Golf Course Management

NOV 2014

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

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Page 20 of 112

16 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 11.14 Few industries have traveled a rockier road over the past two decades than the business of publishing. Thanks primarily to a little societal de - velopment called the Internet, publishing has been in a near constant state of upheaval al - most since the day I frst entered the business in the early 1990s. Sharp declines in reader - ship and sharp increases in skeptical advertis- ers became daily puzzles for professionals like myself to solve. During these troubled times, the industry's prime medium — the printed page — was squarely in the crosshairs of doomsayers des - perate to write publishing's obituary. Cries of "print is dead" have been loud and constant. They've also been largely wrong. There's no doubt that the business has changed and changed signifcantly in the last 15-20 years. But predictions that print newspapers and magazines, the cornerstone for the distribu - tion of news and information for centuries, would simply cease to exist in the face of challenges from websites, mobile phones and tablet computing were just plain wrong. The fact that you're likely reading these words in the print version of GCM is prime evidence of that fact. I was reminded of publishing's trials, trib - ulations and dire predictions while our staff worked on the cover story for this issue of GCM, Howard Richman's in-depth exami - nation of the state of turfgrass education in the United States (see "Defending their turf," Page 42). This month's work is a follow-up of sorts to a story we published in November 2009, and was prompted in part by the recent news that the well-regarded golf and turf pro - gram at Florida Gateway College (formerly Lake City Community College) would be transitioning to online only once the current crop of students on campus had completed their degrees. Knowing a whole host of respected super - intendents who had earned their formal de- grees from Florida Gateway/Lake City, the news caught me off guard. If interest among students in these degrees at programs such as Florida Gateway was waning to the point where drastic options were the only options left, what did that mean for turfgrass educa- tion overall? Was it, too, dying? Thankfully, our investigation discovered those fears are unfounded. Through extensive interviews and an informal survey of advis - ers in golf and turfgrass programs at schools all over the country, we found that there are plenty of similarities between the state of turfgrass education and the business of publishing. Like print, turf schools are defnitely not dead or dying, but they are sig- nifcantly different. Far fewer students are entering golf course operations or turfgrass programs than they did as recently as a decade ago. The curriculum they encounter while in school is signifcantly different, with a marked increase in business and communications requirements. And the expectations those students carry into the job market after graduation are different, with most prepared to spend far more time in roles other than that of head golf course superinten - dent than was the case just 10-15 years ago. Should any of this be all that surprising? Probably not. The industry as a whole has transformed signifcantly over this same period of time, so it stands to reason that educational institutions that train students for that industry would experience similar changes. And for the most part, I view that change as a positive. Those in publishing who have dared to innovate and have welcomed change have been the ones who have succeeded, who have found new paths to connecting with readers. They are the ones who have found the light at the end of the tunnel and are solidly positioned for the future. The same can be said about turfgrass edu - cation, in particular, and the golf course man- agement industry, in general. Acknowledging that things aren't the way they've always been is the frst step toward remaining relevant, and I was encouraged that so many involved in turfgrass education are embracing this new reality. It's a great lesson for the students under their guidance, and defnitely a sign of better things to come. Scott Hollister is GCM 's editor-in-chief. Embracing the inevitability of change During these troubled times, the industry's prime medium — the printed page — was squarely in the crosshairs of doomsayers desperate to write publishing's obituary. (inside gcm) Scott Hollister twitter: @GCM_Magazine

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