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Peter McCormick

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Everything posted by Peter McCormick

  1. Peter McCormick

    The Death of a Salesman?

    OK, here are a few more: 1. McCormick’s 2-Step Path to Sales Success for Newbies: Don’t bullshit anybody. If you don’t know the answer to something, tell the customer you will find out and get back to him. Get back to him. Instant credibility. Cheap, simple and easy. 2. If calling on an account that hasn’t done much business with your company, don’t try to sell him a fleet of greensmowers (or the bulk of his EOP) for example) right off the bat. Sell him a string trimmer, flymo or sod cutter, and service the hell out of that. That’ll get your foot in the door. 3. After a significant order, send a handwritten thank you note. Does wonders for your stature with the customer. And shepherd the order through fulfillment so support systems don’t drop the ball. 4. Don’t ignore the assistant and mechanic. They may have more sway with decision-making than might be apparent, and assistants move on to head supt positions. Off the top of my head...
  2. What drew us to become golf course superintendents? For me, it was those quiet magical mornings caddying on “the ponderosa” which drew me into course maintenance. Then off to UMass/Stockbridge, and my first “greenkeeper” position, a 9-hole muni course. This was in the 1960’s. We were blessed, being at the right place, at the right time. Golf was exploding and for anyone graduating from a turf school, that was your ticket. The work was fulfilling. Working with nature, growing things. Problem solving. Working with people. Great colleagues in my local chapter, the MetGCSA. Trade shows. Every Spring hiring seasonal workers, and opportunities for mentoring and ministry. The 80’s were when things began to go south, at least for the relaxed, carefree times of the superintendent career. The solid and steady "founding fathers” on the club boards were replaced with the new generation of “instant gratification” types for whom a little knowledge was dangerous. They wanted it and they wanted it then. As another veteran superintendent put it, "The sons are not the fathers." Investments in infrastructure or equipment were supposed to alleviate all future ills. “We gave you the new irrigation system you wanted, so why do we have some brown spots on number 6?” Member-Guest tournaments and multi-club membership invited comparisons with nearby clubs and courses. The Augusta Syndrome. Then along came the Stimpmeter. With a few exceptions (like Arnold Palmer, whose dad was a superintendent), professional golfers didn’t help much. I remember hearing a disgruntled pro leaving a press tent quip: “There is no excuse for poor greens!” There were voices of reason trying to educate golfers that we are dealing with nature, and as such there are limits to what humans can do. We had the fine agronomists in USGA Green Section, always trying to get some rational thinking into the minds of the green committees and club boards. My good friend, the late Stanley Zontek, wrote an article for the Green Section Record using the baseball analogy; that superintendents cannot be expected to bat in the 300s all the time. Another USGA agronomist coined the phrase: “Slow greens are better than fast dirt.” A wise superintendent wrote an article decrying the stampede to perfect turf, entitled “Perfection is only marginally acceptable.” Here is where we are today: Golf play is down. We've all heard it: cost, time and difficulty. That is not going to change. White collar recessions are hitting club memberships hard. Golf courses are being sold for housing. The "country club lifestyle" doesn't jibe with Saturday morning soccer and other obligations of harried parents. As club revenues decline, superintendents are expected to more with less. Longer hours translate to burnout and less family time. Our families often become another casualty. The few superintendent positions that do open up get a ton of applicants. Poor club leadership due to the revolving doors in the boardrooms. Club GMs only ready and willing to sacrifice a superintendent to appease the grill/locker room crowds looking for blood. Little, if any, job security. So where do we go from here? Let’s start with three facts and principles in our new Paradigm: We need to adapt to the rapid pace of change. Superintendents are some of the most talented, innovative, skilled, creative, motivated and dedicated individuals in any industry. With few exceptions, we do not receive the acknowledgement we rightly deserve at the courses and clubs we serve. We need to continually brainstorm new possibilities and Plan Bs for our individual