What do we do all winter?

My favorite and most frequent question.  Each winter is different, but what we accomplish in the winter will setup our successes for the upcoming golf season.  Bottom line is that details matter.  We look for ways to improve the details in all aspects of our operations.

Some of those details fall into course accessories.  Each winter we look at ways to improve the accessories on the golf course and training center.  In years past, we have crafted new tee markers, seed and sand boxes, and updated our recycling and trash disposal setups.  This year Corey Wisher, the Assistant Golf Course Supt., spent much of his winter handcrafting new range accessories.  His work includes new range dividers, pace-of-play clocks, and wooden "apple crates".  See below for the picture slide show of his work.  Its pretty impressive!

The dividers will be used at the hitting bays at the Mounier Golf Training Center.  The pace of play clocks will serve as a Tee Time reminder for those warming up at the range during events.  The clocks will also will be placed at the 1st and 10th tee to encourage proper etiquette for pace during a round.  The "apple crates" are for golf ball storage and dispensing at the training center.  It's a new twist on the tired and worn look of old wire baskets.  While the training center is not open for daily use, because of logistical restrictions, the training center is open for many CDGA, Junior and Bloomington Normal Golf Association events.  Talk with our Pro Shop staff on how to become involved in these fun and competitive events!

We also spend many hours during the winter combing over the details of each piece of equipment.  This includes, mowers, tractors, golf carts, utility vehicles, small engines, etc.  John Pokarney, our Equipment Service Technician, has worked in the golf industry for over 30 years.  He is responsible for setting up our mowers and their cutting quality that provide the conditions we enjoy throughout the summer.  Proper mower setup is as important as agronomy in influencing green speeds and roll.  It's ALWAYS a team effort!

Agronomic and managerial organization and planning is also an important part of our winter routine.  I spend many hours reviewing past practices, creating a new agronomic plan based on successes and failures of years past, and identifying ways I can become a better leader of our staff and of the golf course. I spend time at educational conferences identifying the latest trends in golf maintenance and networking with local and national superintendents; collaborating on ways I can improve.

An area of particular interest recently has been utilizing technology to more efficiently communicate with our staff.  We have experimented with digital job boards for a year and a half and continue to update its usage.  We overhauled our dashboard through google sheets, allowing real-time updates from any internet connected device back to our central job board hub in our break room. 

We also continue to collect as many data points from the golf course as possible.  This includes moisture content, weather data, green speeds, and associated costs.  In the near future, I believe we will be using technology such as IBM Watson to analyse these data points with costs and the tasks we track through our digital job boards and more efficiently manage our golf courses.  After all, if you can't measure it you can't manage it.

This winter we also identified the need for improvements to the break room and added a coffee bar.  We want to provide as many comforts to our staff as possible to show our appreciation for their difficult hours and strenuous work. It doesn't look like much, but a good cup of coffee goes a long way.

Improving communication doesn't stop with our staff, I have also committed to finding new and better ways of communicating with our customers and potential new customers.  Part of this initiative has been blog posting (I am very grateful that you have taken the time to read my thoughts).  To further assist in our communications, we hired a commercial drone operator to film the golf course.  I have spent time editing the raw video footage into a usable marketing piece.  Below is a YouTube link of a sample video.  We are working with Redbird Productions to further enhance the piece.  In the meantime, take a sneak peek and take pride in the beauty of the course from Reggie's (a bird's) point-of-view! Better yet share it with anyone that enjoys golf!!!

I'll leave you with a quote I have found inspiring this winter and has shaped much of my efforts in preparing for the upcoming golf season.
 "The world is changed by your example, not your opinion."
             -Paulo Coelho (Brazilian lyricist and novelist)

      Thanks for reading!

     -Travis Williams, Golf Course Supt.


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