Posts Tagged ‘Balance’

An Open Letter to a Job Poster

(I’m so completely baffled by a recent “change” at a club and the resulting communication around it that I needed to let some angst out of my fingers. You may be able to guess the details. Fine. Good for you. This isn’t really here to skewer someone..well maybe a bit. It’s high time we wake up and wonder why this sort of thing happens and what each of us, as individuals can do to keep the profession from being tumbled. Oh..and pay attention to this..you think this can’t happen to you as you get your resume and cover letter together? Really?)

December 12, 2012; 12:12PM
Mr. Z, General Manager
XYZ Golf and Country Club
Somewhere Upscale, USA 12345

Dear Mr. Z,

I have read the recent job announcement that The XYZ Club has placed for a “Head Superintendent”. And quite frankly, I’m confused and hope that you can shed a little more light on the foggy looking situation at your club. I have also done a bit of work for you to perhaps value engineer your job positing.

Your recently let go Golf Course Superintendent was known to many as an innovator and as a good match for the property. Sometimes cocky, but always correct, he seemed at the helm of stewardship. Of course there are always 3 sides to every story and I’m sure there is much that neither you nor the ousted employee can talk about. What I wonder is why, if you weren’t getting along with him, did you not seek to help this situation, you know, kind of like having a bit of marital counseling in the time of a storm. Many of us knew your superintendent well and had offered him much in the way of help and advice and friendship and would have surely done more to see the relationship between the club and a talented employee flourish has we known you were close to a divorce.

The job posting that went out so quickly is of great concern. Because as I read the words on that job posting, it seems that whomever wrote it was dreadfully short on the vernacular of golf course management. And of even more concern was the representation of the benefits afforded the superintendent at your club. In short, was it really necessary to point out that your superintendent is allowed to golf for free? Is a CostCo membership, in the eyes of the club, a benefit of great importance? How is the process set up for you to approve, or disprove educational and professional meeting attendance?

In most areas of the country, a six figure job is nothing to laugh at. However, in your particular area, that salary won’t go far. What exactly is your expectation of commutable distance? Is this number real or something to work up to? Does the club really intend to compensate at this level or just for “the right person”.

Is a CostCo membership, in the eyes of the club, a benefit of great importance?

There is no question that you will be amazed at the number of resumes that you receive for this position. After all, your facility enjoys quite a reputation. However, that reputation is as a golf facility. Your club isn’t well known for soup, sandwiches and sweaters. So how will you sort out the fantasy resumes from the real ones? Who on your staff knows the inside of the business so well that you can make this kind of decision? Perhaps you’ll hire a consultant to help you? Who will conduct interviews? Based on reading the job posting, it is pretty clear you don’t know much about the job of the golf course superintendent. I’m sure somewhere on the internet is a list of questions you can ask your candidates. You won’t understand what the right answers are, sadly.

There is much talk about the financial status of your club. And for a few years now, you have burdened the superintendent to cut back to minimum staff and minimum work and you have done a minimum of equipment replacement. There are rumors that you have been in negotiation with several management companies with one of them quietly claiming that they had a deal with you, a while back. However, this information wasn’t included in your job announcement and that’s a curiosity. Wouldn’t full disclosure be better? And if your past Superintendent failed at giving you all the money you needed to make the budget work, then didn’t you fail as well to deal with the revenue side of the picture? What’s sad is that your facility is busy. Cranking out the rounds, and yet financial issues exist. Has raising the rates ever occurred to anyone or are all of your members and golfers on a fixed income?

Past Superintendent had the course in very good condition, but wasn’t as good as the General Manager wanted him to be at saving the club money, communicating about all the ways he wouldn’t spend money and attending meetings about how he was going to keep saving the club money

I’ve taken the liberty to re-write the job announcement that you have recently released. I think it is much more in line with what is really happening at your club. Perhaps this should be posted.

_______

Semi-Private Facility Seeks Golf Course Superintendent

XYZ Golf and Country Club has recently discharged our past superintendent and is seeking a new one. Past Superintendent had the course in very good condition, but wasn’t as good as the General Manager wanted him to be at saving the club money, communicating about all the ways he wouldn’t spend money and attending meetings about how he was going to keep saving the club money. A successful Golf Course Superintendent at XYZ will be able to do all we ask him to do in a timely and inexpensive manner while still keeping the conditions in as near US Open or Tour conditions as we see fit.