futures. Not just thinking “outside the box”, forgetting about the box! Years ago, while chatting on the course one day with a CEO member, the subject of change came up. I recited the cliché: “You have to keep up with change,” to which he calmly replied: “No Pat, you have to already be there waiting for it when it comes.” To me, that statement sums up the new lens we must look through to see accurately where we are today, to remain financially solvent and to improve the quality of life for ourselves and our families. Below are some thoughts and ideas from someone who had been through the mill, using the old principle of “finding a need and filling it.” TRANSITION TO A SIMILAR BUSINESS REQUIRING OUR SKILL SETS Parks & Recreation, sports turf, schools, corporate campuses, airports, theme parks, estates, athletic stadiums, condominiums developments, just to name a few. Often better benefits outweigh a reduced salary. I know of a superintendent who took a college groundskeeper position and got tuition breaks for his kids. START YOUR OWN BUSINESS Take inventory of yourself. We have skills like arboriculture, horticulture, excavation, carpentry, plumbing, site development, running greenhouses, masonry, drainage, IT, equipment maintenance, second languages, coaching, public speaking, writing... Begin investing some time and energy into your own R&D account, laying the groundwork for your own venture, while still gainfully employed and not burned out. I once had a green chairman who wanted my head on his den wall and was actively lobbying to make that happen. With a wife and five boys, living in club-provided housing, and with no savings, I was sick to my stomach. It was the same old story of giving 150% to the job and putting 0% into my own R&D account. Through the grace of God, I was able to get financing to buy some equipment and begin a contract deep aerification business on the side. My sons ran the business, which gave them invaluable skills and helped put them through school. The “Outlier Phenomenon” (see Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers: The Story of Success) was in place again, with deep aerification services just beginning to take off. GET MORE SPECIALIZED EDUCATION Have an Associates degree? Get a Bachelor’s. Have a Bachelors? Get an MBA. Take public speaking and human relations courses like Dale Carnegie, Toastmasters, etc. Advanced computer courses. Specialized training in any area you are interested it. MOVE UP THE CLUB LADDER In my opinion, out of the three club professionals, superintendents are the most capable of running a club. We understand how things work. Most of the skills of the club pro end with hitting a golf ball. Most of the GMs I’ve met are mostly show, with a gift of gab and able to sell a bill of goods. This is not virgin territory; other superintendents have done it, so can you if you really want to. Obviously, these thoughts don't offer any conclusion, just a tipping off point for further thought and discussion. Everyone has stories and experiences to share, and TurfNet has always led the way in that regard. Encourage and challenge each other to continually improve not only our craft as superintendents but our lives and futures off the golf course. Pat Lucas is a 50-year career superintendent and a charter TurfNet member. He lives in Danbury, Connecticut.
  3. In this episode of the TurfNet Renovation Report, Anthony Pioppi chats with Drew White, new superintendent at The Riverton Country Club in Cinnaminson, NJ, about the Donald Ross restoration project White started one week after he was hired this spring. Follow along on the Riverton CC Agronomy Twitter feed as the project progresses Presented by Golf Preservations and The Andersons.
  4. In this episode of the Turfgrass Hotline, Frank Rossi chats with Rich Buckley of the Rutgers Diagnostic Lab about problems, patterns and trends he is seeing in the lab from samples sent in across the country. Recorded June 11, 2019. Presented by Civitas Turf Defense and DryJect.
  5. In this episode of the TurfNet Renovation Report, host Anthony Pioppi chats with Eric Johnson, director of agronomy at Chambers Bay Golf Course (University Place, Washington), about the recent regrassing of greens from fescue to Poa annua sod. Presented by Golf Preservations -- the greens drainage specialists -- and The Andersons Plant Nutrient Group.
  6. In this episode of the Turfgrass Hotline, Frank Rossi chats with Clint Mattox (@mattoxgolf), graduate research assistant at Oregon State Univ, about the past winter and current springtime turf conditions in the Pacific Northwest... and what to expect as Spring morphs into Summer. Recorded May 3, 2019. Timely Seasonal Snippets brought to you by DryJect and Civitas Turf Defense.
