Five Things Effective Green Committees Know
Every private club has a green committee and every club has stories to share on how effective (or not) their green committee has been. But stories aside, there are some basics that every member of a green committee can consider that will help ensure that when tales are told of his or her tenure on the committee, they’re positive ones.
We’ve gathered up five basics that can help encourage effective green committee leadership. By no means do these five steps cover all that goes into this important (and volunteer) position. However, we hope that they spark ideas and discussion that can lead to success with your committee.
1. One for All
It’s somewhat of a catch-22 with green committee members. On one hand, they’re most likely the member players with the deepest personal commitment to the course. On the other hand, as green committee members, they are the ones who speak for the common interest of the entire membership.
So, first and foremost, committee members must speak for all members when it comes to club initiatives, course conditions, budgeting and everything else related to committee matters. That said, they must filter comments and complaints, distilling the information to what most matters to the interest of the club. The motto for committee members should be one for all, not all for one.
2. Variety is a Good Thing
It stands to reason that the best players are the ones most likely to raise their hands and volunteer for the green committee. Fantastic! Get a few of them on board but also make sure you include a cross-section of abilities and demographics on your committee. Representatives from women’s, men’s, and senior golf should be included so that everyone’s interests are covered.
In addition, keep your committee at a reasonable size. More gets done with a smaller group so consider keeping your committee from five to seven members maximum.
3. Be the Buffer Zone
At its essence, the green committee is the diplomatic corps of a club. Committee members are the ones who bridge the gap between management, maintenance, and pro and the players. The committee chairperson usually also serves on the club’s board of directors, voicing recommendations from the committee and other relevant information.
As such, the chairperson and the committee at large are the buffers—the ones who hear everything at the ground level and communicate to the superintendent and golf pro what needs to change or what golf course maintenance action needs to be taken. This communication goes from players to management, management to superintendent and pro, and up to the Board as necessary.
Being able to filter what’s worth passing on and what isn’t is critical. Equally important are good communication skills and the ability to effectively relay information in a diplomatic, respectful manner. Committee members should listen more than speak and always remember that friendliness and humor go a long way.
4. Stick to Your Role
It’s common for committee members to get caught up in their roles and slip into areas beyond their expertise. So while it might be tempting for a committee member to request raising the rough on the ninth hole to foil his or her nemesis or reconfigure the mowing schedule to suit a desired play time, committee members need to keep in mind their duties and leave such matters to the experts. Believe it or not, it has happened that committee members have attempted to make decisions best left to a golf course architect or the superintendent. Those changes never end well. Again, committee members’ input is highly valued and so is their cooperation and understanding.
5. You Will Step on Toes
Finally, as much as diplomacy is a valued trait, there are moments when committee members simply have to stand their ground. For example, the committee chairperson may be the one who needs to speak up and ask for a golf course tournament date to be changed in order to suit maintenance activities such as greens aerification or other weather-/date-sensitive projects. That news might not be welcomed but it’s the committee’s job to weigh golf course requirements vs. player sentiments and opt for the best long-term outcome.
So Much More than Love of the Game
Effective green committees are made up of people with a true passion for the game, but the task goes far beyond that. In addition to being a major time commitment, green committees require individuals who are excellent listeners, communicators, and managers. These are people dedicated to getting things done and chosen wisely, they can effectively help steer your club to success.
For a comprehensive look at green committee leadership, check out the USGA Guide to Green Committee Members.