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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

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.  

Do Not Despise The Days of Small Beginnings

A few years ago, at a big golf tournament, I overheard a young man explaining the secret of golf career success to anyone within range, myself included.  "First," he proclaimed loudly, "you must only intern at the top courses, the ones that host majors.  Never accept a job anywhere else--and never work for a superintendent that's not famous."   I see what I did wrong.   His speech reminded me of something deep in my memory banks, back when I gave notice at a low level Skeletal Golf Course and was asked to delay until the New Guy arrived.   He was from Big Country Club, or BCC, and according to our Owner/GM/Janitor/Bartender, New Guy would begin to accomplish miracles as soon as I got out of his way.  New Guy had a sparkling pedigree, having worked at BCC since his freshman year of college.  Owner/GM also told me, repeatedly, that New Guy would raise the bar, push the envelope, see things with new eyes and take the club in a new direction.   When New Guy rode in, amidst trumpets and a choir, I offered to brief him and give a quick tour, but he waved me off.  Before I made it to my truck, New Guy hollered, "Hey!  Where's my assistant?"   "Uh," I may have grinned too big, "that would be you." "Where's the crew?"     I pointed at the two old guys sitting on the tailgate of a broken down Ford.  "Fella on the right is your mechanic, at least two days a week.  He's kinda sensitive.  The other guy is your crew.  He's also the owner's personal spy, so be careful what you say."   "What about the irrigation tech?  The spray tech?" "Again, you.  Did nobody tell you this was a low-budget club??   New Guy shook his head and glanced over at his car.  His weight shifted slightly toward the parking lot. "Is this the first time you've seen this kind of operation?  Surely you haven't spent your whole career on courses like BCC?"   New Guy rattled his car keys in his pocket and I thought I saw a tear in the corner of his eye. "Hey," I said as cheerfully as possible, "it'll be great.  You'll get used to doing all the spraying and mowing and digging holes--you have dug holes before, right?"   "No, mostly I just rode around with a clipboard and pointed at things . . . oh, and I went to a lot of meetings."   New Guy lasted about a year, I think.  Last I heard he was mowing lawns and the course won the Darwin Award, becoming an apartment complex.   In Skeletal Golf Theory, it's better to have a little time on a Lazarus Course before you go directly from college to Top Ten.  You know, have a Contingency Plan.  For instance, what if you got caught in a recession and downsized?  Or what if you were accused of cavorting with the Club President's wife?  It's best to be prepared.   It takes years to learn low-budget Skeletal Golf skills; high tech science and the ability to delegate is great, but actual front line experience in the trenches--and I mean real trenches--is critical.  There are no irrigation techs at Skeletal Golf level.  It's just you.   Here's a short Skeletal Golf Theory training film on interacting with Boomers at a low level course.  It's different than at BCC.  

Zombie Greens

A short film about Zombie greens and the unintended consequences of one dimensional golf . . .  also contains proof that Rod Serling took over my brain when I was seven years old.   

Golf Isn't The Only Turf

Golf isn't the only place turf is king.  There are massive sod farms, residential turf, municipal grounds, airfields and sports turf.  There's all that National Park Service turf in our nation's capital that Mike Stachowicz maintains.  Joe Fearn--who writes a very good column for TurfNet--is the turf and grounds czar at Drury University.   In the complex modern turf industry, knowledge, multiple skills and specialized training are pretty much mandatory.  While none of these turf disciplines can be considered "easy", I've been told that if you can maintain a nice lawn, you can easily succeed at any of these careers.  (Our former insurance guy said that.)     Anyway, in case anyone is curious about what a Sports Turf career might entail, we went deep into the Rockbottum vault and extracted a TurfNet Sports Turf film very few people have seen.     Also, if you want an in-depth tutorial on sod farm careers, leave a comment and we'll do that one next.  

Rockbottum Radio: Rockbottum Common Sense and other good stuff...

In this episode of Rockbottum Radio, Randy explores Skeletal Golf Theory (SGT) and why it's important (think "Contingency Plan"). Also, Rockbottum gets a corporate makeover, the truth about collecting and weighing clippings, and that "new" spray out there. Finally, a consultant story, the winner of the Turpentine Corncob Award, and in Storytime, a tale from the days when golf courses were closed on Mondays. Be sure to check out this jam-packed podcast and catch up with all the latest Reality Philosophy, Business Genius and other cut-through-the-smoke-and-mirrors Common Sense from Rockbottum Country Club... where Stark Reality reigns.    
 

