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Posts Tagged ‘golf course superintendent’

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. 

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

This machine is mine.

Posted by mynormas on August 19, 2015

In a recent previous post and even in a magazine article, I wrote that in the month of August, turf machinery be washed extra clean, polished even, and a national flag tied to the machine; not merely as a show of patriotism but more so that the machine operators take a little bit more care for their machine instead of just hosing it down at the end of the day, every day.

Why August? Because coincidentally, the National Day of Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia fall in this month and many of my readers are from this region (WordPress allows me to trace the country of origin of readers).

Yesterday I happened to visit one of those golf courses that did this. The superintendent told me how he picked a Saturday afternoon when most of the machinery were back at the workshop and called for a staff meeting. After the usual briefing, he told them about the programme and gave them time to wash their machines.

One operator, after vigorously washing his machine, found that he could not tie the flagpole to the machines’ roll-over bar because the roof was wider than the bar and there wasn’t any other place to tie the flag. Guess what he did? He dismantled the roof and tied the flag to the roll-over protective structure. He was willing to not have a roof for a month (the superintendent will take the flags back after Malaysia Day on 16th Sept) just for the flag. And he’s not even a Malaysian.

He took off the roof so he can tie the flag.

He took off the roof so he can tie the flag.

The superintendent told the bunker-rake machine operator that he need not worry about his machine because it was too small and too old to clean up. The staff member protested, not only did he wash his machine extra clean, he took some paint and painted all the metal parts of the machine – dozer blade included, black. The superintendent gave him a flag which he proudly displayed on his machine. And he’s not even a Malaysian.

He painted the metal parts black so that he can be allowed to put the flag.

He painted the metal parts black so that he can be allowed to put the flag.

The point is not about the flag but the effect that the programme had on the workers: they owned the machines. Suddenly it is ‘my’ machine and I want my machine to be the cleanest it can be because I want to put on a flag. Follow up this with a training on how to look after the machine and I’m sure the machine will last a little bit longer with less maintenance stress as compared to a machine that did not ‘belong’ to anybody. I mean, “who washes a rented car”?

I got that quote from a book I read about 25 years ago titled ‘In Search of Excellence’ written by – if I am not mistaken – Tom Peters. An example he gave was the ground crew chief of a squadron of jet fighters that had the best maintained planes compared to other squadrons. The crew chief’s secret was, instead of a crew looking after the right wing, another one looked after the left wing, one looking after the cockpit and so on, he gave them all each a plane to look after. One crew, one plane. “How did that work in creating excellence?” he was asked. His answer was that because each one of them now ‘owns’ a plane, they had a greater sense of pride and responsibility to that particular plane of theirs. “After all” he said “who washes a rented car?” I might be paraphrasing because hey, it has been about 25 years ago but I believe the gist is there.

I also believe the credit should also go to the crew chief for his innovativeness and in this context, the superintendent for his role in firing up the workers. I mean, if he had sat in his office and gave the flags to the supervisor who would give the flags to the mechanic who then gave the flags to the operators; the effect would not be the same. So what worked? Maybe it was his speech, maybe it was the look in his eyes, maybe it was because he helped wash a few machines, maybe he held a big stick, maybe he promised them a reward or maybe it was already a culture in that place, whatever it was, it got the result that he wanted. It was actually more than I imagined, I can tell you that.

Its still not too late for Malaysians, at least, because the flags can remain on the machines till 16th September which is Malaysia Day. The cheapest flags I found was at Mr. DIY (biar kami rugi asal anda puas hati) at RM2.50 each. Or we can try and do something else. Or we can try finding one excuse or another to not do anything and complain about everything. It is a choice. Up to us.

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 »

The Biggest Office

Posted by mynormas on June 3, 2015

This picture? The

This picture? The “Golf Course Superintendent” sign? Totally not photoshopped or tricked out in any way.
To be fair, the super has moved to new facilities; thanks to new management and they went on be one of the top clubs in Malaysia.

Reading or writing by squinting through one eye is a bummer; I’ve had to go through a minor operation on one eye due to cataract yet I really felt the need to say something about this issue. This past week I’ve had four discussions about Malaysian golf course conditions  (I know thats what you go through in a day but bear with me) and all of it relates to the man in charge, commonly called as the golf course superintendent. In Malaysia, they are also referred to as the golf course manager, supervisor, director or assistant superintendent but the fact remains, they are in charge. I divide them into a few categories:

  1. Superintendents who don’t know what to do
  2. Superintendents who won’t do
  3. Superintendents who can’t do
  4. Superintendents who’s knowledgeable, can and will do.
  5. The corrupt.

