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Matt Leverich: Career & Technology Interchange

Employment Contracts, Part 3: What to Include in the Contract

Posted in Career 22 May 2018 · 116 views

Guest Post by Greg Wojick


In the first two parts of this series, we have reviewed the obstacles to contracts and how you can sell the idea to your club. This final part will provide you with a detailed roadmap on what should be included in the actual contract.


When you get the go-ahead on the contract, your next step is to be sure that it covers all the bases. Here's a basic checklist based on industry standards along with lessons learned and a few cautionary tales from superintendents--and club members themselves--who have been through the process, or have chosen not to.


The contract should define:


Your responsibilities/performance parameters.

Be sure to spell out your duties in detail. "Contracts offer peace of mind to both sides by setting expectation levels," says one superintendent.


Peter McCormick of TurfNet cautions, however, that establishing performance parameters can be tricky. "Out on the golf course, performance in terms of playability and aesthetics becomes very personal, subjective, and not easily quantifiable. The only way to reduce subjectivity," he continued, "is if there is a document of agreed-upon maintenance standards in place. This should be separate from (but appended to) an employment contract so it can be revised as needed and agreed. The document of maintenance standards can also serve as the basis of a job description, which can be either integral or appended to an employment contract," he added.


One club member I spoke to cited what he perceived to be a serious drawback to detailing duties and expectations: "By 'binding' both the club and the superintendent to specific roles and responsibilities, a contract limits everyone's flexibility," he said. "This may pose a problem down the road if the club decides it doesn't like the contract terms or wants to terminate it early. That can't happen without the superintendent agreeing to new terms to the contract."


Moral of this story: Carefully review the responsibilities and performance parameters you agree to put in writing.


The chain of command.

"It's good to have something in writing that identifies not only what is expected of the employee, but also who, specifically, the superintendent is responsible to," said another survey participant, explaining, "The club's governance changes over time. Board members come and go, and at some clubs, general managers come and go even faster. It's important that new personnel understand the chain of command."


Rule of thumb: The fewer people you report to, the better. Best case is only one!


"The club's governance changes over time. Board members come and go, and at some clubs, general managers come and go even faster. It's important that new personnel understand the chain of command."


The length of your contract.

It's always best to lobby for a multi-year contract or, better, one that automatically renews at the end of each year. Without a definitive end point, it seems both parties are less apt to think about making changes.


As one superintendent with a short-term contract lamented:"I had a contract at a previous club, and it didn't seem to work in my favor. It always felt like a ticking clock that eventually would stop, prompting the club to take something away from me. When I started, for example, I had full family medical benefits provided by the club. When my second contract was up, they took that opportunity to force me to contribute to my benefits package," he continued. "And the small raise they gave me barely covered the new expense. If I had no contract, it wouldn't have given them a definitive time to make this move on me."


Salary and performance reviews.

Note what your compensation is, when it is payable (weekly, biweekly, or monthly), and when you can expect to be evaluated for a raise. More than half the survey respondents receive annual performance evaluations. Be sure to define a performance review schedule in your contract.


"With a contract, you're assured some sort of financial growth," said one survey participant, adding what he perceived as a downside: "But along with that assurance is the pressure to live up to -- or exceed -- expectations, year after year."


For most of the superintendents I surveyed, having a contract that offered financial security seemed to far outweigh any performance concerns. One of the most favorable stories I heard relating to contracts and compensation came from Peter McCormick. He shared a conversation he had once had with a superintendent who had worked for 10 years or so without a contract at a club that had not lived up to verbal promises of future salary advancement made when he was hired.


Peter explained: "The superintendent looked around casually as jobs came up but was happy where he was, even though underpaid relative to others in the area. He had a frank conversation with his green chairman, who went to the board on the superintendent's behalf. The end result was a 10-year contract with a significant salary increase and retirement contributions," continued Peter. "Relieved of anxiety about his future and the feeling that he wasn't being properly compensated, he was able to move forward reenergized and with a renewed focus and sense of purpose."


Good for both him and the club. This is another example of how contracts can work in everyones favor!


"Relieved of anxiety about his future and the feeling that he wasn't being properly compensated, he was able to move forward reenergized and with a renewed focus and sense of purpose."


Bonus compensation.

