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Like The Military: Never Forget Your Fallen Brethren

Jim McLoughlin


We are entering the time of year when superintendents will be losing jobs south of the Mason-Dixon line and entering into the danger zone in cool-season areas. Thus, it is appropriate to shed light on what can become catastrophic events (see Sept 25 blog post) for the families so affected and what can be done to stabilize these families and reconstitute their wage earners' careers.


Through my 25+ years of interacting with dismissed superintendents' families I have learned:

  1. The mothers are by far the most impacted members of the family because of the uncertainty that so quickly threatens the welfare of their children.


  2. The dismissed superintendents are generally in shock and, consequently, are not prepared to begin looking to restart their careers on their own. They need reassuring counseling support.


  3. In not one single instance through all these years have I seen a chapter make any official attempt to support a distressed family through its crisis. Personal friends... often. But chapters... not yet!


Stricken families are routinely treated by their chapters (I believe unintentionally) like they have leprosy; i.e., allowed to drift out of sight; out of mind.


My recommendations (briefly stated) to bring relief to every afflicted family are:

  1. Each chapter should establish an outreach program/committee consisting of its Executive Director (if available and if not chapters should plan on addressing this need), veteran and/or retired superintendents and their wives.

Once this committee is selected its members should attend a local outreach training seminar to prepare themselves for the coming interaction with families who have lost their bread winner.


  1. When a superintendent loses a job the committee should dispatch a team (within a matter of days) to make contact with the stressed family consisting of a male committee member to attend to the dismissed superintendent's needs and a female member to comfort and work with the mother of the family .


My experience has clearly shown that the greatest need families of dismissed superintendents have is to know that someone cares about them and is willing to listen to their problems. Having someone available who is willing to "listen" immediately starts the recovery process. 


  1. The goals of the outreach committee at this point are: (i) To keep the floundering families in the chapter's social mix until they move on; (ii) To ensure that the dismissed superintendents have updated resumes and personal and maintenance program web sites ready to use in pursuit of new jobs/careers; (iii) To advise superintendents preparing to seek their next job to review the blog messages early on in this series that relate to the job application process; and (iv) To counsel/educate the job seeking superintendents that there are four target job markets to explore:

a) Continue as a superintendent   (est. 65% success rate)

b) Get into industry sales  (est. 20% success rate)

c) Establish a turf management consulting business  (est. 10% success rate)

d) Work outside golf (est. 5% success rate)


Within a matter of a few years, I believe chapter Executive Directors will be trained to become licensed outreach counselors prepared to counsel dismissed chapter families to be patient through all the above referenced challenges and to guide them through the job application process. (More on this later in the series.)


The United States military has a long-standing credo that they stand behind every day: "Never leave a fallen comrade behind." Can there be a better philosophy for golf course superintendents' chapters and their members to emulate knowing the level of family anxiety that engulfs stressed families.


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