Simultaneously Managing Projects and Guests' Expectations
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
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
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
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
Nick Janovich is a Golf Course Superintendent at Oglebay
Resort in Wheeling, WV. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or
through his website: www.nickjanovich.com