An interesting topic popped up on the TurfNet Forum the other day, asking if club managers have more influence on purchasing decisions now than in past years. I gave it several seconds of deep thought and answered “Yes”, but only in my mind, primarily because I’m not intellectually equipped to debate TurfNetters with years of post-graduate work. (My post-grad work at Fort Bragg was limited to a short thesis entitled “Why You Shouldn’t Throw a Grenade up a Staircase”–the effects of the lab experiments for that paper continue to linger.)
I said yes to the question of General Managers becoming more involved because, quite frankly, in the economic climate we’ve been mired in for the last five years, anybody and everybody in the chain of command of a business should be aware of how and where and why the money is spent. If somebody in the club–anybody–be it board member, wife of said board member or the long dead club founder’s ghost drops in to question an expenditure, the GM will probably need information to help justify that purchase.
That’s not to say the GM should interfere in the process if they don’t have considerable experience in equipment selection, but it always helps if they play enough of a part in the process so as to be “on the team”. I normally preferred to work with GMs that possessed GCS experience, but it wasn’t always possible. One GM in my experience, Gary Ready, was brilliant with business decisions, understood my Skeletal Golf approach and wisely steered me through the complex request for proposal quagmire. Gary was a former GCS, a graduate of the University of Georgia and even though he came from New York, was the best GM I ever knew.
But several GMs I encountered were blithering idiots.
For example, the GM hired fresh off the pro tour, with no previous GM experience, just a skilled pellet whacker with no idea of what happened on a daily basis in golf course operations: “What? A bedknife? What the hell is that? And why do you need three of them? No! Go find a used, uh, knifebed, we’re not buying anything new!”
Or there was his successor, the silver spoon hobbyist GM, with dreams of turning an 18 hole goat farm into a private club, a five year plan that would see us host a tour event and all on a $280k budget that he clipped from a golf magazine in North Dakota. Not only would he refuse to consider the budget difference between sunbelt and icebelt courses, he wielded his beloved line item veto like a judge’s gavel. “No, tell the crew to bring their own toilet paper! And why do you have an invoice for Mercedes parts in your budget? What are you–oh, wait, never mind.”
But even these guys were MENSA material compared to municipal purchasing agents.
Twelve years of dealing with muni purchase orders damaged my mind.
I once requested, in triplicate and intricate detail, the purchase of 50 hand rakes for the bunkers and received, after waiting only a year, 50 pitchforks. After I raged upon the purchasing agent’s desk for five minutes, his answer quieted me down: “But we got a great deal.”
The same guy tossed out my bid proposal specs for a 300 gallon fairway spray rig and replaced my flotation tire request with narrow, deep-tread farm tractor tires, because . . . he got a good deal. Later, he deflected my try for a turf tractor and bought two turf vehicles, because he got two instead of one. Using one of the pitchforks he bought me, I learned he was in cahoots with a less than reputable equipment rep, and avoided any more good deals.
Here at the Rock, however, we have solved the power struggle dilemma that used to accompany equipment purchases, the bitterness of not getting one’s way and the refusal to compromise that always involves reprisals, sabotage and name calling.
First, we never buy anything, we simply . . . scavenge.
Second, Momma makes sure that any GM she hires is just as smart as I am. Meet Jodell, our current GM at Rockbottum CC.