We work in a wonderful industry that we love for a number of reasons: birds chirping in the early morning, the dawn sun rising through the lifting fog, and the beautiful green landscape that we see as a work of art.
Of course, like any industry, we also have some bummer aspects of our craft that we must face, albeit hopefully not too often. But when we have to face tough questions, particularly those concerning pesticide use, we must be prepared to provide a well-educated, non-defensive, honest answer that can help educate the general public and golfers about what we do on a daily basis. We all need to be responsible for advocating on our industry's behalf, and this is one of those cases.
Recently, an investigative news report was aired on WTAE in Pittsburgh regarding the hazards of pesticides on golf courses. I won't go in to the details of that story, but I want to take the opportunity to discuss how we can handle tough pesticide questions (or accusations) in a professional manner. An important thing to remember is not to get defensive. Getting defensive in some ways can make you look like you have something to hide. Rather, we should think of this as an opportunity to shed positive light on our industry and the care with which we handle pesticides and environmental management. Likewise, remember to be sympathetic. Emotion is often tied to these topics, and you may find your emotions escalating in your response. Stay calm, and exhibit sympathy. We may not be able to change everyone's mind, but we can share some facts about our industry and pesticides that are proven and backed by science and research.
Please take a look at this document that was developed by GCSAA to ensure that you are prepared for these questions in the future. This may even be a good thing to share with golfers and/or members on your blog, website, newsletter, or through twitter. But always remember - be sympathetic, be sincere, and don't get defensive.