How cool are you when the going gets tough? Can you keep a lid on your anger when things don’t go the way you want them to?

We asked the esteemed members of our editorial advisory board: When things go wrong, how do you maintain your poise? Here are their answers:

My solution to keeping my poise at 52 years old is much different than it would have been at 32 years old. At 32, I had a lot of physical outbursts that alleviated my frustrations, such as throwing my radio, kicking my golf car or waving my arms aimlessly in the air. I always felt better after these outbursts. However, the people around me did not, so I began to change. I decided to not show my emotions and keep them in check. This relaxed me and allowed me to make better decisions. What I quickly noticed is that the people around me started viewing me differently. They were commenting that I was as cool as a cucumber and I never got rattled. Even though my inner feelings were still the same, my outward appearance conveyed a much different message. My thinking today with my experience is to never let them see you sweat.
Shawn Emerson
Director of Agronomy
Desert Mountain Club
Scottsdale, Arizona

I have always found that losing your cool when things are going wrong is counterproductive. My guys look to me, at both good and bad times, and if lose my composure it can only make a situation worse. Our goal with every issue we face is to make sure we communicate, correct a problem before the membership notices it and learn from our mistakes.
Pat Daly
Golf Course Superintendent
Framingham Country Club
Framingham, Massachusetts

So much of our personal self-worth is tied to the condition of our golf courses that I think it’s extremely important to disassociate yourself with events that occur beyond your control. For instance, we’re in the midst of repairs due to severe winterkill earlier this year, so I try to rely on my training and experience to develop a workable plan to return the course to an acceptable condition. It is important to utilize all an acceptable resources and personnel to help relieve the individual burden that comes with the pressure of being closed for an extended period. I have found that maintaining a healthy lifestyle and relationships are also hugely important.
Kevin Smith
Vice President and Director of Agronomy
Pinnacle Golf Properties

Greensboro, North Carolina

Since becoming a superintendent 12 years ago, the biggest lesson I’ve had to learn was to not take things so personal. It is possible for some to critique our work without critiquing us, but it took a long time for me to learn that. As superintendents, we obviously pour so much passion and time into the product we deliver and criticism is hard, particularly coming from members or golfers who don’t understand the variables we face. Once I finally learned not to take things so personal, I can say I’ve enjoyed the profession a whole lot more.
Brian J. Stiehler
Certified Golf Course Superintendent
Highlands Country Club

Highlands, North Carolina

I was once asked this question during one of the many LPGA tournaments of which I was host superintendent and my reply was that once I’ve been able to devise a plan I have confidence in — and I know my staff is well prepared to execute that plan — then I can relax. I also develop what I call a control circle. I define what I don’t have control over and place that outside the circle, and then whatever I establish as having control over will go inside the circle. After that I simply maintain my focus on only the items that are inside the circle.”
Rick Slattery
Golf Course Superintendent
Locust Hill Country Club
Rochester, New York

When a problem arises, I maintain my poise best by focusing and asserting all my energy to the problem at hand. With 100 percent of my energy focused on the problem, I try to remain calm, in control and not panic. I also try to control my emotions and not get upset at the fact that I have a problem. That in itself creates an emotional second problem that quite honestly makes my initial problem more complicated to analyze and solve. Most importantly, I try to remain confident, knowing I can handle the situation. I will survive and chances are somebody out there is dealing with a much bigger problem then I am.
Craig Felton
Golf Course Superintendent
Oaks Hills Country Club
San Antonio, Texas

Maintaining my poise has improved over time. My personality is such that I respond to every issue, perhaps over-analyze it, and do what it takes to address it. There are some things I perceive in the world as black and white, but most things are gray, meaning there are often many options in addressing an issue and tradeoffs with each. Perhaps that’s why I can overthink it at times. In time, I have learned to process things in such a way where I still put much effort into analyzing the situation but have grown confident that the overall outcome will be positive. Staying focused, talking with others about the issue of what went wrong and what are the options to make it work out helps me to maintain my poise.
Dan Dinelli
Certified Golf Course Superintendent
North Shore Country Club
Glenville, Illinois

When the “it” hits the fan and things are really turning bad, I just remember to keep my composure, stay professional, take a step back and make confident decisions. I understand this is easier said than done but like most things in life you get better during situations like this the older you get. Use the resources around you, especially your seasoned staff members, when you include them in the process you’ll no doubt get better results. When the chips are down I try to triple over-communicate to my staff, my committee, my members and my boss.
Steve Hammon
Golf Course Superintendent
Traverse City Golf & Country Club
Traverse City, Michigan

Maintaining your poise when things go wrong comes with experience. When I was younger, problems just seemed bigger. Now I realize that I have been through worse but here are some things that help me. I know I have to be positive because, like dominoes, if someone becomes negative then everyone will be negative. I believe the assistants know if I am down then they need to step up and assume the positive role in our team environment. It could be the worst weather during our biggest event but at the end of the day not taking the problems home allows me to start fresh the next day. Finally, taking the dogs for a ride on the course always makes a bad day better. They are happy as long as they are with me, which in turn helps me maintain my poise.
Todd Voss
Golf Course Superintendent/COO
Double Eagle Club
Galena, Ohio

When all else fails, cooler heads will prevail. This is a motto I have tried to live by each and every day. We all have times we are tested, how we react during those high-stress times helps to define who we are — it brings out either the best or the worst in us. Try to look at these situations as opportunities to grow, learn and build confidence on all facets of life. If you can always approach the situation by looking at it from all angles and making sure there are no quick reactions creating poor decisions, things seem to work out. It is critical to make sure during those times we make the right decisions based on the facts given. Evaluate and make sure all facets of the situation have been thoroughly discussed and possible outcomes debated, then push forward on your decision with confidence.
Chris Dalhamer
Director of Golf Course Maintenance
Pebble Beach Co.
Pebble Beach, California