Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pt. 3 of 3 -- What zombies teach us about environmental stewardship

And now, the final part of our zombie/environmental golf series, courtesy of Kevin Fletcher, Ph.D., president and CEO of e-Par USA. For parts one and two, just scroll down! 

And happy Halloween!

7.     When in Doubt, Make Sure You Hit the Brain (Review & Make Corrections): In Zombieland, this was termed a “double-tap.” Not sure that was a clean head-shot? You’d hate to have a half-gone member of the undead pop up suddenly and bite your ankle as you’re walking by all full of pride. Shoot again to make sure you got ‘em.

Likewise, don’t assume you’ve done all you can and should to manage the environmental part of your game. To quote the great philosopher Ice Cube, “You gotta check yo’ self before you wreck yo’ self.” Include a periodic and ongoing self-audit and management review of your environmental management systems. Identify any weaknesses and correct them. That’s what continuous improvement is all about.

8.     Share What Works, There’s Strength in Numbers (Act Well and Tell Your Story): Inevitably, in zombie movies, the main group of survivors ends up running into another group of survivors. There’s that first awkward introduction when they all nearly shoot each other thinking the others are ghouls at first. However, the groups eventually start to bond and share their stories over a campfire inside the broken down warehouse (assuming they followed Rule #2). This is when we learn what works or doesn’t work when killing a zombie. Perhaps Chip (the ex-Navy Seal) discovered a new way to lure zombies into a trap and take three or four out at a time. By sharing their stories, the entire group is made stronger and learn more inventive (again, audience appeal) ways to dismantle the blood-thirsty.

Likewise, the golf industry is made stronger when superintendents find what works, do it well, measure it, and then report on it. Don’t be afraid to tell people your story. It’s good for the game, good for group morale, and makes for a nice break in between those tense moments of the job (or encounters with the zombie warehouse staff that was hiding in the basement).

One would think in a golf-related article there would be nine enumerated points (i.e., nine holes), right?  Well, like a good zombie movie you have to be aware of the surprise ending. In most zombie movies, the main characters appear to be safe — escaping to that island everyone tells them is uninfected. They get there only to find more meat-heads. They’re either eaten (credits roll) or just turn and keep running (credits roll, setting up for the sequel). 
Well, sustainability in golf is a little like that. Like our zombie friends, it’s not going away. The “new rules” of running an economically viable, socially desirable and environmentally-sophisticated and responsible golf operation will not die. Golf course superintendents who fail to understand this will probably be eaten. Those who do embrace a more sustainable way to manage also don’t have to run away. Just look to manage it head-on, perhaps look for friends to help, and maybe consider these simple concepts to keep you alive.
So when you sit down and look for a horror movie to get you in the Halloween spirit, skip past those mindless Saw movies, avoid falling into a nostalgic Jason or Freddie trap, and spend time with the zombies. You’ll enjoy it, but more importantly, you’ll learn things you can apply to your job. In fact, I think you can earn continuing education credits just for watching. (You may want to double-check that, though.)

Kevin A. Fletcher is President & CEO of e-par USA and is dead-icated to helping golf course management professionals fight with the ghosts and ghouls that make up a comprehensive approach to environmental stewardship and sustainability. Feel free to trick or treat us at

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