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Best Stress Relief: Build Ongoing Relationships With Established Consultants

Jim McLoughlin


It is estimated that less than 50% of golf course superintendents are comfortable engaging consultants because they believe their employers might see this as a sign of weakness and/or their pride/ego gets in the way.


General opinion suggests that these two perceptions are mistaken because when survey-tested, the concept of engaging consultants is seen almost universally as a sign of strength and maturity. To support this premise it should be noted that:


The American Institute Of Health advises that "stress is an avoidable consequence of life" provided we commit to a generally balanced life style and are willing to bring in outside counseling support as needed.


A baseball analogy will serve well in this regard: Just like it would be unthinkable for starting major league pitchers not to have the support of proven relief pitchers...


So too it should be unthinkable for golf course superintendents not to have start-to-end-of-career relationships with proven consulting sources.


The purpose of this blog message is to provide a summary evaluation of the consulting services available to golf course superintendents throughout their careers:


A. The USGA Course Consulting Service: The CCS's purpose is not to tell anyone how to maintain a golf course or what products to buy. Rather, the CCS seeks to bring to its client and neighboring courses all information (via printed articles, video, webinars, etc.) that will help these courses combat the specific turfgrass problems they are collectively facing.


The USGA charge for a half-day visit to assess course conditions is $2,500, with a full day visit costing $3,500. These fees are discounted for pre-payment and for year-to-year participation. All visits are followed by a detailed written report prepared by the USGA staff.


Basically, the USGA CCS provides an affordable annual "healthcare" package that golf courses should not be without.


B.  Academic Consultants: There are a good number of respected university professors who provide consulting services to the nation's golf courses for a comfortable fee.


Caution: Few professor consultants have direct golf course experience and, therefore, are considered "theoreticians" and generally ineffective when working alone. However, when teamed with a knowledgeable superintendent the team can perform well. 


C.  Contract Consultants: There are about 12 to 15 qualified individual contract consultants available across the country. The upper echelon of this group is very expensive to the point where only premier golf courses can afford them. The second tier of this group of consultants is generally effective and affordable.


D.  Retired Superintendents: There are many retired superintendents who provide quality consulting for comfortable fees.


Caution: Because of the rate that new technologies and every aspect of turfgrass management advance from year to year, retired superintendents' body of knowledge generally becomes obsolete within a few years of retirement.


E.  Irrigation System Consulting: The key to irrigation system success is the consistent application of preventive maintenance measures, which means that superintendents should consider engaging irrigation system consultants on a year-to-year retainer fee basis to maintain system integrity.


Reminder: Effective consulting support is one of the more effective ways to avoid on the job stress; to maintain a stable family lifestyle; and to be job secure throughout a career.


When ignored, stress can destroy lives, families and careers.


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