Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Is it time to eat yet?"

When's the course going to open?  I don't know!

Every year with the passing of Daylight Savings Time and the appearance of turf around the bases of trees, anxious golfers always posed the question "when's the course going to open?

As a golf course manager telling the golfer "I don't know" has always rankled me just little bit.  "I don't know" always bought time but was never the perfect answer I was looking for. 

Of course I would like to be totally in control but Mother Nature always seems to have all the trump cards.  To this day I'm still searching for a better answer that would satisfy the human element.

I thought a little humor in my answer would do the trick.  This happened one year when a member asked me in the presence of the golf pro at least seven times in three days when I thought the course was going to open.  You should know that there was at least two feet of snow on the course, frost in the shaded drifted areas and ponds of water forming due to the snow melt.  "I don't know."  But it's going to hit 50 degrees today was his reply when I gave him my answer.  My answer stayed consistent "I don't know" over and over again.

One day I had a brilliant idea. I sought out the golf pro and posed the question "Whens the course going to open?" When he said "I don't know" I tossed a pound of frozen hamburger on his counter and asked him if he tell me the exact time we could eat.  And by the way no microwaves could be used, the hamburger had to thaw naturally.  He understood my analogy and we've enjoyed a chuckle or two over the years when our paths cross.  However, I've never once dared or maybe I have, pulled this tactic on a member.

One of my mentoring superintendents Monroe Miller published in the "Grass Roots" a piece that looked at the average course opening date for his club over the past 25 years and mathematically calculated the standard deviation (plus or minus) of a predictable course opening date.  The deviation was a plus or minus five days as I remember.  Thus a theoretical window of possible early and late dates of opening could be predicted.  As I know longer remember how to calculate standard deviations I'll spare you my possible mathematical error.

So for now when I hear the question, "when's the course going to open?"  I'll reply "I don't know!"  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.