Silly Season

Any follower of NASCAR will recognize Silly Season as that time of the year when the circuit is over and either by their choice or not, a few drivers will move from one team to another. Unfortunately, this happens in the Golf Course Superintendents’ world as well. Unfortunately, it is usually not the Supt’s choice.

This year was no different in our area. The weather was unusual at best and created conditions under which turf grass suffered. As a result at least a couple of guys were relieved of their position.

Now I need to be clear that I am certainly no judge of the skills of any particular Superintendent as I don’t pretend to know much if anything about growing grass. And, of course, I am not privy to the conversations and facts that led to any one person’s dismissal. However, I can speak to the individual’s character, dedication, and work ethic as I have seen it. And, once again this year, I am baffled at decisions that were made.

Budgets are tight, no question, but really in the scope of a golf course operation is a reduction in payroll by replacing an experienced person with a lower paid person, truly material? I just cannot imagine that there are ultimately savings after the change over but maybe it works. I can tell you in our business, it would take quite a while for a new person to get up to speed with a lost seasoned veteran, and what costs are associated with mistakes and inefficiencies during the learning process?

Over my many years of watching “silly season” moves, I hope that I might be of encouragement to those of you who are currently “between jobs” and those who might find themselves in that situation in a future “season”. I believe that, without exception, all of the people who I have been close enough to, to have had information, are all doing quite well. Some ended up in better positions within their chosen field while others moved to a different side of golf, and others yet left the golf business altogether.

It’s hard to offer optimism when it is clear your world is fine and the one you are trying to encourage is very down. Things will work out. Make use of all of your contacts. Don’t fail to do this out of embarrassment. Job changes are now a fact of life. There is little to any loyalty left, at any level. Keep your mind open to any and all opportunities or ideas. You will be just fine if my experience is any judge.

Superintendent Visit

In a unique role reversal, Jeff Johnson, Minikahda Country Club, a premier course in Minneapolis, brought his key staff to Par Aide for a tour and visit. Huh? Generally, it’s us as suppliers who have the interest in visiting Superintendents, our primary customer. 

Well it seems that Jeff has found value in annually doing a tour of a local industry related facility. His group has been to Turfco and the new Twins ballpark. These tours not only enhance his people’s knowledge but provides for a well deserved field trip away from the course.

After Jeff’s visit, it occurred to us all that it was a great idea and one that needed to be communicated to other Superintendents who have industry related facilities within reasonable distance. If you go to Jeff’s blog, Minikahda Grounds, you can learn more about what he saw.

NASCAR Surprise

Got a surprise at the Daytona 500 couple weeks ago.  Thanks to Great Clips, we got passes to the infield.  This allows one the opportunity to really see the cars, drivers, crews and all of the activity that goes on behind the scenes prior to a race.  After a stroll through the garage area, we went out on the grass in between the pits and the grandstand to watch driver introductions.  At Daytona, it’s almost mandatory that when there you sign the black and white checkered finish line stripe.  What amazes first timers is the degree of banking on the front straight away that looks level on TV.  It’s substantial.

However, though I had been there before both at this track and others, for the first time I recognized that the stripes that are so beautiful from both the stands and on TV are not just the result of a mowing pattern.  They actually have two different species of grass planted.  Unfortunately, though all these years in this industry and even longer as a golfer, I still only recognize two different grasses, green and brown.  However, there were definitely two different grasses out there.  One was clearly a fine fescue and the other wasn’t.  They were two very distinguishable shades of green.  Maybe my photos will show what I am trying to explain.

For three Minnesotans used to only seeing snow on the ground in February, it was all we could do from rolling around on it.

Golf is a brutal game

In a previous blog “My Most Important Blog Ever!” I mention our foursome for that event. Well, we had so much fun that we did it again. And, I threatened and am carrying through on making a blog out of it. 

Left to Right: Tom Proshek, Paul Diegnau CGCS, Scott Austin CGCS and Steve Garske

Scott and I had decided at the conclusion of our Wee One day that we would challenge Paul and Tom to a match. Now those two are good golfers with admitted 8 and 9 handicaps respectively. Scott figured himself to be a 15 (yea right) and I was a 21 when I took a sabbatical from the game some 7 years ago. So we figured, that our opponents with a combined handicap of 17 would graciously offer us some 15 strokes or so. Our tee time came and went as we argued over shots. We decided to play individually, 2 best ball, and I am still not clear as to how many shots we got if any. At the end of nine, we switched over to match play as was predetermined. We were offered no shots. That’s right, none. And our opponents seemed to feel, and certainly did not show, any signs of embarrassment or remorse when we were down four holes with four to play. 

