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Posts Tagged ‘golf course superintendent’

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 »

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…

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

A winner

Posted by mynormas on April 21, 2016

I was at a client club the other day going round the course with the superintendent. I was in crisis mode because their green no. 2 had the highest number of insects per square meter I’ve ever seen. Plus the hot weather was thinning out the other greens.

On one green, we met a flight of golfers and I as usual try to be unobtrusive without being unfriendly; a nod here, a smile there and a thumbs-up where appropriate. One of them approach us “Whatcha doing? Checking the greens?” he asked. “Yes” I whispered (one of his friend was putting). “The greens are quite fast now” he said. “Really?!” I said, wide-eyed. “Yes, really, it really is different from what it was before” or words to that effect. I’m assuming the ‘it’ he was referring to was the whole golf course.

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Just another green in another day on another golf course…

I pushed the superintendent to the front “Here’s the guy responsible for it. All his work” The golfer nodded to the super and the super was unsure of how to respond but I suppose it’s safe to say he was pretty proud and he should be.

He only has one triplex greensmower for 19 greens. That same mower is used for dethatching and rolling. One tractor pulled fairway mower, one unreliable front deck mower, one bunker raker and nine workers; four of which works for only half of the day. He mows his tees with backpack brushcutters. He fertilises his greens with slow-release greens’ grade fertiliser alternating with big-prilled oil palm fertiliser.

He has been working at the same course since the day it was planted with grass, in fact, he was one of the workers doing the planting. He stayed on through a few management changes and rose up through the ranks.

He doesn’t speak English and he doesn’t have formal training or even much education, what he has is a good attitude. He takes notes of almost everything that I said (doesn’t necessarily mean he does everything) and asks questions if he doesn’t understand. He is not afraid of trials and tests which I have come to fear more than he does but there were a few chemicals that I am using now that I learnt from him. He doesn’t complain or whine and he definitely does not have the victim mentality.

What he has achieved came through a victor mentality of wanting to try anything new.

Sure, the greens and even the course may not be much to KL folks but considering the resources he has, the location of the club and the price golfers pay; I think the club did well to improve the course and at least this flight of golfers agree.

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Those black things? Those are the bugs.

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

Tanah hydrophobia

Posted by mynormas on April 13, 2016

“Tanah hydrophobia” ialah cadangan terjemahan yang saya dapat dari PRPM milik Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka bila saya tanya tentang ‘hydrophobic soil’ iaitu tanah yang takut atau anti air. Pernah kah anda menyiram pada halaman atau padang anda dengan air yang cukup banyak tetapi ia masih lagi kering? Orang tuduh anda tidak siram sedangkan anda siram? Mungkin tanah anda adalah tanah hydrophobia; ia tidak telap air (terjemahan water repellent juga dari PRPM DBP) maka natijah dari penyiraman anda ialah rumput tetap kering tapi lumut mula naik. Atau mungkin anda pernah alami penyiraman yang air tidak meresap ke dalam tanah tetapi mengalir di atas permukaan sahaja?

“Sifat hydrophobia tanah boleh melewatkan penyerapan air ke dalam tanah untuk jangkamasa dari beberapa saat hinggalah ke berminggu minggu. Tanah hydrophobia di katakan di sebabkan utamanya dari salutan molekul organik ke atas partikel tanah. Molekul organik ini mungkin datang dari tumbuhan, bahan reput, hidupan atau mikro-organisma bawah tanah atau jika selepas tanah terbakar. Sifat hydrophobia berubah ubah, menyebabkan ia sukar di ramal dan di perhati. Ia boleh di lihat selepas waktu kemarau yang panjang dan hilang bila musim hujan bermula” Perenggan di atas di petik dari sebuah artikel dari Jabatan Geografi, Swansea University.

Bagaimana boleh kita atasi sifat hydrophobia ini? Kita boleh guna cara mekanikal iaitu dengan menggunakan benda tajam untuk menebuk permukaan tanah itu seperti cara Pengudaraan Halaman atau Pengudaraan Padang.

Satu cara lagi ialah dengan menggunakan Agen Pembasah, yang tiada kena mengena dengan agen pembelasah seperti James Bond, Jason Bourne, Jack Bauer, Jack Bristow, Justin Bieber dan sebagainya.

Apa itu Agen Pembasah atau wetting agent? (Kita bincang tengan agen pembelasah dengan nama initial JB di lain tempat). Agen pembasah ialah bahan sebatian yang membantu air untuk melawan sifat tanah yang hydrophobia. Tapi awas! Bukan semua wetting agent adalah sama.Kalau silap sembur, rumput boleh mati, seperti kawan saya seorang ni

Untuk mengetahui lebih lanjut tentang wetting agent, sila lah ke seminar yang PERCUMA jika anda ahli GCSAM, RM50 jika anda adalah affiliate MGA (Malaysian Golf Association) dan hanya RM100 jika anda bukan ahli di Bukit Jalil Golf and CC pada 9.00 pagi 19 April. Tempat adalah terhad jadi hubungi GCSAM di nombor yang tertera di bawah.