You might consider building in a bonus for such things as becoming certified or maintaining your certification, meeting or exceeding your budget goals, managing a major enhancement project, hosting tournaments, bringing in new members, or any other practice you feel goes above and beyond your everyday job function.


One survey respondent noted receiving a bonus for seeing the club's new irrigation system installation through to completion, on time and on budget. "The club gave me $25,000 and my assistant $5,000," he said. "They recognized that successfully managing a project of that size required many extra hours and superior organizational skills."

Professional memberships and educational seminars.

Don't hesitate to push for funding and time off to attend both professional and educational industry events. Explain how maintaining professional affiliations and attending local, regional, and national conferences, field days, and seminars are essential to staying abreast of industry trends and practices.



Define your medical, dental, life, and disability insurance coverage. This assures coverage for the length of your contract.


As one club member noted, "If the contract promises the superintendent health benefits, you can't decide to stop paying for those benefits as a way to save money. The only way to change the terms of the contract is to renegotiate them."


A perfect example of why a contract is worth pursuing.


Retirement contributions.

It's a good idea to include in your contract regular contributions to a 401K or other retirement vehicle.


On average, superintendents receive two to four weeks of paid vacation annually. Some reported receiving significantly more time, particularly during the winter months for a majority of superintendents in the country.


Be sure to specify not only the amount of vacation time you want, but also when you would like to take it. If you want a weekend off in the summer with your family and can agree on that arrangement, put it in writing.


Housing/housing allowance.

Include maintenance, utilities, taxes, assessments, and related upkeep.



Provide for a meal allowance. At least one meal a day is standard during the months of a facility's restaurant operation. A number of the supers surveyed are allowed any number of meals, as long as theyre on the job.


Vehicle allowance.

Many clubs provide a vehicle or an allowance to purchase one. Be sure to specify whether gas, insurance, and maintenance costs are included, as well as how often the vehicle will be replaced.


Facility privileges.
Note any and all club privileges you, your family, and guests might be entitled to. If you're entitled to use the pool, golf, or play tennis, note this, along with any fees that you are exempt from paying as an employee using the facility.


Surprisingly, a number of superintendents surveyed did not have a severance package and longed for a reasonable separation agreement. Others were hoping to improve the package they currently have. Most who commented on their package understandably wanted their severance pay to grow along with their tenure.


"My severance is three months salary," noted one superintendent who would like to negotiate for more. "I have been here for eight years and would like one month for every year of service, not to exceed 12 months," he said.


There are a number of ways to handle severance. Among the most common is to pay all the annual salary that would have been earned from the actual date of termination and/or, as this superintendent noted, one month's pay for each year of service.


Conditions of contract termination.

It's important to spell out how, when, and why your contract -- or your employment -- can be terminated. One super surveyed stressed giving careful thought to the timing of a termination: "I would strongly encourage any superintendent who has club housing and a family in the town's school system to build in a termination notification on or before June 30. This way," he said, "you have two full months to find new housing and a new school system for your children. This was a big issue for me, and the club did agree to the new notification clause."


Including this type of clause in your contract will protect you from claims, lawsuits, fines, etc., that you might incur as an employee of the facility. One superintendent surveyed felt it was more important to have some way to protect himself against "the bad decisions the club ends up making." While still another commented that, no matter what protection this or any of the other contract clauses might offer, his club would always have the upper hand: "If it came to a dispute between the club and me, their 200 attorneys would squish me like a bug," he said. "Basically, my contract is a piece of paper that says my benefits in writing."


One superintendent surveyed felt it was more important to have some way to protect himself against "the bad decisions the club ends up making."


Keep in mind, as with any legally binding document, you should always have an attorney look at it -- and preferably one who knows the profession -- to ensure youre properly protected and that the contract complies with federal and state laws.


"Contracts are worthwhile only if the language is properly written, and the only way to do that is to have a lawyer look at it," concurred one of the survey participants who, like many of the respondents, made sure to seek legal counsel.


Final Thoughts

If you're among the many superintendents seriously thinking of pursuing an employment agreement, remember that you should first be sure your track record qualifies you for a binding contract and then be fair about what youre asking for. If you shoot for the moon, you're likely to turn off an otherwise receptive group. If lobbying for a contract seems like more trouble than it's worth, keep in mind that once you've reached a mutually acceptable agreement with your employer, you can go to work every day confident about your job and undistracted by issues that may cause you to question your future employment. In the work world, there are few feelings better than that.