Cosmic Payback or Fudgie Will Get You

What follows is a classic tale of Cosmic Payback, visited upon the truly deserving.  Because my readers are highly educated, I am using the term, Cosmic Payback.  If I was writing for golfers, I would use the easier to understand, "Fudgie will get you."   Our story begins with a golfer who was mysteriously inflicted with a demonic obsession to bedevil Winston, a Golf Course Superintendent.   Winston is one of the great ones, a hard working, drive-on kind of fellow achieving legendary status in golf, but somehow . . . he ran afoul of a "golfer".   The "golfer" was not the common garden variety whiner or a 23 handicapper educated by the internet in all aspects of golf, but the worst possible bedeviler of Golf Course Superintendents:  The Best Good Player in the club, or BGP.  (See your Mystic Order of Greenkeepers handbook for details.)   The BGP often acquires deity status through low scores, which magically imbues the player with a supernatural grasp of agronomy, course setup, architecture and even which piece of turf equipment is either vital or totally unnecessary. . . . delivered a fiery and emotional Elmer Gantry golf sermon . . . When the BGP speaks, lesser humans are compelled to listen, awestruck, in submissive respect.   The BGP in our story--clearly infected with A.N. Syndrome and unaware of the existence of Fudgie--delivered a fiery and emotional Elmer Gantry golf sermon in the parking lot, from the hood of his 1975 Datsun B-210.  "Friends . . . I come to you today, having just experienced the saintly Greener Pastures Social Country Club, where their fairways are perfect and pure in heart, while ours . . . ours are thin and of an ordinary green color."   During the Inquisition that followed, Winston calmly testified, "Greener Pastures Social spent a million dollars on a new turf.  It's unfair to compare their fairways to our 419.  Also, we didn't spend a million dollars."   BGP countered with putting surface comparison, a favorite strategy among GCS bedevilers intent on GCS impeachment.  "Greener Pastures Social has heavenly greens!  And isn't it true, Winston, that they have the same Ultra-Dwarf that we do?  And isn't it true that we have algae spots on the practice green?  Remember, you're under oath!"   Winston wanted to say, "Instead of taking advantage of our nearly free monthly rates, perhaps you should just pay Greener Pastures Social the billion dollars initiation fee and take your contagious negative energy over there."   But he didn't say that.   Instead, Winston said, "Yes, it is true we have the same UD, but when they converted, they had six months of grow-in before they allowed play.  We had only 20% of that time to open and combined with the coldest winter since '77, the wettest spring in my memory and very little sunlight, we are doing pretty well."   Not discouraged in the least, BGP waited for the right moment to strike again.  During a club event, he pounced upon what he perceived to be Winston's worst mistake ever:  A cup placement not moved far enough from the previous spot!   (Never mind the spot had been anointed for use by the tournament setup committee and selected due to their awareness of the effect excessive tournament speed has on greens with lots of architectural movement.)   Grabbing his camera, BGP raced to gather evidence before the wily Winston could contaminate the crime scene; while shooting forensic photos, BGP loudly proclaimed Winston and his crew to be "worthless, lazy bastards".   At that point, Fudgie intervened and a golf ball cold-cocked BGP in the head.   There was lots of blood and screaming.  Most of the screaming was from other competitors demanding a quick ruling, as the unconscious body was obstructing a birdie putt.   The moral of the story?  If you are a bedeviled GCS, just be patient, for Fudgie and the Cosmic Payback are out there somewhere, waiting to make things right.     Make no mistake, Fudgie will get you.  
 

Fawlty Meadows Golf Centre

For those too elegant, sophisticated and erudite for Rockbottum CC, we offer "Fawlty Meadows Golf Centre".   Starring Basil and Manuel  Randy and Buddy.  
 

Decomplexification: A Skeletal Golf Theory Film

It's growing season and everyone has the throttle rammed to the wall.  This is usually when we produce short goofy films with subliminal messages . . . because there is little time for jocularity.   But, as of now, time is critical.  This film, "Decomplexification" is too important to hold until the first hard freeze.    *WARNING!  This film contains CLASSIFIED golf operations material.  Do NOT allow members, clubhouse personnel or architecture forum posters access to this film.  
 

