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Are You A Working Superintendent?

Randy Wilson


I heard that interview question three times.  It somehow implied that I was seeking employment consisting only of walking around with a clipboard, wearing Armani and spending all day in meetings.

The first time, I was young and still possessed of blind optimism yet to be removed by the reality grinder . . . so I eagerly nodded in the affirmative.  The second time, I had no such delusions, but I reluctantly assured the despot that I was indeed, a WS.

I don't know any superintendents who don't work, you big bag of hot gas.

The third time?  I replied, "I don't know any superintendents who don't work, you big bag of hot gas.  Are you a working owner?"  (Didn't get that job.)

I hope the WS abomination does not return in large numbers, but just in case, you young folks need to watch for it.  See, the WS phrase is code, typically indicating you are interviewing for a No/Lo Budget.  Decoded, it means:  "If you take this job, you will work huge hours, serve as 80% of the crew, your budget will be barely enough to buy a push mower on Craigslist and should you intend to spray anything more modern than Greek Fire, you will have to steal it."

Sometimes, the code includes this passage:  "Should you perform a miracle and return this pig farm to playable status, you will be removed and replaced with a smoother, more sophisticated, well-dressed supt, who will be given a bigger budget and a honeymoon period.  You should expect to be vilified, blamed for the entire history of course problems, and your name will forevermore be pronounced by the owner as if he needed to hastily spit poison upon the ground."


On the bright side, the sacrificial WS often learns everything there is to know about golf ops.  Due to the cyclical policy of the PCP, (Periodic Clubhouse Purge) it is not unusual to be conscripted for tasks like cart washing, drink mixing, teaching golf lessons and sweater stacking.  That last one always made me cry.

The WS will become adept at diagnosing pump station malfunctions from great distances, operate a shovel like a surgeon's scalpel and become clairvoyant in determining where the actual pipe break is--versus where the leak surfaced, 65 feet away.

The first time WS--especially if they matriculated at an Upper Crust Course--is likely to run off at the first sign of WS adversity, typically after the initial equipment inventory.  Note:  "Running off" is considered a sign of intelligence in this situation.

The first time WS--especially if they matriculated at an Upper Crust Course--is likely to run off at the first sign of WS adversity...

When the new WS realizes the crew is invisible, a violent inter-cranial argument follows and this is where the less intelligent WS fails to run off.  (I'm an excellent example of that category.)  Next, the WS finds 187 leaks on the course, some so old the members believe them to be water hazards.  Upon excavation of the most pressing leak, the WS will always find the feared Rube Goldberg pipe config.

Note:  The RG pipe config typically resembles a subterranean tinker-toy ferris wheel assembled by an orangutan on anti-psychotic meds.

When faced with the RG pipe config, the intelligent WS will flee.  The less intelligent WS will attempt to "fix" it.  As one of those, I first tried to ascertain which pipe, tube, wire and valve went where and failing that, I dug a big, big, dry hole, ripped it all out and totally re-designed it.  (Or you could simply add to the RG and then run off.)

Bonus Tip:  If you are on bentgrass in the Deep South, 100+ degrees, and you are alone with the RG with greens smoking in the distance like a volcano about to wake up . . . run off.  Head for the bus stop, do not even return to the shop for your shoes or your truck.  Leave them.

I fell into the biggest WS trap of all time when I took the job without talking to the Equipment Manager.  I went down to the shop, discovered he was me, and only then realized the ugly truth:  The owner/despot was a drooling numbskull too cheap to acquire the most vital of personnel.  Due to my suspect mechanical abilities, there would be no engine noise on the course for weeks.

The only sound would be that of my sling-blade ringing out, an occasional vile oath directed toward the clubhouse, wet mud being shoveled out of a deep hole and then . . . the pitter-patter of bare feet on the cart path, sprinting for the bus stop.


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