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Matt Leverich: Career & Technology Interchange

Golf Knowledge is a Required Skill Today

Posted in Career 05 December 2017 · 379 views

With each passing year, the golf industry is changing. Gone are the days of new course construction and crazy numbers of rounds. However, at the top clubs most of you are aspiring to work at, something different has happened these clubs are transforming their course through large-scale master planning, and at a very high rate. 
In order to maximize your value to these clubs, it is imperative to be knowledgeable in the game of golf, its history, architecture and network. You need to be able to speak on these aspects of a potential renovation plan and how your insight during a project can help make it a better end-product.
This is especially important during the application and interview process. Including a section on golf knowledge is required material, in my opinion. Not only does it let the club know you can lead them through a difficult project, it also shows them you are passionate about golf just like they are. Understanding how golf architecture and strategy work can allow you to offer insight into how a particular feature or project will affect maintenance. So be sure to mention these things in all materials, and certainly speak on it in your interview. 
There are many ways to gain this knowledge, here are just a few suggestions: 
Build Your Library of Golf Books. 
This is the easiest way to begin your studies. There are lots of books out there about all aspects of golf. One of the basics is The Anatomy of a Golf Course by Tom Doak. It's good to understand classic vs. modern and how that can play into a possible renovation objective. There are also interesting reads about specific architects, like Discovering Donald Ross by Brad Klein. 
Become a Master of the Rules of Golf.
As a superintendent, it is extremely helpful to know the rules of golf inside and out. Only then can you see how course conditions can relate to rulings and setup of the course, possibly avoiding member complaints and issues. The USGA has a great resource they call Rules Hub that can help you get started easily: 
Network with Golfers, and Play Golf. 
You don't have to be good at golf to be knowledgeable. Expand your network outside of peers into golfers to enhance your ability to speak to customers. It really is enlightening to spend time with those who aren't employed in golf but instead are passionate about the game. I wrote an extensive article on how you can do this a few years back, it is a good first step with some tips.

It really is enlightening to spend time with those who aren't employed in golf but instead are passionate about the game...

Follow Industry Professionals. 
Social media has allowed you all to share operations with one another. Be sure to include architects, golfers, club finance experts and more in who you follow. Read periodicals like GolfWeek, Golf Digest, Golf Inc., Club Management, etc. Dont get stuck just listening to fellow turfgrass guys. Challenge yourself with perspectives outside of your own.
Understand the Rating System. 
Most golfers don't understand rankings of courses. It's a complicated process and certainly subjective at times so it's a great asset to possess some understanding of how it works. Brad Klein at GolfWeek offers quite a bit of insight into the process through various presentations throughout the year. Be sure to listen in on him if you get the chance. My partner at Playbooks, Greg Wojick, rated courses for years at GolfWeek and wrote an extensive piece on his experience with rating courses for the MetGCSA. I think it should be required reading for this topic of ratings, and it is available here.
Read Online Forums. 
The main architecture site is Golf Club Atlas. While it can be frustrating if not outright painful to read at times from our perspective, it does offer a look from the other side. I'm not advocating or promoting some of the things said there, just that you should read it now and then for rounding out your education in this area. There are other sites as well that tie into following professionals, like Geoff Shackleford, but also allow comments from readers/golfers where you can again gain insight from their opinions. 

While it can be frustrating if not outright painful to read at times from our perspective, it does offer a look from the other side...

In business, it's generally good advice to know your customer and market thoroughly. As a superintendent, you would be smart to know everything about what your customers are buying -- golf. Youll be a more rounded professional and it may be the small difference that helps you land your dream job.

Making your resume do more...

Posted in Career 28 October 2017 · 887 views

We have covered various resume topics throughout my time here at TurfNet. This time around I'd like to look at a somewhat different angle. Usually I recommend that you have a professionally built website and portfolio to complement your resume. But for this blog, let's consider how you can use just a resume, nothing else, and still garner attention from employers. 

It's not ideal, but if you are in a jam and haven't had your materials built, here are five things that are critical to include if you are only applying with a resume: 
1. Add a Headline or Header Image. 
This goes along with my article last month about sending the application email properly so your "brand" is noticed and stands out among the competition. If I were only using a resume (no website or portfolio), I would add this same header image to the very top of my resume. As a reminder, you should hire out this header image to a professional because its too critical to DIY it. 

