory gested that you lower the height of cut on the of empirically derived facts as the basis for deciwalk-behind mowers to help improve the consis- sion making. In fact, this gets us back to the very tency of green speeds between the two types of defnition of what data is. cutting units. Welcome to the world of the anecFinally, as we look at the history of what dotal. How do you know? What evidence do you we have done, it not only helps us make more have to justify this course of action? informed decisions in the present, but it also Fortunately, you are a turf professional with sheds light on the murkiness of the future. plenty of time on your hands (ha-ha!) and you Alexis de Tocqueville said that "when the past have been collecting green speed values every day no longer illuminates the future, the spirit and have documented mower type, frequency of walks in darkness." Documenting data keeps clip and height of cut settings as well. Naturally, the light turned on. you want to take a look at this data before you GCM decide to do anything, so you graph out the green speed averages by mower type over the course of Jon Atkins is the assistant superintendent at Sun Valley (Idaho) the previous season. Resort and a three-year member of GCSAA.

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