The approach to being better at golf business is one of my favorite topics. What are the key elements that contribute to a finely managed golf course? The profession of golf course management is a multifaceted one. Personalities, equipment fleets, labor, agronomics, financial management, just to name several. It’s a wonder anyone can be highly proficient at being a golf course superintendent considering all of the skills needed.
From my standpoint the golf course superintendent is a consummate business manager and leader, who is passionate about working hard and delivering the finest conditioned golf course that time and resources will allow. To sharpen your skills as a leader and business manager I offer several ideas for standing out as the golf course superintendent at the facility you manage. What follows are observations on leadership made by me that contribute to a successful golf management business managed by several successful superintendents I have known.
A Golf Course Superintendent Should Always Establish Good Examples of Being a Leader
It’s always a good practice not ask anything of employees that you will not do yourself. This is why the same people have worked for good superintendents for extended periods of time. One of the simple things a superintendent can do to show they are on the same page as the rest of the crew, is to show up for work on time and stay the course of the day. If working hours are 6 to 3, then put those hours in like everyone else.
Do Not Fall Prey to "It's Not My Job" Syndrome at Your Facility
If you desire to be a true leader, you need to lose the "it's not my job," mantra. This attitude will get you nowhere fast. Over the years, I worked among many general managers and golf professionals who shifted their responsibility to someone else. Lend a hand when you see someone from another department or a golfer that could use your help. However, do not let others at your course or club take advantage of you.
Own up to Your Mistakes - It is Always Better than a Cover-up
As a superintendent, be open and be the first one to say, "I goofed and I need to fix this immediately." Trying to cover-up a mistake or not admitting to a mistake takes far more energy to conceal than putting in place an immediate solution. No sleepless nights and believe me, you will get positive recognition for your honesty. The best superintendents are the ones who admit to error and corrects it without complaint.
Do Not Share Entrusted Company Business
If your general manager or owner entrusts you with private company business, keep it confidential. Be a better business manager and leader by demonstrating your ability to maintain your employer's trust. If your boss shares with you information he or she does not wish to be public, then respect that.
Leave Gossip Out of the Workplace
Gossip has no place in your working environment. I guarantee you will not make it as an effective leader or superintendent if you are a gossip. Gossip is harmful and turns people against each other, creating stress in the workplace. A good superintendent will sway fellow workers away from this useless behavior and instead promote positive dialogue among the employees.
A Team Leader is Not a Dictator
Do not let the idea of you being head superintendent, go to your head. You are still an employee like everyone else. You are a superintendent because your owners or memberships feel you can literally lead your crew and golf course in the right direction. You can be a better team leader by leaving your ego at the door.
Be a Good Listener
The worst trait I find in people is the inability to listen. If you want to be a better golf course superintendent, you have to polish your listening skills. Focus on what someone is trying to say to you and forget about what you will be doing this weekend or what you will have for dinner tonight. A good listener seems to be a dying breed these days.
Do Not Show Favoritism
Everyone involved in your business is an equal. If a couple of employees earn more money because they have been with the club for many years, do not show them favoritism over newer workers. As their superintendent, you’ll want them to feel they are an integral part of the course crew, also, be sure to let them know how appreciated they are for all their hard work.
Stay Calm and Collected
Be a better superintendent by staying calm and collected throughout the day. Learn to manage your stress level. A great way to get a handle on stress is a short walk on the golf course. There are many books available on this subject, so study up. A stressed out superintendent is not in control and in turn, emotionally unable to do a good job of heading up the rest of the crew.
Be a Leader in Making Decisions
You can be a better superintendent if you are able to reason and make decisions without floundering over what you have to accomplish on any given day. I know many superintendents that are sharp in the decision making process. These superintendents don’t hem and haw about what to do...they just make the call and get the job done. These outstanding superintendents never leave something up in the air while they ponder the problem for hours. Decision-making is a valued attribute in a first-rate golf course superintendent.