Using a headline at the top of the resume is a great tool as well...

Using a headline at the top of the resume is a great tool as well. Instead of just listing "Qualifications" as your first section, consider using something like: "Turfgrass Excellence with Financial Efficiency". Also consider adjusting your job titles to be more compelling like a headline. Instead of listing Golf Course Superintendent, switch it up to "Superintendent - Course Conditions Expert". 
2. Put Your Most Important Information at the Top. 
Reading a PDF resume is no different than reading a website or newspaper. The stuff at the top gets the first look and most attention. Don't waste it on an Objective or your Education, they aren't nearly as important. Instead use it for 4 or 5 key statements about you and your career that differentiate you from the competition. These shouldn't be complex sentences, just short and to the point using as many action words as you can. By keeping this short, you can then list your current work experience towards the top of the page as well. 
3. Ditch All the General Bullet Points. 
You do not need to list your job responsibilities. All of your competition have the same ones; total waste of valuable space on a resume. Instead, only include bullet points in your experience that actually differentiate you from that competition. What have you done better than peers? Have you saved the club money? Gained memberships? These are far more critical than responsibilities and you don't want them lost in a wall of text from too many bullet points. 

You do not need to list your job responsibilities. All of your competition have the same ones; total waste of valuable space on a resume...

4. Keep Your Experience Recent. 
I know, it seems counter-intuitive to cut content if you are only applying with a resume. But a lengthy resume just creates reader fatigue in this initial part of the application. You have time during the interview process to go into more detail. This listing of every single work history on the resume is not going to make a positive difference in getting a closer look. 
So, limit listing your experience for the last 10-15 years, or the 2-3 best clubs if you have been at the same place a while. There's no rule you have to list dates of employment so it doesn't have to fill in every date in time. Just list your time at the club like this: "3 Years of Tenure". 
5. Consider an Online Supplement. 
If you just can't possibly cut your content enough to keep the resume around one page, you can link to something online. This article is focusing on not having a website, so a possible solution to this is having an expanded resume saved on your Google Drive or Dropbox. It's easily sharable and viewable on any device from one link. Simply add some text like "Deep Dive into My Career" or "Expanded Career Highlights" and link out to your file. Then if someone really does want to see more information at this stage, they can. 
These tips are essential if you don't have a website yet (you should in our industry). While it's nowhere near as effective as a website, it's better than nothing and should really help in your application. Good luck! 


The application email, & using a header image

Posted in Career 20 September 2017 · 790 views


This post is a quick and easy, yet very effective use of your application email for making an impact in your job application right at the start. First off, there are a two things you should know about sending your application email:
  1. You should state your sincere interest in the club or company and mention why their organization is worthy of your interest. It almost always serves you well to flatter with a statement about them, instead of solely focusing on you. This is a great way to start off the application process.
  2. The content of your email should be very short, and your cover letter should never be included in the text of the email body. Why? Because your email will get forwarded to others and the text will get lost in the email chain for users down the line and make it more difficult for them to read it. You want to make it simple for them. Having the cover letter as its own file is perfect for this. It also allows the hiring person to download your documents and collate them into a report or folders much easier. 

With those out of the way, here is a way to consistently get attention to your application email right away:
This serves to showcase your brand right away, and hopefully a very professional look. You can hire a designer to do this for minimal cost. If you already have a website or portfolio, it's as simple as taking a screen capture of the home page with your name and image there. 
The benefit of using this image is to have your email jump off the screen. Instead of only seeing text and links to websites or PDF files (never send Word docs, as they can be altered!), they see a visually pleasing picture of the golf course with your name typeset with it.
When I build career materials, I always use the same header layout (same font, title, style, image) across all platforms (resume, letter, website, portfolio) to create a unified brand for your career. So this same look is simply carried on to the header image for this email. I would not recommend using this image tip unless you have someone design it for you who knows what they are doing, otherwise it can have the opposite result and actually hurt your chances. 
There are a few things to know to ensure it looks right: 

  • Use an email client like Mac Mail or Outlook, or a provider like MailChimp online. These clients can embed images directly in the body of the email through use of hidden HTML coding, just by uploading the image after a line of text in the email body. If you go to Gmail from a browser and try it, the image will not be embedded, it will just show as a small attachment.
  • To embed the image, type out all the text of your email. Then under your name, leave a couple of blank lines and when the cursor is in that position, select the Attachment option and upload the header image. Then upload your application materials after the image so the user must scroll past it to get to them. This scroll is their initial look at your brand and sets up what is to come in your materials. 

That's it! It even works for opening email on phones, and while the image isn't as big, it's still highly impactful on mobile where a lot of email is opened initially. 
Here is a mockup I put together to show how it can look.
This is the entire email zoomed out: 
This is the normal view when scrolling: 
This is from a phone: 


Website Series: Writing Your Bio

Posted in Career 11 August 2017 · 990 views

One of the things you should always try to include in a career website or portfolio is a biography. It can help the hiring person get to know you quickly and hit on some points of interest for them to add your application to the yes pile at the initial stages of the process. 
The problem is that a biography can get out of hand in a hurry and actually work as a disservice to your application if done wrong. To this end, here are a few tips to the beginnings of a well-crafted bio. 
1. Shorter is better than longer. Its a good rule of thumb to keep a bio to no more than 5 or 6 paragraphs. Any more and its a wall of text most people wont spend time to read. I dont mean 6 huge paragraphs either, 2-4 sentences in each paragraph is the goal. 
2. Limit your work history. Going into detail about every single place you have worked is not a good idea, it just becomes regurgitation of your resume. Instead, briefly mention your overall work history and focus on 1 or 2 major accomplishments at work. These should be things that a hiring person would want to hear, not a turfhead. Things like: saved money, increased rounds, improved conditions. The results, not the actual process. 
3. Include your passion for golf. While your passion might truly be for turf, the hiring person and members are focused on golf. Let them know you understand the game, its architecture and work to provide an experience first and foremost. Also, very few hiring people know the names of other superintendents (sad but true in most cases), so dont bother mentioning you had this mentor or that mentor superintendent. However, most in the club world know architects and golf pros. If you have a good relationship or history with one, definitely mention it. This will help facilitate your commitment to golf in addition to turf. 

...the main idea for the bio is to be an expanded me section from your cover letter, dumping the bits about a specific club you are applying to and focusing on what in your career makes you the ideal candidate. 

4. Keep personal details to a minimum. Sometimes a club is looking for a very specific candidate at the onset of a search (whether its legal or not). This can evolve if they see an interesting option come to light. Because of this, you want to be careful not to overexpose yourself personally at the beginning where this bio will be in the process. Generally mentioning that you are happily married, have kids, etc. is a positive if mentioned briefly, however including hobbies, other passions, etc. can work against you in my experience. 
5. Focus more on recent work. Its natural to want to talk about college, interning at a big-time course and your first big Assistants position and what you did at them. However, as I mentioned earlier, content should be limited in length so you are better focusing on things youve done recently. A brief mention of where you went to college is certainly important, but just mention it and why you got into the business and move on to other things. 
In general, the main idea for the bio is to be an expanded me section from your cover letter, dumping the bits about a specific club you are applying to and focusing on what in your career makes you the ideal candidate. Following these tips will start you on the path to a well-written bio that works to augment your application instead of limit it. 
This ties in with a previous article about how you should be creating professional career materials. Check it out here.

Golf Course Communications: Same Ol' Challenge, New Solutions

Posted in communication 20 June 2017 · 1,422 views

By Greg Wojick


Greenkeeper /green-keep-er/ noun: Someone who solves myriad problems average golfers didn't know they had in a way they don't understand. See also Wizard, Magician.


It has always been difficult for me to accept the fact that most golfers don't understand even a small fraction of what happens behind the scenes in golf course maintenance. Maybe, much like magicians whose acts continue to mystify their audiences, the work of the golf course superintendent is just too much to fully grasp.


