Friday, April 27, 2018

The difficulty in accepting change

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The hot topic at the club recently revolves around some of the changes made in how we maintain the golf course.  If you have not had a chance to do so, I encourage you to take a quick read at my last post for a better description of these changes which have taken place for the 2018 season.

If you are a casual reader of this blog, you will note that I have wondered down a path in the last couple seasons of questioning some of our former maintenance practices, and asking rhetorical questions.  As time moves on, necessity has dictated the need to find efficiencies and alternative means of performing our duties as economic factors continue to eat into our yearly operating budgets.  As a part of my contractual duties as a Golf Course Superintendent, it is my job to operate within the means provided to me by the club, and present the best possible product available within these parameters - the basis point for every decision made over the course of this past off season.

The decisions made to reduce garbage containers, ball washers and going to one block per tee as opposed to two, were all in an effort to reduce labour hours - an area we were forced to find savings in as a result of sweeping Employment Standard Act changes.   This is not news to anyone in the province - we have all heard the backlash against franchisees with Tim Hortons, or have personally griped about the cost of our weekly grocery bills.  The impacts have been felt by all Ontarians.

To look at the operating plan of the Turf Department, and the number of hours we spend on each task through the season, I can tell you that there are not a lot of areas of excess.  This crew is lean, efficient, and has been for many seasons.  But change is progress, and a matter of life.  If change did not occur, we would all still be blowing asbestos based insulation into the attics of our houses while guzzling lead gasoline in our big blocks.

So how did we come to the decision to make these changes?

It was quite simple really; these were the only changes we could make, without sacrificing the playability of the golf course.  To even consider cutbacks to mowing schedules or greens maintenance would have had greater implications to the business, and one which I would not even consider.  I trust that you and I are in agreeance with this.

It was not even 15 years ago that a push was made through the Canadian Golf industry to remove water coolers from courses.  The NGCOA recommended to all of its members that they ought to remove coolers following the death of an Arizona golfer from a contaminated water jug on the course.

And we did.

I bring this up now as I can still recall the passion exhibited by members at the club I worked at at that time.  Displeasure was expressed, threats of membership resignation and the likes were received, and the promise that this would drive business away from the club due to the removal of this service.  Ironically, as time passed on, and us (naturally) stubborn humans became accustomed to the change, it became a normal part of our routine - pack a bottle of water in your bag.  (And as a side note, those passionate individuals are still members of that club to this day!)  My point being, we will all get used to these changes - if we give them a chance.

The final point I want to make in regards to these changes, is that I want you to really think about those ball washers, and what is contained within them.   Think about the water that sits within these steel units, with sun light dish soap, and a week's worth of soiled water from your fellow golfers.  Baking in the sun, agitated infrequently, with who knows what growing inside - if this water was ever tested, I would hate to see the results.  Despite our best, and time consuming efforts, these units often took on the odour of our local cow pasture more than a cleaning device.

So I will ask if this is this really the determining factor between an enjoyable round of golf, and a spoiled walk?  Or does a moist towel perform the job effectively, and more conveniently being with you at all times?

Food for thought....

Thank you for reading,


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