Communicating with golfers

Few vocations demand such a wide range of knowledge to ensure professional success as does that of the golf course superintendent. Employers take it for granted that you know the technical side of turf management. Increasingly though, employers expect you to also be proficient in communication. Communication may be the single most important contributor to employment longevity and enjoyment.

The following are excerpts from GCSAA's guidebook: “Communication: The Cornerstone to Professional Relationships.”

  • Learn and use the names of active golfers at your course.
  • Create a "Superintendent's Section" on your course's web site.
  • Place comment cards in the pro shop, golf cars or restaurant. Design them with your name and title clearly visible so golfers know you are asking for course-related input. Include a line for the golfer's name so you can send a letter thanking him/her for the input and addressing the concern or compliment.
  • Post a long-term calendar with regular maintenance activities clearly noted in a prominent spot for all golfers to see. Let golfers know what you are doing on the course, when you will be doing it and how it will affect play.
  • Post daily updates in a visible location to communicate current course conditions. Use photographs to better illustrate what you are describing.
  • Document changes on the course using before and after photos to remind people "what you've done for them lately."
  • Contribute to your facility's newsletter by writing a regular column. Sign it and use your photograph. Be sure to discuss what's happening on the course and why it's happening. This lets your golfer know why a green was slower, why a tree was cut down around the ninth tee box and why water was standing on the fifth fairway.
  • Publish monthly lawncare tips in your facility's newsletter.
  • Present a workshop for your golfers on home turf care.
  • Maintain high visibility on the golf course. Eat lunch in the clubhouse daily. Maintain a high profile in the clubhouse. Talk to golfers to get first-hand input. Post your name and title in the clubhouse or restaurant and print your name on the scorecard. Note your title on your turf utility vehicle so it’s visible to golfers.
  • Write every new club member a welcome letter and invite each to lunch. Offer to play golf with your golfers and keep a sign-up sheet in the clubhouse.
  • Write a letter of congratulations to the new club champion every year.
  • Attend member meetings and annual meetings; present a "State of the Union" slide show at the annual meeting describing activities that have resulted in improved golf course conditions or budget reduction. Attend tournaments and other events at your course. Take your spouse (if applicable) to appropriate functions.
  • Conduct a seminar for your golfers or members focusing on course etiquette. The seminar could include proper repair of divots and ball marks, raking a bunker, golf car rules, a discussion of alternative and metal golf spikes and other topics.
  • Sponsor a golfer outing early in the season. Point out wildlife and improvements made over the winter, show how to repair a ball mark, how to rake a bunker, etc.
  • Host an open house at your maintenance facility. Get your employees involved. In cold weather climates, offer coffee and hot chocolate in the maintenance facility during the winter. This invites golfers into the maintenance facility to see everything you do during the winter.