It has been said that the golf course superintendent (or whatever the designation) has the biggest office in a golf club; anything between 120 to 300 acres. He, other than the club manager, should be the highest paid person in the club. Such privileges do not come easy; on his shoulder rest the reputation and prestige of the club and he is responsible for the highest expense department, not to mention taking care of the item with the highest construction cost; the golf course.

Right about now I can hear the cliché already; “it is a team effort”. Of course it is, but the team would have to be led by someone that needs to know agronomy, plant pathology, soil science, entomology, agriculture engineering, hydrology, not to mention golf rules and even golf itself. No? Then how is he (or she) to know about plant health, fertility, insects, drainage, machinery, irrigation and how to set up the golf course?

Cliché alert: “It’s not rocket science”, “it’s just growing grass”, anyone can do it bla bla bla. For these managers/owners, I say good luck in managing your clubs but actually, these are the minority. The majority of clubs know that maintaining a golf course takes a knowledgable person with skills. Here’s the tricky part, many clubs know that and want to hire them, but most clubs do not seem to recognise or respect what they already have and I mean this as recognition to both sides of the argument: some superintendents are lacking in knowledge but are still retained, some superintendents are in their comfort zone (and still retained) and some superintendents know what to do but do not get the support and respect they deserve. Of course, there are some who are knowledgable and are supported.

I’d love to comment about the superintendents who are lacking in knowledge but I won’t. Sometimes I can’t help but pity them; for the most part they were thrown into the deep end because of their good work in a previous position or loyalty (or they can’t find jobs elsewhere) and really don’t know what to do except repeating what their predecessor have done or what they think what their predecessor have done and what the suppliers advise. Somehow I can’t find in my heart to blame these people, they were examples of the Peter Principle: people who were promoted and promoted until they reach the level of their incompetence. To these clubs, there is hope because these people in general have good attitudes and are hardworking (hence the promotions), so send them to seminars, courses or pay for them to attend classes (I had a club willing to pay for my Diploma in Accountancy which was of no use to them at all!) or send them to a neighbouring club once a week or month to learn from the superintendent there; or pay the superintendent to come over to teach – just make sure you know the superintendent’s background too.

I’ve also met superintendents who are – on paper – knowledgeable but have voluntarily capped their limits at a certain level. They would not do more than that level, never mind the condition of the golf course. There are of course, justifications and reasons for it: no budget, interference, not enough workers, the weather, poor construction bla bla bla. Have a chat with them and you realise that it is easier to play the victim’s role in a blame game. You get told the idea that this is a hopeless situation even if you know of other clubs who faced similiar circumstances yet are in better condition. This also means that the golf course’s potential is also capped at that level and would not rise any time soon. To the clubs that hired these superintendents; tough luck. No seminar I know will change your golf course. No consultant or adviser too, unless the reports are discussed with the bosses; then maybe there is a chance. I’ve seen that happen, then again, I’ve also seen where the report was discussed with the boss; and the little that was done was to cover the bigger things that was supposed to be done but not, and after listening to the old story of “why it can’t be done”, the bosses gave up (thats part of the problem anyway) and things go back to what it was. To these clubs: good luck. Some superintendents in this category have been … wait: no… a MAJORITY of these superintendents have been in the same club for a very very long time.

What? You don’t know what I’m talking about, but yet your heart rate is increasing, temperature rising and you are upset? That, sonny, means you DO know what I am talking about; you’re just in denial. Okay fine, there are some superintendents who are in one place for too long with their golf course is in good condition. Happy? I’m talking about other clubs where the condition is poor and it is always someone else’s fault. But now that we’re at it, how about taking your club up another notch? Perhaps the weeds on the fairways? The greenspeed? No you can’t? Because of (insert excuse here) right? I rest my case.

The third category of superintendents is the one I pity most. He (or she, I know of one lady super) can usually get a job elsewhere but to him (or her) this job is a challenge to his/her ability and they just want to give it a try. These superintendents are usually  young or relatively new at the club and usually are up against a culture or a bureaucracy that has dug in, fortified and willing to fight to not change. Buying a fungicide that the superintendent needs to apply by the end of the week will take three weeks to process because it has to be justified, three quotations have to be searched and that one form needs to have three (or five!) signatures from three or five levels up and those people are usually not at their desks because of course they are in charge of other projects too. Or the superintendent is regarded as an outsider, an alien, an aberration even. Or a club that can only make decision after a committee meets which is usually at the end of the month… maybe three. Then there are clubs with real issues, for example; a non-responsive workforce – for want of a better description – they have the numbers but they can only work certain hours and at certain limits, never mind clubs with a small work force. Or a club that really tie their superintendents down with a very low budget. Just in case you think I am contradicting myself with superintendents in the second category, be advised that superintendents in this here third category, are still putting up a good show despite their restrictions.

Clubs with these two challenges (1. the non-performing superintendent as well as workforce – because it permeates into the department’s work culture, I promise you – and 2. the club with plodding bureaucracy or work culture – because it permeates into the club’s work culture, I promise you) are good candidates for the golf course maintenance contractor. No kidding. Hire one company to maintain your golf course and you will rid yourself of non-performers and plodders; and consign your golf course to forever be average. What? You think these companies were set up to serve golfdom and golferkind while turning your golf club into the best? No, they were set up to make a profit, so they think fast on their feet and are super-efficient for their own good but it will translate into comparatively better golf courses for you, at least for the first year and the final year of the contract. After which you are ‘doomed’ to appoint a contractor again because you don’t have the know-how and lets face it, you don’t know what went on the past five years anyway.

Someone is upset reading this is it? Lets be realistic, to look for the ‘right’ contractor, you are going to call for a tender exercise which will primarily focus on the cheapest tender after which you will negotiate again until the guy with the cheapest price hurt his knee begging you to stop: so of course lah the contractor will work his a$$ off to beautify your golf course without cutting any corners. Right? Unless – dare I say it? Oh heck, there are some people who will thank me – the contracting company is orang putih/gwailo/angmoh; then we will be the one on our knees begging. And the golf course will be better than average while some of us wonder why the expats do a better job than locals. No, not really about skin colour or just about the budget too. Find out why in the next category of superintendents.

I would be remiss in my ranting to not talk about the fourth category of lucky superintendents and their clubs. The superintendent who knows what to do or if they don’t; they find out, they are willing to do what it takes and they are allowed to do what it takes as they see fit. They are working for clubs who say things like “What? You need a new RM180K fairway mower? We don’t have the budget now but can we talk about it and see if we can postpone or perhaps look for a reconditioned mower or repair what you have now?” Or “So you need to hollow-tine the greens next month eh? Let me talk to the tournament organiser and see how he feels or if he wants to postpone or if he is willing to continue if you use smaller tines/do half of the greens”. In the world of management it is called ‘discussion’.

Did you notice that the two top clubs in Malaysia routinely get their superintendents on stage during award presentation ceremonies? Even if its held overseas? You think that’s because of gratitude to the superintendents’ efforts? No, that’s the mark of the attitude of the clubs to the superintendents’ office. It started long before that walk up the stage. It causes the walk. Not the budget. Not the machinery. Not the skin colour.  Its the attitude. The respect. The clubs respected the superintendents work, decision and opinion.

Ya, ya, ya… here comes the cliche: “Respect has to be earned”. Kinda hard to sympathise or empathise with some clubs (I hesitate to use the pronoun ‘you’ here, because there are some who will take this personally) who insist on hiring the cheapest person they can, to maintain the most expensive department they have. Respect your superintendent and see the difference. If there’s no difference, then perhaps, change the superintendent (sounds harsh? It has to work both ways fellas).

This article is too long already. Is anybody still reading? Very few now I bet. So it is time to introduce the fifth category of superintendents; the ones that people know but talk about only in whispered circles. The almost-unmentionables; the Mr. 10 percent. The what-do-I-get-in-return guy. The corrupt (oh, you think that’s too harsh? Lets see if I can find another term… urm… nope).

You think every one else does it? No, you are a minority. You think because your boss/purchaser/storekeeper does it, it is ok for you to do it? No; two wrongs do not make a right. You think because your salary is lower than market rate then it is ok for you? No. It ruins your reputation to go look for another job that can pay you higher than market rate. You think because the golf course looks good you can do it? No you can’t, because it IS your job to make the golf course looks good. You think nobody knows? Wrong, the industry is small (in Malaysia) and people talk. Ok, they whisper. Behind your back.

