The golf course maintenance business is one of relationships, where superintendents often rely on help from one another. So, when it came time to apply for this year's Syngenta Business Institute, Jim Pavonetti of Fairview Country Club in Greenwich, Connecticut, sought the advice of one of his colleagues who had attended the event in the past, Mike Brunelle of Upper Montclair Country Club in Clifton, New Jersey.
The three-day educational event exposes superintendents to graduate school-level business curriculum taught by members of the faculty of the Wake Forest University School of Business. Topics typically include negotiating, personnel management and learning one's way around financial statements.
"The reason I came is because this deals with things that are outside of our wheelhouse," Pavonetti said. "Making greens great is what we do, but managing boards and owners, those are the kinds of things we can improve upon."
One of the sessions Pavonetti found most informative was a session on negotiating, led by Wake Forest's Bill Davis, Ph.D., who told attendees to always have a back up plan when trying to strike a deal. The back-up plan is so important, Davis has a term for it BATNA, or best alternative to a negotiated agreement.
"We're negotiating every day," Pavonetti said, "whether it's buying chemicals or fertilizers, or working with the finance committee over next year's budget, or selling projects to committees."