Strengthening Body and Turf

Originally posted on the Northland Country Club turfgrass management blog. Enjoy!

Last fall one of our fine members here at Northland started working out a new gym; not just any gym but a kettlebell gym. [Shameless promotion can be found at the bottom of this post] After a couple weeks the member begin making a sales pitch for me to start working out with him. I was reluctant-its not that I don't like working out because I really do, I typically work out during the winter but always quit when things ramp up in the spring. For me, the problem was I wasn't willing to spend the time and money on something that would take away from my family if doing so wasn't really going to benefit them. So, I told this persistent member next year would be my year.

The summer of 2010 was a tough summer on many fronts. Ice in the winter, some iffy greens to start the spring, a summer warmer than Duluth has seen in many years, subsequent turf issues and all the fun that comes with turf issues. Then on top of it all something decidedly more exciting but no less tiring and stressful-the birth of our second daughter.

Eventually the fall came and the stress levels came down as the golf course closed. Usually this means mentally and physically I start to recover, except this year I didn't. I would get home and was too tired and crabby to enjoy my wife and daughters. I have always considered myself fairly athletic and physically resilient but at 33 it was becoming obvious to me, I was going to need to give myself some help bouncing back. Our fine persistent member was still going to the kettlebell gym and Assistant Superintendent, Jake Ryan was also working out there. By far the best motivation for me to join them was watching Jake continue his workouts right through the summer. Any golf course guy can tell you it takes something special to keep us working out during the rigors of summer.

Right after Thanksgiving I jumped into the kettlebell gym with both feet. The classes last for one hour and I have been going three days a week. Each class is so tough it almost makes me want to quit, until 5 minutes later when I realize how great I feel. Almost 6 weeks and 14 classes later I feel like a new man. My mind and body feel refreshed and rejuvenated. Most importantly the time and money I thought I was only spending on myself has made me less tired and less crabby at home given my family a far better version of me than before I started working out.

How does this relate to our turf?
You didn't really think I was going to tell you all about my new work out routine without somehow relating it to our turf, did you?

Working out with Kettlebells is a far superior methods of training your body. I have no stats to back this up but I would guess the number of people who try kettlebells, then go back to "tradition" methods of working out is microscopic. The workouts are tough, no doubt and the transition period when beginning the workouts leaves you body quite sore but longterm the results speak from themselves. Does any of this sound familiar?

I have written and spoke numerous times over the past three seasons about the transition we put our turf through over the past few years. It has been difficult and it has been painful for many involved but we are on the cusp of reaping the benefits. Our turf today is stronger, more resilient and better able to fend for itself, thereby not requiring the expensive inputs which are able to drive an operating budget through the roof. So what is it that makes our turfgrass management philosophy superior the way kettlebells are superior to other workout programs. A couple examples:

Kettlebells is a very simple way of training your body; in fact the beauty is in the simplicity. As you can see in the photo above a kettlebell, in simple terms, is a cannon ball with a handle. The simple movements used in kettlebell training provide strength, cardio, fat burning and many other benefits all at once. One hour of kettlebell training provides a huge return on investment.

We maintain our turf in a very simplistic manner. Cheap elemental nutrients, high carbon organic products and water are the basic inputs we provide our turf. Using these types of inputs is not only cheap but also produces and promotes a stronger turf.

Kettlebell workouts are done barefooted, which removes the support of an outside support agent (shoes), forcing the stabilizing muscles in the feet and legs along with the core to provide the support for the movements. Again, this small simplicity yields wonderful benefits. During the first couple of training sessions my balance was all over the place. At times I felt I was going to fall flat on my face; not to mention the soreness as my muscles adjusted to working out barefoot. As time went on the support muscles became stronger and my balance improved dramatically.

Another important aspect of our turf management is the reduction in pesticide use, specifically fungicides. No doubt these products are at times necessary and important but too often they are used to provide artificial support to the turfgrass plant. We have stripped away this artificial support and created a turfgrass culture in which the turf is able to support itself under all but the most heavy disease pressure.  

Those who work out with kettlebells a lot-I am not there yet-speak of the WTF effect. This being the ability kettlebells have to provide benefits in areas never being trained; such as the ability to runner faster and further, jump higher and lift more weight. We have seen some of these side benefits with our turf as well. The best example being our aerification practices. Because of the way we are managing our turf we no longer have the need to core aerify. Removing a disruptive practice that would lessen the quality of the course for weeks each year is a wonderful side effect of managing turf in the manner we do here at Northland.

Working out, being in great shape and eating right leave a body feeling fit, strong and better able handle the rigors of life. Turf is no different; treat it right and it gets stronger, feed it right and it gets stronger still. All of this leaves our turf better able to handle the rigors golf, weather and whatever else might come along. There is a strong movement within our industry for managing turf in a sustainable manner using fewer inputs. The economy and never-ending environmental scrutiny will demand many facilities begin managing in this manner, if they are going to survive. We at Northland are far ahead of the curve.

Shamless Promotion:
The kettlebell gym Jake and I have been going to is Superior Kettlebell Gym right here in Duluth. Adam Dailey owns the gym and does the training. Kettlebells is Adam's life much like turf is our life. Adam's passion shows and each and every class is a wonderful experience. If you think you might have an interest in getting started I highly recommend giving Adam a call.