Motivated by the odds

Carlos Arrayain Golf

Carlos Arraya, CGCS, Director of Grounds and Agronomy at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, USA, believes that greenkeepers beat the odds every single day.

Waking up each morning obviously is the most critical part of our everyday routine. For many of us, this routine consists of occasional drowsiness, workouts, a weather forecast check, a good breakfast, walking the dog, reading the news and, of course, consumption of a full cup of some sort of caffeinated drink. (It is a point of contention for me that waking up is taken for granted by many, but I'll leave that for another time.)

The caffeine is a jump-start to get our blood pumping through our veins but, for some of us, caffeine is simply not enough. Our mind, body and soul require something a bit more potent than caffeine, like a good old-fashioned "fix" to really get our blood flowing and passions fuelled. No, I'm not referring to a bloody mary or Red Bull, but rather a good old-fashioned "turf fix." I'm referring specifically to the scent of freshly cut grass mixed together with the aroma of a two-cycle petrol exhaust.

Is there a better smell in the world? Would you believe me if I told you that, prior to this mixture reaching your neurological passageways, you had already beaten several odds of life? Probably not, but it is true.

From the moment your morning routine started, you were unknowingly overcoming long odds. You beat them by completing your morning routine, by simply not being burned by your coffee. You even were able to overcome the odds associated with the lack of morning motivation. Multiply these with the odds associated with an entire day of leading people, managing turf and outcompeting the weather to produce a finely tuned golf course and, phew, that's some serious butt- kicking taking place!

From my perspective, it's much easier to appreciate each day's professional success when you can value odds of all sizes. No matter how things are going on or off the golf course, we are all overcoming odds and are destined to continue doing just that. Heck, the odds of you reading this article were one in 400 quadrillion. Those are the exact odds of the both of us being alive at the same time, on the same planet, in the same country, writing and reading the same column. Okay, maybe those odds are a bit exaggerated, but you get my drift.

You're living proof that winners must overcome the odds. In fact, I'd go so far as to say you are a risk taker - not the risk taker who sits at the casino table rolling the dice, but a risk taker forging new paths in our golf industry.

Each one of your professional choices is associated with great risk. You think about your own risk, all while you clearly understand that, as a turf manager, you also affect the risks and odds of so many other people. The players who enjoy your course are affected by the risks you take to brave the environmental challenges we face every day. The people who work with you are trusting that the odds are high that you will keep them safe and will assist them in achieving operational as well as professional success. We are responsible for so many people, so many risks and have such great odds to overcome, it's a wonder we can sleep at night.

As we professionally mature, there is aspiration for three things: liberation (freedom), inspiration (support) and motivation (passion). How are odds even relevant in today's golf course superintendent world? For starters, do not allow the odds to be camouflaged in your routine. Second, appreciating the odds will fuel your freedom, support and passion.

My hope is that highlighting these odds will truly inspire you not to be intimidated by them, but rather to be "motivated by the odds." Remember, a great superintendent does not fear the odds. Rather, he/she prepares for, anticipates and embraces them.

Carlos Arraya, CGCS, is Director of Grounds and Agronomy at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis. The course has hosted three major championships: the U.S. Open in 1965, and the PGA Championship in 1992 and 2018.

This article first appeared on Golfdom (Volume 75-8) and is reproduced by kind permission.

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