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About this blog

Dave Wilber goes hard at it and never pulls any punches when it comes to agronomy.

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Time For Me to Return to GCSAA

It has been ten or maybe even twelve years since I have been a GCSAA member. Yesterday, that changed. As a student, assistant and superintendent, membership to the national association made sense to me. And for 15 years of independent consultant status, I paid the dues with not a lot of joy. And one day, after a very disappointing conversation with a GCSAA board member, I decided that there wasn't a benefit to me by belonging. It was, in effect, a silent protest. And a financial decision to take the money my business had budgeted for Dues and make sure that I was a member of several local chapters. And as a way of showing even more local support, I served on two boards as an affiliate (non-superintendent) member. Several terms. Worked hard. Won several awards. Took education seriously. Every year, I would consider national membership and just didn't see why.  On Thursday, last week, I returned from the 2019 GIS and promptly wrote a couple notes to GCSAA staff members about how to go about becoming member number 013641 again. It was easy. David Phipps, GCSAA Field Staff Northwest sent me a note, a form and some instructions. Shelia Finney got involved.   On Monday, world came from Anthony Rittof at the Emerald City that not only was I quickly reinstated, but was allowed to rejoin as a Class A member.  Didn't expect that. At all. And no, I've been to The Masters, so that wasn't a driving factor.  I don't care to go into the past too much. Lets just say, that as a young superintendent, I was very outspoken as a voting delegate and committee member. Especially as it came to the emerging technology and online interaction areas, where I felt that GCSAA was severely short sighted. For a time, I really wanted to be on the board and then, sand kicked in my face, I didn't. And I'll leave it at that. I spent decades being sour. Probably not helpful.  Let's look at the current and the future. The Positive. And sure, I get that I would be a member for 34 years had I not taken the sabbatical. Currently, I see the GCSAA as strong and getting stronger. Doing really good things with Chapter Relations and identity. I don't care much about politics, but I guess you can say that we are well represented in the golf world. I mentioned field staff. When this idea first bloomed, my first interaction with someone who filled this job made no sense. But since then, my interactions with the likes of David Phipps and Jeff Jensen have been outstanding. I have watched this program bloom at the hands of Steve Randall and his staff. Working and Winning.  I have good friends and industry contacts on the board in leadership positions. Darren Davis, whom I met years ago and recognized as a real talent. Good old friend Kevin Breen. Eternal good guy Rafael Barajas.  The esteemed T.A Barker. And the list goes on and on. Great people. Giving a lot of time and attention to help.  Meeting Jeff Whitmire, CGCS for the first time at the TurfNet Beer and Pretzels Gala. Help. A key word that I see any association needs to embrace. Maybe a better word is Service. Being in Service to members. Being there to help everyone grow. That to me is the mark of a great association. Otherwise, you just have a big old Moose Lodge. Look, if our profession doesn't get help from as many sources as possible, we run the risk of always being the second class citizens. No one really wants to hear that they need that help, but from my 30,000 foot view, golf is still in trouble. As I walked around the convention center in San Diego, what I saw  were some very happy members. People getting educated.  People networking. People involved in trade in a good way. I saw moves to help with inclusion (I'm not gonna talk about Cheerleaders, there are strong women in our association who can do that). I saw buyers on the trade show floor doing business. And I saw leaders and contributors being recognized and awarded. Not just for the sake of mutual admiration. So, I am proudly, once again, GCSAA Member 013641. And it makes me very very happy to offer up my credit card number to pay for that privilege. 

