After 14 years filled with live events and lots of networking, Green Start Academy teed off its Zoom Era on Wednesday afternoon.
Professional keynoter Jeff Havens delivered his signature blend of comedy and common sense, adapting his “Us vs. Them” presentation for a turfhead audience of assistant superintendents, alumni attendees, recognizable industry names, and representatives of sponsors Bayer and John Deere.
Havens delivered plenty of one-liners. He delivered plenty of practical advice, too, especially for folks working with those much younger — or much older — than themselves.
What can young people do, for instance, to meet old(er) people halfway? Appreciate that advancement is a process, for starters. Recognize and respect their experience. Talk with them to learn their strategies for success. Understand that your practices and processes exist for a good reason. Oh, and realize that not all new ideas are good ideas.
Likewise, what can old people can do to meet young(er) people halfway? Remember that loyalty should not be earned, not assumed. Appreciate that the world seems to be changing father for you than it does for younger workers. Realize that not all new ideas are bad ideas — and that some of those new ideas will be our best practices in three or five years, and there’s no way to predict that, so everybody needs to be a part of the conversation).
Advancement is a process that never stops. Sound advice for assistants on their way up the ladder, and sound advice for the folks closer to the end of their career than the beginning. “Nobody wants to feel like their 40 years of effort will disappear when they’re gone,” Havens said. “Old folks are looking for somebody to mentor, somebody to pass the torch to.”
Bayer Golf customer marketing manager Mike Hirvela acknowledged that Bayer and John Deere wanted to meet attendees where they are — hard at work on the course and in the maintenance facility — to continue developing turf leaders through the Green Start Academy program.
“I know this is not how you anticipated this year going,” Havens said. “I know it’s not quite the same as an in-person event, but there are positives. For example, am I wearing pants right now? You don’t know! I don’t even have to! Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. It’s so freeing and relaxing.”
Green Start Academy is scheduled to continue each of the next three Wednesday afternoons and feature Carlos Arraya, assistant general manager at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, and veteran conference speaker Carol Rau. Other superintendent panelists include Bob Farren, of Pinehurst Resort, Lukus Harvey of Atlanta Athletic Club, Dan Meersman of Philadelphia Cricket Club, Grant Murphy, Barrie (Ontario) Country Club and PJ Salter of Riviera Country Club.