The Golfdom Files: The undefined role of assistant superintendent

By |  July 18, 2017 0 Comments

Keith Wood’s staff at Quail Hollow, Charlotte, N.C., is a group of well educated, experienced assistant superintendents. The importance of a strong staff is not always easy to convey to a membership.

In the May 1973 edition of Golfdom, Warren Bidwell, manager of golf course grounds at Congressional CC, Bethesda, Md., told the story of Wayside Country Club Superintendent Bill Jones and the time a new board member, Harry Sommers, questioned the importance of having on staff two turf students and an assistant superintendent, Ron Hilger. Bidwell used the article to show how superintendents can defend themselves in a similar situation. To read the full article click here.

The undefined role of assistant superintendent

By Warren Bidwell

The answer
Bill Jones, a turf management graduate of James State 12 years ago, had anticipated a few questions and was prepared to provide the answers. The last time this challenge came up concerning turf students “living in” at the club was seven years ago, when he wasn’t as well fortified as today. Without hesitation, Jones reached into his attaché case and pulled out a folder containing copies of information relating to the turf management students who had worked on the golf course in previous years — how long they had worked at Wayside, their performance record, Jones’ letter of achievement to their respective schools, where they went to work after graduating and where they are presently located as golf superintendents. Obviously, because they were his “boys,” Jones’ interest in them continues. The last folder he pulled from the case was reached for by Sommers, who opened it immediately.

The first item Sommers found in the file was Hilger’s resume, an impressive bit of background information, indeed. Seeing the attached picture of Hilger brought an immediate response from Sommers. “Yes, I remember this man. He does your chemical application work. We had quite a chat last summer while the spray tank was being filled just off the fourth fairway. The impression I received was that he certainly knew why he was out there and the exact nature of the disease he was treating on a preventive basis. But I didn’t know at the time he was your assistant. This throws a little different light on the subject.”

The involvement
The turf management trainee students at Wayside, who are fortunate in having a room-and-board situation, really don’t cost the club “extra money,” as Sommers thought. Actually, the student/club relationship is more of a mutual benefit arrangement than it appears on the surface. Most of them get “hooked” on a golf-oriented relationship as a result of their love for the game and the intrinsic ingredients that entice them to become involved in a golf environment.

Who, then, Mr. Sommers, is in a better position to offer a helping hand to such young men than the golfer himself, his club and the great golf associations that are present in every metropolitan community in the country? A mutual responsibility with your superintendent, Bill Jones, who is interested in the future generations (providing) greater quality? Yes, indeed. Even an obligation to share this great opportunity.

The future: An observation
Adequate provisions for an interested and reliable maintenance staff must remain a high priority if the quality of golf course maintenance is to survive the decades. Proper encouragement to both turf management trainees and qualified assistant golf course superintendents are a necessary part of this picture, a mutual responsibility to be shared by progressive superintendents and clubs. To those club officials who are looking to apply Ben Franklin’s adage, “A penny saved is a penny earned,” there is this rejoinder: Penny-pinching has never proved to be the true road to turf quality. Quality is a highly desirable facet in all things in life. The satisfaction and justifiable pride of the golfer and the professional image of the superintendent is totally dependent on quality. Let us continue this quest together.

Photo: Golfdom

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