The role of a course superintendent can be all-encompassing at times. Lee Strutt, course manager at The Royal Automobile Club in the UK and past presenter at the Australian Turfgrass Conference, reminds us all of the importance of balance in our lives in order to achieve a level of success.
For a while now I have considered what success really is and whether I have achieved it? This led to several discussions with a good friend of mine, Matthew Wharton from Carolina Golf Club in the USA, which eventually morphed into us compiling a presentation that was given at this year’s BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition and Golf Industry Show.
The idea came about after Matt and I had been discussing the pressures of being a superintendent and how we were achieving our goals and whether we were being successful?
We were both aware of the growing acknowledgement of mental health and wellbeing and thought that there was a clear connection between working towards success and the effects if was having on people in our industry. We both felt that even though we could not claim to be experts in the field of psychology and behaviour, we believed our experience and knowledge could be shared with our peers and help assist the younger generation of turf managers coming through the ranks.
Our conversation about success continued backwards and forwards over 18 months as we explored what success really is.
During that time, these discussions revived numerous memories of some of the highs and lows we had experienced in search of success, which led us to asking further questions, including;
What is success?
Open the pages of The Oxford Dictionary and the word ‘success’ is defined as;
For us as turf professionals, success can be made up of small and large elements. When we work through our careers we set milestone achievements – maybe it’s the first time we mow our first bullet, being responsible for leading a project or team, or promotion to that coveted first superintendent role. All these are signs of success.
Success for some may focus on developing perfect turf surfaces, a pure mono-stand grass species, constructing and maintaining the largest maintenance facility or many significant projects that take you out of your comfort zone.
For some it’s hosting an event, whether local, regional, national or international like a World Cup or President’s Cup.
We could also judge success by achieving the status of superintendent at one of the world’s most prominent golf clubs, like St Andrews Links or Augusta National or Royal Melbourne.
Gaining qualifications is something very close to my heart. I’m not alone in admitting that I left school with very little in the way of academic qualifications.
Being labelled as stupid or being categorised that you wouldn’t achieve very much wasn’t uncommon. Possibly the drive for success and recognition inspired many to achieve higher qualifications, degrees, masters and even PhD’s.
Sometimes the reference of success is misguided, as it normally refers to your work and career. However, many have struck success outside work. Sports and hobbies range far and wide where you feel you are achieving something that elevates your sense of achievement and makes you feel that you are successful.
It may be even that after a long career you are able to retire early and pursue a life free of work and responsibilities and be free to do whatever you want.
But to achieve these ambitions, we must understand that there must be an amount of dedication, skill and determination. This isn’t without its issues.
Indeed, tomorrow’s manager will need to understand a greater range of knowledge and learning. We are already seeing a huge impact surrounding legislation and restrictions with the use of chemicals, with current day turf managers having to find and navigate a route to a solution that meets expectations.
This article was originally published in Volume 21.3 (May-June 2019) of the Australian Turfgrass Management Journal. To subscribe to the magazine click here.