© Guy Cipriano pictureD: Stonewall Resort

So here we are again. You knew there was no way I wouldn’t pen the ending to this trilogy, this year of all years. I mean, come on. Wildfires, hurricanes, Kobe, a presidential impeachment, murder hornets, a stock market crash and subsequent bounce, Eddie Van Halen, a worldwide pandemic. I think Billy Joel has the material for the follow-up to “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” The premise remains virtually the same. It is November. It is raining, but it’s not cold this time. And the Masters was on right before Thanksgiving. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

In the last paragraph of last year’s essay, I suggested several ways to take care of yourself during the upcoming season. I wrote, “Make it a priority. And one year later, hopefully you thank yourself.”

Can you thank yourself this year?

This once-in-a-generation pandemic has caused the world to look at a hard reset. But on an individual level, did you reset and take care of yourself? My story is no more important than any other superintendent’s story around the country. In fact, some of the stories I have heard truly humble me when I consider the strength and resiliency of others. We have all dealt with previously unimaginable situations. There have been successes during this challenging time but also some major losses. No matter your view of the virus and all that comes with it, you would be hard-pressed to find one person in the country who has not been impacted by it. Personal loss, professional loss, financial loss, societal changes in education and everyday life — the virus has touched it all.

Can you thank yourself this year?

Stepping foot on a golf course became an escape from reality for many — new players and veterans alike. A sport already predisposed to social distancing was a perfect choice to lead the way during a very anxious time. And superintendents were thrust into the spotlight. I know there were hard decisions and long hours to just “maintain” courses at a minimum level. And you did it. Record rounds played, true appreciation from golfers and customers for the challenge accomplished, a renewed enthusiasm that there is light at the end of tunnel. Did you take a moment to step back, take a deep breath and thank yourself? If you didn’t, you should have.

Can you thank yourself this year?

Honestly, I can say yes to this question. Or at least I gave it a committed effort. There were many highs and lows this year, both professionally and personally. It was a challenge to navigate. But I took my own directive to heart. I dabbled in some of those suggestions with a mix of meditation, exercise, service to others and, most important, time with friends and loved ones. In the midst of a raging pandemic, I found little pockets of peace. They do exist. Much like the eye of a hurricane, there is calm in a storm. You just have to prepare for it and recognize when it has arrived.

Our experiences in life are the catalysts for creating the people we are and shaping our own perspectives. I want to thank Golf Course Industry for the opportunity to dive into my experiences a little deeper and write a bit about them these past few years. It has helped shape my perspective for the future in a positive way. There will be no Cold November Rain 4.0. (You have to know when to step away.) The writing will continue, just with different subject matters.

Can you thank yourself this year?

I hope you can and will continue to do so.

Jason Hollen is the golf course and grounds superintendent at Stonewall Resort in Roanoke, West Virginia. This is his third Turfheads Take Over submission. Follow him @almostheavngolf on Twitter.