Our facility has a membership that is very tough as well as corporate events and limited to unlimited public play. The Course Superintendent is expected to handle this schedule and not pay his Union Staff a dime of overtime and not add any new staff burden to handle our 7-day per week golfing schedule, which we hope someday to include USGA type events to showcase our amazing property and help us be able to sell more hats and shirts and Starbucks type coffee drinks.

The club will compensate you as we see fit. We are located in one of the most expensive areas in the US to live and so your dollar won’t go very far here. We expect you to live close by so as to be able to come in whenever there is any kind of emergency, such as the cart barn attendant forgetting to fill up several flat tires. We will give you a vehicle, but you won’t be able to use it for anything but work related things. That’s OK, because for what we pay you, you should always be working. We have a benefit package, but because of how insurance works and because we need to cut back everywhere we can, you’ll have to pay a big percentage of your health coverage and if you have a family, let’s hope your wife has a cushy municipal job so that they can have insurance, otherwise, we are happy to take a large part of your check and will help you with your FSA program to pay all the bills and save a little tax. Since the median home price in our area is so huge, you’ll need every tax write off you can get, because you’ll never be able to write of mortgage interest. We want you to play golf, but only on your own time. Don’t think about bringing friends out to play. We hear that Superintendents like to do this and if you do, you’ll have to pay for them and their food (or at least a percentage of their food, we can’t seem to get the committee to decide on this).

Contract? Please. Don’t even ask.

We want you to work 80 plus hour weeks, but will certainly pay for your dues for local and national associations. Don’t count on attending meetings; our board adopted a “no staff travel” policy a few years back. Besides, we all know the yearly golf show in Orlando or Vegas or one of those fun cities is just a big drunken festival. The GM went one year and the trade show consisted of Liquor vendors and Napkin printers and a bunch of mowers and everyone talking in the aisles.

Contract? Please. Don’t even ask.

We know we will get 300 plus resumes for this job. To impress us, you will have to be willing to take the job for any amount of money and be willing to work your way up, whatever that means. Older, experienced Superintendents, especially if you are from the local area, need not apply. If you have had five or six high profile jobs in the last decade or have worked overseas, we may be more interested in you.

Lastly, the club really doesn’t know what we are really here for. We know we have an old historical golf course, but historical things are often very expensive to take care of so we talk a lot about modernization. We hired one of those architects that cares about older golf courses, but found our that the bunkers they restored are really too expensive to maintain, even though they look so natural. Our members want great conditions, low dues and inexpensive hangar steaks with large whisky pours. This is our supposed direction until the next board election. We may have to hire one of those golf management companies to help us, as club self-governance hasn’t really worked out so well.

Please send resumes, powerpoint presentations filled with retouched photos and over hyped DVD’s. No calls. Don’t even think about coming to visit. We don’t like to give away free golf. If you need to know more about the area, use Google or TripFinder or something like that.

______

Thank you, Mr Z for taking this all in. I’m sure the job posting as written about is a much more accurate and solid description of the job. And at the same time, you will still get hundreds of resumes from those who just “know they can handle it”. Best of luck. You may well need it.

Signed,
Really Concerned For The Golf Industry and Sick of The Devastation of The Green Industry

There Is A Big White Sandwich-Making Sweater-Folding Elephant In My Truck

The largely unrealized goal this year was to write more blog posts. Inside of that goal has been my deep-seated desire to make Maestro Peter happy. He’d be hog slop happy with more agronomy writing from me. “Agronomy, Wilber” is often the two word email that I get from Peter. It’s fine. I think he, like a lot of people think that every day, all day, I think about growing grass and that every conversation I have with everyone I see has to do with large bore topics like how to really deal with your LDS and the absolute best and only way to use growth regulators in a particular zip code and how organic fertilizers will eventually save the planet.

