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  • Writer's pictureAdam Garr

A Turf Manager's Best Friend

A superintendent can point to any number of tools and say that it’s the one thing they can’t do without: a moisture meter, a sprayer, a roller, a good mechanic, a soil probe, a product—the list goes on. I don’t think it’s any of those things. You can’t be a successful superintendent with job security without becoming a successful communicator.

When I became a superintendent, I vowed to never let anyone else speak for me. One of the first things I did was create a blog to regularly communicate maintenance practices and agronomic challenges for our members. I was in total control of our narrative. I was filling in my own blanks. Nobody else would do it for me.

The communications at our club changed overnight. Members stopped asking the golf pro about course conditions, because they already knew what to expect before they arrived on the property. And any time a member would grumble about something in the locker room, someone would say, “Didn’t you read Adam’s blog this week?” The rumor mill was shut down permanently.

Not only that, but I saw communications improve within my own team. It was an unexpected benefit. My staff began reading my blog regularly and now they had a glimpse at the big picture. They were in a position to better answer questions posed by members on the course. And because I tried to always give them a lot of the credit for the improvements on the golf course, they began to take more pride in their work. They had a stake in the game.

I’m always looking for ways to improve. I think owners and members demand it from season to season. So after a few years of blogging, I challenged myself to improve our communications. I thought video had a much better potential to communicate conditions, demonstrate necessary agronomic practices, and celebrate my team and our property. Instead of “talking about” a practice, I could just “show them” instead. It would be a much more engaging communication method.

It started simple. Quick timelapse videos embedded in my blog filmed with a GoPro. I showcased projects, such as resodding green surrounds, or simple daily tasks like mowing greens. It gave the members a better understanding of the time and labor required to improve playability and provide great conditions. I wasn’t just communicating to the members, I was educating them also. As a result, our efforts became much more appreciated.

As time went on, my videos became more complex. I saw a greater potential to tell my team’s story, such as all the effort required to pull off a successful Member-Guest tournament, or to showcase an agronomic practice such as greens aerification from beginning to end.

You don’t need to be Ernest Hemingway with your blog. You don’t need to be Steven Spielberg with your videos. But you should communicate the necessary information in the way that comes most easily to you. Here are a couple suggestions:

  • Own your story and do it your own way. Consider creating a blog for delivering necessary information to your membership. Keep it professional at all times. Be consistent with it. For example, Substack allows you to share with only the people who need to hear it. Look into creating a page only for your members.

  • Or just keep it simple. Don’t underestimate the power of e-mail. A brief weekly or monthly update to members might be all you need. If writing isn’t your strong suit, find someone on your team that can help craft your message. This might be a great opportunity for an assistant to step up and get some experience.

  • Share photos and videos. Twitter and Instagram can be a great space for showcasing your team’s efforts on the golf course. Create an account specifically targeted to communicating conditions and updates. Again, keep it professional at all times and lead your membership to it. Important to note that you don’t need to follow anyone else or advertise this account to the world. Keep it only for the people who need to hear and see it.

  • Consider video communications. There’s no better way to showcase your staff and the effort required to complete specific tasks. It can be as simple or complex as you want. (If you want complex, call Garr Productions and we'll be happy to help you out with that!)

Superintendents are busier than ever these days. The demand for perfect playing conditions is ever higher, while the challenge of retaining key staff has never been harder. In amongst the chaos, make sure you are communicating your story to the people who need to hear it. Never trust a GM, a golf pro, or a member to communicate all the necessary information for you.

It’s your story to tell. And if you aren’t taking the time to fill in your own blanks, then I assure you that someone else is already doing it for you.

[Excerpt from "Filling in Your Own Blanks" by Adam Garr originally published October 2023. ]


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