Posted in Fields, Golf Course, Golf Course Superintendents, Landscape, Padang, Padang Bola, Padang Golf, stadium, Taman | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 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 »

Cheap maintenance

Posted by mynormas on January 28, 2016

“Times are bad and it will get worse this year” I hear that like almost every alternate year but yet here we are. “Really! It will be worse this year!” Ya. Ok! I hear you! Like I heard you in 2008 and 1998 too. “Was the budget amended in 2008 or 1998?” Hmm… maybe you have a point. Maybe your golf course is not that badly hit yet or you think its immune or if someone really wants to buy your hole 5 for the right price, the management would sell it but I’d like to share some ways of saving costs without sacrificing too much quality in golf course maintenance.

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The Malaysian government is amending their budget on the 28th January 2016. How many clubs are amending their budgets? How many golf courses have taken another look at their budgets in view of rising costs, reduced demands and increasing competition? You may argue that some golf clubs are closing down so there will be less competition but the existing golf course will be going after the same golfers as you are. Some will take the easy way out and reduce prices though I’ve heard of one golf club that want to increase their green fees.

From experience, many golf clubs will cut their maintenance budget because that is easily the biggest expense for the club. But as golfers paying green fees or as a member paying dues you don’t really want your golf course standard to deteriorate and let it be blamed on the economic situation do you? So you would expect the club – if they don’t want to lose you as a customer – to take other measures to cut costs right? At the same time, you don’t want to pay higher green fees or more subscription too.

Experienced Superintendents will have a few things they can do on the golf course to help on the cut-backs without much disruption on your golf game. Unfortunately some of them will choose from these options after they have recovered from their initial knee-jerk reaction they took or were forced to take.

  1. Clean out the store.

Big club or small club; I have yet to find a golf course store that does not have left-over fertiliser or chemicals. They are left behind because they bought one tonne of fertiliser when what they need for 18 holes was actually 0.8 tonne or perhaps the new guy has a different idea than the previous guy or there is a new trend or for whatever reason; most of the time; those few bags of fertiliser or chemicals pushed to the back of the store can still be used.

Your Superintendent won’t mix different fertilisers or chemicals on one hole or green, though I see no harm using different types on different holes as long as they calculate the nutrients or active ingredient to be more or less the same for every hole.

Always read the label! I almost advised someone to use the herbicide DSMA on greens once, believing it to be fungicide until I saw the label on the sack underneath it. If in doubt; I will prefer to tell the storekeeper to waste it.

  1. Small is beautiful.

Your Superintendent may reduce the areas that he/she needs to maintain. I would not recommend shrinking the greens but there are other areas that can be considered.

Sacrifice the OBs or out-of-play areas.

There are usually areas in the rough that are far enough from play that the maintenance crew can let it go wild. This will cut down on man and machinery hours. Save on manpower, diesel, machinery wear-and-tear and spare-parts. The Superintendent could let it become an ‘environmentally sensitive area’ or just let it become a wild rough. Look at it this way; your Superintendent is training you to hit straight.

For aesthetic value or if there is intention to bring the rough back to normal, once a month they may send a team of people to poison or cut new woody growth (including what Planters call ‘volunteer oil palms’) and creepers. Nothing ruins the ‘natural look’ more than the sight of short oil palms and big-leaf creepers creeping or hanging from trees.  You don’t really want your rough to look like a haunted forest.

If slow play becomes an issue because of ‘lost balls’ then they may do what I did once; put up a “Beware of Snakes” sign. Believe you me; even after knowing its purpose, even after knowing that for the past 10 years no one has seen snakes in that hole, no golfer will dare venture into knee-high rough looking for golf balls when they see that sign. It’s a psychology thing.

Reduce the fairways.

Fairways are a source of expenditure by virtue of the fertiliser and effort required to maintain it. In some areas, your Superintendent may shrink the fairways into rough.

Your Superintendent can’t really reduce the width of your fairways but he can shorten it up to the point where the slope rating measurements are taken, and it is possible to take out the fairways on a par 3. I once took out all the fairways on a golf course par 3s though on one long par 3, I increased the size of the approach since it is cut with the collar-mower. Collar; I cannot not have, fairway; I can. So collar I make slightly bigger, huge fairway I take out. Save money on big fairway mower operating hours and fertiliser.

  1. Use the expensive fertiliser.

What?! Some of you might ask. Well this is where I’m sure your Superintendent will insist – and I would agree – not to cut: slow-release fertiliser. At least for the greens. It comes in many types; polymer-coated, sulfur-coated, polymer-sulfur coated, long-chain methylene ureas, etc and all are more expensive than your normal ordinary routine regular standard fertiliser, some more than others. Believe it or not, using the expensive fertilisers will save money. I have to mention these because this is what management will demand first: buy the cheapest one!

Using cheaper quick release ordinary fertiliser may mean losing the nutrients by leaching or evaporation especially in our weather; these problems are supposed to be taken care of by the technologies of the new slow-release fertilisers. Use expensive fertiliser and more of the nutrients will get into the grass and you can also reduce your fertilizing frequency and amount of fertiliser.

Your Superintendent shouldn’t get into the habit of using cheap fertilisers, they are like cheap vitamins. As I always say; cheap vitamins equals expensive urine like cheap fertiliser equals expensive drainage water; the nutrients comes out with the liquid. Of course, bad fertilizing practices can cause that too but that is material for another article. Contact me for more information about it by emailing me at mynormasATconsultant.com replacing AT with @.