My problem is that there’s this big ass Elephant that has taken up residence in my truck and in my brain.   And because he’s there, hot agronomy topics like Read the rest of this entry »

Tonic for Spring Confusion

I would warn you that I do not attribute to nature either beauty or deformity, order or confusion. Only in relation to our imagination can things be called beautiful or ugly, well-ordered or confused.
Baruch Spinoza (Dutch Philosopher of the 1600’s referring to the Tulip Breeding of the time)

Often spring comes and with it a good deal of Turfhead confusion about fertility. It may seem a simple reaction to whatever weather is or is not happening at the time. And certainly, warm or cool season climates have interesting spring weather and interesting challenges. That’s nothing new. So why all the questions, consternation, hand waving and intimate part length measuring that seems to go on every spring? I’ve tried to figure out what causes this and have a few answers.  Read the rest of this entry »

Spring Symposium, Joel Simmons

I can’t find a decent picture anywhere of Joel Simmons and it’s too dark to take a good picture, so this will have to do. 

Joel is on a mission. He’s good at it and he’s taken way to much crap for understanding and going all in for a great thing. He’s saying things like “Give Me Humus or Give Me Death” and if you’ve followed anything that I’ve done or said over the years, you know that I believe in this and I live it as well. Joel and I have put our work into play at some pretty cool places and what we talk about and do works. It’s not pipe dreams or entertainment or just a way to sell stuff (oh by the way, neither of us has a Cushy University Deal, so RESULTS have had to count).

So once again, Joel is here, working and talking about Carbon Based Fertility. The Gloves are a little off. Here is something good to read from Joel as to why he is speaking up. And I don’t blame him because those of us in the field have kind of had it with being told that the things we are doing that are working aren’t working. Absurd. Really absurd. And it is such an affront to so many Supers who have worked miracles by looking at things a different way.

I’m stoked to hear Joel speak. I’ve heard it before and I’ll hear it again. I live it. So do my “A” players. That oughta be enough. But because a buch of the AOG thinks they know better because they just wanna be different…it’s not going to be.

 

There Is Stuff To Be Thankful For And Stuff To Loathe

This is the time of year when people find reasons to list what they are thankful for.

I’ve never been much for doing what everyone does. And I’m not real big on lists either. The creative types and Perez Hiltons of the world are apt to take the opportunity to list what they aren’t thankful for. Some of them don’t seem to be thankful for much of anything.

In further evolution of the species, a lot of people seem to be thankful for is the ability to miss the annual family show down. The option is to stand in line at Wal-mart all day Thursday for the Black Friday deals.

I’ve got something left over in my brain from Mad Magazine or something like that wherein I often think of things as Hot and Not . You know, kind of an ongoing brew of what’s really happening and what is to dislike.

Here it is in list form, because this blog won’t Vulcan Mind Meld as of yet:

Hot:

  1. Apple Products. You can’t deny the innovation.
  2. Foster The People. Great band, great guys, including my friend Sean Cimino on guitar.
  3. Mini Cooper. If there’s ever a car for the future, the Mini has made a statement.
  4. Phosphites. Nothing has made more of a difference in more spray programs.
  5. Organic Fertilizers. Never a better time for choices and cost-effectiveness.

Not So Hot:

  1. Professional Sports. Yes, you all don’t make enough money—so stop playing and go work in the chosen profession of your college major.
  2. The Irrigation Industry. Control Systems=FAIL. (see #1 above for an option). Cost=FAIL (if we are ever gonna build golf again it has to be different).
  3. Hybrid Cars. Sorry Prius and Voltheads, but #3 above and the TDI and small turbo engines from VW, BMW and Ford are winners without 900 pounds of battery cells to worry about.
  4. General Managers. That’s right, ask for your Super to save the club another hundred grand.
  5. Trade Shows. I’ve never really understood them, but even the big ones are on life suppport. Ever meet a vendor that likes a good trade show?

I’m pretty sure that neither one of those lists covers it. But it is a fun exercise to put your mind around. For most people the cold list is much easier than the hot list.

Personally, I have a lot to be thankful for and a lot that needs to change. Isn’t that always the case? Most of all, I’m thankful for the friends and clients that I’m close with. Those people who have embraced Turfheadism, not as a disease to be hidden from our “non Green” friends and unturfheadlike families are unique and wonderful. Who couldn’t be thankful for them and those like them (us)?


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