The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - 7

GOLF COURSE MAINTENANCE Superintendents key players in courses' survival By Stuart Lindsay M y initial education into the real world of golf course maintenance came from Wayne Otto in 1977 - I would learn later how well respected and admired he was and how lucky I was to get some of his time. All I knew then was that I was researching the commercial turf market for John Deere in advance of their entry into that market and a family friend arranged a meeting with Wayne to help me get a handle on the golf segment of commercial turf equipment. One of the first things he told me was that his mission in life was to "deliver consistently good playing conditions for the members at our Club." I would also learn later that "good" to Wayne meant excellent and/or outstanding. Not only was he generous with his time, but he also agreed to use an experimental Deere tractor and provide me with feedback. In spite of the fact that the XR-500 blew a hydraulic seal and killed a strip of grass on his second fairway, we remained friends until his untimely death in 2005. Even today, when I do an operations review, one of my first questions to a superintendent is to tell me what his job is. If the answer is something similar to Wayne's mission in life, chances are much better that I will find the superintendent's performance satisfactory. After I left Deere and got more involved in the wholesale and retail of Ag and outdoor power equipment, I would run into Wayne through his work on behalf of the Wisconsin Turfgrass Association. Every time we would talk, I got a better perspective of how hard it was to deliver his mission - being a golf course superintendent is not as easy as he made it look. Pellucid has done customer satisfaction surveys measuring responses from 100s of 1000s of golfers and the number one measure of customer satisfaction is always golf course condition. Wayne taught me early on that golfers really don't universally understand golf course conditions the same way. Older players want firm and fast fairways to cover their loss of distance as they age. Better golfers want their shots to stay where they hit them. And, he warned me, you can get another set of comments from the same players the day after Ladies Day. The lessons continued after I accidentally got sucked into the golf business. One of my first projects involved looking at the maintenance budgets of 20 private clubs in Milwaukee. Wayne's course (Ozaukee CC) was always considered to be one of the best conditioned courses in the area, along with Milwaukee CC that was kept up by his longtime friend Danny Quast. There was also a full blown rivalry between them, even though they readily shared equipment and knowledge. To give you an idea of their standards, when Danny Quast and Milwaukee CC hosted the USGA's 1988 Senior Amateur, there was not one drop of white paint on the course - no course hosting a major USGA event www.PellucidCorp.com had ever achieved that before and Mike Davis of the USGA commented at the 2008 Mid-Am that it hasn't happened since. The most interesting thing about my study was that Wayne and Danny's budgets were virtually identical. More importantly, their budgets weren't even close to being the highest in the district - in fact, they were 35% below the highest and in the lower quartile of all the budgets. When I asked him how he did it, he gave me some key points: 1. A healthy stand of turf is the best deterrent to weeds and disease and healthy root structure is more important than what's above the ground. If I do a good job of maintaining the first 4 inches of soil where 90% of the microbial and bacterial activity takes place, I'm way ahead of the game. 2. I take extra time to train my staff to do the job right and let them know I'm paying attention to when they do it right through positive reinforcement. They also know that it takes 15 "attaboys" to make up for one "dumb s%^t." 3. I know how long it should take to do every task and how many hours of labor I need to budget for. My extra staff training also helps achieve those numbers. 4. We're all effectively using the same equipment - equipment maintenance is part of the process, but without a solid agronomic base and good staff training, the best equipment in the world can produce below average results. He also knew that managing air and water were the keys to healthy root growth. He taught me that this is where the "art" comes in because roots require some stress and all 4 inches of the soil activity to stay healthy. I think Wayne was more a soil psychologist who truly understood just how much stress his millions of patients could stand. When word of Danny Quast's turf achievements at the Senior Amateur got out, he was hired to get Medinah in shape for the 1991 PGA Championship. What happened to Danny when he delivered the fast greens the PGA demanded and Mother Nature dealt him several days of 180+ heat/humidity indices is another story, but the net result was Milwaukee CC needed a new superintendent. It is considered bad form to openly pirate another club's personnel, so a Board Member and well-respected USGA Greens Section lifelong volunteer asked me to quietly ask Wayne if he was interested. I knew Wayne had already turned down an opportunity to interview at Augusta National, so I wasn't surprised when he said no, but his reasons for declining did. He wasn't afraid of meeting millions of new patients and he would have welcomed the challenge of continuing his friend's superb work, but he valued his friendships with many The Pellucid PersPecTive 7 http://www.PellucidcorP.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016

An opportune time for equipment creative disruption: Why Wilson Golf could be in Position A
Companies launch pay-per-hole, pay-for-time options
Superintendents key players in courses’ survival
Myrtle Beach market a testimony to cooperation
Golf weather impact: Aug down slightly; July utilization holds
Cardinals not the only ones in the red in St. Louis
Finally, some help for golf ’s time crunch
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - 1
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - An opportune time for equipment creative disruption: Why Wilson Golf could be in Position A
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - 3
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - 4
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - Companies launch pay-per-hole, pay-for-time options
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - 6
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - Superintendents key players in courses’ survival
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - 8
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - Myrtle Beach market a testimony to cooperation
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - 10
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - Golf weather impact: Aug down slightly; July utilization holds
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - 12
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - 13
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - Cardinals not the only ones in the red in St. Louis
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - 15
The Pellucid Perspective - September 2016 - Finally, some help for golf ’s time crunch
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