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About this blog

Randy and the gang at Rockbottum Country Club pontificate on Rockbottum wisdom and skeletal golf, among other madness.

Entries in this blog

Cell Phone Policy . . . revisited

A few years back, we examined the pros and cons of crew phone use.  Since things continue to change--with phones now serving as cameras, music players and surveillance devices--we thought you might want to revisit Momma's solution for irresponsible phone use.  But be careful . . . I had an entire high school football team threaten to quit if they couldn't have a "phone break" during practice. Yeah, I know . . . get off my lawn.  

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

Did The Golf Cart Create The Modern Cupcake Golfer?

Purely apocryphal, but my Bio-RAM can recall a time when golfers weren't so picky and whiny and demanding about things that didn't matter in real life.   Although I have previously fixed the blame on color TV and 50 weekends a year of Las Vegas Showgirl grooming standards, I think I might have isolated the true cause:  The introduction of the portable sofa to what was once a rugged adventure sport. If I rewind back about 50 years, to a time when it was more about playing the game than the current model of riding around in an English country garden/adult theme park without fear of a DUI, it becomes very clear.  All this petulant golf squawking arrived at roughly the same time our cart fleets exploded in size to meet a rapidly swelling demand.  Of course, all the riding around instead of walking caused other things to rapidly swell:  Expectations, budgets, craniums, infrastructure, midsections and eventually . . . asses.   Now, even with a 40 days and 40 nights of rain event, the golfer of today is no longer willing to tolerate "staying on the path" or the "90 degree rule" because they are the customers . . . and they have been conditioned to squeal "Customer Service! Customer Service!" like Gomer yelling "Citizen's Arrest, Citizen's Arrest!".  That's why I have an innovative solution to the "Special, entitled, always whinging Cupcake Golfer of Today".   Watch this short training film to learn the secret.   

From The Vault: The 2nd Film From Rockbottum CC

For your entertainment, we present, from deep in the bowels of the Rockbottum Films vault, our second major production:  "Customer Service". The audio in this historic film is clippy at times, even glitchy, (it was pre-Sennheiser) but we didn't think you would mind.  After all, where else can you watch a GCS push a mean old lady golfer into a deep bunker?   You know you've been tempted to do the same thing.  

Fred & The Anti-Stress

It’s June.  Most of the tv addled golfers have forgotten April, thanks to a severely damaged attention span, one of the gifts of the modern technocracy.  But the stress merely continues to build through June and then the heat of July.  Some areas will suffer from freight-train rain, while others endure a seemingly endless hot, dry bubble of desert air.   Add in a few members just back from a member-guest with all sorts of ideas they picked up in an entirely different budget climate--or my favorite, the member on a campaign to bring in “new blood”.  Stress rises when your spousal unit announces the kids don’t recognize you anymore and have grown weary of the excessive hours and vacations in the winter.  Especially vacations shortened because some of the time off has to be sacrificed on the altar of The Big Show.  There is only one way to combat this stress and it’s not beer. It’s fitness.  Our topic today is fitness for the GCS and the rest of the turf industry professionals.  The GCS comes first in this subject as they often get more than their share of the stress, but there is plenty to go around.  Now I know there are folks who say there is much more stress in other fields, like law enforcement, medicine and the military, but some of those areas have a built in stress relief factor, like great big bursts of adrenaline, flash-bangs, helicopters and running and jumping.   Turf does not have adrenal bursts—unless you count unannounced, unsanctioned visits by consultants with a column of former assistants in tow, all looking for a GCS job. So let’s toughen up and prepare to deal with stress in a healthy manner, rather than beer, likker or Big Pharma.  Your brain can generate it’s own Big Pharma and it’s unlikely to kill you, destabilize your family or impart that hilarious side effect where you wake up in the middle of the night and discover you’re robbing a grocery store.  Let’s talk fitness and training.  *Note:  The following pseudo-science comes straight from Sgt. Rock Bottum and his years of training in multiple sports, both as an athlete and a coach.  (Sgt. Rock’s credentials will be revealed in a later article.)  When choosing a sport or activity for stress relief there are several factors to consider.  An important factor is Sustainability.  I know you’ve heard that word before, but in this context, it’s easy to define:  It means a sport or training activity that you can keep going over the long term.  While the 90 day wonder-workout may provide a great “jump-start” into a training lifestyle, it can come with injuries and that day when you realize you just don’t want to go “do it” anymore. Next, it is important to select a sport you like and train for an event, a race, a contest, or just an adventure.  This “adventure” could entail hiking a section of a long trail or maybe an epic ski trip.   Often, we choose a sport, get comfortable with it, progress to the level of obsession and then burn out like a sparkler sizzling at both ends.  It’s important to consider more than one obsession, in case of injury or mental fatigue from the level of dedication required. Endorphins are critical.  Endorphins are opiates produced by your brain after around 30 minutes of activity where your heart rate is elevated.  The resultant “high” from an endorphin kick has the ability to blow out the stress of the day and make you forget whatever it was you were worried about.  Some sports, like cycling, running, swimming and others of the aerobic type, come with huge doses of endorphin blasts to the brain.  You must be careful with these brain opiates. My brother Mike, a former Army Ranger, was given to huge endorphin surges, after long road bike rides and his wife took advantage of the situation.  Mike once woke up, after a fearsome bike ride of 60 miles, to find himself shopping for shoes with Teresa, and holding not only her purse, but those of other spousal units who recognized Mike’s condition.  (Goofy smile, relaxed demeanor and unfocused eyes.) Load bearing vs non-load bearing sports.  Load bearing activities would include running, hiking, weight lifting and the like.  Non-load bearing would mean cycling, swimming, rowing and things where you aren’t supporting your own weight.  This is critical, especially as you age.  Why?  Because of bone density.  With brittle bones, you can become like the old folks who fall down and break hips and femurs.  A few years back, there was a medical study on the bone density of Tour de France riders.  Samples taken before and after the race revealed a massive loss of bone density, in some cases almost a 50% loss.  This does not happen with long distance runners, although they have their own difficulties, usually due to overuse injuries. Aerobic (which is some foreign language that means “with oxygen” and Anaerobic, “without oxygen”) are two important factors.  Aerobic could mean an activity like slow jogging, cycling at a speed where you can still talk, or rowing for an hour at a pace where your heart isn’t trying to explode out of your chest.  Anaerobic is high heart rate, short term burst activity like sprinting or high rep lifting with no breaks.  Sometimes referred to as “interval” training, this type of work can be very beneficial, if carefully mixed with aerobic training and common sense.  (I had none of that last one.)  Check with your doctor before you go anaerobic, or if you’re like most of us since the unaffordable care act, make sure your affairs are in order. Here at The Rock, we have always used a seasonal approach, changing sports as the weather changes.  Blending walking with cycling and hiking and running and gym time--when it’s really hot or doing that endless monsoon thing--has worked for us.  You can also walk the course in the morning before the crew gets out, combining the walk with your morning scout.  Wear a daypack and walk fast if you want some endorphins, because normal walking, while healthy, will not endow you with much in the brain opiate area. If you run the course, stay off the hard surfaces, as the pounding from that activity—unless you are a nearly perfect mid or forefoot striker—can lead to ankle, knee and back pain.  Running your turf is  great training and less impact than trail running.  It’s possible to ride your mountain bike on the paths early, without seeing golfers, but don’t take your skinny-tired road bike out there on the cart path unless you're in the mood to grow some new skin. Which sport or training activity is right for you, the high tech GCS?  I don’t know, try several and find out which one rings your bell.  I’ll be showing you some training methods as the 100 days go by.  Here’s one featuring Fred Gehrisch, CGCS, a regular cast member of Rockbottum CC, and an avid martial artist.  Fred trains at Your Time Fitness in Clayton, Georgia and allowed us to film his Anti-Stress Method. Fred trains solo for an hour and then teaches a fun, lighthearted but tough kick-boxing class.  We slipped in during a holiday period, when the class numbers are usually down, and shot this film on GCS Anti-Stress.  