Attempting to bridge the gap between the knowledge of the professional turf practitioner and the lack of knowledge of the golfer is far from easy! In fact, it's probably one of the greatest challenges facing golf course superintendents today. 


After all, the job of the superintendent is complex. It spans numerous fields of knowledge well beyond greenkeeping. Most superintendents know volumes about fertilizers, increasingly sophisticated grooming equipment, sprayers, and irrigation systems, turf pests and diseases and the herbicides and pesticides that prevent and control them. Like a doctor, they have to be able to diagnose -- and treat -- the inevitable problems that arise affecting turf health -- while keeping a watchful eye on the environment. At the same time, they're expected to have the acumen of corporate execs, who are accomplished schmoozers, public speakers, and skilled at managing sizable staffs and equally sizable operating budgets. 


Few golfers understand -- and sometimes superintendents themselves forget -- the vast scope of knowledge the job requires. And many, by nature, are falling short in the interpersonal -- or schmoozing -- aspect of the job. Who, after all, has time for it in the thick of the season when the greater concerns of turf health and ball roll weigh on their minds 24/7, right? Wrong!


Though the average golfer will never fully understand, or frankly want to understand, the intricacies of turf management, it's still important to rub shoulders with the regulars and club officials who have at least a casual interest in better understanding maintenance practices. They may want to understand why greens may be fast or slow or why carts are being restricted to paths only. They may be a bit confused when they're scolded for not raking sand in bunkers or replacing divots, not fixing ball marks on greens, riding carts inappropriately, or not corralling the divots at the practice range tee. 


Though the average golfer will never fully understand, or frankly want to understand, the intricacies of turf management, it's still important to rub shoulders with the regulars and club officials who have at least a casual interest in better understanding maintenance practices...


There are a few insanely interested golfers who want to Google what causes certain turf diseases or grain on greens -- all the more reason to make it a point to communicate with the golfers at your club or course. I'm sure you've all seen how a little knowledge can be dangerous and result in some troublesome misunderstandings. 


Communicating Made Easier

Fortunately, whether we actually rub shoulders with members or communicate through the club's publication or website or through social media, there are numerous ways to keep those who are interested apprised of what we do and the impact it may have on their game. New on the block are apps that first allowed a club's general manager to alert members of clubhouse activities and menu changes  Now similar apps are available that allow golf course superintendents to alert golfers to myriad golf course developments, from areas under construction to aeration dates.


Daily, I read with enthusiasm, interest, and many times humor, the tweets, the blogs, the newsletter articles and the website efforts of superintendents. Thanks to these internet options, communications efforts have slowly been increasing. Kudos to the supers who dare to take the time and give the effort to educate and communicate.  


All in all, the efforts to demystify the details of maintenance are worth it. Done well, these communications will keep members and golfers happily informed and even earn you the recognition and respect that will peg you as a valued contributor to your club or facility.


All in all, the efforts to demystify the details of maintenance are worth it...


For those communicating and those who haven't fully taken the leap, here are a few tips that may help you feel more confident in your communications:


1. Are you communicating to the right audience? It may be more fun to tweet out to your superintendent buddies, but make sure that, in whatever you share through social media, you put your best foot forward. 


Pretend you're a new golfer at your facility who's waking up eager to play golf.  He or she is thinking: Is the course wet today? Is it open? Are the greens fast, soft? Is there any construction activity I should be aware of? Are there any outings? Will pesticides be applied today? Are carts restricted? Is the practice tee turf available for practice? 


Using your tweets, blogs, etc., to communicate useful information to the right audience will go a long way toward bridging the knowledge gap. Golfers don't really care that one of your workers didn't show up again today. Work toward using your communications to enlighten the VIP list at your club: the GM and professional staff; the green committee members and the chairman; the club president or the owner; the caddie master or starter; the key restaurant personnel and even the caddies. All these people are likely to come into contact with golfers and can serve as messengers of your updates and information. The more people able to offer accurate, detailed information on your behalf, the better.


2. Are you using the latest available communication tools?  How does a super get the chance to go beyond the routine issues on the golf course and explain the more complex issues that face the course? How does one explain the many types of bunker liners and bunker sands for instance? Using blogs, photos, and pointing to research articles are always good options, provided those research articles can be easily digested by the layman. 