Larry Nelson won the '87 PGA because of... me

It's Storytime.     My personal record for running off golf pros is 13, if you count my getting Dad fired twice.  The first time was an accident, but the second time was more Dad's fault.  He should have run a background check on me.  I hit a real winning streak in my forties, with seven pros abdicating their crown during a ten year period.   The one pro I wanted to stay, however, was Larry Nelson and I think he left because of me.  (Actually, Larry was a Pro Golfer, not a golf pro.)  I had great respect for Larry, and not just because of his three Major titles or going 4-0 against Seve Ballesteros in Ryder Cup play.  There was also the fact that Larry had served in the infantry in Viet Nam.  When he took over a golf course that we had been trying to resurrect, we enthusiastically followed his lead.   Larry instantly became a major influence on my philosophy of golf architecture and maintenance.  His strategy was not at all what we expected of a tour pro.  Right from the start, Larry instructed us to make the course less penal.  It was a long, narrow hallway of a course with a few too many trees.  (About 20,000 too many.)  He also told us to abandon the platinum bleached blond bunker sand and replace it with a more natural brunette sand.   Next, Larry ordered the downsizing of a couple of unnecessarily giant greenside bunkers and to reconstruct two high-flashed bunkers that had been carefully designed to wash out in a heavy fog and top-dress the fairway.  One penal monster became a grass bunker and a particularly obnoxious twit of a septic sand pit turned into what we would later term "an inverted bunker" or "mound".   We dropped 7,000 trees, widened fairways, reduced rough and generally dried out the course...   We dropped 7,000 trees, widened fairways, reduced rough and generally dried out the course.  (Wasn't that difficult in the middle of a three year drought and an irrigation system originally installed by Sumerians.)   Play increased substantially, at least until the acting GM guy pushed through his brilliant plan to double the green fees, en route to going "private" in an area not shown to be successful in that business model.  *Note:  Acting GM guy was the patient who inspired the original medical diagnosis, "Augusta Syndrome".   Larry Nelson probably thought he would relax from the stress and tension of playing tour golf and run a quiet, calm little golf course.  He did not realize he would encounter oddballs like me, always cranking up the stress with comments like "You know, Boss, we don't have a spray rig . . . or a fairway mower.  Probably gonna need that stuff."   Things always went sideways whenever Larry went off to play a tournament.  Acting GM guy would immediately countermand Larry's orders.  "Put that sand trap back like it was or--your little dog gets it!"  Operating under those conditions was kind of like getting a substitute teacher with no experience in the subject . . . or teaching.   In addition to Larry and that guy, our chain of command was fortified with a Japanese golf management company.  Although it was my first encounter with a golf corporation, it wasn't a problem, as my last employer had been pretty corporate, too.  Not long after the corporate folks arrived, I was given the assignment of training a young fellow from Tokyo in the mystical art of golf maintenance.  His name was Hiro and we all liked him right away, especially when he confessed his dream was to wear a cowboy hat, cowboy boots and drive an American pickup truck.   Hiro was doing great until the day a triplex sprung a hydraulic leak and heat-striped a bent green.  Panic-stricken, Hiro locked himself in the tool room and refused to come out, shouting things like, "I am shamed! Golf course work is too hard!  And Mike will kill me!"   Well, Hiro was right.  Golf course work was pretty hard, especially that one . . . and my brother Mike, fresh back from four years in the Ranger Battalion, might have given folks the impression that damaging a green could be uncomfortable.   Hiro escaped and went straight to Larry.  The next time we saw Hiro, he was on TV, toting Larry's bag.  I was furious.  Not because Hiro ran off, but because I should have thought of the caddie angle first.   Without Larry Nelson, there would be no Rockbottum Country Club, no Skeletal Golf Theory . . .   Sadly, we were not prepared when Larry won the '87 PGA.  I had never seen him practice, and with his reputation as a range fiend, I just assumed he was easing into retirement.  Later on, I realized Larry must have been secretly practicing, in order to get away from running a golf course with a curse on it, the constant bickering between us and the substitute teacher and . . . putting up with me.   The moral of this story?  There isn't one, but I can tell you this:  Without Larry Nelson, there would be no Rockbottum Country Club, no Skeletal Golf Theory, no cast of goofball characters dwelling deep within the TurfNet Zone . . . and instead of being an international playboy film producer, Ludell would still be just a Night Waterman, howling at the moon.

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

Rockbottum Analytica... and a recon to that new pinball golf place

In this episode of Rockbottum Radio, live from somewhere in the TurfNet Zone, the Gang makes a field trip to one of those newfangled bowling alley honky-tonk disco pinball golf places, while attempting to answer the question of how much PGR is required to shrink a green chairman's ego. After a lesson in General George S. Patton tactics, and an interruption from the seniors group playing 2-Man Worst Ball, and before announcing the winner of the Turpentine Corncob Award, the topic of how wrestling fans infested golf galleries is pondered. Rockbottum Analytica, the common sense golf data mining sector of Rockbottum Country Club, finally settles the bentgrass vs 'muda debate before tackling digitoxicity in kids. In Storytime, Randy tells the long suppressed family story of Uncle Jelsik, the first Wilson to work in golf, Stoddard, his talking dog, Broderick the mule, Moby the hog and several other embarrassing moments.     Presented by VinylGuard Golf.

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

 

Going Muni? Best Gird Thy Loins

I don't know what "Gird Thy Loins" actually means, but I think I read it in an ancient text, the context being "Don your metal jockstrap, lest ye be kicked in the sensitives".   It takes a hard individual to work Municipal Golf, (MG) but with sufficient preparation, it can be fun.  I suggest: 1.  Gird Thy Loins.  (Steel cup, fire retardant kevlar underwear, etc.) 2.  Seek counsel from someone currently in Muni Golf.   I spent 15 years working MG and it was great, except for the low pay, skeletal budgets and a work environment rife with constant NSB contact.  (Numbskullian Bureaurats)   I began MG life on the crew--rowing in the galley, building pyramids--before ascending to Asst. Supt. and later, to actual GCS.  The agronomics were easy compared to dealing with the Overlords who held positions of great power.  Some Overlords were without any actual "real world" work experience.  They accomplish this through law school, followed by an election and a coronation.   They hate the term "real world" and prefer the phrase "Private Sector".  Be very careful using the PS term, as NSBs are sensitive and don't like to hear how things are done in the PS.  I learned the ways of MG by watching my Dad and adopting his strategy, known in academic circles as the "Colonel Hogan" method.    There are great MG situations out there and there are some Stalag 13 situations.  To help those considering a career in MG, I have included a few entries from my extensive journals, about life in a world overrun with NSBs:   13 March '73.  Dad has taken over MV, big muni outside Atlanta.  The golf pro thinks he is in command.  There is no budget--the course loses money.  Might be because Golf pro gets 100% of cart, shop, beer revenue.   Golf Digest ranks MV Top 50.  Golf pro hailed for miracle turnaround. 15 May '73.  Course has 44 acres of hardpan red clay.  Dad converts ancient sweeper into sprig-maker by running it too low in fairways.  He borrows Hydro-mulcher from Roads and Drainage Dept and Hydrosprigs entire course.  Did this by trading free golf to Roads Boss--golf pro reports Dad for illegal deal making.     May '75.  Golf Digest ranks MV top 50.  Golf pro hailed for miracle turnaround. Movement afoot to name clubhouse for pro.   Jun '77.  Terrible winter, greens are dead, lost 40 acres of fairway.  Commissioners increase maint. budget by 1%.  Clubhouse to undergo extensive renovation.  Dad sprigs greens from 419 fairways.   Aug '76.  I'm the new asst. supt. at Foul Swamp GC, former Federal prison farm.  The builder only cleared fairways, left us to clear woods.  It's not woods, it's triple canopy jungle like Malaysia.  Saw Komodo dragon on #12.     Sept '76.  Not due to open for a year, but new pro arrives.  "Poofy" sits in temp pro shop trailer watching soaps while we clear jungle.   Oct '76.  After someone complains? Poofy is ordered to help us clear jungle.  I put chipper in area with dense hickory population.  Poofy attempts to feed hickory saplings into chipper and receives worst chipper whipping we ever witnessed.  Unable to take him to clinic because of debilitating laughter spasms.   Nov '76.  Eldo, crew worker forced on us by HR Dept, steals our chainsaws to purchase drugs.  Our fiscal year is 3 years, so we are down to using axes to clear jungle.   Jan '77.  Haven't seen Poofy since Oct.  Eldo now robbing crew every payday.  Can't fire him due to HR regs.   Feb '77.  Eldo carries out mass murder--still can't fire him.     Mar '77.  Cops carry Eldo off--still can't fire him.   Jun '92.  I have returned to Foul Swamp GC.  In first meeting, Parks Director asks if greens need rebuilding.  I say yes, greens have been dead for ten years.  Director asks Poofy--yep, still here--for his opinion.  Poofy says we should just rebuild one green per year.  Poofy's advice is accepted, because "He's a golf pro, he understands these things."  Someone leaves hickory sapling on Poofy's Mercedes.   Aug '92.  Ordered 50 bunker rakes, none left after last flood.  Purchasing Dept. intervenes to get better price, explains they are more experienced with procurement.   Sept '92.  50 pitchforks arrive.   Oct '92.  Mandatory 40 hours Safety Training.  While at training, crew wrecks my truck.  Safety officials halt training to give me official reprimand for being absent from work site when accident happened.  I refuse to sign reprimand, stating "It wasn't an accident, I did it on purpose, using telepathy."  They drop official reprimand.   May '93.  Ordered 300 gal. fairway spray rig with special flotation tires, as we flood once a month.  Purchasing Dept. intervenes, finds better price on tires.   July '93.  Spray rig arrives.  Tires are 3" wide, solid rubber.   Aug '93.  Ordered fungicide, due to outbreak of Rhizoct.   Aug '94.  Fungicide arrives.   Jun '95.  Irrg. Tech. has missed 249 days over last 3 years.  Can't fire him due to HR regs and his buddies at Headquarters.   Sept '95.  Made secret deal--Irrg. Tech promoted to Senior Plumber at Headquarters.  HAHAHAHAHA!  I'm learning.   Oct '96.  Crew worker refuses to ride bunker rake, charges me with abuse.  Can't fire him due to HR regs.  During aerifying, I tell him to wait in break room until I need him.  By 3rd day, he is watching Price Is Right, boasting about "getting over" when exhausted crew comes in.  Crew tries to kill him.      Jun '98.  Hot.  Africa Hot. Drought, 100 degrees. County official orders me to stop watering.  I explain stopped watering fairways last year, only watering bent greens.  He says "NO water means NO water."   July '98.  During massive rebuild of course, County Official returns and yells at me for hand watering smoking bent green.  I say I'm not watering.  He screams "Yes you are, I can SEE you!"  I say No I'm not.  He leaves in a rage to get a camera and call my boss.  I don't care.  It won't be his name on the history books for killing 20 bent greens.   Nov '99.  Due to successful rebuild/redesign of course, I am offered chance to design and build a course. I accept.  Next day, I am offered supt. job at a course close to home.  Discover it's a Muni.  I change my phone number.       

