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Dave Wilber: Turfgrass Zealot


Let's Talk About Karma

Posted in Turfhead Mysteries, Balance 13 October 2016 · 3,540 views

Let's Talk About Karma

About this time of year, every year, I get some similar communications. They may be different in content, but the context is simple. Sometime, during the course of the season, someone did someone wrong. Be it a GM throwing a super under the bus, a super trashing an assistant, a sales rep repeating something that was said in confidence, etc. You get the picture.

 

I studied this a while back when I didn't understand why bad stuff kept happening to good people. And vice versa. It made things make a lot more sense. Maybe it will help you. As these are, indeed, confusing times for many. 

 

And when asked about these things, my wise old agronomy guy spirit is replaced with the wise old guru spirit and I often talk about Karma. It's easy to explain bad things away with that word. A lot of people do that. I however, have a deeper understanding and have wanted to write about it. By the way, Wise Old Agronomist and Guru are not roles I seek. It just kind of happens. And I'm often too humble to admit how often.

 

Now, I realize that the word Karma can bring along some religious baggage. Try, for a moment, not to see this as an eastern religion concept. It's an old Sanskrit word, but the implications are used in nearly every humanist and theological circle. I promise, I'm not trying to convert you from whatever your belief is. But for sure, I see the same actions no matter the credo involved. I studied this a while back when I didn't understand why bad stuff kept happening to good people and to me. And vice versa. It made things make a lot more sense. Maybe it will help you. As these are, indeed, confusing times for many. 

 

The 12 Laws of Karma

 

1. The Great Law. Whatever we put into anything,  (the universe, to use hippie speak), will come back to us.

 

2. The Law of Creation. Things do not happen by themselves; we need to make them happen.

 

3. The Law of Humility. One must accept something in order to change it.

 

4. The Law of Growth. When we change ourselves, Our lives follow suit and change too.

 

5. The Law of Responsibility. We must take responsibility for what is in our lives.

 

6. The Law of Connection. The past, the present and the future are all connected.

 

7. The Law of Focus. It is impossible to think of two or more different things at the very same time.

 

8. The Law of Giving and Hospitality. Are we welcoming others by matching our behaviors to our thoughts and actions?

 

9. The Law of Here and Now. One can not be alive in the present if they are always looking backward.

 

10. The Law of Change. History repeats itself until we learn from it and change our path.

 

11. The Law of Patience and Reward. The most valuable things require persistence in thoughts and actions.

 

12. The Law of Significance. Rewards are a direct result of the energy and effort we put into seeking.

 

OK. I get it. Kind of lofty stuff. But if you read that list a few times, how many of your life troubles or hassles could be better explained by one or more of those laws.

 

Here's an example. Evil GM or Club President or other person(s) of such loft rises to power and becomes a hassle. You survive. And the following year, another uprising. It's at this point, where you may want take a look at some Karmic Law and see if you are inviting this in, learning from the event, changing your path or simply giving it too much weight. Perhaps, one of the things that just happens, is that someone in power just always becomes an ass. And you, unless you leave the position or the place will have to understand this is how it works. And that in the end, you put your positive energy out there and you survive the ass uprising.

 

And so, the hard question is based on The Great Law. What did you put in, and what is now coming back at you. Perhaps with harder lessons every time.

 

Another. No matter what, your assistant, mechanic, or whoever just doesn't get it. So you finish the season in frustration, get them out the door and the same thing happens the following year. Could it be that the universe is trying to tell you that until you change your hire process or your training process that nothing is going to change? Back around the mountain you go. 

 

One more. You are a great super. Everyone would love to have your job. But marriage number 3 is on the rocks, your kids have grown up and don't know you and life isn't so fab. And so, the hard question is based on The Great Law. What did you put in, and what is now coming back at you? Perhaps with harder lessons every time. Do you think maybe change might help?

 

But marriage number 3 is on the rocks, your kids have grown up and don't know you and life isn't so fab...

 

Yeah. It's some heavy shit. Because Karma doesn't absolve us from responsibility. Instead, it makes for interesting dissection of what and who we are. And notice in each example, we are not looking at the faults of others. We are looking at ourselves. And that's the toughest thing to do. Often.

