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Noah Pier: Mental Health Awareness on the Golf Course


Noah Pier

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As I waited to board my flight following the GCSAA Conference and Show in Phoenix, I was thinking about mental health in the golf maintenance industry and how many people in our business are starting to raise their hands.  I attended several classes while at the Conference and Show where the topic of the class wasn’t mental health, but that subject seemed to come up anyway.

I have been working on my own mental health over the past year, and have spoken to several colleagues and friends who one would have never thought that they are struggling with mental health too.  We are all very different with how we feel about discussing our feelings, fears, or challenges. I am one of those people who is open to discussing what I'm going through.  I have been fortunate to get great professional help which has helped me sort things out over the last year or so.

I have spoken to several colleagues and friends who one would have never thought that they are struggling with mental health too... 

A couple of weeks ago, I was able to join the Mindful Superintendent online group sessions hosted by Paul MacCormack. Having been through a few classes now, I quickly picked up on the common thread between this group of superintendents and vendors of varying ages working on themselves as I have been. It’s great to be able to meet others who are focusing on the same goals and sharing ways they manage and work through their challenges. Everyone in the group had decided individually to make a difference in their life as well as have a positive impact on others.

Historically, mental health hasn't been openly discussed because of the long-standing stigma associated with it. We were brought up to not talki about our feelings, emotions, or problems. That sort of thinking needs to change, and thankfully is changing within our industry.

We all have stressors that we must deal with and process in our own way. We all deal with family, team members, memberships, general managers, weather and delayed equipment arrivals. Every day, we have so many decisions to make. One thing I have learned is that I am in CONTROL of bettering myself. Remember the word CONTROL. While many of us thrive on being in control, ironically I have found that control was one of the things contributing to my mental health issues.

We must be conscious of all aspects of our mental head space and how professional decisions can impact our personal lives...

YOU have the choice of how to react or respond to certain circumstances that cause you stress. The way you respond tells you how you are coming along in your quest for a better mental place. Before I came to this new way of thinking, I would react to a stressor without thinking clearly and that would cause more issues than I started with. We must be conscious of all aspects of our mental head space and how professional decisions can impact our personal lives.

Prioritize self-care
Finding ways to make time for self-care is important in your quest for better mental health. Some things I do to help me focus include exercising regularly, intentionally making time for family, putting down the phone and other technology, listening to mental health podcasts, seeing a therapist, communicating with friends and being accountable.

Regular exercise helps me with anxiety, depression, and overall mood quality. My self-esteem is better, and I find myself being more comfortable in social situations. Putting technology aside is difficult as everything is trending to the portable computer we carry in our pockets. This makes it hard to separate work from home.  Use the focus feature on your phone to limit notifications at certain times. Or, just put it down when you’re with your family. Take baby steps and you’ll slowly be able to recognize your patterns and be able to adjust them.

The most exciting technique that I have come across is cold plunge therapy, which is not for everyone! Cold plunge therapy forces me to clear my mind and really prepare my mind, body, and spirit to submerge myself in sub-45-degree water!  I’m not suggesting you "jump" right into this. It comes with some potential risks. Speak with your health care provider first.

Learn to let go
Letting go is a big step towards positive mental health. I recently had the opportunity to take some time off with the birth of my third daughter. Thankfully I had the staff to manage the course in my absence, allowing me to solely focus and devote my full attention to my family. For me, this break from work was a turning point. When my first two children were younger, my priority was building my professional career. I am forever grateful for this opportunity because it has taught me the importance of letting go and adjusting focus to my kids and family.

It's great when you can pause to see how all the hard work you've done directly benefits you, and what that adds to your life. But it can take away from your family life and I saw that, too. It actually would have been easier for me to go right back to work when my third daughter was born. Letting go of my responsibilities at the golf course and putting complete trust in others to do the job was much harder for me at first. It’s all about how you think of things positively versus negatively. I know it’s easier to take the easy road but when you put your mind to it and take the more challenging path, it is extremely rewarding.

Letting go of my responsibilities at the golf course and putting complete trust in others to do the job was much harder for me at first...

Many superintendents don’t take time away from the job or prioritize time with their family. I’m far from perfect, but I really want to help others find a place to start on the journey to better mental health. Reach out to your peers when you need help. Seek professional help. You’re not alone on the ride. We all need a quick reminder that at the end of the day, your job is your job and family is family. You can be replaced at your job tomorrow, but your family can’t be replaced. Time marches on and your kids grow up whether you're there or not.

I hope I have encouraged you to be the best you. Seeking help is not a weakness! It's taking a stand that you want to make a difference for yourself. We are all in the turf industry together. Let’s step up and help one another.

Live life to its fullest every day and grow some awesome turf, my friends.

Noah Pier, Golf Course Superintendent
University of Louisville Golf Club
Simpsonville, Ky

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Great article with some great ideas that we can all use in this profession. I do a great deal of the same things. Exercise and letting go or delegating responsibilities to others and watching them grow is great for my mental being and makes me happy. In a nutshell, do stuff that makes YOU happy.  Delegate the rest. Others might enjoy what you do not.  So happy to see you grow Noah. Congratulations!  Keep going. 

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On 2/29/2024 at 10:23 AM, Scott LesChander said:

Great write-up, Noah. Thank you for putting it together.

 

Scott

Thanks Scott 

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2 hours ago, Chad D Will said:

Great article with some great ideas that we can all use in this profession. I do a great deal of the same things. Exercise and letting go or delegating responsibilities to others and watching them grow is great for my mental being and makes me happy. In a nutshell, do stuff that makes YOU happy.  Delegate the rest. Others might enjoy what you do not.  So happy to see you grow Noah. Congratulations!  Keep going. 

Thanks Chad appreciate you sir!!   

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