Turf Health Is Secondary To Your Health

Working for a big urban muni in the Deep South with monthly floods and a constantly changing command structure had a negative effect on my health.  While the chain of command at a high dollar private course can often be a pressurized environment, the sudden and bizarre reversals of policy on the municipal facility I inhabited regularly produced staff meetings worthy of a Polanski film.  At one point, I was stripped of my authority to issue cart path only edicts, as that power belonged in the hands of the pro, someone who understood “revenue”.  It didn’t last long, however, due to lots of photographic documentation of his decisions.  There were other blood pressure spikes.  Like when I scrimped to save $50k in my budget and it was given to Recreation for referee uniforms.  Referees!  Or when personnel admin types took over employee selection and sent me potential Manson family members, or when the purchasing department substituted pitchforks for bunker rakes.  (Better price.) My own personal turning point arrived in 1992.    I had been summoned to a gathering of non-elected bureaucratic “experts” to help solve a problem with our two munis:  Consistently poor greens.  (By poor, they meant “dead” for long periods.)  This was due to pushup greens on red clay with no drainage--surface or otherwise--heavy play, fairway bermuda coerced into putting surface duty and enough trees to shoot a Tarzan movie.  As a political imbecile, I stupidly suggested my standard fix:  Buy some chainsaws and do a quick greens rebuild, adding that I had performed this miracle on my last three courses.  The various and sundry desk pilots and bean counters snorted at me, while chanting magic budget incantations.  Then the great and powerful golf pro mounted his throne and said, “Yes, we must rebuild the greens to bentgrass, as the poor simpleton alludes to, but we shall only rebuild one green per year to avoid loss of revenue.”  (Bureaucrats enjoy striking fear in one another with that ‘loss of revenue’ phrase.) I protested, on the grounds that it would take 18 years to convert to modern, competitive putting surfaces.  Some of the bureaucrats sided with the golf pro, because, well, “he’s a golf professional, he understands these things”.    A few in the meeting—those with actual job experience—sided with me and this triggered an outburst somewhat akin to a bunch of primates in the upper levels of triple canopy jungle engaged in a territorial dispute.  There was lots of shrieking and howling and pounding of chests and the flinging of objectionable materials, very much like the last two elections.  I will reluctantly admit to being one of the more enthusiastic participants, going full-on howler monkey.  (Never drink a double-shot espresso prior to a meeting.)   That night, I experienced some sort of irregular fibrillation, where my heart would stop for what seemed like several seconds.  This event tends to wake you up, kind of like a zombie reaching up out of the grave, with all of the grunts, gasps and wide-eyed facial contortions one would expect.   I soon found myself hooked up to an EKG, an ultrasound and some device called a Holter that I had to wear for 24 hours.  Then I met with three cardiologists.  The first two were more interested in golf than my heart and after another howler monkey outburst, I was handed over to a heart specialist from Belgium. She was very tuned in to my situation—because she actually listened to my answers—and quickly determined that job stress was my problem.  I had triggered this malady by severely cutting back on my formerly neurotic exercise routine, in a failed attempt to be more responsible.  I thought I could be more grownup and maybe even a better golf course fixer.  She further explained that with our very recent birth of a child and the resultant increase in stress associated with no sleep, an angry wife and worries about the future, I was a borderline raging stress maniac about to burst. I was given a prescription that said get my lazy butt back on the bike and ride hard until the stress has been vaporized.  I was confused.  “But Doc, I gave up Walter Mitty training to be career responsible!  What about my fibberlatin’ and my atrials and such?  How long will I have to train like this?” She answered in that superior Euro accent, “Until they find you dead on the side of the road . . . which will be a long time from now, unless you keep stressing at work.  Keep doing what you’re doing now and you’ll be dead before your son enters elementary school.” I reveal this deeply personal story in order to help those of you entangled in job and family stress.  Over the next few weeks, I will tell you the secrets of fitness and health I accumulated down through the years.  Although I’m not a formally trained expert, I am still here. A couple of short films on the topic are on the way, so stay tuned to Here At The Rock.

