Musings from the Ledge: Five tools that make life easier as a superintendent

By |  December 7, 2022 0 Comments

Sometimes the easiest task becomes the most difficult! When Seth asked me to write about what tool was a game changer for me, my initial reaction was, “give me a bigger challenge!” That was until I tried to narrow it down. So, here are the five tools that have made my life easier as a superintendent:

Photo: Alan Fitzgerald

Photo: Alan FitzGerald

5. Today’s tech. My first thought went to the tech that is available to us today. The various soil sensors, moisture meters and turf stress monitors. The data they provide helps us make better decisions. Even a simple thing like reducing water consumption with moisture meters not only helps us to do our jobs better, it also helps to save resources while also showing that golf course superintendents are true stewards of
the environment.

4. Give it up for the GCSAA. The next tool is our professional associations. I know there are mixed feelings about the GCSAA, but it does a lot for our profession. Not to diminish all those important things it does behind the scenes, if nothing else, think about how the GCSAA has really pushed our profession to the forefront to show how important we are to the golf club. After all, there would not be a golf club without the course or the people to take care of it, something it seems like no one realized before.

 3. Going bonkers for bunkers. At some point, bunkers have become the most important part of the golf course, whether a perfectly manicured white sand amoeba or frilly fine fescue jagged-edged natural areas. It is easy to argue that bunkers are a hazard and, as such, should not eat up as many resources as they do. But since golfers expect us to keep them perfect, anything to reduce the amount of work is a huge benefit. So, No. 3 on my list is bunker liners. For me, the amount of resources saved by liners is one of the biggest steps forward in course maintenance over the last 10 years. Washouts are no more; the sand no longer gets contaminated by stones and debris, and they drain well and make them playable right after a storm, so I can direct that labor elsewhere. It might be easy to dismiss this due to my involvement in Blinder, but that is a consequence of their effectiveness — they just work.

2. Game-changing tool. My No. 2 is simply identified by its number — 648. I am not alone in this. A few of the British turf publications have versions of Golfdom’s 19th Hole, and one of their questions asks, “what your favorite bit of kit is?” The majority of the answers are the Toro 648. While I still love my Hydrojects, when Toro launched the 648, it was a game-changer. Its biggest advantage is it gives us the ability to quickly get air to the roots with minimal disturbance, even in play, where, with the attached roller, members love that it speeds the greens up!

1. The social network. And my No. 1 best tool is also the worst — the internet and social media. I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I love seeing other courses, what others are doing and seeing some cool tool or a trick I haven’t seen before. However, there is the bad side: the inevitable keyboard jockey bickering or where every picture is perfect — making you feel inadequate as you compare it to the patch of dead turf you stand over in person. The positives outweigh the negatives, especially as it brought the turf world together. Fifteen years ago, I was proud that I was one of the few turf people who knew turf people on both sides of the Atlantic, but due to social media, people have become friends without ever meeting. This has shown us that no matter where we are, we all have the same broad issues, but now we share and learn new tips and tricks from all over the planet.

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