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Ten books for turf professionals (that are not about turf)

Environments, News / 6th November 2019

In today’s world, turf professionals wear multiple hats spanning many disciplines, including science, technology, sport, leadership and learning. STRI consultant, Neil Rodger, has compiled a list of our favourite non-turf related reads to help you unwind, learn and provide inspiration.


Let us know if we’ve missed your favourite on Twitter @striturf or tweet Neil Rodger @striturf_neil #STRIbookdebate.


1. Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine by Hannah Fry


In the world of automatic irrigation systems, integrated lighting units and robotic mowers, we’ve seen rapid advancements in technology in our industry over the years. But what does this mean for us humans? Hannah Fry explains what automation, AI and complicated algorithms really mean and whether they are an improvement on the humans they are replacing.





2. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer


The ability to work outdoors is a motivating factor for a lot of us. This antidote to the first book recounts the true story of Christopher McCandless, an American college graduate who abandoned all his possessions, hiking alone into the wilderness.






3. Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi


We have a soft spot for tennis at STRI, however the only true ‘sports’ book on the list is widely regarded as the most passionately anti-sports books ever written by an athlete. Agassi’s theme is that the game he mastered was a prison he spent 30 years trying to escape, providing a real insight into the pain of life at the top of tennis. Working in sport can put us in the fortunate position of seeing athletes hone their craft, but what are they thinking?





4. The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World by
Simon Winchester


One for the turf perfectionists. Attention to detail is what we thrive on. Winchester examines how a desire for precision has driven technological progress. Stories of Rolls Royce engines, Leica cameras and the Hubble space telescope make for an interesting read. Time to get the moisture meter calibrated and the mower blades sharpened.




5. Cadillac Desert: The American West and its Disappearing Water by Marc Reisner


The 2018 heatwave was the joint hottest summer on record for the UK as a whole and the hottest ever for England. With water availability playing heavy on many turf managers’ minds, this book is the story of a relentless quest for water in the American West and the  transformation of a government irrigation programme into environmental devastation.





6. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz


Ben Horowitz is one of Silicon Valley’s most respected entrepreneurs. Here he talks about how hard it is to run a business and explains that no matter how much planning you do, mistakes will inevitably happen. Whether you have entrepreneurial tendencies or not, the book provides real world lessons on leadership and running a team.





7. The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz


The narrator escapes from a gulag in 1951 near the arctic circle, he walks for a year through blizzards and deserts before crossing the Himalayas to reach
safety in Calcutta. Turns out double cutting the pitch isn’t that bad after all!







8. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson


We talk a lot about the subtle art of managing turf. This book however encourages us to give up caring about the things that don’t really matter and take action about the things that do. As Mark Manson says: “True happiness occurs only when you find the problems you enjoy having and enjoy solving”, something we can all relate to in the turf industry.





9. Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss


No matter where we are in our careers, we all need mentors. This is an encyclopaedia of advice from over 100 of the world’s top performers. Scientists, sports stars, investors, journalists and many more answer Tim’s 11 questions to provide a glimpse into each person’s life and success. If you like it, be sure to listen to his podcast The Tim Ferriss Show where he interviews world class guests.





10. The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle by Steven Pressfield


From line marking to mowing patterns, managing turf provides the opportunity to unleash the inner artist. This book highlights the forms of resistance faced by artists, entrepreneurs, athletes and others who are trying to break through creative barriers.






Hopefully you have found something on the list to put next to ‘Practical Greenkeeping’ on the bookshelf.