Every superintendent’s hands tell a story. Tough as worn boot leather, marked with the scars of the trade, a superintendent’s hands are testament to long days and honest work that never seems to end. Their hands groom and maintain the course and grounds that are an owner’s most valuable asset while holding the employment and income stability for their crews.
By all accounts, a superintendent’s hands shape the future. That’s as true with the things that are visible — tee boxes, fairways and greens — as those that are not, namely the meticulous plans that support every aspect of an agronomic program. How do the best superintendents plan for the future? They start with three basics:
1. An overall plan for their work. The overall plan for the care and upkeep of your course establishes the standards of excellence by which you should be measured. The agronomic plan describes your cultural practices for the basics and should include detailed descriptions of fertility, irrigation, labor, arboreal and the sub-plans that support each of those major pillars.
Plan so that you can make your agronomic plan an educational and informational guide that uses photographs and narrated video to keep your owner, board and greens committee well-informed. In addition to setting standards, your agronomic plan is a great opportunity for you to teach key stakeholders what they should expect of you and your team.
2. A comprehensive communications plan. Once your agronomic plan — together with its supporting details and sub-plans — is established and approved, it’s time to implement your communications plan. Target all stakeholders — your team, the rest of the management staff and your golfers — to help everyone understand your plan of action. This is not a time to seek permission. This is the time to demonstrate your knowledge, experience and expertise.
Set a schedule for your messaging and meet it. Use multiple media to deliver the message — video, brief written descriptions and small-group field days, when you take members onto the course to demonstrate how your programs are being executed.
Some superintendents become victim to overpromising details and conditions that cannot be delivered. Be alert and carefully describe what you will accomplish. By the same token, do not understate the value of your efforts. This is no game for sandbaggers. Demonstrate your professionalism and capabilities with clear-cut descriptions of who you are, what your team goals are and how the goals will be successfully achieved. Show what features you will emphasize on the course and explain the benefits of each element of your strategy.
3. A self-improvement plan. GCSAA provides countless opportunities for superintendents to stay current on science and technology and to learn about new trends. The most respected and rewarded superintendents also seek out opportunities — and a regimen — for self-improvement. Here are a handful of keys for improving your own capabilities:
- Read more. Leaders in every field are readers who continually gather more information that bolsters insight and wisdom.
- Get fit. The pressures that come with the job and the common inclination to treat oneself well when one feels overlooked or unappreciated combine to add weight, cholesterol and risk to your well-being. Get in shape and stay there.
- Identify and address blind spots. What do you overlook or consider to be inconsequential? Which people or circumstances trigger frustrations during your day? The better you identify threats to your overall view of your world, the better you will navigate unexpected events.
- Live with BHAGS. Set big, hairy, audacious goals for yourself and your crew. The bigger your dreams, the more fun it is when you make them real.
- Avoid negative people. Their attitudes can be contagious and poison morale. Build your network around positive people who inspire you and bring out innovative thinking and your best work.
Superintendents hold in their hands the franchise value of their course. Describe your plan to make it even better. Communicate your plans clearly and honestly. And never stop making yourself an even more valuable professional.