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Dave Wilber

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47 Eagle

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

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  1. In my last post I talked about my preparation for a speaking gig to The Mile High Club Managers Chapter. And it created some good discussion and allowed me to enhance my talk, based on the input of my peers and fellow Turfheads. And if you haven't read that post, you probably should to get proper perspective. I don't always like linear history blogging, but in this case, I think it's worth an update. I really didn't know what to expect the morning I walked into Cherry Hills CC with my laptop containing a Keynote presentation. It seemed like I was prepared, but I am an over-prepper, so my perspective is a little skewed. As per usual, I'd been up half the night before practicing my brand of pre-game mental yoga, also known as torture. But again, that's my creative process and it's an old friend. The CMAA group was well prepared. About 60 in attendance. Mark Condon, GM at The Ranch CC is the education chair and he had a great group of speakers lined up. I really liked how he broke up the morning with a well done panel discussion with PGA Pros from Denver CC, Frost Creek CC and Cherry Hills. I don't always like panel discussions, but this one was really great and that had to do do with Mark doing his homework as the MC and asking good questions. It also had to do with great questions coming from the floor. I was last. Batting clean up after the Golf Pros and Ed Mate from the Colorado Golf Association. I had heard about Ed. But it was great to see him in person. His passion for the game is incredible and him being a former Evans Scholarship winner doesn't hurt. So in the last spot before lunch, the grass guy comes up. And as I hook up my laptop, the familiar feeling of peace after a week of torturing myself preparing for this is a welcome feeling. Again, this feeling is also an old friend and it tells me that there is nothing to do but be Dave Wilber and deliver the goods. A couple of small jokes and other stupid speaker tricks and I feel like I own the room and its time to rock and roll. My Powerpoint and Keynote skills are on point. My visuals are good. The room, like most country club settings is too bright, but I expected that and have visuals that will work. Throttles to the firewall. Forty-five min later, I was at the end of the presentation. And during the talk and then again at the end, this group had some good questions. I don't remember them all. When I'm in the flow, I don't often have recall. I own cameras and recorders and you would think I would set one or two up and capture the moment, but I just don't think that way. I need to travel with my Tech Monkey. But I do remember the discussions and questions that were most powerful. College Graduation Numbers: I fielded several questions based on my comments about not being able to fill the multitude of assistant and second assistant jobs out there. As well as the changing job of equipment technician. It was clear to me that there was much concern in the room that we may not be graduating and training qualified candidates to fill all the positions out there. And one of the Head Pro's in the room was very quick to talk about the fact he has the same issue. Lots of open slots in the Assistant Pro ranks. For me, I always want to be clear that when we are in a shrinking environment of golf courses closing, we cant expect the same number of Superintendent jobs to exist. There's nothing wrong with being an assistant Super. There's nothing wrong with doing that for a long time, perhaps as a career. But for sure, the way we pay our long time support crew is wrong. And everyone in that room understands that. Is All This New Tech Too Expensive?: I didn't spend long on this. Because to me, calculating ROI is easy. And if we can't do that or cant show returns on investing anything, then we are just getting stuff and doing stuff just because. Which doesn't pay. Bunkers: There was a lot of head nodding about cost of bunker maintenance and construction and that maybe we have lost the plot as it came to a bunker being a hazard. Ed Mate, a rules expert, was quick on the draw from the floor to refute that calling a bunker a "penalty area" is wrong. It's a bunker. The Environment: The CMAA Chapter is really excited about working with the Colorado Golf Association in regards to Economic and Environmental Impact of golf. That's good. I think we all want that. And I will be sure that those who need to know hear that Turfgrass side of the golf world has a lot of data and a lot to say in this area. So, did I deliver an Anthony Bourdain style ass whipping to them? Not really. Thats not me. Well, it can be. But this wasn't the time or the place. However, I'm sure there was some eye opening things that this group heard. I was super happy to hear the PGA Pros being really strong about the fact that while they know they want to get golfers to the game, the idea of keeping them there was much more on their mind. I think one of their stories about the club's most popular event being a Night Golf event was telling in the fact that there is nothing traditional in that, but it was all about the fun. Fun. What a thing. Golf really can be fun. As far as anything I said that drew the biggest reaction, someone in the audience decided to pontificate a non-question question about the number of courses, golfers and handicaps. He wasn't making any sense when he got to the slope rating part and before Ed Mate could jump in, I simply said that I don't have a handicap. Don't care about having one. Refuse to play stroke play when I play and that match play with my friends is my favorite thing. And I even went on to say that I prefer that to be with Hickory clubs and demand to be walking. Yeah. You can imagine the chuckles that got. But it did get the Pope in the back of the room to be quiet. Is The Golf dying? No, don't be silly. Is it going to be what it was? No, don't be silly. It's always evolved. Should every 18-hole course that has had any economic trouble turn itself into Top Golf. No. That's absurd. Should we be worried? Hell yes! Falling asleep at the wheel didn't and never will do anyone any good. Should we, as Turfheads be carrying a better message of Econ and Enviro? If you aren't you will definitely be a statistic. Definitely. But carrying is one thing, living it is even more important.
  2. Dave Wilber

    Is Evolution a Thing in Turfgrass?

