Golf Course Management

FEB 2017

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

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72 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 02.17 As for those he has mentored, he says he generally tries to give them options rather than telling them to do it his way. "There are so many ways to do something in this busi - ness, and superintendents are some of the most innovative people I know," he says. "I try to be there for those that want to be men - tored rather than forcing it upon anyone. If someone does not want help, that is fine; I have tried very hard to keep an open door to those that don't want help but may need it in the future." Finlen's philosophy and practice of men - torship has had positive effects on the lives of dozens — if not hundreds — of individuals in the golf industry, and like Finlen, Ohsann says he sees it as his duty to mentor aspiring turf managers to become objective, hardworking and autonomous. White agrees, and says he finds mentoring and assisting the people who make him look good to be highly rewarding. For Nettz, good mentorship means listening and understanding, the dividends of which go far beyond the world of turf. "I have helped some of the staff here with unscrupulous cred - itors, and I got an alcoholic employee cleaned up and in AA," Nettz says. "I'd like to think that any one of these guys could go to any other job and take what they've learned here and be a superstar somewhere else." John Torsiello is a freelance writer based in Torrington, Conn. Career cultivator: Finlen (left) chats with former equipment manager Kevin Rendules in The Olympic Club's maintenance facility. Finlen, whose career in golf course management began at Lake Quivira (Kan.) CC, has been at The Olympic Club since 2002. Photo by David Paul Morris perspective on my decisions," says James, a 14- year GCSAA member. Finlen encourages all young assistants and superintendents to seek out colleagues in their area. "Many times I have told assistants to call a superintendent and ask to spend 15 minutes with them to learn about their career," he says. "Most people like to talk about themselves, and the 15 minutes turns into a lot longer than that, and, in many cases, it then becomes a lifelong relationship." The learning curve Finlen believes that a willingness to learn plays an important part in mentoring, and that goes both ways. "I continue to learn from those I have mentored," he says. "Some of the best things I have learned have come from those I think I am mentoring and they actu - ally are teaching me something new." Effective mentoring, Finlen says, is not so much about your reputation as it is about your actions. "No matter where you are in your ca - reer, there is someone who will seek your help, and that is an opportunity for you to mentor," he says. "Mentoring can be on many different levels. If you are a leader, all under you watch every move you make. You are actually men - toring whether you know it or not." Mentoring may come with a learning curve for both the mentor and the mentored. Finlen says he made many mistakes while being mentored, "but I only made them once." He adds, "Turf has a way of humbling you very quickly. It's easy to think you are very good at what you do until you take a risk against the advice of your mentor and have a bad year." Finlen's teachings As shared by Jeff White, CGCS • "If you're not 10 minutes early and the first person to a meeting, you're late. This shows organization and timeliness, and establishes power, presence and trustworthiness." • "It's just grass; it will grow back!" • "Never let them see you sweat, even under the most uncomfortable and pressurized situations. Remain cool, calm and collected." • "Know and understand your audience. The best communicators are those who listen, not talk." told many people that if I am 75 percent as effective as Pat, I will consider my service to GCSAA very successful. "Pat is one of my most relied-upon men - tors, in particular as it relates to the GCSAA," Davis continues. "Although his board service has ended, I call on him often for advice." From assistant to peer Dan James, now assistant superinten - dent at Stanford University Golf Course, was studying at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and working during the summers at The Olympic Club when he met Finlen for the first time. "The first two summers, I worked for (the late) John Fleming. The last summer, in 2002, I worked for Pat (who had replaced Fleming)," James remembers. "That summer, he had his hands full, as he was taking over a large opera - tion and laying the groundwork for what the maintenance operation eventually became. Near the end of that summer, I told him I was interested in doing an internship somewhere else in the country, and he helped guide that process. He told me to get started right away, as the guys at the top courses would be getting their interns lined up that fall. I drafted a let - ter and sent it out to 25 courses, and secured an internship at Oakmont Country Club by Thanksgiving." Even though James didn't return to The Olympic Club, he has made it a point to meet with Finlen at different times during his ca - reer to glean his insight. "He's always been generous with his time and given me great

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