It’s the time of year we start to get serious about our plans for the upcoming season. Spring is right around the corner. Birds will be chirping, plants thinking about blooming soon, and golfers flocking to your course with a renewed interest in the game.
OK, that last one is more of a hope for 2017 than anything else, but hope springs eternal, right?
Whether this is your first time revving up the course for a new year or your twentieth, we all relish coming out of this dormancy phase. It’s time to once again set the bar as high as we can in our quest to for the best season ever. After all, isn’t that the goal each and every year?
As I enter my 16th year at the same course, here are five things I try to do to get myself and the course geared up for another (hopefully) successful season.
1. Recharge your batteries. The first thing I do is take some time off. As much as I’d like to get away for a big chunk of time in the dead of winter when things slow down considerably, I usually try to time my significant vacation time for the end of the winter, rather than the beginning or the middle. I find this timing works best for getting me ready to go in mid-March when things are really starting to heat up, and helps keep me from burning out in the late summer.
2. Finalize equipment repairs. Winter means different things for each of us, depending on geographic location, budget size and a variety of other factors. Some may not work during the winter at all, while others stay open all year long, like we do in western Washington. Whatever your situation, you want that equipment to primed and ready to go for the spring. Very little can be done on any golf course without the necessary tools. We all know this, of course, but you still need to make sure your equipment is primed and ready to go.
3. Put a plan in place. Even though Robert Burns’ famous quote often comes true – “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” – it still makes sense to have a plan in place. Goals, projects, summer tournaments, crew size – all of these things (and many more) need to be planned and prioritized, because each step affects the others. Create a spreadsheet on the computer to help you stay on schedule. Of course those plans will go awry a bit, but having a guideline there for reference is always a good idea.
4. Crew meetings. I have found that late winter to early spring is a great time to have those crew meetings that we all tend to put off. I’m not usually working with a full team at this time, but most of the core workers will be back, so it’s a great time to review the plan and get input from them. Tell them about your goals for the year. How do you want to raise the bar in specific areas? Have them help you determine the tactics that will make those goals attainable. You’ll still need to hold more meetings when your seasonal help arrives, but those will go more smoothly and efficiently because of the prior meetings you already held.
5. Staff meetings. These are the ones you have with the “Powers That Be” at your particular operation: the owner, the general manager, the greens committee, or whoever else is controlling your golf course. For the superintendent, these meetings are essential to communicating your expectations for the golf course, based on the resources you’ve been given. All too often, that means you’ll be discussing budget constraints. Realistic outcomes need to be communicated based on budget size or other limiting factors. If you don’t convey these things now, later may be too late. There’s a positive way to spin this, of course, and you’ll need to figure out how to do that. Getting everyone to understand exactly what you and your crew will be able to do – and what you won’t be able to do – is a big step toward having a successful season.
Time to get to work!