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Posts Tagged ‘golf club manager’

Fertiliser: less is more

Posted by mynormas on August 9, 2016

I was doing training at a golf club the past couple of weeks. It was about basic chemical application, y’know, calibration, safety, pest identification and stuff. Since it was the fourth time for the club (the superintendent organised it every alternate year), I thought I’d slip in a module about fertilising, just to keep the training interesting and hopefully to ensure I get invited back next year. Two things came to mind:

One. I was explaining about the nutrients required by turf and how important each nutrient in its own way to the health of the turf. I was writing on the white board when suddenly I drew a wooden barrel (or cask, if you prefer) and mentioned about Liebig’s Law of Minimum. I said that according to Mr. Liebig, each nutrient is important and lacking in any will affect the plant’s health.

Liebig's barrel

Liebig used the image of a barrel with unequal staves to explain how plant growth is limited by the element in shortest supply, just as the level of water in the barrel is limited by the shortest stave.

During the lunch break a participant showed me a picture of the Liebig’s barrel sent by the superintendent (he was sitting at the back of the class) to their group WhatsApp presumably because my drawing was bad. It then occurred to me that I actually read about Liebig’s Law 22 or 23 years ago! I remember because I read it in the local public library. I know it was that long ago because back then, knowledge wasn’t the only thing I was pursuing at the library and when I got married, I largely stopped going to the library.

Anyway, Liebig’s law was more than 150 years old and there probably are people who disagreed with him but the fact that I recalled it at the particular instant reminded me about something I heard or read about the mysteries of the mind and how we don’t actually lose information in the brain, so I came to the logical conclusion: I am more than just a pretty face.

The second thing that struck my mind was when I was explaining about measuring green sizes and the participants eagerly asked that it be included in the practical session later in the evening. Know this; most of my participants are not particularly fond of practical sessions because it involves a lot of calculations. Know this too: many superintendents don’t know or don’t measure their green sizes.

Training day at KLGCC

I told my participants that knowing green sizes is important because it will be easier to weigh the amount of fertiliser needed for each green – based on fertilising rate – as compared to calibrating the fertiliser spreader or worse, having no system at all. It would also make it easy to buy close to exact amount of fertiliser needed instead of the usual one ton figure when what you really need is 0.8 ton for 18 greens for six months (all figures not real).

As an example, if we decide to fertilise at a rate of 1.5kg/100 sq.m then green 7 which is 600 sq.m in size will get 9kg, green 8 (703 sq.m) will get 10.5kg, green 16 (345 sq.m) shall receive 5.2kg of fertiliser brand Y which, when calculated with the percentage of nitrogen in the fertiliser, we can say that each green receives 150g of nitrogen per 100sq.m.

Furthermore if the total sizes of all 19 greens in your course is 9,200sq.m, and you think you will stick with applying 1.5kg/100 sq.m/month of that particular fertiliser, then you’ll know you need 125kg of it every month or about 750kg for the next six months. Why order more? Yet it is quite common for clubs to order an exact one ton despite the protestations of the supplier “NO! Don’t order so much! Order just enough for your needs!”. Ahem.

It is disappointing that I can still find Malaysian golf clubs that apply fertiliser at the rate of one bag per green regardless of green or fertiliser bag sizes. The other method I’ve seen was when I was told that this club used the setting ‘J’ on brand ‘X’ fertiliser spreader. That could’ve sound reasonable except that the spreader was never calibrated and the superintendent doesn’t know the rate of fertiliser he applied.

In the first club, after measuring the greens and weighing the fertiliser according to the size of greens and rate of application, they cut down their fertiliser use from 16 bags to 12 bags per month. Guess what? The greens were greener and in better condition two months later. In the other club, they chose to be secretive about the amount of fertiliser used before measurement or maybe they didn’t know or maybe they were upset that a consultant was forced on them and didn’t want to cooperate: didn’t matter  to me, based on a few factors, I chose a new rate and the greens improved too.

If you think by saving the club’s money every month, producing  greener and better greens means that I’m getting a huge paycheck; you’re wrong. Despite the improvements at one particular club, it still hasn’t paid me for the last four months of my consultancy there. No kidding.

