5 Ways to Affordably Improve Your Golf Course’s Playing Conditions – Overnight!

Golf course accessories play a vital role in any golf course’s playing conditions.  They are seen and touched by golfers on every hole, they can create lasting impressions, they can reinforce your course’s reputation and they are the most affordable way to immediately improve course conditions.

Unfortunately, when not maintained properly or replaced when worn, they can leave an unfavorable impression of your course as a whole.

If you want to allocate your budget in the most strategic way, consider these 5 tips that your golfers will notice.  These are the places where the impact accessories make is most immediate and works out to be the greatest in relation to your overall budget.

1.) On The Tee FOR LESS THAN $20 – Any of your worn spike brushes can be replaced throughout your course.

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2.) Practice Green FOR LESS THAN $250 – Makeover your practice green with all new Jr. Flagsticks, Jr. Flags and Practice Green Cups.

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3.) Bunkers FOR LESS THAN $500 – Replace your 25 oldest bunker rakes with new Accuform Ace II or AccuCurv Bunker Rakes.

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4.) Greens FOR LESS THAN $700 – Freshen up the most touched and seen accessories on your course with 18 new regulation cups, flagsticks and flags.

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5.) On The Tee FOR LESS THAN $1000 – Switch out 4-5 of your most worn ball washers with new Par Aide Master or Deluxe models.

master ball washer on course

Golf course accessories are the only area of your facility where improvements to your course conditions can be literally be made overnight…and without a big hit to your budget.  They contribute to golfer satisfaction and make your course more playable, enjoyable and beautiful.  Small investments pay big dividends.  “Because Golfers Notice”. Continue reading

Does Anyone Care?

Is it just me, or are fewer people interested in doing a good job in whatever they do? At a time when high unemployment is all the talk on the news, why is it that those with jobs care so little?

This summer was a time of a number of projects and my wife and I were amazed at how many issues we had with workers who seemed not to care about their work. Things were done wrong, others not done or forgotten, and in all cases, got around to it when it happened to work for them. Other examples include short cuts taken, cover ups, haphazard efforts, wrong parts received and including even food orders. On and on. You see it too, both in your personal and professional life. Every day.

Maybe this is a continuation of the deterioration of pride in one’s work that I have watched over the years. Still amazes me. I was raised by a perfectionist, my dad, and while he was a bit over the top, by golly, what he did was right, period. And he demanded it of me and those who worked for him. Quite frankly, perhaps that is why Par Aide saw success all through the years in spite of being, for the most part, on automatic pilot. Had the ball washer not been built so well, with little to no problems, who knows where we would be today – probably not a leader in the industry! I truly attribute the success of Par Aide to him and he is owed our continuation of same.

To this day, our employees take pride in what they do, and no one ever leaves us. Yes it is part of our management style but perhaps more importantly, they like being a part of an organization that values quality and their work to provide it. It is certainly easier to work a job where your work is valued and you can take pride in the results of that labor. I have occasionally stopped at a work station and inspected a product set aside as defective and I was unable to see the flaw until pointed out.

This attitude is treasured in all aspects of our business. Our people want to be known as the best regardless of their function in the Company and we are quick to pass on compliments received. When a mistake is made, there is not a fear of losing one’s job, rather a sincere regret for the error and a renewed dedication to learn from it.

In conclusion, while most of our customers give little thought to the ball washers and other Par Aide items, perhaps that is because they have learned they don’t need to. That’s a good thing. We care.

Employee Event, Summer 2013

It has been a tradition at Par Aide to hold a summer event for all employees. We originally played golf each year, but as the company grew it became harder and harder to supply clubs and balls. So, we started looking for alternative options.

Over the years, we have tailgated prior to a minor league baseball game, taken a river cruise around our cities on the Mississippi, indoor go-cart racing, pig roast, bowling and most recently for the second time, actual stock car racing. We have always tried to mix it up and provide experiences that most of us either have never done or would not be likely to ever do. The stock car racing remains the best of them all.

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The first time we went, as management, we were quite surprised that we were even being allowed to do this. We literally were put in groups of 5, told to follow pace car and when it pulled off track – race! Of course, the number one question was, “what if we crash?” The answer? – “Don’t try to.” Perfect. As it turned out no one did and, as a result of a great save by the fellow, Andy Anderson, who was the eventual winner, no one did this time either.

