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Randy Wilson

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  • Club/Course/Company
    TurfNet Media Network / Rockbottum Country Club
  • Location
    Rabun County, GA

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  1. In this episode of Rockbottum Radio -- rated IM for Immature Audiences Only -- the Pro shop gets raided by the Empire's Praetorian Guard, Willy visits with Buddy at the Turf Care shop, and Momma takes the gang to the feed store, leaving Old Booferd in charge of the golf course... and Momma's good Scotch. Presented by VinylGuard Golf.
  2. Randy Wilson

    A Message For Golf From A Last Wave Millennial

    Thanks, Tony. Our industry is losing good people to other trades, maybe we can turn it around. Don't jump ship just yet. Steve, thanks, I'll pass it on. Dave is probably stuck in a hole or something, so he won't see this until the weekend. Brian, I'm thinking we need to get you out of Kalifornia before it's too late.
  3. Randy Wilson

    A Message For Golf From A Last Wave Millennial

    Thanks for watching, Fred. I don't know where you find the time with all the projects you run.
  4. A Last Wave Millennial gives a quick analysis of modern golf and answers The Big Question. You know, the one that upper management and golf writers and green chairs and turf school brass and association bigwigs ask every night, after dessert and before cigars and brandy?
  5. Randy Wilson

    Retro-ism: An Experiment in Sustainable Golf Ops

    Thanks, Matt. Most of my trips are in the rear view mirror, unlike your upcoming epic adventure. If I wasn't scared of airplanes, I would go with ya'll and add more to the memories.
  6. After several years of toiling on bentgrass plantations in Hotlanta, enduring ever increasing grooming standards and shrinking HOC on fairways, greens and tees, I decided what I was doing was unsustainable. That led me to choose a more sustainable path, something I could maintain for the long run, not just a short burst of intense activity. NOTE: I am using the word “Sustainable” in the sense of an activity that is capable of being sustained, not as a code word for ecological balance. More like, “I could not sustain a grapefruit diet or an intense exercise program I ordered off late night TV.” 1991: In what was to become the early phase of Skeletal Golf Theory, I took over a small golf course with the intent of testing a few methods to counteract the trend of increasing maintenance costs and career stress . . . by conducting an experiment. The parameters of the experiment were simple: First, go back to bermuda greens. The Ultra Dwarf bermudas were not to appear for several years, but the plan was to use one of the new PGRs, in an attempt to give 328 more WSR Factor. (Won’t Stop Rolling) Also, I wanted to test the new “baked dry sand” top dressing, in light but very frequent apps, and use the new Hydroject to reduce core-yanking events. The plan would use Poa Trivialis as winter overseed, rely heavily on soil testing—and a soil test cryptographer who could actually interpret the test for me. I also wanted to minimize wetting agents, as I had detected an increase in disease pressure on bent whenever I upped the usage of wetting agents. (These were probably first gen agents, so stop your howling.) The other aspects of the plan included mass tree removal, installing wildflower and broomsedge areas to reduce rotary mower hours, and keeping the crew