Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Tragedy of the Commons

As we transition from Spring into Summer, I am reminded of an old idea that is very applicable to golf course maintenance. The idea first came from William Forster Lloyd way back in 1833 and can be summarized as follows:
"The tragedy of the commons is an economic theory of a situation within a shared-resource system where individual users acting independently according to their own self-interest behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting or spoiling that resource through their collective action." 
 This applies to my job because every decision we make has to take into account the "common good" of all of our members. This can often be frustrating for the member or group of members that we are interacting with because they see their own request to be minor and don't understand how it will impact every one else. This is not a knock on any given person or group of people because it is human nature and they are not intending any harm. A good example of this idea is when power carts are cancelled due to excessive rainfall. If you are playing golf that day (perhaps with guests) and require a power cart, you are probably going to be upset with our decision to cancel carts. Comments we often hear in this situation are, "I know where to drive" or, "How much damage can one more cart do?" If there were no one in a position to say no, the course would quickly become worn out and unsightly because of self interested parties behaving contrary to the common good. The interesting thing about this situation is that if you weren't planning on playing that day, you would probably support our decision to restrict carts because it didn't directly affect you. Again, let me be clear that this is not a knock on cart riders or any individual. I am certain that I act the same way in aspects of my life outside of work because, as I said before, it is simply human nature and no harm is intended. Aside from power cart restrictions, this applies to just about everything we do on the course such as aeration, topdressing, Monday morning maintenance time, optimum green speeds, and on and on. The next time, we say no, or somehow affect your game of golf, we hope you will consider the fact that it is not personal and that we are charged with ensuring that everything we do is for the common good. That way, we can all continue to enjoy our shared resource to the fullest extent possible.

Here's a link to a short video to explain this idea further: https://youtu.be/jSuETYEgY68

Let's keep our shared resource great!


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