Stop. You are ruining not only your reputation but the other superintendents’ too. You will be indebted, nay trapped, to one or two particular suppliers and you will find it hard to change because… easy money is addictive or after a while your hand in the other guy’s pocket so often that you get used to it and he becomes your twin; hard to tell where he ends and you start. Your office is his office. There’s also guilt, fear and conscience. Then the golf course stagnates because your pool of resources and ideas has shrunk to one or two companies. No doubt they’re good and the golf course is good, but it won’t get any better.

So, to improve the golf course conditions in Malaysia; to the superintendents, let’s pull up our socks, raise our game, stay clean, increase our skills, share our knowledge or find another job. To the clubs themselves, treat the superintendents as a professional, respect his position, give him authority: if you can’t, send him for training or a makeover, or find a new one. Otherwise we have to continue as if nothing is our fault and like everything else that goes wrong… blame the government.

Note:

I wrote this opinion based on my observations in Malaysia. It should not be used without evidence to point fingers to any single person, club or group or organisation in particular. Hopefully it provokes thought, if not action. Get angry if you want but do something productive we must. 

Anonymous comments will not see the light of day on this site; I won’t even read it.

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

Ekonomik Baja

Posted by mynormas on May 19, 2015

Ini adalah isu yang selalu juga di tanyakan kepada saya: baja apa yang saya patut guna untuk rumput saya? Di dalam blog nya, Dr. Micah Woods seorang pakar rumput, dalam menjawab persoalan yang di tanyakan kepadanya tentang baja apakah yang perlu di gunakan di padang telah memberi suatu jawapan yang menarik

Gambar hiasan

Gambar hiasan

. Untuk pengetahuan; terdapat tiga atau empat jenis baja.

  1. Straight fertiliser (err… baja lurus?) iaitu baja yang mempunyai hanya satu nutrien sahaja seperti urea, MoP atau SoP.
  2. Baja campuran iaitu baja yang terdiri dari campuran baja di atas dalam kadar tertentu. Jadi ada seketul untuk nitrogen, seketul untuk phosphorus, seketul untuk kalium dan sebagainya.
  3. Baja compound iaitu baja yang dalam setiap ketul terdiri dari pelbagai nutrien.
  4. Baja organik.

Selain itu kita boleh juga membincangkan samada nak guna baja ‘slow-release’ iaitu ketulan baja yang mempunyai selaput khas yang akan menyebabkan nutrien keluar secara perlahan ataupun ia di ikat secara kimia dan di lepaskan secara perlahan.

Mengikut kata Dr Woods, pemilihan baja berbeza dari satu tempat ke satu tempat asalkan pembajaan itu mengikut keperluan rumput dan faktor utama yang menentukan samada kita akan menggunakan baja slow-release yang mahal dan mengaplikasi sebulan sekali atau seminggu sekali berbanding dengan menggunakan baja urea (contohnya) yang di aplikasi seminggu sekali atau dua kali ialah perbandingan harga dan kemampuan. Baja urea mungkin lebih murah dari baja slow-release tetapi kos penggunaan buruh mungkin berbeza dari satu tempat ke satu tempat.

Maka, pemilihan baja apa yang kita akan guna mesti di kira mengikut perbandingan kos per aplikasi dan bukan kos per bag sahaja. Itu pun kalau kita serius tentang pembajaan, selalu juga saya lihat orang yang membaja sekadar nama “Dah baja” sahaja; mereka tak pernah buat soil test dan tak tahu samada baja yang mereka tabur itu cukup atau terlebih.

Ada juga orang yang baja bila dia merasakan ‘rumput dah kuning’ dan perlu baja. Pasal tu lah Cowgrass selalu tak menjadi di padang bola kita; kerana ia secara genetik memang hijau gelap walaupun lama tak baja dan memang kurang sihat.

Jadi: kira kos aplikasi (gaji pekerja sehari + kos mesin + kos baja) bukan hanya berapa harga baja itu.