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Posted in Golf Course, Golf Course Superintendents, Greens, Padang Golf | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Emperor, General & Concubine

Posted by mynormas on February 23, 2016

I was in a client club recently and the Superintendent was telling me of his new staff who despite having agriculture or horticulture certificates are lacking in knowledge in what to do on a golf course. He did not see himself as responsible for his workers knowledge.

As a consultant, I see things at a client company as an outsider, usually with a fresh set of eyes and (hopefully) an unbiased mindset. I’m sometimes called in when the company wants the golf course to reach another level; not necessarily because there’s a problem. Other times, I’m called because there is a need for a third-party opinion, a referee even, to resolve a problem at a club that led to a (real or imagined; yes, IMAGINED) deterioration of the golf course. I will meet with a few people at the company and talk to them to see what the issues are. It never fails to surprise me how many people believe that the problem is other people.

These issues reminded me of a story about Sun Tzu – he who wrote the Art of War and an emperor of his era. Be reminded that China wasn’t one whole nation yet but were divided into a few smaller nations.

The version of the translation that I read was written by James Clavell, a renowned novelist himself and this version were full of interesting side stories that serves to illustrate better Sun Tzu’s 13 chapters. It was a very interesting book and I read it several times, it was also the only book I ever burned; I had it when I was working in a plantation 25 years ago and electricity was shut off at 10pm. To continue reading, I put a candle between the pages of the book and I must’ve dozed off. The book was singed but still readable so I kept it. I’ve lost it since then, probably loaned out and never returned or lost in the house moves I’ve made over the years. It’s been a long while so I may have forgotten a few details and I may be adlibbing or paraphrasing a few dialogues therefore if you are into details and accuracy, I would advise you to look it up.

So the story goes like this. The book written by Sun Tzu about the art of war called umm… The Art of War turned into a bestseller and probably would’ve been a blockbuster opera too if only America was as civilized as the kingdom of Wu was 2,000 years ago.

Anyway, the emperor of Wu called up Sun Tzu to his court and asked if what he wrote was good.

“Of course it is, Your Majesty” said Sun Tzu.

“All 13 chapters?” asked the emperor (should ‘emperor’ be with a capital ‘E’? Maybe I should capitalise it next time; just to be on the safe side. Don’t want to be struck by lightning or hit by car eh?)

“All 13 chapters are good Your Majesty” replied Sun Tzu.

“Can it be put to a test?”

“Yes Your Majesty”

“Can the subjects of the test be women?”

“Yes Your Majesty”

The Emperor asked that all the women in the palace be brought out to the courtyard. 180 women came out and lined up.

Sun Tzu arranged them into two companies and put the Emperor’s favourite concubines as the leaders of each company.

Sun Tzu addressed the women “I assume you know the difference between left and right, front and back?” The women nodded “Of course we do”

“Everybody facing front” Sun Tzu yelled, parade ground style to the two companies of women in front of him; they all stood at attention. “Now, everybody; right turn!” shouted Sun Tzu. Immediately the ladies burst out laughing.

Sun Tzu calmly said “When the soldiers cannot and do not know how to follow orders; or if the order is not clear; it is the general’s fault”.

So he started to train and drill the ladies on how to face forward correctly, how to turn left and right upon hearing the commands and so on.

Satisfied that the ladies are now properly trained, he barked the command “Everybody: right turn!” and the girls promptly started laughing again.

Sun Tzu said, “if the orders are clear, if the soldiers have been trained properly and yet the soldiers still can’t follow the orders properly, then it is their officers fault”

In saying so, Sun Tzu ordered the leaders of the two companies executed. The Emperor watching from a raised pavilion, upon seeing that two of his favourite concubines about to be beheaded, promptly sent a message down to Sun Tzu saying that he recognises the greatness of the general and the exhibition can now be concluded without anyone losing their heads. To which Sun Tzu replied “Having first received the appointment to be general, there are certain orders of the Emperor that I am unable to accept.”

He then had the two concubines beheaded and made the next two women to be the new leaders of the companies.

Now when orders are given, the ‘soldiers’ are able to turn to the left or right in perfect order; without uttering a sound.