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What a blast driving a 1985 or so stock car, stripped down completely and fitted with a 350 Chevy engine and automatic transmission. We wore a helmet and proceeded to give it our best over the 1/4 mile oval. The fastest drivers, generally the younger ones, could hit close to 55 mph in the very short straight-aways. It was the corners that slowed down some of us old guys.

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My purpose in talking about this at all is that having a unique event for employees or customers, enhances the way they will think about you. And, as employers or vendors, we are uniquely able to provide an experience not generally available to people, and/or would they even think about doing it.

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Next year, we are considering trap shooting!

GIS 2013

Another show come and gone. My 40th I believe as my first was in 1971 and I have only missed two since. I have watched the “show” go through a fairly stagnant stage to one of full speed ahead to a time of forlorn faces and pessimism to this year’s cautious optimism.

Though this year’s show was very nicely organized and looked good, I have to believe that the number of exhibitors and floor space rented has gone down substantially since the heady days. Unfortunately, it was our perception that the attendee numbers were down as well this year. We were very busy on Wednesday morning, relatively steady in the afternoon, slightly less on Thursday am and really dead on Thursday afternoon. The last hours of any and all shows are pretty slow so not unexpected. However, last year it seemed we were a good bit busier throughout.

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Wednesday AM before the distributor preview.

Sometimes we question the value of the show and the substantial cost, especially for the number of end-user customers (Superintendents) that “touch” our booth and/or personnel. However, we also consider the national show to be our international distributor meeting as we see a majority of those folks who bring our products to the marketplace, in the US and throughout the world.

I am not so sure most have any idea what goes into putting up a booth, so thought I would share our efforts. Three days ahead of the show (this year Sunday) three of our people will fly in to begin the process of taking the product and displays out of 8 crates and 2 pallets. Monday am two more will fly in as the set up continues and the rest of us on Tuesday to help with final arrangement of products and preparation for our visitors. We bring Tom and Gary who run our manufacturing operation for their production and materials expertise, Dawn as she is in communication with so many of our dealers on a regular basis, Dan and Scott who head up our sales and marketing and know many if not all of our dealers personally, Mike who primarily handles international affairs, and finally, me – I hand out the mints.

Looking down the main aisle at about 7am on Wednesday.

Looking down the main aisle at about 7am on Wednesday.

The trade show hours average 10 hours a day and none of us are out of the booth for personal time except for a short lunch (usually a hot dog) and bathroom visits. It makes for a long time on one’s feet and our backs will further attest to it.

At the end of the second day, tear down begins with what we call the Velcro symphony, so named from the cacophony of pop up booths being stripped of their panels. It takes us (all 7 of us) roughly 5 hours from start of tear down to shipping labels on crates. This year we got our crates in relatively short order and thus not having to wait for them got us to a beer and pizza about an hour earlier than normal.

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Once back home the work begins. Following up on inquiries, product information, requests, as well as delving into product ideas presented and improvements suggested. It’s truly exhausting but there is a sense of excitement to it all as well. Till next year in Orlando.

Wherever Golf is Played – Really.

Through the years, Par Aide or rather our logo and/or products have shown up in countless media, both print and video, non golf locations, and even retail stores. We are proud that to think that our logo not only says golf but is either recognizable enough or of enough perceived value to be worn/used in these many ways. From ads for Pepsi, Golf Galaxy, GOP wearables, and even as the only visual saying golf for a Hilton Head vacation promo, we are always amazed to hear about or see another.

Most recently, we have received unsolicited photos taken by friends to show us that we are Wherever Golf is Played and in a number of spots where it isn’t. Thank you Mike, Bob, and Charlie. Assuming we get some more, I will post them here in the future. Of course, if you are a Supt or vendor in our industry, I would be pleased to send you a hat for inclusion in your photo.

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The guy posing with ball washers is Charlie Miller, Supt, Goodrich GC, Maplewood, MN – Charlie takes advantage of his months off (city golf course) obviously travelling and playing golf. He sent in photos from Hawaii, Scottsdale, Sanibel Isl, Door County, etc.

The photo from football game is Mike Posey, Pine Tree CC, Birmingham, AL. This was the taken at the SEC Championship game this past fall. The one photo is Mike and his wife and the second is a frame from the national telecast.

