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Simultaneously Managing Projects and Guests' Expectations

Wednesday, May 14, 2014   (0 Comments)
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Written by Nick Janovich
Golf Course Superintendent, Oglebay Resort

If there is an area on your golf course that needs improvement there is a good chance that you have heard countless complaints about it. If you have taken on a project to make improvements, you have also probably received complaints about the "mess” you have made. It is a no-win situation for most golf course superintendents who are managing a course that needs renovations. Hearing the constant criticism about your property's shortcomings and attempts to fix them can be draining for both you and your assistant. 

First, do not take the criticisms personally. Easier said than done, right? Take a step back and realize that the criticism is likely about the golf course and not your skills. Most superintendents that I have met know what improvements are needed to take their property to the next level. It is not their skill or knowledge that holds them back-- it is lack of funding. When dealing with criticism like this it is easy to get defensive. Don't! Instead of jumping straight to total disagreement, creating confrontation, or making excuses find part of the criticism that you can agree with. Then ask yourself why the member is voicing a complaint. There is a good chance it originates from him/her not fully understanding the situation or scope of the project. Granted, there are those who complain seemingly to hear their own voice but many will understand the issue after a little discussion. Like most issues we face, a little communication at the onset of a project will go a long way. Golfers have certain expectations of the golf course and if those expectations are not going to be met then you absolutely must communicate that ahead of time.

Effectively communicating while managing a project is of the utmost importance. It is important to communicate up, down, and out. A weekly email update to directors, green committees, and boards are a given. Communicating outward to members and guests is easier than ever, too. With Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and email blasts superintendents can post real-time updates about the status of their projects. A few pictures are always nice too. We all know what a bunker looks like without sand in it but the general golfing public does not and that is the stuff they love! Do not forget that not everyone is active on social media or email. A simple one-page post in the clubhouse every week to update members on a project's progress is still needed. Perhaps the most important communication, in my opinion, is between you and your staff. Regularly scheduled crew meetings are a great way to talk about what has happened, what is going to happen, and how it can all be done better. Often times the staff working on projects will be asked questions and they should be able to answer them in general terms. Another available tool is project-management software. Most programs, and even some free ones, have the ability to communicate a project's progress to stakeholders. For those constantly juggling projects this type of software is a must-have.

Part of this job is dealing with constant criticism from those who are likely uneducated on the topic. Our job is to better communicate the state of our course, our projects' progress, and golfers' expectations so that hopefully the criticisms come much less often. If you are constantly receiving negative feedback about a certain topic try to better communicate the issue to your stakeholders. A little effort to spread logical, truthful, and important information will pay dividends in the future. Everyone wants to see progress happening on the golf course but they do not want to be surprised by it.

Nick Janovich is a Golf Course Superintendent at Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, WV. He can be reached at or through his website:

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