Skeletal: Just me, an assistant, an EM, one crewmember, and a part-timer of the high school specie. (That last part was worrisome—I was afraid I might get some kid like me.) Fairways would be mowed wall to wall at 5/8”—with a five-gang—again reducing the amount of area requiring rotary attention. Tees and everything but greens, would get the five-gang treatment. Every unnecessary, high-flashed bunker would be inverted and sodded over. There were architectural adjustments, like widening the landing zones and making the course play dryer, in order to allow for more ground game. Catch mounds were positioned where balls liked to roll into water, and a few holes were lengthened to get the yardage up from 5200 yards to 5600. (I also practiced speaking like a long dead Scottish architect.) Finally, I took over the club’s advertising, running ads in the newspaper, with the magic phrase, “$10 Golf!” That was the weekday walking rate and I knew not a single golfer would walk, but hey, it was advertising. We got good reviews, a magazine tagged us "a hidden gem" and the course played pretty well. Rounds went up 400%, making everybody but the pro shop happy. (They were used to the Floyd’s Barbershop pace, not something akin to the floor of the NYSE.) After six months, the numbers fell off; when I took a few informal, unscientific surveys, I discovered one consistent golfer complaint: “The course was too short!” (Not too short on the ground, just in their heads.) They pointed to that 5600 number on the scorecard and implied the course was somehow weak and pitiful, more suited for unskilled hackers, duffers and beginners. Of course, that’s exactly what these people were, but some delusional idea planted in their soft skulls by TV, told them they needed 7000 yard Championship golf. I lengthened the finishing hole, a weird par 3, into a long par 4, added 600 mythical yards to the scorecard and 5600 yards became 6200. Before long, things were rolling again. The moral of the story? Golfers enjoy playing a short course where they can score, all while thinking they are playing a long, tough course. Oh, and as to the success of the experiment? Tif-Eagle came along and made my PGR Bermuda obsolete. The Skeleton crew concept worked for a while, but the crew size was unsustainable in the long run. (Golfers still demanded TV conditions for their $20.) The mowing plan worked great, as did the De-Bunkerizing and the Hydroject concept. However, my plan was not sustainable because I did not allow for unexpected interactions with an abrasive, fairly combative member of the team of owners. (Clubhouse dweller.) On the bright side, we did manage to kill off a high dollar competitor who built down the road from us and condescendingly assured us they didn’t covet any of our kinds of customers. Years later, when I built a golf course using all the Skeletal Golf Theory techniques—except for a simple irrigation system—the course worked very well. It was sustainable, at least until ownership decided they didn’t need a golf course superintendent. That’s one theory that's not sustainable.
  7. Really very good article, Matt. Everybody needs to read this. (I didn't want to read it because I hate tech, but Momma forced me. She's one of your fans.)
  8. Is "Alternative Golf" a shocking de-evolution of the game? Will the "Grow The Game" evangelists tolerate the growth of blatant golf heresy? Are the new golf carts equipped with sub-woofers? https://www.rockbottumfilms.com/
  9. Randy Wilson