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

 

Finding The Minimum Wage Crew

Inspired by the recent cacaphonius outcry on the TurfNet Forum regarding the sparsissity of workforce, we have endeavored to reveal where to find the minimum wage crew.  

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

Rockbottum Radio: The Milleminal Golfer Study... and more

The Rockbottum Gang goes for ice cream while their Milleminial Golfer Study is revealed. After finding out how to prevent Old Man Smell, listen in on the first ever Rockbottum Board Meeting There's a big accident out on the course... and then in Storytime, Ludell catches RW on tape under the effects of Truth Serum. Presented by VinylGuard Golf.  

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

 

Lightning! Lightning! Lightning!

The Mad Golf Prophet (MGP) has just issued a Lightning Warning for the upcoming golf season.  *Note:  This is not a "Lightening" warning, the spelling preferred by heavy internet users, because that would indicate weight reduction or a severe increase in pasty, pale skin . . . like when you go to one of those fashion catwalk things.   There is no science to trust behind this prediction, it simply came from a vision the MGP had last night, complete with the whole waking up screaming, running through the cart barn shedding pajamas and hiding underneath the front porch with all Momma's hounds.  (From now on, we vow to be more careful collecting mushrooms for the poke salad.)   It's inevitable that all this record cold we've been experiencing in the East will bang up against spring and summer heat leaking out of the Gulf of Panama City, and the result will be lots of golf lightning.   As a veteran witness of golf lightning strikes, I have a couple of stories to tell.  There's "Blue Sky Willie", a fellow crew worker who was struck by lightning on a clear blue sky day while working a side job on a church steeple.  His story can be found in greater detail in the pages of "The Greens of Wrath", a rare book containing a collection of golf horror stories.   Once, while playing White Oak with Mike my GCS brother, Norm my CGCS Dad, and Virgil my Certifiable Uncle, we were approached by Ed on his fairway mower.  Ed was a true woodsman capable of predicting weather by reading the signs, tracking coyotes across an asphalt parking lot and if Ed had said he could talk to animals, well, I would have believed him.    Ed eased up to Mike and said, "Boss, ordinarily I wouldn't bother you during golf, but see them clouds building over toward Petey's Mudhole?"   ....headed this way and it's got fire in it.   We all turned to the southwest and took note of a few puny clouds.  Ed took his hat off, held it over his heart and said, "Boss, it's the God's truth, that one is headed this way and it's got fire in it."   That was good enough for Mike, so we headed for the clubhouse, amidst great howls of protest from Dad and Virgil.  (They were 2 up)  A few moments later, from the relative safety of the dining room, we watched a pine tree explode in a fiery blast, wooden shrapnel flying all about.  The shock wave must have affected Dad's hearing, because he was unable to hear us saying, "Not going back out there", over and over again.   My long-time boss, Gary Ready, a reformed Northerner from New York, once saw a pine tree take a direct hit, followed by an orange ball of fire (molten pine resin?) shooting forth and bounding down the fairway.   On another occasion, I was working an irrigation break on a cloudy day, when suddenly, all the hair on my body stood up.  I jumped out of the hole and ran a 4.4 Forty to a nearby highway overpass.  The crew remained frozen in confusion--at least until a bolt zapped a control box 50 yards away, with the force of an artillery round, but twice as loud.   After that incident, the crew had a new motto:  "When the Boss runs, everybody runs."   Even if you survive a lightning strike, you may be slightly altered.  At a PGA tournament, Dad and I approached Jerry, an old playing partner from Dad's Fresno period.  Jerry, although he was a great player and had once led the money list, was actually more well known for getting hit by lightning while standing next to Lee Trevino.  When Jerry didn't remember Dad, I was offended and suggested Jerry was either too uppity to associate with us commoners or his memory had been erased by that voltage surge.  That's also where I learned you shouldn't refer to a lightning survivor as "Sparky".   For those needing Mystic Order CEUs, here's your Study Guide for the exam on Rockbottum Lightning Theory:   #1:  God actually can hit a 1-iron.  If you suspect God is angry with you, stay inside during unstable weather.  If you just sneered at Theory #1, stay inside during any weather.   ...always grant arrogant board members the privilege of wearing 8mm steel.   #2:  Steel spikes increase your chances of being hit.  (Grounding Effect)  This is why I always grant arrogant board members the privilege of wearing 8mm steel.   #3:  Short people outlive tall people who work outside in lightning strike zones.   #4:  Lightning hates Irrigation.  At Fairytown CC, our pumps were struck twice and a black steel 4" line under a bridge was hit.  It left a big, flooded crater, which tried to eat a backhoe.  Good times.  Also on that same course, two of our new digital controllers, (Triax something) were turned into smoky, black dust.   #5:  Standing beneath trees is stupid.  Lightning is DC, or Direct Current.  DC can desync the DC that runs your heart; DC will hit the tree, follow the roots into the ground and adjust your heart beat from steady to jazz drummer.   #6:  Avoid Water.  Sometimes, lightning will just show off, with tricks like bouncing off water before hitting a tree and following roots or copper wire to get you.  8 ball in the back pocket.   #7:  Think of lightning as a sort of natural weaponized drone, up there cruising for targets.  First place it looks is a golf course.  Why?  Because golfers are typically unaware, kind of like buffalo who used to just stand there while hunters picked them off.   #8:  In a lightning event, do not run for the clubhouse, as that's where most of the targets are.  It's like hiding behind a tank on the battlefield--that's what the big guns are aiming at.   #9:  It's your clothes.  More golfers are hit than maintenance staff.  The only reason has to be the loud, mismatched clothing, as well as the prissy fashion statements the "fashion editors" try to trick us into wearing.   #10:  Remove Flagsticks.  Golfers rarely respond to warning sirens, common sense suggestions, or marshals frantically pointing toward Petey's Mudhole.  That's why here at Rockbottum CC, we remove the flagsticks, thus forcing the golfers to suspend play.  Since golfer safety is the pro shop's responsibility, the pro is the natural choice to go out and collect the flagsticks.  (Also, we allow our pro to wear steel spikes.)