    You are more than right.
  3. Dave Wilber

    Is Evolution a Thing in Turfgrass?

    Awesome, Mike. Thanks!
  4. Dave Wilber

    Is Evolution a Thing in Turfgrass?

    Brian...thanks for this. I'll be watching tomorrow.
  5. Dave Wilber

    Is Evolution a Thing in Turfgrass?

    Jon...I resisted. And then I watched a facility using them as daily drivers and my mind had to be changed. Appreciate you reading. Means the world.
  6. Dave Wilber

    Is Evolution a Thing in Turfgrass?

    Jay....you are spot on. And I guess I avoided the labor issue for all the wrong reasons. I wrote about 500 words on it last night and that was woefully inadequate. However, with this as esentially an increased hard cost, I'd like to see the revenue side of the business not hide its head in the sand and generate income with increase in mind. Without a doubt, the talk I am giving and some future writings are going to challenge the lazy, same as always revenue generation ideas that are stale at best. Good points. And I'd like to be your assistant!!
  7. Dave Wilber

    Is Evolution a Thing in Turfgrass?

    Agree. But golf has done that to itself by making carts part of the financial equation.
  8. Dave Wilber

    Is Evolution a Thing in Turfgrass?

    Dave...Bravo. I started down the path of what "career" means and didn't finish it in my notes. However, I do intend to include some figures on open jobs (assistants, etc...), but will certainly talk about the changing world of migrant labor. Excellent.
  9. Dave Wilber

    Is Evolution a Thing in Turfgrass?

    Corey... I agree and will add some words to the part about Whisky Loops, etc. But I agree for sure that with lower budgets, less labor that mowing has suffered badly.
  10. Dave Wilber

    Is Evolution a Thing in Turfgrass?

    Paul...I agree. I had thought to include that in the chemical section, but I think it needs its own point...and really it's own complete write up. Thanks. Great input.
  11. Dave Wilber

    Is Evolution a Thing in Turfgrass?

