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We are not a union!

“The views expressed in this column by Gordon Witteveen are his alone. They do not represent the views of CGSA or GreenMaster.”

For five years this was the disclaimer at the bottom of my regular column in the GreenMaster magazine, the official publication of the CGSA (Canadian Golf Superintendents Association). These words came from an organization that I helped start more than 35 years ago, and a magazine that I had written and edited for its first 60 issues. I must admit that at first I found it offensive but with time it became a badge of honor, testimony to my strong beliefs on matters pertaining to greenkeeping. It was never my intent to write pablum for the proletariat. I addressed my fellow superintendents at a higher level. Eventually I was fired, or rather my contract was not renewed – one and the same thing.

It was never my intent to write pablum for the proletariat. I addressed my fellow superintendents at a higher level…

It was at about that time that I became a regular with TurfNet and except for a short interlude when I was writing another book, have been ever since. At TurfNet I enjoyed a larger, a more diverse audience spread out beyond the North American content.

I have always considered the members of TurfNet the crème de la crème of superintendentdom and many of the best practice their craft in Canada.  The copy that I produce is carefully checked by Maestro Peter to make sure it fits the philosophy of TurfNet. I am constantly being edited but have rarely been censored, such as when I suggested that supers should hug and squeeze the golfers on Ladies Day. (I still do).

In all those years golf flourished and so did superintendents but times have changed. Golf is now in a decline and many superintendents have fallen on hard times. Some have lost their jobs and are having difficulty finding work. Meanwhile, colleges keep on churning out wannabe superintendents, further reducing the chances of finding jobs as superintendents or assistants.

Under these circumstances it is timely to review the three priorities in one’s life: health, family and your job, in that order…

Under these circumstances it is timely to review the three priorities in one’s life: health, family and your job, in that order. Without good health it is difficult to look after the other two. As superintendents we live in a healthy environment, except for the exposure to pesticides, but far too many ride around in golf carts all day instead of walking and getting exercise. Watch your waistline and your diet. Drink in moderation or not at all and for Gods sake stop smoking!. Moderate your addiction to golf and greenkeeping. Your family deserves a healthy parent.

If in spite of the above you find yourself without a job, be prepared to lower your expectations and even change directions. Maintain a positive attitude (as difficult as that may be) and remember that the world does not owe you a living.

Lastly, don’t blame GCSAA! Our association promotes us and enlightens us at very opportunity, but it does not provide job security for the simple reason that GCSAA is not now, never has been and never will be a labor union.

4 Responses to “We are not a union!”

  • Peter McCormick:

    Now Gordon, I may polish your stuff (what others call editing, but I consider it simply a buffing of the silver) and once in a blue moon I may delete certain things that might not have the desired effect (like squeezing rump at the first tee on Ladies Day), but I’ve never changed the direction nor tone of your writing to fit any needs of mine or TurfNet (which doesn’t have a philosophy of its own).

    Let’s get back to that hugging and rump tickling on the first tee thing. One might — might — have gotten away with that type of thing 30, 40 years ago if they had been at the club for 20 or 30 years… Oh, that was YOU! Now I see where you were coming from, a position of experience! Just kidding, although I could hardly recommend (or pass through a recommendation) for superintendents today to cozy up to their membership like that. In MY opinion, at minimum that’s a ticket down the road in today’s day and age.

  • Dave Wilber:

    Gordon….

    Amen to the Union thing. Nice.

  • Chuck Barber:

    Gordon, I agree on your three top priorities but is it the intent of your column to disparage pesticides to whatever degree you see fit? My family will always be important to me and I can’t take care of them if I am unhealthy. That being said, aren’t we all trained in the proper handling, mixing and application of pesticides? Aren’t the new synthetics safer than ever before? Isn’t there more vetting of the environmental fate of pesticides than at the outset of modern greenkeeping? We are all by virtue of our employment environmental stewards for one specific reason: Being careful saves us money. Give us some credit for the time we spend in the world of pesticide use and safety.

  • Gordon Witteveen:

    Very well spoken, written I mean. I encourage you to write more and make your case. We just differ on a few small items. Keep it up.

    Gordon