Hazeltine National Golf Club superintendent Chris Tritabaugh, left, chats with GCI publisher Pat Jones at #GCITweetUp17.

Chris Tritabaugh’s demeanor and appearance suggest he’s ready to lead a Silicon Valley company.

The industry’s social media wunderkind – his 8,200 Twitter followers are more than numerous PGA Tour winners – wore golf shirts, jeans and Chuck Taylors as he strolled the Orange County Convention Center during the Golf Industry Show. He even warned followers of his intent to make GIS a laidback affair. In a series of tweet before arriving in Orlando, Tritabaugh questioned the industry practice of wearing blazers, buttoned-down shirts and polished shoes to trade shows and conferences.

I’d wager we are one of the few industries left that dress up for their conference. Wear something comfortable, look professional, job done.

Oh and BTW, jeans can look professional. #justsayin

Tritabaugh expects and welcomes the engagement following tweets. The calm he displays when driving turf-centric Twitter conversations is one of numerous reasons he received the John Kaminski Leadership Award at #GCITweetUp17.

“I don’t mind putting something out that’s maybe sort of profound or maybe sort of a little provocative and getting a discussion going about it,” says Tritabaugh, the superintendent at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn. “That has never really bothered me and it still doesn’t bother me. If it’s smart and good discussion for our industry, then fire away.”

GCI fired away at Tritabaugh after he accepted the Kaminski Award. Duplicating his social media feats, especially the show-all flurry of activity when Hazeltine hosted the 2016 Ryder Cup, is a giant challenge. But he’s filled with ideas for superintendents looking to raise their Twitter games.

GCI: What would you tell a superintendent who’s uneasy about using Twitter?

CT: I think you have to be considerate of your employer. Think about what your employer wants. What kind of information do they want out? When you get into it, you have to be thoughtful of that and you have to be thoughtful of yourself. You don’t want to have information out there that makes you look bad. You have to be considerate, but then have fun. Enjoy it. It can be such a benefit if you do it the right way.”

GCI: How has your use of Twitter evolved?

CT: I think I have just gotten smarter on how I use it. In some ways, I pay less attention to what other people are saying and focus more on my own thing. That’s not a selfish thing. It’s more of a time management type of thing. I use to be a little argumentative if I saw something I didn’t agree with. I might have gotten into a conversation about it, which in hindsight wasn’t really necessary.

GCI: What’s been the most fulfilling thing about using social media for work purposes?

CT: The Ryder Cup was great and I love that I have gotten to do that in my career. But I also wanted to make an impact in the industry and maybe change some things in the industry that I don’t think are particularly good. Because of the Ryder Cup and use of social media, that platform has taken place.

GCI: What do you want to accomplish on social media in 2017?

CT: I want to help the industry through some of the things maybe there’s a struggle with. I think we can be better leaders toward our people that work for us. I think we can be stronger communicators toward what we do and the good that we do. I want to work with that stuff.

GCI: Who do you enjoy following on Twitter?

CT: I haven’t solved all the agronomic problems that I want to solve, but I have really gotten into looking at leadership stuff. Anybody who’s a good leader and has a good leadership style is somebody I’m happy to follow.

Enter bit.ly/2lEO2vz into your web browser to see #GCITweetUp17 video.

Tartan Talks No. 8

Seven tees on one hole? For one North Carolina course, it makes perfect sense and key participants in the project are hoping it spurs a larger movement.

Bill Bergin joined us for a “Tartan Talks” podcast to discuss the Longleaf Tee Initiative, a partnership involving the American Society of Golf Course Architects Foundation and U.S. Kids Golf Foundation launched at GIS. The initiative’s goal is to use a variety of strategically placed tee options to increase playability and golfer enjoyment.

Bergin

With guidance from Bergin, Longleaf Golf & Family Club, a Pinehurst-area facility owned by U.S. Kids Golf President Dan Van Horn, recently implemented the program. Course yardages at Longleaf range from 3,241 to 6,602 yards and numbered poles beginning with 100 yards on the practice range help golfers determine appropriate tees. “It’s a living laboratory,” Bergin says.

Enter bit.ly/2l8Gqow into your web browser to learn more about the Longleaf system and Bergin’s career.