December 1989. Louisville, Colorado (between Boulder and Denver)
Like most supers in Colorado, late November and early December had me playing the guessing game of applying snow mold protection and blowing out the irrigation system. Go too late and there can be absolute hell to pay. Go too early and well, there can be absolute hell to pay. In my situation, it was worse, as I had been growing in a course and we were pushing just as hard to get things up and growing as is possible. So the idea of hardening off into happy grass dormant wonderland was not happening.
I'll back up a bit. I had taken this impossible job where I was handling the finish of construction, grassing and grow in. My staff was 6 people. Yup, that's how we did it back then. A bizarre form of minimalism based on not having any money because the project spent all the money on entrance signs and clubhouse designs. We reverse change-ordered the general contractor and took the job over. Insanity. And I didn't know better. I was 24 years old.
So it's December. And we are way behind. Way way behind. And I think to myself, what else could go wrong? Yeah... a bad thought. But you won't guess what's coming.
We had finished the snow mold sprays. We had blown out most of the irrigation system in a minor snowstorm, with just one small section to go that I wanted to leave on to try to get some last chance water on the last holes we had seeded. It had been cold, but clear and I needed the water.
We had managed to just about make it to some kind of seasonal stopping point. I was re-wiring an irrigation clock and a huge windstorm began. One of those kind of crazy Colorado winds that starts slowly and suddenly builds to "name your dog Toto" kind of intensity. Me and my red slippers, aka Red Wing boots, were hunkered down behind the clock, dirt in my eyes. Cold as the wicked witch's nipples and I thought I heard something. I wasn't about to break from my place of protection. So maybe it was just a flying cow or something.
I'd say the microburst lasted about 5 minutes. It seemed like an hour. It went from windy from a general direction to just outright swirling around me. I looked at some trees that were looking like those silly dancing men that car dealerships put in front of their places to entice you to look again. When it stopped a little I looked up. Happy that a tree didn't fall on me and something in my field of view didn't seem right. At all.
In the distance, an object. A huge one. Right in the middle of a tee box area. My brain took a moment to take in the scene and all at once, my entire system said, "airplane". I was looking at the remains of an airplane. Tail section in the air. Wings crumpled. I froze. Because back in those days there were no cell phones in my pocket to call anyone or start shooting video with and for what I am sure was just a brief moment, I totally froze. And then it occurred to me that I ought to see if anyone was alive. And so I started running. Not really knowing what I would do when I got there.
(This is the part where, in any decent blog post, a picture of a plane crash on the golf course should be. I don't have any pics of any of this. The roll of slides that I took was mishandled somehow and the film was exposed. And I don't feel like putting a pic of another crash is in good taste.)
Being first on the scene isn't always a good thing. It was pretty clear to me that I just ran up on two dead guys. One body was completely decapitated. One had a steering yoke through his chest. My CPR training on a dummy with fake boobs and nice complexion didn't include the chapter on dudes with missing heads and stuff in their chest where you were supposed to be doing "compressions". Clearly it was time to back away. The smell of fuel punctuated this idea.
The resulting circus was crazy. Others had seen the plane go down and had managed to call 911. And so from a back road to the property, the first responders rolled in. The first fire guy that I dealt with was pretty much an asshole telling me to get the hell out of there as he cut a barbed wire fence and motioned for this huge truck to drive right up on a newly seeded area. The truck promptly sunk to its wheel wells. Earning me even more yells from Joe Volunteer Fire Dude. As if I meant for the truck to submarine. (it took two huge tow trucks to free the fire beast, but that's another story)
Another truck took out a sprinkler head and of course it was pressurized. Old Faithful drenched everyone around as the wind played the shot perfect and sent water all over the scene. I ran for a valve key and got that one handled. But not before the whole world was yelling at me.
My afternoon was spent trying to manage traffic from police, fire, news and NTSB people. The National Transportation Safety Board guys ended up being really cool. But I think in the beginning, they were as pissed off as I was at the muddy carnage that the scene had become. A day later when they interviewed me for the their reports, they laughed at me when I described the scene I saw upon first reaching the plane. "This wasn't even a bad one", the investigator said. And I replied something to the effect of only one missing head must be a blessing, or some such.
Years later, when I got my pilot's license I often thought about the headless and chestless dudes that, according to the NTSB, made a bad decision to fly that day in conditions that their plane couldn't handle. And I vowed to become a student of the weather and the situation I would be flying in. No matter what. What this ultimately did was show me that unless my backyard oil well came in, I couldn't afford to buy the aircraft that would be awesome enough to make me more efficient than Southwest airlines. But I still love everything about aviation.
So when people talk about December Turfhead things, those discussions usually lead to snow mold and irrigation. I tend to remember plane crashes, which I'm glad everyone else doesn't have in their brains.
Join Kevin Ross of On Course Turf and me for a Jam Session like no other!
Call it experimental or explorational or just plan fun. Kevin and I sit down for a session. And no topic is off limits. With more than 60 years of combined experience in direct hands on agronomy life, there is bound to be some wisdom. And good chops to hear.
This session includes riffs around Tiger Woods, Anxiety and Depression, Clipping Volume and more.