  7. In this episode of the Turfgrass Hotline podcast series on TurfNet Radio, Frank Rossi chats with Rich Buckley, director of the Plant Diagnostic Lab and Nematode Detection Service at Rutgers. Topics include pink snow mold, Pythium root rot, anthracnose and surprises that may happen in cool weather when unexpected. Recorded May 2, 2019. Timely Seasonal Snippets brought to you by DryJect and Civitas Turf Defense.
  8. In this timely episode of Frankly Speaking, Frank Rossi chats with Dr. Ben McGraw of Penn State University on the latest research, control methodology, new larvicide products, adulticide resistance information and BMPs in ABW management. Presented by Civitas Turf Defense and DryJect.
  9. Kicking off the Turfgrass Hotline on TurfNet RADIO, Frank Rossi chats with Dr. Jim Kerns of NCSU about how southern turf is shaping up for the 2019 season. Recorded on April 5, 2019. Timely Seasonal Snippets brought to you by DryJect and Civitas Turf Defense.
  10. In this episode of the TurfNet Renovation Report -- presented by The Andersons and Golf Preservations -- host Anthony Pioppi chats with golf course architect Brian Silva. The conversation kicks off with Silva's career path from Stockbridge School of Agriculture at UMass (AS in turf management, BS in landscape architecture plus graduate work) to instructor at Lake City Community College, to doing site visits with the USGA Green Section and on to working with noted New England golf course architect Geoffrey Cornish, and ultimately his own firm, Brian Silva Design of Dover, NH. According to the humorous and self-deprecating Silva, "I should be somebody by now with my background." He also notes that some people may need a New England accent interpreter to decipher his half of the conversation. Spend an hour or so with Tony and Brian as they discuss some common sense but often overlooked aspects of golf course architecture and how it affects maintenance, playability and enjoyment of the game.
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  12. Peter McCormick

    The Mindful Superintendent Retreat, 2018

    A recap of the inaugural Mindful Superintendent Retreat held on Prince Edward Island, Canada, in October 2018. The brainchild of Paul MacCormack, TurfNet blogger and supt/GM at Fox Meadow Golf & Country Club in Charlottetown, PEI; Dr. Frank Rossi of Cornell University; and Chris Tritabaugh of Hazeltine National Golf Club. Thanks to David Kuypers and Syngenta Canada for underwriting the event.
  13. In this special episode of Frankly Speaking, Frank Rossi chats with four influencers in the golf turf industry about how they manage their lives, health and careers through purposeful mindfulness. Frank's guests include Peter McCormick, founder of TurfNet David Kuypers, Syngenta Canada Paul MacCormack, Fox Meadow Golf & Country Club Chris Tritabaugh, Hazeltine National Golf Club Spend an hour and learn how to turn off the noise, focus and prioritize. You might also be interested in this video from the 2018 Mindful Superintendent Retreat.
  14. In this episode of Rockbottum Radio, direct from Rockbottum Country Club, Randy offers another piece of Skeletal Golf Theory, Storytime, the official nominations for the Turpentine Corncob Award, a PSA about self improvement, the launch the TurfNet Wildlife calendar, Booferd falls in a bunker and can't get out, an emergency meeting of the Mystic Order of Greenkeepers, and Bertram Mooler, the Alphabet's Special Investigator and Golf Industry Censor arrives unannounced. Presented by VinylGuard Golf.