  1. Be more scientific and specific.

If the economic pressure does not let-up and the golf course starts to feel that it will soon need to mortgage hole 14 to the local Ahlong loanshark, there is another way to save on fertiliser cost. Your Superintendent may want to ask you for some money to do soil tests to determine how much nutrient is in the soil and maybe even tissue tests too to determine the connection between what’s in the soil and what’s taken up. He would take another look at plant requirements of the grass. Dr Micah  Woods of Asian Turfgrass Center has released guidelines for minimum levels  for sustainable nutrition that he calls umm… Minimum Levels for Sustainable Nutrition or MLSN  and apply just enough fertiliser the turfgrass needs to avoid wastage.

Amazingly, there are still golf courses that fertilise their greens by “one bag for each green method” or 15 bags for 18 +1 greens (perhaps because some greens are just too small to justify one bag). Measure your greens or at the very least: calibrate your spreaders! Then you can be accurate and consistent in your fertilising.

  1. Get a second opinion

You may see a new person going round your golf course poking and scratching on the grass. This may mean that your golf club has hired a consultant. A person who could look at the whole thing from a new perspective may be a good option, right? Having looked at the same thing for years may dull one’s objectivity, so a fresh set of eyes will be useful.

I like poking and probing

I like poking and probing

The best kind of consultant the club can get is one who has actually survived the economic crisis of the late 1990s and 2008 and has worked on both side of the fence; the side that asks for money and the side that wants to cut costs.

How does this save on costs? By looking at the golf course from a different view, he may see all the cost-cutting measures that the Superintendent does not have the heart to cut. Or he could identify a wasteful habit that was not noticed before.

Contact me now to find out more how I can help you save cost by emailing me at mynormasATconsultant.com replacing AT with @

  1. Renovate!

This is one suggestion that is going to fly in the face of convention. Why would anyone renovate a golf course during an economic crisis and call it a cost-saving measure? Well, look at it from the management point of view; traffic is going to be low, some materials’ prices are going to be cheap and some contractors want work.

The management would not want to be dragged into a green fee price war with the neighbouring clubs and if they do cut their prices, at least they can feel justified that it is partly because the golf course is literally, a work-in-progress. If the golf course across the street yells at you “Why are you setting your green fees so low?!” you can tell him “Relax bro, chill, I got three temporary greens, I have to sell cheap”

That reasoning may not go down well with some of you but let’s face it – unless you are the kinda guy who believes that “the end is near” or “the sky is falling” and is ready to jump a bridge soon – times will get better and there will be golfers with money to spend when the economy improves and they will be heading to the newly renovated and improved golf course which will be in the best position to increase green fee prices.

Add to that fact some suppliers and contractors will be reducing prices perhaps to get their stock moving or to get some quick money or to improve cash flow; now would be a good time for the club to get a good bargain.

Of course, all this is relevant only if the club has money in the bank for the work. Or now would be the time membership clubs to beg the Trustee for the use of the sinking fund.

  1. Buy that machine.

What if you really, really, really need to buy a machine? Should you defer? Why? You think it’s going to get cheaper next year or in the following year? Perhaps the currency exchange will improve but by then the machinery price may go up due to inflation and between now and then the costs of repairing your existing junk may eat into whatever amount you think you’re saving and you could end up spending more money in total while at the same time, the aggravation of operating and maintaining that junk eats into your staff’s productivity (and the golf course’s quality).

In the meantime, do consider that the machinery supplier is desperate to sell his machine too and may be willing to offer discounts or longer warranty or maybe even free parts. If he/she is corrupt and offer you kickbacks tell him to reduce the price of the machine even more or tell him to never set foot in your office again. Don’t deal with people like that; you’ll be indebted and trust me, the industry is small enough that words get around. Yes, you, we do know about you and how much you got. Shame on you for giving the rest of us a bad name.

Should you go for reconditioned/used machinery? My experience says no, not unless your golf course is right next to the supplier’s workshop and he can service you. I’ve seen reconditioned machine that work for only a week before the engine fell off; it wasn’t bolted on, it was welded on and when the machine worked for a week, the vibration broke the weld. Of course, I shouldn’t generalise, no one should; send your mechanic with your accountant to look at the machines before deciding. Who knows? Maybe there exist honest second-hand machinery dealers…

For fairway or rough mowers, you could try using a mini-tractor with mowing implements. That way, when you finally got a budget and you can finally afford a machine that the superintendent dreamt of, the tractor can be used for other works. They’re like one third or half the price of a five-gang mower anyway, plus almost any mechanic worth the job-title can repair a tractor.

By the way, there’s this friend of mine who wants to sell of some pre-loved machinery. No, I’m not contradicting myself; these are not reconditioned, these are from the days when golf courses in US are leasing their machines for two or three years and then returning them back the leaser. She managed to get a fleet of them and wants to sell them off. Let me know if you are interested by emailing me at mynormasATconsultant.com and replacing AT with @.

8. Train your staff.

What? “This guy is off his rocker” you say. No money coming in and you want me to spend on my staff who may leave? Well, firstly, I have always considered staff training as an investment, not an expense so you won’t get my sympathy but what the heck, I’ll give you face; secondly I assure you, when handling machinery worth hundreds of thousands of ringgit and applying chemicals/fertilisers on a golf course worth millions of ringgit to build, keeping untrained workers are more expensive compared to training workers and then they leave.