The mics and recorders are on. You get to enjoy The Jam.
Armen Suny and host Dave Wilber turn their thinking amps up to 11 and have a session. And you are invited!
From sand-based greens to robotic mowers. From chaining old rollers near golf shops to perfect biology. And more. When Armen and Dave sit and jam, anything can and usually does happen.
Enjoy this episode as a way to get motivated as the Spring of 2018 is upon us!!
The Turfgrass Zealot Project is only on TurfNet.com. And ANYONE can listen!
A great friend of TurfNet, Jerry Coldiron, needs to be remembered as the wonderful, amazing man that he was.
Peter McCormick, founder and Maestro of TurfNet, chats with me about the passing of a great friend and Turfhead. To so many, Jerry was a light of positive influence... and his untimely and unexpected passing will leave a huge hole in the industry.
We speak candidly about what relationships mean and how the relationships that last are formed and maintained. And we tell some good stories about a good guy.
If you didn't know Jerry, you will know him. And if you knew Jerry, you will know him better.
Please note: A tribute site is under development at http://jerrycoldironembracelife.us. The fund set up in Jerry's memory (while a foundation is being established) can be found at https://givehope.com/Jerry-Coldiron-Embrace-Life. Please consider a donation'
I don't do many speaking gigs.
That seems weird for a guy who loves and eats and drinks communication. It's not that I'm afraid of public speaking. That fear went away long ago. It's not that I don't love the actual events. I marvel at the quality of the education that is presented to Turfheads and how good the interactions can be.
What makes me take on just a few of these every year and be very picky about who I am speaking to has to do with the mental side of preparing for these very important events. You see, I have been to so many bad talks and bad presentations, that next to being a fried in oil, my biggest fear is being awful. Yes, awful comes in many levels, but still...If you suck, you suck. If you don't deliver, well, no one has the pizza.
Next week, I am speaking to the Intermountain GCSA, the Utah and surrounding area group. Longtime TurfNet member and star interviewee of one of my podcasts, Justin Woodland invited me and well, he's just not the kind of guy that you turn down. And he also told me that my fellow TurfNet contributor Hector Velasquez was going to be part of the show. Can't-miss a moment with Hector. Have called Woody a friend for some time and have never met him in person. Wendover, Nevada is close to places I go. Just couldn't find a reason to say no.
Yes, awful comes in many levels, but still...If you suck, you suck. If you don't deliver, well, no one has the pizza.
Over the last several weeks, I've been obsessing about the two, 2-hour talks I have to give. One is on Communications and one is about Carbon Fertilization and if you know me, you know that I can sit and talk endlessly on these subjects. They are my favorite. My passion. My je ne sais quoi (that's, "certain special something" to you non-French speakers out there). I can bore the paint right off the wall with my brain melting database of human blather on these subjects. I have hard drives full of pictures, charts, graphs, studies, monkeys, soil tests and all the related stupid speaker gear that is used to make sumo-sized powerpoint presentations and numb minds with visuals and stories.
But that's not what I wanna do. And that's not what people need. I don't think that endless sets of digitally enhanced presentations with all the cool and unique transitions are the deal. Think about it. As Winter approaches, you will go to many seminars to keep up with our ever changing world. And there will be 1000's of slides squashed into hard drives to drive these points home. Data. Chart. Graph. Cool Pic. Cooler pic of next level technique..... yawn.
So I try to bring something different. Yes. I am a slave to Powerpoint and KeyNote. They help me create a roadmap, not because I get lost, but because I tend to love side trips, often in the opposite direction.
Next week, I am speaking to the Intermountain GCSA, the Utah and surrounding area group. Longtime TurfNet member and
star interviewee of one of my podcasts, Justin Woodland invited me and well, he's just not the kind of guy that you turn down.
But I demand interaction. I often make people work together in dyads or triads or some kind of small group. I often throw out problem-solving sessions that are designed to make people think, not just about the topic at hand, but how they present and interact with that topic.
And I like to read the room. Demographics. Job Titles. Part of the Country. Hangover. After a big lunch. Etc. All this comes into play.
I paid a lot of money a few years back to attend a seminar called "World's Greatest Speaker Training". The seminar leaders were: Brendon Burchard, online marketing and seminar guru; Bo Eason, Ex NFL Player and star of an award-winning one-man play; Roger Love, THE Vocal Coach to the stars. I took it all in and you know what the big takeaway was? Simple. Know and interact with your audience in ways they have never been known or interacted with. Yeah. Simple. And so complicated. Four days of pushing my limits by watching real professionals push theirs. Hmmmmm. Interesting. I was riveted because they were pushing hard.
So today, a few days away from the event, I am in Agony. I am sorting through all the notes and materials that I have to make sure that I create a roadmap that helps me deliver. I feel the responsibility and the weight of making sure I'm prepped and ready, down to having the right socks on.
And I am feeling Joy. What a cool thing and a cool opportunity to come and share. I'm not the end all oracle of knowledge. But the real joy will be seeing people finding their own way through the info with a little guidance.
