May 22, 2019

Jim West: Enhance Superintendent Relationships

Jim West, the 2014 PGA Tennessee Section Golf Professional of the Year, the Section’s 2015, 2016, & 2018 Horton Smith Award Recipient, and 2017 Bill Strausbaugh Award Recipient, is the PGA Director of Golf Operations at the Tellico Village Property Owners Association, in Loudon, Tennessee.

Jim West on the importance of enhancing superintendent relationships:
Relationships in most industries are vital to individual, as well as group success. In our field, they can often make or break a career. At the three courses (Tansi, Toqua, and The Links at Kahite) that make up Tellico Village, we have fostered an environment where our PGA Professionals have a genuine interest in the turfgrass management that goes into our 54 championship holes. To promote a truly personal relationship, our head professional and superintendent are close; our golf professionals attend Tennessee Turfgrass Association events, while our on-course professionals share in Tennessee PGA Section Knoxville Chapter educational seminars. Also, as a member of the Knoxville Chapter’s Educational Committee five years ago, I started an annual business summit, encompassing human resources, turfgrass management, food and beverage, merchandising, financial management, and more. Now hosted Section-wide, we have speakers from other industries, such as CPA’s to help our attendees gain business skills and teach them how to manage some of the large golf facilities we have within our section. Sharing in these endeavors only makes our staff closer, and more willing to cross train, and gain from each other’s knowledge and expertise. Our PGA Professionals get hands-on course experience, learning from our superintendent and his staff. Most superintendents are great teachers and eager to share their knowledge – the key to gaining the most information is to simply ask questions. Questions are always welcome – questioning is always offending.

Jim West on the business impact of enhancing superintendent relationships:
The primary benefit derived from this close relationship is gained from intelligent, knowledge-based conversations that our golf professionals now have with members. If it’s cart-path only, we can explain why. If it’s time for aerification, we can explain what that means. We are better equipped to deal with member inquiries as they pertain to the golf courses and the policies put in place to protect their health and beauty. This informed communication enhances our stature as PGA Professionals and broadens our knowledge base outside of the golf shop and away from the lesson tee. This drives the members to get on board, as they support the cutting, watering, and aerification efforts that make the courses as inviting and attractive as they are. The courses are better for these relationships, as is the community as a whole. With better course conditions comes more rounds played, and we are seeing those steady increases each year. We have a happier, more cohesive staff across the facility, and that becomes evident to members. They too are happier than ever, further proving the compounding effects that these professional and collaborative relationships produce.


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