COURSE CARE
Control Your Fate – Communicate! February 27, 2015

Control Your Fate – Communicate!

By Larry Gilhuly, Northwest Director
November 30, 2009


As winter approaches in the Pacific Northwest the focus turns less to turf growth and more to turf survival. With current economic conditions plaguing the entire industry, the same can be said about the game of golf, with the golf course superintendent as an important part of this equation. There are golf courses all over the Northwest Region that are in good agronomic condition, yet, occasionally, the golf course superintendent is not doing the best job communicating to their players about current course conditions, concerns from the players, upcoming projects, and maintenance programs.

Standard forms of communication with players have been direct conversation (always the best approach), newsletters, posted signs, and bulletin boards. As the internet expanded, however, some very effective methods of communication have been advanced by several golf course superintendents that are highly recommended for every golf course. The following two examples are exactly what we need in today’s world to communicate with facts and less emotion to tell the real story.

For the past several years, Forrest Goodling, long-time golf course superintendent at Portland Golf Club, has provided the majority of his members regular ‘course conditions’ updates via email messages. His explanations and photos illustrate precisely the topics being discussed, and they have been very useful during times of extreme heat and disease outbreaks - most recently the severe Pythium outbreak that plagued many Washington and Oregon courses this past summer and fall. Feedback from the membership has been very positive, with many kudos on how this communication allows members to better understand what is going on at their golf course.

The second example of superb communication is a takeoff from the club web page. Superintendent Mike Goldsberry at Wing Point Country Club on Bainbridge Island, WA, developed a blog that goes well beyond a standard email. The site utilizes photos, daily comments, polls, and feedback from the members. A good example of how this communication tool works is shown with the photo of the number ten green under water. Following this posting, Mr. Goldsberry noted the following in an email to my office:

 November 30, 2009 NW Photo  

"Did you see the photo of No. 10 green? Well, it's really anaerobic right now from the enormous lake it has during periods of extended rain. The problem is, members don't play the course in the rain and never get to see the green under water. The green is hurting bad, so the posting of the picture tells the story of why it is performing so poorly at this time!

Now, when we work on fixing the problem, and the green recovers and stays in good shape, they'll remember what we did to fix the problem. If we need to rebuild it or do some major overhaul in the drainage that disrupts play, they will be all for it, and mainly due to this picture on the blog. How else could I possibly communicate the problem as good as that, or as fast as that?"

Could not agree more Mr. Goldsberry! For more information on the Wing Point blog go to http://wingpointsuperintedentupdate.blogspot.com/

Control your fate at your golf course – communicate what is going on as much as possible.

Source: Larry Gilhuly, lgilhuly@usga.org or 253-858-2266