Everyone with a lawn knows a lot of work goes into having green grass, from regular mowing and watering to fertilizing and pest control. Imagine being responsible for a hundred-acre lawn that also has ponds, bunkers, and sand traps. That’s what a Golf Course Superintendent faces seven days a week.
Every great round of golf starts with the hard work of a golf course Superintendent and maintenance crew.
Golf Course Superintendents are critical to the success of every golf course. IGM takes great pride in hiring Superintendents with agronomic knowledge, experience, and a customer service focus. We introduce them to IGM’s standards and training methodology, and we support them in ensuring top quality service and performance for our golf course maintenance clients.
As Steve Gano, Vice President of Operations, points out “Being a Superintendent is more than just growing grass; sometimes they are a business manager, PR person, fireman, even a therapist.”
Chris Parsons, IGM Superintendent at Viewpoint Golf Resort in Mesa, AZ, oversees 120 acres of course turf and another 15 acres of practice area. He points out that’s “manicured turf, with grass lengths precisely measured for the best playability.”
On a daily basis, Superintendents are responsible for administering the horticultural programs for course surfaces (greens, traps, tees, fairways), surrounding bodies of water, trees, and other landscaping. IGM Superintendents follow best management practices for water conservation and drought management plans, knowledge of irrigation systems, fertilizer application, and chemical related applications.
Since early 2020, golf courses have felt the impact of the pandemic, which created a whole new set of challenges. No one knew quite what to expect, but it turns out that many courses became busier than ever, creating more work for Superintendents and their crews. Though golf is an outdoor sport, carts still had to implement measures to protect golfers and workers. This includes disinfecting golf carts between rounds, limiting numbers in each cart (requiring more sanitized carts), and removing all handheld tools, such as bunker rakes, flag sticks, and ball washers to avoid cross contamination. In addition, each course had to adhere to local government guidelines.
During this time, it also became increasingly difficult to hire and retain quality employees. Parsons says he sees a lot more competition with other industries for employees. In Arizona, golf course employees have to enjoy working outside, but Parson says some applicants are just looking for pay. That makes his work harder as a manager.
Dramatic increases in fertilizer, fuel, and seed prices are also creating challenges for Superintendents. At Viewpoint, over-seeding the courses is scheduled for late September and early October, but shortages have doubled the price for turf seed.
In addition, Parsons said his courses have been faced with new water restrictions by the Colorado River Project. “We monitor every drop that falls on our property and that we put on the courses. When we get rain, we shut down irrigation. We’re constantly checking meters. We’re very efficient and conservation-minded with water consumption.”
Amid the daily labor and current challenges, add in the occasional course preparation for tournaments and special events, and you have a job that requires extreme dedication, sometimes from daylight to dark. So why do they do it?
Parsons says it’s rewarding to see the two Viewpoint courses in near-perfect condition. “When the playability is good, it’s rewarding to get positive feedback from customers.”
While the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America recognizes September 14, 2021 as “Thank a Superintendent Day,” IGM wants to express our gratitude to our Superintendents every day.
Gano said, “Superintendents have always been problem solvers and good business managers leading the way in the golf industry -- no doubt the IGM Supers will continue to be pioneers and push through.”
IGM provides complete golf course maintenance and management services in markets across the U.S. The company is committed to agronomic excellence and environmentally conscious methods and products. To request a consult, please contact Greg Plotner, Executive Vice President, 407-589-7200. Additional information may be obtained by visiting IGM’s website at golfmaintenance.com.