News Bulletin From Here At The Rock

Don't miss this year's Turf Field Day at Rivermont, because even if your job requires doing things "the way it's always been done" . . . eventually you will need to be familiar with other ways to get it done. Mark Hoban is the tip of the spear.  Come see what he's up to now.  

Mark Hoban Explains Organics

While preparing for the long anticipated Rivermont Field Day, Mark Hoban is forced to explain his organic philosophy to some golfer that wandered in off the street.  

Rockbottum Radio: The Birth of Golfzirra

In this tale from The Greens of Wrath on Rockbottum Radio, young Randy relates the story from Burnt Run Country Club, circa 1971, when he employed certain hallucinogenic tactics to get his night waterman job back. Presented by Vinylguard Golf.  

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

Hornswoggled by a Big Shot Hollywood Golf Film Producer

Last week, we loaded our gear and then fought through the horrible Atlanta traffic to shoot a short film with Mark Hoban of Rivermont CC.  It was the usual debacle, with us wandering around lost in Doolooth and Akworth.  At one point, we entered “The Buford Triangle”, a place where road names change instantly and people vanish.  Relying on business signs as landmarks is impossible, because they are written in other languages than whatever it is we speak.  Never trust those fantasy maps on The Google. Anyway, we managed to arrive on time—because we always allow an extra four hours to navigate the nether world of North Atlanta—and Hoban was nowhere in sight.  After some quick detective work, we determined that Mark was being filmed, interviewed and podcasted by Erik Anders Lang, a famous Hollywood producer of golf films on The Youtube. Mark ignored Momma’s texts, so she grabbed her frying pan and went up to the clubhouse to teach somebody something.  But Mark was prepared, having posted Berkeley, his vicious German Shepherd guard dog, at the entrance.  (Momma won’t whack a golf course dog.)  After an hour of waiting in the hot sun, knowing every minute we delayed meant the possibility of being trapped in the most dreaded rush hour on the planet . . . we left.  We weren’t angry, just terrified of the giant four-hour parking lot. It all turned out positive, even if we got cheated out of a shoot.  Erik Anders Lang cranks out highly entertaining golf travel films, from the viewpoint of the next wave.  (A refreshing change from us cranky old coffin dodgers of golf.)  Erik is that golfer we have been trying to recruit for years.  He took up the game late, is highly enthusiastic and has a contagiously positive attitude toward golf.  Erik is one of the reasons I recently dragged out my clubs again.  Another key point is when EAL visited Rivermont, he spent time with the Golf Course Superintendent.  This is a great thing. I’m stoked.  (That is the right word, isn’t it?) Go to The Youtube and check out “Adventures in Golf” on the Skratch channel.  Erik and a sidekick visit a golf course, play it on camera and have the kind of fun we all used to have . . .  before we got our hineys so twisted up in building, fixing, growing-in and maintaining golf courses.  Erik will gleefully play a scruffy muni as well as an old classic, all while making a short film that delivers a strong subliminal argument for what the game needs, not what the Alphabets need.   And that brings to mind a recent Dave Wilber column, “Golf Isn’t Dying, It’s Evolving”, a very timely analysis of the future.  He touches on several vital areas, like “Lowering Golfer Expectations” and “The Return of The Big Mower”, along with “Just 3 Cuts”. *   *Note:  Every time I bring up these subjects, I am assaulted by those accusing me of “Nostalgia”, so I am grateful Dave hit it with such force.  I would also remind those flinging digital road-apples at me of this:  “Negative nostalgia is the rewriting of our past to be miserable and broken, because it creates continuity with our present.” Wilber’s message is the kind of thinking that will help the game in the future, considerably more than complex programs designed to “Grow” golf, as if it were some kind of stock market index dependent upon perpetual growth.  We all know how to dial back expensive conditioning, but the question is:  How do we get golfers on board?  Lowering golfer expectations would have environmental, legal and economic benefits, but we should expect powerful resistance.   Returning the average course to the dialed back conditioning of the 1970s—when the money people first targeted golf for a big boom—runs  contrary to what the Great Poobahs of Ever-Increasing Grooming Standards are preaching.  They won’t give up power without a knock ‘em down and drag ‘em out saloon fight.   One way to get golfers on board would be through the new wave of golf filmmakers, like Erik Anders Lang and Adventures in Golf.  Maybe the next wave of golfers will listen, unlike so many of the current coffin dodgers spoiled rotten by too many 5-Star hotels, gourmet meals and luxury golf carts.  Golf was once, and perhaps will be again, an adventure.   Oh, and since I don’t have a new film this week, due to . . . logistics and technical difficulties, here’s an old film that syncs up with Dave Wilber’s message.  