P.S. Untuk tuan rumah yang lebih selalu berinteraksi dengan saya di laman web ini berbanding dengan orang padang; saya cadangkan baja organik kerana baja organik ialah juga sejenis baja ‘slow-release’ yang akan mengeluarkan nutrien setelah di urai oleh bakteria atau mikro-organisma lain. Jika anda menggunakan sebarang jenis rumput karpet: dua bulan sekali. Jika Cowgrass setahun sekali atau dua kali. Lakukan pada masa anda mahukan rumput yang subur contohnya sebulan sebelum Hari Raya atau Chinese New Year atau Christmas atau seumpamanya yang senang ingat.

Posted in Golf Course | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Mengenal ‘Penyakit’

Posted by mynormas on April 13, 2015

In the past few years I’ve been travelling visiting golf courses and a few football fields in Malaysia, one common problem I see is the difficulty some (let me stress that; some) Superintendents find it difficult to diagnose what is wrong with their grass. Especially on greens. I know it can be difficult to identify what disease is at fault except perhaps Fairy Ring but I find it a little alarming when the an insect attack is confused with fungi or even irrigation water contamination is blamed on disease (did that sound right). I’ve seen greens being compacted by some kind of heavy machinery and yet it was blamed on fungus. Sure, there were fungus on the green but you could see that the disease was mostly on the tyre marks and whatever the guy was dragging behind that tractor; a heavy roller perhaps? So I put together a slide that I used for teaching golf course staff on how to identify between abiotic and biotic causes of damage or disease on the course. I also saw a well-constructed football field having problems because the outlet drains were clogged: unclog it, and it improved almost immediately. The slides are in the Malaysian language because it is used to teach Malaysian staff. It is a two-day course and includes a calibration module. For more info on this and other field/course maintenance seminars, please contact me.

Penyakit apa membuat corak begini? What disease does this?

Penyakit apa membuat corak begini? What disease does this?

Dalam kerja saya sekarang, saya banyak melawat padang golf dan padang bola, dan salah satu masalah yang paling selalu saya jumpa ialah masalah pengenalan kepada penyakit di padang. Kekadang kita confuse di antara penyakit kulat dan serangan serangga. Kekadang masalah yang datang dari pengairan pun kita salahkan kulat. Saya pernah lihat rumput yang mempunyai kesan tayar pun di salahkan kepada kulat juga. Saya pernah lihat rumput yang di salah spray di salahkan penyakit rumput. Saya pernah jumpa padang bola yang di perbuat dengan sempurna dan di jaga dengan baik tetapi bermasalah, saya dapati masalahnya ialah paip outlet membawa air keluar dari padang telah sumbat. Setelah itu di perbaiki, padang tersebut telah berfungsi seperti biasa: tiada penyakit.

Saya telah membuat satu kursus bertajuk “Kursus Asas Aplikasi Racun di Padang” untuk di ajar kepada kakitangan padang dan slaid ini di gunakan sebagai petunjuk kepada mereka untuk membezakan punca penyakit. Ia dalam Bahasa Malaysia. Kursus ini adalah selama dua hari dan termasuk cara kalibrasi mesin. 

Untuk maklumat lanjut tentang kursus ini, sila hubungi saya…

<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”//www.slideshare.net/normas98/diagnosis-penyakit-rumput” title=”Diagnosis penyakit rumput” target=”_blank”>Diagnosis penyakit rumput</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”//www.slideshare.net/normas98″ target=”_blank”>Normas Yakin</a></strong> </div>

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

AM61A ganti brushcutter

Posted by mynormas on February 16, 2015

Last month I visited a company in Sri Iskandar, Perak that dealt with mowers. They deal in mowers that they imported in from Japan and were marketed for the agriculture sector, which made them really really cheap compared to golf course mowers. The mowers look tough and rugged. I haven’t seen the cut but I’m sure it is better than a brushcutter’s and good enough for the rough and maybe even some fields but what made me really interested was that their mowers were also small enough to be operated under and around trees. 

Mesin AM61A in action.

Mesin AM61A in action.

Last week they sent me a few video clips of which one really really got me looking real hard at them. This particular machine the AM61A was versatile and powerful enough to replace not one but at least five brushcutters! No kidding. You can watch the YouTube video below. 

Please take this in the context that Malaysian golf courses are – or will – be facing a shortage of manpower especially the foreign workers. This machine may be the answer to two reasons for the lack of local workers: 

1. Reducing the need for brushcutters will mean the reduction in the need for brute force and physical demands.

2. Reducing the number of workers through productivity and mechanisation can mean increasing the pay of individual workers.

Or maybe you can just reduce your workforce and increase profit?  