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

What Golf Can Really Do

Amy Bockerstette. I am 128% confident that you do not know that name. So, stop right now and hit this link. Do not read on until you have. Period. As soon as your eyes dry, I appreciate you reading on. As many thousands of us prepare to roll into San Diego for the 2019 GIS, there is one thing that is very clear to me...Golf Does Great Things. Of that, there is not a question in my mind. Lets take the video you just watched and do a little deconstruction. Amy, gifted with Down Syndrome is 19 years old. She was recently awarded a scholarship to play golf at Paradise Valley Community College in Arizona. And I will bet Marking Foam to Stale Break Room Donuts that the day she was born, her parents didn't see that one coming. Nor could they imagine that their daughter would walk up to the 16th Hole at TPC Scottsdale and make a 3 in front of several thousand people. For the record, I would have been happy to make an 8. And the video, as I write this, is going semi-viral. In digging a little further, it looks like Amy got a chance to learn the sport by going to a kids camp sponsored by Arizona Special Olympics. She played at her high school. And she loves it. And she's won several other awards along her path to teeing it up with Gary Woodland at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. And that's just one story. One. Golf changed my life. I wrote about one such realization when on a trip to Mexico to chill and do Yoga, I happened to end up on a booze cruise with a group of Mexican Caddies. In that moment, I sat and thought how really interesting life was and how Golf has helped. Pretty cool. My list of accomplishments, world place visits and the like is mostly tied to my association with the game and with Turfgrass.  And I am totally sure that when I was born, my parents would not have guessed that one. I often get blank stares from non-turf, non-golf initiates to me when I tell them that I have played golf on seven continents and consulted with Turfgrass on six of them in over 70 countries. Yeah. I'm a kid from a small town in the Colorado mountains. And when I shoveled my first scoop of topdressing sand, I had no idea. Last week, my twitter feed was filled with "new ideas" from the PGA Show. And clearly, you can see over the last few years, that side of the industry is trying all kinds of things to grow the game, keep fun in the game, etc. When I spoke up about some of the crazy ideas I read, a few Turfheads told me that there is nothing wrong with looking for change. And I agree. Totally. But at the same time, the traditions, sportsmanship, ecology and overall greatness of the sport, need not be forgotten. Or gimmicked up. In truth, they need to be embraced and celebrated. Because when the combo is right, what we get is changed lives. Simple. I am really excited about the 2019 GIS. For many reasons. At the same time, it's hard for me. I'm not great in crowds. Too many hours without hearing protection make it hard to hear sometimes. My knees don't love the walking. And I seem to never be able to see all I want to see and meet all who I want to meet. But the good outweighs the bad. Big time. The whole thing is intensely personal for me. As I see people I have known for years, we get to talk about our lives. Our changed lives. Our directly impacted and made better lives. Golf can do this. Often in ways that no one expects. So for me, the personal stories of success and challenge and even failure or real and vivid and alive. What a thing!!! Seriously. I don't think that I even have the words to express what an impact this all has on the depths of my soul.  Pictured with me are some great friends. The two in the back are Kevin Hicks and Thomas Bastis. Both of whom I met early in all our careers and both whom have risen to relative Turfhead Stardom. Thomas now with the PGA Tour and Kevin a proud member of the Earthworks agronomy team. The gent next to me in Mickey McCord of McCord Golf Safety. An influencer, no doubt. This pic was taken at a conference we all ended up at and the best moment for me is right here. Brothers. Compadres. Friends. Acquaintances. Whatever the word. You are looking at 4 dudes who have been changed by the game. By the business. By every decision we all made in our relative paths to our goals. That's incredible. Whatever climate or place in the world you are working. Whatever you are doing or not doing. Whatever your dreams and hopes are, lest you not forget that Golf changes lives. What a thing. What an incredible and enormous thing. A sport "chasing a silly white ball" is that big and has the potential to be so much bigger.

