Imagine a golf therapy session … in a room filled with hundreds of your colleagues.
On Tuesday, Feb. 5 of at the Golf Industry Show in San Diego Convention Center, the “Solutions Center” educational seminar played like an open-aired empathy assembly to a standing-room crowd.
“I think it hit on many of the big topics in the industry right now,” said panelist Chris Tritabaugh, superintendent at Hazeltine National Golf Club. “Things like taking care of yourself, creating culture and getting people to work well together are all big things right now.”
As attendees sent in problems/question via text message to facilitator Carol D. Rau, PHR, Career Advantages (Lawrence, Kan.), the seminar's six-man panel took on a diverse range of subjects matters ranging from labor and work/life balance, to Twitter and turf tips.
“My hope, when I do a seminar, is that there are maybe one or two things that somebody will walk away with,” Tritabaugh said. “Whether it’s something I said, or something one of the other panelists said that can help somebody.”
The topic of golf’s labor issues and engaging a younger generation of staffers proved paramount during the two-hour discussion.
Advising a need for patience with millennials, Carlos Arraya, CGCS, Bellerive (Mo.) Country Club, suggested to the room a strategy to heed labeling, and to give younger workers the time and opportunity to develop.
“I think the subject of millennials is talked about a lot right now,” Tritabaugh added. “You have to do it differently. If a person is going to manage in a way that they did, say, 10, 15 or 20 years ago – you’re not going to have success in leading a high-performance team. Leading this younger generation is about creating a culture of enjoyment.”
Per complementing one’s work force with the senior set, Tritabaugh added that “free coffee and a free newspaper” had done wonders to bring in divot-filling volunteers.
Managing personal wellness was almost foremost among the discussion.
“When you leave work, leave work. When go home, go home," emphasized panelist Troy Flanagan, director of golf maintenance at the Olympic Club. "Yeah, this is our livelihood, but we need to remember that it's just grass."
Panelist Dr. Doug Soldat, professor of soil sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, earned a collective head-nod from the room when noting that part of his own balance may be achieved by simply turning off e-mail notifications when away from the workplace.
The topic of social media also earned ample play among panelists, with most confirming that use of respective mediums can be a great tool – so long as characters of caution are part of one's Tweets.
Multiple panelists warned to avoid "shaming" guests or members for poor course maintence when Tweeting, and also suggested to ensure club policies before sending out opinions or images.
“It’s too bad that social media has trended toward a negative tone in general,” Tritabaugh said post-panel. “The ability to use it for information or conversing with colleagues, like a lot of people in this industry do, is pretty awesome. And it’s amazing to me how different this event is now compared to when I first started coming – and that’s because of the advent of social media. You’d come here and know a few people, and now it seems like everybody kind of has a general idea of who everybody else is.”
Judd Spicer is a golf writer based in Palm Desert, Calif., and is a frequent GCI contributor.