Golf Superintendents Are Professionals Too

Golf Course Superintendent John Namicu of Little Mountain Country Club
Golf Course Superintendent John Namicu of Little Mountain Country Club

“Hey Pro, how is it going today?” . . . A pretty common line from any golf course from around the world, but who are they talking to – you? If you are a Superintendent on any golf course in the world, you probably did not think this opening line was directed towards you – but you should.

Of all the “Professionals” at a golf course, the Superintendent is probably one of the most professional. They have a tremendous amount of knowledge; they are far more educated and are more technical than nearly anyone in the golf industry. They are also entrusted to the largest budget of any of the operational divisions within the property and typically supervise the largest number of employees to create and maintain the miracle patch of grass they call a golf course. So to coin a common line . . . “Who’s your Professional (or Daddy) Now?”

Of all the “Professionals” at a golf course, the Superintendent is probably one of the most professional.

This is not necessarily news to you, but as a Superintendent you live with these perceptions and challenges every day. However, what is your fault, is the lack of communication that will change these perceptions. We rarely step up and do it ourselves and if we don’t, no one else in the industry will do it for us. It reminds me of my favorite line out of the movie, Cool Hand Luke, where the Warden says, “What we have here, is a failure to communicate.”  What a great statement that was and I think about that all the time when working with my clubs and clients.

Related: Little Mountain Country Club: Details That Make a Good Golf Course Even Better

What we have here, is a failure to communicate.” 

If I say you are not communicating, then it begs the question . . . “What should I be communicating?”  A very fair question and hopefully I can bring a few ideas to you via this article. Part of my job in life is to craft perception through image. There is a line out there that says, “Image is Everything” I love that one because truly the image you project is clearly how many, if not most, people view you.

I feel the GCSAA has been very vigilant in crafting a professional aura at the yearly GIS show, with their seminars, personal improvement programming and even their recommended dress code. Basically if you look like a farmer, you are. However, if you look like a banker, you are perceived as a professional. That said, if you are making a board or community presentation, do not go dressed like a farmer – it is beneath your professional position. If you are making a presentation, use professional tools such as PowerPoint or before and after photos to illustrate your point and outcome. The lawyer down the street, who sits on the board in his suit, would kill to have the knowledge in your head to make his yard look half as good as your course. Taming turf is child’s play to you but it is a highly sophisticated and professional endeavor. You are running a company and a business at a very high level. People need to understand the scope of your abilities and professionalism.

Taming turf is child’s play to you, but it is a highly sophisticated and professional endeavor.

One of the divisions of my company is – you actually know me as you have seen my professional images for years. It is one of the ways that I make my company and my clients look good. I want you to promote yourself and your property in the same way, so here are a few “photo-tips” to create better images . . .

  • Shoot only in the first and last two hours of the day
  • Position yourself at 90 degrees to the light when shooting a photo
  • Gain height for your shots – drive up on a landscape bump and then stand on the cart’s bag rack to shoot from 8 to 12 feet above the green or fairway
  • Set your camera at ISO 100 and the F/Stop at F/8 – the camera can choose the shutter speed
  • Use a tripod and buy a filter called a Polarizing Filter for all your shots

If you do that, your images will move from snapshots to full blown beauties. Trust me on this, with over 450,000 images in our photo archive, we know a thing or two about golf photography. Now is time to do something with those images I am asking you to take. Note – Go to my golf photography website – and use the password – member – to see examples of more golf images.

If you are making a presentation to a board, take some ‘before’ images using NONE of the techniques I have listed above – go mid-day, hand hold, no filters, bad angles and even shoot in the off-season for your grasses. Then show your improvements, changes and work, but be sure to use every one my photo tips when you shoot the second time – I know this is cheating, but I am playing to win. However, it also adds value and professionalism to your renovation and maintenance efforts. It looks better because it is better.

Next, I encourage every one of my superintendents to strive to become published. It is a great way to share your knowledge and a huge boost to your professional stature, image and perception. Again, use my photo tips to illustrate your articles. The trade magazines are dying for good pertinent articles from “Professional” sources such as yourself on timely subjects, especially if they come with artwork or illustrations. As a “published author” you are viewed in a much different and professional category.

(Golf Course Trades is looking for superintendent interviews)

I encourage every one of my Superintendents to strive to become published.

Teach – I don’t care if you put a bunch of chairs in your tractor bays and do a seminar on pruning, aeration or fertilization, you have knowledge that your local club members or community would love to know. From there, teach a local GCSAA section class on solving a problem you encountered and you are only a step away from teaching a seminar at the International GIS show. Teaching, like articles, is a real image booster. I also believe I learn more about my craft every time I teach – it is enlightening.

I learn more about my craft every time I teach – it is enlightening.

The final tip for this article is to create an online forum. A place to collect your images, your articles, some information about yourself and in this day and age create a blog, Facebook, Instagram or TikTok . . . which is nothing more than an old school diary which is now digital and interactive in this online environment. It is a place to voice some thoughts, ideas, share solutions or even ask your blog readers for their thoughts and solutions for a common cause and problem. Basically, I am saying you should create a personal digital presence or website.

Our ultimate goal for all of my clients and Superintendents is to use recognition, perception and image to allow them professional growth. Whether you are looking for a new and more rewarding position at another course or you love your current job but would like to gain more exposure and income within your community, both require you to gain the respect for your professional abilities from others. Hopefully these few tips will help you obtain that goal.

In closing I would like to say . . . “Hey Pro, seriously you are doing a good job and the course is looking good, now let’s show it!”

John R. Johnson is a long time golf industry consultant and marketing expert. He lectures for the GCSAA, CMAA and PGA along with many other golf associations and seminars.

John can be reached by eMail – or phone 813-815-1140.

His websites are and

This article originally appeared in print for the Nebraska GCSAA publication – Plain Turf

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