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Dave Wilber

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  • Club/Course/Company
    Wilber Consulting
  • Location
    Littleton, CO and Clovis, CAQ
  • Interests
    Geekery, Wizardry, Energy, Spirit, Bass, ProTools, Yoga, Bodywork, Vulcans, Turfheads, Macs, Travel, Thai Cooking, World Travel, Logistics

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    http://www.turfnet.com/blog/5-dave-wilber-turfgrass-zealot/

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  1. I can sit here and say that it isn't my fault. It is. But for the sake of my own argument, let me suss it out. I didn't want to get pet hair all over my nice clean pants. So I hung them in a different spot so they would be ready to pack. It made sense to me at the time. But after a few decades of packing and being on the road, you develop habits. And hanging those pants where I did was out of my usual checklist. I should have known. So I went on to think about the outfits I wanted to pack and the electronics and the gadgets and supplements and all the rest. Proud of myself, my bag perfectly packed. My gear in hand I left home with my only worry, my presentation that would likely have me up most of the night finishing. It's my habit. Build talks, tear them apart, make them better. Rinse. Repeat. This one a little different, as the subject area wasn't my usual. So after a few hours sleep, it dawns of the day of. And as I am getting ready to dress myself in my amazing, perfectly sized clothes to fit my ever shrinking body, something isn't right. No pants. And now in my mind's eye I can see them hanging where I had hung them and that means that they are not where I am. They didn't walk themselves into my bag with all the other perfectly folded clothes. And I am at the conference hotel. MC of the event starting in an hour. And perhaps the most important presentation of my professional career after lunch. Some years ago, I packed two left shoes. And many times, the right dongle or adapter didn't make it into my briefcase. But this. Wow. This means I have to wear the jeans I was wearing the day before. Jeans. A bit of a no no in our world. I did have my coat. And Tie. And Sweater. And well tailored shirt. So I wasn't as if I was going to look like a bus stop troll. Still. It's not perfect. Later that day, I was able to have said pants sent to me. So they would be there tomorrow. But today was today and well. Jeans. What really had me spinning here was that I didn't follow some of my own often given advice. I didn't follow my checklist to avoid complacent behavior. And I didn't give myself options. The checklist. Used daily by thousands of pilots around the world. A checklist is a means to keep you from thinking you know it all and have it all covered. From the low time pilot to the high time one, it gets used. And for good measure. The option. By wearing jeans, I left myself one option. So lets say that this gig required a long flight. I often wear shorts on long flights, because I get hot. And when I do that, I pack a pair of dress slacks in my carry on. Just in case I get cold or my bag gets lost. I drove to this gig. And instead of following a well made rule, I skipped the step. And paid for it. Lemons to Lemonade, I made jokes about it as I MC'd the event. And I even made it an illustration for my presentation. It worked. I saw pics later and while it wasn't my first choice for how to look, it didn't look all that bad. I also have a more relaxed Turfhead culture to thank. And also my grey hair and rebel self means I can get away with stuff I couldn't a decade ago. Privilege, I guess. I was fortunate enough to speak to the Rocky Mountain GCSA about Mental Health and Stress. And to be able to tell my story in my effort to bring awareness to an important topic. I had amazing conversations with new friends and old friends from around the region. And I even got to hang with some golf association royalty. Pretty cool. Is there a lesson? Lemons to Lemonade? I don't know about that overused thought. But I surely did make the best of an unplanned and unforced error. E for Wilber. W for Wilber. I'll take that.
