I have been doing some great travel this season so far from Spain and England to Canada, as well as Chicago and Wisconsin. There are few things I enjoy professionally more than walking a golf course with the person charged with stewarding the land. In every case the superintendent greets me graciously and shares their thoughts on golf turf management.
Anyone that has seen Jack Nicholson in The Shining can get a sense of what your golfers will be like this Spring--Here's Johnny!
My conversations with these truly Master Superintendents are often robust and wide ranging. I am fascinated by the decision-making process each superintendent employs at their facility. This year those conversations from two continents and five countries kept returning to the same point after turf management decisions were discussed--The superintendent's role in customer service.
Anyone growing grass in northern climates where their clientele have been cooped up for the long winter are bracing for when the Cabin Fever will break. Cabin fever is an idiom that was first used in the early 1900's when people were actually closed in and began to feel claustrophobic. The people suffered fevers, would sleep long periods of time, became lethargic, etc. The cure was to get outside into nature. Anyone that has seen Jack Nicholson in The Shining can get a sense of what your golfers will be like this Spring--Here's Johnny!
Spring golf is important in all northern climates and is already creating some challenges for facilities that are doing their revenue projections based on the last few Spring seasons. There will be incredible demand for golf when the weather actually breaks and for many this has already created dread and stress due to severe and widespread winterkill. This will give some facilities a competitive advantage, especially if there was little winter damage, good snow mold control and effective use of pigmented products.
Regardless of where the turf is on the spectrum of your expectations from below, meeting or exceeding this Spring, I urge you to be gracious and welcoming to your golfers. Yes the turf might look bad and their golf experience hampered by the conditions, but you can still be an ambassador for your facility.
This is not an easy task when you are waiting for the weather to help, waiting for the crew to return, waiting to see how "dead" some areas might be, waiting to burn off your own cabin fever. Many will expend enormous amounts of personal and professional energy to get areas recovered and back in play. To the folks facing this dilemma by the time you get to June it could feel like late August, based on the work needed to get the place up to meeting your expectations, never-mind exceeding them.
Know your customer and gauge the level of cabin fever you are dealing with
Now is the time to work smarter not always harder. Be thoughtful about your decisions and how they affect your customer. Know your customer and gauge the level of cabin fever you are dealing with--is it The Shining Jack Nicholson, the One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest Jack Nicholson, or The Joker Jack Nicholson?
This Spring will come eventually and our golfers will show up. When they do, be sure you are ready to greet them graciously in hopes they will enjoy the conditions you are able to provide. Golf can be successful in spite of the weather, but only if we are mindful of our role as customer service professionals.