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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.

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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

Old Roy's Halloween Story

I was working on a piece about how modern country club boards resemble the leadership of Rome in their last days—you know, lounging about in togas, unaware of the reality building outside the wall—when I remembered it was almost Halloween.  So, from deep in the Rockbottum vault, a previously unreleased Halloween story:  Way back in ’73, on a cold afternoon in late October, I was splitting a mountain of firewood with Old Roy—not to be confused with just plain Roy, the AM radio preacher—and we sat down to take a break.  We had a small fire going, not to keep warm—the axe was doing a good job of that—it was more of a keep you company kind of fire.  The previous winter’s ice storm had gifted us with the world’s supply of downed trees and Dad decided that since I was near worthless on the golf course crew, maybe I might be a woodsman. As we sat by the fire, Old Roy pulled out his prized Sherlock Holmes pipe and stuffed it full of a fragrant tobacco I remember as Borkum Riff, lighted it and leaned back to study the trees just beginning to color.  “Boy,” he said through a cloud of smoke that smelled like spilled bourbon, “I reckon you being a night waterman, you seen things out there?” “Yeah,” I nodded, “but not what I was looking for.” Old Roy eyed me like I had said something crazy. “What was you looking for?” “Flying saucers . . . never did see one.” “I seen stuff,” Old Roy pointed his pipe stem at me, “and not just everday stuff like UFOs and little spacemen.” I sensed a story coming, because Old Roy had an amazing talent for delaying work with long, convoluted tales . . .  a skill I was to develop later in life.  At this point, I wasn’t really interested in one of his stories about what it was like to work on a golf course back in 1947 or how he toured with several famous bluegrass bands I had never heard of. “Old Roy, if you’re gonna tell me again how we aerify in the fall to release the evil spirits from the greens, I—“ “Son,” he cut me off, anger in his voice, “you ought not to make fun of stuff you don’t understand.” “I ain’t makin’ fun, Roy, I seen stuff, too, it just wasn’t worth tellin’.” “Like what?” “Well, like one night on Little Mountain, I was sitting in my Cushman waiting for the greens to finish watering and I saw something sitting on a tee and the more I stared at it, the more it looked like a little man about two feet tall, and he was watching me.  When I turned the  Cushman headlight on to look at him—he ran off.” “Hmm.”  Old Roy took a deep puff on his pipe, “you ain’t much good at tellin’ stories, son. See, the Cherokees have a world of stories about the little people that infested these forests back before the white man came and ruined things.  Them Appalachian mountains is overrun with little people. Add that to your story.” I sat in silence, considering if I should pick up that axe again, but it was getting near quitting time, not more than an hour away.  “I suppose you can do better?”  I used my sarcastic teenage tone, which was about like I talk now. “Yes, I can,” Old Roy wriggled back against a log and assumed his storytelling posture.  “Back in ’63, on a real uppity country club north of Atlanta—it was out the woods back then, but now it’s surrounded by concrete—anyway, the club was having a Halloween party, cause they was always havin’ parties, any excuse to dress up, likker up and dance—“  Old Roy stopped to watch Dad’s truck go by on #17, calculating whether we needed to hop back up and axe some, but the truck turned around and headed back toward the front side.  I threw another log on the fire. “So, the Boss Man had already gone home, he was a real religious greenkeeper and he didn’t hold with celebrating devil stuff, and that left just me and Mickey and Roosevelt there to put everything away and lock up.  Mickey was a worthless kid, kinda like you but not as bad, and Roosevelt was about 75 years old and he knew how to work.  He had grown up choppin’ cotton and workin’ the fields and he had no intention of givin’ up half a day’s pay over mindless doings like Halloween, so there we was.” “Where you was?”  