Our opponents for the day.

What’s worse, my partner decided after we were toast on the 15th hole to challenge me to an individual match over the last 4 holes. My partner! Here I have been carrying him on my back, heavy as a piano, for 15 holes. We tie the 16th. He birdies the 17th (that’s a double plus carryover) and wins the 17th, and we tie the 18th. It had to be parking lot deal as I handed over the cash. He couldn’t lick his lips for the first 15 holes!

I always thought this to be a gentleman’s game (sorry ladies, didn’t know how else to say that), steeped in tradition and honor. Hmpff! 

But, as they say, paybacks are hell. Here is a photo of our host, on his course, on the same hole as the sign so clearly seen in the foreground. You decide.

 

There will be a rematch! Maybe me against them all!

My most important blog ever!

If you only read one of my blog entries, read this one.  It‘s about the Wee One Foundation.  Heard of it?  I hadn’t till the tournament was announced. 

So this past Monday I spent a beautiful Minnesota fall day destroying beautifully manicured turf at North Oaks CC, trying to play golf.  It was a two person scramble and my partner, Scott Austin, CGCS, Columbia Golf Club (who was once a 5 hdcp player) and I struggled to a plus 9.  The other twosome of Paul Diegnau, CGCS, Keller GC and Tom Proshek, Brackett’s Crossing CC, came in -2 and might have done better if we weren’t so distracting.  However, this is not the subject of this blog.

It’s about the Wee One Foundation.  www.weeone.org.   This particular event was held to benefit Tom Fuller and his family as Tom is suffering from a lung disease for which the only treatment is a transplant. Tom and I go way back. His father was the Superintendent where my folks belonged and Tom was a Supt as well at a couple of well known courses in the Twin Cities before crossing over to the Light or Dark side (depending on who you are) and becoming a turf salesman. His successful career has been cut short on Doctor’s orders as he has had to quit working and await the life-restoring phone call.

Tom gave us all a look inside his illness and explained the transplant process and timetable.  He is battling time and made a plea which I wholeheartedly endorse.  Sign up to be an organ donor!  I also encourage you to look into the Wee One Foundation and become a member.  I did today and Par Aide will be active from now on in support of this great organization.  Good luck Tom.  Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Special Announcement:

Okay, I broke down and have set aside my Day-Timer, which has skillfully and accurately arranged and driven my existence for over 20 years.  I am now trying to use my iPhone for the same purpose.  Sort of works but I have to admit that I like it the best for checking the weather, identifying a song on the radio, and the latest sports scores.

Prior to this, I reluctantly turned in my typewriter for a computer I don’t understand, the peace and quiet of drive time for a cell phone, and human conversation for texting.

I am not going to join one of those social/business networking deals, such as Plaxo, LinkedIn, and whatever the newest offering is.  I am also not going to have a spot on MySpace or Facebook, so don’t ask.  I don’t care if you are now linked in to Bill and Suzy and Tom and Ed and Grace and that I can too.  I can’t remember the people I already know.

So please, if you have requested that I pal up with you on one of those sites, don’t be angry if I do not respond.  If we are friends or business acquaintances, you do not need to contact me through those sites.  Email, text, or even call me direct.

Damn Internet

Life used to be so simple. Correspondence could take place over a day or so, not within the hour. There was a time, not so long ago, when we would receive an order from one of our international dealers by mail. We would respond by mail with a pro-forma and then get the okay to process by mail or sometimes by phone. This process could take two weeks. Then came the fax machine. We would receive fax, respond generally next day and get response to proceed the third. Now the process is handled within a day – no problem. Get the idea?

In the good ol’ days, spending an afternoon playing golf after a leisurely lunch was not a problem. No one expected immediate communication. In fact, it was physically impossible anyway. Guess it’s a sign of age, but I really miss those good ol’ days. Damn internet! Why did Al Gore have to invent it?

It’s now the norm to have someone in the foursome on the Blackberry or iPhone most every hole. Distracting? Yes. Rude? In my opinion – absolutely. Necessary? Probably. Maybe I am just selfish but when I play a round of golf I want to think that my playing friends are sharing themselves with me and I to them. I really don’t want to share them with someone else. However, I guess it is going to be the norm whether I like it or not. How does the tennis world work with it?