 

Here's a personal example from my process in this. For many years, I carried quite a big chip on my shoulder because my unique perspective and often outspoken views were not as accepted by the "agronomic establishment" as I wanted them to be. I watched other more politically correct turfheads rise in the scene and I knew that i was just better than they were, smarter, more creative, etc. I was often very pissed off when I would see something like a seminar lineup or event where I would have been a natural contributor. Silly. I know. wasted energy. But it was affecting me in a big way. It was trashing my focus. And I counted my actual accomplishments (like a pretty awesome gig at TurfNet) as lesser than they really are.

 

So I did some examination. Some really good mentors encouraged this, by the way. I wanted nothing to do with "growth" this way. And what have I learned? Simple. One, some of the things I believed were simply not so. A story made up. Simple as that. And two, that I often got in my own way with a focus set backward, instead of forward. Both of these things, indeed, kept me from putting good stuff out in the universe. Like I hope this is. Like every word I write or speak, now done with more intention as to who I am, and who I see in front of me.

 

I thought I'd share some spiritual wisdom for some of you who may be wondering, why?.




Seven Reasons Why I Think The Ryder Cup is the Greatest Event in Golf

Posted in Events 02 October 2016 · 1,945 views

I don't love large tournament golf.  

 

I don't. It is a degree of unreality that I've been outspoken about for years. Except for The Ryder Cup. If all the other events vanished, I'd be ok. But take away the greatness of The Ryder Cup and you'd hear me cry "Foul". Loudly. To me, there simply is no better competition in our world. Keep reading. I'll make you a convert.

 

1.  Stroke Play Sucks. When I think back to the roots of golf, I just don't see two guys going out and having a wee nip at the end talking about how many strokes it took to win or lose. I think it was more simple than that. in my mind's eye, the score was settled hole by hole. Be it 5, 18 or 33 holes played, one did better than the other. A match. Match play rocks.

 

My favorite round of golf ever was at The Old Course at St. Andrews. Playing against my good friend and great Super, Jim Ferrin. Jim is a great golfer. I mostly suck. So we played a match. And the resulting afternoon in wind, sun, rain and joyful celebration of great shots and the agony of defeat of missed putts was awesome. And as we walked onto the 17th tee, thanks to me getting it together for the last three holes, we were even. Had it been stroke play, I would have drug my ass through a back nine of agony. Instead, I had a chance to beat him like a drum. To scrap hard. A poor drive on 18 ruined that chance. But still, what a moment. That's match play.

 

Had it been stroke play, I would have drug my ass through a back nine of agony. Instead, I had a chance to beat him like a drum...

 

2. America vs. Europe. I love this so much. It's a match-up for the ages. It's always been this way The Colonials vs. The Homeland or some such. Yes, there are other continents, but there is something to the whole "where it began" versus "where it caught fire thing".

 

3. The Venues. Brookline, Medina, Celtic Manor, The K Club, Lindrick, The Belfry... and now Hazeltine. The site selections are a list of wonderful and unique. Not typical. Not types. Interesting venues with history and wonder. Look at this year, Hazeltine's 524-yard par 4. So cool. The Cup is always played somewhere cool. Somewhere unique.

 

4. Chris Tritabaugh. Yes, I know, he won't be at every event. But in 2016, it's the year of the Trit. And for me, this makes it even more exciting, because I have watched this guy for a long time and labeled him as special. I remember when I got the news that he got the job at Hazeltine National. I simply said to myself, my favorite event will have a favorite super. And of course, Chris has handled this thing really well. Really, really well. And he's done it with his own style, beard, quirks (he walks everywhere) and agronomy. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that his name is going to be mentioned with so many of the innovative greats of greenkeeping. Yup, Woods, Crockford and Tritabaugh will be mentioned in my list of great thinkers.  

 

Chris has handled this thing really well. Really, really well. And he's done it with his own style, beard, quirks (he walks everywhere) and agronomy....

 

5. Energy. Sure, tournament goers and viewers are able to root for their faves. And they do. And that's cool. But nothing is as cool as the spirit of rooting for a match play team. Even the Olympic Games fell short here. They didn't create the atmosphere of what goes on with the Ryder Cup. Yes, this causes some folks to get a little out of hand. Going far beyond the occasional yelling of the "Babba Booey". And every year, the statement is issued for fans to respect the history of the game. Well, that sorta works. But really, it's an atmosphere of fun and a spirit of everyone having a good time in a game that doesn't always have that.

