Friday, July 28, 2006

So They Loaded Up the Truck and Moved to Beverly

So I open up the paper today and see that Exxon Mobil posted a $10.4 billion profit for the second quarter. Profit! And that’s up 36 percent from last year.

Dumb me — I just sold my Exxon Mobil stock.

The other major oil companies made huge profits as well for the second quarter.

Oh, and by the way, gas prices here in northeast Ohio are pushing record highs. I’m sure prices are also soaring in your area.
I’m concerned of this, as are you. According to a recent survey we conducted, 43 percent of you said that you are worried that gas prices will hurt your golf course's operation in some way. Twenty-nine percent of you said you were worried, “but not too much.”

Twelve percent of you said “prices can rise to $4 for all I care.”

I betcha those 12 percent will care if that happens.

Congress has been urging the money-making oil companies to put more of their profits toward boosting the supply of energy of for consumers. Yes, that would be a good idea.

It’s also time that the leaders of these filthy rich companies take a look in the mirror and ask themselves if they’re making too much money at the expense of Joe Consumer.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

-- Larry Aylward, Editor in Chief

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ain't Brown Grand?

I just spent the day visiting several superintendents in the northern California area. Ray Davies, senior operations manager and director of golf course maintenance and construction for Tracy, Calif.-based CourseCo, gave me a tour of several of the company’s facilities. The day also happened to be the opening round of the British Open at Royal Liverpool and several of the CourseCo superintendents couldn’t help but comment on the course’s brown grass. Adam Schauer, superintendent of CourseCo’s Deep Cliff Golf Course in Cupertino, Calif., was raving about the dry turf. “That’s the way golf should be played,” he said.

How hot and dry has it been at Royal Liverpool recently? (Please, no-dog-chasing-fire-hydrants jokes here.) It has been so hot that British Open officials posted scoreboard notices warning of fire hazards at the course. They even told John Daly to watch where he tosses his cigarette butts.

Upon returning to my hotel from my tour with Davies, I received this e-mail from Jerry Coldiron, the certified superintendent at Boone County Golf in Florence, Ky. Wrote Coldiron:

“To all my golfing friends, I hope you get a chance to see some of the British Open this weekend and see how the game was meant to be played and a course maintained. I love the Open, and wish we could all maintain courses in a little more environmentally friendly, rough-and-tumble style. I have always worked to manage toward a compromise between Americanized courses and the more traditional British look and feel. ... In closing I hope you will join me in accepting, and not being so critical, of non-perfect golf course layouts and maintenance practices.”

It’s safe to say that superintendents like Schauer and Coldiron are hoping Joe Golfer watches this year’s British Open closely and comes away with the notion that brown ain’t so bad.

-- Larry Aylward, Editor and Chief

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Human Touch Rules

Have you heard the news about LESCO? The Cleveland-based provider of turf products is going back to its old way of doing business. It must -- to survive.

LESCO announced late last week that it expected a $4 million net loss for 2006. The company’s news caused its stock price (Nasdaq) to plunge 36 percent to a 52-week low.

Last year, former LESCO CEO Michael DiMino, who resigned last fall, dissolved its direct sales force and increased its mobile Stores On Wheels units to sell turf products to superintendents. The move backfired on the company. Superintendents and the company's other customers missed the face-to-face contact that LESCO's sales people provided.

The good news is that Jeffrey Rutherford, LESCO's president and chief executive officer, is reinstituting the company's direct sales force. Rutherford says he was against the decision to ditch it in the first place.

Hopefully, LESCO's business will rebound. It will take time, however.

I guess this ordeal articulates loudly of the importance of the human being in the sales process. Chalk one up for the human touch.

-- Larry Aylward, Editor in Chief

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Retief Tells It Like It Is

Remember the gripe fest the U.S. Open turned into two years ago at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club? Several golfers, including Tiger Woods, went off on the United States Golf Association and complained that the course played way too harshly on the last two days of the tournament. Their chief complaint was the greens were fast as Lightning McQueen. When the tournament ended, the course made more news for its stinginess than the U.S. Open's winner Retief Goosen did for his unruffledness Goosen conducted a putting exhibition on the final day at Shinnecock to win the tournament at four-under par.

Funny thing, nobody seemed to be complaining too much this year about the conditions at Winged Foot Golf Club, where Geoff Ogilvy won the event at five-over par. Goosen, meanwhile, failed to make the cut.

In a conversation with Golfdom recently, Goosen said Winged Foot’s greens were more challenging to play than Shinnecock’s.
“They were much more bumpier and not nearly rolling as true as they were at Shinnecock,” he said.

Make no mistake: Goosen said he’s not complaining about Winged Foot’s setup. “I like Winged Foot; I like all U.S. Open setups,” Goosen said.

Reflecting on his win at Shinnecock, Goosen said there shouldn’t have been such an uproar over the course’s setup.

“I don’t think they went over the top there,” he said.

Easy for him to say, you say? Well, Goosen has the right to say it.