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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 rescued a little black Pit Bull just over 3 years ago. He was in a kill shelter in the southeastern tip of Colorado. Likely he was a "Target Dog", meaning professional victim in a fighting operation and was about 3-4 years old. It took him a while to learn to be a dog, but I have never seen an animal try so hard and put in so much work to do what his human asked of him. And every day, I see in him, great gratitude for now having the life he has. And when the tides shift and I need to be taken care of, Bruce impacts me with the same zeal as he did when he came to me. Previous to this I had always had Rottweilers, my breed of choice. And always puppies from reputable breeders. I love the Gladiator dogs. They fit my personality. But I had never been around a rescue. And the thought of a dog who had had so much abuse was on my mind. That quickly left. I can't thank you enough Peter. For making a difference. Really. These animals are so much more than they get credit for.
  2. I think I got it right. One is a Greenkeeper. One keeps the Greens. But thanks for reading. For that, I am appreciative.
  3. I can't stand reading end of the year, wrap-up writing. Nor can I stomach the end-of-the-decade spench that I am reading everywhere. It's just as if the writers and broadcasters and anyone else with shredded newspaper for brains has to do this. I feel like I need a shower after reading most of this mindless box ticking drivel. And yet there has been this little voice in my head telling me that I am supposed to write something recapping something or another. Non-conformity is my bag, so I have come up with a solution. Partly inspired by one of the best pieces of golf writing have ever seen from Lorne Rubinstein, here. This is the passage that had me mesmerized but the whole thing is just awesome. If you don't go read the whole thing, just read this: "I urge an experiment for the new year: Play with a half-set; leave your rangefinder at home; play some solitary golf in the half-light of an evening; walk if you are able to; try match play; play some foursomes, or alternate shot golf; play nine holes more often, or fewer. You might find different ways to enjoy the game, maybe more meaningful ways." - Lorne Rubinstein, Recapturing Golf I have always been a greenkeeper. At least since I was fifteen. 38 or so years. And I am proud of that. Even when I stopped growing grass and began advising others, I never got rid of the attitude. Of the joy and the lifestyle. It had enriched my life and at the same time been costly. I'm OK with that. The sacrifices and the struggles have made me who I am. And only time will tell if it was worth it. I cannot forget the day that I first turned up for my new summer job on the golf course. I knew nothing of golf, and certainly nothing of keeping greens. But I had good people around me to teach me, to hassle me, to love me and to push me. We worked our hearts out that summer. I mean it. We did. And I was hooked. We opened a new golf course that summer and when I saw the first golfers hit the greens that I had shoveled topdressing sand for and sink putts, it was a feeling of pride like I had never felt. I've come to understand that few people in the world will understand the pride of preparing a sporting surface to support the play and competition. We are, without a doubt a club of our own. With rules and language and history, we rule an area that few understand and that many take advantage of. Now all this talk about what golf should and should not be. The jabbering of the scared rabbits, sure that Top Golf and virtual indoor computer generated whack-a-ball will end our existence. The braying of the donkeys who want their cigars, Bluetooth, GPS and robotic halfway house servers fills the air. We need 7 holes. No, we need shorter balls. No, we need more Tiger. No, Yes, No... Horseshit. All of it. Nobody knows a thing about what the game will become. Any more than Old Tom himself could have predicted Jack Nicklaus winning the Masters in 1986. The late Dan Jenkins once told me that the best part of his role in golf was to make fun of the culture and to revere the sport. I love that. It was curmudgeonly said in a way that understood that there is a grand canyon between golf as a passion and golf as a social experiment. Jenkins never resisted tell the stories of both. I admit in the last decade wanting to run from golf and from turfgrass. I actually tried a few times. I availed myself of learning the nursery and perishable plant transportation business and I found out that I had about as much passion for the world of nursery work as I did for having eggs dropped on my head from spy helicopters. That is to say, zero point zero. Cannabis? Same story. Let the stoners be with their medicine. I don't care. But I did learn how to shape glass into amazing objects from some very high people. It's not my scene. Simple as that. But I care about golf and turfgrass. I care about design and architecture. I love Turfheads. I care. Deeply. And even when I thought I didn't, I did. Wisdom: It isn't a matter of IF, it is a matter of WHEN. You will have a moment, if you haven't already, when doing anything else but keeping greens sounds amazing. You will. And for some of you, it may be time to exit the left stage and find your passion. But if you know that you know... you owe yourself some honesty. It won't be easy. You won't get rich. Your body will hurt. Your mind will be torn. You will be underappreciated. You will not be understood. Your loved ones likely won't get it. And you will have one of the greatest lives you can possibly imagine. Ever. Lorne Rubinstein talks about reclaiming golf in such a perfect way. He talks about giving up the gadgets and just enjoying. He talks about finding new ways to do old stuff, about doing more with less and less being fun. Now relate this to your own experience, to growing grass. Can you reclaim the older ways that worked for years? Can you scrap the gadgets and the tech and just listen for a bit? Get down and smell the turf? Can you share your passion with others without a chip on your shoulder? Can you present your product proudly without having to feel like keeping up with anything? Can you feel what your grass is telling you? Can you get excited about the little things? I urge you to experiment. Reclaim The Golf for yourself, and watch what happens to the world around you. It will get better. There's my New Year wisdom. And therein lies my wrap up of a decade of my life that has been the very worst and the very best. To me, just being here and being able to share this with you is a victory of beating astronomical odds against me. No doubt you faced similar but different challenges. That's one hell of a way to end a year and a decade. Here's to Reclaiming Your Golf!