Sun Tzu then sent a message to the Emperor “Your soldiers are ready and properly trained now, Your Majesty and can be put to any test you desire”

To which the Emperor replied “Let our general dismiss our forces and return to camp. We have no wish to come down and inspect the troops”

The reply from Sun Tzu was a classic man-with-balls “The Emperor is only fond of words and cannot translate into action”

Reading this and thinking about how it relates to someone in your workplace is fine, just don’t forget that sometimes it could also be about you too. There are a few classes of people in the story; The Emperor; who talks about wanting to be the best but not wanting to pay the price. The General, who assumes his people know what to do and does not do training. The Concubines; people who thinks that they know what to do but don’t. The Favourite Concubines; those that cannot be told what to do.

Lest this leads to a flurry of finger pointing, I must hasten to add that we should all be careful of who to blame. I mean, how embarrassing would it be if you thought that the problem of the company is everyone and everything or someone or something when the real problem is you?

Posted in Golf club, Golf Course, Golf Course Superintendents | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tercabar.

Posted by mynormas on September 14, 2015

“Anda tidak layak untuk bekerja di padang golf”. Saya dengar ayat itu dua kali dalam dua bentuk pada tahun 1993. Kali pertama adalah dari Course Superintendent bangsa Malaysia yang memberitahu seorang pelawat – di depan saya – dan kali kedua ialah dari pengganti beliau, seorang warga Australia yang memberitahu saya di depan muka saya di tee lubang 2 Valley Course.

Maksud mereka mungkin sama, tetapi cara mereka menghadapi nya adalah berbeza; Orang pertama telah mengambil tindakan untuk tidak mengendahkan saya dan terus memberi arahan kepada para pekerja melalui dua orang supervisor. Tugas yang di beri kepada saya hanyalah semata-mata untuk pusing padang selepas hujan dan check bunker mana yang bertakung air.

Manakala, Course Superintendent dari Australia itu telah mengarah saya dan seorang lagi Asisten Superintenden untuk membawa mesin padang golf sebagai operator biasa. Rakan saya itu, saya akan panggil dia sebagai Mr. T, telah mengambil tindakan untuk berhenti kerja dengan berkata “Aku ada ijazah, kenapa mesti buat kerja ini?”.

Saya telah menerimanya sebagai satu cabaran. Sebelum masuk kerja di industri golf, saya bekerja di industri perladangan dengan jawatan Penolong Pengurus Ladang yang selau di panggil ‘Tuan’ oleh pekerja biasa dan sekarang saya akan membuat kerja sebagai pekerja biasa.

Bukan saja saya bawak mesin, saya juga di beri tugas untuk ‘cuci’ spinkler di 18 lubang. Saya kena buka sprinkler dari atas, keluarkan internal (isi) nya, pecahkan saringan (filter) di bawah sprinkler, seluk tangan sampai ke siku untuk keluarkan sisa saringan, bukak air supaya apa yang sumbat akan keluar dari bawah sprinkler, kemudian pasang balik semua. Ulang beratus kali lagi. Ada satu hari tu, seorang pekerja tak sampai hati tengok tangan saya luka dan ambil screwdriver dari tangan saya untuk ambilalih tugas. Ego saya nak ambil balik, tapi akhirnya saya mengalah…

Yang paling mencabar ialah kerja menyembur racun menggunakan boom-sprayer dan menabur baja menggunakan spreader Vicon di belakang tractor. Saya pernah masuk hospital enam hari kerana keracunan. Satu hari, sedang saya baja fairway berlaku hujan lebat, saya pun balik ke pejabat. Course Superintendent jumpa saya dan tanya “Why are you back?”, saya kata “Its raining”. Dia ambil plastik tarpaulin, tutup Vicon supaya hujan tidak masuk ke dalam spreader dan suruh saya sambung. Waktu itu petir dah mula, boleh saja saya lepak di driving range atau poolside cafe atau starter hut tetapi saya habiskan juga baja fairway lubang 12 dalam hujan lebat dan petir. Bila saya balik dalam basah kuyup, dia tunggu saya di depan pejabat. Dia kata, “I know its raining and all, but I need you to do this”. Masa tu, Tuhan saja yang tahu dalam hati, tapi kemudian, saya tahu ketahanan saya menghadapi kesukaran kerja, antaranya datang dari situ. Itu hakikat kerja di padang golf; cuaca yang tidak menentu. Kalau hujan sikit kita yang lari dulu, apa cerita pekerja kita?

