For many people, the thought of waking up at 4:30 a.m. or thereabouts to go to work each day may not hold mass appeal, but for certain occupations, such as ours, it presents opportunities that others sleep through and will never experience. We have arguably one of, if not THE best office on the planet – the great outdoors, a dynamic open space of fresh air and wildlife. Each day dawns with new challenges, expectations and tasks to complete. What could be better than a hot cup of coffee on a sunrise cart ride surveying the golf course or the sunset drive at the end of a productive day, maybe with family or a loyal companion? Well, to stay out of the doghouse, your wedding day, birth of children and other dates are tops, but the golf course experience ranks right up there and is part of the attraction to this profession. These expectations drive us to do better, go farther and try to predict what surprises Mother Nature has in store for us, and makes it genuinely exciting to come to work.
Equally important in our profession is the camaraderie we share with a global turfgrass fraternity. If another course asks for help or a favor, we all jump in. We share information. We help local sports fields. We staunchly defend and protect our courses. We mentor students and employees. And we are active in our communities. It is such a unique group of diverse individuals that will bond together in an instant. We’re not sure it exists anywhere else in the business world except for peace officers, firemen and our great military. We have each other’s backs, no questions asked. Starting in school and continuing as we progress through our careers, we develop friendships and bonds that can last a lifetime. Although there are many opportunities to network through the year at local/state events, we are fortunate to refresh these friendships and professional contacts through the annual khaki pants/blue blazer toga party known as the GIS. It is truly an exceptional educational and networking opportunity with a little fraternity shenanigans thrown in on the side. It keeps you young.
But the most effective way we can stay young and in touch is to hire, mold, shape and encourage the young minds entering our profession as was certainly done for us. It is our duty and responsibility to pass along the ethics, integrity and character traits required to succeed in this profession and represent our owners/employers. Technology is moving at warp speed and we all need to stay in step with it, embrace it and use it to our advantage. The younger generation has grown up with this technology and can help incorporate it into our maintenance operations. Plus, we all need someone to straighten us out with our smartphones when the phones outsmart us.
I have been blessed with mentors that have encouraged and offered opportunities along the way, for which I am truly indebted. Now we in turn “pay it forward,” as they say, and through the years we have had numerous assistants, interns and co-workers come through and leave their mark on our operation. They have been a wonderful addition to the staff and bring their diverse personalities and efforts for our common goal – produce the best product possible for your owners/members/clientele. We serve as mentors for those starting out and encourage them to persevere and set the bar higher. Everyone knows we rely tremendously on our staff and our success is directly proportional to their efforts. They are the engine driving the bus and deserve our respect and support. Hard work and dedication still do get rewarded, and we must ensure that it continues into the next generation.
Jeff Markow, CGCS, is the superintendent at Cypress Point Club in Pebble Beach, Calif.
By Mark Bado
In February 2007, Golf Course Industry magazine marked its relaunch with a cover story featuring the concept of “Integration of Teams at the Country Club of Peoria.” That article demonstrated the importance of having all managers and departments within the club’s operations functioning as a single unit with open communication, continual improvement, and a focus on the mission statement and strategic plan of the club. Throughout my career, I have worked with great teams. The team members I consistently have benefitted from the most are the incredible superintendents at the clubs where I have worked: John Ferruchie and Eric Materkowski at Wildwood Golf Club, Andy Morris at the Country Club of Peoria, Loren Breedlove at The Kansas City Country Club, and now Scott Kennon at Myers Park Country Club.
The most influential relationship I have had with a superintendent is the mentorship I have with Mark Kuhns, CGCS, currently at Baltusrol Golf Club. I first met Mark when I began at Oakmont Country Club as its auditor in 1991 and later as its controller. As I began to grow my career in club management at Oakmont, Mark took me under his wing and began to introduce me to the nuances and challenges that face superintendents. Through Mark and his tutelage, I began to understand and appreciate the balance that must exist between the grounds department, the golf shop, the clubhouse, the budget and the membership. Mark also demonstrated the need to create and grow great working relationships with affiliated organizations, including the USGA, PGA, GCSAA and CMAA. These relationships were especially important when the clubs where Mark worked were hosting national championships. Because of his past history and success rate, Mark has built outstanding relationships with national organizations and has demonstrated to his management team the way to grow and develop a team concept among the multitude of organizations that must work together to have a successful club operation.
Following Mark’s advice and example, I was a member of the Green Section Committee of the USGA and have attended every Golf Industry Show since 2006. The knowledge gained at these events as well as the networking are invaluable to me in the daily operations of the club. By having a working relationship with my superintendents and their affiliated organizations, I am able to intelligently communicate course updates, issues and their potential solutions with the board, membership and crews who will be completing the work. While my background is not in agronomy or golf course management, I do have at my disposal an unlimited amount of resources through the coordinated efforts with the various industry experts (the late Stan Zontek and Keith Happ, and Paul Vermeuelen, Ty McClellan, Bud White, John Daniels and Darin Bevard) and the great superintendents with whom I have had the privilege of working with. Our integrated team expands well beyond the clubhouse grounds to include the coordinated efforts and knowledge of all those who are working to provide the highest quality course to the club and its membership.
You are not in it alone. There are entire organizations willing to work with club management to create action plans and solutions to ensure clubs provide the highest quality course for members and guests.
Mark Bado, MCM, CCE, is the general manager at Myers Park Country Club in Charlotte, N.C.