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Randy Wilson

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

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  1. Randy Wilson

    The Dangler Will Get You!

    Hey Corey, thanks for reading. I saw two broken ankles, the aforementioned amputation and at least five ligament or tendon tears and was never able to convince anyone to keep their feets inside. Maybe that's why I prefer walking. Fear.
  2. Randy Wilson

    The Dangler Will Get You!

    Warning! We’re about to go all Mickey McCord Safety Meeting on you, so pay attention and learn about one of the most dangerous things on your golf course. No, it’s not a chainsaw, the dimpled projectile, nasty, slippery restrooms, hovering mowers or crocodiles. It’s THE DANGLER. The Dangler has caused several of those injuries that still reside in my gray matter hard drive, no matter how often I delete them. (That’s saying a lot, because I have witnessed quite a few injuries.) During my unsuccessful training period as a Special Forces Medic, I saw all kinds of trauma. Before the Army realized I was incapable of medical competence, they ran me through a variety of training, ranging from combat medic to 90 days in an Emergency Room. (There was also that period referred to as “Goat Lab”, but I will not speak of that.) My first night in the ER, the radio popped and crackled, warning us that five Navy Seals were coming in on a Huey, apparently blown up in a demo accident. I handled that poorly, rousting everyone out of bed, merely because I had no idea what to do. After that, I saw parachute accidents, burns, a couple of gunshot wounds and a battered husband. One night, the ER was inundated with 82nd Airborne types who had been injured while attempting to occupy a local honky-tonk. The indigenous personnel, armed with tire irons, had vigorously resisted and the result was several paratroopers with impressive lacerations. The doctor, nurses and the real medics were busy sewing up tire iron wounds, but were falling behind. The doctor yelled, “Wilson, suture that leg wound!” It was a hideous gash from just below the knee, extending several inches alongside the shin and terminating in the lower calf region. As I think back on that incident, I shouldn’t have said, “Yes, sir, but I’ve never sewed anybody up before.” The trooper in question, a rather stout fellow, screamed and tried to escape—the technical military term is “un-ass the area”—but was gleefully restrained by several Military Police intent upon helping me accomplish my mission. I comforted the patient by telling him that I had successfully sewn up several oranges and then I demonstrated my nimble dexterity by fumbling the fish hook shaped needle used to close wounds. By the time I got through, the wound was worse than when I started, but the patient had a very impressive Frankenstein scar that he could make up all sorts of war stories about. On the positive side, the MPs had enjoyed a wonderful evening of wrestling inebriated paratroopers and I had learned the medical field did not need me. Years later, while coaching high school football, I saw a compound femur fracture. During my bicycle racing phase, I witnessed several broken clavicles. These featured bones sticking out of skin, accompanied by lots of blood and hysterical shrieking. (The paramedics said shrieking unnerved the victim, so I quit that.) On the golf course, I saw all kinds of chaos: Chainsaw accidents, partial amputations caused by hovering mowers, a hand trapped under an engine when a hoist failed . . . and an old fellow pinned in a bunker by an aerifier from the Jurassic period. (You remember, those exposed crankshaft models?) Since we didn't have cell phone cams in those days, instead of taking his picture, I hastily got the monster off of him. I’ve seen golf ball impacts produce knots the size of apples, watched lightning explode a tree beside a golfer, who mentally destabilized and provided the afternoon's entertainment by running in circles and howling about Judgement Day. Once a week, I watched Buddy spill enough blood on the shop floor to shoot a chainsaw maniac horror movie. (Tara, Buddy’s bride, warned me not to give him access to sharp objects, but I thought she was kidding.) But it was THE DANGLER that stands out in my tiny mind. It was '93, when a course marshal--who had ignored my warnings--drove past me dangling his left foot from his golf car. Suddenly, the old fellow was tossed from the cart onto the hard, cold asphalt of the parking lot. His foot was almost completely ripped off, barely holding on by a single thread of soft tissue; blood pumped out like a broken 3” main. Golfers immediately circled around like vultures, trying to help by yelling things like, “His foot is gone, his foot is gone!” I radioed for help, put on a tourniquet and treated the old guy for shock. The only thing I could remember from my medic training was to lie about how bad the injury was. “You’re gonna be fine, don’t worry.” Next, I had to disperse the onlookers, because my patient became distressed when he heard a golfer puking. Fortunately he didn't see the golf pro faint. The lesson here is, golf cars and utility vehicles are dangerous--and it’s not just The Dangler. Just watch The Youtube and stare in awe as hundreds of imbeciles jump bunkers like Bo Duke, run over each other with golf cars and spin 360s down slick, grassy, wet hills. The Net says there are 15,000 golf car accidents per year, possibly more, with 10% of them being rollovers. I suspect most of those are not golf related, but The Youtube is heavily weighted toward golf idiots. Most of these numbskulls are unaware of the Law of Skateboard Injury, which states “Just because it heals up and you feel better, doesn’t mean it won’t come back when you’re 40 and hurt like hell forever.” Golf course veterans all know that golf courses are inherently dangerous, with wild, irregular surfaces lying in ambush just off that path. We know a tractor will roll on a steep hill—isn’t that what those rollbars are for? We expect spray rigs to get hinky with the slightest weight shift . . . we’ve seen machines flip into those bunkers put too close to the green by architects with no superintendent experience. We’ve watched a lake grab a slick-tired triplex, we've ridden a rough unit as it bucks and spins downhill into the trees and calmly observed golfers launch a golf car off a bridge at full speed. We know how to handle this: Crews need constant reminders to drive in a cautious manner, especially the newer crew members. They all need to be told about The Dangler, even if they think it's a myth. As for golfers? They won’t listen. They can’t read signs. Golfers think the golf course is a magical theme park where Driving Under the Influence and gravity does not exist. At best, all we can do is repeatedly tell them, “Keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times.”
  3. Randy Wilson

