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Zooming around the industry

By |  May 8, 2020 0 Comments
Photo: Seth Jones

           Seth Jones

During a Zoom meeting with my team today, I said out loud, “I still have to write my column … and I don’t even know what it’s about yet!” Then I quickly corrected myself. “OK, I know what it’s about. It’s what everything is about these days.”

Of course everything is about COVID-19. I haven’t traveled anywhere or seen any golf courses in person since I flew home from Chicago on March 12, outside of a brief socially distant visit to Wolf Creek. But while I haven’t traveled — no one from our team has; we’re all working from home — that doesn’t mean we’ve been unable to do our jobs. We’ve actually talked to more readers in recent weeks than we would have if we were allowed to travel, and those interviews are being posted as they happen

We’re interviewing superintendents at courses that are open, courses that are closed, courses that are scheduled to host majors. And Zoom meetings are amazing! I didn’t know what Zoom was until a few weeks ago. Now, Golfdom has an online show called Zoom Views where we talk to readers from around the country.

We didn’t change course when we were readying this issue for print. We stuck with our U.S. Open preview, even though the tournament was delayed to September. Golfdom Associate Editor Sarah Webb visited the course last fall and did a great job keeping the story current. That story begins on page 16. As we describe them on the cover, the story profiles the crew at Winged Foot, a resilient group of New Yorkers who remain steadfast during the pandemic.

With apologies to our friends at Winged Foot, the most dramatic story in this issue is our Q&A with longtime Golfdom columnist and longtime professor at The Ohio State University, Karl Danneberger, Ph.D. When you have my job, it’s not every day that you do a story about life and death. Turf life and death? Sure — that’s every day. But actual life and death? About as common as encouraging stories on green committees.

But Karl’s story, which begins on page 22, is a life-and-death story. It was late March when I learned that Karl had COVID-19. Like the rest of the industry, we anxiously waited, hoped and prayed. When Karl tweeted out on Friday, April 17 that he was home? Huge sigh of relief. How that changed my Friday night!

I just couldn’t wait any longer that weekend, and I called Karl on Sunday afternoon as I stood in my driveway. His voice — I’ll never pin down what that accent is — was music to my ears. We laughed together and set up our interview. If you’d like to watch the full interview (ZOOM!), you can do so by clicking here.

Likewise, if you want to see this month’s 19th Hole interview with Tim Nielsen, superintendent at Creekmoor GC in Raymore, Mo., it’s also online, courtesy of Zoom. And Stephen Rabideau, CGCS at Winged Foot GC, agreed to a Zoom call once this issue goes live. I’m excited, but also nervous about how my hair will look by then.

To my friends I missed at Augusta National this year, I’m thinking of you, and I look forward to when we see each other again. And it’s probably going to be on Zoom before it’ll be in person … but it’ll be in person again eventually. I’m sure of it.

Where we’re at in terms of the pandemic, golf courses being open and closed, I’m not even going to try to guess. But like Thad Thompson, superintendent at Terry Hills GC in Batavia, N.Y., told me in text and then on Zoom Views, episode four … I’m here if you need me.

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