Reflections For 2008 - Thoughts For 2009
As we prepare for the holiday season, take a few minutes to reflect on the challenges of 2008 in the USGA Green Section Mid-Atlantic Region. Thoughts to reflect upon include:
- The Weather. If anything, the 2008 season was more or less a normal year in terms of weather. To date, in the Philadelphia area, 2008 will be at least the coolest season in almost ten years. Rainfall also has been at or above average. We always complain about the weather, but in 2008 few golf courses suffered as a direct result of the weather. Will 2009 be the same? Probably not looking at the decidedly colder fall and early winter.
- The Golf and Grass Growing Season. Now is a great time to look back and ask, "What worked?" "What did not work?" Almost certainly, with a concern about budgets and the overall economy, it is always best to stay with proven products, programs, and procedures. That said it still is a good exercise over the winter to calculate the cost per pound of fertilizer nutrients, analyze soil tests, and only plan to apply what is actually deficient. The grass is not healthier with excess nutrients in the soil and it wastes money and resources. Be a skeptic and ask good questions of your suppliers: "Why should I buy from you and not from XXX? How can your product save while still doing the job?"
- Use Your Agronomic Intuition . Learn to listen to and trust your agronomic intuition. Can you remember times when you should have listened, but did not? Think back and then look ahead. Trust your agronomic intuition as its inner voice telling you what to do or what not to do.
- Common Sense. Never lose sight of the fact that when something sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. Listen to other opinions but rely on common sense, experience and agronomic intuition in your decision making process. In times like these, don't get on the bandwagon and be cautious about testimonials not backed by research data. Give us a call, that is why we are here.
Thoughts for 2009
- Appreciate Your Staff . Every golf course superintendent cannot do every job on the golf course. You need good labor to prepare a golf course to the level golfers expect. Is your staff trained and motivated? Do they absolutely know how you expect them to do their jobs? If not, then they can only assume how the work is to be done, and we all know where assumptions can lead. Think back on what you should have done differently. If necessary, apologize, talk it out with your staff and develop new and better working relationships for the future.
- Develop Your Team . Tighter budgets will be a fact of life for most golf courses in 2009. It is important to do every job right the first time. Develop a team approach to golf course maintenance and management. It takes a group of people working together towards a common goal to be successful at what you are trying to accomplish.
- The Coming Year . Start thinking about your list of professional New Year's resolutions. Did you attend enough seminars? Do you take time to read enough? Did you spend too much or too little time on the computer? The winter is a good time to catch up on all those technical journals that may be collecting dust on your desk. Get prepared for 2009.
- Give Thanks . All of us have much to worry about, but also much for which to be thankful. While none of our lives are perfect, we still are better off than many other people in other parts of the world.
A simple thank you still means a lot and remains one of our best and most effective means of conveying how we feel. In this regard, the staff of the USGA Green Section's Mid-Atlantic Region would like to say thank you all those who read these regional updates, call us on the phone, send us an e-mail, allow us to visit your course as part of the Green Section's Turfgrass Advisory Service (TAS) and write us a letter.
On behalf of our entire staff, Keith Happ, Sr. Agronomist, Darin Bevard, Sr. Agronomist, our administrative assistants, Laura Niehaus, Marti Zontek and Pat Stairiker and me, Stan Zontek, we wish you a merry Christmas, a happy and healthy holiday season and a great new year.
As always, if the Mid-Atlantic Region's agronomists can be of assistance, contact Stan Zontek ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) or Darin Bevard ( email@example.com ) at 610/ 558-9066 or Keith Happ ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) at 412/ 341-5922.