Bukan niat post ini untuk saya bangga diri, tapi saya ingin menekankan bahawa untuk kerja di padang golf sebagai supervisor atau superintenden dan sebagainya, kita perlu tahu pengoperasian, penggunaan dan penjagaan mesin yang ada di padang dan buat kerja di padang.

Jangan nanti anda di cabar secara langsung oleh pekerja (tidak akan selamanya pekerja anda adalah orang asing) dengan dia kata “Cuba kau buat! Aku nak tengok!” ataupun secara tidak langsung bila mereka mogok atau tidak datang kerja dan anda sendiri kena bawak mesin. Jangan juga di perbodohkan pekerja. Saya masih teringat ketawa pekerja kerana Mr. T tidak jumpa cari kunci untuk hidupkan mesin ‘sweeper’; mesin itu sebenarnya tidak menggunakan kunci, ia gunakan sistem push-start seperti yang ada pada banyak kereta moden sekarang. Mereka sengaja tak beritahu dia kerana dia tidak tanya mereka dengan baik.

Kalau anda boleh buat apa yang mereka boleh buat, bukan sahaja hormat mereka akan meningkat, tetapi keyakinan diri anda juga akan meningkat.

Di masa yang sama, mereka tidak boleh lagi memberitahu anda tentang kerja sewenang-wenangnya. BIla saya masuk kerja sebagai Superintenden di kelab baru, pekerja memberitahu saya bahawa mereka mengambil masa dua hari untuk potong fairway di 9 lubang. Selepas sebulan, saya ajar mereka macamana nak potong dengan betul dan dalam masa singkat, mereka boleh siap 9 lubang dalam sehari dan fairway lebih cantik dari dahulu. Mereka bukan pekerja baru; seorang pemotong fairway dah ada pengalaman 7 tahun. Samada mereka sengaja menduga saya atau mereka tidak di latih dengan betul. Kedua dua itu dapat saya atasi kerana saya sendiri boleh bawak mesin.

Saya juga akan bawa multi-use tool yang ada pisau, screwdriver, plier dan sebagainya di pinggang untuk membuat pembaikan kecil di padang. Saya tiada masalah untuk baring di bawah mesin (selepas ambil langkah keselamatan) untuk lihat apa yang rosak.

Kita tidak perlu boleh bawak mesin sehebat pekerja yang sepanjang hari bawak mesin. Kita tidak perlu se’terror’ operator yang dah 20 tahun bawak mesin green. Tapi kita tidak boleh tidak tahu bawak. Itu saja. Kita mesti boleh nampak yakin untuk duduk di kerusi operator dan hidupkan engine dan potong bila perlu. Saya selalu kata “Bagi saya dua minggu, saya boleh buat apa yang awak buat”. Dah cukup. Mungkin bunyi macam cakap besar, tapi saya yakin boleh.

Ini semua, saya berterima kasih kepada apa yang di buat oleh Martin Greenwood, Superintenden dari Australia yang memberi saya pilihan; bawak mesin masuk padang atau bawak kereta keluar kelab.

Jangan takut di cabar. Cabaran mental kerja ini lebih penting untuk anda hadapi dan harungi dari cabaran yang anda ‘perasan’ . Kita boleh ada kelulusan tinggi, kita boleh ada pengalaman banyak, kita boleh cakap besar. Tapi, kita boleh buat ke? Cabar diri sendiri. Test and exceed your own limits. Push yourself if no one else does. When someone else push you; take the challenge.

#nevergiveup

Asalnya, artikel ini sampai ini saja dan ia di bangkitkan oleh perbualan saya dengan seorang rakan yang bercerita tentang rakan lain yang merasa tertekan bila di suruh untuk bawa mesin sedangkan mereka sudah berpengalaman dan berpelajaran. Lepas tu, terdengar cerita lain pula yang juga saya rasa mencabar, jadi sebelum artikel ni auto-publish; saya tambah sikit di bawah. Sometimes people forget that what’s posted or commented on Facebook can be seen by other people that was not the target.