Bulan lepas saya telah melawat sebuah syarikat di Sri Iskandar, Perak yang memasarkan mesin memotong rumput keluaran negara Jepun yang di tujukan ke industri perladangan dan pertanian. Oleh itu mesin mereka mempunyai harga yang murah berbanding dengan mesin yang di jual khusus untuk padang golf.

AM61A di kawasan yang biasa di potong oleh brushcutter

AM61A di kawasan yang biasa di potong oleh brushcutter

Saya amat tertarik kerana mesin mereka kecil dan mudah di pandu di kawasan sempit seperti di bawah atau keliling pokok dan murah (deja vu! Saya dah cakap tadi eh?). Saya tak tengok lagi kualiti potongan (saya melawat kedai mereka dan melihat video) tapi saya yakin ia lebih baik dari brushcutter tapi kalau setakat rough dan mungkin padang bola atau taman, tiada masalah.

Tetapi yang paling saya suka ialah suatu video (lihat di bawah) yang menunjukkan bagaimana mesin AM61A boleh menewaskan suatu brushcutter dan menunjukkan bahawa satu mesin AM61A boleh menggantikan hingga lima brushcutter.

Kita kan mengalami masalah pekerja; samada pekerja asing yang makin susah dan mahal untuk di bawa masuk ataupun pekerja tempatan yang kurang gemar bekerja di padang golf. Pada pendapat saya, mesin AM61A ini boleh membantu dua cara untuk menambah pekerja tempatan:

1. Mengurangkan keperluan menggunakan kekuatan dan ketahanan fizikal

2. Mengurangkan jumlah pekerja maka ada kemungkinan imbuhan kepada pekerja boleh di naikkan.

Ataupun, anda boleh kurangkan pekerja dan tambah keuntungan.

Posted in Golf Course, Golf Course Superintendents, Landscape, Lanskap, Maintenance, Padang, Rumput | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

Rumput untuk Stadium

Posted by mynormas on January 27, 2015

Kesilapan memilih rumput adalah masalah utama kebanyakkan pemilik tanah, dari sekecil halaman rumah hinggalah ke sebesar padang golf. Rumput yang cantik di padang orang lain, belum tentu cantik di padang kita. Rumput yang cantik di dalam gambar, belum tentu cantik di tempat kita. Rumput yang cantik di nursery belum tentu cantik di laman kita.

Di tiap kawasan atau tanah atau tapak atau padang; redup, cuaca, iklim-mikro, keupayaan penjagaan, kegunaan dan sebagainya tak sama. Jadi jangan lah kita pilih rumput berdasarkan kecantikan atau kebagusan nya di tempat lain dan kita tangkapmuat dia di tempat kita dan berdoa supaya ia padan.

Di dalam slaid-slaid berikut saya cuba memberitahu apa yang saya pertimbangkan ketika saya membantu sebuah stadium membuat pilihan rumput. Saya cuba jadikan pemilihan rumput itu sebagai suatu proses sama seperti memilih pemenang dalam rancangan hiburan. Peserta rancangan hiburan ada menang dalam kategori tertentu dan ada peserta yang menang dalam acara keseluruhan. Begitu juga dalam pemilihan rumput; saya bahagikan proses pemilihan ke dalam tiga ‘kategori’ dan pilih pemenang untuk tiap kategori. Peserta yang paling banyak menang dalam kategori-kategori itu akan memenangi acara keseruhan. Tentunya pemilihan saya bukan muktamad, saya akan memberi ‘ranking’ dan terpulang kepada tuanpunya untuk membuat keputusan terakhir. Kadang-kadang, ada perkara yang berada di luar jangkaan seseorang. Contohnya tuanpunya mahukan rumput yang sama dengan stadium lain sediaada, atau rumput ranking kedua adalah rumput kegemaran boss, atau rumput dalam ranking pertama tiada ‘backup’ atau tiada di jual oleh pembekal/nursery lain. Maka mungkin tuanpunya mahu membuat ‘gamble’ dan memilih rumput dalam ranking kedua atau ketiga.

Menggunakan rumput yang tiada ‘backup’ adalah – pada pendapat saya – suatu keputusan yang berisiko tinggi. Padang kita  akan menjadi tebusan pembekal sekarang dan di masa yang sama, jika rumput di padang rosak atau mati seminggu sebelum suatu acara/pertandingan penting, kita tiada sumber untuk mendapat bekalan untuk menampal kawasan yang mati atau rosak.

