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The Turf Doc: Returning to the open road

By |  June 6, 2020 0 Comments
Photo: Karl Danneberger

Karl Danneberger

Returning from a four-week hospital battle with SARS-CoV-2, also known as COVID-19 or the coronavirus, one of the things I was most looking forward to was driving my 1969 Pontiac Firebird. When the opportunity presented itself, I headed to the garage.

After removing the car cover, I went through the car’s interior disinfecting and cleaning. I even got under the car and cleaned the rollover coils and steering arms. Cleaning these exterior parts had nothing to do with the coronavirus, they just happened to be my newest installations and I wanted a reason to look at them. After an initial setback (the battery was dead), I headed down the road to join my car club and other car clubs in an event to support a local food bank.

I couldn’t think of a safer, more fun thing to be doing on a beautiful day than cruising down the road. Isolated in the car, I wasn’t worried about social distancing nor coming into contact with strangers, just other hot rods and muscle cars. I joined the cars from my car club and others in the donation line. While waiting, I stared out the window at an adjacent parking lot filled with men and women standing around their cars talking and congregating into groups. Some wore masks but most did not, and social distancing was a foreign thought. I wanted to yell out, “People, what are you doing?”

Car cruising is a lot like golf course management. Several of the daily management practices like mowing greens, fairways, roughs, along with spraying, bunker raking and trimming are often solitary practices. The result is staff and crew are often isolated from each other and spread across acres of turf. Considering that one of the maintenance goals is to avoid golfers so as not to disturb them, social distancing occurs naturally.

The potential for coronavirus infection and spread occurs at times when staff and employees congregate: during meetings, breaks, lunch, at the start of the day and at day’s end. Staggering when employees can gather, social distancing and wearing masks need to be instituted to reduce potential disease risk and spread. Be aware and plan to reduce the potential for any infection and spread when staff and crew congregate. Additionally, have a protocol to meet with “mobile visitors” like salespersons, extension personnel, consultants and others. Be aware that practices that you put in place to reduce the risk of virus exposure not only protects you but also your visitors.

For me personally, to experience this life-threatening disease firsthand and the impact it had on me, my family, friends and colleagues, I have little tolerance for people who think it’s a hoax, overblown or dwell in conspiracy theories. If you have staff or crew who refuse or think the implemented safety measures are a joke and do not apply to them, my advice would be to send them packing. A corrosive attitude and actions by a self-denier are not only dangerous to them, but also put you and your staff at risk along with your families.

Lastly, I would rather be writing in my area of agronomic expertise, but given how coronavirus dominates not only daily golf operations but our everyday life, it is critical to develop a comprehensive plan to account for the potential likelihood of the disease. As golf course managers, this disease should be a priority and concern for how you keep yourself, family, staff members and golfers healthy.
I came across a quote from a hot rod magazine (Good Guys) that I think, with a few word substitutions, describes in a clear, concise manner what course operations will look like for the foreseeable future.

“Hot-rodding is built on the concept of overcoming obstacles, finding solutions and making things better. That is just what our team is doing.”

Stay aware and stay safe.


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