Monday, December 19, 2016

2016 ramblings

Typically, my newsletter offering is an article on one particular topic. I’ve covered a lot of topics through my tenure and have your newsletter editor and board to thank for the opportunity. Of the many outreaches I make and member needs that I address or forward, my newsletter input garners the most member feedback! Full disclosure: I have low standards. When I am told, “I see your mug everywhere,” I take that as a compliment and add that to the “I like your newsletter input” column. While that might be a stretch, it is the column that is always full. I have gotten requests from members about topics, and have written about them, so if you have any topic you would like covered, please let me know and I will do my best. This particular issue is more of a rambling: some small topics that I have come across that might not warrant full-page attention.

Researchers continue to deliver valuable information on turf types that can make a positive impact on our courses and environment. “Tolerant” and “resistant” are words that make pathologists worth their weight in gold, and get the immediate attention of superintendents. If sociologists could study how to make club members and golfers more tolerant and less resistant, we might have a good thing going! Superintendents in the region dealt with a very difficult 2016 turf season, and I take my hats off to you all, but overwhelmingly I am told that it was communication that got them through. The tools that were used may have been different, but the result was nearly always the same: the less water being used on the turf, the more communication it took to manage the important decision makers at the facility. Congratulations to those that did both well.

All politics are local. That is not an earth-shattering statement. But 2016 brought more and more political pressure, aimed at golf specifically, around the region. Water has been in the limelight, but nutrients, pollinators, and pesticide issues have been prevalent as well. Superintendents have worked to educate on each item across many fronts. Bob Searle in Maine, Ken Lallier, CGCS and Kevin Komer, CGCS in Vermont, Greg Cormier, CGCS and Peter Rappoccio, CGCS in Massachusetts, Jim Ritorto in Rhode Island, Peter Gorman and Scott Ramsay, CGCS in Connecticut and many more superintendents and valued vendors have worked hard to push back against regulations and legislation that would make our day-to-day jobs more difficult. Times have changed, and with that, so has our role in the golf industry. We all need to be vigilant and advocate in support of our role as environmental stewards. For all of you that have gotten involved at any level, with efforts big or small, thank you.

Finally, I want to add this last note. It was something that was not in my original article but having heard this from another superintendent, I thought it relevant. Superintendents and many facilities graciously offer our peers in the profession the opportunity to play golf for free. This is a privilege, not a right; no facility is forced to do so. Our industry operates using a code of ethics. The GCSAA has them as part of membership and you attest to having read them when you join. Many local chapters maintain a code of ethics standard as well. Having to contact the host superintendent to alert them that you will be on the property is part of these codes. This does not put the host superintendent into a position to alter his daily routines, change management practices, or ensure that every putt a colleague makes go in. What it does do is offer the simple courtesy of alerting your host that you will be there. I have never heard that an outreach to a colleague has led to rose pedals being placed at the visitor’s feet upon making their way to the first tee. What I have heard many times is the extreme frustration of a host in finding out that a colleague has been on property without notifying the host. Please consider this when making plans to visit another golf course. While the upside may be small, the downside could may make an impact on how you are viewed by your peers. Golf is a sport of integrity; ensure you keep yours intact.

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