My attention span back then was not something to be proud of. “Locking up the barn, don’t you listen?  That’s when Dr. Morlin—he was the club president—Dr. Morlin drove up in his Cadillac and gave us a bottle of Jack, with the seal still on it, and said he didn’t feel right about them havin’ a big party up to the clubhouse while we did all the work and went unnoticed.  So we thanked him and when he left, we sat down on our picnic table by the fire pit and Mickey went and got some Co-Cola to mix with the Jack, and pretty soon, we was havin’ a fine old time.” “I hope something happens soon in this story.”  “Well, about halfway through the bottle, Sammy the golf pro comes running up out of the dark, from the direction of the clubhouse, where he shoulda been partying with the rich folk, and he’s completely out of breath and all white-eyed and he grabs our bottle and takes a big chug without even asking.” “Was he a big drinker?”  It was getting interesting. “Not really, but it pissed Roosevelt off, a golf pro putting his mouth on our bottle and all--but then Sammy says something terrible has happened and he was gonna get the blame.” “Blame for what?” “He said he was sitting out on number #1 tee bench with Mary Jane Brokawski—she was a dentist’s wife, real purty gal—and Dr. Morlin came up and accused him of cavorting with at least ten member’s wives, eleven if you count Mary Jane.  Then Mary Jane slapped Sammy and ran off crying.  Sammy said he didn’t see the problem with romancing lonely women, as Dr. Morlin was also engaged in extra-maritals.  But Dr. Morlin said that it was different, cause Sammy was just an employee and right then, an icy cold wind blew over them and suddenly . . . there was a spook standing right there beside them!” “What kinda spook?”  I was in BS detecting mode, after all, it was a Halloween costume party. “An old gray woman, taller than Sammy, and really thin--lean as a lizard.  She was wearing gray rags that flapped in the wind—no color to her at all—and she reached out and touched Dr. Morlin with a bony hand . . . and he fell stone dead right there.  Sammy like to had a heart attack and ran down number one and he could hear her behind him, rags flappin’ in the wind.  He thought he was gonna die and then he saw our fire and came straight to us--when he got close, he couldn’t hear her anymore.” “Pretty good story.  So Sammy killed Dr. Morlin?” “Naw,” muttered Old Roy, “cause we was sittin’ there lookin’ at Sammy like he was a axe murderer or somethin’, and Abe--that was Roosevelt’s redbone hound--Abe starts growlin’ out toward the fairway, the hair on his back standin' up.  We couldn’t see nothin’, but Abe decided he had had enough and he took off runnin' toward the highway, bawling like he was on the scent of a rabbit.  That's when a cold wind hit us, blew my hat off and Roosevelt says, “I've had enough, too” and he lights out for home. “Standing right there about ten feet away was the same old woman Sammy said killed Dr. Morlin.  She was eight foot tall and her skin was stretched thin over her bony face, especially when she grinned real big—had lots of teeth—and then she reached out with her hand that seemed to me to be more bone than skin and Mickey yelped like somethin’ had bit him and ran right through the fire to get away and that’s when I fell over the picnic table.  Sammy started hollerin’ like he had a siren in his throat and he ran back out on the golf course.  When I managed to get back up, I was alone and the fire had blown out . . . but Sammy was still out there somewhere screamin’ in the dark.” Old Roy knocked his pipe on a log and pointed toward Dad’s truck coming toward us, so we grabbed our axes and went back to splitting wood . . . at least until Dad drove on by.  Old Roy dropped his axe and sat back down.  “Next morning, Roosevelt found Doc Morlin right where Sammy said, and the Sheriff came and talked to us, but we didn’t say nothing about the spook, so the Sheriff allowed as how it was either a heart attack from drinking or his wife got tired of his runnin’ around and that was the end of it.” “But what happened to Sammy?” “Never heard from again,” Old Roy muttered.  “But you know how golf pros are . . . he’s probably out there right now, givin’ golf lessons to other folk’s wives—only I expect it’s really hot there.”

