Within the game of golf there are few things more thrilling than the blind shot. A close approach shot or a tee ball into a short par three can leave us clambering up and over a hillock or dune to see where we ended up. There is usually a good deal of luck or chance involved, along with a good dose of both joy and despair, but the anticipation that shots like these provide make for a lot of fun during a round.
But like anything in this life, too much of a good thing can be problematic. In
So much of what happens in our daily lives is taken for granted. When you walk into a grocery store and you want a certain item, do you ever pause to think about how it got there? How often do you reflect on all the steps along the way that brought that certain piece of fruit or vegetable or loaf of bread to the shelf in front of you? Our lives are often times so busy and distracted that the idea of pausing and reflecting on how something comes into being seems like a foreign concept.
As Superintendents & Course Managers we manage a great deal on a daily basis. Conditioning of all sorts, staff issues, weather, member and customer expectations, budgets and financial drama… by times the list can appear endless. But there is one thing above all that, and based on how we manage it, can have a deep impact on not only our operations, but on our overall well being.
It’s the very thing that has the biggest influence on just about every decision and prediction we attempt eve
The identity of the Greenkeeper has always been one of adaptation and evolution. From Old Tom Morris, to Bill Murray’s lovable Caddyshack character, Carl Spackler, to our present day incarnation, Superintendents and Course Managers have moved out of the back shed into the boardroom. Our roles within the structure of our clubs and courses have grown over the years and in many cases seen us become key players in the overall vision within our properties.
Within the framework of this evolution,
In my last post, Just Enough, I explored the idea that the ethos of authentic links greenkeeping practices might be a path worth studying as we move forward in the age of climate change. As we examine our industry post pandemic, can we simplify and return to the roots of our craft? Can we honestly look at our industry as a whole and begin to ask the difficult questions that are in such dire need of answering?
As I was writing that last piece, I stumbled across a quote from a teacher of min
On my way to BTME in England this past January, I was lucky to have a layover day in Dublin, Ireland. I was even more fortunate to have a good friend, TurfNet’s own, Jon Kiger, as a tour guide and facilitator of good times. We experienced a wee bit of history and culture (and yes a pint or two of Guinness) but the tour that has stayed with me most from that day was our stop at Portmarnock Golf Club.
Founded in 1894 and located on a peninsula just outside Dublin, it was everything a proper l
For the first time in nearly three years we are almost finished a full, in-person conference season. From the GCSAA Show, the BTME, the Carolinas and all shows in between, we have made the transition back to meeting face to face and by all accounts it’s been well received. After two plus seasons of virtual and hybrid education, everyone appears to be genuinely happy to be back at our respective events, shaking actual hands.
For me personally, it’s been a quiet return to travel and speaking.
It’s hard to believe, but The Mindful Superintendent blog turned 10 years old this past week. Way back on Dec. 30th, 2012, with the support of TurfNet and my wife and editor, Jill, the Mindful Super began this journey (New Beginnings). It’s definitely been a heck of a ride thus far.
As I look back on what the last decade of personal reflection and writing has brought into my life, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I’m so thankful for all the ups and downs, ins and outs, the good and the bad.
It’s been a spell since we last connected via this blog; August 19th to be exact. We were exploring the idea of Mindful Resilience and what it takes to build this capacity within ourselves. It is an interesting topic to dive into at the best of times, and even more so in the worst. Little did I know then how many of these concepts would take center stage in my life of late.
On September 24th Hurricane Fiona arrived on the shores of Prince Edward Island. As an island on the eastern coast of
If you live in the northeastern part of the US or in eastern Canada as I do, you are very likely smack dab in the midst of what can be termed the burn out season. You spent the spring preparing your facility for the onslaught of golfers and now with the excitement of opening day a distant memory, both you and your team are most likely suffering from the cumulative effects of the grind.
The feeling of fatigue which supers and their employees experience at this stage of the season can be ove
Pause a moment and think about a time when your playing surfaces suffered. Disease, traffic issues, weather events… any or all can force you to take measures to mitigate the damage. Perhaps you add medicine, raise the HOC, or divert activity away from the area all together in order to alleviate the pressures and allow space for recovery. Basically you were forced to confront vulnerability and then impart measures of care and nurturing in order to fix the problem.
How many times in your care
Imagine for a moment your life as a Superintendent without the idea of intention. Think of all the cultural practices, data collection and measurements. Think of crew management and leadership development. Think of all the things that we accomplish during the course of the season that require vision, discipline and intention. If our daily processes are not rooted in our core values; and they are not the soil from which everything else grows, the season can be long indeed.
