Nobody does it better

Departments - Teeing Off

January 20, 2017

I tell anybody who asks – and anybody interested in hearing a rambling editor describe the nuances of his job – effectively conveying a fact, thought, idea or concept in 140 characters or less is more mind-numbing than writing a 2,000-word story.

Once you get beyond what we journos call a lead, a well-sourced, thoroughly researched story flows like a new golf course with a quality routing plan and empowering owner/developer. Everything slips into its desired place and we dive into the next task.

Social media is different.

Humans holding job titles have plenty to say, audiences don’t have enough time to absorb much of anything, and competition for attention is fierce. Timelines are the 21st century version of a newsstand or overstocked pro shop. Something must pop to generate curiosity.

So, journos labor over tweets and posts, trying to share what they want others to know in a clever and concise format that didn’t exist when many of us received our formal training. We learn through trial and error. What sticks at 1 p.m. Saturday might not generate a single engagement at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Along the way, we pause often and begin noticing inspiring feats.

None of our 2017 Super Social Media Award winners are paid to tweet, blog or produce videos. Their full-time jobs require handling inordinate stumpers. Between managing transient workforces and explaining why trampling on frost damages pricey turf, they made a commitment to social media.

Our Kaminski Award winner, Hazeltine National’s Chris Tritabaugh, increased his commitment while preparing a course in his native Minnesota for one of the world’s largest sporting events. The Twitterfest Tritabaugh and his team initiated at the Ryder Cup was arguably the greatest industry achievement in 2016. The Hazeltine crew and volunteers showed and explained practices that had been viewed and treated as secrets for decades. And they squeezed each into 140 characters or less.

We received a record number of nominations for this year’s awards, and the turf side of the golf industry is 100 yards ahead of other segments in using social media to exchange ideas, help others, and promote beautiful landscapes. Nobody in turf has inspired more colleagues to explore the benefits of social media than Tritabaugh. Here’s how one nominator described him:

“This year, there is a clear leader in every possible category of looking into the future and how social media will play a role in our communications. Chris Tritabaugh’s (@ct_turf) use of Twitter during the Ryder Cup was groundbreaking. It made all of us active that week feel like we were at the event. I know not every superintendent sees events that way in the future, but I thought it was brilliant. Give him any and all awards you have available.”

We’re only giving Tritabaugh one award, but it’s our most prestigious. The industry professionals who will surround Tritabaugh on the awards stage in Orlando proved executing brilliant social media work doesn’t require hosting a gigantic tournament. Good luck trying to describe their talents in 140 characters or less.

For a list of winners and #GCITweetUp17 details see page 65.


Chris Tritabaugh, Hazeltine National Golf Club, Chaska, Minn.


Kyle Callahan, Victoria National, Newburgh, Ind.

Steffie Safrit, TPC Piper Glen, Charlotte, N.C.


Matthew Marsh, Santa Ana Country Club, Santa Ana, Calif.

Sean McCue, The Country Club at Castle Pines, Castle Rock, Colo.

Mike Richardson, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Ark.

Jesse Shaver, Gull Lake Country Club, Richland, Mich.


Brian Stiehler, Highlands Country Club, Highlands, N.C.

East Lake Golf Club Agronomy Team, East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta, Ga.


Phil Scully, Granite Golf Club, Stouffville, Ontario, “It’s Your Course!”

Georgia GCSA, “Golf is Greenspace”