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

Do The GIS, Don't Let The GIS Do You

You are going to see all kinds of "Tips and Tricks" for doing the Golf Industry Show. Most of them all the same. Because, hey... its a trade show. And in one form or another, all trade shows follow a certain pattern. You wanna read about having a plan, getting there early, drinking lots of water, fine. It's out there. I have a different take on things. And herein, you are gonna get some info that you probably won't see anywhere else, in the more PC world of doing the GIS.  1. Leave Your Clothes and Stuff at Home. Over packing is a sin. Don't be a sinner. You don't need 12 shirts, 12 pairs of pants, 12 sets of boxer and 6 pairs of shoes. No. Resist the temptation to take your whole wardrobe. 2 decent outfits. 2 casual outfits. 3 sets of undies. 2 pairs of shoes and a minimal toilet kit. I can travel for a month with this setup. So you can do a week. What does this mean? Yup, you'll have to do some laundry on the road. It will cost a few bucks, but even the lower end hotels can get this done for you. Bag check fees are steep. Laundry service is cheap. Rule: Take half the stuff you think you need and you will be just fine. Yes, this means that you may be seen in the same windshirt or blue blazer twice. Big deal.  2. Shoes. It's a trade show. Bring your best most comfortable shoes. Fashion isn't important when you feet hurt so bad that you can't walk on day two. That new pair of running shoes that are supposed to be bomb for walking? Give them a good shakedown at the local mall before you put them in your bag. Ladies, heels? Nah. Forget it. Unless you are one of the 1 percent who can do that kind of thing. We all have lots of fun with shoes, its cool seeing what everyone wears. My Yeezys and my Chucks will be in my bag. My FootJoys? No joy. My Cole Hahn wingtips? Nope. Be a little outrageous. It's fun. 3. The Weather. San Diego can be all kinds of things. So even though I told you not to bring too much stuff, understand that the Southern California coast can be rainy this time of year and it can be really nice. Prepare yourself for both. Even though no one wants to see your white legs, some shorts are a good idea for evenings. And so is a jacket. 4. Tijuana. Don't. Just don't. Unless you really know what you are doing across the border, a trip into Mexico isn't worth it. If you absolutely have to, do some research and get up to speed on the latest scams. AND DO NOT take the rental car there. Likely you aren't insured and the insurance you can buy at the border isn't designed for cars that you don't actually own. 5. Just Say No. In the weeks leading up to the event, you are going to be inundated with people asking you to meet them, do things, come to things, etc. Guess what? You can't do it all. You just can't. I laugh hard at the people who have themselves scheduled down to the minute. All it takes is two "old friends" to bump into you and that whole thing is out the window. Think hard about the things and people that you want to spend time with. And then, honor those commitments. Saying a polite No is so much better than just not showing.There are 22 bazillion turfheads at this thing. They all want to see you. You can't do it all. 6. Uber Up, Pup. San Diego has not great taxi cabs and really good Uber and Lyft Service. Get both apps. Use them. It's by far the best way to get around. Think twice about a rental car. Parking is a hassle and can be expensive. Never use Uber before? There's a YouYube video for that somewhere. 7. Pay Your Own Way. Scenario... Five Turfheads sit down for a sandwich and a few beers. Tell the server right away that everyone needs their own checks. Don't wait until it's time to go to figure out the bill. Everyone is on some kind of expense deal and you don't want to be the one who is the nice person at the moment and then has to explain to the GM why you picked up the check for the gang from the clubs richer than yours. At the same time, don't be a douche and stick others with the bill. A class free move. Please understand your commercial friends are not the ATM. They probably have constraints on what they can spend, so finding the salesperson to pick up the bill may sound like a foxy move, but it is just plain skeezy. And the worst? Crashing a party you don't belong at. Yeah, I get it. You don't care for organic fertilizers, until you hear that the organic fertilizer people are buying free chicken wings and sushi and you show up to see whats up. Classless. 8. Get Smart. There are so many opportunities to see great speakers at this event. Don't miss them. Seriously. One of the things I hate the most is missing great talks. Show up early to get a seat and realize that its really hard to get as much knowledge in one place at one time. If you don't do yourself the honor of hearing some great talks, then what the hell are you doing there in the first place. 9. Too Much of A Good Time is a Bad Thing. Look, I get it. There are plenty of opportunities to be social at this event. Plenty. But if you think you are going to drink all the craft beer in San Diego, you are being stupid. Don't. Enjoy. Be happy. Get up the next morning early and see number 6 above. Once upon a time it was ok to show everyone that you were at the Golf Show to have the biggest hang over. Those days are over. Long ago. 10. Don't Be Shy. See someone you recognize or want to meet? See a nametag with a place on it that you either know about or want to know about? Say something! Introduce yourself. I think one of the best things in the whole wide world is meeting a Turfhead. Making some small talk about grass. Learning something about them. Want to hang with the same old people that you see at home all the time? That's cool for a moment. But why not meet some new friends? Make some impressions. Put some new email addresses in the smartphone. Do it. 11. Beer and Pretzels. If you miss out on the TurfNet gathering, then there is no excuse for you. Be there. Meet me. Meet Kevin Ross... and Hector and Kiger and Reitman and Paul and all of us. And find out that we just wanna try to learn about you. Get a selfie. Have a moment to talk a story or two. I'm spending about a grand of my own cash just to be there, because it's so important to me to embrace the TurfNet Culture and see my friends. (if you don't know where and when, check the TurfNet Forum or your email...it's an invite only thing.) 12. The Most Essential Piece of Gear? A battery pack and a charger cord. Seriously. Get on Amazon right now and get yourself a 10,000 mAh aux battery pack. It will be priceless. And a while you are at it, one or two new charger cords. Pack them in your man or woman purse. You'll thank me for this. You will. That's it. That's the list. I will see you in San Diego. Well, Actually, I probably won't. But then again, who knows!!!