Sebagai bonus, untuk mengelakkan pemilik padang ini menerima nasihat penjual yang memaksa mereka menggunakan terlalu banyak input sewaktu penanaman, saya telah memasukkan beberapa cadangan untuk proses tanam semula. Saya cadangkan supaya mereka kembali ke basic. Guna pasir kasar sudahlah, tidak perlu lain lain bahan seperti tanah liat, top soil yang terlalu banyak (satu lapis?) ataupun benda-benda ‘canggih’ lain.

Jika anda dalam proses memilih rumput untuk padang anda; silakan guna proses ‘3K’ ini. Jika anda ingin membuat penyampaian kepada boss anda dan anda memilih untuk menggunakan proses 3K, saya hanya minta anda beri kredit kepada saya.

Ataupun, jika anda akan membelanjakan jutaan ringgit untuk menanam padang, mengapa tidak belanja lebih kurang 0.001% dari satu juta untuk membayar seorang pakar yang telah membela rumput selama 20 tahun? Anda boleh tanya soalan ini sekarang atau anda boleh tunggu 3 tahun lagi bila soalan ini di tanya oleh pemberita, Board of Director ataupun pengguna ketika rumput di padang anda mula bermasalah.

Selamat membaca.

Posted in Golf Course, Golf Course Superintendents, Greens, Landscape, Maintenance, Padang, Padang Golf, Rumput halaman rumah, Taman | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Si Penjaga Padang

Posted by mynormas on January 19, 2015

I saw this video shared on a Sports Turf Manager LinkedIn group. It was a pretty good video & I thought of how some Malaysians view grass maintenance; its boring and eh.. easy. So easy that we pour in millions to plant; spend hundreds of thousands annually to maintain & yet pay little attention (and salary) to the people who manage it.

Saya terjumpa suatu video di dalam group Sports Turf Manager di laman sosial LinkedIn dan saya teringat tentang penjagaan padang (bola, golf ataupun permainan) di Malaysia. Siapakah orang yang menjadi “Sports Turf Manager” di Malaysia? Saya tidak berniat nak mempertikai kelulusan ataupun pengalaman penjaga padang sekarang; tetapi saya ingin mempersoal sikap dan komitmen tuanpunya padang samada Persatuan Bolasepak, Kementerian, Majlis Sukan, kerajaan tempatan ataupun pihak swasta dan saya ingin mengungkit tentang siapa orang yang menjaga padang di Malaysia.

Terlalu selalu, yang saya lihat, ialah orang di atas seolah-olah pentingkan dan risaukan padang, tetapi di bawah, bila saya turun ke padang (literally and figuratively) yang bertanggungjawab jaga padang adalah beberapa orang pekerja asing yang sedang cuba nak baiki mesin usang untuk potong rumput (bukan sedang potong rumput). Lepas tu kita hairan kenapa padang kita tidak secantik padang di luar negara.

Saya tidak memperkecilkan pekerja asing; saya sering jumpa pekerja asing yang tangan kirinya mempunyai attitude kerja yang lebih baik dari dua orang pekerja tempatan (bukan awak, orang lain; tapi kalau terasa; siapa yang makan cili…).

Berapa buah stadium kita yang ada ‘Sports Turf Manager’? Berapa banyak padang kita yang di jaga dengan baik? Saya tahu, jawapan yang akan di beri ialah budget yang kecil. Saya mencadangkan supaya budget beberapa padang berdekatan di gabungkan dan di beri kepada satu kontraktor sahaja, supaya dia mempunyai purchasing dan hiring power yang lebih besar. Setiap Persatuan Bolasepak Negeri seharusnya mempunyai seorang Sports Turf Manager yang menjaga stadium dan juga padang latihan yang sepatutnya mempunyai rumput dan taraf penjagaan yang sama dengan dalam stadium (jadi tak perlulah berkeras latihan mesti dibuat di dalam stadium).