    What I Remember About December

    Great story.
  4. In this episode of Rockbottum Radio, the usual cast of idiots, oafs and varlets keep interrupting me as I try to pass along my proven techniques to skirt The Matrix and suppress the stress-inducing Noise in our lives. Most are simple, easy to do, and... cheap! The TurfNet Maestro has proclaimed that this is me pontificating at my finest. Maybe he found that the shoe fit a little bit.
  5. Randy Wilson

    The Demise of Ludell

    Last week, somebody demised Ludell on the practice tee and police suspicion immediately fell upon the various Alphabets. (They had the strongest motive to see Ludell silenced.) A huge mob of Ludell's betrothed (all three of them) formed outside the courthouse and demanded justice. Minutes before the Sheriff boarded the Greyhound bus for Kansas, a shocking video surfaced, claiming to show what really happened. We will show you the footage, but keep in mind, a skillful editor can twist reality . . .
  6. Randy Wilson

    Workplace Therapy?

    It's difficult to avoid contact down here, especially during meetings, waiting in lines and driving.
  7. Randy Wilson

    Workplace Therapy?

    Everyone should read Paul MacCormack's "Afterglow". It's a new direction in dealing with life on turf. It also proves TurfNet is still the leader in adaptive metaphysical approaches--and just plain leading from the front. Great minds like Peter McCormick, Dave Wilber and the big names who gathered with Paul MacCormack at the Mindful Leadership and Wellness Retreat have been pushing us in this direction for years. But way out front, so far ahead that they got a little behind--except for Momma--is Rockbottum CC . . . especially Buddy. Not convinced? Here's an old film that proves we pioneered metaphysical healing in the high pressure career of turf.
  8. Randy Wilson

    Old Roy's Halloween Story

    Now Mickey, it's obvious from your photos that you are too young and photogenic to have been on a crew in 1963. That would make you . . . about 80 now.
  9. Randy Wilson