  2. Kevin....!! Of course I remember you. And I remember the amazing job you did in Redding and I always wondered what happened to you. Where are you now? I'd love to catch up! send me a note to davewilber@yahoo.com
  3. I walked into the Lobby of the Embassy Suites with my heart racing. I was meeting with Ron Whitten, the author of a bunch of great golf books and all the architecture stuff for Golf Digest. Ron had asked me to meet him and tell the deepest personal story I have. And while I have told bits and pieces of it here on TurfNet, this is another level of exposure. And I wanted to run. Away. Far. "You are a fucking disaster, Wilber", my head screamed. Loudly. Three hours later, I emerged from Ron's fifth floor room with my head like a vacuum. He drained it. Got it all. I had to tell my story in a way that I never had been asked to. And to say that Ron Whitten is a good interviewer is like saying that Jimi Hendrix was an OK guitar player. Whitten is a master at getting to the story, a talent one builds when spending a lot of time talking to full-of-themselves golf people. The October issue of Golf Digest Magazine has this article, entitled, Silent Struggles. The whole thing was born out of one of a Twitter troll taking a shot at me, liking me to "a Kardashian". And then telling me that I wasn't an expert at anything just because I had a Twitter account. Whatever. I get that stuff all the time. Social media is a cesspool at times. But in this case, it was on the heels of a proposal for GIS 2020 being turned down. Not my proposal, but Paul MacCormack's proposal to have a panel discussion with some folks who have dealt with depression and anxiety. The GCSAA Conference Education Committee didn't go for it. They wanted it refined. And for a moment, I was fine with that. Until I was called a Kardashian. And later a Snowflake. So I decided to battle the battle bots. A 16-tweet thread later (my 16 tweets), two phone calls (one with a GCSAA staffer) and the second being a very "direct" convo with a super, and I was in full grizzly bear mode. I wasn't about to be told that telling the story of my largest life struggle (my life itself) was an attention-seeking whore move. Nah. Just No. And Hell to the No. You see, here is the thing. I've been talking about depression, anxiety, suicide (including my attempted suicide) from a very raw and real place. But I've been doing it mostly among friends. Because of people like Paul MacCormack and a group of others who aren't intimidated by the stigma, there is a dialog going on that wasn't happening just a few years ago. When all this was going down on Twitter, some super tried to tell a few of us, namely Kasey Kauff and Jason Haines, that we were "Snowflakes" and just had a case of the "Mondays". And then I really lost it. Since my second attempt at killing myself in 2015, not a day that goes by that I don't think that things would be so much easier had I succeeded. I was badly under-insured, and the health care system drained me of pretty much all my money and my credit rating. I barely worked in 2016 because, after repeated organ shutdowns, my body was in full-on rebellion and I couldn't handle the travel required of a full time turf consultant. And I had to get my head straight. To deal with the problems and not the symptoms was the only way to get better. Life remains hard. I often wonder why I messed up killing myself. Many days there doesn't seem to be much in it for me, at 53. And then, I get a chance to help someone. Somehow. And then another. And another. And that makes we want to stay around. So when Ron Whitten wanted to tell my story and that of others to 1.6 million subscribers and another 20 zillion online readers of Golf Digest, I had to take all my pain and my angst all the way out of the equation. And I had to ask myself what the value of helping someone really is. The rationale: if I at age 24 had read something as powerful as the story I now had to tell, written by someone who knows the business, would I have made some different choices? Yes. Hell to the Yes. As this article broke, I had to get in front of it on social media, taking to Facebook and Twitter to explain to the masses about why this happened. Thankfully, I found that some people get it. I've gotten a lot of words that have allayed my fears about having to live in a van down by the river as this comes out. And yes, there are are few, who should thank their stars, that don't get it because they haven't see the darkness that I, and many other have. Since 2015 I have tried to get well. Really well. And it's working. Things that used to not matter suddenly loom large. And vice versa. I'm not the "don't give a fuck" Wilber any more. I wanna make a living. I wanna stay in our biz. I like you all. I even love many of you. This new dialog about what is affecting our personal lives is a good thing. I'm in a good position to advocate for better decisions by owners and committees because so much maintenance has been deferred for the last decade. My Agronomy Mojo is strong again. I feel real. And not like I have to kowtow to anyone. Advocate, both verb and noun. The more I roll this word around on my tongue and in my brain, the more motivated I become. We often hear of advocacy in political or other weird terms for some wingnut strategy. When I look at our Turfhead world, I don't see many people advocating for a better quality of life. Or for truth in what a shambles many golf operations are really in (a coming blog post is going to address this, head on). My life isn't so quality, sometimes. I'm being honest. It's a struggle being me. But when I forget about me and my ego and think of higher good, and greater things, then I get it so much more. Was the interview with Ron Whitten hard? Yes. Was it the hardest thing I have ever done? Oh, hell no. Being alive takes that spot. BUT... While more difficult than I want it to be, living life with appreciation and seeking joy in all things gets pretty good. I have made insane strides with my health. I smile a lot. I dream. There are friendships. And music. And love and experiences that I would never have had had I taken the "easy way". So don't let my tale of the past keep you from seeing that there is life worth living. For sure. I learned to trust my helpers. And not be so determined to do it all myself. I have faith. My own version that works for me. And I revel in the fact that I get to spread some Truth and Love and Fun. And honest talk. Hell, yes! Hell to the Yes.
