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Carl Johnson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Member Communications from Superintendent / Greenkeeper
« on: August 01, 2010, 09:06:17 PM »
A recent thread I started ( http://golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,45289.0/) veered slightly to the subject of communications between a club's greenkeeper / superintendent and the club's members.  Matt Wharton, who just became a member of GCA, is the greenkeeper at my club.  Matt does an excellent job of keeping members informed about maintenance issues via a fairly regular e-mail called "The Greenkeeper."  For several recent examples, check out this link:
https://carolinagolfclub.memberstatements.com/tour/tours.cfm?tourid=87711

Although not 100% of our members are going to read Matt's e-mails, in my opinion they serve any number of valuable functions, including (and as a lawyer would say, but not limited to) keeping members informed about how they can help maintain the course (e.g., fixing ball marks), reminding members of the critical work the maintanance crew does, anticipating and answering questions that members may have about course conditions and conditioning, providing just plain interesting information for golf nuts, and helping bond the membership and the staff in the common goal of maintaining the course.

Question for superintents - what do you do to keep members in the loop?

Question for members - what does your superintendent do to keep you in the loop?  Do you believe that is an important part of the superintendent's work?

Other comments?

John Moore II

Re: Member Communications from Superintendent / Greenkeeper
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2010, 09:18:09 PM »
So far as I've ever seen, my Super does nothing to tell people what he's done or what he's going to do. I personally wish he would, but on the privately owned side (or military side in my case) the Super is not one bit accountable to the members, so he's probably much less likely to keep them informed of stuff.

Dan Herrmann

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Member Communications from Superintendent / Greenkeeper
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2010, 09:22:07 PM »
Carl,
Our Head Greenkeeper, Bruce Cadenelli, has a column in every newsletter, he posts interesting articles in the locker rooms, and we always post our green committee minutes on-line and in the locker rooms.

Bruce also loves talking to members (and vice versa) while out on the course.

RJ_Daley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Member Communications from Superintendent / Greenkeeper
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2010, 09:45:32 PM »
I used to belong to the GCSAA when one of the CAdinelli's was the pres., back in the early 90s.  Even then, before the Internet and all this website easy to write columns programing, the GCSAA used to have several seminars stresssing 'communication'. 

In todays age of easy computer inputs to a newletter or website, I think it is nearly inexcusable that a super doesn't put out some form of regular updates to members, users, and community. 

When there are troubles, I think a 250 word article or series of articles now and then informing the users of what is going on and what is being done to address problem areas, should be a job requirement.  And, without a doubt, such communication is a great way to educate members/users, and blow your own horn a bit. 

GCSs work hard, but this is one area where they should not take their foot off the gas.  Educate and communicate with users should be one of their top goals, IMHO.
No actual golf rounds were ruined or delayed, nor golf rules broken, in the taking of any photographs that may be displayed by the above forum user.

Mike Nuzzo

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Member Communications from Superintendent / Greenkeeper
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2010, 10:54:07 PM »
There are a number of super blogs out there.
You can see the ones I follow on mine.
cheers
Thinking of Bob, Rihc, Bill, George, Neil & Tiger.

Roger Wolfe

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Member Communications from Superintendent / Greenkeeper
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2010, 08:18:01 AM »
Matthew's blog is one of the best things we've ever done to enhance our communications.  We
are primarily a "golf club" and therefore most of our members interests are limited specifically to
turf-related issues. 

The main thing it accomplishes is manage our member expectations.  I can't begin to estimate
how many bad experiences have been avoided due to Matthew's emails.  This week, for example,
we are aerating fairways.  As all of us know, this is going to make the course a muddy (or dusty) mess
for a few days since our soil is classic "Carolina clay."  Our members have been informed and the
old beat up garage golf shoes will be out in force.

It's a great thing and superintendents should all consider putting something out.  It will benefit them
personally and professionally as well as make the membership happy!

