Golf Course Management

JAN 2018

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

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94 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 01.18 rides are shorter and more frequent. The Vineyard boasts several towns (not just one), more shops, restaurants and year- round residents. It's also more affordable than Nantucket. Still, the on-course transition remained delicate and daunting. Who takes a new job and is obliged to deal so frequently with — and dependently on — the guy he replaced, who just happens to be sitting in an office down the hall? "It was a very unique situation with Jeff still here, but maybe not in the way you think," Banks says. "The biggest obstacle was to get his trust — to allow me to do my thing while managing a healthy working relationship between us, one where I could go to him and talk about literally anything. Jeff was great, and he truly did mentor me, but it's one thing to discuss something. It's another to experience it." Carlson gathered his organic experience over the course of 20 years. That Banks has brought himself up to speed in just two speaks more to the quality of the hire. "From my perspective," Carlson says, "probably the hardest thing for anyone coming here would have been the water management, especially at the beginning. To understand that backward relationship we have here between dollar spot and water? That's so hard. Good superintendents like Kevin want to shut it off, hand-water and get things hard and fast. That's a little tricky, because hard, fast and dry invites disease problems that will surprise you. That's one thing; the other is being patient — with the crabgrass situation and other weeds — and Kevin has been really great with that. "Managing without the benefit of pesticides changes your whole perspective. The philosophy here has been, 'Don't have a heart attack.' First, try to figure out what cultural and situational things play into it. You've got to understand the situation. A little bit of disease out on a fairway in some remote corner of the golf course is not the end of the world. Dollar spot is a tissue disease, so if you can get rid of it by growing your way out of it, you're eliminating the need for inputs. "We're a product business. But the reaction to disease and trouble has always been, 'What product will take me out of this?' We work to get away from that philosophy here." Carlson also believes communication is critical to everything the superintendent must do at The Vineyard Club, and he says this may be Banks' greatest strength, from educating interns "and getting them to do things that actually help us," to his continual communication with the board chairman, the GM and the pro — for these are the people who join Banks and Carlson in communicating the unique management realities at The Vineyard Club to the members themselves. "What we do here is pretty unique, but the enthusiastic and unequivocal acceptance from members has been astounding to me," Carlson says. "I don't know why it keeps surprising me." Maybe because most all of them belong to at least one other first-class golf club where the only mention of "organic" is on the dinner menu? "That's probably it," Carlson admits. "We'd like for them to bring guests here and have those guests never know we're completely organic. We're getting there." Hal Phillips is managing director of Mandarin Media (www.mandarinmedia.net) and a frequent contributor to GCM. Banks (left) and Carlson before him have both benefited from an understanding membership at The Vineyard GC. "The enthusiastic and unequivocal acceptance from members has been astounding to me," Carlson says. Photo by Randi Baird "The philosophy here has been, 'Don't have a heart attack.' First, try to figure out what cultural and situational things play into it." — Jeff Carlson

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