Perfection and Expectation Management


Serenity! Beauty! Perfection! Those are the words that I would use describe the landscape maintained on a golf course. As a golfer those are the conditions I would expect when I spend money to play. During my undergrad I was taught how to maintain turf. In my mind I was going to push the limits to achieve perfection. Unfortuntately, school did not mention the constraints superintendents are required to overcome such as budget, manpower or equipment.

This week I learned a tough lesson.   There is not always enough time or resources at your disposal to do things the way they should and compromise needs to be made. I wish I could have known that before I got started in this industry. So it is time to move on and do something different.

The Woes of Cup-Cutting

The Woes of Cup-Cutting

(In the Dark)


Some jobs take time to master! That is true for cutting cups in the dark. The concept seems simple and would only take a short time to master but four months latter I am still making mistakes. Everything is harder under limited visibility. You learn that very quickly as an Infantryman. I would like to share some of my experience thus far.

During my first two weeks working at Tampa Palms the assistant superintendent and the previous cup cutter trained me to cut cups with some oversight from the superintendent. All three have different techniques but they all achieved the same results, a plug that was smooth with the surface as not to affect ball roll or get scalped by the greens mower. After a brief introduction I was off to work.

My first challenge was working in the dark. I could not for the life of me to get the pin to sit straight. Ensuring the pin is vertical is important for ascetics, and the golfers ability to judge range and wind direction. Another factor is, if the pin is not straight, neither is the cup and it can effect the ball rolling into the hole the way it should. Everyone hates that!

Knowing the construction of the greens and the ability to feel the undulation of the greens helps with keeping the cup cutter level to the cutting service. As a golfer I do this on a regular basis but doing it in the dark is different. I came up with two solutions. I upgraded from a low power headlamp and upgraded to a high lumen light that allowed me to scout the green and see the undulations. Once I found where I wanted to cut the cup. I then placed the light close to the ground and focused on the black and blue of the horizon just above the tree line facing the faraway or tee box and made my cut. Perfectly level every time.


A Second Career: Starting from the Bottom

A Second Career:

Starting from the Bottom



To do what you’re passionate about sometimes means starting at the bottom and working you’re way up from the ground up all over again. In my case, I spent 20 years in the military and retired as a Master Sergeant at the age of 39. Yes, I could have stayed in for another six years, made the next pay-grade, and retired comfortably, but that was not where my heart was. I made the decision to retire, finished my undergrad, and made the leap.


Let’s face it; we are obligated to support our lifestyles and our families. It is probably the main reason people do not change careers. For those of us that do, feel that we are of more value to the company than we actually are. That was a tough lesson for me to learn when I applied to Tampa Palms Golf and Country Club. Many of the skills that the military paid millions of dollars to develop me are not applicable to work performed on a golf course. Think about it! A musicians ability to play a melody will not make him a great IT technician, nor does a chefs ability take flavors from various ingredients and turn them into a mouthwatering dish make them a mechanic. It just doesn’t work that way! We have to keep that in mind when we are determining our value to a company.


We have to be realistic and manage our expectations. I chosen not to do what many of my peers have done after their retirement, and submit applications to jobs that they were not qualified for or hold out for salaries that were unrealistic. They just didn’t want to start back at the bottom to get the job that they wanted or were passionate about. As a result, they went into government contracting or sales. The ones that did take the entry level ones are farther ahead than those that took the high road.


There is a bright side. Most of us have intangibles that are very hard to quantify on a resume such as grit, self-awareness, discipline, resourcefulness, or purpose. The intangible skills that we developed in our previous careers will propel us once we learn the skills that we need for our new career and give the opportunity for the company to observe these intangibles in practice. So why not take an entry-level position to get your foot in the door. I think that act in and of it, speaks volumes about you.


If you are interested in starting a second career in the future, start planning now. Arm yourself with the resources, education, training, and certifications that you need before you make the transition. Even though you may not have experienced and started off entry- level you have intangible skills that the company may need and will prove to be of value. Don’t sell yourself short and don’t be afraid.


Doesn’t it make sense to just get your foot in the door to give you an opportunity to prove yourself? I am not going to say that the grass is not always greener on the other side. In my case it is. Lol. But if you are truly passionate about a change in profession go for it. Don’t hesitate to start the planning process. If you need any advice please feel free to post on the blog or to contact me, and I will be happy to help you with any questions you have.


I can’t wait to hear from you








You Pay Me to Work Here?

You Pay Me to Work Here?

Top 3 Reasons to Work on a Golf Course

Mathew Figley

28 Aug 2018


There is nothing better than watching the sunrise over your favorite golf hole on your favorite course.   As avid golfers we know that’s what we are there for. Don’t try to kid yourself! Hello, my name is Mathew Figley, and hopefully, this is the first of many posts. I currently work at the Tampa Palms Golf and Country Club in Tampa, FL. I would like to start this blog with the understanding that my experience is very limited in the industry, with nothing more than a B.S. from Penn State in Turfgrass Science and my short time with Club-Corp. Without going into details, but will expand upon in later posts, is the fact that I am retiring from the Army next month after 20 years of military service, most of which was in special operations. I am also currently attending the University of Tampa pursuing my MBA, and this blog is one of my projects. Don’t fret though; this is not a temporary endeavor. I have a wide range of blog ideas and topics I have in mind for the future.

Working on a golf course is not an easy job and the pay is nominal, but boy does it have a great view. I remember my first day at Tampa Palms and thought to myself, “Why am I getting paid to do this, I should be paying them!” There were deer and their fawn running carefree leaving their hoof prints in the dew, turkeys wandering the fairways aimlessly, alligators relaxing in the ponds, and various species of waterfowl patrolling the grounds searching for worms and insects. And, of course, don’t forget the view looking back across the 10th hole. It was beyond description. When discussing this thought with my boss, following a quick lesson in cup cutting, he shared that he felt the same way and still does, since he started the job so many years ago. It’s not a 9 to 5 but better than sitting in a cubical.

If you are more of an intellectual sort, and the serenity I described has not made you submit your resume to Augusta National, golf course work is more then cutting grass. Critical thinking and problem-solving is a vital aspect of being successful.   This is not a job that you can just do what’s always been done to make your way by. No!   You need to know biology, chemistry, and math, and you have to love it. “Biology is beautiful and chemistry is interesting enough!” That is my saying.

As always, with any job, it is the people that matter the most. The exposure to the members and co-workers on a daily basis who are also passionate about either the agronomics or the game keep me working the extra hours or playing a round of golf after a long day. It is the joy of the game with people that enjoy it too.

I am not going to tell you why you should work on a golf course but I do it for the people, the science, and the beauty.