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What Enstein said

Posted by mynormas on April 28, 2015


Is it too ambitious to put one of the greatest minds in history to the level of grass growers? I don’t know. I just want to draw attention to his quotes and.how at least one, if not two of them relate to some of what I see in Malaysian golf clubs and football fields. “Insanity” said Mr. Enstein “is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

Does that ring a bell? We talk about the (poor) quality of our golf course or field but we do not change anything in the efforts or methods of how we maintain either one. We still use the same fertiliser or the same amount or, in the case of golf course fairways and tees or many football fields; we don’t fertilise at all. We cut our football field irregularly and we have not or worse, never have done any aeration on our fields. Yet we wonder why there is no improvement in quality. Honestly? We shouldn’t wonder, we should just accept it as it is and play it or take up bowling, or fishing or for the footballers; futsal perhaps?

I get it, sometimes there are just too many things to be done that we don’t know where to start, but start we must. If we can’t afford to do the big things, maybe we can start small. Change we must, better now than never. Not all improvements have to be million-ringgit renovations or purchases you know, sometimes it is just about perception and not necessary reality. Consistent greens at moderate speeds? A cleaner golf course? Stripes on a football field?

Maybe a change in fertiliser? Or better still; a soil test to see if we’ve done it right all this years? Trimming the trees surrounding the green may help. I know, I know, the committee/management/owner will never agree. However, you will be surprised how many people who said that have never actually broached the subject to the committee/management/owner. I once was asked to present recommendations on how to improve a particular football field, they told me they can’t afford it; problem was, I haven’t told them how much it costs yet. I guess it was easier to carry on as it is rather than to take an unusual, different and extra step to actually improve it.

Part of what I do is mentoring the existing staff in the effort to improve the quality of a golf course, I’ll tell you it is easier to do it with superintendents and staff who are new rather than those have been in one place too long where every suggestions or recommendation can be taken as a challenge, old habits are hard to break and complacency sets in.

I usually will try to tweak the maintenance practices that I hope will make some changes and I try to find the stuff that is there without incurring immediate extra cost. Measuring green sizes for example and calculating the amount of fertiliser for each green. Changing pesticides; whether the brand or type or how its applied.

Sometimes I go for something new like dragging a metal drag mat on the greens in lieu of grooming. “Will it work?” I am asked. I don’t know; lets try and see what happens. At the very least, it changes the way the staff see the greens. No kidding.

That’s when sometimes I run into opposition, for example when I asked that insecticides are applied early in the morning or late in the evening, I am told that “the insects here are active in the afternoon”. Fine. Problem is, that golf course is plagued by insects for years; and various types and combinations of insecticides have been used to no avail, so why not give a different time of application a try?  Why do the same thing and expect a different result?

If you don’t have a groomer or any sort of vertical cutter, why not try pulling a ‘metal carpet’ on the greens just to shake up the grains a bit? Most old school superintendents will find excuses not to do it, or they’ll tell me they’ll do it and never actually do, but I had one former-factory-manager-turned-Superintendent who followed my instructions blindly. He had four walk-behinds of different makes and models to mow 18 greens but his greens turned out to be consistent and pretty fast for a cutting height of 4.5 to 5mm.

Don’t get me wrong. It is okay to do the same things again and again. Go ahead. After all, I don’t know everything and not everything I suggest may work for everyone. What is wrong is expecting a different result. That, according to old Albert, is insanity, but then, he is also the same guy who said that “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that created them”, so maybe it is about using a different kind of thinking. Be offended, go on, if that prompts you or anyone into using their imagination and making some changes; I have not wasted the two hours writing this.

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