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

Depression: I Guess You Have To Be There

There has been a ton of talk lately about Mental Health. That's good. While I am not being on the overused phrase "Creating Awareness", I also know that most people will never get or understand the topic. They should count their blessings. I have never been shy about writing and speaking about myself. A certain lack of filter, perhaps. Sometimes, a cry for help. Sadly, a need for attention, in hard moments. Often, a simple therapeutic technique to talk about the hardest things. But mostly I just don't get not being real. I lost a blog sponsor because I did too much "Wilber about Wilber" and I am still gobsmacked about why that was an issue at all. That one may never resolve in my mind. I think a lot of Turfheads are realizing that without their Mental Health, their Agronomy means nothing at all. Fashion has become to speak about job stress and mental health. A lot of opinions about this area started to show up. One such opinion (the source doesn't matter) seemed really off to me, so I reached out to that person. As it turns out, they themselves have never experienced any Depression or Anxiety, but they were more than willing to talk about it to "create content". Oh, OK. So we had a very strong conversation...and my bottom line was that maybe they should stick to talking about something they actually had a clue about. This person had none. The "don't worry, be happy" method doesn't work, but they believed that it just might.  I fought my depression battle for years in silent screaming. I was a true performer. I could rise to the occasion of a work day or an event and seem just fine. But the Black Dog attacked when I was alone, drawing blood, but leaving no visible marks. And that was my life from my early 20's until just before I turned 40. It worked. I managed it. And then I had my first episode of chronic pain. In my case, it was a knee injury caused by playing Paintball with some people lots younger than me. I came home from that day with golf ball sized welts all over me, and a badly messed up knee. However, just as I had managed the pain between my ears in silence, I also tried that with my busted wheel. A botched surgery and I endured even more. And on. And on. That was the start of me reaching what is called in clinical settings my distress management profile maximum. Simply, I ran out of tools and my body chemistry had taken over. I have really good hindsight. We all do. And so it is easy to see now where I could have asked for help. Could have stopped trying to grind it out. Could have stopped faking it to make it. Another term I despise. What I also know now is that depression will never really leave me. It's around. It hangs out and waits until my triggers get pulled. And the Black Dog bites. Hard. But now, I let it happen. I realize what I did or did not do and I manage the situation. I have a tool set all stocked. My particular set of tools is unique. It works for me. It won't work for anyone else. Maybe parts of it might. But my own tank mix is my own. So it does no good for me to tell you the steps. To tell you when I use what for what. It's doubtful it would even make sense. Through the discovery of my depression first aid kit, I intersected with a lot of different ideas and people. But for sure, without a doubt, the ones that helped the most and offered the best ideas were the ones who were there themselves. That was a key. You can't know the attack of the grizzly bear, until you have been bitten by one yourself and until you have learned to pet the bear and teach it tricks. Until you have stood in the river and fished with it, you can't know how to peacefully coexist with it. Some of my "helpers" were well studied, and that gave them much insight. But they lacked the scars themselves. And I learned to tell. Kind of like when we realize that someone giving us grass growing advice has only really ever mowed their own lawn at their home. They don't know the first thing about the preparation of a high quality sport playing surface. So...why write all this. Simple. I'm telling you that if any of the talk about depression, anxiety, mental health, suicide or anything along those lines has resonated with you then you owe it to yourself to find qualified counsel. To seek help. To be honest with yourself and your loved ones about your silent screams. And to realize that the beginning of your awareness is also the beginning of a journey. You will stumble. You will fall. You will create affirmations. People who you think should understand you won't understand you. You will have amazing days where you could never imagine anything was ever wrong. And you will have darkness so dark that you won't think the sun will rise ever again. How do I know? I've been there. I am there. And I am glad to be vulnerable and share so that you can realize that if you or someone you know is faced with this, there are answers.  (If you are feeling like suicide is the only way out, please Call 1-800-273-8255, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Help is there 24/7. How do I know? I've been there!)

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

What I Remember About December

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.

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

TurfHead Jam Session with Kevin Ross, Session Number 1

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.  

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

 

The Turfgrass Zealot Project, Episode 32 with Armen Suny

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!    

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

 

The Turfgrass Zealot Project, Special Episode: Celebrating Jerry Coldiron

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'    

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

 

The Joy and Agony of Preparing for a Turf Talk

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.   Quote 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.   Quote 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.  

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

 

The Turfgrass Zealot Project Ep. #31: Only Wilber on The Open Championship

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..   

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

 

The Turfgrass Zealot Project Ep. 30 with Guest Justin Woodland

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.  

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

 

The Turfgrass Zealot Project, Ep. #29 with Kevin Hicks

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.  

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

 

The Turfgrass Zealot Project, Ep. #28, Talking Education with Thomas Bastis

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              

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

 

The Turfgrass Zealot Project, Ep. 27 with guest Kevin Ross of CC of the Rockies

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!    

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

 

Let's Talk About Karma

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?.

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

 

Seven Reasons Why I Think The Ryder Cup is the Greatest Event in Golf

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.

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

 

The Turfgrass Zealot Project, Special Episode with Chris Tritabaugh

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.      

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

 

The Turfgrass Zealot Project, Ep. #26 with Guest Ike Stephens, YouTube Trucker

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.    

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

 

Take "The Dark Side" and Shove It

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.

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

 

The Turfgrass Zealot Project, Ep. #25 with guest Hector Velazquez.

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.  

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

 

The Reality of the US Open Golf Championship Has Nothing To Do With The Reality of Golf

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.

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

 

The Turfgrass Zealot Project, Ep. 24: On Being An Excellent Assistant or Intern

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.  

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

 

The Turfgrass Zealot Project Ep. 23 with Kevin Hicks and Jon Kiger

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.  

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

 

The Turfgrass Zealot Project, Ep. 22 with guest Jim Ferrin of Timbercreek GC

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 ferrinj@scrca.org   The Turfgrass Zealot Project is sponsored by Klingstone. Proven Bunker performance for over 15 years. www.klingstone.com      

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

 

The Turfgrass Zealot Project, Ep. #21 with Aubrey McCormick of The Big Break and Impact360

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  

Dave Wilber

Dave Wilber

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