And let me ask you this, when you go and see me speak or anyone else, would you remember that the speaking gig is a pretty tough gig? If there is tech difficulty or the occasional stage fright or something else, would you be kind? If there is a question and answer opportunity, ask questions. Follow that person's social media after their talk and see what comes up. Remember they traveled a distance to get there and will go yet another to get home.
I don't do many speaking gigs. And I thought I would let you see why.
Why is The Open Championship of Golf required watching, listening and study for Turfheads?
Do you know that The Open was once an event set aside for greenkeepers, clubmakers and caddies? What are the key features of Royal Birkdale, host of the 146th year that this event has been played? How does the weather and the grasses play into who will win and who will lose?
This is my impassioned opinion about the Soul Surfing that is links golf. And why events played on The Links are so special. Because in order to understand the game's past and present, you have to have some Open Championship intelligence.
No guests. Just me and the guy working on my front door banging away! You asked for it! 100% Wilber.
The Turfgrass Zealot Project is only on TurfNet Radio..
You don't know Justin Woodland. Ok, maybe you do. But you probably don't. And guess what? You need to know him. Here is your chance.
Justin is one of those people that I think should be required meeting if you are going to understand the reality of the business of golf and of Greenkeeping itself. He's got the "It" factor that I look for and yet, will probably never see what so many think is "the spotlight". Justin is doing it his way. And he's now got a fire to help others learn. A grass roots mentality. Please pardon the pun.
I've been saving this interview for just the right time. This is it.
The Turfgrass Zealot Project is only on TurfNet Radio.
Innovation. It's one of the great and wonderful words in our business. I get to chat with Kevin Hicks, superintendent at Coeur d'Alene Golf Club about thinking ahead.
How's your strategy for looking at new ways to do the same old, same old? Or does it get old at all?
A great interview with one of the most forward thinking supers in our business. And we get to talk about all kinds of everything that always leads back to talking grass.
If I have a man crush, it may be with Thomas Bastis of the California Golf Club of San Francisco. That may not be much of a secret, but it's true.
Thomas and I had a chance to record a cool interview talking about education and giving back as a Superintendent. It's a wonderful concept that doesn't always work.
This podcast represents my return from a brief sabbatical to get reenergized and to get through some personal challenges as well.
I'm excited to have Thomas be my first guest for the restart.
The Turfgrass Zealot Project is only on TurfNet.com
Join me as I interview Kevin Ross, CGCS, about the state of the "superintendent job" and his upcoming retirement from the golf course.
We talk about everything. Especially his upcoming job change. And his time at The Ryder Cup. And much much more.
I love Kevin. He's one of my favorite people and favorite Turfheads. Anywhere.
So I am humbled and honored to have him join us!
About this time of year, every year, I get some similar communications. They may be different in content, but the context is simple. Sometime, during the course of the season, someone did someone wrong. Be it a GM throwing a super under the bus, a super trashing an assistant, a sales rep repeating something that was said in confidence, etc. You get the picture.
I studied this a while back when I didn't understand why bad stuff kept happening to good people. And vice versa. It made things make a lot more sense. Maybe it will help you. As these are, indeed, confusing times for many.
And when asked about these things, my wise old agronomy guy spirit is replaced with the wise old guru spirit and I often talk about Karma. It's easy to explain bad things away with that word. A lot of people do that. I however, have a deeper understanding and have wanted to write about it. By the way, Wise Old Agronomist and Guru are not roles I seek. It just kind of happens. And I'm often too humble to admit how often.
Now, I realize that the word Karma can bring along some religious baggage. Try, for a moment, not to see this as an eastern religion concept. It's an old Sanskrit word, but the implications are used in nearly every humanist and theological circle. I promise, I'm not trying to convert you from whatever your belief is. But for sure, I see the same actions no matter the credo involved. I studied this a while back when I didn't understand why bad stuff kept happening to good people and to me. And vice versa. It made things make a lot more sense. Maybe it will help you. As these are, indeed, confusing times for many.
The 12 Laws of Karma
1. The Great Law. Whatever we put into anything, (the universe, to use hippie speak), will come back to us.
2. The Law of Creation. Things do not happen by themselves; we need to make them happen.
3. The Law of Humility. One must accept something in order to change it.
4. The Law of Growth. When we change ourselves, Our lives follow suit and change too.
5. The Law of Responsibility. We must take responsibility for what is in our lives.
6. The Law of Connection. The past, the present and the future are all connected.
7. The Law of Focus. It is impossible to think of two or more different things at the very same time.
8. The Law of Giving and Hospitality. Are we welcoming others by matching our behaviors to our thoughts and actions?
9. The Law of Here and Now. One can not be alive in the present if they are always looking backward.
10. The Law of Change. History repeats itself until we learn from it and change our path.
11. The Law of Patience and Reward. The most valuable things require persistence in thoughts and actions.
12. The Law of Significance. Rewards are a direct result of the energy and effort we put into seeking.
OK. I get it. Kind of lofty stuff. But if you read that list a few times, how many of your life troubles or hassles could be better explained by one or more of those laws.
