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After being knocked out and swept away from her farm by a tornado, young Dorothy Gale wakes up in Munchkin, in the Land of Oz, far from home. “Toto,” she says to her beloved terrier, “I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Maybe you can relate because where we are exactly is not clear either.

Like Dorothy, we’ve been caught up in a storm of unprecedented volume and proportions. For two years, we’ve been in the eye of an experience most never would have imagined and one that is persistent in its grip. Dorothy was able to follow the Yellow Brick Road to get back home, back to her normal. But what if our path back to some sense of normalcy isn’t as clearly marked, and we don’t have the help of a kindly Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and Cowardly Lion?

For club leaders and golf course superintendents, our response requires different solutions to new and emerging problems. As 2022 dawns, the question on many minds is: “What do I need to prepare for?” Or, as Dorothy might ask: “Which way to Kansas?”

In the immediate future — and as the new year brings many in the golf business together at annual trade shows — macro issues such as an unpredictable labor market, kinks in the global supply chain and growing environmental sensitivity are primary concerns.

For superintendents and others, it’s a time to sharpen business skills that make us more attuned to current challenges, review communications tactics that direct messages more effectively and improve leadership behaviors that increase recruitment and retention results. 

We do not control the conditions we confront, only our preparation and responses to the challenges they present.

Improve your budget IQ

  • Review and compare your previous year’s budget key cost centers and pay special attention to changes to irregularities in supply chain and mission-critical resources such as fuel, fertilizer and other inputs.
  • Know your budget gatekeepers (managers who have review and approval authority) and review with them management-directed changes to agronomic goals that affect your budget plans.
  • Review and/or distribute your agronomic plan and preliminary budget to all gatekeepers for feedback that can inform needed adjustments.

Expand your communications skills and methods. At the pace with which change happens these days, it’s essential that you keep management and your team informed. Clear and timely communication reduces their stress — and yours too. Consider the GCSAA your first source of guidance and content, and never forget the proven bromide. Tell them what you are going to do, update them regarding your progress and tell them what you’ve done.

Improve your leadership capabilities. Recruiting and retaining solid and stable employees is the first function of leadership. Build trust through clarity and consistency. Stay positive, especially in difficult times. Display grit and commitment to your mission and plan. Those around you will follow your lead when they’re convinced that you’re trustworthy, stable and resolute.

More than ever, superintendents are working in the eye of the storm, amid profound change and anxiety. Dorothy was able to get back home by tapping her ruby slippers three times. It would be comforting if today’s solutions were so easily accomplished.

Henry DeLozier is a partner at GGA Partners, trusted advisors and thought leaders. He is currently Chairman of the Board of Directors of Audubon International.