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by J. Paul Robertson

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Vancouver Island and specifically Victoria. Before my trip, I phoned a local superintendent who has been very successful on the island, and asked if he would have time for a course tour. I told him I would be arriving later in the afternoon and he eagerly agreed to stay late and changed his plans for a Friday night to accommodate my request.

Upon arriving at the club I was immediately impressed at the quality, condition and shear volume of work that they perform. The course was in immaculate condition with many projects and course improvements well underway. The superintendent unselfishly and unthreateningly gave freely of his own personal experiences, trials, tribulations and success. It was a huge learning experience for me and will influence me as a superintendent. But the story doesn't end there. The superintendent proceeded to invite me to stay at his home for the night to which I nervously agreed. After all he is well known in the industry, involved in many associations what if I say something to offend him? What could I have in common with someone of his caliber?

Upon arriving at his home I was greeted by his beautiful family consisting of his wife, and two daughters. They were all busy with family details like decorating for Halloween, getting ready to go out and baby-sit, and making supper. But not too busy to help make me feel comfortable.

We all sat for a wonderful supper and conversation and we even discussed issues not related to golf course maintenance. Our conversation revealed so many common similarities that all my uncertainty disappeared.

The next morning I had breakfast with his family and I was on my way back to the Okanagan. During my trip home I had opportunity to reflect on my weekend in Victoria and I am a better superintendent and a better person because of their hospitality.

Now don't everyone rush out and make plans to stay with superintendents on the island. But instead, look around you and take the opportunity to offer visiting superintendents, assistants, or staff a tour of your course don't just give them a free round of golf, make an effort to share some of your successes, failures and be open to a fresh perspective. Open your mind and even you home and your generosity will be returned.

When traveling across Canada or even in other countries, call a superintendent you do not know, go for a tour and I guarantee you will make new friends and create new allies.

In simplest terms we all share concerns about family, the environment, our roles in life, balance between work and family, and politics. To focus professionally, we are concerned about the state of our profession, the future of the golf course superintendent, career advancement, and professional development. Our common bond is uncanny as it would be hard to replicate this relationship in any other industry. I had the extreme pleasure to visit this superintendent and his family. This experience has broadened my perspective; I have become a better superintendent, a better person and, have made four new friends.

Paul Robertson is Currently Golf Course Superintendent at Summerland Golf and Country Club.

Turf Line News December 1999/January 2000

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