For those who would like some of the work done for them, our new app (Conditions) contains a library of informative, easy-to-read articles that help explain many of the complex challenges we all face on the golf course in a format that members are now used to via an app. 


With the job of golf course superintendent getting increasingly complex and demanding, online communication options seem the way to go. But keep in mind, it should never totally replace the in-person communication. Developing personal relationships is, and always will be, a key aspect of the job. 


...online communication options seem the way to go. But keep in mind, it should never totally replace the in-person communication.


3. Are you taking enough time each day to communicate?  Communicating, no doubt, requires time and effort. And sometimes, you may wonder if it's really paying off. But I can assure you, providing regular course updates, particularly during times of extreme heat stress or disease outbreaks, can only serve you well. Members will appreciate having the ability to understand what is going on at their golf course and will feel more confident in your ability as a turfgrass manager. Just as important, it will eliminate the need to speculate about what is happening on the course.


Future success for superintendents is tied to the success that they have when it comes to communicating with those not-in-the-know. And today, the superintendent has more tools available than ever to do it!



After nearly 30 years as a golf course superintendent and consultant, Greg Wojick co-founded Playbooks for Golf in 2008.

Five Must-Do Tech Tips for Today's Superintendent

Posted in Technology 09 May 2017 · 1,546 views

From time to time, we delve into the greater world of technology in this blog. There is an enormous amount of tech and platforms available out there; I certainly don't pretend to have an understanding of even a small percentage of what's available today. But I do know what seems to work best, and easiest, for most of us in our industry and in my daily experience working for many of you and what the knowledge level tends to be. 
That said, here are five things you totally should be doing in 2017. If this is old news to you, congrats! You're in good company in the industry. 
Microsoft has discontinued Internet Explorer in favor of a new browser called Edge. It's not great either in my opinion. But Internet Explorer (IE) is now obsolete. In fact, it doesn't even work with many newer websites and can cause security issues as well. There is no reason that any of you should continue use; the very few people who have a legitimate reason to keep it has to do with dated software outside of our industry, and it should only be used to visit that particular software. 
While there are various browsers to switch to, the best choice is Google Chrome. It is what most new websites and applications base standards on due to its webkit build structure (Safari on Mac does as well). It's a simple download, and the trick is to make sure to make it your default browser, so all links load in it instead of IE. Here's a link to doing just that: 
You're now on Chrome, awesome! You also need to upkeep on your browsing history. Websites and online applications constantly archive and track your history. They add cookies, store old pages, app data and much more. It can slow down your experience and also create issues with security in many instances, not to mention create functionality issues over time with web applications (I have experience here with our software). Be sure to clear your browsing data weekly, at a minimum; I do it every day. It will improve your online performance and protect you from threats. 
Here is a guide on clearing browsing data in Chrome.
This seems like old news but still needs to be covered. You're out in the field most of your day. Why not have access to all your critical documents at any time, anywhere. Services like Dropbox and Google Drive make this a breeze. You can organize files and folders in a multitude of ways and make sharing them very simple. There are numerous guides on these with a quick search for full details. I use Google Drive myself and it is great for keeping shared documents synced up and accessible anywhere.
I have covered this topic in detail before because it is so critical to running a well-organized operation. I do this with two concepts daily: Wunderlist and Inbox Zero. Wunderlist is an excellent piece of software that you can create various lists, tasks file reminders and so much more. I would have needed an assistant long ago without it. Inbox Zero is a concept (not an actual product) where you always clear out your email inbox by responding to emails at set times and creating action lists from those emails through a service like Wunderlist. Again, this is a wonderful way to be professional and organized, and honestly stand out from the crowd when it comes to communication. 
In addition, there are tons of new tech products specific to the industry you can add to your operation daily that can streamline things: chemical/fertilizer software, labor boards and tracking, hole locations, moisture meters, GPS sprayers, on and on. I'm happy to cover any questions you have on these products, just reach out if you need guidance. 
Sending a resume just isn't enough anymore. With the ability to display your work through imagery available through websites and online portfolios, there's no reason not to do it. You used to be ahead of the curve and stand out if you had a website, now you are behind if you don't. And there are ways to restrict access if you are worried about your current club so there's no reason not to be prepared for your next opportunity. 
Be careful putting your career online through social media though, it can cause more harm than good if not done properly. For a complete rundown on this, checkout a previous post here.
Meeting these 5 simple guidelines will make you a well-organized and tech-capable superintendent in today's marketplace. Again if you need any assistance or have questions feel free to let me know, happy to help.

