Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hendren's Hyperbole -- Farewell to a Friend

What’s up Golfdom fans?!? Hendren here after a great weekend of Masters golf. Congrats Bubba! I don’t know what was better, seeing Bubba win or the fact that Tiger keeps proving he is who I thought he was. Either way it was a great weekend. On another note, the entire Golfdom crew was in Kansas City last week, which doesn’t happen often. We had a great time watching the NCAA Championship game and spent some time at the Country Club Plaza. All in all the last ten day in Hyperbole Land have been top-notch.

I did get some sad news a couple of weeks ago. Rockwood Golf Club in Independence, Mo., is no more. Rockwood is the first course that gave me a shot as a superintendent and for that reason has always been a special course to me. Rockwood was a small budget course as of late but had a huge history. President Truman was a member of Rockwood back in the day and it was rumored that many of the gangsters of the 1930s also hung out at Rockwood.

I realize courses are closing their doors at an alarming rate during these tough economic times but I don’t think course owners fully realize the impact this has on maintenance staffs and superintendents specifically. To most course owners the course is just a business opportunity. Nothing could be father from how a superintendent feels about “his” course. Blood, sweat, and more hours than I would care to admit are spent by superintendents at their course doing everything in their power to produce a quality product.

I was reading an article in Golf Business recently that was about ways courses can overcome challenges while motivating and retaining employees. The majority of the article was about clubhouse operations, but course maintenance was touched on as well. The articles talked about how courses are starting to replace assistant superintendent positions with a “crew foreman” and slash the position’s salary by $14,000 while keeping all the responsibility.

If the choice is between closing a course and slashing salaries, I suppose slashing salaries is the lesser of two evils. The bottom line is that if courses want top notch maintenance employees, cutting salaries is the best way to limit your potential employee pool. 

I hope for our sake and the sake of the next generation of superintendents the economy turns around soon and the golf market makes a speedy recovery before another Rockwood closes its doors.

In the meantime, R.I.P., Rockwood. We had some good times together, and I’m sad to hear you’re closed now.

-- Matt Hendren

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