President’s Message: Support in times of need
Bill Maynard, CGCS
In November 2010, I was the superintendent at Milburn Country Club in Overland Park, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City. It’s a historic property, designed by W.B. Langford and Harry Robb Sr., and it’s celebrating its centennial anniversary this year. I spent many years at Milburn, and it remains where many of my fondest memories as a superintendent took place.
Unfortunately, it’s also where one of my worst memories as a superintendent occurred. Just four days after Thanksgiving in 2010, I received a phone call that brought incredibly bad news for the club and its membership — Milburn’s clubhouse was on fire.
The structure had a history as rich as the golf course itself, and had actually survived a fire back in the late 1940s. This time, though, it wouldn’t be so lucky. The clubhouse was a complete loss — the victim of an accidental fire that was later connected to a smoldering propane torch being used by roofers working on the building.
The following days and weeks were a blur. Although my maintenance team did its best to go about its normal daily routines (the golf course itself was largely unaffected by the fire), it was difficult to ignore the sense of sadness and disbelief that surrounded the club and all those attached to it. We had to re-evaluate priorities, reallocate investments, and completely change both our short- and long-term plans.
But as happens in many tragic situations, the fire at Milburn and its aftermath revealed the good and the charitable in so many. It showed that the club was more than just a building, a dining room or a pro shop — that its true spirit was in the people who used those facilities and who were standing united to make sure they were rebuilt.
And I saw much the same from those outside of the club who reached out with offers of assistance. I fielded countless inquiries from my colleagues in the Kansas City turf community and our fine staff at GCSAA headquarters in Lawrence, who extended a helping hand where and when they could.
I thought about that experience several times as I, like a lot of you, watched and worried about the natural disasters that have affected so many in our country in recent months, from the hurricanes in Texas and Florida to the wildfires in the West. Although dealing with something as isolated as a building fire differs in multiple ways from preparing for and recovering from wildfires or storms the likes of Harvey and Irma, I know there are literally hundreds of superintendents and GCSAA members who are currently experiencing many of the same emotions that I did back in 2010.
And I’m here to tell all of those folks that when the time is right, GCSAA and your fellow superintendents will be here to help. Back in 2006, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the association established its Disaster Relief Fund to assist members who had suffered personal loss or medical hardships brought about by the storm. For those impacted by either the wildfires or Harvey and Irma, those resources remain available to help you get back on your feet. Details on how to request assistance through the Disaster Relief Fund and how to donate to it can be found at www.gcsaa.org/about-gcsaa/gcsaa-disaster-relief-fund.
On that same page of our website, there is information for companies or individuals interested in making material donations to assist in both the personal and professional recoveries of GCSAA members affected by either the wildfires or the hurricanes. At press time for this issue of GCM, it was too early to assess the full impact these events would have on golf courses and GCSAA members, but there should be no doubt that the golf course management industry stands ready to help its colleagues recover, whether the assistance is needed at home or on the course.
The fire at Milburn remains etched in my memory, and these natural disasters will no doubt have a similar impact on the GCSAA members dealing with their aftermath. I hope that those members will take solace, though, in the fact that they have the full support of their association and their colleagues throughout the industry, and that both are prepared to help when called upon. That knowledge was of great comfort to me in my time of need, and I hope it can be the same for those suffering today.
Bill Maynard, CGCS, is the director of golf course maintenance operations at the Country Club of St. Albans (Mo.) and a 31-year member of GCSAA.