A column about a lousy title

By |  November 9, 2017 0 Comments

A little over a decade ago, I was out with friends on a Friday evening unwinding from a hell week of keeping greens. It began innocently enough with just a few beers, then rapidly morphed into full-on rage mode as empty shot glasses began to accumulate around us at an alarming clip.

After about the fourth or fifth round of shots, I noticed a young lady checking me out. Surprised by being scoped (because in all honesty, I’m barely a notch above Brandel Chamblee on the scale of handsome), I sauntered over to the bar — fueled with liquid confidence — and began chatting her up.

Things started off well enough, despite my inebriation. All signs were pointing to, at the very least, digits being exchanged. Then she asked the inevitable question about what I did for a living. I slurred that I was an “assistant superintendent.” That’s when things went askew. She politely excused herself, and I never saw her again.

Perhaps she caught a whiff of my whisky breath or noticed the blue tracker stains on my Dickies, but I think she blew me off the moment I uttered the word “assistant.” And who could blame her, because even before she totally dissed me, I was forming my own personal opinions concerning the title of this thankless position.

When I think of an assistant, I picture some feeble jerk kissing rears, fetching refreshments or running errands. Back when I was “assisting,” my skills consisted of course set-up, applying pesticides, dropping urea bombs, felling trees, hand watering dry spots, learning to speak a somewhat respectable form of Spanglish, all while accomplishing a slew of other craptacular jobs that rarely get recognized or appreciated.

I wasn’t fetching our superintendent his coffee or inflating his ego with false complimentary banter. I was an integral part of the squad, who was neither feeble nor a jerk (jerk is debatable).

This title “assistant” doesn’t exemplify the duties of the position, and I’m sure most of us would agree that an assistant superintendent’s role in the art of greenkeeping is extremely challenging and difficult. It’s long hours, beat wages, a ton of responsibility and nary a hint of recognition. So, isn’t it about time we abolish this antiquated title and rebrand it with something much cooler and magisterial?

How about for fun we go back in time and revisit the devastation I experienced and see what happens if my title is something a bit more dignified.

Attractive Female: So, what do you do for a living?

Me: I’m the vice executive of agronomy at the Poa Club.

Attractive Female: Oh Really!!! That’s awesome!!! What do you do in the winter?

Me: Well, why don’t you come back to my place, and I can tell you all about it on my sweet futon?

Attractive Female: You have a futon?

Me: Yes.

Attractive Female: I love futons! And Poa! And vice executives! Let’s go!

See? Isn’t it amazing what a cool-sounding title can do?

It’s about time the industry makes this title change, and not for the shallow reasons of scoring with the opposite sex. An assistant, at least for me, always seemed like the most underrated and least appreciated person on the crew, with arguably the lousiest title ever. If the pay were equal and opportunities for advancement were similar, I might have entertained the idea of being a crew foreman. At least that title has some toughness. In any case, I believe this change should happen soon, because it’s deserved and long overdue. I prefer “vice executive of agronomy,” but if anyone else has a better idea, I’m all ears.

Joe Gulotti, superintendent at Newark (Del.) CC, is happy there is no longer a need for those awkward bar moments, as there is now a Mrs. Walking Greenkeeper. Contact him at hardg43@gmail.com.

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