Goals and discipli
Mindful Resilience: The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. The ability of an object to spring back into shape; elasticity. (Oxford Dictionary)
So much of our job as Superintendents depends on our ability to build resilience into our systems. We focus a great deal of time and energy on building the ability for our turf to recover quickly from inevitable hardship. The full range of our cultural practices, from nutrition, to hydration, air movement and proper light levels are all
Every now and then we stumble across an idea or quote that gives us reason for pause. It could be we stop because someone else has suddenly crystallized perfectly a fragmented notion we have been working through in our own psyche. On the other hand, the idea could be one of those lightning bolt moments that catch us completely off guard and forces a hasty retreat into our opinion bunker to reevaluate things.
Recently I came across a quote that seemed to fall somewhere in the middle. I had
If you were to poll most superintendents and ask how they’ve fared over the last couple of years in this profession, no doubt the responses would be as varied as the different grasses we all manage. It’s been a mixed bag of never ending issues and demands, many of which are brand new to us. It would be safe to say that most have dealt with one or more (or all) of the following:
Furloughs and temporary closures
Deep labor issues (related to and independent of the first point)
From time to time our turf systems meet with varying degrees of stress. These events can generally range from a mild annoyance to full blown catastrophe. The road to recovery can vary depending on the situation and the approach to healing depends on many factors. How we as superintendents respond to these stressors and subsequently guide recovery usually says a great deal about how successful we will be during our careers.
Often times the stressor is fairly repetitive and benign (think traf
At some point in your career you have probably had this question arise. It starts off in the shadows of your awareness and can sometimes grow into a full-blown sense of terror. It usually shows up when things are shifting, something new and challenging is on the horizon, or even when the grind of the season catches up with you. It may be a simple phrase or question… but no matter the form, it can contain a multitude of fear and judgement. And ironically, because this conversation usually occurs
As I was scrolling through Twitter the other day I stumbled across this quote. I read it through and thought, hmmm, that makes sense. Then I foolishly realized that I had said it during an interview with my esteemed colleague and friend Frank Rossi earlier in the week. I don’t relay this to sound uppity or anything, just to make the point that even when one knows something to be so, they don’t always recognize it, even when it comes from their own mouth.
Frank and I were discussing a few d
“Superintendents are their own worst enemies.” — Anonymous Greenkeeper
Many of us know this to be true and can think of a time in our careers when we made things more difficult than they needed to be. Perhaps we suffered through expectations that simply weren’t realistic, constantly aimed for perfection, or tried to do it all on our own. Our jobs are demanding enough to begin with, but by times we layer more on and suffer because of it.
I revisited this notion recently as I made my wa
Most supers I know have at least one special spot on their properties that is their quiet place. It usually has a nice view, is set apart from the line of play, and generally brings with it a sense of peace. I happen to have more than a few spots like that (I like to pause often) and I recently found myself in one of the more unique spots reflecting on this post. The spot I speak of is actually on an adjacent property to the golf course, but is used to be part of our operation.
I’ve been thinking about less a lot lately. Exploring the idea of subtraction, but more so about the notion of addition by subtraction. Our culture seems bent on development, expansion and constantly adding to what already exists. Opposition to this idea can leave you in the company of a very small minority, but what about the virtues of simplicity, unlearning and removal? How many times in your life has taking something away left you with something far more precious and manageable? How many tim
As superintendents we are very familiar with patterns. They affect our jobs in a great many ways. We fine tune mowing patterns on a daily basis. We keep schedules and time clocks to maintain the work patterns for our teams. And we keep meticulous records of all of our comings and goings in order to recognize flaws in the pattern in order to make any necessary corrections to keep our operations running smoothly.
One pattern we tend to follow more than any other, some would day even religious
Take a moment to reflect on a major journey that you have embarked on. It could be anything at all really; from pursuing a lifelong dream or goal like growing and mowing grass for a living, conquering a fear or barrier, or facing headlong into a major health crisis. You may even be in the midst of the journey at this very moment.
Allow yourself to pause and let the reflection permeate your consciousness… feel it in your bones and sit with it for a spell.
How do you process the idea
“Don’t turn away. Keep your eyes on the bandaged place. That’s where the light enters you.” — Rumi
As this year that has felt like a decade draws to a close, it’s been interesting to watch and listen to how people are relating to it. The chorus of “good riddance”, “so done with 2020”, “2020 dumpster fire”, and “can’t wait for 2021” appear to be ringing out in unison. It seems like most people simply can’t wait to discard the year that was so we can “get back to normal.”
It is incredib
“When one’s expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one does have.” — Stephen Hawking
There have been many occasions during the past number of months for pausing and reflecting on how the pandemic has impacted our lives both personally and professionally. At any given time, we can find ourselves getting frustrated by the ways our current reality is not matching former expectations of self and other. We generally operate at a certain level, and when that baseline