Presentation Tips: How to Engage Your Audience

Posted in communication 31 March 2017 · 1,105 views

Guest Post by Greg Wojick
Our industry has always been about so much more than growing grass. Eventually everyone has an issue arise, either agronomic or elsewhere in the operation. My belief is that whenever you're in trouble -- and even before you are in trouble -- you better be able to communicate well.
I'm usually impressed with superintendents' technical competence and professional conduct. If only that were all you needed for success! The reality is that a major part of your success as a superintendent is having the ability to present yourself and your ideas clearly and effectively before your Green Committee or general membership.
Unlike the casual conversations you have with your colleagues, crew, and golfing membership, presenting to a group requires thought and preparation. It's your opportunity to enhance your image as a confident, knowledgeable, and likable professional and to win favor on a proposal or idea that might not otherwise be taken seriously.
You'll find a lot written about the mechanics of composing and delivering a presentation. I want to talk, instead, about another aspect of presenting that I feel is equally important to a presenter's success -- and that is how your thoughts are divided among several things and which one is critical to your success.
...even the most pertinent, hard-hitting information can fall on deaf ears if you fail to connect or make contact with your audience.
I see presenters who give most of their attention to themselves. They are visibly self-conscious, their gestures are not natural, and they worry more about the technique of their presentation than the results.
Other presenters concentrate mostly on their messages. They try to produce perfect sentences and end up stumbling over their words. They search for the perfect word and end up saying "uh". They look at and talk to their visuals to a fault. 
The best presenters give the highest percentage of their attention to their audience. They connect or make contact with their audience by first taking the time to know their audience and then tailoring their presentations to their needs and concerns. Let's face it, even the most pertinent, hard-hitting information can fall on deaf ears if you fail to connect or make contact with your audience.
So how do you engage?
You make contact and connection with your eyes, your voice, your gestures, and your body language. This means you must look at the audience -- not at your notes, sound sincere and committed as you speak, use gestures to emphasize your words, and appear confident and secure with your stance and posture. Practice these skills until they become natural and you appear to be just "having a conversation with the audience." The more prepared you are and confident you feel about your presentation, the better you'll be able to respond to unplanned situations.
Practice your speech out loud -- even record it to help you spot areas that sound strange or unnatural, it's easy with phones now. But don't practice gestures and facial expressions in front of a mirror. If you rehearse too many gestures, that's exactly how they'll look. Rehearsed. Let them come naturally to you.
Get yourself prepared and comfortable so that you pay only minimal attention to yourself. Rehearse adequately so that you are thinking about the delivery of your message and not the message. When you can spend less time thinking about yourself and your message, you'll have more time to focus on what's most important in the room -- and to your success: the audience.


Tech Tip: Online Password Management Solution

Posted in Technology 20 February 2017 · 1,129 views

This topic isn't specific to the turfgrass industry but we are all adding more and more technology into our daily operations, which typically means new logins and passwords for various software or websites. Add to that your personal accounts for bills, family activities and more, and it can get frustrating to remember all of them. As of today, I have over 50 logins! 


When it comes to daily organization, I have written in the past about my use of Wunderlist, a free app for making lists and a lot more. I honestly couldn't function without it and would have had to hire an assistant long ago. If you missed that blog post, you can check it out here


Why am I talking about Wunderlist when this article is about passwords? For years, I kept a list in Wunderlist of all my usernames and passwords. I used to use Apple Keychain as well, but keeping them in Wunderlist was easier for me as I have it open constantly every day, and Keychain didn't work for my PC or phone. Wunderlist was a simple solution, but not very secure and I still had to reference the list every time I needed to login plus keep it updated manually. 

