Ideas on how to solve the labor issue

By |  August 6, 2019 0 Comments
Joe Gulotti headshot (Photo: Golfdom)

Joe Gulotti

I played my share of pickup basketball back in the day. It was enjoyable, despite my lack of ability to break ankles. To contribute, I learned other skills. Setting screens, rebounding and banging down low became my forte, along with learning the art of cherry-picking.

Some might say picking cherries is bush league, but when you’re husky and slow, hanging out at midcourt while waiting for an outlet pass was a good way to ensure scoring a bucket or two.

I’m not balling much anymore, unless you consider drop-stepping my little guy on our backyard court. Busting out step-backs on my 5-year-old does ease my basketball jones, but let’s get back to that cherry tree.

There’s something dirty about picking cherries that touches my inner child. Kind of like sneaking a couple of Oreos out of the cookie jar without receiving the spatula treatment from mom. And even though I was a grandiose cherry-picker, I despised other cherry-pickers. This is hypocritical, but it felt like someone was stealing my bit. However, I’m going to allow some cherry-picking this time without flagrantly hacking you.

Please feel free to cherry-pick these solutions to our continuing labor problem.

  • I used to spray fairways at the pace of a hippie driving a Prius on a back road until a pal of mine told me about his approach. He outfitted his sprayer with air-induction nozzles, dialed back the rate and began flooring that piece. By doing this, he decreased his water output by 25 percent while increasing the ground speed to an outlandish 9 miles per hour. Spraying fairways used to be an all-day affair for my buddy, but now they’re finished by lunch, freeing up his spray tech for an afternoon job.
  • Are you walk-mowing greens? If so, you might want to consider a triplex. The technology of triplex mowers has come a long way, and even trained professionals cannot discern the quality difference between the two. Sure, those walk-mow stripes look cool, but using one operator to mow all your greens is even cooler.
  • I’ve been chomping tough for a new roller. Particularly, those big numbers that are 6 feet wide. I’ve talked to greenkeepers fortunate enough to own a piece of this engineering magnificence, and they all rave at the amount of time it saves them. Currently, it takes one operator just a hair over three hours to roll all our greens. With a wider roller, I’ll confidently guess this chore would take half the time, making the transition to a second job much faster.
  • Basing my turf nutritional requirements by using the Minimum Level for Sustainable Nutrition guidelines has saved me a lot of dough. And that cash savings has translated into retaining our current staff through significant raises. I’m also able to advertise open positions for a higher wage because we’re no longer chasing a balanced soil. Plus, it feels better to invest in people as opposed to potassium.
  • Another idea is to reduce your manageable acres. One of the first things I did upon arriving at my current position was interstate our fairways. It was done to improve our irrigation coverage, but reducing total fairway acreage by 3 acres created a ripple effect of cost and time savings. Less time spent mowing and spraying fairways meant more time to accomplish other tasks.

Greenkeepers are a creative bunch. These are my thoughts on ways we can combat the labor issue, but I’m sure there are more. I have others, but I’m only allotted 2.23 tweets to get my point across. If you have an idea, please don’t hesitate to share. I would love to cherry-pick it!

Joe Gulotti (hardg43@gmail.com) is the superintendent at Newark (Del.) CC. To read his blog, visit thewalkinggreenkeeper.com.

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