Sections of this blog post were originally created by Greg in a survey for the MetGCSA. That content is courtesy of the MetGCSA.


Employment Contracts Part 2: Selling The Idea of a Contract

Posted in Career 19 April 2018 · 588 views

Guest post by Greg Wojick


In the first part of this series posted last month, we covered the obstacles that contracts can encounter. So just how do you go about selling the idea of an employment contract to your green committee and board? As the other industry experts and superintendents I spoke to will agree: Its all in how you market yourself and the mutually beneficial rewards of having a contract.


To start:

  • Approach the idea of a contract when the course is at its best.


  • If you have been employed at your club for a number of years, remind them of any and all of your noteworthy accomplishments, from money-saving measures and agronomic improvements to personal accomplishments, such as achieving certification.


Then go on to explain that a contract is useful in:

  • Defining expectations. If your employer defines in a contract exactly whats expected of you, you will spend less time second-guessing your employer's goals and more time accomplishing them. No guesswork; greater efficiency.


  • Protecting the club's most important asset, the golf course. The last thing a club wants is to jeopardize the quality of course conditions by losing a superintendent in the throes of the season or just before a major club event. A contract can guard against inopportune resignations.


    One club member I spoke to pointed to this very reason for offering a superintendent a written contract. "The contract can lock the employee into a specific term (for example, two years)," he said, "or require the employee to give the club enough notice to find a suitable replacement (for example, 90 days notice). While a club can't force someone to keep working for them, an employee is likely to comply with the agreements terms if there is a penalty within the contract for not doing so," he noted.


  • Ensuring consistency. Procedures and expectations for ongoing and future projects can be easily specified in a contract. This leads not only to better planning, but also the added assurance that long-term projects can be carried out as defined even if the committee heading up a project changes.


  • Making compensation predictable. Employment contracts define compensation and benefits, leaving little open to interpretation or negotiation more than once a year.


  • Building trust. Clubs entrust the care and management of the golf course to you. You want to trust the club to treat you fairly and equitably. A contract lays the groundwork for that trust by defining everyones responsibilities: your responsibilities to the club and the clubs responsibilities to you.


As Peter McCormick of TurfNet confirmed, "everyone works better in an environment that provides assurances. Contracts minimize question marks and gray areas," he said, "and avoid issues of trust. Both parties know what to expect so they can get on with business without having to look over anyone's shoulder internally -- which is energy misspent."


Be aware, however, of the harsh reality that many clubs are going to be looking after their interests more than yours.


Be aware, however, of the harsh reality that many clubs are going to be looking after their interests more than yours. In fact, according to one club member I spoke to, "The club can view an employment contract as a tool to maintain tighter control over an employee. If the contract specifies standards for the employee's performance (a detailed job description) and grounds for termination," he noted, "a club may have an easier time terminating an employee who doesn't live up to the club's standards." A perfect reason to have a lawyer review your contract before signing on the dotted line!


What should I include in a contract?

When you get the go-ahead on the contract, your next step is to be sure that it covers all the bases. In the final part of this series, we will outline each aspect of what to include in the contract with pros and cons to each.


Sections of this blog post were originally created by Greg in a survey for the MetGCSA. That content is courtesy of the MetGCSA.

Employment Contracts Part 1: Discovering The Obstacles to a Contract

Posted in Career 08 March 2018 · 852 views

Guest Post by Greg Wojick

I've been in the industry more than 35 years as both a golf course superintendent and now a principal in Playbooks for Golf, and in that time, Ive seen many changes -- in equipment, technology, management techniques, and in the education and agronomic expertise required to do an increasingly demanding job. Despite these advances, few superintendents throughout the country are acknowledged as professionals worthy of an employment contract.
According to the GCSAA Compensation & Benefits Report completed by superintendent members in recent years, only 20 percent of the over 3,000 who responded have a written employment contract. That statistic doesn't seem very encouraging. 
So why are employment contracts still more the exception than the rule among golf course superintendents?
The most apparent, long-standing problem I see is that laypeople, i.e., green committee and board members, still don't fully understand what it is that superintendents do, much less comprehend the level of skill and the breadth and depth of knowledge required to manage a golf course operation.
We all have read or heard about the fantastic new contracts that pro athletes/managers/coaches obtain (most always through the negotiation by their agents and/or lawyers). Why? Because in professional sports, owners and boards almost always "get" what the coaches and athletes actually do. Many were former coaches or athletes themselves. What's more, the quality of the work of these new hires can be easily judged by wins and losses and statistics. In other words, there is little mystery to what people in the sports arena do. You can say the same about the golf facility's general manager. Members pretty much understand what's involved. General managers are considered key players in the golf facility's profitability, while the superintendent's essential role in the club's viability often goes unrecognized.

