Lightning Round Learning!: Tips, tricks and life advice at #GIS18

Eleven speakers imparted five-minute bits of wisdom gleaned from experiences on the golf course and beyond.


Lightning Round Learning
A collection of speakers distilled their know-how and narratives into just five minutes for the Lightning Round Learning! education session Tuesday at the Golf Industry Show. Photo by Teresa Carson

With Bayer’s Frank Wong, Ph.D., at the helm, Lightning Round Learning! took off at breakneck speed on Tuesday morning. Eleven speakers distilled their personal experiences and knowledge into five-minute talks accompanied by 20 slides each.

The first presenter, Carol D. Rau, PHR, writes the Career column for Golf Course Management and provides a number of services for superintendents looking for a job (or perhaps a promotion). Her presentation addressed a common misstep among job applicants: failing to explain why they want the position and why the facility is so great that they want to work there. Applicants should emphasize why they want the job — first in their cover letter, and then in their interview.

In other career-related talks, Rodney Crow, CGCS, discussed the value of GCSAA membership — from education to GCM magazine to the benefits that field staff provide for superintendents around the country. Mark Weston, CGCS, presented a new look at the benefits of networking and how his involvement with the chamber of commerce and number of other organizations has improved the relationship between the golf course and the community, and ultimately helped the club survive some hard times.

To help students who are just beginning their careers and to make your internship program a success, Penn State’s John Kaminski, Ph.D., advised pushing interns a little beyond their comfort zones. Make them part of the planning process and bring them into meetings. Superintendents need “to recruit and to recruit hard” if they want good interns, Kaminski says. They also need to sell their courses to the students and be aware of what kind of student would be a good fit for their situation.

In his take on the role of the equipment manager, titled “Getting Out of the Cave,” Patrick Drinkard emphasized the importance of getting out of the shop and driving around the course to make sure equipment is doing its job and that crew members are operating equipment safely. He also urged equipment managers to benefit from the experience of their peers by visiting other shops.

An expert on soils, Auburn University professor Beth Guertal, Ph.D., discouraged superintendents from using potions touted on the internet in her talk titled “Beer and Sugar Will Not Fix Your Soil.” The problem with the beer and sugar recipe is that “too much carbon in the system sucks up all the nitrogen.” The key is to avoid recipes that use Gatorade and beer, and to maintain the correct C:N ratio.

When it comes to presenting an eye-catching entrance and attractive landscaping for a facility, Lisa Barton believes that “Any Space, Any Budget, There Is Room for Horticulture.” Barton revealed that yellow is the most requested color for flowers, and that bees cannot see red flowers, which makes it an ideal choice for areas where people are eating or small children are present. She also has a trick for fall décor: Wash pumpkins and gourds in water and bleach, dry well, and then paint them with clear paint to preserve them through the season.

Looking at the economics of golf course management, Josh Heptig from Dairy Creek Golf Course in San Luis Obispo, Calif., suggested that some municipal courses may have unintentionally moved away from their original purpose of bringing golf to “the common man” — to people who aren’t wealthy and can’t afford to join a private club. Heptig suggested that municipal golf courses should charge more reasonable fees and provide more youth-oriented programs.

Superintendents also told more personal stories about embracing change, overcoming adversity and persevering through hard times. Coincidentally, two of those stories (from David Beanblossom and Josh Pope) were published in the July 2017 issue of GCM. Beanblosssom gave an emotionally charged talk about his struggles with addiction, his recovery from a near-fatal accident, and his new life as a golf course superintendent, while Pope, superintendent at The Old White TPC at The Greenbrier, recounted the harrowing 1,000-year flood that decimated the course and the long journey to rebuild the course and the community around it. For his part, David Eichhorn Jr. urged fellow superintendents to get out of their comfort zones, to embrace people with different expertise and different experiences, and to be brave enough to face the fear, failure and embarrassment associated with doing something with an uncertain outcome.

Teresa Carson is GCM’s science editor.