Beberapa tahun kemudian, bila ada peluang untuk naik pangkat; saya telah di beritahu “You are not ready”. Memandangkan usia saya dah pertengahan 30an, saya tak pasti samada ia adalah isu perkauman ataupun kerana tiada kelulusan. Kalau ia tentang perkauman, tiada apa yang saya boleh buat, tetapi jika kelulusan, saya mau berubah.

Saya telah mengambil kelas malam Diploma in Accountancy mengikut syllabus LCCI. Saya ada tiga atau empat guru dan rasanya semua mereka lebih muda dari saya. Tapi saya takkan biarkan saya di cabar tanpa sebarang tentangan. Tiga malam seminggu akan memandu 20km ke bandar utk kelas malam dari pukul 7 sampai pukul 9 atau 10 malam. Pada bulan puasa saya terpaksa buka puasa dalam kelas, walaupun ia melibatkan hanya saya seorang, semua kawan dan guru sangat supportive.

BIla saya lulus periksa, saya bawa sijil ke kelab. Kelab itu dengan baik nya telah membayar kos belajar saya; memang saya terkejut tetapi sangat lah saya berterima kasih. Bukan itu saja, saya juga telah di naikkan pangkat. Tapi kena share: dua orang di naikkan pangkat, saya jaga ‘back room’ departments dan sorang lagi rakan yang hampir 10 tahun lebih muda dari saya akan jaga front office departments (Oh? Dia ready pulak?). Ok lah… saya terima. Kerja beberapa bulan, dapat tawaran lain. Saya pun pergi.

Di kelab baru, saya pegang satu jawatan tapi buat dua kerja. Kerja kedua adalah kerja yang saya suka dan kerja pertama adalah cabaran baru untuk saya. Oleh itu, saya terima.

Bila tiba akan ada kekosongan jawatan atasan akibat persaraan saya telah bersuara bahawa saya tidak berminat tapi saya mencadangkan bahawa kerja saya di perbesarkan untuk merangkumi kawasan lain. Saya tak kisah dan saya tahu saya tiada peluang pun tapi saya tidak suka kelemahan saya di jadikan alasan. Saya tahu apa orang cakap belakang saya tapi saya yakin dengan kekuatan saya dan saya kenali kelemahan saya. Saya terima satu panggilan talipon dari kawan yang telah di ‘headhunt’ untuk jawatan tersebut . Kawan saya tidak mahu jawatan itu kerana faktor usia tetapi dia merasa sangat marah kerana dia dapat tahu saya, dan orang-orang seperti saya tidak akan ada peluang untuk naik jawatan itu (headhunter minta dia beri cadangan calon lain yang ‘preferably’ serupa dengan dia). Saya tidak terkejut tapi saya terharu dia lebih marah dari saya. Saya masih ingat ayat dia “Eh. What’s wrong with your club ha?”

Saya ambil kelas malam lagi, belajar bahasa. Mahal untuk saya kerana ia adalah one-on-one. Tapi saya dapati ia sangat susah dan saya tahu juga ia tidak akan membawa apa apa perubahan di tempat kerja. Ia bukan tentang bahasa. So? Kenapa buang masa? Saya dapatkan kerja lain lah.

I refuse to be a victim. Fight it, or walk away. I choose to walk away. It will not be a battle I can win or make a difference. Why bother?

Saya dapat kerja di kelab yang lebih besar dan selepas itu, dapat kerja dari sebuah kelab yang terkenal tapi saya merasakan dah jemu dengan ini semua dan ingin kembali kerja di padang supaya saya boleh buat apa yang saya suka buat: jaga rumput dan jadi bos sendiri.

Saya jadi consultant. Tapi saya perlukan kelainan. Saya tak boleh tukar warna kulit tapi saya boleh tambah kelulusan dan kecekapan saya. Saya ambil periksa Pengendali Racun Makhluk Perosak dari Kementerian Pertanian, Kursus Penulisan di atas talian (http://suzannedoyleingram.com/) dan juga Masters in Environmental Science dari Universiti Terbuka Malaysia (oum.edu.my).

Will it make a difference? Honestly? Rezeki dari Tuhan. Bukan dari orang dan bukan dari kepingan kertas. But it makes me feel good to improve myself and prove other people wrong. I am not lazy. I am not stupid.

Bila saya rasa tercabar, saya akan periksa diri saya dan lihat di mana kelemahan saya dan perbaikinya. Complaining or whining won’t help. It will just make you feel like a victim and then you will feel helpless. And angry.

