Landing a job is in the details

By |  May 7, 2019 0 Comments
Joe Gulotti headshot (Photo: Golfdom)

Joe Gulotti

My last name is Gulotti with a hard G. It’s an Italian name, but I also have a mix of French, Czechoslovakian and mostly Irish blood. The only truly Italian thing about me is my last name.

I haven’t experienced much bigotry because my name ends with a vowel, but in the late 1950s, Italians were refused admittance to our area’s elite golf clubs. So, they decided to start their own club where Vinnies and Paulies would be accepted.

I became superintendent of this club in June 2011. I’d like to think my last name had nothing to do with this, but it probably did. Even though the club was still considered Italian, it had become a diverse hangout for the blue-collar set, where plumbers, carpenters and teamsters hit the links.

Unknown to me, in 1995 the club sold 13 acres of the property to the neighboring shopping mall. The mall purchased a corner of the course, hoping to expand someday. That someday came in early spring 2012.

The club president explained the deal to me, then said we needed to come up with alternative course routing. An architect came — actually, a good friend of mine — and his rerouting idea was creative. The problem was money. These old Italians didn’t want to come off the loot, so they decided this project would be accomplished in-house.

As you can guess, I thought this was a bad idea. One of the board members was an architect. Not a golf course architect, or even a landscape architect, but a building architect. I guess in his mind, this qualified him to redesign the golf course. His first couple of sketches were terrible. I think he colored the drawings with crayons, and his design broke numerous cardinal sins of golf course architecture.

To save the club from architectural disaster, I brainstormed ideas for a better solution. I really struggled at first, but muses eventually touched my soul, and an alternative plan to the Crayola kid’s wackness coalesced.

Fortunately, the board agreed that my rerouting scheme was spot on. It consisted of building four new tees and one green. Construction would begin in early fall of 2012, and I was genuinely stoked to be billed as an actual golf course architect. It did wonders for my ego.

I planned to use quality materials, and USGA-spec sand for the green was a priority. But it’s hard to tell an old Italian board member who owns a sand pit that his product isn’t speccing up. He was adamant we use his sand (to save money), and as hard I tried to convince him otherwise, we ended up using his sand.

Despite the old Italian’s nonspec sand, I did have a say in the organic component. I tried to mimic the soil conditions of our other greens, which were constructed in the native soil push-up style. Consultants were on-site, and we decided on a particular company to deliver the organic material.

It was all set until our Italian board member wanted to see the operation of the organic matter company. I called the owner to let him know my boss wanted to check out his operation, and to put it mildly, he wasn’t thrilled.

He used some pretty unflattering terms to describe my old Italian friend, basically saying that it would be a cold day in hell before he allowed some (insert derogatory Italian adjective here) to see his operation.

I was flabbergasted, but not for reasons you might expect. Being 25 percent Italian, I wasn’t put off by his bigotry. His intolerance wasn’t surprising, but this guy, who we were ready to do business with, did not remember that my last name is Gulotti (with a hard G).

Needless to say, we didn’t use this company. It’s in the details, son, and this guy totally blew it.

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