I Did Something Crazy

Last week, a bizarre thought entered my head and I bought my first pair of golf shoes since 1979.  Claire dismissed it as a post-midlife crisis and at least two of my extra personalities cried “Foul!” . . . but I did it anyway.  I have played for decades without spikes.  (Not really played serious golf, just hacked around, not slow and not fast, just sorta half-fast.) I nurture an intense dislike for 8mm steel, as well as the modern plasticized ceramic Mad Max spikes.  The steel, notorious for wear on hard surfaces—like wood and plastic—can leave turf as bruised as a 95 year-old MMA fighter.  Steel also hurts your lower back if you walk.  The Mad Max Tarantula footwear can seem worse than steel, especially on softer, wetter greens.  Since modern golfers don’t get much practice walking, they are unable to lift their feet.  They scuff, drag and pivot, all while trying to yank the flagstick out, due to the new rule.  This creates a minefield of spike marks that look like mole crickets on meth held a mating ritual around the cup. But no worries, the Great Alphabet knew this would happen.  That’s why they said we can fix spike marks now.  (If the group ahead of you resembles a bunch of rice farmers squatting around the flag, be patient, they’re just fixin’ stuff.) Anyway, I bought golf shoes.  I found lots of spiffy shoes, but most weren’t really for walking, they were more for cart golf.  Under the “spikeless” tab on the Adidas site, I found the Tour 360 XT-SL.  Soft and cushiony, they offered substantial grip and . . . they even looked good.  Hey, I know what you’re thinking:  Somebody slipped cantankerous old RW a Colorado Gummi Bear.  No, that’s not what happened.  It’s just that I have always said I would take up golf when I got old and I’m pretty sure that has happened now.  The signs are there:  I require the double downward karate chop to get off the sofa.  I begin most sentences with “Back in my day . . . “ and when I go to the gym, I have become quite popular with the blue-haired ladies. Now in order to actually play, there has to be an event to train for—that’s just how things work.  So, I decided to bring back the fabled Great Gopher Tournament.  (See The Greens of Wrath for details.)  The GGT has been dormant since the day we sprinkled Dad’s ashes on the 14th tee of Rockbottum CC, but now the time is right to bring the Gopher back.  It would honor Dad’s memory—and Uncle Virgil, too—and give my brother Mike and I a reason to come out of golf retirement. In order to do this right, I have been researching the new rules of golf.  At first, I tried to keep my pie hole shut until some actual empirical evidence came in, but I failed at that.  While cavorting on a secret golf architecture forum, I provoked a senior Alphabet Rules Official concerning the new “Knee-Drop Rule”.  I merely pointed out that my knee could reach all sorts of advantageous positions, from shoulder height to about an inch off the ground.  He said I was an idiot and knee-dropping would speed things up. They also invented a flagstick rule to speed things up.  I think a penalty box or a shock collar would work better, but you can’t argue with the genius minds at the top.  Looking at things from the GCS side, I am concerned this rule will lead to player demands for softer, thinner flagsticks, with a Remington 700 extractor synched to your smartphone, popping the ball up to chest height.  This will stop golfers attempting to “yank out” the ball, because after 15 yank-outs, the cup will come out, too.  Then, afternoon players will experience the “Volcano Effect” and lip-outs will increase.  Subsequently, the Superintendent will be hunted down and accused of collusion or something. Anyway, back to the GGT.  If you would like to be considered for a coveted invitation to this autumn’s GGT, send us a PM on TurfNet or email me.  Include at least one reason you should be accepted into such a high profile event.  Don’t worry, you won’t have to play at Rockbottum CC, as that would be unfair.  We know most of you have never played an unmaintained course; also, our nearest hotel is a truck stop out on I-75.  Perhaps our TurfNet Entertainment Director might jump in here and help, providing he’s not still overseas trying to become Irish.   Tournament Rules:  You will need a two man team, the knee drop rule will be suspended, unless you use the Ricky Fowler variation.  There will be no steel spikes or “soft and thin flagsticks”.    Pre-Shot Routines are limited to 10 seconds.  Momma will be on hand to run the time clock and administer penalties, with her ability to correct iron deficiencies.  *Note:  All matches will be filmed.  No golf pros allowed.  Oafs, knaves, varlets, TurfNet members and former Night Watermen will receive special preference.  Winner gets a trophy.  Losers will receive a signed copy of “The Greens of Wrath” and be forced to state, on camera, “I am an oaf who lost the Great Gopher”. The first formal invitations will go out to Dave Wilber, Kevin Ross, Mickey McCord, Mark Hoban, Matt Crowther and Frank Rossi.  Remember, You can run, but you can’t hide. ca_wilson@yahoo.com

Clippings Volume: Legit or Lame?

We conducted small sample Clippings Volume research to determine if weighing, measuring and tasting clippings actually helps with calculating nutrient application rates.   You'll be shocked at our findings.  

An Explosive Excerpt From "The Greens of Wrath"

Bowing to pressure from a couple of rabid fans of the novel, "The Greens of Wrath", here's an excerpt.  For those unfamiliar with the work, all I can say is, "It's not Caddyshack". Dynamite Whups My . . . Posterior  (Burnt Run CC     1971) The explosions were blamed on me, even though it was Dwight, Dad’s youngest brother, who produced the dynamite.  It was a cold day in March, the folks were down in Florida where Dad was playing a tournament and Momma had gone with him.  It wasn’t golf that made them travel, they were just trying to get the hell away from me and another cheap, Pseudo-Country Club with members convinced they rightfully belonged on the roster at Augusta National.  Dad had left us with instructions to dig out and hack up—using an axe and shovel—a stump the size of a pickup truck buried nose first.  Within the first six minutes, we hit the surrender point and that’s when Dwight, an ingenious type with the mind of an engineer and the physique of an NFL offensive lineman, had an explosive idea. We practiced on small stumps, wiring in blasting caps, putting a stick of dynamite in a hole dug under the stump and then touched off on a golf cart battery.  As we progressed to bigger stumps, we discovered it was necessary to move the cart further from the site of the explosion, in order to prevent an unexpected trip to the dentist.  After blowing a dozen small stumps, Dwight announced it was time to attack the big one.  I was 15 at the time and totally convinced Dwight was Theoretical Physicist material, so I agreed and helped place three sticks of dynamite in holes tunneled beneath the big stump with a post hole digger, or PH.d as they are known in circles where actual work [redacted] We backed off 70 yards and touched the battery.  The shock wave was visible, screaming across the ground, flattening the dormant bermuda and knocking the air out of my lungs.  It would have loosened my dentures, had I possessed any.  The stump was untouched.  It sat there, wrapped in a wreath of smoke . . . taunting us.  Enraged at this inconsistency in applied logic, Dwight made the decision to go with 12 sticks on the next try. “More dynamite,” I agreed, eager to see the effects of half a case of the stuff.  It has to be said at this point, that I was not the most rational thinker, given a number of concussions from running the football and the recent proximity to a number of minor explosions.  Dwight probably should have consulted with someone else, perhaps an adult, but we went immediately to work, wiring, tamping and moving the cart way back.  Maybe 200 yards?  I don’t know for sure.  Dwight left to make sure no golfers had slipped out onto the course, as it was Monday.  Back in those days, Monday was still a holy day for golf courses, a rest day or project day, in that golden time before accountants took over everything.  The only chance that golfers might have snuck out onto the course would have been if a few local pros had decided to take advantage of Dad’s absence . . . and if we accidentally killed a few golf pros, well, what was the harm? I was given the honor of touching the wires to the battery and before I could look up, the turf rushed up to meet me, knocking the absolute hound out of me.  The shock wave did not restrict itself to dormant grass this time, it came straight through the air.  Hot, solid air, pushing toward me at warp speed; all the oxygen on the golf course vanished.  I couldn’t breathe, see or think clearly.  I do remember watching the giant stump leap from the ground and perform a lazy somersault, making a 3/4 flip before hitting the turf with a thud I could feel but not hear.  All I could hear was this odd high pitch against that feeling of clogged ears.  I then became aware of wood chips flying through the air.  All sizes of splinters, flakes and shards of brittle baked oak sprinkled down like hail.  Dust floated in the air as if I was caught in a dark snowstorm.  We had made a tiny mushroom cloud.  I was so proud. As the smoke and vapor and dust began to settle, I realized a new set of problems:  Everywhere, as far as I could see, were splinters of stump shrapnel and along with all the small stumps, we faced a massive cleanup ordeal.  The next problem was Dwight disappearing over the hill at high speed.  I had skipped school to witness this epic day on the golf course and now, I was alone, with a mess of battlefield proportions, fully aware that Dad would return the next day. I had to figure out how to get a stump the size of a small camper trailer off the golf course and, without a blower or a vac—just a rake—hide the evidence.  It took the rest of the day to drag, push and finagle the massive stump off the fairway and into a ravine.  Because it weighed more than our little Ford tractor, it pulled the tractor partway into the ravine and in the dark, I rescued the tractor with the Jake F-10.  I camouflaged the stump with pine branches and went home to write my obituary. * *Note:  In the event any statues of lamentations are still in effect, none of this is true.  