Are you part of the problem or are you part of the solution?

Are you part of the problem or are you part of the solution?

By the way, if you are one of those companies that have been contributing to the Malaysian Human Resource Ministry’s Development Fund or HRDF, this may be the time to use those for training. Ask your HR manager for more info.

If you want to focus on staff training for the golf club, contact someone with more than 22 years of experience in the industry and has a Train-the-Trainer certificate at O3-5I3I OO66 or mynormasATconsultant.com replacing AT with @.

The above list is just some of the things I have done for the golf courses I’ve worked with. Your Superintendent, who knows your golf course infinitely better and are more intimately familiar with the management may have other options he or she will look at.

All they ask is for is some understanding if you see some decline in the golf course standard. They don’t like it any more than you do; it is their reputation on the line. Sometimes some of the cuts were forced on them; it has happened to me too due to management knee-jerk responses when I was a Superintendent. Sometimes we just have to follow instructions even if we don’t agree. When I was part a general manager, I do the knee-jerk responses and expect the staff to follow instructions even if they don’t agree… Hey! I have a budget to balance you know, otherwise I may really have to sell Hole 5.

Contact me at 03-5[31-OO66 or email me at mynormasATconsultant.com replacing AT with @.

Posted in Golf club, Golf Course, Golf Course Superintendents | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Meet Azmi

Posted by mynormas on November 3, 2015

Have you ever met a local worker that feels lunchtime is a waste of time and consistently works through it? When that was brought to my attention a few months ago, I had thought it was only during the busy periods or maybe a once a month kind of phenomena, but it turns out he has been doing it for years. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Encik Azmi bin Mat Ali. Pernahkah anda berjumpa dengan pekerja tempatan yg merasakan waktu makan adalah ‘buang masa’? Kenali Encik Azmi bin Mat Ali. Pertama kali saya mendengarnya, saya sangka ia berlaku jarang-jarang sekali atau hanya jika tekanan kerja memerlukan, rupanya dia telah melakukannya secara diam, tanpa meminta balasan atau pujian selama bertahun tahun.. 

A father of three and a 17-year veteran of the golf course industry, he says that he would rather work through lunch because ‘stopping mid-way and going back to the workshop is a waste of time’ and he feels that he might just as well finish what he started which is primarily, mowing fairways.

Azmi

Azmi

In the Malaysian context, a golf course machinery operator can usually operate only one or two machines. Not Azmi, he can operate several and ‘given the tools, I can make adjustments to the cutting unit too’. Some superintendents, the foreign ones especially, may find this laughably mundane and strange to be unique but in Malaysia where many clubs use transient migrant workers as machine operators, this is unique. Working through lunch hour consistently would make him an abnormality especially with the attitude of many in the industry today, whether from the management or even from the workers side.

The management thinks that the local workers are not reliable and hardworking (which usually means work long hours; productivity be damned), and the workers usually have entitlement issues (like “I am entitled to this” kind of thing). Both are right in their own way; the problem comes when they fail to see issues from the perspective of the ‘other side’.

Back to Azmi, he mows fairways of nine holes in one day, without overtime. Again, some may think that is normal but I have worked in a golf course with machine operators that took two days or more to finish nine holes.  It took me about two months to untrain and retrain one particular worker; he’s not stupid, just not trained hence not productive. It would be easier to just give him overtime to finish the job and if he can’t, because he has to pick up kids after school, to call him lazy. I chose the hard way.

Personally, I feel that management needs to move away from the mentality that golf course maintenance is just cutting grass (to which I mean the workers need to be trained: either send them for training or send your superintendent/supervisors to a specialized/shortened Train the Trainer program) and I also feel that workers needs to move away from the mentality of ‘I’m just a grass cutter’ and as long as ‘cukup makan (just enough to eat), I’m fine’, whether in terms of knowledge or skill or contribution. We seem to be satisfied with what we have except for salary though, everyone wants a big salary increment every year, even if what we can do (skills, knowledge and contribution) this year compared to last year, in fact, every year is the same.  We want a bigger increment because we are still breathing?

As workers, we claim that we deserve better pay because of our 10 years’ experience but if we take a closer look at our ’10 years’, it is actually one year’s experience repeated 10 times or at best, two years’ experience repeated five times. We need to get over our entitlement issues, to be respected and to be able to claim for better pay or promotion, we need to be able to show our skill, knowledge and contribution is increasing over the years.

Secara peribadi, saya ber pendapat bahawa majikan perlu mempunyai mentality yg ber beza dari ‘pekerja padang hanya lah tukang potong rumput; siapa siapa pun boleh buat’; sebaliknya memikirkan untuk menambah produktiviti, pengetahuan dan kebulehan pekerja dengan cara menghantar mereka ke sesi latihan luar ataupun menghantar pegawai atas ke sesi ‘ Train the Trainer’ di reka khusus untuk mereka supaya mereka boleh menjadi pengajar yg lebih baik. Pastikan semua kursus di ‘tailor made’ utk kakitangan anda dan bukan sebarang kursus untuk awam.

