Communication. You know it is important and a
challenge. But time and time again,
communication arises as the most common problem facing golf course
superintendents. As the focal point of
golf course maintenance operations, the superintendent is communicating daily
with golfers, employees, and managers.
Building successful relationships with these groups is as important as
understanding the principles of turfgrass management.
Each year the
USGA Green Section agronomists conduct Turf Advisory Service (TAS) visits at nearly
1,600 golf courses. In addition to
providing technical information, many superintendents use the TAS as a means to
enhance communication between important personnel at their course. In this article, we will share several ways
superintendents have used the TAS to improve communications at their course.
Take Advantage Of The Full Day Visit
golf course is public or private, it is always a good idea to bring course officials out on the golf course to
learn more about what a superintendent must do every day. A full-day visit provides the opportunity to
discuss agronomic topics in the morning and meet with course officials in the
officials in a TAS visit is a great way to build a relationship and discuss
important course topics in a non-threatening manner. Too often, meetings are scheduled between a
superintendent and course official only when there is a problem. A TAS visit can be scheduled far in advance,
and all parties can look forward to an afternoon on the golf course.
Orientation Of Green Committee Members
An ideal green
committee is fair, approves a budget in line with expectations, and does not
change. In reality, green committees are
unpredictable. When your green committee
changes, do you have an orientation program for the new committee members? Do not make a mistake and assume that a new
green committee member understands the importance of the golf course
superintendent’s position. It is up to
you to educate committee members and build a relationship with each
Including a new
green committee member on a TAS visit will help get the relationship off on the
right foot. They will consider it a
compliment to be invited to spend an afternoon on the golf course “talking
turf” with you and a USGA
agronomist. Making the orientation fun
and informative is a great way to build allies should a difficult situation
arise in the future.
Why are the
bunkers so hard? Why are the bunkers so
soft? Why do you want to cut those
pretty trees around the 7th green?
These are questions that arise frequently. As the
superintendent, you can give the agronomically correct answer every
time, but sometimes you may get the feeling
they do not believe your answer!
A great way to overcome this problem and educate these committee members
is to include the committee on a TAS visit.
This could be a tour of the course, a lunch meeting, or a board
meeting. Committee members can ask all
the questions they want and have a knowledgeable superintendent and a USGA
agronomist as a source of unbiased information.
Is your golf
course going through a green or bunker renovation? The USGA Green Section frequently is asked to
make presentations at Board meetings regarding the renovation process. While most superintendents may undertake a
few construction projects in their career, the Green Section is involved with
construction projects every year. A presentation at a board meeting is a great
way to begin the process and ensure the project is completed to everyone’s
Develop an Agenda
Prior to a TAS
visit, the superintendent should meet with the course officials and develop an
agenda for the visit. This agenda will
require everyone to think about the most important issues at the course and
make sure they are covered on the visit.
Typically, a visit is much more efficient and more topics are covered
when an agenda is developed prior to the visit.
employees at a golf course is a never ending challenge. Try making an employee meeting part of your
next TAS visit. Prior to the meeting,
the superintendent and USGA agronomist can discuss topics to be covered. During the meeting, these topics will be
reviewed, and employees will be free to ask questions. Having an employee meeting makes a statement
to the employees that they are a valuable part of the course. Including an employee meeting during a visit
is a great way to motivate and educate your employees.
technology will lead the way for improved course conditions, but communications
will still remain the number one problem on golf courses. The most successful people in any business
are those who effectively communicate and motivate those around them. Your success as a superintendent will rest
largely with your effectiveness as a communicator. There are numerous ways to use the USGA TAS as
a means to open the lines of communication at your course. Give us a call - we would love to visit your
course. Contact the
Green Section Staff
Chris Hartwiger is one of 18 USGA
Green Section agronomists. He conducts
Turf Advisory Service visits in the Southeast Region.