Friday, February 8, 2013

We've Come A Long Way

I'm now on the flight home from this year's GCSAA Educational Conference and Trade Show (GIS '13) flying at an altitude of 36,998 feet according to Southwest Air's Flight Tracker feature on my iPad.

What does that have to do with GIS '13? It is a reminder of how far the golf industry, and technology in general has come. 20 years ago at this time I had just attended my first GCSAA Conference in Anaheim as first year assistant superintendent at Transit Valley CC in Western New York. It was quite a bit to take in for a young 23 year old who had never flown in a plane or been farther west than Cincinnati. The trade show floor was huge, the information in the seminars was great, the equipment and technology seemed groundbreaking, and it was at the time.

Now, 20 years later, here I am sending out a blog post from 37,000 feet over New Mexico, reviewing GIS '13 in my mind. Everything is the same, yet different. There was the usual new equipment, irrigation supplies, course amenities (some of which hasn't changed in over 20 years), and turfgrass seed and sod suppliers. What is different is the amount of technology applied to everything. Everything from remote operation of irrigation systems on iPads and smartphones to remote control mowers for steep banks. I even discussed the viability of bermudagrass surviving a northern winter, a distinct possibility given reports that the Redskins are considering a hardy new variety for RFK Stadium. It is now conceivably an option for our lawn bowling green that only gets used for 9 weeks in the summer.

All these advancements are helping superintendents across the country perform at the highest level, despite budgets being cut and dollars being stretched. But, possibly, the biggest innovation is social media. The use of Twitter, Google+, blogs, and the like are connecting superintendents across the world as if we are standing right beside each other. We are teaching each other new maintenance techniques, how to use the latest apps on our iPads and smartphones, and reassuring each other that we are not alone in our challenges as we wear so many hats in the course of a year. This week I have had the pleasure and privilege of meeting not only some of the best superintendents in the world, but some of the finest individuals as well. Superintendents from my own state of New York to those in Indiana, Ontario, Australia, and Siberia to name a few, and who I likely would never have met without Twitter. It is amazing how much information can be shared in 140 characters or less and it has become a tool in this new world of golf course maintenance that has become as important to me as my soil probe and my equipment.

Thank you to all my new friends from around the world. I look forward to our time together with social media and seeing you at GIS '14.

I'm now flying at 36,999 feet over Dodge City, KS. We've come a long way, indeed.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad