“Right now we aren’t even concerned about performance, we’re concerned about how we keep our clubs open … right now it’s about how we survive.” – Shawn Rhodes
These are unsettling times, with the COVID-19 outbreak continuing to challenge all of us - changing the way that we live and how we work.
The effects of this global pandemic have already taken a significant toll on our industry. Golf courses were included in the provinces mandatory closure of non-essential workplaces on March 17th, but essential property maintenance on the grounds has been allowed, albeit with strict limitations which include social distancing, hand washing, cleaning of equipment, etc.
The pressure put on superintendents to maintain courses at a basic level of conditioning has been immense, as we all struggle to determine what is essential and how much we can afford to do with our limited budget and staffing.
There is also the property security issue for some, as the public tries to use some golf courses for exercise or dog walking. Not to mention the extra stress of ensuring that enough precautions are in place for our scaled-down teams – worrying about what equipment will be used by which employees, putting up disinfecting stations, making sure washrooms and lunch rooms in our maintenance buildings can be accessed with proper social distancing and kept sanitized, etc. And of course, we all have to think about what will happen if any of our staff members (or ourselves) become sick.
Shawn Rhodes has made it his life's work to study teams who found ways to survive and thrive in the most challenging and dangerous environments on the planet. He is an international expert on how the best teams pivot when change enters their plans; Shawn is a former war correspondent and author of the book “Pivot Point: Turn On A Dime Without Sacrificing Results.”
The OGSA invited Shawn Rhodes to address the effects of this current crisis on our industry. The free webinar for our members took place on the Zoom platform and was held on May 7, 2020.
Shawn told his OGSA audience that COVID-19 has shown us how unprepared many of our courses and clubs were for crisis and/or change. He pointed out that superintendents are now responsible not just for maintaining the grounds, but also for the lives of staff and members.
He urged us all to think about what we can control in the midst of this pandemic, encouraging each of us to think about what is essential right now in order to figure out how to use our limited resources in the best way to get (and keep) our courses open.
I would urge all of you who did not get a chance to tune into the webinar with Shawn Rhodes to watch the video of the talk, which has been posted on the OGSA website. You will also find our website a great place to review some industry specific COVID-19 resources, including information from the government of Ontario and re-opening considerations. We know that it is more important than ever to stay informed during these extraordinary times as the situation around COVID-19 continues to develop at an increasingly fast pace, and we will continue to keep our website current.
I would also recommend reading Shawn Rhodes book, “Pivot Point: Turn On A Dime Without Sacrificing Results.” I did, and I found it helpful, especially in this time of crisis. In a nutshell, here are some of his recommendations: Avoid panicking. Make a plan (for contingency and continuity) and execute it to survive. Map out your current team, define roles and assign jobs. Take the time to communicate the objective you’re all trying to reach together to get your organization through this – to your staff, your owners and your members or customers. Getting everyone on the same page will keep the group together as you navigate the changes that are upon us.
I hope that by the time you read this message, golf courses have been allowed to open. In the meantime, I also hope that despite the stress of being in uncharted territory, that you have enjoyed the once in a lifetime experience of being able to cut fairways in record time, work all day without trying to stay away from golfers, and turning on sprinklers whenever you like.
I would like to end my message with some good news. The IPM Council of Canada has reduced fees, and online audits have been postponed for 2020. And the best news of all - the public meeting requirement pursuant to Ontario Regulation 63/09 has been removed.
Take care of yourselves and each other,