Once Upon A Time, while wandering through the land of golf course operations, I encountered a dark and wicked force. Well, actually, I ran across a number of wicked forces, especially at country clubs, but there was one that was the wickedest.
After several brushes with this wickedness, I escaped and lived for many years in Happy Ever After as a GCS. But lately, I’ve had this nagging feeling that the wickedness has returned and is growing, unseen, like that Alien embryo that looks like an uncooked chicken, but jumps on your face and impregnates you. I’ve also had those nagging voices in the back of my skull, constantly urging me to hop up on my virtual soapbox and sound a warning.
Or they might have been telling me to order extra cheese, sometimes you just can’t tell with those inner voices.
These particular voices, as opposed to the ones that urge me to drive faster, eat more and watch football all day, have been claiming that with just the right combination of financial weakness, famine and greed, the old wickedness will spring forth from the false crypt wherein it has been quietly waiting . . . and seize hundreds of GCS victims.
I know what you’re thinking . . . Name this wickedness! Reveal it, shine the light upon it! Before it escapes and impregnates us.
I call it PGC, an acronym for Predatory Golf Course.
The PGC victimizes and traumatizes not only the young and idealistic GCS and the tender, inexperienced and vulnerable AGCS, but even the hardened veteran.
I am now watching closely for the return of the Predatory Golf Course. Consider this a warning for my younger GCS and AGCS brethren. As for the skeptics, you need not take my word for it, merely ask one of the Elders, the Veteran Superintendents from the Olden Times, in the Pre-Stimpian Era.
Let me describe the deviant practices of the PGC: Like many clubs, the wicked PGC lusts for a competent GCS–preferably a virginal, naive innocent. But here’s the difference: The PGC desires a GCS that will not only undertake the task of raising the course from the dead, but will accept the challenge of simultaneously serving as the GM, the Pro, the bartender, cook, pool boy, cart boy, club receptionist and janitorial staff. The PGC also prefers the GCS arrives with children in tow, in order to serve as the free maintenance crew.
Sounds great so far, right? Well, here is the evil part: THEY ONLY WANT THE GCS FOR PART OF THE YEAR. That’s correct, the PGC wants to hire a GCS/Pro, etc., from late April until first frost, or maybe Christmas. (Christmas allows for the youngsters to change schools during the break–the PGC isn’t totally heartless.)
The method involves recruiting an eager, idealistic GCS and then extracting enormous amounts of 24-7 work from the victim. When Christmas nears, the PGC’s owners or BOD then fabricate a scandal to help with the separation.
The Christmas Party is the best time for the club to announce the need for . . . choose 0ne:
A. A change, a new direction for the club.
B. Time to take the club in a new direction.
C. A chance to take a breath and look at things with “fresh eyes” and a new direction.
D. An investigation into “financial irregularities with certain departments.” (Which is BOD code for, That damn greenkeeper’s son discovered a prominent member in a compromising situation in a bunker . . . nekkid . . . drunk . . . at night . . . trying to get his Buick out by plowing sand with his radiator and furthermore the little b#$$*@d is probably the one that called the cops on me when I was discussing club business with the treasurer’s wife while reclining on a few fertizer sacks in the barn . . . nekkid . . . at night.)
The announced change would mean sacrifice for the club, due to living without a GCS/Janitor until April, but on the bright side, the club will supposedly save buckets of money. There will be some sacrifice required of the GCS and his family–that up and moved here in good faith–but this will help them not to be so gullible in the future.
Dad took over several clubs, always in the Springtime. For me, it meant changing schools mid-year–every year of high school, but my opinion was not solicited.
It was always the same. First, I had to drain the pool. You know, it’s odd–I never encountered a pool that had been properly put to bed for the winter. The pools I got were always murky swamps of dark, slimy, smelly vegetation, populated by bullfrogs (whose legs I ate) and snakes (whose heads I shot) and crawdads that I did not eat, because I don’t care how much they look like lobsters, they . . . never mind.
Anyway, I scraped, painted and filled the pool, just in time to be told I was not to swim in it, as I was “the help” and therefore my swim time was limited to the hours between 0400 and sunup, providing I had completed the night watering cycle.
We would work furiously to turn the course around after a winter of neglect, smooth the greens, get a mower or two running and kill a few weeds. Dad would put on a junior clinic, run a few tournaments and sell some clubs, balls and gloves. He would even bring in a massive fleet of carts, usually four or less. One year, in a terrible Peyton Place of a club in Covington somewhere, we sold 115 sets of Macgregor clubs in less than five weeks–but it was the year they came in aluminum shafts and that provided the PGC with the scandal they needed to tar and feather us at Christmas.
I believe this happened five times whilst I was a cast member of “The Greens of Wrath”, starring the Wilson Family.
As a solo act, the PGC thing only happened to me once. (I was caught off guard because the owner seemed so sensible.)
I would soon learn that he wasn’t really in charge. The fate of the course was in the hands of his wife.
Occasionally the owner was allowed to thump his chest and pretend to be in charge, but it was rare, because it was a real nuisance for his wife to have to root around in her purse, find the key components, sew them back on, (temporarily, of course) and allow him to release his inner Tarzan for a few minutes.
After I escaped that Christmas Day, I never again fell victim to the PGC, because I had learned how to spot the wicked devils. In fact, the very next April after that incident, I was asked to come down to Macon and “turn around” a club. When I arrived, I immediately asked the owner if he actually wanted a GCS or just somebody to mow grass and clean the pool until Thanksgiving.
He coughed thick, black, oily smoke, his halo faded and horns appeared on his forehead, along with dark, red scaly skin. I noticed a faint sulfurous aroma, the temperature in the room went up and I ran away.
Heed my words of warning, young turf pros, for if these economic conditions persist much longer, the PGC will multiply across the land and try to lure you into their little hell.