As the busy season winds down for most of us — except in the South, where things are just picking up — this might be a good time to chat about things you can do for your crew. And by “things you can do,” I’m referring to how you can show your appreciation for a good season’s work.

Although I try to make a concerted effort, I often think that I don’t show my appreciation enough for my crew. A good year for the golf course is usually directly related to the effort put in by your team. Superintendents and course managers often get caught up in budget concerns, club politics and other issues. We tend to forget what’s important: showing your gratitude to your staff.

A fellow superintendent told me about his method for showing appreciation to employees and I’m still kicking myself that I hadn’t thought of it myself. At his club, they let employees reward each other. I love that idea, and one way I plan to implement it is by letting people on the crew vote for the employee of the month. Let them pick the winner.

There are plenty of other ways to show how much you value your team members. The most obvious is the wage you pay them (hopefully a competitive one), as well as accompanying benefits like medical, vacation, holiday and sick pay, as well as educational opportunities. But there are other creative things you can do. Here are five things we do for the crew each year at our course:

1. Road Trip!

There are many options for this, but a popular one is buying tickets for the crew and heading to a sporting event. Our course is about 90 minutes north of Seattle, so taking the crew to a Mariners game is always fun. Bring the clubhouse personnel as well! It’s a great way to have people mix and mingle with each other. If it’s a long drive, chartering a bus might be a great idea.

2. Employee Golf Tournament!

As many tournaments as your course probably hosts in one season, don’t forget to have one for yourselves. Employee horse races, or shootouts, are always fun. They tend to be a bit less serious than an actual tournament, generate a little bit more in the fun department, and are another opportunity for your crew to mingle with clubhouse personnel.

3. Employee of the Month!

Our club does this for each department at the course, and then announces the winners in a handout that accompanies paychecks. It’s also a nice touch to put their name and photo up in the clubhouse for all to see.

4. Major Championship Pools.

I love this one. At our course, we generate a fair amount of money each winter by selling firewood that we cut when the crew takes down dangerous trees. I put this money into a kitty that we use for each of the four major golf championships. It’s free for everyone to enter, and the only thing we ask of the winner is to spend a bit of the money on donuts for the crew. Seems fair.

5. Employee Input.

I’m as guilty as anyone of thinking I have all the answers. I should work on that, but it’s important to give employees some type of platform to not only air their concerns, but also to suggest new and better ways to do something. I’ve found our monthly crew meeting is a great forum for it.

The bottom line is: Don’t forget who enables you to maintain a great golf course, and don’t forget to let them know how much you appreciate their hard work. It goes a long way.