Steve Pozaric

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Member Communications from Superintendent / Greenkeeper
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2010, 10:12:01 AM »
Great thread.  We are planning some significant work on our course in the fall, including gassing and regrassing greens and having a major utility project come through, and were talking at our last board meeting about communications. 
Steve Pozaric

PGertner

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Member Communications from Superintendent / Greenkeeper
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2010, 10:24:48 AM »
My blog address:

http://golfsuper.blogspot.com/

Patrick Gertner
Potowomut Golf Club
East Greenwich, RI

Jason Walker

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Member Communications from Superintendent / Greenkeeper
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2010, 10:33:03 AM »
Patrick-

I play your course when I'm in RI with a couple of co-workers who are members....nice work--fun course, great conditions, and a fun club!

Don_Mahaffey

Re: Member Communications from Superintendent / Greenkeeper
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2010, 10:48:46 AM »
Blogs, newsletters, e-mails, websites are all nice and certainly have their place when you need to reach a wide audience. But, IMO, there is nothing like some face time. Spending time with your golfers while they are on the course and being available to them is invaluable.
I can only speak for myself, but sometimes it's a little too easy to text or e-mail when I should really pick up the phone or meet face to face. Obviously you can't do that when you need to communicate maintenance issues to a large audience, but the best way I've found to deal with members or golfers who have questions is to talk to them in person.

RJ_Daley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Member Communications from Superintendent / Greenkeeper
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2010, 01:02:37 PM »
Yes, very good input Don.  Nothing makes a customer, user, member feel more special and invested in the process than a good old fashion face-time with the head guy what's in charge.  ;D 8)
No actual golf rounds were ruined or delayed, nor golf rules broken, in the taking of any photographs that may be displayed by the above forum user.

Jason Topp

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Member Communications from Superintendent / Greenkeeper
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2010, 10:35:53 PM »
We added a blog this year and it has been useful but not altogether successful.  I do not think many members read it.  I really enjoy it.

Matt Wharton

  • Karma: +1/-0
Re: Member Communications from Superintendent / Greenkeeper
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2010, 05:49:30 AM »
I must say I enjoy doing the member emails.  Before we started them this spring I only did a monthly column for the club's newsletter.  I have everything I have ever written for the club on file and it is amazing how much I go back and reuse something.  It seems every November is frost delays, every March is the benefits of core aeration and every summer is a plea for more ball mark repair  :)  Some of the greasted benefits to me ever since we started the more frequent direct emails are the replies I receive.  Sometimes members come right back with a question about something they read in the email and I am able to respond almost instantly from my b'berry but also I get great feedback and in a summer like this one, just to get words of encouragement is extremely helpful.  Never underestimate the power of communication!
Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG
Idle Hour CC
Lexington, KY

Don_Mahaffey

Re: Member Communications from Superintendent / Greenkeeper
« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2010, 11:49:14 AM »
Matt,
I agree with you about member blast e-mails. It is the easiest way to communicate what's going on with the golf course to every member.

What I've learned in the past (I have one member now so communication isn't usually an issue) is sometimes you might get negative feedback from a member or two about what your doing…closing to spray, aerification...anything that's disruptive to the course. In those cases I learned to push away from the keyboard and talk with the guy in person if needed. For whatever reason some people (and I've been one) get aggressive behind the keyboard. When that starts to happen a face to face meeting usually settles everything down. Sometimes it's hard to read tone with electronic communication.

Bill Brightly

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Member Communications from Superintendent / Greenkeeper
« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2010, 12:34:32 PM »
I think it is great that we have a number of superintendents on GCA.com who write very well and are quite comfortable communicating to members and I agree that it is important. However, I bet there is a VERY significant % of supers who are NOT comfortable writing to members. Think about it: the skills that it takes to master growing grass, running crews, maintaining a fleet of equipment, and keeping everything within budget may not include being a skilled writer. I think this is where a good GM (or Grounds Chair) can really help his superintendent.

PGertner

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Member Communications from Superintendent / Greenkeeper
« Reply #15 on: August 03, 2010, 12:42:56 PM »
I posted my blog address above, but gave no details.  

Our membership is unindated with mostly worthless emails trying to entice a small and declining membership to come to the Club and eat overpriced food and drink.  (I can write this because 95% would agree)  According to most members I speak with, most of those emails aren't read, they are quickly deleted.  I wanted something different.  