  15. I called a friend/summer neighbor yesterday to reconnect as the long Vermont winter has turned the corner and is inching toward spring. Brian and I email occasionally but hearing the voice (and in his case, the laughter) is good tonic and well worth the effort. The words of my late friend Gordon Witteveen loom large with me: "If you don't work at relationships they soon go away." So I try to pick up the phone when the odds are good that the recipient will be relatively available. Sunday afternoons are a good bet. What turned into an hour-long conversation went by quickly. We chatted about my progress with the guitar (he's my inspiration), his expanded musical horizons with his new dobro, family, mutual friends, all the usual. He also mentioned that he and his wife are one month into a plant-based diet regimen, a huge change for both. He has educational and professional credentials as long as his arm (PhD psychologist, retired Assistant Surgeon General and Rear Admiral in the US Public Health Service), so he's no intellectual pushover. He attended a seminar on the topic with about 50 medical doctors and came away impressed by the science of nutrient absorption straight from the plant versus pre-processing by a cow. Knowing Brian has an appetite for a good steak and BBQ, I had to ask how it's going so far. "Well, we both like seafood too much to give that up, and I don't go nuts if a Caesar salad has a bit of cheese on it, but eliminating meat and dairy hasn't really been a problem so far. Donna is a good cook and uses a lot of Forks Over Knives recipes, so it has been OK. My Achilles heel with other dietary programs," he continued, "has been feeling deprived. If I feel deprived or hungry all the time, it doesn't work for me. That hasn't been the case here." We discussed the challenge of all good intentions lying in the implementation. Take the New Year's resolution thing, for example, of which on average 80% fail by this time of the year. Or the intent to learn the guitar from scratch, starting at age 60 (me, four years ago). Or an accomplished guitar player learning to play the dobro in his 70s (him, now). Trying to lose the 25 pounds most of us could stand to lose. Saving for retirement or a rainy day. Or coming home from a conference or seminar with a concept or idea we'd like to try to implement in our life or turf management program (all of us). In my mind, successful implementation of good intention is all about realistic goals, reasonable time frames, and baby steps to get there... preferably with mini-milestones to celebrate along the way. Breaking a broad concept or goal into its component parts and starting with those will yield a much higher success rate. After all, eating an entire steak without first cutting it into bite-size pieces would be a little difficult. Had I gone into learning the guitar with the expectation that I'd be playing like Eric Clapton or James Taylor within a year, my guitars (now six) would be gathering dust and I wouldn't have a new skill (however limited, still) that has literally changed my life. I went into it knowing that I would be learning it for the rest of my life, and took pleasure in the small victories. Learn the basic open chords, and simple songs to put them together. Traffic/Joe Cocker's Feelin' Alright has two chords; Bob Marley's Three Little Birds has three, with a reggae rhythm. I played the hell out of them in the early months, savoring the accomplishment. A low trajectory takeoff is always smoother than a steep one. Having played the guitar now for over 50 years, Brian is struggling with the dobro, which also has six strings but a different tuning. That means completely different chord fingerings and picking patterns, not to mention that it sits in his lap rather than held normally. "I work at it for half an hour and then have to walk away, or pick up my regular guitar and play that for awhile," he said. "But I'll get there." I have no doubt. I have another neighbor here in Vermont who proselytizes the benefits of a plant-based diet, and has been working on me. Having identified by process of elimination that dairy seems to be the root of my joint pain of late, my wife and I have toyed with the idea. We decided that the way to implement that change (if we do ultimately go "whole hog") is with... baby steps. One or two "meatless meal" days a week to start. A low trajectory learning curve for the cook(s) and for the body/mind to adjust. Trying to put some money away for the future (emergencies, job loss, retirement)? Start with $20 a week, auto-deducted from your pay and deposited in an investment account. You will never miss it. Start that at age 22 and you'll have over $300,000 by the time you're 67. And that's nowhere near enough, but better than the estimated 55 million Americans who have nothing saved. Witness the panic of the recent government shutdown. If you can do $50 or more, do it. Want to lose 25 pounds in six months? Setting that as your goal is tough. You're better off with a goal of five pounds in a month, then celebrating achieving it in two weeks. And on to the next five, keeping the first five off. Low trajectory. Same goes with those ideas gleaned from seminars. I have always felt that one good, new idea obtained from a seminar, conference, webinar (or TurfNet Forum thread) and successfully implemented makes the entire effort worthwhile. Doesn't have to be five or ten ideas, just one. Doesn't have to be earth-shattering, either. Take one baby-step now and another down the road. Sooner or later you'll look back with amazement at the progress you've made.
