|Various estimates put the number of apps at more than 2.5 million, up from about 800 in 2008, when software designed to run on smartphones and other mobile devices first burst onto the scene. Research giant Nielsen reports that 89 percent of consumers’ media time is now spent on mobile apps.
As Matt Galligan, the entrepreneurial creator of several tech solutions, says, “The future of mobile is the future of everything.”
Among the apps available for download is one that allows you to summon up an instant dose of good luck (Lucky Spell), useful when dark clouds move over the course the morning of the member-guest; one that encourages you to get off the couch and to the gym (Gym Shamer); and one that teaches the finer points of sword swallowing (iSword). Hint: It’s not for everyone.
Superintendents are among apps’ biggest fans. Wherever I go, I see you peering into your smartphones. Since I doubt you’re all watching cat videos, I began to wonder what are the most popular and useful apps among turfheads.
Bryan Stromme, Chicago-based regional director of agronomy for Billy Casper Golf, says he uses Evernote and Dropbox to store notes and large files. He relies on airline and hotel apps, including those from Avis and Southwest Airlines, in his travels and uses Beat the Traffic when he’s traveling by car.
Like many, John Cunningham, superintendent at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, looks to his mobile device routinely for weather and climatological information, favoring Weather Channel and SunSeeker. Having hosted the 2013 Senior PGA Championship and preparing for the 100th PGA Championship in 2018, Cunningham calls on Duolingo to improve his second-language skills for communicating with his crew.
Whether tracking seasonal sunlight impacts via SunSurveyor or double-checking quantity conversions through UnitConverter, Jim Wyffels, the director of golf operations at Spirit Hollow Golf Club in Burlington, Iowa, swears by the information he pulls from mobile apps.
Michael Dermott, golf course superintendent at Oakdale Golf & Country Club near Toronto, uses supplier connections like Toro NSN Irrigation for remote access and Syngenta Greencast for problem-solving and field research.
Seeking work/life balance is a grail-like quest. In addition to the standard-issue resources available for completing work, Stromme lets CamCard and CamScanner process business cards and documents to allow more time for Netflix. He and his wife use AnyList to share and keep up with family and household chores.
For collecting and sorting the news of the day, two resources – Skimm and Flipboard – pop up on many handheld devices in the field. Each enables personalized news aggregation selected by the user.
In addition to apps, supers are heavy users of other technology.
Camera features imbedded within mobile devices get a heavy workout by superintendents. The ability to photograph field conditions, coloration irregularities, distribution of turf and soil conditions and to direct a visual record to trusted academicians is routinely cited by superintendents as one of their most valuable tools.
They also recognize the knowledge stored at top turf and agronomic schools and among respected scientists. Jared Nemitz, director of golf course and grounds at The Peninsula Club in Cornelius, N.C., taps into the Turf Pathology team at NC State when he needs immediate information.
The USGA Green Section is a treasure-trove of knowledge. Dr. Kimberly Erusha, managing director, and her team of regional agronomists have seen thousands of golf courses and challenging circumstances. USGA Turfgrass and Environmental Research Online is a ready-resource for golf course operators needing deeper background and understanding.
What’s next? “Drones are already in use and I’m sure we are only scratching the surface of their uses,” says Stromme. “The possibilities for operations and agronomy are limitless.”
At The Oaks Club in Osprey, Fla., superintendent Nick Kearns has tracked the progress of his Heron Course renovation using his own store-bought drone. In addition to following field progress and monitoring work, Kearns has provided regular town-hall updates and walking tours for members unable to walk the course while it is under construction.
Whether you’re a superintendent who began your career in pre-Internet days or part of the current generation that wouldn’t leave home without your smartphone, apps and other forms of technology make your job easier and you more effective.
Henry DeLozier is a principal in the Global Golf Advisors consultancy. DeLozier joined Global Golf Advisors in 2008 after nine years as the vice president of golf for Pulte Homes. He is a past president of the National Golf Course Owners Association’s board of directors and serves on the PGA of America’s Employers Advisory Council.
There’s an app for that