Untuk pekerja pula, kita harus menjauhi pemikiran ‘cukup makan’ dan berpuashati dengan sumbangan, pengetahuan dan kebolehan kita. Kita tak berpuashati dengan pendapatan kita, kita mahukan kenaikan besar setiap tahun sedangkan sumbangan, pengetahuan dan kebolehan kita pada tahun ini – malah setiap tahun – sama sahaja. Jadi kenapa kita mahukan kenaikan besar? Kerana kita masih bernafas?

Kita mengaku kita ada pengalaman 10 tahun, tapi bila diteliti, kita dapati pengalaman kita adalah satu tahun di ulang 10 kali ataupun pengalaman dua tahun di ulang lima kali. Pada saya, untuk mendapat penghormatan dan hak untuk demand kenaikan kita harus tingkatkan sumbangan, kebolehan atau pengetahuan kita. Pada saya, pembohongan dari majikan bukanlah tentang kenaikan gaji 3% atau 5% setiap tahun, tetapi kegagalan mereka utk memberi ruang dan peluang kepada pekerja meningkatkan ilmu dan kebolehan lantas mengurang peluang pekerja mencari majikan baru (yang mungkin boleh memberi kenaikan lebih) sekaligus memerangkap mereka dalam perbincangan atau rundingan tapi kekal di satu tempat kerja. Pekerja pula mengambil jalan mudah dengan memilih mentality mangsa dan tidak mengambil tanggungjawab untuk destiny sendiri sebaliknya menyerahkan kepada dan menyalahkan org lain: Lebih mudah utk merungut dan mengadu pada bulan Januari daripada berusaha untuk peningkatan diri dari Februari hingga Disember.

Azmi’s employer told me that if he ever asks for leave, they would immediately approve – mainly because he rarely applies for one anyway – and that they have been generous in his annual increments because of his dedication to his duty and to his work. He may not be the perfect example in terms of knowledge and skill, but in terms of dedication and responsibility, his employers know they can depend on him and has rewarded him accordingly.

You may have your own stories of dedication and hard work; I’ve always liked to highlight such stories to inspire and perhaps debunk prejudices so do share with us. If your story is about how you were treated unfairly, trust us, you’re not the only one; but the rest of us just refuse to be victims.

Majikan Azmi memberitahu saya bahawa mereka akan segera meluluskan cuti beliau jika dipohon, selalunya dia jarang memohon cuti pun dan mereka merasakan mereka lebih mudah untuk bermurah hati sewaktu mempertimbangkan kenaikan gaji tahunan untuk beliau kerana kebolehan dan dedikasinya. Dia mungkin bukan contoh terbaik untuk menggambarkan kebolehan dan pengetahuan pekerja, tetapi majikan nya tahu dia boleh di harap dari segi dedikasi dan tanggungjawab.

Anda mungkin ada kisah dan cerita tentang pekerja ber dedikasi anda sendiri, saya berharap anda tidak keberatan untuk berkongsi. Jika cerita anda adalah tentang ketidakadilan, percayalah kami yang lain semua pernah mengalaminya, cuma kami memilih  untuk tidak memiliki pemikiran mangsa.

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

Apa itu Topsoil?

Posted by mynormas on October 28, 2015

Apa itu topsoil? Ia adalah sejenis bahan yang di gemari dan dijadikan sebagaI piawaian utk kebanyakan padang di Malaysia. Apa hikmatnya yang ia mesti di gunakan dalam pembinaan padang sebelum ia di luluskan oleh agensi kerajaan atau pihak berkuasa tempatan? Hampir setiap spesifikasi atau Bill of Quantity untuk pembinaan padang milik kerajaan yang saya lihat akan mempunyai ‘top soil’  sebagai lapisan atas sebelum rumput di tanam. Di bawahnya biasanya adalah lapisan pasir untuk membantu saliran air.

Partikel partikel pasir duduk situ diam diam, air boleh lalu, takde masalah...

Partikel partikel pasir duduk situ diam diam, air boleh lalu, takde masalah…

Kenapa kita menggunakan top soil? Tradisi, mungkin. Hampir 30 tahun dulu, sewaktu saya masih menuntut di UPM, kami di ajar, ketika mengorek lubang untuk menanam pokok, untuk meletak tanah bahagian atas lubang di sebelah kanan, bahagian bawah lubang di sebelah kiri dan selepas anak pokok dimasukkan ke dalam, tanah di kanan akan di masukkan ke dalam kerana ia di anggap lebih subur.  Itu lah dia top soil atau tanah atas dalam kefahaman dan pengalaman saya. Kenapa? Kerana proses penguraian dan pereputan bahan bahan organic seperti tumbuhan, haiwan, cacing, serangga dan sebagainya menghasilkan nutrient utk tumbuhan baru. Proses  penguraian dan pereputan ini juga bermaksud kehadiran mikrob yg bermanafaat. Top soil juga dilihat sebagai mampu memegang nutrient dan air yang tak mampu di buat oleh pasir.

Soalan saya ialah: utk membina sebuah padang bola, kawasan mana yg juga sebesar padang bola akan di korek utk mendapatkan top soil? Kawasan yg sama? Bukankah kawasan tersebut ada lah kawasan yg penuh dengan rumput liar? Tiada kah kemungkinan bijibenih atau bahagian vegetatif seperti stolon, rhizome atau akar yg masih ada di top soil itu seterusnya akan tumbuh sebagai rumpai di padang baru iti di masa akan datang?

