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An Open Letter to a Job Poster

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Dave Wilber

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(I'm so completely baffled by a recent change at a club and the resulting communication around it that I needed to let some angst out of my fingers. You may be able to guess the details. Fine. Good for you. This isn't really here to skewer someone..well maybe a bit. Its high time we wake up and wonder why this sort of thing happens and what each of us, as individuals can do to keep the profession from being tumbled. Oh..and pay attention to this..you think this can't happen to you as you get your resume and cover letter together? Really?)

 

December 12, 2012; 12:12PM

Mr. Z, General Manager
XYZ Golf and Country Club
Somewhere Upscale, USA 12345

 

Dear Mr. Z,

I have read the recent job announcement that The XYZ Club has placed for a "Head Superintendent". And quite frankly, I'm confused and hope that you can shed a little more light on the foggy looking situation at your club. I have also done a bit of work for you to perhaps value engineer your job positing.

 

Your recently let go Golf Course Superintendent was known to many as an innovator and as a good match for the property. Sometimes cocky, but always correct, he seemed at the helm of stewardship. Of course there are always 3 sides to every story and I'm sure there is much that neither you nor the ousted employee can talk about. What I wonder is why, if you weren't getting along with him, did you not seek to help this situation, you know, kind of like having a bit of marital counseling in the time of a storm. Many of us knew your superintendent well and had offered him much in the way of help and advice and friendship and would have surely done more to see the relationship between the club and a talented employee flourish has we known you were close to a divorce.

 

The job posting that went out so quickly is of great concern. Because as I read the words on that job posting, it seems that whomever wrote is was dreadfully short on the vernacular of golf course management. And of even more concern was the representation of the benefits afforded the superintendent at your club. In short, was it really necessary to point out that your superintendent is allowed to golf for free? Is a Costco membership, in the eyes of the club, a benefit of great importance? How is the process set up for you to approve, or disprove educational and professional meeting attendance?

 

In most areas of the country, a six figure job is nothing to laugh at. However, in your particular area, that salary won't go far. What exactly is your expectation of commutable distance? Is this number real or something to work up to? Does the club really intend to compensate at this level or just for "the right person".

Is a Costco membership, in the eyes of the club, a benefit of great importance?

There is no question that you will be amazed at the number of resumes that you receive for this position. After all, your facility enjoys quite a reputation. However, that reputation is as a golf facility. Your club isn't well known for soup, sandwiches and sweaters. So how will you sort out the fantasy resumes from the real ones? Who on your staff knows the inside of the business so well that you can make this kind of decision? Perhaps you'll hire a consultant to help you? Who will conduct interviews? Based on reading the job posting, it is pretty clear you don't know much about the job of the golf course superintendent. I'm sure somewhere on the internet is a list of questions you can ask your candidates. You won't understand what the right answers are, sadly.

 

There is much talk about the financial status of your club. And for a few years now, you have burdened the superintendent to cut back to minimum staff and minimum work and you have done a minimum of equipment replacement. There are rumors that you have been in negotiation with several management companies with one of them quietly claiming that they had a deal with you, a while back. However, this information wasn't included in your job announcement and that's a curiosity. Wouldn't full disclosure be better? And if your past Superintendent failed at giving you all the money you needed to make the budget work, then didn't you fail as well to deal with the revenue side of the picture? What's sad is that your facility is busy. Cranking out the rounds, and yet financial issues exist. Has raising the rates ever occurred to anyone or are all of your members and golfers on a fixed income?

Past Superintendent had the course in very good condition, but wasn't as good as the General Manager wanted him to be at saving the club money, communicating about all the ways he wouldnt spend money and attending meetings about how he was going to keep saving the club money

I've taken the liberty to re-write the job announcement that you have recently released. I think it is much more in line with what is really happening at your club. Perhaps this should be posted.

 

Semi-Private Facility Seeks Golf Course Superintendent

XYZ Golf and Country Club has recently discharged our past superintendent and is seeking a new one. Past Superintendent had the course in very good condition, but wasn't as good as the General Manager wanted him to be at saving the club money, communicating about all the ways he wouldnt spend money and attending meetings about how he was going to keep saving the club money. A successful Golf Course Superintendent at XYZ will be able to do all we ask him to do in a timely and inexpensive manner while still keeping the conditions in as near US Open or Tour conditions as we see fit.

 

Our facility has a membership that is very tough as well as corporate events and limited to unlimited public play. The Course Superintendent is expected to handle this schedule and not pay his Union Staff a dime of overtime and not add any new staff burden to handle our 7-day per week golfing schedule, which we hope someday to include USGA type events to showcase our amazing property and help us be able to sell more hats and shirts and Starbucks type coffee drinks.

 

The club will compensate you as we see fit. We are located in one of the most expensive areas in the US to live and so your dollar won't go very far here. We expect you to live close by so as to be able to come in whenever there is any kind of emergency, such as the cart barn attendant forgetting to fill up several flat tires. We will give you a vehicle, but you won't be able to use it for anything but work related things. That's OK, because for what we pay you, you should always be working. We have a benefit package, but because of how insurance works and because we need to cut back everywhere we can, you'll have to pay a big percentage of your health coverage and if you have a family, let's hope your wife has a cushy municipal job so that they can have insurance, otherwise, we are happy to take a large part of your check and will help you with your FSA program to pay all the bills and save a little tax. Since the median home price in our area is so huge, youll need every tax write off you can get, because youll never be able to write of mortgage interest. We want you to play golf, but only on your own time. Don't think about bringing friends out to play. We hear that Superintendents like to do this and if you do, you'll have to pay for them and their food (or at least a percentage of their food, we cant seem to get the committee to decide on this).

Contract? Please. Dont even ask.

We want you to work 80 plus hour weeks, but will certainly pay for your dues for local and national associations. Don't count on attending meetings; our board adopted a "no staff travel" policy a few years back. Besides, we all know the yearly golf show in Orlando or Vegas or one of those fun cities is just a big drunken festival. The GM went one year and the trade show consisted of Liquor vendors and Napkin printers and a bunch of mowers and everyone talking in the aisles.

 

Contract? Please. Dont even ask.

 

We know we will get 300 plus resumes for this job. To impress us, you will have to be willing to take the job for any amount of money and be willing to work your way up, whatever that means. Older, experienced Superintendents, especially if you are from the local area, need not apply. If you have had five or six high profile jobs in the last decade or have worked overseas, we may be more interested in you.

 

Lastly, the club really doesn't know what we are really here for. We know we have an old historical golf course, but historical things are often very expensive to take care of so we talk a lot about modernization. We hired one of those architects that cares about older golf courses, but found our that the bunkers they restored are really too expensive to maintain, even though they look so natural. Our members want great conditions, low dues and inexpensive hangar steaks with large whiskey pours. This is our supposed direction until the next board election. We may have to hire one of those golf management companies to help us, as club self-governance hasn't really worked out so well.

 

Please send resumes, powerpoint presentations filled with retouched photos and over hyped DVDs. No calls. Don't even think about coming to visit. We don't like to give away free golf. If you need to know more about the area, use Google or TripFinder or something like that.

 

Thank you, Mr Z for taking this all in. I'm sure the job posting as written about is a much more accurate and solid description of the job. And at the same time, you will still get hundreds of resumes from those who just "know they can handle it". Best of luck. You may well need it.

 

                        Signed,

                        Really Concerned For The Golf Industry and Sick of The Devastation of The Green Industry

 

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