    The Noise . . . And How To Stop It

    Thanks, Paul, but now I'm stressed cause you used one of them multisyllabic words like panachia and I have to try and match it. At first, when I saw it was you commenting, I was afraid you were angry because I encroachified on your metaphysical territory, but now I know different . . . maybe.
  10. Some of us live our lives bathed in noise, against a soundtrack of frenzied, dissonant pandemonium—and not just the kind measured in decibels. The noise ranges from sub-audible frequencies that we can feel, like jet engines, helicopters and car stereos thumping below 20Hz, all the way to ultra-high radio frequencies we need to “connect” with each other. The young are naturally attracted to noise. It’s exciting — the opposite of boring — it’s where things are happening. As a young person, I was lured toward the wall of sound pumping out of the PA at rock concerts, guitars and bass cranked to 11. The young are enticed by loud cars, the rolling thunder of motorcycles, and the roar of the crowd. I was addicted to the crash of football helmets against plastic armor. The military can take noise to another level. When the doors of a C-130 opened in flight and the cabin filled with the fearsome howling of massive engines, it was impossible not to hop about yelling like an animal about to be released from a cage. Even an ordinary day of training could involve a wild hallucinogenic trip of running, jumping and crawling amidst gunfire, explosions, helicopters, disembodied voices screaming over radios and low-flying jets. Then one day, it’s too much. I returned to the quiet life on the golf ranch, but The Noise had gotten there ahead of me. Somebody — probably that noisy box full of flashing lights in the living room — had raised the bar while I was gone. Instead of simple external noise, like mowers and chainsaws, now I had internal noise, too. (Shrill voices in my head, urging me to do more and more.) The Noise didn’t just rent space inside my head, it evicted the other tenants. I sought relief in exercise endorphins and the drug-free release they provided, but I couldn’t just go for a pleasant run or ride my bike around the neighborhood, nooooo... I had to race. I had to “go for it” and “just do it”, as commanded by the aforementioned box in the living room. I took something as fun and relaxing as riding a bike and turned it into an expensive, time-eating obsession. The Noise just got louder. By the late 80s, bentgrass and no rain in the Deep South heat required long hours with no time off, just to stay employed. Guilt from minimal family time added to the static interference in my head. I wasn’t training hard enough to win bike races and I was lazy in the gym, so I bought a Sony Walkman and attached even more noise to my head. You know, for motivation? I pushed to rebuild bad holes and bad golf courses and eventually pushed to build an entire golf course, all while working at another one. I pushed the crews. I pushed the family. I pushed myself... and The Noise got ever louder. It was like the Twilight Zone episode where the cranky old boss keeps screaming, “Push, Push, Push!” No matter how much course conditions improved, the golfers grew more demanding; they even suggested I had lost “the fire” and — perhaps a younger superintendent was required. The “Cure” first showed itself in my work habits, but I couldn’t hear it. At the Skeletal Golf level, the GCS minimizes the admin work and pitches in with the crew to operate equipment. But I gave the sit-down, riding jobs to the crew and assigned myself tasks like digging up irrigation leaks. The crew was puzzled. One afternoon, while I was wrestling a shovel in a blowout, the fairway guy parked beside me and said, “Boss, how about you mow fairways, let me do that. Manual labor is the crew’s job. Why are you doing it?” “Because,” I answered, “it’s quiet. I don’t want to hear machines anymore.” I made changes, telling Buddy that talk radio was banned from the shop, he could only play classical music. I spent my lunch period walking in the forest beside the course. Instead of riding the crew about working every minute of the day, I instituted “Frisbee Time” for the last 15 minutes of the day. Just as The Noise was abating, upper management summoned me to an Inquisition, whereupon a poor unfortunate golfer spewed forth his lamentations, describing the agony of being deprived of deep rough. (Not a good idea on a swamp golf course.) They sided with him. I was ordered to provide deep rough. My eyes bugged out, my skin turned a glowing magenta and the veins in my temples pounded like conga drums at a Ricky Ricardo concert. I wanted to turn over some tables, maybe fling a golfer out a window, but a long dormant synapse in my brain fired, and suddenly, I was watching short clips of films from my childhood in my brain theater. I saw myself hiking in the Alps, in a forest of Christmas trees, wandering along with a rucksack stuffed with C-Rations and a sterno stove. A sense of peace flowed over me as I recalled long hikes in the Sierras or the mountains of Tennessee. Even the long ruck marches in the Army seemed more peaceful than my current situation. I remembered how lacing up boots, shouldering a ruck and hitting a trail was always my best escape. I left the building, calm and relaxed, and headed back toward the course. I was thinking about going for a hike instead of devising a new mowing pattern, when I remembered the words of Sergeant O’Neal, a Special Ops legend: “Boots & Ruck can take you places no four wheel drive can go and solve some problems along the way.” From that day on, golf stress had little effect on me. When The Noise showed up, I simply went into Boots & Ruck therapy and wandered off into the forest. (Sometimes, I even took my radio with me, in case Buddy lost his mind.) The quiet of the forest suppressed The Noise. I eventually moved into the mountains where the forest is close, the quiet is strong and The Noise is weak.If you’ve had enough of The Noise, instead of worshipping that box in the living room or that computer in your hand, try Boots & Ruck. It doesn't take much. https://www.rockbottumfilms.com/
  11. Randy Wilson

