In this era of supposedly shrinking attention spans and 280-character bursts, we bring to you a pair of stories exceeding 3,000 words. To be fair, this marks the second time in four months we have surpassed traditional industry publication word counts. A pair of 3,000-word stories also anchored our February issue.
Readers told us they enjoyed what we provided in February, especially Trent Bouts’ thorough cover story about superintendents coping with retirement. Shortly after submitting the retirement piece, Bouts approached us about pursuing another important topic: firings. Good luck properly examining that subject in 280 characters.
Using connections from years of excellent work for turf communities in multiple Southeast states, Bouts held lengthy conversations with superintendents who lost their jobs. Almost any writer can get a subject to discuss a career highlight such as hosting a major championship or completing a renovation. But persistence and mettle are required to convince a subject to detail his or her lowest professional moment.
As long as golfers, committees and owners expect the seemingly impossible to be achieved, superintendents will lose their jobs. Bouts didn’t craft his story to embarrass, shame or scare. He provided perspective for the next person on the wrong side of a perplexing personnel decision. Bouts encountered a few challenges along the way, yet he persevered, producing a story deserving of the space it received.
We’re grateful somebody as talented, well-connected and busy as Bouts, who leads turf publications in the Carolinas, Florida and Georgia, wants to be a part of Golf Course Industry. So, why place arbitrary limits on talent? We’re confident this month’s cover story will receive the same positive response as the retirement piece.
The other lengthy feature in this issue is the third part of our “Making the Cut” series supported by John Deere. The series commenced with a February profile of the TPC Scottsdale team, continued in March with a look at the advanced agronomics at TPC Sawgrass and concludes this month by introducing the diverse crew at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas.
The team at Trinity Forest, site of the PGA Tour’s AT&T Byron Nelson, includes crew members from five countries and managers from a half-dozen U.S. states. The group has become a cohesive unit, maintaining a championship golf course atop a landfill in south Dallas.
We started spending more time with assistant superintendents, equipment technicians and crew members in 2017 as part of the reporting for our “When the Creek Rises” series about the historic flooding and inspirational recovery at The Greenbrier. Telling the story from a variety of perspectives required three parts and dozens of pages. Had we stopped at 1,500 words and only spoken with two or three managers, the industry would have never grasped the enormity of the flood and how if affected lifelong West Virginians whose livelihoods are linked with the The Greenbrier’s golf courses.
At Trinity Forest, we met an equipment manager who started his career as an assistant club pro, former construction workers from Central America, a south Dallas resident and an attorney who would rather be maintaining turf than studying legal cases. Their stories provide inspiration and ideas for superintendents looking for creative ways to fill open positions. Before touring the course and interviewing members of his team, director of grounds Kasey Kauff told us he wanted to see their names in the magazine more than his own. Fortunately, we didn’t have to stare Kauff in the eye and say, “We don’t have room for their stories.” And fortunately, we didn’t have to tell Bouts, “Stop at 1,200 words.”
Depth, even in a quick-hitting era, can be delightful. Not all stories merit 3,000 words and a half-dozen pages. We understand the importance of offering varied content. But it’s nice knowing we can push, expand and help some of you along the way.