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

Buddy's Shop

For those wallowing in despair after hearing that Hector took his shop and runnoft . . .  have no fear.  Now you have  "Buddy's Shop".  

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

Storytime: The Golf Pro, The Carpetbagger and The Slush Fund

In the Olden Times, (or “The Good Old Days" for those immune to PC brainwashing) Dad was the GCS at a wonderful muni* outside Atlanta. *Note:  Although Brad Klein has called for a Social Justice Moratorium on the word “muni”, it is not a derogatory term; it simply means a municipal golf facility.  Those of us who actually worked on a muni are proud of it, much more so than, say, a CCFAD. The muni in our story was a Dick Wilson layout called “Mystery Valley” and it became very popular after Dad finished resurrecting it.  This was in the era of Arnie, Jack and Lee, when golf was appropriately sized and priced for sustainability.   It was prior to the gold rush of golf launched by a foundation, a horde of rabid real estate developers and the legions of propaganda slingers who lived in the great towers of the concrete canyons known as Madison. The “Good Old Days” are often referred to as Toxic Nostalgia by those trained in academic historical revisionism.  Perpetrators of this art like to say things like “The good old days weren’t all that good” just before they cite examples, like how North Viet Nam defeated us and the British at Waterloo, or how great lightweight fairway mowers are now, versus the Jacobsen F-10.  I have encountered devout, dedicated historical revisionists who are quite expert at deflating mythic “Good Old Days” beliefs, even though they weren’t on the planet during the period in question.   These folks are skilled in “Negative Nostalgia”, a vicious counter-measure tactic they employ whenever some old geezer goes glassy-eyed and begins a sentence with “Back in my . . . “ This is not a new practice, it happens to every generation; it’s just harsher now, due to the political polarity inflicted on the population.  Now that you have been sufficiently immunized against anti-Good Old Days Negative Nostalgia, here is the promised Storytime. Once upon a time, there lived a Co-Cola machine, in a tiny room betwixt Dad’s office and the tool room . . . in the barn.  (I know, that’s two infractions in the same sentence, a trademark thingy and the use of the word "barn", a term that triggers golf's Social Injustice Inquisitors.)  But in fairness, it actually was a barn--and down here in the South, we rarely said Coke and while we’re at it, this was before we learned that carbonated water dosed with coal tar and 8 tablespoons of sugar was less than optimum for good brain and organ operations. Dad had the key to this machine, and he filled it regularly, with those 6.5 oz. bottles of cold drinks.  He kept the price at a quarter and the crew loved it.  Even the clubhouse cart boys came down to purchase cold drinks at our barn machine, because the Golf Pro charged double.  (Yes, I know, the term "cart" is another SJI infraction.)  Sorry, but if it can’t merge on I-285 and survive, it’s not a car. As things are wont to happen in Good Old Days stories, evil entered our little paradise, in the form of greed.  In those days, Dad collected the machine's money whenever there was sufficient accumulation and took the whole crew to Granny’s Kitchen . . . usually on a Friday.  Granny’s was an all you could eat place, where, for $2.50, we stuffed all sorts of Southern-prepared delights down our neck.  Vegetables of every sort, fried chicken, cobbler and every so often, chicken-fried steak . . . then we washed it down with iced tea and waddled back to the truck.  It helped to lie in a horizontal position on the return trip, so the truck bed was valuable real estate.  Also, note that I said “Iced Tea”, not “Sweet Tea”, that horrible concoction that is often considered Southern.  I don’t know where it came from, but it showed up about the same time as the big corporations started shoving corn syrup down our collective craws in amounts large enough to trigger diabetic comas.  ’94, I think. Anyway, the Golf Pro got wind of Dad’s Co-Cola machine and since he had a contract with the county that said he got 100% of the golf carts and concessions, the Golf Pro howled in protest.  Apparently he wanted that last few cents the crew had squirreled away and within hours, an administrative official showed up.  His title was Deputy Deputy Deputy Director of Parks, (DDDDP) and he ranted and railed and declared Dad’s Co-Cola machine a “Slush Fund”.  This was during Watergate, so terms like “Slush Fund” were frightening. Dad’s machine was confiscated and the Golf Pro, in true Carpetbagger fashion, entered into some kind of dark profit-sharing deal with the DDDDP.  A new machine appeared, from a supplier of sugared coal tar not even native to Atlanta, and it was met with resistance. Not only was the machine loaded with cans instead of glass bottles, it was priced at twice the previous rate of bubbly coal tar. After a couple of weeks, the new machine had earned nothing.  The County Carpetbagger appeared and accused Dad of intimidating the crew into boycotting the new machine, even suggesting that Dad was illegally selling contraband cold drink bottles from a cooler in his office.  Determined to prime the pump, in full view of the crew, the DDDDP approached the new machine and learned the real reason the boycott was so effective.  DDDDP defiantly stormed into the little room and rammed the first of two quarters into the slot.  The second quarter never made it, because the sizzling electric shock DDDDP received upon touching the metal coin slot was so fierce that he shrieked, contorted into the leaping fetal position and slipped on the wet concrete floor.  (The new machine leaked a little.) Accusations flew and when the machine’s technician arrived to investigate, it was determined that tampering had occurred with the electrical supply.  The machine remained, and to my knowledge, never once sold a drink to the crew . . . only to newly minted sales reps.  (Experienced sales reps came prepared with rubber boots and gloves, because after all, this was the same course where a crew worker attempted to put a chemical rep into a box.) The Friday pilgrimage to Granny’s Kitchen continued, due to Dad’s office cooler, a loyal crew, and some mysterious and diabolical machine saboteur--because after all, these truly were The Good Old Days. 