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

 

Alert! Golf Course Dogs Are At Risk

The vast Rockbottum CC intel surveillance net has picked up increased anti-golf dog chatter while monitoring golf course board meetings.   An informant over at Prissy Drawers Country Club told us that during a recent visit to Rockbottum CC, their Green Chairman, Delbert Spores, had an uncomfortable experience with Chopper, our golf course dog.   Delbert said Chopper and friends were appallingly insensitive in their ridicule of his post round Prancersize workout.   To learn more, study this Mad Golf Prophet film from 2011.          

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

 

Rockbottum Radio: Real News from Rockbottum

In this Rockbottum Radio audiocast, the gang in the Rockbottum pro shop discuss Bad Member Discipline (especially Norbert Tuchus)... UFOs beaming up night watermen... Global Cooling... Global Warming... Golf Business Projections and... Storytime.   Plus, Ludell gives us his online dating secrets (no, not FarmersOnly.com), starting with dead malls and ice cream truck jingles.   Presented by VinylGuard.  

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

 

What The Great Atlanta Ice Storm of '73 Taught Me About Golf

It was 45 years ago today that we entered the biggest and baddest of Atlanta's winter storms, The Great Ice Storm of '73.  With little warning, icy rain fell for hours and then froze like clear steel on Atlanta's trees, roads and power lines.  Big pines began to crash down on houses, splintering utility poles and blocking roads.  Transformers exploded like incoming artillery and lit up the Atlanta night with freakish blue arcs of hot light.  Everything went dark.  Black ice covered sidewalks, steps and every road for miles.   Then, unlike typical Atlanta weather patterns, it did not warm up.  It stayed cold, below 17 degrees, for several days.  When power was finally restored, more trees fell and things went dark again.  In our Druid Hills neighborhood, we were without power for ten days.  Here are a few heavily edited excerpts from my journal during that time:   Day One:  Dad is worried about the golf course.  He has decided we must go in to work.  I suspect he just wants to hit range balls.  I protest.  "Dad, it's froze out there." "Dammitboy!"  Dad barks at me while seeing if he can swing a 7-iron in an army surplus arctic parka.  (I was one of many in that era who thought my first name was Dammit.)  "We should let it melt, Dad." "Boy, we lived in the Bavarian Alps for six years, we can handle a little cold and ice." "Ain't us I'm worried about, it's them Georgians out there." Irrigation pump is cracked.  Maybe we need a pump house. We rolled out in my '66 VW Westphalia Camper.  Since there were very few fools on the road--just us--we made the 20 minute drive to Little Mountain CC in two hours of white knuckle driving, sliding sideways into a number of non-functioning red light confrontations and arrived safely . . . if you don't count my damaged long underwear bottoms.   We found the course covered in downed pine trees, later counting out around 3,000.  Most were small, 15' tall, four-inch diameter and almost all are uprooted.  A few are splintered, broken halfway.  Only about 75 really big trees down.   Clubhouse pipes are frozen.  In the cart barn, a previously unknown ancient bored well about 4' across, opened up and tried to swallow an E-Z-Go.  It was wedged in there really good.  I was unable to get it to go the rest of the way.   At the barn, it's bad.  No equipment was winterized--no mechanic--only survivors are our '37 Ford pickup, a Ford tractor from the 17th century, a Toro walking greensmower--thankfully, it's air-cooled, no radiator--and a Homelite XL-12 chainsaw with a bow affixed instead of a bar.     Our newest truck, a '54 Dodge, is dead.  I pulled it into the barn and its bodily fluids leaked all over the dirt floor.  I shouldn't have cranked it.  Irrigation pump is cracked.  Maybe we need a pump house.  The spray rig is probably dead, not sure, haven't used it yet because it has no boom or jets.  Also, spray rig wheels were cannibalized from an old tractor and it doesn't look right.  Should have used the front tires instead.  F-10 looks like it was shot with a .50 AA gun, but it was like that before the storm.  Dad tells me to call and see if we have insurance but they won't answer.  After holding for an hour, I determine our phones are dead.  No power for cart chargers, so cart batteries are dead, but that's kind of normal.   Day Two:  Dad hands me the Homelite and tells me to get busy cutting trees off the fairways.  