It’s Not Always About The Grass

By R.A. (Bob) Brame, director, North-Central Region
August 30, 2012

It was the summer of 1983 and, for me working as a golf course superintendent, I remember it to be much like the challenging 2012 season. There are times, even with a good maintenance package in place, when weather extremes inflict some damage. The course I was responsible for maintaining that year experienced some scattered turf loss. It wasn’t a major compromise in playability, but it was enough to catch the attention of those who are continually comparing golf courses. During those times, if even one course in the community escapes noticeable weakening or scarring, the comparisons and questions ensue. 

Earlier that same year, I had a Turf Advisory Service visit with Stan Zontek, the USGA agronomist in the region. It was a good visit and the follow-up report was beneficial with a very positive tone – the maintenance package was in overall good order. The subsequent summer weather prompted my green committee chair to call Stanley back. This was a good idea as opposed to allowing emotions to escalate unchecked without the facts. The second visit was also positive. Stan discussed the issues and assured those on the visit that the sky wasn’t falling and the turf damage was not irreparable. At the end of the course tour, the committee asked Stan to sit down with them privately for a quick review. Stan’s follow-up report reiterated what was discussed during the course tour, and he included a hand written note in my copy of the report that offered a general sense of the discussion that occurred during the private meeting. 

With Stan’s help I got through that season, plus seven more at the same club. I then joined the Green Section staff and, as fate would have it, started under Stanley’s tutelage in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Stan was a good friend and he will be missed. He truly cared about golf course superintendents and worked tirelessly to help them and the courses they manage. The real take home message is, relationships. Work hard and do your best, but it is ultimately not about grass or golf, and I love both, but rather the relationships that are cultivated along the way that make it all worth doing. 

As always, call or email anytime to pass on what you’re experiencing or to discuss points of concern. 

Source:  Bob Brame, bobbrame@usga.org or 859-356-3272

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