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Keeping up with the Jones: Storm chasing

By |  November 1, 2021 0 Comments

In the last few weeks, I’ve had to deal with a hurricane and a tornado. OK, “deal with” is the wrong term — makes it sound like I had to do something about these weather events. “Mildly inconvenienced by a hurricane and a tornado” is probably the better way to say it.

Storm clouds. (Photo: Evgeny555 / Getty Images / Getty Images Plus)

Storm clouds. (Photo: Evgeny555 / Getty Images / Getty Images Plus)

The hurricane turned out to be a dud, thankfully, but it still forced me to cancel a trip to Boston. The tornado happened while on a trek to Tulsa, Okla. I pulled into my hotel in time to catch the Chiefs as they were about to get destroyed by the Bills on Sunday Night Football. The local NBC affiliate cut away from the game for good at halftime — it was a blowout, the weatherman grumbled, and his job was to save lives. (He also saved me having to watch the Chiefs getting further dismantled.)

Fortunately, no lives were lost, but there was some damage in Coweta, Okla., about 30 miles away. The next morning, I made my way to Southern Hills CC to visit with Russ Myers and his crew and got to see what the wind did at the course. It was nothing significant, but that’s easy for me to say — I wasn’t the one who had to clean it up. The guys gave me a nice tour even though I’m sure they would have preferred I was there on a day when they weren’t picking up from storm damage.

I’ve been hearing storm stories from superintendents for more than two decades. They never get old. It’s like the scene in Jaws where they’re sitting around the table comparing battle scars. I sit there and listen, appreciating the tales of what people saw and how they recovered from the hand they were dealt.

It’s hard for me to relate. My only really bad days came at previous part-time jobs. I waited tables through college, and once, an impatient customer tossed his plate of food at me. I caught the plate (somehow the steak stuck). When a co-worker brought the missing side item out that was the cause of his tantrum, I asked, “Want it back?” He didn’t answer, so I tossed it back on the table. (They left me a penny.)

As a journalist, I haven’t had a huge crisis like the stories told in this issue. Mother Nature never stormed into my office right before deadline and pushed all my papers off my desk, smashed my camera and then kicked over my trash can on the way out. (But please don’t take that as a challenge, Mother Nature. I’ve got nothing but respect.)

In this month’s lead story, I wrote about someone who accepted their first superintendent job on a Friday, and his course was hit by a derecho the following Monday. Following that story is a golf course that endured back-to-back hurricanes within days of each other. “How quickly things can change.”

That story inspired us to ask readers about their most memorable bad days at work. We heard some great stories. More battle scars, more cringing. We put together a short feature telling some of these stories, “One of those days,” that starts on. (But don’t miss Thad Thompson’s contribution to the theme) If you’d like to tell me your “one of those days” stories, reach out. I’d like to hear it, and maybe we can bring this feature back next year. We’ll ask an insurance company to sponsor the issue.

These horror stories were diverse, but the common thread was that they were all told with a smile. These aren’t stories of defeat; they’re stories of success. You can’t keep superintendents down, no matter the challenge. I’ve learned over the years of talking with superintendents that when Mother Nature throws a steak at them, they find a way to toss it back.

About the Author:

Seth Jones, a 18-year veteran of the golf industry media, is Editor-in-Chief of Golfdom magazine and Athletic Turf. A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Jones began working for Golf Course Management in 1999 as an intern. In his professional career he has won numerous awards, including a Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) first place general feature writing award for his profile of World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman and a TOCA first place photography award for his work covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In his career, Jones has accumulated an impressive list of interviews, including such names as George H.W. Bush, Samuel L. Jackson, Lance Armstrong and Charles Barkley. Jones has also done in-depth interviews with such golfing luminaries as Norman, Gary Player, Nick Price and Lorena Ochoa, to name only a few. Jones is a member of both the Golf Writers Association of America and the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association. Jones can be reached at sjones@northcoastmedia.net.


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