Finally, Bob Frank, MTI (local Toro dealer), Plymouth, MN. Colorado trip with Don Belkengren, retired turf sales rep, (St Paul, MN)

Is it time to replace your Cup Setter?

It’s one of the most used products in your greens tools arsenal.  Durable, easy to use, and it does the job day in and day out.  It’s the Par Aide Cup Setter.  But when was the last time you replaced it or at least checked it for proper depth?  It might look like it’s still in good working condition, and seems to set the cup properly, but structurally things may have changed over the years of use.  And these changes may affect your cups not being set properly to the USGA regulation of a minimum of 1” below the surface of the green.  Additionally, modifications have been made to the new Par Aide Cup Setters that improve the playing conditions of your cups and ensure a proper cup set.

All the years of use and all the cups that have been meticulously set into place has likely taken its toll on your old Par Aide Cup Setter.  Think about all the cups that are set with a cup setter that is just 10+ years old.  A 10-year-old cup setter might have changed 60,000+ cups in a year round golf climate.  Is your cup setter older than 10 years?  20 years?  120,000 cups!  The way in which a cup setter is used and the conditions that are present (sand and soil) are ripe for wear.  The sand and soil act like sandpaper and eat away at the 1” tolerance that is cast into our cup setters.  The effect is that the cup setter actually forms a beveled edge where the cup is set vs a flat edge of a new cup setter right out of the box.  This beveled edge reduces the depth that a cup is set, up to 1/16” or more.  The result is a cup that is now set less than 1” below the surface of the green.

Not a big deal, right?  Not until Mr. Smith has a putt “bounce” out of the cup in your club championship because it was not set to the proper depth.  Yes, it can happen.  Just ask Joe Daley.  It happened to him in the 2000 Q School finals!  See the putt here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qQs6yokUVk.  That missed putt cost Joe his PGA Tour card as he ended up the tournament 1 stroke back from getting his ticket punched to the big show. Furthermore, it was later confirmed that the cup was in fact set less than 1” below the surface of green at the time.  Whether it was pulled up during play or set incorrectly at the start of the day, we will never know.

So what can you do to help eliminate this unfortunate fluke from happening at your facility?  First, check your old cup setter.  If it is a Par Aide setter and it is red…it is at least 18+ years old (we have been painting them white since 1994) and likely has the worn edges described above.  If the edges where the cup get set look beveled…it’s probably time for a new cup setter.

If you determine your cup setter needs to be replaced, what you will be getting from Par Aide is an improved tool.  In 2010, we redesigned our cup setter to set the cup an additional 1/8” (total of 1-1/8”) below the greens surface.  This means that even with an excessive amount of wear, or even a careless set, the cup is likely to be set to the required minimum of 1” below the surface of the green.

So take a minute to check out your cup setter the next time you think about it…Mr. Smith thanks you in advance!

This is posted by guest blogger, Dan Brown, Sales & Marketing Manger at Par Aide.

GIS 2012

Just returned from 2012 GIS in Las Vegas.  I have little idea what the weather was nor did I, who likes to gamble, place one bet. Now that the show is two days long or should I say two long days, there is little time spent outside the concrete walls of the convention center.

This was my 39th show, having missed only two since Denver in 1971. We’ve gone through a lot of mints in that time! I have watched both our booth and the show grow considerably during that time and while the show has shrunk, our booth has not. This really does cause us to pause and consider costs vs. benefit. However, our line has expanded and the Superintendents and Dealers deserve our best foot forward.

We were conflicted amongst our personnel this year as to the traffic and interest. To me, it seemed the numbers were a bit down though in fairness, I am required to give my whole attention to our Dealer network. I do know that in the past, the Par Aide booth was the general meeting place for the MN Superintendents in attendance and that number was down significantly and quite frankly has been for a number of years.

In general the show looked great and I think most enjoy the venue though it can be argued that it probably appeals more to those who make it a guy’s or couple’s trip than those who use it as a family business/vacation. Two things can be said about Las Vegas. One, it looks very different since our last stop there and two; the town has really fallen on hard times. There are some fabulous new properties to see and visit and a number of projects that have been halted in construction, some nearly complete.

The trade show did not seem to have any buzz this year which is usually created by a new and exciting product. However, don’t take my word for it as I usually am the last to know. Next year it’s San Diego, with the trade show Feb 6-7. The following year is Orlando and in 2015, San Antonio. Hope to see you there.