By Pat Jones | Brady Finton relied on a smaller crew, lots of creativity and years of experience with Revolution to get Tulsa CC through the craziest year ever.
In a state where superintendents annually face extreme weather, the summer of 2020 was actually “close to normal” for Brady Finton and his team at Tulsa CC.
Instead, the challenge was that his pandemic crew was a lot smaller than usual. On top of that, Finton was serving as president of the Oklahoma GCSA, leading the association’s statewide COVID response and steering the state’s BMPs successfully to adoption.
It was a very busy 16th year for Finton to say the least, but we caught up with him about all of that and how he’s been using Revolution® for a decade to keep his Tillinghast gem at its very best.
What were your pandemic lessons?
My department had to be very aggressive on budget cuts early on. The club lost a chunk of outside revenue, so we had to cut $75,000 initially and lay some guys off for a bit. Some of our older employees chose to stay out longer for their own safety. The COVID rules required us to get more creative in how we managed in the maintenance facilities in terms of cleaning practices. We also got the cart dividers for utility vehicles and just found ways to be more careful.
But golf didn’t slow down at all. We were around 150-160 rounds most days during the season. Probably 50-60 extra rounds per day compared to past years. We saw the most additional wear on runoffs off of paths. Those exits and entrances really took a beating even though we have the Club Car Visage system, and we can move them around a little. The good news is we also saw more members walking and that’s great.
What was it like at the helm of the OKGCSA during the pandemic?
The state golf industry got together and reached out to the governor about what golf means in Oklahoma and how we could operate safely. The chapter did a nice job of educating members and their employees in those early days. It seems like a million years ago!
Congratulations on completing the state BMPs this summer.
Chris Cook (who was VP for the OKGCSA) really took that bull by the horns and did an excellent job for us but, as president, I was extremely happy we got it done. It sets the bar for everybody. Anyone who reads that BMP can tell we’re working hard to be leaders in sustainability. A lot of guys put in a lot of time to make it happen. We’re really, really proud of it.
Talk about your water management program on putting surfaces.
I rotate a few different wetting agents, but I’ve actually used Revolution® for 10 years or so now. It’s one of the best products out on the market in my opinion. It helps us in our water management as well as our time management for overtime in the summer. Our localized dry spot is significantly less, and hand watering is a fraction of what it would be.
We go out first thing in the morning with soil moisture meters and I’ve seen clearly that our greens are more consistent through the entire putting surface because of Revolution. That helps us a lot on a time management basis when we’re watering, and we get a more consistent golf course across the board.
Last question. You did a hugely successful renovation with Rees Jones and BB back in 2010. Now, a decade later, what are your takeaways?
I started out on Perry Maxwell courses and now, with a Tillinghast, I’m a huge advocate of maintaining the character of what those guys created back in the day using almost no excavators or equipment. So many courses are getting lengthened now and I think it usually takes away from them. That’s why the old courses are so pure. Those guys really did an excellent job using natural terrain and streams for drainage, and they’ve stood the test of time because of that.
For more superintendent features and industry Q&A’s check out our latest Beyond The Drop issue here.