- Gordon Witteveen: The Way I See It - http://turfnet.com/gordon -

Love Thy Green Chairman

While Green Chairmen are fast becoming an endangered species, they still prevail at private country clubs where the committee system is an important part of governance. For superintendents, it is critical to have a positive relationship with the Green Chairman to ensure professional longevity. During my career I worked with more than a dozen Green Chairmen. Some were good, others not, one was bad and all of them needed educating.

During my career I worked with more than a dozen Green Chairmen. Some were good, others not, one was bad and all of them needed educating.

The bad one thought that the maintenance department was available to improve his home landscape. He needed seed and fertilizer and borrowed tools. I drew the line when we he wanted my brand new chainsaw to take down a tree. I gave him a sharp axe instead. While chopping at the tree, he suffered a heart attack and died, never to bother me again. All the other Chairmen survived their tenure.

The process of educating the Chairmen involved establishing lines of communication such as written reports and memos. I learned quickly that the Chairmen were not interested in technical explanations. They wanted factual information and no surprises. Knowing full well that action speak louder than words, I made it my business to provide a superior product within the limits of the budget. I also kept track of the playing schedule of my chairman and tried to be around at the clubhouse to welcome him and meet his friends.

I learned quickly that the Chairmen were not interested in technical explanations. They wanted factual information and no surprises.

I kept a low profile at committee meetings, listening rather than talking too much. I presented written reports and kept the minutes. Draft minutes were scrutinized by the chairman and sometimes amended before circulating to other committee members.

Nearing the end of the golfing season, when work pressures begin to diminish, I invited the chairman and some carefully selected committee members to visit and play other golf courses and meet my colleagues. Such excursions were ideal opportunities to create lasting friendships that have endured long after my retirement.