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

Buddy Goes To e-Rehab

Nicholas Carr, a technology and modern culture genius, wrote the book, "What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains".   Although I don't usually quote folks who went to Harvard and got nominated for that Pulitzer thing, I am doing it now.  Why?  Because no matter how hard I work at warning the golf world about tech and AI and microwave signals cooking our brains, nobody listens. So I thought maybe golf might listen to this little gem from Nicholas Carr: For those unwilling to heed the warnings from the brain of an academic intellect, I have provided a short film that explains just what happens when the neural pathways get constipated.  

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

Showdown At The Cart Barn

From deep in the Rockbottum CC film vault, we offer this classic short film. Trigger Warning:  This film contains implied violence, stereotypes and blatant anti-screen propaganda.  

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

Force Multiplication Through Cross-Training

In what will surely be our last outburst of serious ranting, Rockbottum Country Club offers a Skeletal Golf Theory segment on a tried and true method for adapting to economic changes. It's like Judge Smails said, "I've sentenced boys younger than you to the gas chamber.  Didn't want to, but I felt I owed it to them." I didn't want to do this film, but I felt I owed it to you.  

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

Why Are You Doing This?

Do you remember the real reason you got into the golf course business? I frequently ask that question and the answers can range from positive outbursts of Pavlovian Pollyanna-isms to covert confessions of discomfiture.  “I don’t know”, is usually followed by nervous laughter.  The recently graduated will go into interrogation mode, searching for the “correct” answer, as if their career is at stake.  A few admit it was to play more golf, while others claim it was the appeal of the science.  I’m not sure about that one.  They could have gone anywhere with that science alchemy, but yet . . . they chose golf.  Maybe they envisioned themselves finding a cure for the Southern Cutworm. But why would normal people choose a life of golf? Could it have been a primeval response to the wide open expanse of golf’s playing field?  Was it to avoid a life of airless cubicle servitude?  Or because all the girls in your high school went crazy for golfers?   Maybe it was because golf was so different from team sports.  Golf is a solo sport, like cross country running, but more strategic.  Golf is the opposite of football; golf’s rage and violence is usually limited to muttered oaths and the occasional hammer throw of a 7-iron.  Sometimes we get a raging TV presser outburst from that British fellow with the tight plaid yoga golf pants and the hairstyle once popular with Alabama cheerleaders in the 60s, but he's probably just copying live rasslin' promos.   Compared to most sports, golf is polite and calm and sophisticated.  You often discover golf by accident; it doesn’t come looking for you, in the form of a bullet-headed coach prowling the hallways.  I was initially drawn to golf because that’s where my Dad could be found, when he wasn’t off doing Army stuff.  Later, I was forcibly recruited into golf, walk-mowing greens and manning the pro shop—all before puberty.  I don’t think Dad—who grew up chopping cotton—gave a hoot about child labor laws. Dad left the Army to pursue golf.  Not the superintendent side--the tour pro side.  Golf was his calling.  As life progressed, golf provided the support that sustained our family.  When something sustains your family, you have a powerful reason to get up in the morning and go do it.  Dad followed the path from pro golfer to golf pro to pro/supt and finally rose above all that to CGCS.  Even without the college, he was very good, especially because of his expertise with bermuda greens.  As a skilled player/superintendent, Dad developed a special intimacy with the course that no amount of time in a college classroom could provide. In those days, golf was more of a rugged contest and less of a beauty pageant.  Dad played a lot of golf, with other pros, fellow superintendents, board members and average golfers.  This helped him to understand the most critical aspect of the job at that time:   The way the course played was more important than how it looked.  (Form follows function.) Oh, sure, looks were important, but playability was the BIG factor.  Looks could trigger complaints, but poor playability would get you fired--real quick.  If you played with the Green Chair and a particular green putted goofy—costing somebody a skin—you knew about it right away.  It wasn’t related third-hand from some whiny gossipy member who wasn’t there . . . it was experienced firsthand.  That issue was the first thing on the agenda the next morning, even before the phone calls began.  When I got older, after surviving the junior golf phase, I slowly became aware that not all superintendents were “serious” players.  This was a foreign concept to me.  I grew up thinking the game itself shaped the individual superintendent’s philosophy and methods.  I theorized that those who didn’t play “serious” golf were more like technical caretakers than golf course superintendents. I was shocked by how many superintendents didn’t play the game . . . and then I fell into that trap myself.  I had all the excuses:  I stopped playing because after all the time spent trying to resurrect a Lazarus golf course, staying late to play was more like unpaid overtime.  I was sensitive to members who resented seeing me on the course with a club in my hand, rather than shoveling sand where I belonged.  