    Old Roy's Halloween Story

    I was working on a piece about how modern country club boards resemble the leadership of Rome in their last days—you know, lounging about in togas, unaware of the reality building outside the wall—when I remembered it was almost Halloween. So, from deep in the Rockbottum vault, a previously unreleased Halloween story: Way back in ’73, on a cold afternoon in late October, I was splitting a mountain of firewood with Old Roy—not to be confused with just plain Roy, the AM radio preacher—and we sat down to take a break. We had a small fire going, not to keep warm—the axe was doing a good job of that—it was more of a keep you company kind of fire. The previous winter’s ice storm had gifted us with the world’s supply of downed trees and Dad decided that since I was near worthless on the golf course crew, maybe I might be a woodsman. As we sat by the fire, Old Roy pulled out his prized Sherlock Holmes pipe and stuffed it full of a fragrant tobacco I remember as Borkum Riff, lighted it and leaned back to study the trees just beginning to color. “Boy,” he said through a cloud of smoke that smelled like spilled bourbon, “I reckon you being a night waterman, you seen things out there?” “Yeah,” I nodded, “but not what I was looking for.” Old Roy eyed me like I had said something crazy. “What was you looking for?” “Flying saucers . . . never did see one.” “I seen stuff,” Old Roy pointed his pipe stem at me, “and not just everday stuff like UFOs and little spacemen.” I sensed a story coming, because Old Roy had an amazing talent for delaying work with long, convoluted tales . . . a skill I was to develop later in life. At this point, I wasn’t really interested in one of his stories about what it was like to work on a golf course back in 1947 or how he toured with several famous bluegrass bands I had never heard of. “Old Roy, if you’re gonna tell me again how we aerify in the fall to release the evil spirits from the greens, I—“ “Son,” he cut me off, anger in his voice, “you ought not to make fun of stuff you don’t understand.” “I ain’t makin’ fun, Roy, I seen stuff, too, it just wasn’t worth tellin’.” “Like what?” “Well, like one night on Little Mountain, I was sitting in my Cushman waiting for the greens to finish watering and I saw something sitting on a tee and the more I stared at it, the more it looked like a little man about two feet tall, and he was watching me. When I turned the Cushman headlight on to look at him—he ran off.” “Hmm.” Old Roy took a deep puff on his pipe, “you ain’t much good at tellin’ stories, son. See, the Cherokees have a world of stories about the little people that infested these forests back before the white man came and ruined things. Them Appalachian mountains is overrun with little people. Add that to your story.” I sat in silence, considering if I should pick up that axe again, but it was getting near quitting time, not more than an hour away. “I suppose you can do better?” I used my sarcastic teenage tone, which was about like I talk now. “Yes, I can,” Old Roy wriggled back against a log and assumed his storytelling posture. “Back in ’63, on a real uppity country club north of Atlanta—it was out the woods back then, but now it’s surrounded by concrete—anyway, the club was having a Halloween party, cause they was always havin’ parties, any excuse to dress up, likker up and dance—“ Old Roy stopped to watch Dad’s truck go by on #17, calculating whether we needed to hop back up and axe some, but the truck turned around and headed back toward the front side. I threw another log on the fire. “So, the Boss Man had already gone home, he was a real religious greenkeeper and he didn’t hold with celebrating devil stuff, and that left just me and Mickey and Roosevelt there to put everything away and lock up. Mickey was a worthless kid, kinda like you but not as bad, and Roosevelt was about 75 years old and he knew how to work. He had grown up choppin’ cotton and workin’ the fields and he had no intention of givin’ up half a day’s pay over mindless doings like Halloween, so there we was.” “Where you was?” My attention span back then was not something to be proud of. “Locking up the barn, don’t you listen? That’s when Dr. Morlin—he was the club president—Dr. Morlin drove up in his Cadillac and gave us a bottle of Jack, with the seal still on it, and said he didn’t feel right about them havin’ a big party up to the clubhouse while we did all the work and went unnoticed. So we thanked him and when he left, we sat down on our picnic table by the fire pit and Mickey went and got some Co-Cola to mix with the Jack, and pretty soon, we was havin’ a fine old time.” “I hope something happens soon in this story.” “Well, about halfway through the bottle, Sammy the golf pro comes running up out of the dark, from the direction of the clubhouse, where he shoulda been partying with the rich folk, and he’s completely out of breath and all white-eyed and he grabs our bottle and takes a big chug without even asking.” “Was he a big drinker?” It was getting interesting. “Not really, but it pissed Roosevelt off, a golf pro putting his mouth on our bottle and all--but then Sammy says something terrible has happened and he was gonna get the blame.” “Blame for what?” “He said he was sitting out on number #1 tee bench with Mary Jane Brokawski—she was a dentist’s wife, real purty gal—and Dr. Morlin came up and accused him of cavorting with at least ten member’s wives, eleven if you count Mary Jane. Then Mary Jane slapped Sammy and ran off crying. Sammy said he didn’t see the problem with romancing lonely women, as Dr. Morlin was also engaged in extra-maritals. But Dr. Morlin said that it was different, cause Sammy was just an employee and right then, an icy cold wind blew over them and suddenly . . . there was a spook standing right there beside them!” “What kinda spook?” I was in BS detecting mode, after all, it was a Halloween costume party. “An old gray woman, taller than Sammy, and really thin--lean as a lizard. She was wearing gray rags that flapped in the wind—no color to her at all—and she reached out and touched Dr. Morlin with a bony hand . . . and he fell stone dead right there. Sammy like to had a heart attack and ran down number one and he could hear her behind him, rags flappin’ in the wind. He thought he was gonna die and then he saw our fire and came straight to us--when he got close, he couldn’t hear her anymore.” “Pretty good story. So Sammy killed Dr. Morlin?” “Naw,” muttered Old Roy, “cause we was sittin’ there lookin’ at Sammy like he was a axe murderer or somethin’, and Abe--that was Roosevelt’s redbone hound--Abe starts growlin’ out toward the fairway, the hair on his back standin' up. We couldn’t see nothin’, but Abe decided he had had enough and he took off runnin' toward the highway, bawling like he was on the scent of a rabbit. That's when a cold wind hit us, blew my hat off and Roosevelt says, “I've had enough, too” and he lights out for home. “Standing right there about ten feet away was the same old woman Sammy said killed Dr. Morlin. She was eight foot tall and her skin was stretched thin over her bony face, especially when she grinned real big—had lots of teeth—and then she reached out with her hand that seemed to me to be more bone than skin and Mickey yelped like somethin’ had bit him and ran right through the fire to get away and that’s when I fell over the picnic table. Sammy started hollerin’ like he had a siren in his throat and he ran back out on the golf course. When I managed to get back up, I was alone and the fire had blown out . . . but Sammy was still out there somewhere screamin’ in the dark.” Old Roy knocked his pipe on a log and pointed toward Dad’s truck coming toward us, so we grabbed our axes and went back to splitting wood . . . at least until Dad drove on by. Old Roy dropped his axe and sat back down. “Next morning, Roosevelt found Doc Morlin right where Sammy said, and the Sheriff came and talked to us, but we didn’t say nothing about the spook, so the Sheriff allowed as how it was either a heart attack from drinking or his wife got tired of his runnin’ around and that was the end of it.” “But what happened to Sammy?” “Never heard from again,” Old Roy muttered. “But you know how golf pros are . . . he’s probably out there right now, givin’ golf lessons to other folk’s wives—only I expect it’s really hot there.”
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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?
  14. 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.
  15. 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.