Homelite has a special chain that keeps it from kicking back.  It also keeps it from cutting.  I spend the whole morning trying to crank it.  Apparently the manual oil pump trigger is not the starter.   Day Three:  My VW's motor blows up on I-20.  Dad comes to get me and scowls like I did it to avoid work.  (You sabotage one walk mower at age 14 and from then on . . . )   Day Four:  VW is missing.  I think the police stole it.  I begin teaching myself the art of the chainsaw.  Almost cut my head off on the first frozen pine.  This saw doesn't work by cutting, it's more of a woodburning kit.  I ask Dad for a new saw and he scowls at me.  I think he muttered "Dumb-ass", but not sure.   Day Five:  Cut through large pine with bow saw and tree comes back together--inside the bow.  Homelite forgot to put a cutting chain inside the bow.  Saw is stuck.  Rufus, the 80 year old F-10 driver and AM radio preacher who is helping me by watching, says "Boy, you stuck that saw real good." Dad brings the tractor and pulls tree apart while I wrestle the saw loose.  Dad says nothing, just scowls at me.  He has also started shaking his head at me.  I think he is doing that now as a substitute for cussing me, cause I told Momma about the "Dumb-ass" comment and she told the preacher.   Day Six of the Ongoing Ice Storm Crisis:  Still no power and no shower yet.  Have begun stinking like a sewer goat.  No one says anything, probably because the only water is lake water and it requires an axe. Water beads up on me like I've been Turtle Waxed. Day Seven:  Discovered strange phenomena--some uprooted trees, when freed of upper branches, suddenly and violently stand upright.  A medium sized pine leaped to attention just as I reduced its length to 12'.  It snatched the bow saw from me and flung it through the air like a motorized tomahawk.  Saw lands 20' away, up on a tangled clump of twisted, broken limbs.  As I climb up to retrieve saw, Dad shows up. "Always screwing around.  Just can't help it, can you, boy?" "Dad, I think this might be how the Philistines discovered catapults." Dad shakes his head at me.   Day Eight:  Still no shower.  Doesn't matter anymore, because now I am waterproof.  Water beads up on me like I've been Turtle Waxed.  Granny's Country Kitchen has power, so we rush over there at lunch.  The lunch ladies behind the counter are apparently ill.  They keep gagging.  Must be contagious, a dog that came up to me in the parking lot had the same illness. Tonight, Dad's gym at Toco Hills had power.  Ran up there and got in shower just as power went out again.  Very dark in the gym and the water turns cold quick.  I'm nervous about the situation.  I yell out in terror when a hand grabs my butt.  Turns out it was my hand--didn't recognize it because it was partially frozen.   Day 11:  Still below freezing, but power back on.  Finished dragging off trees and limbs.  It's a shocking change!  The course looks so open and inviting, instead of narrow and suffocating.  New theory:  Tree-lined courses are an abomination.  Real golf should be played on wide open spaces.   Day 15:  Dad does extensive After-Action Analysis, reveals new plan for future golf operations. *Hire mechanic, no matter what, even if half the crew is terminated.  I'm guessing that half is me. *Winterize everything.  I suggest we ask Palmer Maples how to winterize trees.  Dad shakes head. *Weather forecasts in the future will be treated simply as a call to place bets. *Dad says I need to learn how to properly operate a saw.  I agree and suggest a pre-emptive strike on any trees near greens, tees, fairways and the golf course.  Dad shakes head. *VW turns up forty miles east.  A policeman has it.   Day 75:  Dad is offered a big muni.  Looks like I will escape any more tree work.   Day 80:  First day on new job.  They had massive tree damage, too.  Dad hands me an axe, points toward pile of logs the size of a high rise and tells me to split it for firewood.   Day 125:  The axe is now a part of me.  I have named her Brunhilda.  Also I have become a Norseman . . . with a severe duck-hook from the wood-busting technique of throwing the axe-head through impact.   Day 16,425:  Still have the hook.  Also panic attacks when houses line left side of fairway.  Tendency to take off running at first sound of glass breaking and car alarms.  Discovered Top-Flites can penetrate stucco.   Famous quote: "I learned more from hard times on the job than I did in college."                                                    RW Wilson, NW, MOG

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

Christmas at Rockbottum...

