When the pandemic struck, like many courses, the Columbus Country Club found itself with drastically reduced staff. In order to help them maintain their turf, they participated in Spiio’s Covid-19 relief program. The data-driven benefits they saw have lasted far longer than their staffing troubles.
When JR Lynn turned 16, he wanted to look for a job. He decided it would be cool to work on a golf course—primarily because he’d have access to free golf—and so he started at the Silver Lake Country Club. He wondered if there was a future in this, so, he recollects, “I asked my boss about his position and how he got there, and he pointed me in the direction of Ohio State. I went and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in turfgrass management, and while I was there, I got some experience with tournaments. After graduation, I took my first big job in Indiana, and my career kicked off from there.”
Weathering the Covid-19 Storm
JR Lynn is now the green superintendent at Columbus Country Club in Columbus, Ohio. He’s been there for a few years, and he’s witnessed a lot. This last year, the Covid-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges to the course. “Initially,” he says, “we had to furlough most of our staff. Whereas we normally have around thirty staff members going into June, we now had six. Everyone had to wear multiple jackets. We were back to an almost-normal staffing level by the end of the summer, but still somewhat restricted because it was nearing the end of the season.” They made the most of the situation, hosting an amateur event and somehow pulling together just enough to hit their milestones.
“We were able to put sensors in the ground right away and have set points, or thresholds, where we knew exactly when we needed to go out and water. We could also gauge our initial applications dependent on soil temperatures. Spiio made it possible to have a plan of attack, and still follow our own recipe.”JR Lynn, Columbus Country Club
Spiio’s Covid Relief Program: How Being Data-Driven Helped
One of the things that helped the club get through this difficult stretch was the Spiio Covid relief program. Toward the beginning of the year, when the program started, Lynn recognized the value it could bring. “We’re very agronomically driven,” he says, “and dependent on our science.” He applied for help, and the club received three Spiios as part of the program. “We were able to put sensors in the ground right away and have set points, or thresholds, where we knew exactly when we needed to go out and water. We could also gauge our initial applications dependent on soil temperatures. Spiio made it possible to have a plan of attack, and still follow our own recipe.”
Benefits of Using Data-Driven Approach
The biggest benefit that came from using Spiio sensors, says Lynn, has been water management;
“Water management is such a big aspect of turfgrass management; it drives the health of the turf and our ability to maximize playability.”
He also notes that data-driven approach is a great tool in educating club members, helping staff and members talk about what’s happening when there are changes on the turf.
As they’ve utilized the data from Spiio sensors, Lynn and his staff have already learned a few things. They soon found they could better monitor microclimates and discover why, for example, their thirteenth or sixteenth pockets stayed frozen later in the spring than the rest of the course. The data also helps them set realistic expectations for the labor they need. They’ve also been able to reduce labor costs by taking out the guesswork out of monitoring and watering. Before, when a few days went by they’d start to get the itch to send someone out to monitor whether they needed to water. Now they can look at the data and have confidence in when they do—and don’t—need to send someone out. As JR Lynn points out:
“Everything in today’s world is data-driven. Being able to have something tangible in the form of Spiio data is really useful.”
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