This second entry, which has been delayed by my first personal experience with the joys of surgery (thankfully minor), is one which I would expect golf course managers, head pros, and especially superintendents can identify with to some extent.
A golf course is on a fundamental level an outdoor recreation facility. A major factor that separates golf courses from other outdoor rec facilities is the size and scope of the property, specifically how that large tract of land must be maintained. In general, keeping a golf course in shape is a tough task that requires a lot of man power, expertise, and skill; none of which are available for purchase at the corner store. I think something that many golfers don’t fully understand is how huge of a task this honestly is, especially for a public facility that does not have the resources of a $30,000 initiation fee private country club.
Just like any person who has a job and does honest work, we are invested in and care deeply about the conditions of our facility. I am proud with what we have been able to do here at Knox Muni since Billy Casper Golf has taken over management, which dates back before my time here. The culture of improvement which has existed here isn’t something that just happens, it takes time and a lot of hard work. Having a fun, enjoyable golf course that is in good shape within the realm of reason is something that holds an upmost priority to us. This is the backdrop for the frustration I at times experience with the misperception of some who don’t fully understand these facts.
For example, a few years ago when I was just worked the counter in the golf shop, I had two customers come in back-to-back after their rounds to tell me what they thought. The first customer was displeased with our greens, especially with the fact that it was like “putting on shag carpet” to his mind. This customer exited the building, and the second customer entered to praise the smoothness and true roll our greens had. He commented that they were the best he had played on lately in the area. While it seemed really odd to me at the time to have two people express such diametrically opposed opinions of a specific part of our course conditions, I’ve come to learn that such opinions are entirely subjective and almost always unpredictable.
The purpose of this entry isn’t to send the message “hey, everyone, shut up," nor is it aimed at 99% of golfers we see come through our doors. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Often times we here rely on feedback from those of you who are out experiencing the round of golf—it’s important to me that I relate the fact that I value honest feedback from the public. The frustration comes from that feedback which isn’t constructive, reasonable, and/or coming from a source which is speaking within their realm of competency. I do not expect Joe Golfer to come in and tell me that the nutrient source of a patch of turf on hole #6 is insufficient and that we need to apply “treatment-chemical-X” today to fix it (although if Joe did know what he was talking about, Joe might find himself a job!). And although it might make the person feel better, bad-mouthing a subjective interpretation of a problem to others doesn’t help fix the problem, it just creates another one; which is contradictory to the purpose of the complaint and self-serving in nature.
In case you cannot tell, I take these things personally. Whether that is a good or bad thing is up for others to decide, what I know is that it is my thing. On a broader scale, it is really the way I have always been and is a driving force behind the personal investment I put into everything I do. I’m not so ignorant as to think I have no flaws, but a long time ago I realized that the best version of “me” was the one which kept true to who I really am. So whether others believe taking such things to heart is a positive quality or not, it’s one of the things are the core of who I am that I don’t plan on changing anytime soon.
Beyond my personal quirks, the thing which may frustrate me the most is my wish to have our maintenance staff to get their just due of credit and praise. These guys are at times here from sun-up to sun-down doing manual labor, and even have to make the occasional 2:00 am trip back to work to hand water greens (not an exaggeration, this happened last month). They can at times be the recipient of rude words from golfers for being on the course doing their jobs, and that is something I will never understand. I would love to be able to let those who don’t understand what a grounds keeper’s job is like work in that role for one week—maybe then there would be a bit more appreciation from the outside public for the work they put in.
Sometimes it seems as if some people expect perfect and only have negative things to say when that unrealistic expectation isn’t met. This is true in many facets of life, but let’s stick with golf. Folks, we aren’t Augusta National, there’s a reason why there is only one of those. What we are, however, is a really, really fun public facility with non-inclusive rates who welcomes everyone and their mother (and kids, and friends, and foes, etc.) with open arms.
What we are not is perfect. But if you are really honest with yourself, what in the real world is?
I struggle to empathize with others who go out of their way to be unsatisfied, unhappy with things. Believe it or not, the glass is half full more often than you may think. If you give that way of thinking a shot you might find that life, and golf, can be a lot more enjoyable.
If there is one thing I am confident in here at Knox Muni, it's that if you have an open mind and try out that glass-half-full philosophy, you are going to have more fun playing golf than you've had in a long time.