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Is There a Diamond in Your Rough?


Adam Garr

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Every once in a while, a person comes along that shines a little brighter than everyone else. They might not even see it in themselves, but if you train yourself to spot talent and drive, then they become easier to spot. They’re that diamond in the rough, so to speak.

The best turf managers are able to identify those diamonds on their teams. These leaders take the time to develop them, start trusting them with more challenging assignments, and they give them the experience and tools to succeed. What ends up happening, is it that diamond begins to shine brighter than ever before, and it makes the entire team more valuable. It’s true, some diamonds need a little more polishing than others, but a diamond is still a diamond in today’s stretched labor market.

I’ve also worked at places where the superintendent never saw the sparkle in front of them when there was someone with true talent and drive on their team. Maybe it comes from a place of inexperience, or low self-esteem, or even ignorance. Whatever the case, these leaders took these diamonds for granted, or they left them unpolished.

Eventually, someone will spot a diamond in that overgrown rough and take it from you. And then you really have no one to blame but yourself.

Eventually, someone will spot a diamond in that overgrown rough and take it from you. And then you really have no one to blame but yourself.

Look at any of these job postings today for Assistant Superintendents. Why are we so hung up on education requirements? Does it show a commitment to the profession that no one else on your team already has? I know plenty of people with turf degrees who sell cars now or work in an office. I also know people without turf degrees who can work circles around someone with a college education.

Chances are, you already have someone on your team that could easily move into an assistant role with some polishing and development. Plus, they already know the people, the property, and the routine. What happens next, is you begin setting a precedent—it shows everyone on your staff that with the right attitude and the right effort, there is a possibility for advancement. This is how you build a stronger team and drive better results on the golf course.

Chances are, you already have someone on your team that could easily move into an assistant role with some polishing and development.

I’ve been fortunate to see a few diamonds pass through my team over the years. Not all of them were destined for a career in turf management, but they all went on to do great things in other walks of life. But we were lucky to cross paths for a summer with a very driven young man, and now he’s doing fantastic things as a superintendent in Northern Michigan at a very cool club.

Look around the room during the next morning meeting. Is there someone with that sparkle, that tiny glint in their eye, that has a little more enthusiasm and drive than everyone else? It might just be a diamond in your rough. And if it is, then I think you owe it to that person to shine them up.

(image credit: Benton Hodges)

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