I used the family excuse, too.  (Although that didn’t stop me from spending every waking minute away from the course out hammering my bicycle down country roads.) Eventually, I realized not playing was a bad thing.  Really bad, especially since I had descended from the old line of pro/supts.  Dad and Uncle Whip were both great examples of that early form of head greenkeeper/pro/GM.  A SHORT GOLF LESSON FROM THE WILSON BROTHERS First, if you did play--back before the job became so demanding--give it another try.  Golfers are part of a tribe, a cult, and if that cult has bestowed upon you the responsibility of taking care of their sacred tribal lands, it’s a good idea to be part of the cult, too.  No matter how polite they are, if they suspect you are merely a hired fixer, well, you’re not really one of . . . them.  They might even suspect you don’t care.  Or worse, that you don’t understand why they are so traumatized by a putt that changed direction just at the moment they stood a chance to break 80. During my most productive years, I had a ritual that involved walking nine holes with the golf pro every Tuesday.  We went out roughly two hours before quitting time—I carried a radio—and we played for an iced tea.  Sometimes we talked business, sometimes we just played golf.  It created a strong teamwork mindset and eventually, board members asked to join in.  That gave me a chance to explain why we did what we did, to recruit them to “our” side.  Also it allowed me to crush my enemies, drive them before me and hear the lamentations of their women. (Sorry, got off track there, that belonged in my New Year’s Resolution column.) During his many years as a superintendent, my brother Mike made sure the membership knew he was part of the cult.  He regularly outplayed the golf pro and on occasion, even competed for the club championship.  (I wouldn’t recommend that last one, unless you’re like Mike.) Mike understood another important aspect of the superintendent who played the game.  The average golfer has great respect for the club’s best players.  In fact, during the beer-fueled post round discussions in the bar, the club champion often has more credibility than the golf pro, the USGA and Dwight Eisenhower—especially when it comes to turf, golf course architecture and whether or not the supt is any good.  Once, while Mike was laying sod around a green—repairing one of those cow paths caused by ignorant architects who insist on placing a bunker between the green and the closest cart path—a very influential member was experiencing one of those humiliating moments when his ball refused to leave the bunker. Of course it was Mike’s fault.  The sand was inconsistent, the wrong color, and hadn’t been raked toward the hole, making a sand save impossible.  Mike listened to the golfer yell and moan about the sand and then calmly took the man’s wedge, dropped a ball in the bunker and hit it to within two feet.  He handed the wedge back and returned to dropping sod. Complaints about Mike’s course conditions dropped to minimal levels for years. If you have a strong background as a player—college golf, high school golf team—but haven’t played in a while, get back out on the range.  Hit from the back of the range early in the morning.  During your morning inspection, carry a strip of artificial turf, a 7-iron, and hit a few, just to feel the spirit of the game.   If you don’t have the player’s background, go find a pro you trust and get a few lessons.  Get some of the modern game improvement clubs.  (They’re like steroids . . . if everybody else is using them, you should, too.) Ask your pro for a player’s discount and get him to fit you to new clubs.  If he refuses, start parking the backhoe really close to his Porsche. Play a few holes several times a week.  Get a feel for the pure joy of walking alone on the back nine.  If that won’t work in your particular situation, play the local public where nobody knows you.  Get a set of used clubs.  Study the golf teachers on The Youtube. Find your way back home.  Try to reconnect.  Ask yourself why you are part of the game of golf.   If all you want to do is be a golf turf scientist, well, fine—but you’re missing the real magic of golf.  And that’s a shame, because a lot of people are depending on you to lead the way.      

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson: Prophecies for the Next Decade of Golf (REQUIRED LISTENING)

Time for the last and final "Rockbottum Prophecies for the Next Decade of Golf". This is required listening for all those with a stake in the future of golf. Also... ANTIGOLF protesters show up to riot and protest at Rockbottum CC... The gang figures out what's been digging up #13 green and organizes a posse of vigilantes to hunt it down, Momma handles a customer complaint in a new way and Booferd resists Third Wave Feminism by telling Momma that dishwashing is woman's work.  Finally, Ludell installs a new hi-tech customer service facility in the clubhouse. Presented by Vinylguard Golf.

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

Forest Therapy

Our favorite method for suppressing "The Noise" is Forest Therapy.  You can practice Forest Therapy with a simple, short hike, or go on an epic adventure lasting several days.  At Rockbottum Country Club, we self-medicate with Forest Therapy when we've had too much holiday feasting or too much family togetherness or too much screen time. We just grab a pellet rifle or a slingshot and go into the forest for some big game squirrel hunting.   It's similar to raccoon hunting; if you come home empty-handed, nobody cares, and you still get the benefits of Forest Therapy.  

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

The Dangler Will Get You!