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

Rockbottum Radio: The Empire's CEO Makes How Much??

In this episode of Rockbottum Radio -- rated IM for Immature Audiences Only -- the Pro shop gets raided by the Empire's Praetorian Guard, Willy visits with Buddy at the Turf Care shop, and Momma takes the gang to the feed store, leaving Old Booferd in charge of the golf course... and Momma's good Scotch. Presented by VinylGuard Golf.  

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

A Message For Golf From A Last Wave Millennial

A Last Wave Millennial gives a quick analysis of modern golf and answers The Big Question.  You know, the one that upper management and golf writers and green chairs and turf school brass and association bigwigs ask every night, after dessert and before cigars and brandy?    

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

Retro-ism: An Experiment in Sustainable Golf Ops

After several years of toiling on bentgrass plantations in Hotlanta, enduring ever increasing grooming standards and shrinking HOC on fairways, greens and tees, I decided what I was doing was unsustainable.  That led me to choose a more sustainable path, something I could maintain for the long run, not just a short burst of intense activity. NOTE:  I am using the word “Sustainable” in the sense of an activity that is capable of being sustained, not as a code word for ecological balance.  More like, “I could not sustain a grapefruit diet or an intense exercise program I ordered off late night TV.” 1991:  In what was to become the early phase of Skeletal Golf Theory, I took over a small golf course with the intent of testing a few methods to counteract the trend of increasing maintenance costs and career stress . . . by conducting an experiment.   The parameters of the experiment were simple: First, go back to bermuda greens.  The Ultra Dwarf bermudas were not to appear for several years, but the plan was to use one of the new PGRs, in an attempt to give 328 more WSR Factor.  (Won’t Stop Rolling)  Also, I wanted to test the new “baked dry sand” top dressing, in light but very frequent apps, and use the new Hydroject to reduce core-yanking events.   The plan would use Poa Trivialis as winter overseed, rely heavily on soil testing—and a soil test cryptographer who could actually interpret the test for me.  I also wanted to minimize wetting agents, as I had detected an increase in disease pressure on bent whenever I upped the usage of wetting agents.  (These were probably first gen agents, so stop your howling.) The other aspects of the plan included mass tree removal, installing wildflower and broomsedge areas to reduce rotary mower hours, and keeping the crew Skeletal:  Just me, an assistant, an EM, one crewmember, and a part-timer of the high school specie.  (That last part was worrisome—I was afraid I might get some kid like me.)  Fairways would be mowed wall to wall at 5/8”—with a five-gang—again reducing the amount of area requiring rotary attention.  Tees and everything but greens, would get the five-gang treatment.  Every unnecessary, high-flashed bunker would be inverted and sodded over. There were architectural adjustments, like widening the landing zones and making the course play dryer, in order to allow for more ground game.  Catch mounds were positioned where balls liked to roll into water, and a few holes were lengthened to get the yardage up from 5200 yards to 5600.  (I also practiced speaking like a long dead Scottish architect.)  Finally, I took over the club’s advertising, running ads in the newspaper, with the magic phrase, “$10 Golf!”  That was the weekday walking rate and I knew not a single golfer would walk, but hey, it was advertising.   We got good reviews, a magazine tagged us "a hidden gem" and the course played pretty well.  Rounds went up 400%, making everybody but the pro shop happy.  (They were used to the Floyd’s Barbershop pace, not something akin to the floor of the NYSE.) After six months, the numbers fell off; when I took a few informal, unscientific surveys, I discovered one consistent golfer complaint:  “The course was too short!”  (Not too short on the ground, just in their heads.) They pointed to that 5600 number on the scorecard and implied the course was somehow weak and pitiful, more suited for unskilled hackers, duffers and beginners.  Of course, that’s exactly what these people were, but some delusional idea planted in their soft skulls by TV, told them they needed 7000 yard Championship golf. I lengthened the finishing hole, a weird par 3, into a long par 4, added 600 mythical yards to the scorecard and 5600 yards became 6200.  Before long, things were rolling again.  The moral of the story?  Golfers enjoy playing a short course where they can score, all while thinking they are playing a long, tough course.  Oh, and as to the success of the experiment?  Tif-Eagle came along and made my PGR Bermuda obsolete.  The Skeleton crew concept worked for a while, but the crew size was unsustainable in the long run.  (Golfers still demanded TV conditions for their $20.) The mowing plan worked great, as did the De-Bunkerizing and the Hydroject concept.  However, my plan was not sustainable because I did not allow for unexpected interactions with an abrasive, fairly combative member of the team of owners.  (Clubhouse dweller.) On the bright side, we did manage to kill off a high dollar competitor who built down the road from us and condescendingly assured us they didn’t covet any of our kinds of customers. Years later, when I built a golf course using all the Skeletal Golf Theory techniques—except for a simple irrigation system—the course worked very well.  It was sustainable, at least until ownership decided they didn’t need a golf course superintendent. That’s one theory that's not sustainable.

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

Boombox Golf! Growing The Game!!

Is "Alternative Golf" a shocking de-evolution of the game?  Will the "Grow The Game" evangelists tolerate the growth of blatant golf heresy?  Are the new golf carts equipped with sub-woofers?   https://www.rockbottumfilms.com/