Here's an example. Evil GM or Club President or other person(s) of such loft rises to power and becomes a hassle. You survive. And the following year, another uprising. It's at this point, where you may want take a look at some Karmic Law and see if you are inviting this in, learning from the event, changing your path or simply giving it too much weight. Perhaps, one of the things that just happens, is that someone in power just always becomes an ass. And you, unless you leave the position or the place will have to understand this is how it works. And that in the end, you put your positive energy out there and you survive the ass uprising.
And so, the hard question is based on The Great Law. What did you put in, and what is now coming back at you. Perhaps with harder lessons every time.
Another. No matter what, your assistant, mechanic, or whoever just doesn't get it. So you finish the season in frustration, get them out the door and the same thing happens the following year. Could it be that the universe is trying to tell you that until you change your hire process or your training process that nothing is going to change? Back around the mountain you go.
One more. You are a great super. Everyone would love to have your job. But marriage number 3 is on the rocks, your kids have grown up and don't know you and life isn't so fab. And so, the hard question is based on The Great Law. What did you put in, and what is now coming back at you? Perhaps with harder lessons every time. Do you think maybe change might help?
But marriage number 3 is on the rocks, your kids have grown up and don't know you and life isn't so fab...
Yeah. It's some heavy shit. Because Karma doesn't absolve us from responsibility. Instead, it makes for interesting dissection of what and who we are. And notice in each example, we are not looking at the faults of others. We are looking at ourselves. And that's the toughest thing to do. Often.
Here's a personal example from my process in this. For many years, I carried quite a big chip on my shoulder because my unique perspective and often outspoken views were not as accepted by the "agronomic establishment" as I wanted them to be. I watched other more politically correct turfheads rise in the scene and I knew that i was just better than they were, smarter, more creative, etc. I was often very pissed off when I would see something like a seminar lineup or event where I would have been a natural contributor. Silly. I know. wasted energy. But it was affecting me in a big way. It was trashing my focus. And I counted my actual accomplishments (like a pretty awesome gig at TurfNet) as lesser than they really are.
So I did some examination. Some really good mentors encouraged this, by the way. I wanted nothing to do with "growth" this way. And what have I learned? Simple. One, some of the things I believed were simply not so. A story made up. Simple as that. And two, that I often got in my own way with a focus set backward, instead of forward. Both of these things, indeed, kept me from putting good stuff out in the universe. Like I hope this is. Like every word I write or speak, now done with more intention as to who I am, and who I see in front of me.
I thought I'd share some spiritual wisdom for some of you who may be wondering, why?.
I don't love large tournament golf.
I don't. It is a degree of unreality that I've been outspoken about for years. Except for The Ryder Cup. If all the other events vanished, I'd be ok. But take away the greatness of The Ryder Cup and you'd hear me cry "Foul". Loudly. To me, there simply is no better competition in our world. Keep reading. I'll make you a convert.
1. Stroke Play Sucks. When I think back to the roots of golf, I just don't see two guys going out and having a wee nip at the end talking about how many strokes it took to win or lose. I think it was more simple than that. in my mind's eye, the score was settled hole by hole. Be it 5, 18 or 33 holes played, one did better than the other. A match. Match play rocks.
My favorite round of golf ever was at The Old Course at St. Andrews. Playing against my good friend and great Super, Jim Ferrin. Jim is a great golfer. I mostly suck. So we played a match. And the resulting afternoon in wind, sun, rain and joyful celebration of great shots and the agony of defeat of missed putts was awesome. And as we walked onto the 17th tee, thanks to me getting it together for the last three holes, we were even. Had it been stroke play, I would have drug my ass through a back nine of agony. Instead, I had a chance to beat him like a drum. To scrap hard. A poor drive on 18 ruined that chance. But still, what a moment. That's match play.
Had it been stroke play, I would have drug my ass through a back nine of agony. Instead, I had a chance to beat him like a drum...
2. America vs. Europe. I love this so much. It's a match-up for the ages. It's always been this way The Colonials vs. The Homeland or some such. Yes, there are other continents, but there is something to the whole "where it began" versus "where it caught fire thing".
3. The Venues. Brookline, Medina, Celtic Manor, The K Club, Lindrick, The Belfry... and now Hazeltine. The site selections are a list of wonderful and unique. Not typical. Not types. Interesting venues with history and wonder. Look at this year, Hazeltine's 524-yard par 4. So cool. The Cup is always played somewhere cool. Somewhere unique.
4. Chris Tritabaugh. Yes, I know, he won't be at every event. But in 2016, it's the year of the Trit. And for me, this makes it even more exciting, because I have watched this guy for a long time and labeled him as special. I remember when I got the news that he got the job at Hazeltine National. I simply said to myself, my favorite event will have a favorite super. And of course, Chris has handled this thing really well. Really, really well. And he's done it with his own style, beard, quirks (he walks everywhere) and agronomy. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that his name is going to be mentioned with so many of the innovative greats of greenkeeping. Yup, Woods, Crockford and Tritabaugh will be mentioned in my list of great thinkers.
Chris has handled this thing really well. Really, really well. And he's done it with his own style, beard, quirks (he walks everywhere) and agronomy....