  4. As always, I love your writing....and I can tell you that Jill is doing a wonderful job. Namaskar!
  5. In my travels, when golfers spot a logo or ask what I do their questions are usually endless. I think that wasn’t exists more than many people think. But when you have the same daily audience, they need new and interesting ways to receive. Otherwise they get their info from sources other than you. The problem many have, is that they immediately turn toward the over technical answers and become hard to understand. The routine questions I get asked are basic. And require basic ways to say the easy stuff.
  6. The email from GCSAA said that it would take 8 minutes to do my Member Needs Assessment. Mine took 22. Because I am slow and because I am wordy. I also took the time to use my Twitter feed and tweet about doing it and to encourage others. And I emailed three influential supers in my world and asked them to weigh in. So let's call it an even half hour. At my current billable office rate, that runs the abacus to about $100. A year ago, I wasn't a GCSAA member. I had taken a break for just over a decade. You can read about my coming back, here. I don't want to digress into the why's and how's here. But now that I am a member, I wanna be involved. I filled out my committee volunteer form. I have made it known to a few players that I'm available. I have read the emails and the magazine. Mostly. And I did what I did today and was serious and dutiful about filling out my survey. Survey. I think for a ton of people that word has a bad connotation. If you've ever worked around the resort world, you know that comment cards can make or break you. And then there are those annoying asks after a routine customer service event, to "stay on the line for a brief survey". I rarely do. But then a friend in the world of customer service explained a simple fact to me: you don't have a voice unless you speak up and the right people hear you. So today, as I went through what really is a very predictable set of questions. I decided to look a little harder and not just pass thru quickly. I imagined in my mind all the people in our world that this would or could impact. I imagined all the Supers that I know. And don't know. All the staff members that I know. And don't know. All the up and coming young people in our future and even, yes, gasp... Golfers. Golfers. That word, in and of itself, brings all kinds of emotion to anyone who ever has touched a blade of grass in any effort to prepare a playing surface. "It's not a museum or a mausoleum", an old school super told me one day, "it's a place for people to come and use and if we keep them from doing that, we don't stand a chance". Golfers. It's true, we really are in a business of meeting their needs. Now, let me qualify that: they don't always know what they need, or are right about those needs. Here is my overall burning question: What are WE (you, me, everyone in the industry) doing to support golf and golfers? I don't see this as just a USGA, R&A or PGA-oriented question. Really. We want the game to grow. We want the future to be bright. We want the greens that we are keeping not to be seen as evil consumers of resources. We want Sustainability and Inclusion, Recreation and Community. Simple. So I have a hard time when I am asked about words like Advocacy or Government Relations or Research and the more lofty topics first. And this is coming from a guy who did a lot of Government Relations work in our field and believes in research (as long as it isn't poisoned by money). Because so many times, I found myself explaining golf to non-golfers and often to people who never would be golfers. Try this. Ask some golfers about what you do. They really don't know. Why not help them learn? Isn't that the basics before we spew a bunch of corporate-speak? This is why I see things like The First Green being so important. And why I am always telling supers to open the doors to their shop facilities and conduct meetings and tours. And why I want people to invite members and golfers to join them for the morning prep sessions. And why I am baffled that at least part of my agronomy visits don't include a crowd of interested golfers or a roundtable fireside chat. To just talk about grass. Here again, a GCSAA winner, the new Friend of the Superintendent program. Brilliant. On par with the USGA Walking Membership and that kind of thing. And there are so many opportunities. And I'm not talking about the boring old, "Fix Your Ballmark" poster or the overproduced 15 second "commercial" showing a super (usually a very good looking dude, sorry Darren Davis) overseeing an army of mowers on a perfect sunshine day. No. The YouTube-oriented world needs less slick and more real than that. If we survey a bunch of golfers, do they really know us? Do they really know what we do? What the skill set required to make a playing surface really entails? Sadly, most often they don't know. And I'm not talking about teaching Spacklerisms here. I am just talking the simple basics. Which are routine to us and completely looked at as witchcraft to them. I think golf is going to have a future. And for as long as it lets me, I wanna be involved with that future. It's been such a rewarding career and community to be part of. But if our association doesn't know us and understand what that passion looks like? Bad. Bad. Bad. And more bad. Photo ops and stuff like that just don't play as real. It's a 1-iron. Sexy and often ignored. Fill out your survey. Be heard. And speak up about what matters to you. What could possibly be wrong with that? And if you don't think your voice matters, you are wrong. And if you don't think you are a good communicator, that's your ego speaking. Just write. They will know what you mean. Pissed off? Say so. Happy? Then say that too. I'm not sure there has been a more important time to influence the direction of our industry. And I love our industry. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants a wonderful life. Not easy, but truly wonderful.
  7. 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.
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
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