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What makes a terrible green chairman

By |  July 21, 2021 0 Comments
Blocks depicting people interconnected (Photo: Dilok Klaisataporn / iStock / Getty Images / Getty Images Plus)

Photo: Dilok Klaisataporn / iStock / Getty Images / Getty Images Plus

OK, so you might not know who Jeremey Clarkson is. Clarkson is an English TV personality probably best known for his appearances on Top Gear and Who Wants to be a Millionaire. He is the main character on the recent Amazon Prime Video series, Clarkson’s Farm. So what does this have to do with golf?

In the series, Clarkson decides to use his considerable wealth to buy a farm and become a farmer in spite of apparently knowing nothing about agriculture. Throughout the series, Clarkson exhibits every bad management characteristic I have seen green chairs make throughout my career. Here are just a few examples that I’m certain many of you will relate to in dealing with the green committee and chair at your course.

First, in spite of having virtually no knowledge of farming, Clarkson becomes a “farmer” primarily because of his wealth and social stature. This reminds me of the many green chairs I saw over the years whose only qualifications were a low handicap and strong opinions on how the course should be presented, primarily geared around his or her game.

Second, while Clarkson is surrounded by people with a great deal of experience and knowledge of farming practices and farm equipment, he ignores them at every turn. Convinced he knows better than the experts, he makes one mistake after another resulting in much more work for his staff and much less success for the farm. Sound familiar?

One of the main recurring themes of the show is the impact of the weather on the farm. Clarkson finds out quickly that nature is completely unimpressed with his fame and fortune and that the weather can derail the best efforts of you and your staff.

In spite of having a very capable and knowledgeable farm manager, Clarkson launches one pet project after another without any sort of plan or research. His staff must then scramble to adjust the entire operation around Clarkson’s newest whim. Long hours, costly last-minute equipment purchases, numerous regulatory setbacks and marginal success of the project are the predictable results with Clarkson blaming everyone else for the difficulties. In fairness, he does eventually admit he might be somewhat responsible, but only after the damage is done.

The series has apparently been extended to a second year. My guess is that Clarkson will make better decisions as a result of gaining at least some experience. This is exactly what happens when green chairs have terms of more than a single year.

In more than 30 years of dealing with green committees, I cannot think of a single time that a green chair term of three years or more was not highly beneficial to the entire operation. It is also why no person should be appointed chair without having first served at least two years on the green committee and having made an honest effort to learn from the staff on how the course is managed.

I highly recommend watching Clarkson’s Farm. I’m certain you will find it entertaining, educational and occasionally a little frustrating due to the correlations between the show and your work. Better yet, convince your green chair to watch!

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