Week 7: Learning about Golf Course Maintenance

In my seventh week interning at Forest Akers Golf Course, I had the pleasure to talk some of the course maintenance guys on staff. They spoke to me about the various functions that the maintenance crew serves. Their doings are essential and imperative to running the course. The first factor is watering the grass. With increased concentration on conserving water, the superintendent must work hard to be economical with his irrigation practices. They water different parts of the course daily, with emphasis on the greens and more sensitive grasses. In addition to irrigation, the course is fertilized regularly throughout the golf season. Use of pesticides and fertilizers are mandatory to ensure grass quality.

As an avid golfer myself, and a caddie since I was 13 years old, I understand the importance of quality greens. The hardest part of course maintenance is controlling the greens. Many different procedures are used to improve green quality including: mowing at the right height and in proper intervals, rolling, cutting patterns so the grass is pushed a certain direction, constant grooming, and aeration to improve rooting, drainage, and soil conditions.

Each component of managing the golf course on the maintenance end plays a interrelationĀ in the big picture. You can’t just water the grass – it needs to be properly seeded, fertilized, and of course, there needs to be the right climatic conditions for optimal greens keeping.

Week 6 – Retail Operations

On my 6th week of my internship at Forest Akers golf course, I had the pleasure of working with one of my favorite employees, Kimberly. She is an important employee of Forest Akers because of her great attitude, hard work ethic, and overall knowledge and ability to work in all different departments. She has been a joy to work with. This past week she took me through all of the retail operations. Retail is actually a business that I am not fond of. Last year I worked at the Great Lakes Crossing Mall over Thanksgiving and Winter break and I did not enjoy the work atmosphere. Nonetheless, I was excited to have Kimberly show me the ropes through the retail operations at Forest Akers. Retail is one of the most important divisions of Forest Akers. Essentially, it is the position where all money is collected for golf fees, as well as sales in the pro shop and the snack shop.

The retail operations have many different duties to keep things moving along. These functions include: buying, assembling, storage, maintaining inventory levels, selling, and risk. All of these functions perform a interrelated factor in making retail run. Forest Akers also has to advertise. They have many promotional materials in the pro shop regarding exclusive deals and similar things. The one thing that always must be on the top of a pro shop employee’s mind is customer service. Running a business is all about providing services for the end consumers. Kim is an excellent employee because of her great gift of communicating with people.

Week 5 – Phone & Email Operations + Budgeting

This past week during my internship with Forest Akers golf course I was introduced to the phone and email system they operate. I was unbelievably surprised with the overall complexity involved in phone operations, as well as email. Steve set me up with one of Forest Akers’ employees, Kimberly Bryan. She was extremely friendly and showed me through the entire email and phone system tasks that she handles. One of her large tasks for the day as phone hosts was handling class participants for golf instruction and inputting them into the system. She had to go through emails about the classes and put the information into a separate document for each participant, then email them a receipt as well as inputting them into Forest Akers’ records with the receipt number. After completing the class participants, she showed me through the employee log page, which records employee shifts over the past week to confirm everything is correct.

After working with Kim for half the work day, I went with Steve Ruthenberg to work on his master marketing plan. I found this very interesting and gratifying to learn about. Steve stressed to me the importance of mastering the right budget with marketing. There are two sides to the spectrum: marketing a lot with high turnover and returns, or too much marketing and not making back the intended return for a net loss. We covered several subdivisions of different marketing departments including: Radio, Print, Mail, TV, Social Media, and In House. We were able to successfully shave costs in several departments and add in others. Steve was very grateful for my help with this process. It was analytical and very important to Forest Akers and the money they bring in each year.

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Week 4: Seeing Operations and Checking Inventories

Last week when I went in to Forest Akers, I was able to see each component of the golf course operations. The different positions intertwine into the big picture of running the golf course. They include: pro shop, snack shop, both East and West course’s first tee, East & West cart barns, and practice facility. I took a special amount of time following the employees in the snack shop and Akers West pro shop. In the snack shop we went over set up, clean up, general maintenance, as well as most importantly, emergency protocol. This was interesting to me because I never realized the true consequences that can come from a power outage, or a broken freezer. When a freezer in the snack shop stops working, a lot of money can be lost in the food that perishes. In the pro shop, we discussed the main duties that an employee behind the counter has to always keep in mind in order to satisfy customers and management. This functions include: meet & greet posture and behavior/dialogue, always making sure clothing is folded and in its respective place, running cash & credit transactions, general customer service, how to handle returns, and opening and closing protocol. Opening is basic: sign-in and turn on the lights. Closing is a bit more time-intensive: counting money, separating deposits, and finally turning off the lights and locking up shop.

After seeing the different parts of golf course operations, Steve had me work on their chemical inventory. I went through the snack shop and both cart barns checking the current status of their chemical inventories to meet their upcoming compliance inspection. Steve stressed to me the importance of being compliant. There is no middle-ground: they are either perfect, or can fail and face repercussions. With my help they will be able to maintain compliant and continue to run the business.

Week 3 – Expectations project cont. + Steve makes a commercial

As I went into my third week interning at the Forest Akers Golf Club, we continued to work on filming video for Steve Ruthenberg’s Expectations project for the Forest Akers Golf Course employees. As I said in my last blog post, Mr. Ruthenberg is trying to provide a resource for his employees at all different parts of the golf course operations by shooting video footage of different basic work tasks and protocols. After our first day of filming over thirty videos for separate tasks, we some loose ends to still finish up. We also took some time to review the videos and see how they were turning with lighting, sound quality, or any disruptions. For the most part, the footage was solid and we were able to fix any error tendencies we noticed.

After shooting the expectations video footage, Richard and I assisted Steve in his commercial. It was a pretty excellent idea. In an effort to raise money for the Forest Akers employees, as well as a potential donation to the Evans Scholars Foundation, Steve put together a commercial shoot to enter into the competition that Doritos does for the Superbowl. He brought in an actor that impersonates Caddy Shack star, Rodney Dangerfield to shoot a golf-themed commercial. We observed the camera crew shoot the commercial on the course and I was pleased to see it go through. If the commercial turns out to work, Steve will benefit many individuals and it will be used as a great advertising opportunity for Forest Akers as well.