In this podcast on Rockbottum Radio, I provide some Christmas Tips from Rockbottum, including: dealing with kids at Christmas speeding up play (hint: "Fill 'em, sod 'em, mow 'em") making golf affordable and fun doing something with the "r" word PLUS: Skeletal Golf Predictions and Projections! Lastly, I wind it up with a golf course Christmas story in Storytime. Presented by our friends at VinylGuard Golf.  

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

 

Ludell's Three Things You Need To Know

*Note:  This week's guest columnist is Ludell Hogwaller.   There are three things "they" are hiding from you, so I guess it's up to us Ludditians to fire a warning flare, since half our day isn't consumed with all that social media mutual admiration society fawning and gushing and smoke blowing.   First, there are dark rumors going around about veteran superintendents supposedly being terminated for making mistakes like having the audacity to disagree with the new wave of "M" board members... or maybe it's just for being older than 47.   . . . frog-marched us off his lawn because we weren't wearing all white.   Next, croquet is spreading.  Where I live, every big club is either building or expanding their croquet facilities.  I have been told, by a credible but unnamed source, that croquet is more popular at some clubs than golf.  Perhaps it's due to the aging of country club clientele or how long it takes to play a round of golf now, but whatever is behind it, I do know this:  We had all better study up on croquet if we don't want to get caught behind the wave.
There are rules to croquet that you need to know, especially if you want to avoid something embarrassing, like what happened to Buddy and me last week.  We were playing croquet -- you know, just checking it out -- and this angry official accosted us and frog-marched us off his lawn because we weren't wearing all white.  Apparently all white uniforms are important during croquet.   Well, we went out to the truck to change and came back wearing all white, in fact, the only white clothing we own, our Tighty-Whiteys.  This infuriated the aforementioned referee fellow and he threatened us with a mallet and that was when we learned that croquet keeps you in pretty good shape, because for a guy in his late 90s, he sure put up a good struggle.  It took both of us to hold him down and he refused to holler "Calf Rope" no matter how hard we twisted his good leg.   Item #3:  Denmark.  I'll bet you didn't know that golf courses in Denmark are not allowed to use pesticides.  Talk about Skeletal Golf... I read where a golfer from the US was playing a course in Copenhagen and saw a dandelion on the fairway and had to be airlifted to the nearest hospital.  I, for one, am thrilled at this development.  This could mean a move back toward rugged golf and away from the modern cupcake and lace doilies version of golf.   This could mean a move back toward rugged golf and away from the modern cupcake and lace doilies version of golf...   For those who think this trend will never make it to our shores, I would caution you to reconsider.  I would have never believed that we would one day be seeing guys wearing suits four sizes too small, with skinny pants that should be restricted by law to the female fashion world... and guys with their hair tied back in a bun that used to mean you were an octogenarian librarian and then there's that whole fake lumberjack look.  Flannel and beards with an Elvis cut and tight sidewalls -- I'm pretty sure all this came from Europe.   I'm just sayin'... we had all better look into this whole Euro-no-pesticides, millennial-fashion-and-croquet thing if we want to keep our jobs in a world that changes faster every day.  To prove I'm still current, I'll be wearing yoga pants in my next film, along with a greasy pompadour and a suit I found in the kid's department at Bloomingdale's.

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

 

The Leading Killer of Golf

In this week's Skeletal Golf Theory, we focus our cameras on The Leading Killer of Golf.   SGT is part of Rockbottum Country Club, Deep in The TurfNet Zone, where you'll find straight up, non-cupcake golf course operations analysis, on golf's longest running webisode.  

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

 

A (serious) chat with Mark Hoban: What's he into now?

In this episode of Rockbottum Radio, I have a serious chat with envelope-pusher Mark Hoban, superintendent at Rivermont Golf Club in John's Creek, GA. One of the true "mad scientists" of the golf course maintenance world, Mark is constantly applying his holistic view of soil/plant management to new endeavors on the golf course. And he always keeps one eye on reducing inputs and subsequent costs.   Mark fills us in on his current delvings into biochar, compost extracts (as opposed to compost tea... which he explains the difference), new applications for the Air2G2 machine, an untraditional take on beekeeping, and growing mushrooms for the club restaurant.     Presented by VinylGuard Golf.

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

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