They plunge headfirst into the drainage leak or septic problem, and then head inside to deal with whining from the most recent Member-Guest because the green speed on 12 was clearly (and intentionally!) .0004 faster than the green on 11.
They face decreasing maintenance budgets, difficulty in finding quality team members, and the ridiculous expectations at every club that all playing conditions MUST mirror those of Augusta National regardless of the slashing of greens fees to the sub-$30 level.
And yet, for reasons that escape me, the heroes of our game keep plodding along with care, sincerity, and the quiet commitment to excellence rarely found these days in other walks of life.
A few years ago, I wrote a letter in defense of the PGA Professionals across America. It was motivated by the horrid treatment of a Pro from my part of the world (who has since landed a great gig in a much warmer part of the country). What I thought was going to be a regionally read column ended up going viral. Why? It had very little to do with the quality of the prose and everything to do with the reality that those fine men and women were experiencing a severe lack of appreciation at clubs of all sizes and budgets.
This is the same condition impacting Supers across the nation as they deal with unrealistic expectations, a lack of respect for their knowledge and education, potential burnout from a ridiculous schedule that would have you and me lined up outside the HR Director’s office door to file a formal protest, and a stunning lack of course maintenance participation on the part of the very golfers they serve. (Or is your course the only one where divots are filled and ball marks fixed?)
As we enter the cold (and flu) season in the Midwest, I’d like to thank the Super Supers who work so hard to make our game so enjoyable. The men and women who have studied turfgrass, environmental issues, mechanical repair, budgetary wizardry, personnel management, customer/member relations, and the unwritten ingredients of passion, dedication, and persistence – are the heroes of our game, redefining the concept of being “unsung.”
On behalf of those who pay attention and appreciate the little things you do, thank you.
On behalf of the morons who think you actually chose your aeration schedule to intentionally mess up their October rounds, thank you.
For all the members who forget that you are human and they aren’t on Tour, thank you.
For those moments when all you wanted to do was stay home with your family but instead climbed onto the Gator to head out to work on the busted sprinkler head, thank you.
Thank you for the times you bit your tongue when your ownership slashed your budget and told you to “figure it out,” – and you did.
Thank you for those moments when you were tucked around the corner watching while a 4-some mangled the Par 3, turning the bunker into an unrecognizable art project only to leave without touching a rake – and you didn’t Taser any of them.
Thank you for doing your best to stave off the pressure for revenue when you knew the frost delay was vital to protecting the course.
For the times you overheard someone totally fabricate their “qualified impression” of your green speeds, and you resisted the urge to correct them, thank you. Sometimes it’s best to just let fools be fools.
Thank you for bringing your dog to the course. It’s just cool.
While I could continue the gratitude list for a very long time, let me conclude with a word of caution to the Super Supers themselves. Please don’t lose your passion for excellence, but also don’t let your passion leave your family behind.
The hours you work are long, dangerously long. They will never relent, not will the expectations of those you serve. But none of it – NONE – is worth more than those special moments with your wife and/or kids. It’s true that you can usually catch your breath in the winter (if you’re somewhere cold), but family time can’t easily be recaptured.
Set your boundaries. Have the discussion with the boss(es). Stick to the plan. You’ll last longer, be happier, and the divots will still be there in the morning.
Thank you, Super Supers!
A Grateful Golfer