Members love my blog.  Members who take the time to visit my site are more apt to take the time and invest time in it.  After reading it, they tell a friend or two who they are playing with.  I go into more depth in the blog than I could in an email, because these members want to read about what we are doing and why.  I can't tell you how many positive comments we hear.  

The idea that I would provide more intimate communication with members came to me way back during my Pine Valley Days.  Everyone on this site has read many legendary stories of the wonderful caddies at Pine Valley.   The stories are all true, as they add to your fascinating experience of playing there.  Over the course of a two or three day trip, players rely more and more on them.  One day, while doing some sodding and plugging on the right front area of the first green, players approached to see what I was doing.  Players looked at their caddies and then asked them "what is he doing?"  

JMEvensky

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Member Communications from Superintendent / Greenkeeper
« Reply #16 on: August 03, 2010, 01:31:23 PM »
I think it is great that we have a number of superintendents on GCA.com who write very well and are quite comfortable communicating to members and I agree that it is important. However, I bet there is a VERY significant % of supers who are NOT comfortable writing to members. Think about it: the skills that it takes to master growing grass, running crews, maintaining a fleet of equipment, and keeping everything within budget may not include being a skilled writer. I think this is where a good GM (or Grounds Chair) can really help his superintendent.

This was my experience as well.

I was always uncomfortable asking our Super to write a column.Aside from the extra work,I didn't want him to worry about what should/shouldn't be covered in a weekly e-mail.

I agree that communication resolves a lot of problems.But,at least in our specific case,it seems like the e-mail works better coming from the Green Chairman with the Super editing/consulting from the background.

That said,my hat's off to you guys who write maintenance blogs.I hope your members realize how valuable a thing it is.

Jason Elwell

Re: Member Communications from Superintendent / Greenkeeper
« Reply #17 on: August 03, 2010, 09:15:55 PM »
Interesting this topic came up. My club is just organizing a greens committee that I will be serving on. I don't know what the superintendent's aim is yet, but I would think it's something along these lines. Thanks to all those who posted their opinions. I'm sure I'll be asking more questions of everyone soon.

Rob Peterson

Re: Member Communications from Superintendent / Greenkeeper
« Reply #18 on: August 10, 2010, 02:53:38 PM »
I really appreciate the blog that our Director of Grounds started.  It provides much of the same stuff others have mentioned above (course conditions, maintenance and weather related issues, etc...), but also lawn care tips that are relevant to our area and other useful information for the membership.  Each post is sent to the membership, but also consolidated in this single place.

http://dmgcc.blogspot.com/

Roger Wolfe

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Member Communications from Superintendent / Greenkeeper
« Reply #19 on: August 12, 2010, 01:23:38 PM »

But,at least in our specific case,it seems like the e-mail works better coming from the Green Chairman with the Super editing/consulting from the background.


I have to disagree with you JM.  I have watched several issues at our course go bad because
the superintendent was not the focal point of communication.  Greens chairmen and committees
can be very helpful and their support is critical to the success of a superintendent.  However, I strongly
believe their involvement MUST stop when anything involving agronomy is the topic.

Capital items, design items, architecture... this should all come from committees and members.  All issues
regarding growing and maintaining grass MUST come from the superintendent.  The responsibility must lie
with him.  Volunteer committee or board members need to govern... not manage.  Allowing someone other
than the superintendent to communicate agronomic issues to the membership either 1) results in a member
being granted authority over or having to answer questions regarding an issue about which he/she is not
qualified or 2) creates an environment where a super is able to transfer responsibility to someone else for his
decisions.  Either case usually results in disaster for everyone involved... especially the GM!!  :)


PGertner

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Member Communications from Superintendent / Greenkeeper
« Reply #20 on: August 12, 2010, 01:30:05 PM »
Jason,

While this came back up....thanks!!  Please find me or flag me down when you get back to Potowomut!! 
Patrick

Patrick Gertner
Potowomut Golf Club
East Greenwich, RI

http://golfsuper.blogspot.com/

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