He could call it “The Teachings of Don . . .” No, that Carlos Castaneda fellow already used that one. Perhaps Don already has a title ready, one that will get across his message of common sense practical golf course maintenance strategies that result in lower overall costs yet still improve playability.
I’d offer to help Don with the book, except his message might get twisted.
Everything I write seems to drift toward Hunter S. Thompson visits Golf in the Kingdom with Moe, Larry, Curly and Ludell on Halloween–with chainsaws . . . and guns.
It’s not often we venture out into the harsh glare of reality at Rockbottum, but Don’s philosophy is important, so for the next few paragraphs, expect serious attempts at comprehensive analysis.
Economic factors indicate that golf’s current situation will not rapidly improve in the immediate future, regardless of the proclamations issued by the Golf Corporate-ocracy. Ratcheting up customer service, “getting ready” and plans for drafting ten million kids into the game will probably have a minimal effect on the Long Slow Decline of Golf until we stand up and face the real problems: Time and cost. People have less time and less money and golf is too expensive to play except on special occasions. Real golfers want to play almost every day and current costs do not allow that practice.
The landscape of history is littered with collapsed civilizations and empires, defeated kings and generals and wrecked industries that faded away because they failed to recognize, react, and adapt to the fundamental changes occurring around them. We must not stubbornly fiddle around with the smell of smoke in the air, we need to act in a decisive, practical manner.
That’s why Don Mahaffey should write a book.
Don, a 2007 finalist in TurfNet’s Superintendent of the Year, could play a major role in altering golf’s current path of slow decline.
Help us, Don.
If you are not familiar with Don Mahaffey, he is a golf renaissance man, gifted with superintendent skills, a strong knowledge of golf course architecture–both neo-classical and post-modern–the ability to operate as both project manager and grow-in superintendent, an irrigation genius, a guy who understands business and shaping with a dozer. Don blends all these skills together to create a philosophy of practical golf course construction and maintenance.
Don has a number of methods to lower golf course budgetary loads, subjects like “7 Tips for Successful Gang Mowing” or “19 Suggestions for Lower Golf Course Maintenance Costs” and since I don’t have room here, I will suggest that you can find some of Don’s teachings on Mike Nuzzo’s site, mnuzzo.com.
While some of these will not apply to high-level golf courses, they are worth consideration.
Here are the first four of Don’s 19
1. Gang mow. Believe it or not, you can get decent quality as long as you have a lightweight trim everything out. (Read Don’s 7 Tips for gang mowing before you start screaming blasphemy)
2. Never edge a bunker again. Use herbicides like Roundup at half strength or contacts and train someone to keep the edges burned back. It actually looks good and is a lot more environmentally friendly than it sounds.
3. Get rid of the walk mowers.
4. Don’t overseed.
Now I realize that there are a lot of guys out there already practicing common sense, practical golf course maintenance, skinning costs to the bone and beyond, but we need a central rallying point to converge upon, to get behind and trigger an effective change in what golfers expect and what they will accept. Don Mahaffey’s message of pragmatic design, construction and maintenance focuses on improving key issues in golf, like costs and playability, through simple measures.
However, if you violently disagree, here’s where I cleverly divert your attention, just like the networks do with “American Idol” or “Big Brakes”.
In the words of Mr. Python, “And now for something completely different.”