So, recently I stumbled upon a great series from a tech blog I follow, 9to5Mac, and software called 1Password.It has really made my online password management a breeze and has made it extremely secure. The premise is pretty simple - login with one password and it works for all of your other ones. You can add all secure information too, like bank accounts, alarm codes, etc. and it works on any operating system or device. You'll quickly see how amazing it is to just have the one password that works for everything, and their encryption is extremely well done. They even have a feature called Watchtower that alerts if a site has been hacked and can reset your password for you with their Strong Password Generator. There are options to add it for your whole family as well which is very convenient. 


That's it. Seems silly to me I didn't know about it until now but it has worked so great for me I wanted to pass it along to you as well since this blog covers technology now and then. You can check out full details on it at https://1password.com/



Note: Just in case you don't know - its not a good option to just have your browser save your logins/passwords on websites because it's not that secure, and more importantly, you should be clearing out your browsing history and cache frequently for a faster experience and for security purposes. 

Critical checklist for your online presence...

Posted in communication 09 January 2017 · 1,053 views

The very first article I wrote for TurfNet back in 2013 covered the many potential dangers of an online presence. I'm sure most of you have forgotten it and it's only gotten more important in the years since as social media continues its rise in our daily lives. As 2017 starts, now is the time make sure your online presence is working for you in a completely positive way. Here are some key things to consider:

  1. Ensure your security settings in Facebook are heavily restricted. Great info on this at https://www.wired.co...ivacy-settings/
  2. Lock your Twitter account down so only those who you approve can follow you and the tweets aren't public. I can't stress this enough for job opportunities, it really is a major factor I have dealt with in the industry.
  3. Be very careful what you post. The world of golf has a certain view of how one should behave and, like it or not, compliance leads to better future opportunities. And while it may be fun to commiserate with peers about member antics or turf-care difficulties, it is probably not a good idea for success long term.
  4. Have your maintenance blog hosted on the private members' website. This ensures only members can view it and you can freely communicate about issues on the course without worrying about other clubs seeing it. This gets very critical if and when you decide to apply at another club. The committee will scour your information for any sign of distress, trust me. Even if your blog shows you communicated an issue very well, it still has them thinking that you are not Mr. Perfect candidate who never has issues. If you don't have an option for a private blog, make sure the public one is clean of any bad course conditions or issues and send those out through email blasts instead, which will reach more members anyways.
  5. Do promote your career website or online portfolio with your membership. This is one area where you can work to push your online presence because it has been carefully crafted to make you look your best. A large percentage of your membership really doesn't know much about you and your career at the vast majority of clubs. Why not get ahead of any future issues by creating a more professional image of yourself and educating members on your extensive background and education? Once you have your career materials complete, leave a small notecard with a link to them at the front desk, send an email with a link to all members, include in a blog post and many other ways as well to show members your career background.


Using these five tips will ensure that when it's time for your next career opportunity, you'll be ready and protected from potential online harm.

The Course Set Paradox...