Never be a victim. Fight it or walk away. And when I say ‘Fight it’ I do not mean it ine literal sense. I mean that you find out what’s wrong and how you can be better or if there is a misunderstanding. Kita cari apa masalahnya dan bagaimana kita boleh jadi lebih baik atau mungkin ada salahfaham. If it is based on prejudice; trust me, any amount of fighting will only make the other party dig in and say they are right. Kalau ia berdasarkan prejudis, sebarang pergaduhan atau pertengkaran tidak akan membantu anda; ia hanya akan membuat pihak satu lagi kata mereka yang betul.

Walk away. Bila saya walk away, saya jimat tenaga dan saya kekal kawan dengan orang itu. Saya tidak rugi dan mereka tidak menang apa-apa. Saya berdoa satu hari nanti hati mereka akan terbuka dan boleh terima sesiapa sahaja berdasarkan pengetahuan dan kebolehan. Saya percaya lebih mudah untuk kita capai itu jika ia di buat secara damai dan menerima kelemahan dan memperbaiki diri.

Insya Allah.

Posted in Golf Course | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

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.

Posted in Golf club, Golf Course, Golf Course Superintendents | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Kota Permai or KLGCC?

Posted by mynormas on November 17, 2014

Well, Kota Permai have done it again; they have made their members and staff proud that they are again voted the best (or second best) golf club in Malaysia. I have no doubt whatsoever that they deserve it and I believe wholeheartedly that it is no mean feat; no easy task and I would like to congratulate them on their achievements.

Or was it the other way round? Did KLGCC win best golf course in Malaysia? Does it matter? As I see it, even if Horizon Hill (its the third nominee) were to be voted the best golf course in Malaysia this time around, KLGCC and Kota Permai will always be the top two golf courses in Malaysia; never mind the arguments about who decides or how many votes or what grounds, anyone who has played or visited either of the two clubs would not quibble about the details. They both are really good golf courses.

Oh. By the way, this post was written on Saturday and scheduled to appear on Monday, so I don’t really know who won yet. But the event I’m referring to is the Asian Pacific Golf Summit in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore November 14 and 15. Why do I write Saturday and post Monday? According to statistics, the time most people visit this website is early morning on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday so I don’t bother to post anything on other days.

So, my personal opinion is that the magazine that gives out this award should list out the top 5 clubs in Malaysia because really, the top 2 is already a foregone conclusion. Just tell us who are number 3, 4 and 5; to me, these clubs would be the real winners.

No, I am not irked or envious of these two clubs. I currently am free-lancing and don’t work at any particular golf club anymore and I am proud to say that I used to work at one of the two champion clubs and the other club’s superintendent was formerly a colleague of mine. He has learnt from me just as I have learnt from him. Whatever award they won makes me feel good.

Neither do I think that the success of the two clubs are due to bottomless or big budgets. I know of clubs that have  comparatively big budgets but wouldn’t come close to the standards of the two champions. No, their succes is the sum total of skill/professionalism of the Course Superintendent and staff of the Maintenance Department, the teamwork of the management/staff from other departments, the cooperation of the members/committees and the support of the bosses/owners.

I’ve seen clubs who, as soon as they were given money; they bought a fleet of new machines (common) or put in lights for night golf at the last three holes (true story) or put bigger pillars at the clubhouse (rumour) or bigger VIP rooms (its the VIP who released the money, presumably); even when the greens are crying out for renovation. Or the fairways badly needed drainage. Nope. Money helps, but it ain’t what makes these two clubs champions.

What this win reminds me of is a conversation I had with my kids when they were in primary school. I told them that their number or position in class are not important, because “if you are in a class with a lot of students that don’t really care about their performance, being number 1 simply means that you are the best among mediocre students, which may mean you are actually no better than the student who are number 20 in a class of high performers”. Well, words to that effect anyway; they were 7 or 8 years old then, plus I’m improvising to match the situation now; I wouldn’t be using those exact words but you get what I’m saying.

What I am trying to say is that I sincerely believe Kota Permai and KLGCC should be aiming for higher and competing at a bigger stage by now. Ya, ya, they call you the best club in Malaysia; accept the title, that fact actually is beyond doubt even if you don’t get that award anymore! Unless conditions deteriorates for the next few years, Kota Permai and KLGCC are already ranked as the best clubs in Malaysia, so move on. Take the award but pour energy into being recognised at a world level, is my point.

I know, I know, Kota Permai and KLGCC has won other international awards for example being voted the top 10 golf course in Asia Pacific or the top 100 clubs in 205 countries respectively (among many others I’m sure) but I believe the celebrations, pride, honour and PR for these achievements should exceed the celebrations for being the best course (or 2nd best) in Malaysia.

Except for once in a while, in a tournament or two, here or there, this boy or that girl will win and make Malaysian golf proud for a while, then they’re gone; we don’t have a golf personality recognised world-wide! Wouldn’t it be nice to have one, or two Malaysian golf clubs famous all over the region, if not the world?

A few years ago I remember seeing someone in Saujana wearing this t-shirt that say ‘Top 500 Courses in the World’ (or was it 100? or 1000?) and because there are an estimated 35,000 golf courses in the world that would make him prouder than being number 1 in Malaysia (estimated number; 200),

I would also like to call on other clubs in Malaysia to step up their maintenance and be in the same league as these two. Especially clubs like Tropicana, Glenmarie, Penang Golf Club, Sutera Harbour, etc that are not far behind in terms of quality and even expectation.

Okay, I’ve heard the excuses too; “these award are based on votes and I don’t have the votes” or “the awards have no meaning” (this usually comes from the losers) but really? Or try this “The awards thing is a PR game lah”. So you mean your maintenance is the same like Kota Permai and KLGCC and you lost only because you can’t do the PR? Hmm…

Whatever, but you’re already maintaining the course, so why not take a few more steps and make the maintenace a little bit better? Perhaps step up the PR game too if thats what you really believe.

Raise the whole standard of Malaysian golf courses lah. Make Kota Permai and KLGCC work harder to retain the title, which they should already be blase about anyway already (“Another best-golf-course-in-Malaysia title? Yawn. Fine, put them in the cabinet with the others”).

Perhaps Kota Permai and KLGCC need not worry about the numbers game (No 23 in the world or Top 3,000 or Best of UN countries or whatever) anymore; it could also be a leadership or brand of some kind. For example, the Audubon certification – an environmental thing for golf courses all over the world.

Then perhaps, just perhaps, it adds impetus or momentum to the other smaller clubs to also up their game. Maybe it’s a long shot, but whats to lose? At the very least, we will get two world-class golf clubs and a few other clubs that can actually vie for the Malaysian best golf club title.

Posted in Golf club, Golf Course | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

The Big Small Things

Posted by mynormas on September 11, 2014

Contrary to popular belief, usually, the greens are the easiest problems for me to help with. Usually, the current superintendents know what to do and just need some encouragement or pointers. Even if they don’t know what to do, they’ll be eager to listen and follow. Plus if it came to the stage that my help is needed, that usually means the club are willing to spend money and sacrifice time to make things better. Maybe occasionally some major replanting are needed but these aren’t often.

Sometimes it’s not about making things better too, but just to redraw the lines, clarify some stuff; usually about green speed. You know some clubs just chase after that extra six inches of speed by cutting low and rolling hard.

So give it three months or at worst a year, the greens would improve and then what?

Greens improvemnt

Thats when I get to do what to me is the harder part; to change what most clubs and staff have already been used to or did not put as priority.

Honestly, I really did not think that the small things are the difficult things. The cleanliness by the buggy path, the paint at the halfway huts. The landscaping at the starter huts. The sand bins. The painting of the tee markers. The flag pins. The kerb edges etc.

Kerbs are visible. A little effort in maintaining it goes a long way.

Kerbs are visible. A little effort in maintaining it goes a long way.

In the beginning of the contract the boss and even the owner would want to know what my recommendations are or at least have a meal with me. When the greens are better I am usually left with just the superintendent. Not that its bad, but without having the boss’ ear, it is a little harder to make changes.

Some days, I think that not doing the improvement too fast may be a better idea. Make the work last longer… you know what I mean?

Posted in Golf club, Golf Course, Golf Course Superintendents, Greens, lovegrass, Maintenance, Padang, Padang Golf | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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