Warning!  We’re about to go all Mickey McCord Safety Meeting on you, so pay attention and learn about one of the most dangerous things on your golf course.   No, it’s not a chainsaw, the dimpled projectile, nasty, slippery restrooms, hovering mowers or crocodiles.  It’s THE DANGLER. The Dangler has caused several of those injuries that still reside in my gray matter hard drive, no matter how often I delete them. (That’s saying a lot, because I have witnessed quite a few injuries.) During my unsuccessful training period as a Special Forces Medic, I saw all kinds of trauma.  Before the Army realized I was incapable of medical competence, they ran me through a variety of training, ranging from combat medic to 90 days in an Emergency Room.  (There was also that period referred to as “Goat Lab”, but I will not speak of that.)  My first night in the ER, the radio popped and crackled, warning us that five Navy Seals were coming in on a Huey, apparently blown up in a demo accident.  I handled that poorly, rousting everyone out of bed, merely because I had no idea what to do. After that, I saw parachute accidents, burns, a couple of gunshot wounds and a battered husband.  One night, the ER was inundated with 82nd Airborne types who had been injured while  attempting to occupy a local honky-tonk.  The indigenous personnel, armed with tire irons, had vigorously resisted and the result was several paratroopers with impressive lacerations.  The doctor, nurses and the real medics were busy sewing up tire iron wounds, but were falling behind.  The doctor yelled, “Wilson, suture that leg wound!” It was a hideous gash from just below the knee, extending several inches alongside the shin and terminating in the lower calf region.  As I think back on that incident, I shouldn’t have said, “Yes, sir, but I’ve never sewed anybody up before.” The trooper in question, a rather stout fellow, screamed and tried to escape—the technical military term is “un-ass the area”—but was gleefully restrained by several Military Police intent upon helping me accomplish my mission.  I comforted the patient by telling him that I had successfully sewn up several oranges and then I demonstrated my nimble dexterity by fumbling the fish hook shaped needle used to close wounds.  By the time I got through, the wound was worse than when I started, but the patient had a very impressive Frankenstein scar that he could make up all sorts of war stories about.  On the positive side, the MPs had enjoyed a wonderful evening of wrestling inebriated paratroopers and I had learned the medical field did not need me.  Years later, while coaching high school football, I saw a compound femur fracture.  During my bicycle racing phase, I witnessed several broken clavicles.  These featured bones sticking out of skin, accompanied by lots of blood and hysterical shrieking.  (The paramedics said shrieking unnerved the victim, so I quit that.) On the golf course, I saw all kinds of chaos:  Chainsaw accidents, partial amputations caused by hovering mowers, a hand trapped under an engine when a hoist failed . . . and an old fellow pinned in a bunker by an aerifier from the Jurassic period.  (You remember, those exposed crankshaft models?)  Since we didn't have cell phone cams in those days, instead of taking his picture, I hastily got the monster off of him. I’ve seen golf ball impacts produce knots the size of apples, watched lightning explode a tree beside a golfer, who mentally destabilized and provided the afternoon's entertainment by running in circles and howling about Judgement Day.  Once a week, I watched Buddy spill enough blood on the shop floor to shoot a chainsaw maniac horror movie.  (Tara, Buddy’s bride, warned me not to give him access to sharp objects, but I thought she was kidding.) But it was THE DANGLER that stands out in my tiny mind.   It was '93, when a course marshal--who had ignored my warnings--drove past me dangling his left foot from his golf car.  Suddenly, the old fellow was tossed from the cart onto the hard, cold asphalt of the parking lot.   His foot was almost completely ripped off, barely holding on by a single thread of soft tissue; blood pumped out like a broken 3” main.  Golfers immediately circled around like vultures, trying to help by yelling things like, “His foot is gone, his foot is gone!” I radioed for help, put on a tourniquet and treated the old guy for shock.  The only thing I could remember from my medic training was to lie about how bad the injury was.  “You’re gonna be fine, don’t worry.” Next, I had to disperse the onlookers, because my patient became distressed when he heard a golfer puking.  Fortunately he didn't see the golf pro faint. The lesson here is, golf cars and utility vehicles are dangerous--and it’s not just The Dangler.  Just watch The Youtube and stare in awe as hundreds of imbeciles jump bunkers like Bo Duke, run over each other with golf cars and spin 360s down slick, grassy, wet hills. The Net says there are 15,000 golf car accidents per year, possibly more, with 10% of them being rollovers.  I suspect most of those are not golf related, but The Youtube is heavily weighted toward golf idiots.  Most of these numbskulls are unaware of the Law of Skateboard Injury, which states “Just because it heals up and you feel better, doesn’t mean it won’t come back when you’re 40 and hurt like hell forever.” Golf course veterans all know that golf courses are inherently dangerous, with wild, irregular surfaces lying in ambush just off that path.  We know a tractor will roll on a steep hill—isn’t that what those rollbars are for?  We expect spray rigs to get hinky with the slightest weight shift . . . we’ve seen machines flip into those bunkers put too close to the green by architects with no superintendent experience.  We’ve watched a lake grab a slick-tired triplex, we've ridden a rough unit as it bucks and spins downhill into the trees and calmly observed golfers launch a golf car off a bridge at full speed.  We know how to handle this:  Crews need constant reminders to drive in a cautious manner, especially the newer crew members.  They all need to be told about The Dangler, even if they think it's a myth. As for golfers?  They won’t listen.  They can’t read signs.  Golfers think the golf course is a magical theme park where Driving Under the Influence and gravity does not exist.  At best, all we can do is repeatedly tell them, “Keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times.”

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

Rockbottum Radio: The Noise (and how to get rid of it)

In this episode of Rockbottum Radio, the usual cast of idiots, oafs and varlets keep interrupting me as I try to pass along my proven techniques to skirt The Matrix and suppress the stress-inducing Noise in our lives. Most are simple, easy to do, and... cheap! The TurfNet Maestro has proclaimed that this is me pontificating at my finest. Maybe he found that the shoe fit a little bit.

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

The Demise of Ludell

Last week, somebody demised Ludell on the practice tee and police suspicion immediately fell upon the various Alphabets.  (They had the strongest motive to see Ludell silenced.) A huge mob of Ludell's betrothed (all three of them) formed outside the courthouse and demanded justice.  Minutes before the Sheriff boarded the Greyhound bus for Kansas, a shocking video surfaced, claiming to show what really happened. We will show you the footage, but keep in mind, a skillful editor can twist reality . . .    

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

Workplace Therapy?

Everyone should read Paul MacCormack's "Afterglow".   It's a new direction in dealing with life on turf.   It also proves TurfNet is still the leader in adaptive metaphysical approaches--and just plain leading from the front.  Great minds like Peter McCormick, Dave Wilber and the big names who gathered with Paul MacCormack at the Mindful Leadership and Wellness Retreat have been pushing us in this direction for years.  But way out front, so far ahead that they got a little behind--except for Momma--is Rockbottum CC . . . especially Buddy.  Not convinced?  Here's an old film that proves we pioneered metaphysical healing in the high pressure career of turf.    

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

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