5. Energy. Sure, tournament goers and viewers are able to root for their faves. And they do. And that's cool. But nothing is as cool as the spirit of rooting for a match play team. Even the Olympic Games fell short here. They didn't create the atmosphere of what goes on with the Ryder Cup. Yes, this causes some folks to get a little out of hand. Going far beyond the occasional yelling of the "Babba Booey". And every year, the statement is issued for fans to respect the history of the game. Well, that sorta works. But really, it's an atmosphere of fun and a spirit of everyone having a good time in a game that doesn't always have that.
6. The Level of Emotion in the Players. I'm pretty well aware of the pressure that comes onto professional golfers. Certainly, there are hundreds of great players that were gutted by the pressure of playing their first mini-tour events and ran home to work at Golfsmith or to give lessons to the 9-hole ladies' club champion. So often, tour players just have to keep emotion bottled up. But the truth is, match play at the level of Ryder Cup can bring even the most robotic of players out of their shell. I'll bet we even see the Davis Love version 3 Robot blink away some tears. He will. Watch close.
7. The "Next Time" Factor. One team will win and one will lose. And both of them have next time to look forward to. You get it, right? Like there will be plans made, analysis done, opinions given and all that sort of thing that will allow a plan to be set forth to not lose again or to win again. That's cool. It sends people into greatness.
Now, as I write this, I am enduring the absurdity of Johnny Miller comments about bluegrass and perhaps the worst commercial I have ever seen with Davis Love, version 3. That's ok. I love it. I absolutely love it. And can I encourage you to love it too? Can I encourage you, next time you play golf, to play a match? Can I implore you to make that match a regular thing so you can plan the next time? Can I ask you to get a bit zany and have some fun with golf? Do it. You won't regret it. At all.
I got a chance to chat with Hazeltine National's Golf Course Superintendent Chris Tritabaugh about Ryder Cup preparations.
Chris was kind enough to give some time for a conversation about his last preparations for the 2016 Ryder Cup. A special guy and a special episode and a special event.
The Turfgrass Zealot Project is brought to you by Klingstone, proven bunker performance for over 15 years.
Ike Stephens is a legend. His YouTube videos about trucking and the trucking lifestyle are known as some of the most unique on the internet.
Join me as I get to know Ike. You may not think of Ike as a "turfhead", but the more he speaks, the more you realize that trucking and turfgrass management have a lot in common. And in a day and age where long hours and hard work aren't always understood, both trucking and turfgrass management share a certain knowledge. And that knowledge is about getting the job done and having fun doing it.
Ike shares his creative side in making videos, loving music and getting truckers together for social events.
Don't miss one of the more unique guests we have ever had on the TZP. You may never know, Ike could be one of the next reality TV stars!
The Turfgrass Zealot Project is sponsored by Klingstone. Proven Bunker Performance for over 15 Years.
A recent industry magazine (it doesn't matter who), is talking about sales with the moniker of "The Dark Side". I hate this shitty phrase. And I'm gonna let my anger turn to words here. Ok..it's a rant. I often give good rant. Or so I'm told. So hold on tight. It's E-ticket rant time with Wilber.
Before I hung my shingle as an independent consultant in the early 90's, I was a superintendent. Then when the world's finances collapsed in 2007, I took a job for seven years as the Director of Agronomy for an independent turf distributor. They are a small and wonderful company who I didn't always understand but in many ways admire. Now that we are divorced, I think we like each other.
What I did, in truth, was sell. Yes, I talked about grass and did "consultations". And we put on some of the best seminars I have ever seen. But everything in a distribution-oriented world is sales. Inside of sales, there is profit, inventory, transportation, agronomy and all kinds of other things to manage. But at the end of the day, it was sales. Sales doesn't have to be crooked. It isn't the old days. At all.
I spent seven years trying to buck that system. It made me miserable. And it made the people I worked for less than happy with me (read... miserable) a lot of the time. But I learned a ton. And it was rewarding when dealing with actual "on the ground stuff". I never fully embraced the whole sales thing, in part because I was led to believe, years before, that sales was, in fact, The Dark Side. That was bullshit. It was bad programming and in a lot of ways, that programming came from a relatively old school superintendent, my first.
I found out that there were things about being in sales that I and most turfheads just didn't understand. Again, part of this was because as a young superintendent, who had all the answers, I didn't think I needed anyone's help. Or advice. Or... whatever. So my attitude was simple: bring what I order, when I order it, for the price I wanna pay. Simple. I didn't like "appointments". And I hated the gossip, because sometimes it was about me, the youngster who was doing things differently than most others.
...part of this was because as a young superintendent, who had all the answers, I didn't think I needed anyone's help. Or advice. Or... whatever.
My days of grass growing was a different time. Communications were different. People were different. The business was different. And quite frankly, shitty sales people could get away with being out there because they were needed differently. They were more about hauling things around. And easy to beat up for prices.
But here we are in the modern age. And with this age needs to come the reality that sales in our industry is a tough, technical and demanding gig. In a lot of ways, way more demanding than growing grass. Gasp! What is this blasphemy? Well, what I have to say is that everyone ought to have the experience of doing 30-50,000 miles in a vehicle, talking on the phone six hours a day, and simply running with their hair on fire. They should feel the heartbreak when a super doesn't bother to show up for an appointment, doesn't ever return calls, doesn't even try to understand what building a good relationship could mean to their situation. What actual good service really is. They should understand that good sales people probably work way more hours than most supers when you account for travel, study, bookwork and the like. For me, 20 hour days were common. Common.