    Ydnar's Tales of Golf Course Vengeance

    Hector, That's not me. It's Ydnar. My hair is short . . . and just so you know, he's sensitive about being compared to weirdos.
  12. August's Guest Columnist is Ydnar, Randy's dark side Doppelganger with a penchant for payback. In the olden days, before the cult of Customer Servitude came to power with their warm fuzzy fantasy seminars, customers were dealt with according to their level of honor and integrity. Then, things changed. A new CS doctrine emerged, born in a classroom environment, with an eye toward making money off of big corporations for social engineering training sessions. Over-complexified and heavily laden with psycho-jargon and cryptic language, the early re-education camps were blended with Mary Kay style corporate pep rallies and subtle shaming techniques. The cryptic language probably dates back to just after we touched the monolith, when the tribal shaman developed mysterious chants and indecipherable phrases to make their job seem amazing and vital. (You know, like . . . Latin and economics.) In the primitive Honor & Integrity CS method, the “good” customer received a quick response to concerns, combined with concessions like apologetic behavior, rain checks and freebies. The “bad” customer, however, was ignored, ridiculed and banished from the village. Yet, somehow, the new wave of CS prevailed, due to weakened educational standards and diets based entirely on corn syrup. The next generation of customers were taught that “kicking up a fuss” would produce success in their retail adventures. Soon, the Pavlovian response kicked in and customers were wailing, complaining and shrieking like they had been harpooned. The instant ticket to free stuff was addictive. Just like the modern methods for raising children, all this New CS did was reinforce terrible behavior with rewards. (Much like if Pavlov had given his dogs sausage and biscuits for biting him.) By the late 80s, customer boot licking had become widespread, and that’s when the “Unintended Consequences” surfaced. “Good” customers were often ignored in favor of a policy of appeasement directed toward silencing the loud, obnoxious customers, the very ones we didn’t want anyway. It was sort of a squeaky wheel gone Mad Max result. We secretly practiced a form of selective CS, in which we differentiated between our reactions to the complainant, based on past encounters with the individual. If the customer was new, we allowed more leeway for the individual to display true colors; then we took positive or corrective CS action. For example, if a fine, upstanding member of integrity and honor accidentally stepped over the line, we smiled, waved and offered assistance. Like the time Mr. Chedwell, a retired spook, decided to avoid buying range balls and used the 17th fairway as his own personal driving range, complete with enough divots to give that chicken pox on turf effect. Rather than screaming at him, we smiled, waved and turned the irrigation up on him. Dealing with scoundrel customers required a different approach. Bubba Poltroon, a Top Tier Scoundrel, had a habit of bullying the pro shop personnel into letting him go off the back, regardless of the maintenance operations in effect. Mowing, spraying, top-dressing . . . none of these made any difference to Bubba. He was entitled to play when and where he wanted, without encumbrance from staff. Bubba was even immune to frost delays. One morning, as I made the turn with a four hole gap to the nearest golfers, (in the days before LEDs gave us a bigger head start) I saw Bubba already teeing it up on #10. He demanded I turn off the mower so he could hit and then he instructed me to hurry up, as he had things to do. I did hurry, but on #11, Bubba and his toadies hit into me, forcing a mower dismount to remove two balls from the putting surface. I used a gentle foot-putt and put both into the nearest bunker, but by their reaction, you would have thought I had stomped a fluffy little kitten with a logging boot. With unrestrained fury, Bubba yelled “Man-made obstruction!” and hit another range ball at me. Sensing Bubba had very little Honor & Integrity, I unsheathed my 6-iron (Wilson Staff Tour Blade) from its special scabbard on the Toro, dropped Bubba’s ball beside the bunker and hit it right back at him. This resulted in a short firefight of dimpled projectiles, and although I was outnumbered, my fire was more effective than theirs. Most golf bullies have never experienced return fire, especially the kind where you hit one high and one low. (They can’t watch both balls.) As a reasonably experienced veteran of golf firefights, I took advantage of their failure to spread out and practiced basic fire and maneuver until they hastily withdrew. I was forced to attend a week long CS course—which gave me time to catch up on paperwork— but Bubba learned his lesson. He never again attacked a crew member; for a while, he had to play alone, as being his playing partner was deemed “unsafe”. Over the next 14 years, I would be sentenced to ten more weeks of CS, but with each exposure, my immunity grew. Yours will, too. https://www.rockbottumfilms.com/
  13. Randy Wilson

    Irrigation Irritation!

    Excellent piece on the irritation system, Parker. Keep up the great work. rw
  14. Randy Wilson

    Golf Courses are like . . . Guitars?

    This is why I left California
  15. Less than 40 days until September. Time for a short film with deep intellectual insights. Or maybe this instead. https://www.rockbottumfilms.com/