It’s the end of another year. One more for the books, and hopefully it was a good one for both you and your operation. The end of the year is a great time for retrospection, a time to reflect on “the year that was.” It’s a chance to see whether you achieved all of this year’s goals, and if not, to make plans to get them done in the upcoming year.

A year-end checklist is a good idea. If you don’t have one, don’t worry. I didn’t either, at first, so I decided to create one. I’ll share mine as a reference, although each checklist should be created individually. There are no rules to this. In fact, think of the line from Captain Barbosa in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” when he said to Jack Sparrow: “They’re more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules, aaaarrrrrhhh….”

Year-end reviews. I won’t say that no one enjoys them, but I will say that very few of us look forward to giving year-end reviews. It’s something supers usually dread, although when actually doing them, I find them to be helpful and constructive – and both parties tend to feel better about things afterward. I’m not sure there’s much apprehension, actually.

Budget analysis. You’ve most likely put the 2018 budget to bed by now, but what I’m referring to here is not so much doing the new budget, as it is looking back and trying to see how the 2017 budget unfolded. What you can learn from it? What were the trends? The shortcomings? What went better than expected? How can you spend less money, as well as spend money more wisely?

Operations analysis. This is a great time to consider all the facets of your operation. How is the equipment holding up? The crew? The irrigation system? The buildings? Keeping a list of both short-term and long-term needs is a good idea if you want to keep the operation running smoothly.

Project list. Project lists keep things fresh, helping me tackle new projects and improve one area or another. I keep them going throughout the year: one list each for fall, winter and spring. It’s a great time to see what got overlooked in 2017 and make sure these things are added to the 2018 list you’re about to create.

Goal list. Separate from projects – although outcomes from certain projects can be included in your overall program – goals are more like the direction in which you want to take things, or the levels you want to reach. For example, you might have a certain number in mind for your midsummer green-speed goal, or maybe you want full-raking bunkers next season four times a week rather than three. Think of goals in their most basic definition: “The result or achievement to which effort is directed.” What are the results you want to achieve in 2018, and what do you need to do to bring them to fruition?

Housekeeping. Many superintendents keep spotless golf courses, but not always a spotless shop. That isn’t so much a criticism of supers as it is an acknowledgement of priorities. The condition of the golf course comes first and foremost. This is what supers are hired to showcase; it’s where their bread is buttered. But don’t forget to keep up with the shop and everything that it encompasses. Think of it as an extension, and reflection, not only of the golf course, but also of yourself.

Introspection. Finally, make sure to take this end-of-the-year time to look within yourself. Take a hard look – not just at the golf course, the operation, and the crew – but yourself, as well. How are you doing? Are you doing everything you can do to keep yourself fresh, involved and ready for another big year? I think each year should bring a new level of excitement and anticipation. That has always been the case for me, and if one day I find that the excitement isn’t there, that will likely be the time I ride my golden steed off into the sunset, or something like that.