Golf Course Management

MAY 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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14 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 05.18 In order to thrive both personally and pro- fessionally, being a "team player" and having good interpersonal skills is essential. Very few succeed without possessing the ability to work effectively with others. I learned this concept early in life through my involvement in team sports. It's been re - inforced throughout my career, but the lesson that stands out most about the importance of interpersonal skills came from one of my men - tors, the late Joseph M. Duich, Ph.D., profes- sor emeritus at Penn State University and the recipient of GCSAA's Old Tom Morris Award in 2006. When I was accepted into the two-year turfgrass management program at Penn State, my anticipation about the agronomic knowl - edge I would gain during my time in State College was extremely high. But what trans - pired on our first day in the classroom with "Dr. Joe" — as he was known to his friends and admirers — was completely unexpected. e scene that day has always remained clear in my mind. ere were students from all over the world, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the man whose name was synonymous with the Penn State turfgrass program, sitting in an old-school classroom with crank-style win - dows, small, individual wooden desks and a chalk board — a real chalk board complete with white chalk and dusty erasers. When Dr. Joe entered the room, he walked directly to the chalk board without facing or addressing the group. He picked up a piece of chalk and drew a large circle on the board. He paused for what seemed like minutes, and then drew a small triangle inside the bottom of that circle and wrote the word "turf " inside the small triangle, which took up only about 10 percent of the circle and looked like a slice of pie. You could hear a pin drop as we waited for what would happen next. Finally, he wrote the word "people" in the other, much larger, portion of the circle. Dr. Joe finally turned and spoke to the group of naive students. "You have come here to gain the knowledge needed to be a golf course superintendent and to be the best in the industry," he began. "Well, what we can teach you over the next two years is only a small fraction of what you will need to succeed in the industry." "During your time here, you will learn a Darren J. Davis, CGCS darrenjdavis@aol.com Twitter: @DarrenJDavisGCS The value of a slice of 'Duich Pie' 'During your time here, you will learn a great deal of agronomic knowledge,' Duich said, 'but that is only about 10 percent of what you will need to succeed in the industry.' (president's message) great deal of agronomic knowledge, but that is only about 10 percent of what you will need to succeed in the industry. To thrive, 90 percent of what is required involves your people skills. You either have those skills inherently or you will need to gain them." He closed by saying, "Like those who came before you, you will all call me in less than five years and tell me how right I was." Needless to say, this lesson was not what I expected on my first day with the famed turfgrass breeder and educator. Dr. Joe had a tremendous impact on my life and countless others in our industry, so I hope my recollection of this impactful lesson does it justice and pays tribute to an incred - ible man. As he predicted, his words of advice about the balance between agronomic and interpersonal skills, and the role that balance plays in the careers of successful superinten - dents, has proved true throughout my time in this business. I was reminded yet again of this very im - portant lesson and the tendency of superinten- dents to stay in our agronomic comfort zones as I reviewed key statistics from GCSAA's education department. At the 2018 Golf Indus- try Show in San Antonio, 17 of the 20 most- attended seminars — and all of the top 10 — had an agronomic theme. In addition, 19 of the top-20 most-viewed GCSAA webinars focused on turfgrass management. While the need to "perpetuate the tiller" — which is how Dr. Joe defined turfgrass management — is obvious in our business, it was his belief, as it is mine, that continuing education on the non-agronomic aspects of the profession is essential. Dr. Joe once told me, "e day you stop learning is the day you die," and I couldn't agree more. I urge even the most successful industry professionals to expand their profes - sional development efforts beyond the agro- nomic realm and do all they can to hone their communication and team-building skills. As Dr. Joe taught us and as I've seen throughout my career, growing those skills is as important to being a successful superintendent as grow - ing strong, healthy turfgrass. Darren Davis, CGCS, is the golf course superintendent at Olde Florida Golf Club in Naples, Fla., and a 28-year GCSAA member.

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