Saya masih ingat hampir 30 tahun lalu, pensyarah Sains Tanah saya, En Peli bin Mat, berpesan bahawa “tanah satu kaki persegi di sini akan mempunyai sifat dan ciri yang berbeza dari tanah satu kaki persegi di sebelahnya”. Saya tidak ada sebab utk meragui En Peli jadi saya tidak faham bagaimana kita boleh guna ‘topsoil’ utk asas penanaman kawasan sebesar padang bola; tidak kah kita mengambil risiko tanah seluas padang kita mempunyai kesuburan dan sifat yang berbeza? Kerana kita telah menggunakan topsoil dari pelbagai ‘satu kaki persegi’? Tidak kah nanti sebelah kiri padang lebih subur dari sebelah kanan, dan sebelah belakang padang lebih keras dari sebelah tengah dan sebagainya?

sand particle+topsoil

Sekarang, tanpa di jemput, selapis ‘topsoil’ yg mempunyai saiz partikel yg halus, di letak atas pasir. Tak lama, partikel halus akan ‘migrate’ ke bawah dan sumbat aliran air. Dalam ‘topsoil’ itu juga mempunyai benih rumpai.

Apa yg saya biasa lihat juga ialah tanah liat yg tak di ketahui asal usulnya di panggil sebagai ‘top soil’ dan oleh kerana tanah liat mempunyai saiz partikel yg lebih kecil dari pasir, ia akan berhijrah (migrate) ke dalam pasir dan menyumbat ruang yg menjadi tempat air mengalir dan akan menyebabkan padang basah.

Tanah liat yang menjadi keras bila di roll dan lembik di musim hujan adalah punca kebanyakan masalah padang di Malaysia walaupun padang tersebut di tambah dengan longkang subtanah. Diburukkan lagi jika longkang subtanah itu dibalut dengan kain geotextile kerana partikel yang sangat halus pada topsoil akan menutup lubang lubang pada kain geotextile dan longkang akan tidak lagi berfungsi.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Padang ini sangat basah. Saya telah mengorek diatas longkang subtanah dan mendapati ‘topsoil’ telah menjadi keras dan tidak berguna.

Saya ada dua cadangan.

  1. berpegang kepada prinsip prinsip ‘biar mati anak, jangan mati adat’ atau ‘copy paste lebih senang’ atau ‘saya hanya menurut arahan, bukan fikiran’ dan kita masih lagi akan menggunakan ‘top soil’ maka saya cadangkan: ada kan spesifikasi tepat tentang top soil terutama nya saiz partikel dan kehadiran benih rumpai. Kedua dua nya memerlukan bukti, yg pertama ialah dengan menghantar nya ke makmal atas tanggungan kontraktor kedua ialah demgan menyimpan sampel top soil dalam balang selama dua minggu dan lihat apa yg tumbuh.
  2. Gunakan cara ‘root zone’ iaitu campuran bahan bahan specific utk mencapai sifat tanah yg kita mahu. Contohnya, 90% pasir, 5% bahan organic yg boleh reput, dan 5% amendment yg kekal seperti zeolite atau cocopeat atau sekam padi. Bahan organc akan membekalkan nutrisi sama macam top soil, malah lebih sekata dan soil amendment itu akan memegang air utk pihak pasir. Semua ini hanya perlu di bahagian 4-6 inci ter atas dimana majority akar akan berada. Bawahnya pasir. Atau gunakanlah apa-ap campuran pun; janji tanah itu sekata kesuburan (atau keTIDAKsuburannya), sifat dan ciri di seluruh padang. Padang itu akan lebih senang di urus.

Tapi tak lengkap rasanya kalau tiada rujukan, dan ada orang yang kalau takde orang putih cakap, dia tak percaya, jadi silakan senarai di bawah. Sebagai ganti topsoil pun boleh lhat di bawah atau Google “Root zone for athletic fields” sendiri (jangan kata saya tak bagi alternative lain)

  1. “The Shocking Truth about Topsoil” dari Michigan State University http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/the_shocking_truth_about_topsoil
  2. “Topsoil 101” http://What www.bhg.com/gardening/yard/soil/topsoil/
  3. “What is topsoil? Definition and Composition” http://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-topsoil-definition-composition-uses.html
  4. “Purchasing Topsoil” dari University of New Hampshire. Ini lagi best; dia warning tentang racun yang masih ada dalam topsoil akan memberi kesan dalam tumbuhan akan datang.  http://extension.unh.edu/resources/representation/Resource000492_Rep514.pdf
  5. “Topsoil Quality Guidelines for Landscaping” dari Utah State University http://forestry.usu.edu/files/ uploads/AGSO02.pdf
  6. “Sand-based Athletic Fields”  dari Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sand-based_athletic_fields
  7. “Root zones for High Traffic Turfgrass Areas” dari Ohio State University http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/ss540/chapters/SWSGCch6.pdf
  8. “Selecting Sand-Dominated Rootzones for Sports Fields” dari Penn State University  http://www.sportsbuilders.org/events/presentations/Orlando_2C.pdf
  9. “Rootzone” dari Sports Turf Managers Association atau STMA  http://www.stma.org/sites/stma/files/Technical_Resources/Rootzone.pdf
  10. “Managing Soil vs Sand Sports Fields” Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ontario, Canada.  http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/soilsand.htm

 

Untuk maklumat lanjut tentang penjagaan padang; hubungi saya di mynormasATconsultant.com (gantikan AT dengan @) atau talipon O3-5I3I OO66 dan biarkan ia berdering lama. 