...everyone ought to have the experience of doing 30-50,000 miles in a vehicle, talking on the phone six hours a day, and simply running with their hair on fire.
Are sales people perfect? Oh, Hell No! I have seen so much dumb stuff done in the name of sales. So much. Lies. Gimmicks, You name it. But guess what, I've seen a much larger list of stupid done by supers. Sorry. That's the truth. And a lot of times some of the sales stupidity does not come from the guys in the field. It's in the corporate offices where bad agribiz gets dreamed up.
This whole "Dark Side" thing to me is a cop out, in many ways. One, it lets the idiots off the hook. By being proclaimed part of the dark side, the goober sales person slides by. By being proclaimed a member of the dark side, the well meaning professional is lowered to a level they never exist at.
Now, before anyone labels me a hypocrite because I use words like Sweater Folder, Sandwich Maker, Dirt Farmer and the like... please remember that I may have coined terms like Sales Monkey and Sales Rodeo (what trade shows look like to me). There is a time to quote Carl Spackler and have fun. I get that.
But this whole "Dark Side" thing isn't cool. At all. It's almost, to me, a slur. A way for supers to exert some kind of power trip. And I don't like it. I don't get it. I think it means ugly. And I hope I never hear it as a descriptive for a whole side of the business that has done and will keep doing great things. And is advancing in really strong steps. Eight years ago, a guy like me would never have been hired by a distributor. Today, there are more than a few handfuls of people with backgrounds that could easily have them being a USGA agronomist, working with the commercial side. Doing great education. Doing research outside the university system, partnering in good ways.
Oh, and guess what, Turf Monkey, when you meet with whomever you have to pitch your budget, your equipment replacement plan, your master plan or whatever you are trying to get done... YOU ARE SELLING. If you forget that, then the deal is over before it started.
...when you meet with whomever you have to pitch your budget, your equipment replacement plan, your master plan or whatever you are trying to get done... YOU ARE SELLING.
Lastly, and this is simple math, there aren't as many sales jobs out there as you think. This notion that if a super gets tired of working too many hours, they can "'just go get a sales job" is absurd. It's kind of like saying that if you get tired of keeping greens you can just go get a good spot at a football or baseball stadium. Many of the sales people that you see are where they are because they are damn fine thinkers, really hard workers and have rhino thick skin built from hearing stuff like "The Dark Side" and always being expected to pick up the tab. Some of the sales people that I have met recently are pretty damn elite.
I'll end with this. I think right now, I am an "affiliate" member of 3-4 local chapters and the national association. My dues in most cases are higher than other categories. In the case of the national association, I don't have a vote or any real representation at Emerald City. And my "card" won't get me into any tour event or other such things. Nearly weekly, someone wants my money to sponsor something or something else. I can't imagine if I had 10 sales people working for me.
It takes a lot of grit to be a part of this so called Dark Side. And a lot of patience. And yet the "business" seems to need this category of animal. What do you say we tone down this "Dark Side" attitude? Maybe the words stick, but the attitude has to go.
Join Hector Velazquez and myself as we go deep into the world of Hector and Hector's Shop!
Do you know Hector? You should. He's breaking ground in an often forgotten, overlooked and misunderstood world. The world of the golf course equipment fleet is not only huge, it is a place where a ton of money gets spent. And wasted.
Hector and I talk about what's what in his world. From his background to his travels as a teacher, his life as an educator and of course his job as a father and husband.
I had such a great time with Hector. He's a brother. And a Turfhead. And an important figure in our business. Thanks for listening!
To learn more about Hector Velazquez go here.
The Turfgrass Zealot Project is sponsored by Klingstone. Proven bunker performance for more than 15 years.
I am never ever ever ever (did I say never ever?) going to take away from the hard work of any golf course superintendent, any staff member or any volunteer for any event. Ever.
And this is especially true in 2016 with John Zimmers. I've admired John for years for all kinds of reasons. His commitment to Oakmont is a model of what adapted stewardship in our business needs to be. That is to say, John brings Oakmont exactly what Oakmont needs. And like any upper-end country club job, it is political, it is difficult, it is clueless members with fat wallets, it is connected members with fat wallets. That's the scene. And while many aspire to that level, not as many can actually kick its ass. John has done that. And I am sure there are costs that none of us will ever know or understand to John and his wife, Tracey.
There's a lot of focus on the 2016 Open. It is the history and greatness of Oakmont. It is Fox Sports. It is the USGA. It is Pittsburg. It's Holly Sonders' curves. And perhaps most importantly it is post-2015. Because while many disagree on the what's, how's and why's of the 2015 Open at Chamber's Bay, we can certainly agree that there was a lot of negative chatter. A lot of people weighing in while having little or no clue about what they were talking about. Design. Agronomy. Weather. It was in many ways, a public show of tossing monkey shit.
