Superintendent Communication Through Technology
By Tony Girardi, CGCS, Rockrimmon Country Club
In recent years we have seen ongoing technology developments that have changed the way we communicate in our everyday lives. Technology has also affected the golf world -- from booking tee times right from your smartphone to instantly determining yardage and analyzing swings. The role of the Golf Course Superintendent has changed dramatically as well. Effective and timely communication with staff, club officials, and golfing patrons has never been more critical to a well-run operation and ultimately, golfer satisfaction. There are several key areas where technology has created less confusion and a clear understanding of what’s happening on the course for golfers and superintendents alike.
Utilizing digital, hole-by-hole maps of the course has allowed us to easily direct staff to exactly where work is required without having to spend time going out to the exact location on property. We can also use them to isolate hand-watering areas, troubleshoot irrigation, document internal drainage installations on greens and much more. This leads to golfers seeing us driving around the course during their rounds less, which makes for a more enjoyable experience.
Using these same maps we can send digital notes, shapes, even embedded pictures right to club officials or members via email. For example, at Rockrimmon, this has proved invaluable in discussions on proposed tree removals -- we can show the exact tree to be removed, embed a picture of it to show shade issues, and then add a little note right on the one map page and send it to anyone involved.
Several tools are now available to monitor many different inputs to the course that can result in much better conditions and organization. Two of the most important are moisture meters and our chemical and fertilizer tracking software. Using a moisture meter allows us to monitor moisture levels on specific areas on each green and decide when to water and only water that specific area, leading to increased firmness and speed without sacrificing plant health.
Many of us also use tracking software for all chemical and fertilizer applications to the course. Our “Coverage System” software even shows us the suggested application interval of products to alert when they expire and provides access to every single product label we use. Being able to access this information from our phone or tablet at any time has saved loads of time and created a more educated decision-making process in this very critical area of care to the property.
Using these new tools, combined with sound agronomics and leadership, can help superintendents deliver the very best golf course to our most important customer -- the golfer. I hope that your club has the opportunity to take advantage of technology as much as we have over the past several seasons.