I was surprised and disappointed to read Geoff Webb's response in the point counter-point article in this month's Groundsman which seems to be a knee jerk and poorly considered reaction and one that appears to have missed my point almost entirely.
In my article I attempted to put across a reasoned and balanced set of views, supporting the idea of a message board/forum (not chat room) being set up on the IOG website.
I was hoping for an equally reasoned response by the head of an organisation that I have belonged to for over 20 years, and still believe has a vital role to play in the future of our industry and the people working in it.
Instead Mr Webb has chosen to use his response to launch a barely veiled attack on Pitchcare.com and anything that it has contributed to our industry in the past six years.
On the subject of online discussion forums he says:- "We have considered their original purpose," he explains they are "often a hotbed for rumour, misinformation, offensive comment and anonymous jibes at colleagues."
But isn't that what free speech is all about? The right to comment, even offensively, to air rumours and even to give misinformation. Any such comments are very soon shot down or put right by more knowledgeable respondents on all website chat rooms and notice boards. He chooses to ignore the main purpose of such sites that provide a vast amount of excellent information available on demand and the capacity to interact with top professionals.
Geoff Webb then moves on to another topic entirely unrelated to my original points, by condemning "other businesses" (wonder who he is referring to) for being totally profit orientated. Pitchcare is a business and an increasingly successful one. Why should it be ashamed of making a profit? The number of brand name suppliers who have chosen to use Pitchcare as a vehicle for selling their products is an endorsement of Pitchcare's popularity and integrity.
Financially, the IOG relies on SALTEX to a worrying degree and it is, ironically, those same companies that advertise on and support Pitchcare that keep the IOG, a non-profit organisation, afloat.
The biggest contribution that Pitchcare has made to the turf grass industry has been to provide a focus point for all those involved in it, where we can all share our knowledge and enthusiasm. Be they a part time village green volunteer groundsman or someone in charge of one of our prestige sporting venues, greenkeeper or groundsman, apprentice or old hand as myself, we have all benefited enormously.
And do you know what is the greatest irony of all, and one that Geoff Webb should note closely? It hasn't cost any of us a penny!
I would like to think that this letter would be published in The Groundsman so that its readers could respond to the views expressed. If there was a discussion board on the IOG website I could post it there, but there isn't and judging by Geoff Webb's response there is never likely to be.
So here it is on Pitchcare.com where 28,000 people can criticise, praise or just plain ignore………………….but the choice is theirs.