General managers are considered key players in the golf facility's profitability, while the superintendent's essential role in the club's viability often goes unrecognized...

Confirming this great divide in understanding, one industry executive noted, "The club member's general viewpoint about superintendents is that they are analogous to a head engineer. The GM is regarded as more of a CEO. Although these characterizations are changing," he said, "its still the 'CEOs' who get the written employment agreements." In fact, about 75 percent of general managers countrywide are awarded employment contracts according to many in that industry segment.
In the modern-day golf world, many green committee and board members will attempt to grasp what a superintendent does -- and often erroneously believe they know the job better than the superintendent -- as they Google everything from "effectiveness of calcium nitrate" to "growing Bermuda grass in my region."
Unfortunately, even with this drilling for knowledge, a true understanding of the concerns, challenges, and constraints of the job eludes even the most well-intentioned committee member. We have studied this subject thoroughly at Playbooks, and have begun a new software platform that should create a much better environment to combat this critical issue by combining the best features of Twitter, blogs and native apps to let the superintendent control their message from one central location and ensure golfers actually receive it. Its called Conditions App and is fully launching this spring. 
Expanding this problem: Then, when it comes to hiring, those entrusted with the super's hire typically just use their intuition or thoughts from grillroom friends to rate and reward or terminate. More and more superintendents find themselves being told the club has decided to go in a different direction. There are no assurances of employment beyond today particularly when no contract is in place.
I spoke several years ago with Peter McCormick, TurfNet founder, about this very issue and he pointed to "employment instability" as the single biggest threat to the golf course superintendent as a career -- and as an industry.
"Underlying 'employment instability' is the flux of personnel over time on the employer side, particularly at private clubs," McCormick explained. "The people who hire a superintendent and are privy to the conversations at the interviews and resultant agreements and expectations -- whether they are a general manager, club official, committee, or board member -- very often aren't around five or ten years down the road. Unless those discussions and agreements are memorialized in a document agreed to by all parties -- in effect, a contract -- it all becomes hearsay over time. And hearsay can lead to potential misunderstanding, disagreement and rancor," he cautioned.

Unless those discussions and agreements are memorialized in a document agreed to by all parties -- in effect, a contract -- it all becomes hearsay over time.

I found that many supers don't have a contract simply because they don't ask for one. Some fear a club's rejection. Others told me they're happy to operate without a contract. One superintendent who spoke to me anonymously, like the others I surveyed, was among the many who just didn't think to ask for an employment agreement: "The members who hired me are smart. If they really wanted me to have a contract, they would have offered it to me before I agreed to take the position," he said.
Unfortunately, in today's highly competitive job market, many newly hired superintendents are so pleased that theyve been selected from the throngs of other applicants, that lobbying for a contract barely crosses their minds.
It's understandable, then, that most new hires will quickly agree to a reasonable offer without any negotiation, but many are also overly optimistic about their future with their club. They assume they will always be held in high esteem because, of course, they will always keep the course in top condition and will never make a mistake worthy of their dismissal.

...many newly hired superintendents are so pleased that they've been selected from the throngs of other applicants, that lobbying for a contract barely crosses their minds.