  16. In this episode of Frankly Speaking, Frank Rossi chats with Dr. John Sorochan of the University of Tennessee about various factors -- especially mechanical -- that affect putting green performance. HOC, frequency of clip, mowing/rolling frequency, bedknife position and attitude, topdressing,and more. A native of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Dr. John Sorochan began working on the grounds crew at Earl Grey Golf and Country Club in 1988. This experience led him to Michigan State University where he earned his Ph.D. in Turfgrass Science in 2002. He is currently a Distinguished Professor of Turfgrass Science and Management in the Plant Sciences Department at the University of Tennessee (UT), where he also serves as the Co-Director for the UT Center for Athletic Field Safety. Presented by DryJect and Civitas.
  17. In this episode of the TurfNet Renovation Report, host Anthony Pioppi chats with Canadian golf course architect Jeff Mingay. Topics include other Canadian architects (famous or not, modern or classic), hoops to jump through to work in the US, favorite golf course designs of some little-known architects. Presented by Golf Preservations and The Andersons.
  18. All good things come to an end at some point, even Law and Order and Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. After almost 100 episodes over an eight-year run on TurfNetTV, Hector Velazquez is closing Hector's Shop as we know it and moving on to the next challenge in educating turf equipment technicians, whatever and wherever that may be. On the heels of an epic week hosting Inside the Shop at GIS2019, receiving the Edwin Budding Award and appearing on Good Morning San Diego, Hector decided to seize the moment and springboard to something new. "I appreciate the experience I was able to gain from my time with TurfNet. I've learned a lot with your help and really am grateful," Hector said. "My wife and I are excited about what the future holds for my family, even though we're not sure at this point what that is or where it will be. The only thing I know is that I want to continue helping equipment technicians." The Velazquez family is not afraid to pull up roots and find a new adventure. In 2015, Hector took Hector's Shop and his family on the road and spent the next four years crisscrossing the country while living in an RV and homeschooling their seven children. Along the way he worked on a temporary basis at several golf courses, did onsite tech training, extreme makeovers, shop organization consultations, speaking engagements and hands on classes. "Hector's Shop on Tour was an amazing experience for me and my family, allowing us to see and experience parts of the country and meet people that we never would have been able to otherwise," Hector said. "But after four years on the road, we are ready to settle down. We are looking for property now, preferably with a shop on it already." Awards Hector has won representing TurfNet in TOCA's annual contests. Peter McCormick of TurfNet said, "There is little doubt that Hector has done more over the last eight years to elevate the stature of the turf equipment technician than anybody else, ever. He has trumpeted the value of a clean, organized shop, shown us how to paint a shop floor properly (even sprinkling on some glitter), how to properly use basic to the most specialized tools, and has introduced little-known tools, techniques and gadgets to broaden the skill set of the equipment tech. His influence on the industry has been huge." Speaking of huge, anyone who has met Hector and shaken his catchers-mitt-sized hands knows that he has spent time in the gym. He is an imposing presence. An early Tips & Tricks video Hector did for us back in 2010 while he was the equipment manager at Westwood Country Club in Vienna, VA. "One of the most enjoyable things for me while working with Hector over the years has been the masterful way in which he has built his personal brand," said McCormick. "From the evolution of his logo (to currently include his caricature) to his signature bowling shirts, a professional branding agency could not have done a better job than Hector has done for himself. I wouldn't be surprised to see him pitching products on TV or hosting a show like This Old House or NPR's Car Talk some day. He has an open road ahead of him." A future for Hector as a pitchman, or as Bob Vila for equipment techs? Of note is the fact that Hector produced all of his videos himself, learning the nuances of lighting, camera and audio gear, and editing applications along the way. Hector's influence has not gone unnoticed outside the turf industry. He was recruited several years ago to produce 50 videos for Home Depot's tool rental department, and has worked with the Equipment & Engine Training Council (EETC). For the son of a preacher from New Jersey with little formal training in mechanics -- and none in video, audio or marketing for that matter -- Hector has done an amazing job. We wish him and his family nothing but the best... and Keep Those Zerks Greased.