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Ask Thad: How do I deal with a continuously unhappy member?

By |  July 20, 2023 0 Comments
(Graphic: Golfdom Staff)

(Graphic: Golfdom Staff)


I’m in year four at a club with a decent budget. Three years in a row, the same guy seeks me out every July to tell me I’m letting everyone down and the previous superintendent never had this problem or that problem …

I hate it but I’m already anticipating him coming after me again. Is there anything I can say to him that lets me feel peace, without getting him to call for my job?

— Anonymous

Everyone — and let me repeat that — everyone has that one member. You know who I’m talking about.

In 1999 I started a job in the Fingerlakes Region of Central New York. That summer was one of the hottest, driest years that I ever worked, and the club had recently “upgraded” our irrigation.

I also had that guy. He was a lawyer, who criticized every move I made. Every. Single. Move.

Once, I witnessed a screaming match between him, the club president and the greens chairman — obviously about my performance. They reassured me I was on the right track, and they were behind me.

Everyone who’s been in the business for a while knows what happened next. At the annual election board meeting, he was named my greens chairman. I almost quit that night. Instead, I brought him into my world. All the problems, headaches and challenges we had, he got to know intimately.

He and I worked diligently together at his law office to put together a PowerPoint presentation for a complete irrigation system upgrade. We broke ground on the project in the Fall of 2003.

My harshest critic became one of my best friends and, in some ways, a terrific mentor. He became very invested in the club and was one of the best advocates I could have ever asked for. If you ever read this, Thanks, David.

The best advice I can give anyone is to involve that guy. Kill them with kindness and always tell them that you sincerely hope they have a nice day.

This article is tagged with and posted in Ask Thad, Columns, From the Magazine

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