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

The Noise . . . And How To Stop It

Some of us live our lives bathed in noise, against a soundtrack of frenzied, dissonant pandemonium—and not just the kind measured in decibels. The noise ranges from sub-audible frequencies that we can feel, like jet engines, helicopters and car stereos thumping below 20Hz, all the way to ultra-high radio frequencies we need to “connect” with each other. The young are naturally attracted to noise. It’s exciting — the opposite of boring — it’s where things are happening. As a young person, I was lured toward the wall of sound pumping out of the PA at rock concerts, guitars and bass cranked to 11. The young are enticed by loud cars, the rolling thunder of motorcycles, and the roar of the crowd. I was addicted to the crash of football helmets against plastic armor. The military can take noise to another level. When the doors of a C-130 opened in flight and the cabin filled with the fearsome howling of massive engines, it was impossible not to hop about yelling like an animal about to be released from a cage. Even an ordinary day of training could involve a wild hallucinogenic trip of running, jumping and crawling amidst gunfire, explosions, helicopters, disembodied voices screaming over radios and low-flying jets. Then one day, it’s too much. I returned to the quiet life on the golf ranch, but The Noise had gotten there ahead of me. Somebody — probably that noisy box full of flashing lights in the living room — had raised the bar while I was gone.  Instead of simple external noise, like mowers and chainsaws, now I had internal noise, too. (Shrill voices in my head, urging me to do more and more.)  The Noise didn’t just rent space inside my head, it evicted the other tenants. I sought relief in exercise endorphins and the drug-free release they provided, but I couldn’t just go for a pleasant run or ride my bike around the neighborhood, nooooo... I had to race. I had to “go for it” and “just do it”, as commanded by the aforementioned box in the living room. I took something as fun and relaxing as riding a bike and turned it into an expensive, time-eating obsession. The Noise just got louder. By the late 80s, bentgrass and no rain in the Deep South heat required long hours with no time off,  just to stay employed. Guilt from minimal family time added to the static interference in my head. I wasn’t training hard enough to win bike races and I was lazy in the gym, so I bought a Sony Walkman and attached even more noise to my head. You know, for motivation? I pushed to rebuild bad holes and bad golf courses and eventually pushed to build an entire golf course, all while working at another one. I pushed the crews. I pushed the family. I pushed myself... and The Noise got ever louder. It was like the Twilight Zone episode where the cranky old boss keeps screaming, “Push, Push, Push!” No matter how much course conditions improved, the golfers grew more demanding; they even suggested I had lost “the fire” and — perhaps a younger superintendent was required. The “Cure” first showed itself in my work habits, but I couldn’t hear it. At the Skeletal Golf level, the GCS minimizes the admin work and pitches in with the crew to operate equipment. But I gave the sit-down, riding jobs to the crew and assigned myself tasks like digging up irrigation leaks. The crew was puzzled. One afternoon, while I was wrestling a shovel in a blowout, the fairway guy parked beside me and said, “Boss, how about you mow fairways, let me do that. Manual labor is the crew’s job. Why are you doing it?” “Because,” I answered, “it’s quiet.  I don’t want to hear machines anymore.” I made changes, telling Buddy that talk radio was banned from the shop, he could only play classical music. I spent my lunch period walking in the forest beside the course. Instead of riding the crew about working every minute of the day, I instituted “Frisbee Time” for the last 15 minutes of the day. Just as The Noise was abating, upper management summoned me to an Inquisition, whereupon a poor unfortunate golfer spewed forth his lamentations, describing the agony of being deprived of deep rough. (Not a good idea on a swamp golf course.) They sided with him. I was ordered to provide deep rough. My eyes bugged out, my skin turned a glowing magenta and the veins in my temples pounded like conga drums at a Ricky Ricardo concert. I wanted to turn over some tables, maybe fling a golfer out a window, but a long dormant synapse in my brain fired, and suddenly, I was watching short clips of films from my childhood in my brain theater. I saw myself hiking in the Alps, in a forest of Christmas trees, wandering along with a rucksack stuffed with C-Rations and a sterno stove. A sense of peace flowed over me as I recalled long hikes in the Sierras or the mountains of Tennessee. Even the long ruck marches in the Army seemed more peaceful than my current situation. I remembered how lacing up boots, shouldering a ruck and hitting a trail was always my best escape. I left the building, calm and relaxed, and headed back toward the course. I was thinking about going for a hike instead of devising a new mowing pattern, when I remembered the words of Sergeant O’Neal, a Special Ops legend: “Boots & Ruck can take you places no four wheel drive can go and solve some problems along the way.” From that day on, golf stress had little effect on me. When The Noise showed up, I simply went into Boots & Ruck therapy and wandered off into the forest. (Sometimes, I even took my radio with me, in case Buddy lost his mind.) The quiet of the forest suppressed The Noise. I eventually moved into the mountains where the forest is close, the quiet is strong and The Noise is weak.If you’ve had enough of The Noise, instead of worshipping that box in the living room or that computer in your hand, try Boots & Ruck. It doesn't take much. https://www.rockbottumfilms.com/