"Everyone loved me at the interviews," said the same super, believing his honeymoon period would never end. Equally optimistic, another superintendent told me: "I feel if I continue to work hard and communicate effectively, I will be able to overcome any tenuous situations that may arise. In other words," he added, "if I get dismissed, it will be my fault."
Despite the club's seeming upper hand during the interview process, there's actually no better time to ask for a contract than at the time of hiring. It shouldn't jeopardize your situation, but rather enhance it by establishing you as a competent professional who, like other industry professionals, expects more than just a handshake when agreeing to accept the job.
A contract offers superintendents what I call "failure avoidance". It spells out exactly what the employer expects of you and what you can expect of the employer. It basically stipulates the employment agreement and terms of employment. It also protects the superintendent from termination at the whim of an employer, indicating the process in which separation or termination could occur.
Unfortunately, some employers will perceive this as a reason to steer clear of contracts. As one club member admitted, "Employment contracts bring with them an obligation to deal fairly with the employee. In legal terms, this is called the 'covenant of good faith and fair dealing'. If the club ends up treating an employee in a way that a judge or jury finds unfair," he continued, "the club may be legally responsible not only for violating the contract, but also for breaching their duty to act in good faith." 
In my opinion, this is all the more reason to lobby for a contract. It can protect both superintendent and employer, which offers an overall talking point for superintendents planning to approach their club about securing an employment contract.
So just how do you go about selling the idea of an employment contract to your green committee and board? As the other industry experts and superintendents I spoke to will agree: It's all in how you market yourself and the mutually beneficial rewards of having a contract.
In Part 2 of this exploration (check back next month), we will lay out a detailed road-map for a well-written and attainable employment contract.
Sections of this blog were originally created by Greg in a survey for the MetGCSA. That content is courtesy of the MetGCSA.


Winter Career and Technology Checklist

Posted in Technology, Networking, Career 25 January 2018 · 1,079 views

For many of you winter is the only time you are able to really spend much time in the office. So, I thought I would include a few things we've covered at different times over the last several years that you can take action on now... when you actually have some time for it. By doing these tasks, you'll quickly be on the road to advancing your career and technology skills for the next challenge your career faces. 

Acquire Photography of Your Course

If you haven't had any images taken of your great course conditions, now is the time to schedule it for 2018. This above article outlines why professional photography is a MUST for your career. I cant stress this enough, such a critical component to outstanding career materials to showcase.



Create a Course-Set Strategy

Consider this as a New Year's resolution or simply as a 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. 

This can't be repeated enough -- you need to get out of your comfort zone and network with those outside of turf. Golfers, GMs, even accountants and realtors. Anything you can do to create a more diverse network helps your odds of cashing in on a connection at another club who may be hiring. Talking to superintendents is great, but for finding a head GCS role there is way more value in various club members, GMs, golf pros and the like. 
Just in my last article I highlighted the need to be knowledgeable in golf, which is related to this topic. Its worth revisiting if you missed it: 
Add Technology to Your Operation
I dont have a specific article to link to here, but the last several years advances in industry software have really made it easy to save time, labor and money in your operation. The cost of the software is usually easily offset by your time savings. Plus many club controllers/CFOs are leading the charge to include more analytics in your operation. I am getting more calls from them weekly so best to be ahead of the curve here. 
There are many leading options for various functions of your operation. Some of the ones I have experience with and can recommend are Playbooks Coverage System, ASB TaskTracker, TurfCloud, ezPins, POGO, and of course the updated Toro and RainBird irrigation suites. 
A career website is rarely used at one's current club, but it should be! Most golfers or members at your club have no idea what you have done, where you have worked or even that you went to college for this most-demanding industry position. Instead of leaving them in the dark about you, a better strategy is to actively educate them on your career and what you have done at the club and other clubs. In addition, I have been working on a new platform that serves to promote you much easier with golfers, called Conditions App. Youll be hearing more on this in 2018 as it releases fully from Beta. 
As much as I think that people know about saving websites as apps to their Android or iOS devices, the more I am wrong about it. At least half of the demos I provide for Coverage System, one of the club staff doesn't know how to do this. So this is a very good article to check out because TurfNet works very well on your device and makes it easier to stay up to date on the industry. Plus, once you know the process for TurfNet, it can work for any other website as well. 
With a little help from a designer, you can easily create a powerful document that can serve as letterhead, cover letter and even a customized notecard for hand-written notes. And yes, that is still a lost art that is totally underutilized. Check out my article on that here.
It you are venturing out in the job market on your own, be sure to utilize these strategies and tips included in the article. I didnt include anything on building a career website. Which you should. But that is an ongoing series and too many to list here. If you need help getting started on one, Im happy to offer some guidelines. 
Best of luck in 2018 and thanks for reading!!

Golf Knowledge is a Required Skill Today

Posted in Career 05 December 2017 · 1,484 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 · 1,650 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 · 1,395 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 · 1,618 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 · 2,031 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 · 2,183 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.

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