  4. Hey all. Thanks for reading. Really. It's been an overwhelming week. For me and for the others mentioned in the article. I may be a bit more used to being looked at than they are. Kasey got a call from Ben Crenshaw, "just checking in". That has to be overwhelming. Joe and Jon, I appreciate your words here more than I can say. And I was told today that a few non-turf civilians tried to post here and couldn't. That's pretty cool. I'm gonna take it easy this weekend. Do my taxes and reflect on what an amazing bunch of people are my friends. Thanks.
  5. I told Paul that reading his stuff is like sitting by a nice fire. Of course it was 101 degrees when I wrote that, but still the calming effect is the deal. I hate being such a leg humper, but I just love this blog post. So much. I wanna marry it, or at least bottle it and splash my face with it, or something.
  6. Paul, You know I am a Fan Boy, for many reasons. This is, one of your very best pieces and I have read it no less than ten times. It hits home for me. My mom was a painter. A good one. Like, she sold stuff and did murals for people good. And she was a huge Bob Ross fan. She didn't always agree with his technical side, but she saw that he endeavored to bring a lot of joy to people via the canvas... and she understood that. Often his was on her TV in the background when I would call from wherever in the world. When I dropped everything to be her caregiver at the end of her life, three clicks on Amazon brought us all of Ross' DVD's. And she and watched every day together.... talking. Commenting. And enjoying the peace of it all. we even set up her easel and let her go to town. He hands were shaking badly, but she still had her it factor. So I appreciate your helping me to remember that this former Paratrooper made a difference in her life. And mine. Thanks!
  7. Matt....I have said it before and I will say it again. You are a national treasure!
  8. The lack of understanding of cutting units by Supers in our industry astounds me. Makes me happy to see this, Parker!
  9. I've always been baffled by the human condition that causes people to take one side or position, non-negotiable, unbudging. I am especially baffled by a stubbornness of opinion so great that it causes someone to crash, all the while thinking they are "on the right side", their only side. I'm reminded of a story I heard once where an airplane pilot who was "not a GPS guy" flew a plane equipped with GPS mapping into the side of a mountain. He spent three days crawling with two broken legs before he was found. When investigators asked why he didn't use all the equipment available to him, he still maintained his "not a GPS guy" status. Stupid. Although not as physically consequential, I have seen plenty of Turfheads fly their planes into the mountain or the lake or never even get off the ground because they took a side and wouldn't budge from it. So I asked a few of them lately what had put them to that decision point and why. The answers were fascinating. "I only use liquids on greens", proclaimed one super. "I'm done with granulars". So we talked this one through and the facts came out that at a previous job, this person couldn't get employees to master the concept of using a rotary spreader. Tried and tried and just couldn't make it happen. Factor number two was that some of that granular was ending up in the baskets the next morning. Makes sense, right? But new job, new place and this place needs some materials applied with spreaders. I am the one delivering the news. Paid to do so. And the conversation with me is something like saying, "look, I know you love the trombone, but the music you have to play here means you need a clarinet". It seemed an absurd conversation to me, but we finally sorted it out. "I don't do deep and infrequent irrigation like you do, Dave", said one super on the phone. Somehow my writings on irrigation of sand-based greens in arid environments and the benefits of evaporative cooling had already reached them. So we had a discussion about why swamp coolers work and how, in that person's particular area no one has a swamp cooler because they don't work. And I agreed with Soaked Super that irrigation is the least of the worries. But that the occasional flush could be quite the thing when combined with some venting, etc. Again, it took some convincing but the results spoke for themselves. So is this a conditioned thing? Our whole world seems to make these choices. Coke vs Pepsi. Nike vs. Adidas. Toyota vs. Honda. And in our business, Toro vs. Rain Bird, etc? Yes. An effective technique of marketing and advertising is to get people to choose a side. A call to action to make a decision. Even when that decision is apples vs. oranges, after all, it's fruit. On the other hand, we are often led by advertising simply not to choose a certain side. Eggs, once made into villains by other marketers of proteins, are now back in vogue. And as it turns out, nothing was ever really wrong with them. I see a lot of good marketing in agronomy these days. Really smart marketing. And any smart marketing is going to put buyers to a decision. Those decisions can often be based on fact of usage. Meaning, this is the right product for this job. They can influence decisions by way endorsement. Super Super uses this and so should you. These are decent messages and when combined with informed choice, they are legit. Where I see the cows being run off the cliff is when science and facts take a back seat. And when a more "everybody is doing it" mindset comes into play. Further towards the edge we can go when this turns into a Flavor of the Month-seeking behavior. Running with the "in crowd" has perks and advantages, but if you are doing it for all the wrong reasons and not making informed choices, when you hit that cliff edge, it's too late. So, when I have a visit with a super and I start to hear the team choices, the marketing oriented speech where product- or process-oriented talking points are being sold to me as gospel or just the downright hype, I start asking questions. Really tough questions. The kind of questions that often have Turfheads' brains scrambled. We go through it to see why those choices have been made. And this way, we know that no one is going to fly their plane into that mountainside. It's a dramatic example. But if you have ever seen turfgrass carnage simply based on a choice of one side sersus another, it's instantly recognizable. Summer may not be the best time to evaluate this. But it also may be the best. Situational demands. But I will tell you that when you are seeing the crash in your windshield, you will wish you took some time to really look deep into your decisions. Dave Wilber is owner of Wilber Turf Services and is an agronomic consultant and advisor. Dave can be reached at davewilber@yahoo.com
