An interesting topic of conversation that came up this week while I was talking to a peer in the golf course maintenance industry was the topic of change and some people’s aversion to it. The specific topic was how we at the Wilderness are moving our maintenance practices on putting greens and fairways away from traditional core aerifying and more towards solid tine, less disruptive aerification techniques. On our golf course this makes perfect sense from a technical perspective. We do not have excessive thatch; we keep our fertilizer inputs to a minimum required for optimal playability, and have a consistent topdressing program. Just as importantly, we have a very short growing season and so should find ways to perform our aerification processes both less often and in ways that minimize if not eliminate their effect on our players. This all makes perfect sense to me.
What commonly happens when a superintendent makes the sensible decision to change a process is that the decision is doubted by some-even when the change is for the good for every rational reason. The most common statement I hear is, “We have done it this way for 20 years!” or “What are they doing at so and so golf course?” Quite honestly, I really do not care how long something has been done a certain way or who is doing it. Just because something is done the same way for decades does not mean that it is the best way-or even a good way. I do not base my final decisions to mirror what anyone else is doing. I stay current on maintenance practices both old and new, keep my mind open to change, stay abreast of current technologies, and then make what I think is the right decision for the property I am responsible for in order to maximize revenues and ensure the long-term health of the golf course. This is a unique property with specific needs. We do our own thing on the Wilderness Golf Course not just on golf course grounds but in other facets of the operation as well.
I see it in the restaurant and the great job the staff there is doing in embracing change by offering the many different themed events every few weeks as well as offering a rejuvenated menu each year. Our outside service staff is always coming up with new ways to make our service to the customer stand above and beyond what many customers are accustomed to. The Pro Shop does a phenomenal job of staying current on trends in the industry as well as guiding our customers in a way so that their experience is enhanced. While there is certainly room for improvement (there always is) in all of our operations, I feel very good about 2017 and what we are going to be able to offer our patrons.