Three former supers share tips to trust and mistakes to avoid during EOP season

By |  September 14, 2023 0 Comments
(Photo: adamkaz / E+)

(Photo: adamkaz / E+)

The month of September marks the end of the summer and the start of the fall season. With the autumn months comes the arrival of cooler temperatures, falling leaves and the promise of the winter. For superintendents, it also means the arrival of early order program (EOP) season.

During this time, superintendents prepare for the upcoming season. They look at the prices of products, see what they have used in the past, attempt to lock in a price and deal with issues (such as inflation) as early as possible.

Golfdom asked three former superintendents for their best tips and the most common mistakes during the EOP season.

Owen Coulson

Owen Coulson

Owen Coulson, owner and operator of golf course consulting business Grass Mentor, Paul Blodorn, key accounts manager for Quali-Pro, and Josh Lewis, partner/consultant at Gradoville and Hertzing Management Group, share their history with early order programs and offer what you can learn from their experiences.

Just do it

“Just do it” can be a powerful phrase. The phrase encourages people to move past any nerves and do what needs to be done. It’s also the top tip Coulson, former superintendent at Vestavia CC in Birmingham, Ala., has for superintendents during EOP season.

Coulson says that superintendents already deal with too much stress. From managing the members to handling general maintenance on the course, it is always a plus when stress can be removed or reduced in any way.

(Photo: Tolga TEZCAN / E+)

(Photo: Tolga TEZCAN / E+)

“If you take all the stress that is already on a superintendent and add on (purchasing products), it can be overwhelming,” he says. “Will they need this product because they know this disease? Will they know something is being delivered? You call every representative in the territory, and maybe none of them can get that product at that moment. Going ahead and doing it can reduce the stress of needing to worry about what you will need in the next season or year.”

Coulson adds that every season is not identical. Coming out of the summer, it is easy for a superintendent to not immediately jump into planning the EOP season. However, tackling it head-on helps to get the task done much earlier.

A fun bonus for him is the points and rewards from EOP purchases. Through his participation in EOPs, Coulson says he often used points for shirts, which he would give to his team members at the end of the year.

Josh Lewis

Josh Lewis

“When I go ahead and do it, it can be all done by October,” Coulson says. “By having that done, and letting (the product) sit on my shelf, it’s one less thing I have to worry about. It is good to get ahead while you can remember what the season has been like.”

Cover all your bases

Lewis, former superintendent at Sharon Heights CC in Menlo Park, Calif., and at Chambers Bay GC in University Place, Wash., says it is critical to be as organized as possible entering the season.

“Remember that it is the busiest time of the year for your vendor partners through this process,” Lewis says. “They are trying to get around. They see a lot of people. You want to be efficient with their time.”

To do this, he says superintendents need to be as prepared as possible and work together with vendors to cover all their needs.

(Photo: Getty image: UA-Visions/ISTOCK–getty images plus)

(Photo: Getty image: UA-Visions/ISTOCK–getty images plus)

Lewis says his top priority was to ensure his agronomic plan was solid. He would do his “year in review” in September before the salespeople show up in October. That way, he knew about any changes that he wanted to make. Anything he saw in the previous year that didn’t work, he would apply the necessary needs and changes to the plan.

“My way of looking is that the season will always start with my agronomic plan,” Lewis says. “I can put together a really solid program that will allow me to take the best advantage of each opportunity. The season is always a major avenue for savings and deficiencies, in my experience.”

For why this is his number one piece of advice, Lewis keeps it simple: being organized and having a plan helped him to cover all his bases. He reiterates that all the companies are putting a lot of time into their EOP programs, so it is imperative for the superintendent to get as much value while it is available.

“Having a plan helps you know what you need, from fertilizer applications to topdressings,” Lewis says. “You can develop a really solid idea of what you need to spend on the large line items. The EOP season is a great kickoff in the budget season.”

Start planning early

When considering his No. 1 tip for the EOP season, Blodorn thinks back to when he was a superintendent at East Hampton (N.Y.) Golf Club.

From September into October, the golf course was still very busy, he says. Because of this, some superintendents wouldn’t put their full attention toward EOPs during this busy time.

Paul Blodorn

Paul Blodorn

“If I had to do it again, I would spend more time in mid-September and early October planning my research on the current program and where I could maximize my budgetary dollars,” Blodorn says.

He adds that giving more time to plan early for the season allows the superintendents to make “the most bang for your buck.”

A common mistake Blodorn says superintendents make is having an, “I’ll take what I took last year” approach. Instead, he recommends sitting down and planning out what you expect to really use in the new season.

“You’re going to get the most programs from manufacturers,” Blodorn says. “A lot of them cut off at the end of October. You might miss out on some purchasing power if you wait. If you wait, you might not get the extra crunch time. You have to really put thought into what you want to do next year and get the right products for those programs. Keep your eyes open and pay attention.”

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