 

6. The Level of Emotion in the Players. I'm pretty well aware of the pressure that comes onto professional golfers. Certainly, there are hundreds of great players that were gutted by the pressure of playing their first mini-tour events and ran home to work at Golfsmith or to give lessons to the 9-hole ladies' club champion. So often, tour players just have to keep emotion bottled up. But the truth is, match play at the level of Ryder Cup can bring even the most robotic of players out of their shell. I'll bet we even see the Davis Love version 3 Robot blink away some tears. He will. Watch close.

 

7. The "Next Time" Factor.  One team will win and one will lose. And both of them have next time to look forward to. You get it, right? Like there will be plans made, analysis done, opinions given and all that sort of thing that will allow a plan to be set forth to not lose again or to win again. That's cool. It sends people into greatness.

 

Now, as I write this, I am enduring the absurdity of Johnny Miller comments about bluegrass and perhaps the worst commercial I have ever seen with Davis Love, version 3. That's ok. I love it. I absolutely love it. And can I encourage you to love it too? Can I encourage you, next time you play golf, to play a match? Can I implore you to make that match a regular thing so you can plan the next time? Can I ask you to get a bit zany and have some fun with golf? Do it. You won't regret it. At all.




The Turfgrass Zealot Project, Special Episode with Chris Tritabaugh

Posted in Events, The Turfgrass Zealot Project 28 September 2016 · 880 views

The Turfgrass Zealot Project, Special Episode with Chris Tritabaugh

I got a chance to chat with Hazeltine National's Golf Course Superintendent Chris Tritabaugh about Ryder Cup preparations.

 

Chris was kind enough to give some time for a conversation about his last preparations for the 2016 Ryder Cup. A special guy and a special episode and a special event.

 

The Turfgrass Zealot Project is brought to you by Klingstone, proven bunker performance for over 15 years.

 

 

 




The Turfgrass Zealot Project, Ep. #26 with Guest Ike Stephens, YouTube Trucker

Posted in The Turfgrass Zealot Project, Podcast, Friends 08 September 2016 · 2,235 views

Ike Stephens is a legend. His YouTube videos about trucking and the trucking lifestyle are known as some of the most unique on the internet.

 

Join me as I get to know Ike. You may not think of Ike as a "turfhead", but the more he speaks, the more you realize that trucking and turfgrass management have a lot in common. And in a day and age where long hours and hard work aren't always understood, both trucking and turfgrass management share a certain knowledge. And that knowledge is about getting the job done and having fun doing it.

 

Ike shares his creative side in making videos, loving music and getting truckers together for social events.

 

Don't miss one of the more unique guests we have ever had on the TZP. You may never know, Ike could be one of the next reality TV stars!

 

The Turfgrass Zealot Project is sponsored by Klingstone. Proven Bunker Performance for over 15 Years.

 

 



Take "The Dark Side" and Shove It

Posted in Ranting, Communication 28 July 2016 · 17,598 views

A recent industry magazine (it doesn't matter who), is talking about sales with the moniker of "The Dark Side". I hate this shitty phrase. And I'm gonna let my anger turn to words here. Ok..it's a rant. I often give good rant. Or so I'm told. So hold on tight. It's E-ticket rant time with Wilber.

 

Before I hung my shingle as an independent consultant in the early 90's, I was a superintendent. Then when the world's finances collapsed in 2007, I took a job for seven years as the Director of Agronomy for an independent turf distributor. They are a small and wonderful company who I didn't always understand but in many ways admire. Now that we are divorced, I think we like each other.

 

What I did, in truth, was sell. Yes, I talked about grass and did "consultations". And we put on some of the best seminars I have ever seen. But everything in a distribution-oriented world is sales. Inside of sales, there is profit, inventory, transportation, agronomy and all kinds of other things to manage. But at the end of the day, it was sales. Sales doesn't have to be crooked. It isn't the old days. At all.

 

I spent seven years trying to buck that system. It made me miserable. And it made the people I worked for less than happy with me (read... miserable) a lot of the time. But I learned a ton. And it was rewarding when dealing with actual "on the ground stuff". I never fully embraced the whole sales thing, in part because I was led to believe, years before, that sales was, in fact, The Dark Side. That was bullshit. It was bad programming and in a lot of ways, that programming came from a relatively old school superintendent, my first.

