Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What Kind of Manager Are You?

An NFL football coach was fired the other day. No surprise there.

It was revealed the fired coach was “too gruff” with the players. Also, no surprise there.

What is it about people who think they have to be as nasty as Godzilla to gain respect from the people they manage? When will they realize their management styles are as outdated as shag carpet?

I recently spent time with two golf industry veterans who manage with authority — but with respect. I watched Ray Davies, a certified superintendent who’s the director of golf course maintenance and construction for CourseCo in Petaluma, Calif., interact with the people he manages, including the several superintendents he oversees at CourseCo-operated golf courses. Davies showed them respect and vice versa. It was easy to tell they enjoyed working with each other. They had a team mentality.

I also spent time with Dave Catalano, the director of Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y. I watched Catalano pay a wonderful compliment to the starter of Bethpage’s Black course. It made his day. I also watched many others smile widely and acknowledge Catalano as he walked by them. It told me a lot about the man.

What’s your management style? How do you command respect — for all the right reasons?

— Larry Aylward, Editor in Chief

Friday, October 13, 2006

Have YOU Thought About Public Office?

The mainstream media are all smiles over the salacious demise of former Rep. Mark Foley. Nothing sells papers like a scandal, and a possible gay sex scandal has news writers tripping over their double entendres faster than that guy on “Scrubs”.

Democrats, too, have been looking for a chip in Republicans' armor to help give them momentum to win back the Senate in November, and this one is just about as good as it gets, especially now that House Speaker Dennis Hastert in on the skewer for a possible cover-up.

Of course, no one is saying that Foley had sex with minor boys; he only had “inappropriate” digital communications. He says he was drunk while the communications took place, and he checked himself into rehab to get a handle on his behavior — which might have been going on for five years, according to reports speculating about the House Ethics Committee testimony of Foley’s former chief of staff Kirk Fordham.

His chemical scapegoat, like so many in the public eye, spoils his remorse, which so far has been voiced only by his attorney.
I’m insulted by the presumption that a quick spin at the Mayo Clinic absolves us, any of us, of all sins and transgressions. In early May, Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island nearly struck on-duty officers when he lost control of his vehicle at about 3 a.m. and struck a barricade. He told the officers he was late for a vote. They laughed, and then they drove him home without issuing a citation or sobriety test.

Sure, we have tragic flaws, but how much longer will we be lulled into submission by the lying, cheating and spin just long enough to support the lesser of two evils?

It’s time for a real people’s movement. Who better to run for office than agronomists? They are nurturing, for sure. They make a variety of decisions based on variable data. They are already in tune to the country’s shifting demographics, and most importantly: They’re trustworthy. Besides, the grassroots clich├ęs are endless. Maybe Ralph Nader, former Green Party candidate and noteworthy public crusader, could throw is weight behind it. But don’t expect a slew of media attention. The gotcha journalists of today care more about the “what” than the “why”.

Tell us your political war stories or ambitions for public office … Join the conversation.

— David Frabotta, Senior Editor

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Are We Still Learning?

Education is imperative in today’s world. There are still a few seasoned superintendents out there without four-year degrees, but it’s difficult to get your foot in the door without one these days.

Journalism is the same way. As a student, I once saw an old sage newspaperman (he doesn’t look so old to me anymore) say, “Journalism school is four years of bad habits that needed to be unlearned.” My advisor didn’t think that was too funny. But I did. I couldn’t wait to get out of school and get some practical experience.

About a decade has passed since then, and now I wonder what I’ve been missing while I’ve been busy on the job. Am I still learning?

I had the opportunity to see Bruce Williams, certified superintendent of the Los Angeles Country Club, speak last week at Project Green Start, a continuing education and networking event for assistant superintendents sponsored by Bayer and John Deere. You wouldn’t think a director of golf and grounds management for a prestigious club, who gives dozens of lectures each year, would still have a burning desire for learning, but he says he spends about six weeks a year in seminars.

If you’re like me, you’ve got some catching up to do to hit that mark. But it’s worth it. Those 50 assistant superintendents at the event returned to their home courses armed with new ideas, new contacts, new acquaintances and new ways to look at the same old problems. But more importantly, they went home reinvigorated with their profession and visibly proud about the personal and professional progress they were making.

As many golf courses decline into the off-season, perhaps it’s a good time to really examine continuing education opportunities — formal and informal — so spring can be met with the rejuvenation that the season deserves.

You might not have the twinkle in your eye like a 20-something all the time, but you might be surprised at how much continuing education can propel your job satisfaction, personal growth and overall happiness. And that is worth more than a line on a resume.

What seminars do you plan to attend this winter? Are you sending your staff to any events?

— David Frabotta, Senior Editor