Expert say on everyday issues
By Ron Furlong

At first consideration, it seems like just another job on the morning crew to-do board. “Afternoon syringing of the greens.” It’s just another job, like mowing green surrounds or string trimming around trees.

But is it just another routine job, or is there a different level of importance that perhaps we all should be placing (if we’re not already) on the guys or gals entrusted with this summer afternoon task?

Several years ago I took a few guys on the crew to play another course in the area. Play was slow, and we were backed up on the tee of a par 3. As we waited to hit our shots, we glanced over at a nearby green where a maintenance worker had a hose out and was watering it.

He had his golf car backed up to the green and had found a comfortable perch on the tailgate, sitting there as he directed his high-pressure stream of water onto the green.

The surface of the green was literally turning into a lake before our eyes. The solid surface was transforming into a liquid one. The dude seemed completely unfazed, staring blankly at his stream of water. He made no indication of ending the syringe (although it had technically long ceased being a quick syringe) anytime soon.

We teed off and played the par 3. As I walked off the green, I glanced back at the worker one more time. He and the golf car were gone, but the hose was on the ground still filling up the newly formed lake. I walked to the next tee shaking my head, wondering if I should say something to the superintendent. I finally decided it wasn’t my place to do so.

But the point of my little tale isn’t to discuss the ethics of telling another superintendent about something going on with one of his workers (although that might be an interesting discussion for a future column). The point is to reiterate just how important this job can be to a golf course maintenance operation, and how vital it is having the right people in place.

None of us would want to be the boss of a guy like that, who clearly cared less about the job he was doing. But let’s face it, people come to us and work for us with varying levels of loyalty toward the operation. Not only does loyalty vary, but work ethics are all over the map as well.

There are jobs of such importance that you have to be positive you have the right person in place. Like cup cutting, applying chemicals, syringing greens. You better make sure these jobs are done by the people who are trained to do them and are actually excited about doing the very best they can. Helping you make the course the best it can be. Thinking on their feet.

It’s been my experience that when training employees to syringe greens, the concept of watering simply to cool the plant doesn’t always sink in right away, or sometimes ever. It takes a little getting used to the fact that they aren’t there to literally water the greens. They are simply supplementing the watering you already do through your irrigation system.

I’m not saying they try and turn the greens into new water features like the guy I mentioned earlier, but getting them on board with the cooling concept can be challenging. Usually some reining in is required.

Once you turn them loose with a quick coupler and hose, you have to trust that they aren’t overwatering or underwatering. Perhaps ignoring localized dry spots that are crying out for some relief in the midday sun. You have to make sure they know the difference between a disease spot and a localized dry spot (LDS). Here in the Pacific Northwest, anthracnose can often resemble LDS. The last thing you want is someone dumping water on anthracnose or another disease that will thrive with the added water.

Finding the right people for the job is ultimately your responsibility. If you have a guy who decides on his own to turn a green into a pond, clearly he wasn’t the right guy for the job. But in the end it isn’t the disinterested worker’s problem, it’s yours.