So here we come to 2016 and nobody wants to see a repeat shit show. Especially the USGA. Especially Mike Davis. Especially Fox Sports. Nobody wants to have Donald Trump declare it ugly like he did with Pinehurst #2. Nobody wants to see Billy Horschel have a three-year-old hissy fit in HD.
Are you getting the picture here?
As I write this on Friday AM, the new star of the show is Thursday Rain. Rendering the "don't talk to me, I'm the hottest chick you have ever seen" Oakmont, a little more friendly "I'm just Jenny from the block" kind of vibe. Of course, this also means that some players are going to have to play 36 holes. Oh well.
But none of this is a reality. None of it. It is what it is. A story. A unique story.
Here is some reality. While this is all going on, while the Oakmont Goddess is getting all the adornments, the rest of the golf business must function in sweats and tee shirts. Like it usually does. Yes, Oakmont will be on the flat screens at the course, and the centerfolds will be bathroom reading material. But for thousands and thousands of golf courses, things are what they are and what they will always be. The early summer grind. That's reality.
...we can watch the 2016 US Open golf Championship with a degree of reverence for what it is. But I for one will be thinking of the thousands (yes, thousands) of greenkeepers and their staffs who hold down the fort without a raft of volunteers...
Why am I writing all of this? Because I live and work in a business where most of those that are charged with conditioning courses will never see or experience a US Open. Never. They won't. And yet, it is more than likely that someone in their world will talk to them this week about Oakmont. "Did you see that.....", will be the start of many sentences.
Last year, those sentences ended with discussions about how much better "our course" is than the one on TV. Misguided observations, fueled by Brandel Chamblee's agronomy and Ian Poulter's yapping about Brittish conditions. It was easy to navigate. The legions of turfheads could say that in some way, they were better.
But not this time. Oakmont is near perfect. I started getting the texts and the tweets and the PMs on the weekend. The place is mind-blowing good. Some who really know saying it is the best-conditioned thing that they have ever seen. The volunteers and staff kicking ass. The greens lightning fast on Monday. The press arriving in the trumpets of the USGA saying "see, we know what green grass is".
Tournament golf is tough. It is a minefield. And it represents so many things that I don't think golf should be. Yet, there must be championships. Because, in its very heart, golf is a competition. With yourself, with the course, with the climate, and with others. So in that sense, it should be OK. But we have made the upper levels into a paranoid, set of worries. I mean, heaven forbid something is wrong. And yet, we challenge nature and it always wins. Always.
So in the end, my point here, is that we can watch the 2016 US Open Golf Championship with a degree of reverence for what it is. But I for one will be thinking of the thousands (yes, thousands) of greenkeepers and their staffs who hold down the fort without a raft of volunteers. Without basically unlimited resources. Without press tents full of people who have been primed to tell their stories.
But with reality. A reality of their weekend situations or tournaments, which, in their own experience, are just as important as this weekend's TV show. Today, as I write this, there are Superintendents who are challenged to do their pre-weekend prep with next to nothing. Who got the same 3 inches (or more) of rain that Oakmont just got and have five people to fix the bunkers. Not 105. Five. With resources that are so limited that they don't even like to think about how thin they are. With staff members that they are afraid of losing because the local McDonald's pays more than they can pay for labor. They will be out in the dark tomorrow morning, with no lights. No TV cameras around. No YouTube videos posted of their barely running mowers on the green.
Plain and simple in your face reality.
Perhaps if you are not in the business of greenkeeping and you are reading this, you might understand that what you see on the TV this weekend, has absolutely nothing to do with the reality of golf. What golf should be. What golf can be.
I think that's a good thing. Because I still happen to think that golf is good. And it is good for everybody. And I want everyone to play. That's my reality.
Sadly, Oakmont is not. And again, that should take nothing away from superintendent John Zimmers and his insanely amazing efforts with his turfhead army. While you say a quiet thank you to John Zimmers as you watch this weekend, maybe think of John Doe Greenkeeper... who's 5 guys fixed just as many bunkers, mowed just as much grass and took just as much pride in their work. Bravo.
By request!! An update on one of my most popular blog posts, on being an Excellent Assistant or Intern.
One of the most popular blog posts I have ever done in podcast form. Kind of cool. Third kind of cool, actually. Take a few min to listen to this just in case you need a refresher. Works for Young Turfies or for those responsible for them. Being an excellent Assistant or Intern isn't always just about agronomy. It comes down to character and working with the team around you.
Because one day, being a leader will mean understanding these principles.
The Turfgrass Zealot Project is sponsored by Klingstone. Proven bunker performance for over 15 years.
Episode 23 of The TZP brings us chats with Kevin Hicks, GCS at The Coeur D'Alene Golf Resort... and TurfNet's Jon Kiger taking about TurfNet's participation in The Irish Open at The K Club.
Kevin Hicks is such a good guy. I reached out to him on the off chance that he could do a short interview and he stepped right up the the plate. He's a great guy, an old friend and a proud father. We get to know a little more about him and talk about my adventure into the bowels of the famous Floating Green.
Jon Kiger joins me to talk about TurfNet's involvement in The Irish Open. Jon is leading a group of folks to volunteer for Course Manager, Gerry Byrne. And you can hear Jon talk about how this all came to be and how you can follow the whole thing on TurfNet.
