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The Consultant

Posted by mynormas on May 24, 2016


I was with a client Golf Course Superintendent (CS) and he was telling me about a golfer that was gushing about the improvements in his course and wonders how the CS could manage such work in a short time during one of Malaysia’s hottest weather period ever. The superintendent said “I told him that now, we have a consultant who…” I held up my hand “No, you were 70% of it” I said “You, and your people did all of the work. We had a discussion, yes, but you did the work. I have clubs that I have consulted for much longer and there was no difference, sometimes their condition got worse”

The CS blinked. “How could that be?” he asked.

“Well, not all superintendents are willing to listen. There are those who felt that a consultant was forced on them when they don’t need one. I have a superintendent who will do the opposite of my recommendations and there was one who would deliberately take my recommendations to extremes” I continued to give him two specific examples of the incidents.

Unfortunately for the golf course, when the CS did the opposite of my recommendations, it back-fired and as for the part where a superintendent took my recommendation to the extreme, I was lucky that in my report I showed pictures of two other clubs that received the same recommendation with good result because it was done with common sense.

I just could not bring myself to put those kind of things in my report or mention it to the management. In one club when the GM – who was a friend – asked my opinion about a CS related to one of the cases I spoke of earlier.  I told him “I think he should be promoted, either to be a club manager or perhaps laterally as operations manager”

“Why?”

“He is loyal, qualified, has good relations with golfers and perhaps he has been in one position too long, exposing him to other jobs may improve his morale and perhaps even open a brand new career path for him”

I told my client CS “Some days I just want to resign from being their consultant. It has come to a stage where it can be embarrassing to admit I consulted for them. The incidents I quoted were for the things that I can follow up on but what about stuff that I can’t?  Like fertilising or chemical applications?”

There are of course, other clubs that can be a challenge too, for example clubs that has a case of ‘the improvement lust is strong but the financial flesh is weak’. Watching TV turns them on but they have no money for Viagra (for the clubs that are in that position usually are at an old, Viagra-needing age already). So they hire someone who can give suggestions that they can’t act on. Honestly, I usually stay on at these clubs because the CSs there are usually hard-working and full of initiative.

Then there are clubs where the management are perhaps are not clear on what they want. “I want to improve my golf course” they said “Sure” I replied and a couple of months later they’ll say “My fairways are still wet”. I said “Your fairways are wet during the rainy season and we can only work on them when they’re dry, in the meantime, we work on your greens”. “But my greens are fine” one particular boss said. So I showed him the before and after pictures of the greens because somehow the young CS managed to improve the greens in just two months.

The only club – so far – that I have refused to work as a consultant for is a club that the GM would continuously reduce the cutting height after I have asked that they be raised because of health issues. When explained, he would feign understanding and agreement but it would happen again within an hour of me leaving the club. I was engaged under a friend’s company so I told the friend; “Sorry, I’m busy and can’t cope”.

There are also some superintendents who don’t like to be friends (tongue in cheek) with me. Whenever I go to a club, whether at the invite of the management or as a customer, I do my best to contact the superintendent beforehand but I don’t know everyone and some superintendents live like hermits with no friends in the industry or not a member of the association so I don’t know who they are in which case I usually tell the management to ‘make sure the superintendent know I am coming’. Once or twice the management will be red-faced to explain the absence of the superintendent “I met him this morning!” was one reply I got; there was one ‘Emergency Leave’ and a recent ‘Very Busy’.

In general, it has always been a good experience, I enjoy the work though yesterday my wife said that soon, maybe I should look for a permanent job without so much of traveling because “… you are not getting any younger”. Hard to argue with that, the traveling is the toughest part of this job.

When I first started this consultant business a friend remarked “I have always imagined you as a consultant” I wasn’t that surprised and asked why, assuming the answer to be my knowledge, experience and luck in working for big or award-winning clubs.”Because you are always smiling and approachable”

Oh…

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