 

I found out that there were things about being in sales that I and most turfheads just didn't understand. Again, part of this was because as a young superintendent, who had all the answers, I didn't think I needed anyone's help. Or advice. Or... whatever. So my attitude was simple: bring what I order, when I order it, for the price I wanna pay. Simple. I didn't like "appointments". And I hated the gossip, because sometimes it was about me, the youngster who was doing things differently than most others.

 

...part of this was because as a young superintendent, who had all the answers, I didn't think I needed anyone's help. Or advice. Or... whatever. 

 

My days of grass growing was a different time. Communications were different. People were different. The business was different. And quite frankly, shitty sales people could get away with being out there because they were needed differently. They were more about hauling things around. And easy to beat up for prices.

 

But here we are in the modern age. And with this age needs to come the reality that sales in our industry is a tough, technical and demanding gig. In a lot of ways, way more demanding than growing grass. Gasp! What is this blasphemy? Well, what I have to say is that everyone ought to have the experience of doing 30-50,000 miles in a vehicle, talking on the phone six hours a day, and simply running with their hair on fire. They should feel the heartbreak when a super doesn't bother to show up for an appointment, doesn't ever return calls, doesn't even try to understand what building a good relationship could mean to their situation. What actual good service really is. They should understand that good sales people probably work way more hours than most supers when you account for travel, study, bookwork and the like. For me, 20 hour days were common. Common.

 

...everyone ought to have the experience of doing 30-50,000 miles in a vehicle, talking on the phone six hours a day, and simply running with their hair on fire. 

 

Are sales people perfect? Oh, Hell No! I have seen so much dumb stuff done in the name of sales. So much. Lies. Gimmicks, You name it. But guess what, I've seen a much larger list of stupid done by supers. Sorry. That's the truth. And a lot of times some of the sales stupidity does not come from the guys in the field. It's in the corporate offices where bad agribiz gets dreamed up.

 

This whole "Dark Side" thing to me is a cop out, in many ways. One, it lets the idiots off the hook. By being proclaimed part of the dark side, the goober sales person slides by. By being proclaimed a member of the dark side, the well meaning professional is lowered to a level they never exist at.

 

Now, before anyone labels me a hypocrite because I use words like Sweater Folder, Sandwich Maker, Dirt Farmer and the like... please remember that I may have coined terms like Sales Monkey and Sales Rodeo (what trade shows look like to me). There is a time to quote Carl Spackler and have fun. I get that.

 

But this whole "Dark Side" thing isn't cool. At all. It's almost, to me, a slur. A way for supers to exert some kind of power trip. And I don't like it. I don't get it. I think it means ugly. And I hope I never hear it as a descriptive for a whole side of the business that has done and will keep doing great things. And is advancing in really strong steps. Eight years ago, a guy like me would never have been hired by a distributor. Today, there are more than a few handfuls of people with backgrounds that could easily have them being a USGA agronomist, working with the commercial side. Doing great education. Doing research outside the university system, partnering in good ways.

 

Oh, and guess what, Turf Monkey, when you meet with whomever you have to pitch your budget, your equipment replacement plan, your master plan or whatever you are trying to get done... YOU ARE SELLING. If you forget that, then the deal is over before it started.

 

...when you meet with whomever you have to pitch your budget, your equipment replacement plan, your master plan or whatever you are trying to get done... YOU ARE SELLING.

 

Lastly, and this is simple math, there aren't as many sales jobs out there as you think. This notion that if a super gets tired of working too many hours, they can "'just go get a sales job" is absurd. It's kind of like saying that if you get tired of keeping greens you can just go get a good spot at a football or baseball stadium. Many of the sales people that you see are where they are because they are damn fine thinkers, really hard workers and have rhino thick skin built from hearing stuff like "The Dark Side" and always being expected to pick up the tab. Some of the sales people that I have met recently are pretty damn elite.

 

I'll end with this. I think right now, I am an "affiliate" member of 3-4 local chapters and the national association. My dues in most cases are higher than other categories. In the case of the national association, I don't have a vote or any real representation at Emerald City. And my "card" won't get me into any tour event or other such things. Nearly weekly, someone wants my money to sponsor something or something else. I can't imagine if I had 10 sales people working for me.

 

It takes a lot of grit to be a part of this so called Dark Side. And a lot of patience. And yet the "business" seems to need this category of animal. What do you say we tone down this "Dark Side" attitude? Maybe the words stick, but the attitude has to go.








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