Success in the golf course management world is not about who is the smartest; research shows that IQ is largely unrelated to status in the high powered corporate food chain. Success is not about who has the best education; consider this, only 14% of Fortune 500 companies are led by brainy Ivy Leaguers. And success is not about who has the best funding or resources; many successful businesses started in garages, dining rooms, and the back of cars. I am sure we have all witnessed golf greens at high budget golf course in less than perfect conditions.
It’s no surprise that prior to a world class golf event, advance teams from one of golf’s sanctioning bodies arrives at the club to pour over the many details that must be taken care sometimes years before the scheduled event.
In the day-to-day world of maintaining a golf course as well as other business endeavors, the single greatest influence on who achieves success is preparation. The more prepared you are to confront the many challenges of golf course management, the more successful you will be. As uncomfortable as this sounds the best prepared superintendents escaped the 2010 summer season with minor battle scars. Deferred maintenance practices and knee jerk mid-summer field decisions led to major turfgrass losses in many cases.
To attain any goal of success, you must engage in the needed preparation which involves: "Maintaining consistently high quality year-round efforts resulting in optimal preparation for maximum in-season success."
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Golf course management in some areas is a year-round proposition. Even in areas that experience mild winters a period of less stress occurs at a time of year that opens the door to prepare for the Go Time season. With this understanding, I want to present to you my basic Ten Rules of Preparation needed before Go Time:
Ten Rules of Golf Business Preparation
First Rule: Preparation is the foundation of all success. This preparation involves six important areas: 1) Essential information (e.g., goals; based on plans, surveys, strategies) ; 2) Task-specific knowledge and skills (e.g., soil and water tests, yearly budget plans, timed maintenance plans, well prepared core team); 3) Resources and tools (e.g., experts, equipment in top shape, network of colleagues); 4) Psychological and emotional capabilities (e.g., determination, confidence, resilience); 5) Interpersonal skills (e.g., leadership, empathy, assertiveness, communication, inspiration, decisiveness); 6) Physical health (e.g., illness free, rested, well nourished, reasonably fit).
Second Rule: Success comes from the days, weeks, and months of preparation leading up to the culmination of those seasonal efforts. Many golf course practitioners believe that it's what happens on a key days or weeks during the season that matters. But I believe that success is determined more by what you do in the days, weeks, and months leading up to the crucial days of the golf season in your part of the world. If you've put in the time and effort to develop yourself and your team in the six areas I described in the First Rule, then you will know that you have done everything you can to achieve your goals and you will perform your best on those important seasonal days.
Third Rule: Three essential qualities necessary for preparation and success are patience, persistence, and perseverance. Preparation takes time and you will experience many bumps along the road. Patience ensures that you realize that there are no shortcuts or easy roads to success. Persistence will get you to keep grinding away when you are tired and stressed from a long season. Perseverance will enable you to stay motivated and positive in the face of the inevitable obstacles and setbacks you will experience.
Fourth Rule: You must take responsibility for everything that can impact your preparation and performance. Success is not a simple goal; there are usually many components that must be considered and steps that must be taken. You cannot leave anything important to chance. To ensure that you are doing everything you can to achieve your goals; you must take responsibility for everything that might influence your efforts. Can you say with confidence that you have complete command over everything that might impact how you perform?
Fifth Rule: The purpose of preparation is to develop effective skills and habits. When you have identified those six key areas from the First Rule, you have a precise plan showing you what you need to do to achieve your goals. Education, training, experience, and teamwork that help you fully develop all of those areas that will ensure your complete preparation. These experiences will ingrain in you the essential skills you can then access when you arrive at Go Time.
Sixth Rule: Preparation requires a defined purpose, clear focus, and high energy every day. It's impossible to engage in quality preparation unless these three things are present. You must have a clear purpose that tells you precisely what you're working on. Without that purpose, you will make at best, haphazard progress toward your goals. When you identify your purpose every day, you ensure that you put directed effort into that purpose. You must have a clear focus on that purpose which involves consistently concentrating on the task at hand and avoiding distractions that will interfere with that focus. You must have high energy to achieve this preparation. All of your efforts will come to naught if you are not physically prepared (e.g., rested, relaxed, well nourished) to execute the purpose you have identified. When you have awareness and control of your energy, you enable your mind and body to direct all of its efforts toward your defined purpose.
Seventh Rule: However you perform in your day-to-day work is how you will perform at Go Time. When most people think of the best athletes (e.g., Peyton Manning, Albert Pujols, Michael Phelps), they often believe that what makes them great is their ability to rise to the occasion at Go Time. But what really makes them so successful is that what they do at Go Time is really no different than what they do every day in their off season training and pre-event routine. The same holds true in the golf course maintenance business. Your daily and seasonal work preparations and efforts should be filled with the same drive, intensity, and focus that you will need to tap into at Go Time.
Eighth Rule: Preparation is about the Grind. To be your best, you have to put a lot of time and effort into your preparations. I call this the Grind, which involves having to put hours upon hours of time into your work, well beyond the point that it is fun and engaging. If you let these immediate negative aspects of your work override your long-term goals of performing your best and achieving your goals, your motivation is going to suffer and you're not going to be as prepared as you can be and you won't perform at your highest level at Go Time. The number one reason for failure is when business people experience the Grind they get tired, frustrated, or bored, they either ease up or give up, all of which will hurt their preparations and ultimately the final product. What makes great superintendents great is that they understand it is what happens when they arrive at the Grind that separates them from everyone else. When they hit the Grind, they push harder.
Ninth Rule: Go Time Preparation comes from "one more thing, one more time." You can assume that golf businesses are working hard to become the best they can be, especially in this weak golf economy. Great achievers do, "One more thing, one more time." When you feel you have done enough, do just a little bit more. By doing one more thing, one more time, you are doing that little bit extra that will prepare you for Go Time and separate you from your competitors.
Tenth Rule: All preparation is directed toward preparing you and your team to perform your best at Go Time. Anyone can perform well in unimportant situations, under ideal weather conditions or when they are totally "on their game." What makes the great superintendents great is their ability to perform their best when it really counts. Go Time preparation will allow you to achieve Premium Conditions at Go Time, that late August Member/Guest after a brutal summer, that might be your equivalent of the Super Bowl, World Series, or Stanley Cup.
The Ten Rules above are a simple template of proven ways to become more prepared for the golf season. They all revolve around planning and preparation in the less busy golf season. Unplanned surprises and a fickle Mother Nature will always be a part of the golf maintenance business but they should never derail your best plan and keep you from delivering your maximum effort each day.