I started writing this post in 2011 when I was still the golf course superintendent at Northland CC. I didn’t finish it, but I always knew it was there and that one day I’d come back to it. I was recently thinking about the idea of simplicity and decided it was time to finish what I started almost eight years ago. The first paragraph is from 2012, the rest, from now.
I spent my high school years in the small central Minnesota town of Albany; well known in those days for its excellent football program. When I was in high school, I always thought the reason for having such a great team year after year was down to better players. It wasn’t until many years later when I realized better players had little to do with Albany’s football dominance; the answer was all about simplicity. Even the helmets screamed simple. The coaching staff at Albany ran very simple offensive and defensive schemes. This simplicity, eschewed by other schools, made it easy for high school kids to execute the plays to perfection time after time after time. Other teams often had better players and they certainly had fancier offenses and defenses, but Albany’s players simply had better execution. During my four years of high school, I was a student manager for the football team, a position that gave me great insight to what made Albany so good. I can recall games standing on the sidelines as legendary Albany head coach Jim Mader yelled out to the quarterback over and over and over, “SAME PLAY!!!” He made no attempt to hide the fact his team was going to run the same play over and over and over. He knew his team would execute perfectly and he knew the other team had no chance of stopping them. It was a beautiful example of a simple plan being executed to perfection time after time after time.
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler” is a quote often attributed to Albert Einstein. One can’t always believe everything one reads, so I looked it up. Seems Einstein probably did say this, or at least something very similar. I was reminded of the quote recently as I read up on a new kettlebell workout a Hazeltine member suggested to me.
Russian kettlebell enthusiasts are a somewhat rare breed. When we find out we share this love with another person, we like to talk about it. Recently a Hazeltine member, and fellow kettlebeller, stopped me to talk about the new routine he was doing. Developed by Russian kettlebell czar Pavel Tsatsouline, the Simple and Sinister program is designed to be just what the name says. A simple workout consisting of only two movements, done religiously nearly every day in about 30 minutes. Google it if you’re interested. I did some reading and jumped on the routine about nine weeks ago. It’s everything it said it would be: simple, sinister, and certain to bring huge results. When I started the routine I was feeling good about my strength and fitness; this routine has brought it to another level. Because the routine is simple, it’s easy to complete. I never have to think about what I’m going to do for a workout and because it is so simple, I can concentrate on executing the moves perfectly every time. It’s the exercise version of SAME PLAY!!!
In the world of golf course management, it seems we often eschew simplicity for the more complex. Why is this? I’d imagine it has a lot to do with the level of expectation we all face. If it’s hard to do, hard to figure out, hard to execute, then the result achieved must obviously be better. True? Certainly not from my experience. Simple is easy to figure out, it is easy to do, and it is easy to execute. Think about your operation, think about your greenkeeping, can it be made as simple as possible, but no simpler?