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Want recognition? Toot your own horn!

The sports section of the St. Petersburg Times (Jan 28) included a half page feature on area golf courses titled Cold weather colors courses. The first two weeks of January were cold in these parts with nightly freezing temperature. We lost most of the annuals that we had carefully planted in November. Colorful bushes and flowering shrubs are now skeletal sticks with dead leaves.

Golf courses in my winter habitat south of there have not fared much better. Most courses overseed with northern grasses and the fairways, tees and greens are now strips and patches of green surrounded by dormant, brown native grasses. The article in the Times comments on these conditions and extensively quotes general managers and golf professionals, but no superintendents are mentioned.

That is a sad reflection on the state of our profession in these parts. There are many prominent superintendents and perhaps even a few TurfNetters in west central Florida who could have provided more in-depth information for the article than the GMs and the pros did. Why they weren’t asked is the question.  Could it be that the writer has no contacts among the local supers? Does the regional chapter not provide a copy of its membership to the golf writers and commentators? More than likely a lazy journalist just called a few courses and was referred to the GM or  pro and the superintendents did not answer the phone. Many superintendents are still largely invisible and some don’t always return calls.

I make it my business to contact the supers at the courses where I play. I stop by at the maintenance building and if I am lucky I get to talk to the mechanic. And I am not even looking for free golf. Green fees are ridiculously low at the courses where I play due to the recession and lack of players. The two week-period of daily freezing conditions must have hurt private operators in the pocketbook.

As for supers gaining more recognition, I suggest that individual superintendents try to establish contacts with golf writers. Most would accept an invitation to play golf in the company of one or more superintendents…

My conclusion is that in spite of great progress in promoting the professional image of the superintendent by regional and national associations, we have a way to go — witness the recent article in the St. Petersburg Times.

As an aside to the above I noticed that when cold weather makes the Bermuda go dormant, misses in seed applications become clearly visible. I have observed narrow, brown strips on tees and greens and half moon shaped misses on fairways. Most golfers don’t notice such things but as a former superintendent I am curious how such misses can be avoided.

As for supers gaining more recognition, I suggest that individual superintendents try to establish contacts with golf writers. Most would accept an invitation to play golf in the company of one or more superintendents. The local chapter may invite golf writers to their monthly meetings. GCSAA advertises on the Golf Channel and does its part in many other ways. But it’s never enough. We must not leave it to the GMs and the pros to speak for us. That would a step backward, and a travesty.

Many years ago I was advised by the local golf pro to toot my own horn and I have been doing it ever since.

2 Responses to “Want recognition? Toot your own horn!”

  • Jerry Coldiron:

    Gord, good stuff and sure hope the young guys will read and take note of your advice and common sense approach to our business. Thanks for taking the time to blog!

  • Joe Wachter:

    Gordon,

    Thanks for your comments. I think if we want to be considered leaders of our club, we have to not only take care of our job but also become involved in staff meetings that involve other key elements of the club. It is not our job to manage other departments but we have experiences in our life that can help managers of other departments.

    We are probably one of the only individuals that come into contact with almost every aspect of the club on a regular basis. We are in the pro shop, walk through the kitchen, talk to the adminstrative staff, give a walk through into the grill area, check out the tennis courts and swimming pool. If we compartmentalize ourselves to the golf course and the maintenance building, how can expect others to come to us when they need information regarding the club.