Posted in communication, Technology 30 November 2016 · 1,186 views

by Greg Wojick, Playbooks for Golf
Many golf course workers can now be thankful that setting up the course is over for the season (not so for the sun belt guys and gals). Course set-up is that recurring job that golfers can easily understand but it can also become a tedious chore for the worker routinely assigned to this hugely important duty. Day after day this set of chores is expected to be done with perfection lest the superintendent will hear about it. If a violation with course set-up is consequential enough and not detected in time by a staff member, (i.e. hole location on a slight slope) golfers may never forget it!
Lets take a look at just some of the detail of a comprehensive daily course set routine:
  • Clean and set up tee markers (for all sets of tees)
  • Fill divots with seed/soil from previous day
  • Fill divot boxes
  • Empty broken tee containers
  • Pick up any trash on course, around buildings
  • Set up the practice area tee/position locations
  • Check club cleaning units/towels
  • Check practice area signage
  • Check practice ball supply
  • Check on course restroom facilities
  • Set hole locations on the practice green(s)
  • Check the ball washer fluid and towels (if you have them) at each location
  • Clean and reposition benches on tees, at the practice area too
  • Check ropes, stakes, scatter mechanisms
  • Clean plaques on tees, in the fairways
  • Check and reposition signage
  • Decide on where to position hole locations on each green
  • Repair a few ball marks
  • Check bunker rake placement
  • Empty garbage receptacles
  • Check on divot containers for caddies, in divot-concentrated areas of fairways, in golf carts
  • Making note of and communicating weeping sprinklers or sprinkler heads stuck on
  • Repairing damage from overnight animal burrowing
Golfers will comment with some degree of authority about most all of the items on this list of daily chores (most often hole location) and many have specific thoughts about how the work should be done.  As an example, many golfers feel that the tee marker locations should deliver variability but also end up with an overall yardage about the same as what the scorecard indicates.  Additionally, golfers typically want each par three hole to play at different yardages so that the same club (i.e. 7-iron) is not used for each of the par three holes.  This requires that tee marker location combined with hole location be in the correct synchrony.  Seems easy enough but just try explaining that to the recruit who you hope is competent enough to handle the course set duties.  
Well-trained assistant superintendents oftentimes get the course set assignments but because of the increasing demands on assistants (spraying, fertilizing, watering, etc) I have seen staff other than assistants performing course set on most all of the courses I visit. More specifically I have noticed that many of the workers are foreign language speaking who may or may not have command of the English language, which adds to the challenges of perfect daily set up.
Have you ever been notified about a ball washer that is dry or a rope that is drooping?  Has a worker ever inadvertently left tee markers in the same place or forgot to change a hole location?  How about the cart arrow sign pointing in the wrong direction or the Snickers bar wrapper blowing across a fairway?  Criticism is sure to follow these mis-deeds much sooner than would a fertilizer spill or a spray skip.
The myriad golfer gadgets that are now commonplace with golfers should give us a strong clue in the quest for daily course set perfection.  Golfers love their gadgets!  Yardage plaques can now easily be checked by golfers range finders (and caddies).  Other yardage markers like the 150, 100, etc can be critiqued with accuracy.  Smart phones can actually detect the slope on greens and also can have daily hole locations pre-set on an app (our own ezPins system does this) that golfers can see before and during their round of golf.  With all the complexity that overall course presentation entails, specific course set up remains the most often criticized part of what the golfer can confidently discuss with turf pros. Superintendents should never minimize course set.  Similar to setting up a restaurant for fine dining, the slightest indication that something is 'off' can start a downward spiral of course comments.

Similar to setting up a restaurant for fine dining, the slightest indication that something is 'off' can start a downward spiral of course comments...

I know a few supers that will set the course themselves each day to avoid issues.  I know one superintendent who sprays a small dot on the tees and greens each morning to help his staff with the decisions about where to place markers or holes.  Everyone has their own procedures for course set and most don't let the uninitiated ever perform the task without proper guidance and experience.  I have found that the weary and glazed-over worker who is asked, because of his/her sense of doing things well, day after day to set the course eventually learns to avoid risk.  This risk avoidance becomes manifested with hole locations in similar spots time after time.  It also shows up with tee marker locations in the middle of each tee.  Ironically, by trying to avoid risk of criticism, the worker creates a noticeable sameness to the course set up.  Sameness of set-up leads to criticism.  There is the paradox!
Consider this as a New Year's resolution or simply as a holiday gift to yourself and your staff: create a set of SOPs (standard operating procedures) for course set up.  This document of procedures can be distributed to your green chairman and his committee, to the golf staff and caddie group if you have a caddie program.  In the SOPs detail, the reasoning as to how the hole locations are selected and how each worker is trained with the responsibility of setting pins. This doc should be clear and approved by the chairman and committee.  Additionally, an automated computer system for selecting hole locations is a very realistic, affordable solution to hole location nightmares, with more courses opting for this all the time. I can provide more details on how this works great for all parties involved -- green committees, pros and superintendents -- from direct experience at clubs I have consulted at in the past year. Just contact me directly if interested. 
Perfection in course set up rarely happens each and every day throughout the entire year, but when the occasional mishap occurs, communication with respect to procedures can go a long way towards understanding.  And maybe with this extra effort more workers can be properly and confidently trained to set the course.

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