Untuk mengetahui ilmu penjagaan rumput seterusnya, “Follow” laman web ini dengan memasukkan email anda di bahagian atas sebelah kanan. Saya biasa menulis satu atau dua kali sahaja setiap bulan. 

Sila sudi klik gambar iklan di bawah artikel in, ia adalah sumber pendapatan untuk laman web ini. Terima kasih.

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Posted in Golf Course, Padang, Padang Bola | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Pekerja Mahir

Posted by mynormas on September 7, 2015

In my experience and from what I’ve seen; very few Malaysian golf course staff are actually formally trained. I define ‘formally trained’ as a period of time be it 10 minutes or 10 days or more where a staff is taught on what he does, where he does it, why and the machinery by a qualified or suitably experienced staff.

More often than not, a staff that stands out will be selected to operate a small machine, fo example, a bunker rake or a mini tractor. He would then gradually be told to use a bigger machine over time. This actually is good practice, except for the fact that for some of them, this would be the first machine (and for some foreign workers, they have never operatted a motorbike before) they have ever used.

How does he learn how to operate the machines? An operator who has previously operated the machine. Nothing wrong with that. Except that the same thing happened with that operator too a few years ago (sometimes a few weeks ago).

So he does not know about safety protocols whether about the machine or the areas he will be mowing. He is ignorant about machinery maintenance and the finer points of mowing. Not for long of course, remember the staff member selected is usually relatively the brightest of them there and so he does not take long to adapt and to learn from his mistakes. Yet I still see ‘experienced’ operators that mow muddy fairways, making a bad situation worse. Ok maybe that is not bad training per se but also shows a lack of common sense and/or a bad attitude.

20, 15 years ago I used to hire staff from the agriculture institute of Malaysia or IPM where they graduated with a certificate in agriculture. This used to be a three-year course where they learnt about plants agronomy, nutrition and also agriculture machinery and engines. The best part is that they are able to operate a tractor and change a tractor’s implements. It may not be that much relevant on a golf course but by the time they are on my golf course, the bunker rake is not the first machine they operate. Get it?

Unfortunately, by now their sylllabus has been changed to a two year course with the final semester being ‘practical training’ off-campus. The syllabus is now more modern with enterpreneurial and computer skils added. Good for them, but of not much use for me.

In a recent talk I gave to a group of people interested in setting up a training facility, I outlined the importance of skilled workers in the field mantenance industry (note I did not say ‘golf course maintenance industry’) where the best reason is that there is a better possibility of improving the golf course quality with skilled workers. The least important reason, I suppose, is reducing the number of foreign workers in Malaysia.

However, there are hindrances that I foresee. Big hindrances. This project of training skilled workers will not work if the employers; the golf courses, the fields, the contractors are not supportive of it. There will be plenty of reasons or excuses; those can be overcome. High turnover, high mobility, cannot work hard (read: cannot work long hours), unreliable etc, can be overcome. What will be more difficult is overcoming the notion that field maintenance is just ‘cutting grass’.

Its hard enough convincing club owners to improve the pay scale for golf course superintendents and/or hire better quality people to justify the better pay scale. It would be harder, I imagine, to convince them to hire skilled field workers AND to introduce a career path for the said workers.

But I have seen it work and the people that want to do this may have some ideas of their own to do this; retraining existing workers, for example. I wish them luck. At least some one is doing something different other than hiring more foreign workers at a problem. “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is insanity” Remember? That Einstein guy’s quote?

 

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

Tips networking

Posted by mynormas on September 2, 2015

Seminar GCSAM AGIF akan berlangsung dalam beberapa hari lagi, sudahkah anda mendaftar? Jika belum, dapatkan borang anda di sini. Masih ada beberapa slot lagi setakat hari ini (Ahad 30 Ogos. Post ini akan auto-publish pada pagi Rabu). 

Anda tidak patut lepaskan peluang belajar topik topik yang bagus dari speaker yang berpengalaman di sebuah kelab terkemuka di Malaysia.

Satu lagi sebab untuk hadir ialah ini adalah peluang untuk meluaskan kenalan anda melalui networking. Jika anda tidak pasti caranya, cuba baca tips di bawah.

Jika anda mencari tempat untuk tinggal yang berdekatan, cuba Kino Hotel 03-5120 1888 atau Orange Hotel, 03-5525 3353 kedua duanya di Kota Kemuning, lebih kurang satu kilometer dari kelab golf Kota Permai.  

Another reason not to miss out is that this is a perfect event to network with peers and prospects.

Get the forms for the event from a previous post. Hurry, only a few empty slots left. If they are none; tell them I said its important that you attend and to please, add just one more slot. If you are looking for a place to stay nearby; try Kino hotel 03-5120 1888 or Orange hotel 03-5525 3353 both in Kota Kemuning about a kilometer or so from the club.

If you would like to know the finer points on how to make new friends aka networking, in the slides below are some tips in English.

