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Low Budget Success

Posted by mynormas on July 31, 2015

I attended a  meeting with a local district council and their golf club operator last month. I have worked with that operator for the past two years and was expecting to be ignored or be a scapegoat. Yet I was first praised by a club official who said “The golf course has improved a lot in the past two years; thanks to Normas”. and later on, the chairman, when talking about club’s finances also said something about how the golf course “…is now good and very different from how it was two, three years ago”. I was humbled.

If you go to the club, you – the seasoned golfer – may not be impressed but to me, it was incredible: they had only one greensmower; their main greens fertiliser, was plain quick-release fertiliser bought from the contractor who harvested the oil palm in the golf course by deducting the cost from the tonnage (that means they didn’t actually ‘buy’ the fertiliser); their pesticides were bought from the local hardware or stores that cater to the local farmers; they have five foreign workers and three or four local workers . The club had one tractor-towed-ground-driven fairway mower and two rough mowers, one of which spends more time in the workshop than in the field (note: do not buy refurbished machinery if your club is FAR from the supplier, unless its cheap enough you can buy two when you need one). It has one topdresser that is too big for the greens and too small for the fairways (note: get a third opinion before spending so much money on machinery) and until recently – and by recently I mean two months ago – no working greens’ aerator.

The toughest part of it all for me was that the person in charge; the superintendent, was someone who worked his way up almost 20 years ago in the club, not a golfer and has never been on another golf course. Ever. This made him a hard worker with good discipline and very loyal. However, it also means he sees things in one dimension and tend to drift back to old habits. I concentrated on being friends and not on being a consultant and managed to get things done. Though I suspect I won his respect because when things go bad; I took the blame even when he knew it wasn’t my fault.

You see, the boss took an interest in the golf course and after every visit I made, I have to do a presentation to him the following day and he wants to know what went on, what went wrong and what comes next. So when there were an insect attack and I had already instructed what chemical to be applied at what rates and in which order, he would assume it would be the end of it. Once or twice, that wasn’t the case and I can trace it back to wrong application or even no application but I would explain it away as a new attack or when a wrong chemical was bought, applied and the grass died, I said that I had misjudged something.  I do have a different way of doing things compared to most Superintendents and adding that to this Superintendent’s experience would give him a steep learning curve.

The operator was a rags-to-riches kind of guy and quitting wasn’t in his vocabulary, he chose to want to succeed and I suppose, that was the main driver for the improvement in the golf course. Its not the best golf course in the country yet and is at a precarious balance so I wouldn’t recommend the kind of knife-edge work to any other club, but for it to come from greens with no grass to healthy grass shows what a willingness to improve can do even at low budgets. If they can, you can. Call me.


One Response to “Low Budget Success”

  1. love the content


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