Things I learned at the Golfdom Summit

By |  January 24, 2019 0 Comments
Clark Throssell headshot

Clark Throssell

The Golfdom Summit is one of my favorite golf events of the year. The reason is simple. It is an opportunity to talk to superintendents and industry reps in a casual, relaxed atmosphere over the course of three days. The format allows ample time for in-depth discussions during the meetings and social events. Below are a few highlights of what I learned at the 2018 Golfdom Summit.

  • Thom Nikolai, Ph.D., of Michigan State University was the keynote speaker, and he discussed findings from his rolling research. Thom and his colleagues have examined the effect rolling has on many aspects of turf management. Besides the obvious improvements, rolling provides for firmer, faster greens. Thom shared data (his as well as other turf scientists’) on fairway rolling, and I was struck by the reduction in dollar spot from rolling. In addition, he showed a couple of images from a demonstration project where regular rolling of a newly seeded green dramatically improved establishment. Thom would like to investigate this response in more detail.
  • I discussed with several superintendents the lack of new assistant superintendents entering the profession. All agreed that low starting salaries, a long period of serving as an assistant before moving up to superintendent and the long hours and rigors of being an assistant are barriers to becoming an assistant superintendent. Add to that the money and time devoted to earning a four-year turf degree along with the student loans needed by many to complete their degree, and it becomes clear why fewer new assistant superintendents are entering the profession. Identifying the barriers is a good first step. Superintendents can and need to address some of these barriers by increasing salaries for assistant superintendents and reducing work demands.
  • The labor force at many golf courses has changed dramatically. While the traditional 40 hours (or more) per week employee is still common, many golf maintenance staff members are part time in every combination you can imagine. Some work two or three days a week, some work only weekends, some work only four hours a day, three or four days a week. The superintendents I spoke with told me that this is the new reality, and you better learn to work with this type of labor force or do the job yourself. And doing the job yourself is not an option.
  • I learned about FIRE (financial independence, retire early) from Dave Schlagetter. Dave and I both are closer to the end of our careers than the beginning, and retirement is on our minds. There is ample information on FIRE available by doing a Google search. The concept intrigues me, and the focus on retiring early is so you can use your time to concentrate on people/things/organizations/causes that are important to you that you might not have time to embrace while working full time. Advocates of FIRE stress limiting spending and expenses and maximizing saving and investing to achieve financial independence. Whether FIRE is a good fit for you or not, I know retirement comes faster than I ever expected, and having more free time is a higher priority in my life now than ever before.
  • The Wee One Foundation does great work and deserves our support. The Wee One Foundation was developed to assist golf course management professionals (or their dependents) who incur overwhelming expenses from medical hardship and are without comprehensive insurance or adequate financial resources. Since its inception in 2004, the Wee One Foundation has given more than $1 million to those in need. You can learn more about the Wee One Foundation here.

The Golfdom Summit is an opportunity to learn from colleagues and industry reps and have some fun. Make it a goal in your career to get on the invite list of this one-of-a kind event.

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