  10. I remember. Well. I had a good influence with Communications with you!
  11. Thank you for the share, Matt. Good perspective!!
  12. Brain....coming from you...that is a major compliment.
  13. Ladies and Gents....make note of this moment. The Parker Stancil commented on my blog. My life....Complete.
  14. July. If you have ever held a hose in your hand in just about any climate, you know that July can be tough. It comes with all kinds of abnormal life habits. It surely signifies the end of Spring and the warm swampass revelation that Summer is actually here. You are now going to bed when it is light. Getting up when it is dark. Dressing quietly and slipping out of the house, apartment, tent or teepee trying not to wake anyone else up. A 3 or a 4 still on the clock. The neighbors hate you as you start your vehicle within earshot of the open windows of their bedroom, turn on the tunes and try to escape before they launch their eggs at you. July. Into work you go. The eyes coming in the door behind you are bleary, like yours. You wonder how much, if any, sleep they got, particularly on a weekend morning. You become the human Breathalyzer for the usual suspects. And if the air doesn't seem flammable you hand them anywhere between $2,000 and $50,000 worth of gear and send them out into the early morning, usually with headlights. There's a club event today. The Whatever Cup, or Medal Round or Invitational. It's meaningless. And yet it is everything. Mr. Willerford Ballpicker is on the phone to you before sunrise. "Did you remember to paint the zigzag line up the 15th fairway and the clown face on the 7th green?" You assure him it was done last night before you left. But did your assistant and intern actually handle it? Blood runs cold and you jump on a cart to make sure. It's all good. The clown is a masterpiece. July. I've never been one of those people trying to tell the world that our business is tougher than any other. Doing our business well is just like anything else. It requires a great amount of dedication and technical know-how. My friend the police officer deals with all kinds of life and health threats in his 10 hour shift. I can't imagine how that must feel. And he probably laughs when I talk about dead grass, or failed irrigation. I get it. Making those kinds of comparisons is akin to stacking deck chairs on the Titanic. Pointless. But if you have ever had July moments when it all goes wrong, it sure feels like the end. Or at least a version of it. I asked the "How are you doing?" question on the TurfNet Forum the other day, and it has created some good discussion. More to come, I am sure. And one of the respondents was pretty clear about supers not usually being happy. Or at least he questioned the definition of happy. Good point. I don't remember being happy in July. Ever. As a grass grower, it was just hard work. As a consultant, it's about a lot of hard work. Key phrase: Hard Work. Even the supers who have figured out the work-life balance thing know that if you fall asleep at the wheel in July, it can be costly. July. From our discussion on the TurfNet Forum, a couple gems have come. Sleep. No matter what. Sleep. And eat. Eat well. And exercise, somehow. A few of us use the simple kettlebell routine that Chris Tritabaugh talks about in one of the best blog posts I have read from him. Even my old broken body is benefiting from this kind of movement. July. August will come. I know this. And then September. It is what it is in July. Fighting it, being miserable because of it and all that can lead you down a bad path. And so, I have to say this. If things seem to be going fairly well and you still feel like the world is caving in, it may be time to get some professional help about that. I've talked about this plenty before. There is no shame in seeking help before something bad happens. And for sure, if your perspective is wrong, all you are going to do is swing at high pitches. That's bad. The unforced error of that way can lead to some pretty bad stuff. Eat well. Sleep as much as you can. Balance the integration of work and life. Exercise. Meditate or find meditation type activity. Be spiritual. Be realistic with yourself and those around you. The New July? Sure. And before you know it. July is gone with the wind. Gone like the Clown Face on that green.
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