Being a golf course superintendent is frustrating, full of ups and downs, disappointments, brief moments of glory and lots of stress. I believe that we are the only ones who truly understand this.
It is very difficult to explain to anyone who isn’t in our profession the trials and tribulations that we go through every day. Maintaining a golf course must look so easy from the outside. Why else would everyone comment on and criticize our work, and give “helpful advice?” Only we understand what it’s like to have everything perfect with all cylinders firing — and, at the same time, waiting for it all to fall apart. In our world, when it’s all looking right, we’re waiting for the wrong.
How many professions are there where perfection is both unobtainable and expected? Even if you do approach perfection, it won’t last. Something will come along and screw everything up. Maybe a hurricane or some other natural disaster comes through, a disease or an insect infestation, the maintenance barn catches fire, the pumps fail, the water is turned off, chemicals are taken off the market, 20 kids decide to cosplay Fortnite on your greens, etc. No matter how good you are, something is going to happen to make your life hell for a while.
So why do we do it? What is it that keeps us working in this profession? Surely there must be less stressful and more fulfilling jobs out there. Right?
I am a big fan of reading books on personal development and leadership, and I came across a book by Simon Sinek called “Start With Why.” It was a good read, but I have to admit I initially didn’t really understand what he was trying to convey. But I had a good think on the matter and started asking myself, “So why do you do it, Zach? Why do you put up with all the crap and keep on keepin’ on?”
At first, I came up with the usual answers we all cite: the outdoors, Mother Nature, fresh air and a distaste for being trapped in an office all day — although, funny enough, now that I am a superintendent, I spend a good chunk of my day in the office doing paperwork and reports. And then there’s always passion, the inspired pursuit of the perfect playing surface. “It’s all about the grass, man. golfers be damned.”
Those “why” thoughts are all true to some extent, but the more I thought about it and tried to be real with myself, I realized that’s not really why I do it. And I bet there are a lot of you out there just like me.
Think about it. What is it we do for a living?
We prepare a large piece of land for people to come and play a sport and have an enjoyable, excellent and fabulous time doing it. Their great golfing experience comes from our extensive experience preparing the playing surfaces. So, after a lot of thought, I concluded that seeing someone play the course and really enjoying themselves because of something that our team did is my “why.” It’s all about hospitality and fun.
That’s how I deal with the stress, the ups and downs and the nonstop problems. When I see people smiling, or when I receive positive feedback from members and guests, it makes me happy.
That’s it. There’s really no other important reason.
I am here to provide a service. That service is an experience, just like a meal out at a restaurant or a couple hours at a laser tag arena. The ultimate goal is that the customer enjoys their visit. That is why our goals and objectives as a company and maintenance team should always align with the “why.”