My first full-time position with Great Parks was in Landscape Operations way back in 1984. Even after many, many years in park and golf course maintenance, I can still say with total honesty (and a significant amount of pride) that those months I spent on the landscape crew involved some of the hardest, most challenging work I’ve performed during my entire career.
As a group, our current Landscape Operations team does a tremendous amount of work, often with little or no fanfare or recognition. They are a diverse collection of personalities who take great pride in the work they do, are very knowledgeable in all things landscape, work very hard under often challenging conditions and who also remain extremely dedicated to each other as a team.
Today’s annual celebration of the Arbor Day event by Duke Energy, Great Parks and the City of Forest Park provides an opportunity for Landscape Operations to shine and showcase their collective talents in a very public location. This year’s project site is the very busy intersection of West Sharon and Mill Roads, at the northwest corner of the Mill Course.
In late 2015 the Winton Woods Operations team, assisted by our in-house Projects team, completed an extensive bunker renovation project behind the green on hole #11. While the finished product was a great improvement over the previous bunker conditions, it brought into sharp relief the worn and overgrown nature of the landscape backdrop between the green and Sharon Road. Landscape Manager Jerry Frankenhoff created a new design for the area that met several important criteria: providing an attractive separation between the golf course and Sharon Road traffic, screening for the nearby traffic signal control box and incorporating new trees to be planted in celebration of Arbor Day. This design is being installed in phases and will serve at the Arbor Day event celebration focal point for a few years ahead.
In the true spirit of teamwork and cooperation, the Winton Woods and Landscape Operations crews have worked together to prepare for this significant landscape improvement. The initial demolition and removal of existing landscape plants was performed by Winton Woods Operations in preparation for the grading, shaping, soil amendment/addition and plant installation work to be performed by the Landscape Operations crew.
As a long-time believer in the “you get not what you expect, but instead what you inspect” school of management, I made time to visit the project site on a recent sunny morning. Pulling up to the bunker from the green side, I had to laugh when I read some “Go Landscape” graffiti in the sand. Justifiably taking pride in their hard work, the landscape team left a little team spirit message behind for golfing guests and the Winton Woods Operations team.
I know well from personal experience that small gestures like this one can often make a huge difference in how a given workday unfolds. Being able to laugh while still working hard is an extra perk that too few of us take time to enjoy on a regular basis. I’d challenge you to find ways of encouraging your teams to better enjoy their work, co-workers or serving guests by adding a dash of humor and fun to the daily routine. In the meantime, I’m planning to ask the Landscape Operations team to submit some handwriting samples for review and analysis…just kidding!
Dan Shaw, North District Superintendent