1. Pergi dengan tujuan. Ingatkan diri anda kenapa anda ada di sana. Anda menggunakan masa dan wang yang berharga untuk berada di sana, maka buat rangkaian kawan baru dan timba ilmu; jangan buang tenaga. Buat target untuk diri anda contohnya, berkenalan dengan tiga orang atau belajar dua (atau tiga, atau empat) perkara baru.

2. Gunakan orang yang anda dah kenal. Jika anda kenal orang yang ada di situ, minta mereka untuk kenalkan anda kepada orang yang anda rasa boleh membantu anda atau orang penting dalam industri. Ini menjimatkan masa dan perasaan cemas untuk berjumpa dengan orang yang anda belum kenal atau orang yang anda rasa ‘orang besar’.

3. Berseorangan. Jika anda menghadiri majlis atau seminar itu dengan kawan-kawan sekerja, jangan terperangkap dengan mereka dan tidak mahu berpisah sepanjang waktu. Bercakap hanya dengan orang yang anda kenal akan mengurangkan peluang anda untuk bertemu dengan orang baru.  Mulakan dengan sengaja duduk di sebelah orang yang anda tidak kenal sewaktu majlis atau seminar ataupun masa makan atau coffee break.

4. Kenali kawasan. Perhatikan kumpulan kumpulan orang sebelum membuat memilih untuk menyapa atau menegur. Cari orang yang anda rasa akan bersifat positif jika di sapa/tegur. Biasanya ini adalah orang yang sedang bersendirian ataupun sedang menunggu kawan berbual; mungkin juga mereka dalam kumpulan dua/tiga orang dan anda lihat ada peluang untuk masuk. Anda boleh lihat dari gaya badan mereka; jika badan mereka meng-arah keluar dari kumpulan, mereka mungkin sedang berborak kosong dan boleh menerima orang baru.

5. Perhatikan gerak dan gaya badan anda sendiri. Memeluk tubuh, ataupun melipat tangan di hadapan badan anda dan memandang ke lantai akan memberi isyarat yang anda tidak mahu berbual. Buat ini: tangan di sisi dan pandang orang yang di hadapan anda, ini akan membuat mereka berasa lebih selesa untuk menegur atau menyapa anda.

6. Permulaan bicara. Jangan rasa bahawa anda perlu menjadi orang paling bijak ataupun perlu ada ‘isi’ untuk memulakan kata-kata pengenalan. Memulakan perbualan boleh di buat dengan membuat komen tentang padang golf Kota Permai (tempat seminar minggu depan) atau tentang dewan di mana anda berada, tentang penceramah sebelum itu ataupun tentang makanan, “Datang dari mana?” adalah contoh permulaan yang baik untuk memulakan perbualan.

7. Awas salaman tangan anda. Jika anda memulakan pengenalan dengan bersalam atau menjabat tangan, hulurkan tangan dengan yakin dan pegang tangan kenalan anda dengan tegas, bukan sampai nak patah tulang, tetapi jangan sampai kenalan anda rasa salam dengan anda macam pegang ikan. Pandang mata mereka dan senyum.

8. Bertanya soalan yang perlukan jawapan panjang. Soalan yang bertanyakan apa, siapa, kenapa, bila dan bagaimana adalah bagus, bukan soalan yang memerlukan jawapan ‘Ya’ atau ‘Tidak’ atau ‘Sudah’ sahaja. Contohnya “Dah makan?” akan di jawab “Dah”: habis cerita, tetapi “Apa pendapat anda tentang makanan di sini?” mampu menjana perbualan lebih panjang. Kita mahu mendengar pendapat dan idea baru dan juga melatih kita untuk mendengar dengan baik.

9. Jangan terlalu pemurah dengan kad anda. Jadikan ia mahal, jangan jadikan seperti bagi daun terup di meja judi. Kita bukan berlumba untuk mendapat kenalan paling ramai, tetapi kenalan yang berkesan dan berkualiti. Pastikan kad anda mudah anda capai dari poket anda dan kad yang anda terima di poket lain. Bagi kad bila di pinta ataupun bila mereka beri kad kepada anda. Bila anda terima kad orang, pegang, lihat, baca di depan dia dan sebut nama dia; ini akan membantu anda ingat dan juga menyebabkan dia bangga. Semua orang bangga bila nama dia di sebut dengan hormat oleh orang lain. Masuk dalam poket kiri. Kemudian baru seluk poket kanan, ambil kad dan bagi kad anda; pegang dengan dua tangan, hulur pada dia dan kata “Ini kad saya”.

10. Jadi pemurah. Jika anda rasa anda boleh membantu, maka tawarkan kepada mereka tanpa mengharapkan apa apa balasan. Orang akan ingat anda dan akan mahu membalas kebaikan anda walaupun jika mereka tidak menerima tawaran pertolongan anda.

Semua di atas bukan idea atau karangan saya sendiri, sebaliknya adalah terjemahan dari artikel yang di terbitkan di Forbes dan di tulis oleh Deborah L Jacobs bertajuk “How to work a room like you own the place” berdasarkan buku oleh Nisa Chitakasem, bertajuk135 Networking Career Tips. Hakcipta terpelihara. Untuk perhatian; saya ada tambah sikit-sikit untuk konteks kita di Malaysia. 

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