    I like the sim thing. The beer cart comes when I want it to. And I don't need a rain suit or a ball picker. Thanks Randy, I don't deserve the compliment. But I will take it.
  12. I'm speaking next week at a CMAA meeting in Denver. I did a CMAA meeting once a few years ago and they did wine tasting, so I figured it might pay to go to this one. I prefer Single Malt. We will see what happens. In truth, the program is pretty cool. The Mile High CMAA Chapter is looking to get perspective on the evolution of Golf and has invited some notables from the Club Pro, Turfgrass and Colorado Golf in general. So cool. Had to say yes. If you have been reading my Blog or listening to my Podcast for any amount of time, you probably know that I'm neurotic for preparation. In this case, I cant just stand up, pull a club out of the bag and hit a one-iron. I have to work for this one a bit and do some research and the like. The Evolution of Golf. Certainly, Golf hasn't been immune to evolution. One must only look at the Golf Ball or the Golf Club to see that. And certainly, there has been plenty of change as it comes to the world of architecture. Even if that change is simply to erase the poorly evolved. Then we come to the 2007-2008 crash. Or "adjustment" as the optimists call it. And from that point on, it's been a crazy world of trying to figure out what golf is and who we all are. To me, we can't escape a list of facts that is here to stay: 50% of everyone now picking up a club is 55 years of age or older. 77.5% of all golfers are male. 74% of players play less than 10 times per year. 68% of all golfers are married. $2,800 is the average amount that the average player spends per year. Great Dave. So you are gonna get up in front of a bunch of club management types and tell them what they either already know, can read in NGF stats or are experiencing while they try to figure out how to get this all to change. And guess what? It's not gonna change. It's not. No matter how much Foot Golf or Jump Houses or 13th Hole Concerts or Bluetooth Speakers or GPS Disney Carts come along... The Golf is The Golf. But the Agronomy? Just like the equipment and the courses themselves, is dynamic. Here's what I see as the coming trends and the things that we are talking about. Will these things change the numbers above? Again, not likely in my mind. But there is an evolution. Bunkers. Despite the PGA Tour now calling them Penalty Areas, bunkers now represent at least 50% of the conversations that I have as an agronomic advisor. Be it construction, reconstruction, restoration, daily maintenance or tourney prep, they are a grand topic. And a damn expensive one. The expectations are high and the understanding of what "natural" really takes to maintain is low. At least half the golfers at most clubs don't like the sand or the way the sand is prepped. They are money pits. In a recent agronomy report for a client, I talked about the "gift" a traditionalist architect had given the club in the form of "natural bunkers", proving to double the labor dollars required to deal with them. Here's the quote: "the only way not to spend so much money on these bunkers, is not to have these bunkers". One less architect X-mas card will come to me this year. Robotic Mowing. Like it or not, robots are coming. In form of Turfgrass Roombas or some such. I don't see them as play-toys and I keep saying this. Those that are using the first generation of the things are seeing what the win will be. Sure, they will require a different kind of maintenance, schedule and some human supervision, but there is no question they will be part of the internal landscape. Precision Applications. Along the same lines, we will certainly see more and more GPS oriented technology for anything that gets applied. And for sure, this will mean the evolution of sensor technology to make sure that only the overpowering invader gets the treatment and the zones doing great do not. I can foresee an IR scanning drone overflying an area, downloading info to a sprayer and that sprayer applying 10% or less of what used to be applied. Same will go for irrigation. Real time data will be commonplace at tremendous savings. Large Area Mowers. Gone are the days of multiple heights of cut and a bevy of labor to produce them. 3 heights of cut. And the one that is the largest area will be once again mowed with larger mowers. Will item number 2 play a part. In some way, yes. And if the happens, the equipment may be smaller as an accommodation. The corollary to this simply mowing less grass to begin with. Short Courses, Par 3's and Whisky Loops. Time is something we can't print more of. So without a doubt, the conversation about shorter, easier, more fun and quicker places to play is going to continue. You wanna go hang out at the 7600 yard battlezone? Be my guest. I like the 5300 yard opportunity not to hate myself. Great Grasses. In my opinion we are entering into another golden age of plant breeding and turf types will be more unique, site specific and use specific than ever before. With reams of data now at our fingertips about climate and the ability to model the potential growth based on the smallest details, breeders can meet needs. In really cool ways. One only has to look at the amazing Bents and Ultras that we are using on greens now to see there is real movement in this area. Lowering of Expectations. How hard is it really, for golfers, members and management to get that when they want lower prices they are going to get less. I actually think that superintendents are doing a much better job of talking about this from a less defensive posture. Is this because the "Country Club for a Day" sales pitch is going away? I'd like to think so. And to be fair, Supers are starting to realize they have been their own worst enemies as it comes to inventing stuff to do to make things reach that "next level". The extra 10% can cost another 30%. That's not ROI. Thats just stupid. I'm quick to point this out when anyone says "Next Level" or some version of it to me. Here's the truth. We all want to drive McLarens. And few can afford it. Enjoy your Toyota. Love it. Chemicals. I talk about this all the time. One day, there won't be any or there will be very little. And so we will have to rely on point number 6 above. What's driving it. Sadly it's not the environmental factor as much as it is the litigation and liability factor. And quite frankly as a recent student of risk management, I don't blame the insurance folks for backing away from the agri-chem coverage. It's a controllable risk. 9. Virtual Golf. I met a gentleman on a plane recently who was wearing a high end resort logo. He told me his story of logo achievement because I was dumb enough to ask. But his answer was facinating. He plays all his golf at Top Golf and at his friend's basement simulator. And once a year, he and his buddies head for the coast, play as many holes a day as the daylight and their sore feel will allow. Eat and Drink to excess. Tell lies. And head home to the Simulators. Now maybe this does say that golf is changing, but then again, no. It just says that once a year, the dudes have dude times with their el dudarino buddies and that's all they get. Actually, sounds pretty good to me. 10. Brilliance. Buh? It's simple. Turfheads are some of the most resourceful people on the planet. And if you ask most of them to sort out something, make something happen, deal with adversity, they will. Over and over again. So the evolution of golf and golf turf is well rooted in the brilliance and testicular thought fortitude of those growing the grass. I know damn good and well that sitting here today, I can not predict the things that will go on in 33 years, just as I couldn't have predicted this blog 33 years ago when I hit the biz. So, I have parts of my talk for next week. And I can spend the next six nights torturing myself over getting the visuals right and the roadmap right for a decent presentation and wondering why I say yes to these things. I can focus on not sounding like just another Brad Kline or Pat Jones talk. I can actually be me and say it as I see it. In this moment. It's all one can really do, right? (PostScript....If you would like to weigh in on the evolutionary path of golf as related to Agronomy, I and many others would love to hear it. Comment below. And remember, no idea is too off the wall)
  13. Dave Wilber

    Support System ...

    As always, your writing is directly on point. One of my Yoga teachers in India, was an old skinny dude. While most of the practice with him was Breathwork oriented, when we did the poses and movements he instructed, he always talked about the subject of the subject of what supports what. For instance, in standing poses, he talked about the shoulders being key, etc. But you have taken that thinking and carried it to really important points for the human side of Greenkeeping. I'm glad I am a reader today!! Namaskar!!
  14. Dave Wilber

    I Did Something Crazy

    Bravo. The GGT. Love it.
  15. Dave Wilber

    Wisdom In the Craft Brew

    That is one of my favorite lines ever....I use the word, "Turf".