The Turfgrass Zealot Project is brought to you by Klingstone. Proven Bunker Performance for over 15 years.
I'm calling this episode "The Epic Episode". Epic Monologue. Epic Guest. Epic Length. Epic!! (and no, I don't mind over-using the word Epic)
Jim Ferrin, CGCS is one of those people that I think everyone should know. I'm biased. I've known him since 1990. When we were just young guys coming up in the business. Jim has excelled. He's a great turf manager. A great people manager. A student of Golf, Agronomy and Life. He's won a ton of awards including the coveted Leo Feser award from GCSAA. He's served in just about every possible way to make our business better.We have an epic conversation. We always do. Because no one can melt my brain like Jim.
I also happened to turn on my microphone and record an Epic Rant. One of those things that I've been trying to write for years and finally the words came to me. So I pulled the starter rope and pressed record. Result, a word strimming session, a buzz cut of one of the things I think is most wrong with our business and why that thinking promotes lack of innovation.
It's a feature length episode. Epic length. But I didn't want to cut it up into little pieces. Like an epic drink, it needs to be taken in one big awesome gulp. Or a series of small drinks at your own speed. But I couldn't and wouldn't cut it up. That's just not fair.
You can reach Jim Ferrin at email@example.com
The Turfgrass Zealot Project is sponsored by Klingstone. Proven Bunker performance for over 15 years. www.klingstone.com
Aubrey McCormick is a great player, great person and champion of sustainability. Don't miss her refreshing take on the world of golf.
Join Aubrey and me as we talk about The Big Break, sustainable and green golf, golf's future and a ton of other things. You may not know Aubrey. You may know her as a player. But you are going to get to know someone who could very likely help shape our world by being a thought leader. And leading in thought these days means thinking. Not just "outside the box", but actually getting ideas and passion to mesh. Without a doubt this will turn out to be one of the most important interviews I have ever had the opportunity to participate in.
To learn more about Aubrey, check out her Twitter feed @amacgolf, see her season of The Big Break (Atlantis) here or check out her company Impact360 here.
The Turfgrass Zealot Project is brought to you by Klingstone. Proven Bunker Performance for over 15 years. www.klingstone.com
Episode 20 of the TZP has me and Kevin Ross of Country Club of the Rockies doing an amazing jam session!
From Turf to Beer to Grilling to phases like "Boom Bah Baaaa", this episode has it all. Long time friends and co-conspirators, Kevin and I have history and passion. Makes for fun conversation and even wisdom! And while there is always fun, there is also some serious interesting conversation. Not to mention the agronomy of high altitude turfgrass management.
Take some time to get to know an amazing turfgrass professional, Mr. Kevin Ross.
The Turfgrass Zealot Project is presented by Klingstone, Proven Bunker Performance for over 15 Years. www.klingstone.com
Join me as I do some deep diving with Andy Staples, progressive golf course architect. From bluegrass to Holiday Inn Express. Nothing is off limits.
'Thoughtful' and 'thankful' are the theme words for this episode of the TZP!
Thoughtful ideas about golf design, resource management, work/life balance and many other things. Thankful for listeners, thinkers and new ideas in the golf business today. Andy Staples has a wonderful perspective on things. He's got that focus and drive that make him interesting and unique. The hour zooms by with some great conversation.
You can learn more about Andy Staples and his design firm here.
The Turfgrass Zealot Project is sponsored by Klingstone. Proven Bunker Performance for more than 15 Years. For more information, click here.
Jason Haines is one of an emerging class of Superintendent who is making environmental and financial difference with his Agronomy.
His strongly scientific, minimalist approach isn't just because of his rather remote situation. It's because he's done the study about what is best for his facility and in turn his community.
Of the episodes I have done so far, this is certainly one of my very favorite discussions. Jason's style is not to hold back, which has endeared him to some people and has made others raise a watchful eye. I'm pretty sure that he isn't worried about what others have to think of him. He's doing his best. Case in point, his March 6th Blog post about grubs, ravens and thatch.
I invite you to listen to this with an open mind. Forget some of the things that you think you know and see how a fresh approach has really made a difference... potentially keeping a small community's golf facility from being a loss.
The Turfgrass Zealot Project is sponsored by Klingstone. Proven Bunker performance for over 15 years. No one else can say that. http://www.klingstone.com.
To read more about Jason Haines, follow his blog at: http://www.turfhacker.com
Join me as I talk about my impressions of GIS 2016 and my experience in San Diego. If you were there or not, there's always more info to be had concerning the Golf Industry's most important event. I take you on a journey with my mind's eye and recap what was good and what was not so good. No punches pulled.
And a special guest! TurfNet's Founder and Maestro, Peter McCormick drops by for a quick chat that turns into some real deep stuff about his perspective on the show. As always, Peter is candid with his thoughts.
Download the episode here or find it (and subscribe to future episodes) in iTunes here.
The Turfgrass Zealot Project is brought to you by Klingstone, the original liquid-applied polymer bunker barrier.
To sign up for my mailing list, visit www.turfgrasszealot.com.