For as much as I preach the virtues of the GCS De-Stressor--the hobby or activity that releases job tension before, during or after the workday... I have only recently realized how guilty I have been of overlooking the most important De-Stressor: The OSV, or Off-Season Vacation.
I was one of those golf course superintendents who rarely took a vacation, preferring instead to squeeze in a day off here and there, letting the wife and kids go to the beach with other wives and kids, while I worked golf and TV. (Besides, hanging out in the sun was not fun, because I did it every day for work.)
Looking back, that's probably why I burned out at age 47, like a meteorite hitting the Russian atmosphere. My GCS batteries weren't just dead, they exploded into tiny particles of apathy.
The decision to avoid taking an epic OSV was a mistake. A HUGE mistake. GCS batteries simply do not recharge to max capacity through short bursts of De-Stressor applications. It takes something powerful, like an expedition, an adventure or fulfilling a lifelong dream.
The OSV is more effective when it consists of something you really, really want to do, something dramatic . . . like salmon fishing in Alaska or visiting an island in the South Pacific or wandering through Tuscany.
The onset of work burnout is quiet, stealthy and sinister, able to stalk you in silence until it is ready to pounce. It pounced on me a few weeks ago, when my main camera died and I found myself in a catatonic state broken only by the kind of muttering associated with old crazy men . . . and golfers.
CA, my lovely wife, diagnosed my condition as burnout. I ignored her, until she offered proof that I had not taken an epic vacation since I transitioned from SuperNews/TurfNet columnist to TurfNet Vidiot in late 2005.
I blamed the economy and sat in the corner whimpering, cradling my dead camera. CA planned a ski trip/rehab intervention to Steamboat Springs in Colorado. TurfNet Commander PLM sensed something was more wrong than usual and instructed me to go off somewhere and recharge the batteries.
I tried to work during the trip, but it hindered the recharging process. Fortunately, I took the advice of old guy (must have been fifty or more) riding the ski lift up the mountain with me. He said, "When you're on vacation, you have to pretend you don't have a job or it isn't a vacation."
He was right. As soon as I stopped working, I could feel the batteries begin to surge. I felt like a sled dog pulling on the harness, ready to go.
I wrote this to warn my fellow superintendents, assistants, equipment techs and everybody else in this industry . . . don't wait until burnout hits. It is very difficult to see the batteries losing power when you have your head down, driving hard to achieve success.
My advice is to plan and train for an epic OSV, using it as a massive "look forward-to", a device that really helps one endure the long, hot summer of heavy stress and responsibility. Or, you can just be hard and work year round and end up like... me and the other inmates in the GCS Rest Home and Asylum.
I'm not kidding on this one.