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

Ydnar's Tales of Golf Course Vengeance

August's Guest Columnist is Ydnar, Randy's dark side Doppelganger with a penchant for payback.   In the olden days, before the cult of Customer Servitude came to power with their warm fuzzy fantasy seminars, customers were dealt with according to their level of honor and integrity.   Then, things changed.  A new CS doctrine emerged, born in a classroom environment, with an eye toward making money off of big corporations for social engineering training sessions.  Over-complexified and heavily laden with psycho-jargon and cryptic language, the early re-education camps were blended with Mary Kay style corporate pep rallies and subtle shaming techniques. The cryptic language probably dates back to just after we touched the monolith, when the tribal shaman developed mysterious chants and indecipherable phrases to make their job seem amazing and vital.  (You know, like . . . Latin and economics.) In the primitive Honor & Integrity CS method, the “good” customer received a quick response to concerns, combined with concessions like apologetic behavior, rain checks and freebies.  The “bad” customer, however, was ignored, ridiculed and banished from the village.  Yet, somehow, the new wave of CS prevailed, due to weakened educational standards and diets based entirely on corn syrup.  The next generation of customers were taught that “kicking up a fuss” would produce success in their retail adventures.  Soon, the Pavlovian response kicked in and customers were wailing, complaining and shrieking like they had been harpooned.  The instant ticket to free stuff was addictive.  Just like the modern methods for raising children, all this New CS did was reinforce terrible behavior with rewards.  (Much like if Pavlov had given his dogs sausage and biscuits for biting him.)   By the late 80s, customer boot licking had become widespread, and that’s when the “Unintended Consequences” surfaced.  “Good” customers were often ignored in favor of a policy of appeasement directed toward silencing the loud, obnoxious customers, the very ones we didn’t want anyway. It was sort of a squeaky wheel gone Mad Max result. We secretly practiced a form of selective CS, in which we differentiated between our reactions to the complainant, based on past encounters with the individual.  If the customer was new, we allowed more leeway for the individual to display true colors; then we took positive or corrective CS action. For example, if a fine, upstanding member of integrity and honor accidentally stepped over the line, we smiled, waved and offered assistance.  Like the time Mr. Chedwell, a retired spook, decided to avoid buying range balls and used the 17th fairway as his own personal driving range, complete with enough divots to give that chicken pox on turf effect.  Rather than screaming at him, we smiled, waved and turned the irrigation up on him. Dealing with scoundrel customers required a different approach.   Bubba Poltroon, a Top Tier Scoundrel, had a habit of bullying the pro shop personnel into letting him go off the back, regardless of the maintenance operations in effect.  Mowing, spraying, top-dressing . . . none of these made any difference to Bubba.  He was entitled to play when and where he wanted, without encumbrance from staff.   Bubba was even immune to frost delays. One morning, as I made the turn with a four hole gap to the nearest golfers, (in the days before LEDs gave us a bigger head start) I saw Bubba already teeing it up on #10.  He demanded I turn off the mower so he could hit and then he instructed me to hurry up, as he had things to do.  I did hurry, but on #11, Bubba and his toadies hit into me, forcing a mower dismount to remove two balls from the putting surface.  I used a gentle foot-putt and put both into the nearest bunker, but by their reaction, you would have thought I had stomped a fluffy little kitten with a logging boot.   With unrestrained fury, Bubba yelled “Man-made obstruction!” and hit another range ball at me.  Sensing Bubba had very little Honor & Integrity, I unsheathed my 6-iron (Wilson Staff Tour Blade) from its special scabbard on the Toro, dropped Bubba’s ball beside the bunker and hit it right back at him. This resulted in a short firefight of dimpled projectiles, and although I was outnumbered, my fire was more effective than theirs.  Most golf bullies have never experienced return fire, especially the kind where you hit one high and one low.  (They can’t watch both balls.)  As a reasonably experienced veteran of golf firefights, I took advantage of their failure to spread out and practiced basic fire and maneuver until they hastily withdrew. I was forced to attend a week long CS course—which gave me time to catch up on paperwork— but Bubba learned his lesson.  He never again attacked a crew member; for a while, he had to play alone, as being his playing partner was deemed “unsafe”. Over the next 14 years, I would be sentenced to ten more weeks of CS, but with each exposure, my immunity grew.  Yours will, too. https://www.rockbottumfilms.com/

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

Rockbottum Radio: Momma Bans Chaw After the US Open

Broadcasting from our mountain cabin as we take a break from golf for some trout fishing, we sit around the campfire and learn why Momma decided to ban tobacco at Rockbottum CC. (Something terrible happened at the US Open)   Also, Brandy Chablis, noted turf expert, gets nominated for the Angry Elf Trophy, Ludell explains Toxic Masculinities and TurfNet cyclist Ty Magner wins the National Championship.   Presented by VinylGuard Golf.  

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

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