Untuk Majlis Daerah dan kerajaan tempatan pulak, banyak di antara mereka yang mempunyai padang golf sendiri. Seharusnya mereka menggunakan kepakaran dan peralatan padang golf di padang bola mereka. Menggunakan baja padang sama dengan baja fairway adalah keputusan bijak dan menguntungkan pembeli dan penjual (Kan purchasing power lebih besar? Negotiate lah. Not to mention peralatan untuk menabur baja boleh pinjam dari padang golf)

Beberapa IPT tempatan juga ada mengeluarkan graduan yg seharusnya tahu tentang penjagaan rumput kalau bukan penjagaan padang. Universiti Putra Malaysia dengan graduan Diploma atau Ijazah Pertanian atau Horticulture dan juga, yg menarik,  saya pernah jumpa pelajar dan pengajar dari Kolej Risda dari Melaka yg nampaknya menitikberatkan pendidikan tentang rumput. UiTM di laporkan ada ijazah Park and Amenities tapi saya dengar cuma ada satu kelas tentang rumput dan saya tak pernah jumpa pensyarah mereka di seminar tempatan jadi mungkin rumput bukan tumpuan mereka. Kita ada orang yg berpotensi, terpulang pada kita utk menggunakan nya atau tidak. 

Akhir sekali, Kementerian Belia dan Sukan dan Kementerian Pelajaran sedang mengwujudkan beberapa siri pendidikan di tahap sijil dan diploma dalam pengurusan rumput. Walaupun di tajuk sijil/diploma itu ada sebut ‘golf’ yang bertentangan dengan cadangan saya untuk tidak guna perkataan ‘golf’ (siapalah saya orang nak dengar…), sebenarnya mereka berkelayakkan menjaga rumput di sebarang jenis padang. Mereka akan keluar/graduasi dalam mungkin setahun dua lagi. Sementara itu, saya mencadangkan tuan-tuan mula membiasakan diri dengan pekerja tempatan. Suka atau tidak, akan tiba masa kita tidak akan dapat lagi mengambil pekerja asing untuk potong rumput.

Oleh itu (ya lah, in perenggan akhir), saya cadangkan tuan-tuan mula memikirkan renovasi atau pembaikan padang yang akan menggunakan kurang tenaga kerja dan lebih mekanisasi. Kurangkan penggunaan mesin galas belakang. Kurangkan pokok hiasan yang di tanam rapat-rapat supaya mesin boleh potong di antara pokok dan matahari cukup untuk rumput di bawah pokok; lakukan penakaian menggunakan chainsaw atau racun. Jika baru nak mula untuk tanam pokok hiasan; ingat canopy pokok bertemu canopy pokok SEWAKTU IA DEWASA lima tahun nanti, bukan sewaktu mula tanam. Median atau divider pembahagi jalan atau kerb tepi jalan tu perlu di potong dengan brush-cutter? Tidak ada undang undang yang kata pokok mesti di tanam di tengah-tengah divider atau kerb. Tanam lah ia off-center agar mesin boleh potong rumput di sebelah pokok. Cari mesin ride-on (boleh-pandu) yang kecil dan mudah di bawa or even better; use a mini tractor with mid-mounted mower. Elakkan kawasan rumput yang kecil yang perlu dipotong dengan tangan dan sebagainya…

Lakukan sesi latihan/seminar utk pekerja padang selalu supaya kesilapan di kenali,  tidak di lakukan atau di ulang, dan penting sekali, kakitangan rasa di hargai. Menjaga rumput dan padang bukan semudah yang anda sangka.

Bila pemain-pemain bola bergantung kepada si penjaga rumput untuk mempastikan struktur tanah yang padat supaya mereka tidak mengalami kecederaan; bila penyokong-penyokong pasukan datang berbondong-berbondong untuk memberi sokongan; bila pemimpin atau ketua mengeluarkan kenyataan harapan kemenangan; siapakah yang kita harapkan untuk mempastikan pentas pertandingan dalam keadaan terbaik? Siapakah yang kita percayakan untuk memandu mesin potong rumput yang bernilai di antara RM60,000 hingga RM180,000? Pekerja dari negara jiran yang selepas beberapa tahun akan membawa balik kepakaran serta pengalaman mereka dan kita akan bermula semula dari sifar?

Tuan-tuan dan puan-puan, mungkin sudah tiba masanya kita ada ‘Sports Turf Managers’ dan Groundsman atau Greenkeepers kita sendiri. Ia bermula dari kita; kita mesti meminta dan mendapat padang yang lebih baik dari yang kita ada sekarang. Itu mesti kita jadikan hak kita dan kita boleh mulakan dengan bertanya; “Siapa penjaga padang ini?”

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

 
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