Why the masonry business is like golf
Keep swinging away at both
By Art Fox
OK, you’re probably thinking, “What the… is he talking about?” Golf is a casual sport for old guys in funny looking clothes. Masonry is a rugged job for guys and women of all ages wearing very sensible clothes that usually aren’t all that funny. Unless you count the T-shirt that says “Bricklayers never die, they just throw in the trowel”.
But I’d submit the two activities have a lot more in common than you might think. For example…
If you’ve ever played golf, just once or for twenty years, like I have, you know it is the most frustrating game in the world. No matter how much you practice and prepare, events rarely play out the way you expect. The drives you were able to hammer down the middle last weekend either slice so far out of bounds they’re in another zip code, or they find every sand trap and water hazard on the course, even the ones that are 3 fairways over. Especially the ones that are 3 fairways over.
Well, sometimes we all feel like the masonry business is the most frustrating business in the world. Just when you think you’re starting to get it all figured out, your city slaps you with a new licensing fee, you find out you need a different permit than the one you’ve been getting for the last 14 years, and that job you bid on four years ago suddenly comes to life and they want you to still honor the price, even though everything from laborer wages to the cost of coffee has gone up by 25% since then.
In golf, you constantly have to adapt to conditions completely out of your control. For example, you show up for you regular Sunday Nassau and two of your regular foursome don’t show up but didn’t tell you they wouldn’t be there. You start playing and the greens are so unpredictable your ball either goes 18 inches or 18 feet with no in-between. In the twosome you get put with, one guy can’t stop talking during your backswing and the other guy keeps giving you swing advice, even though he’s carded 22 by the third hole. And the weather goes from sunny and calm with temps in the 70s at the first hole, to 40 mile per hour winds at the turn, plus a temperature that’s plummeted to 45 degrees and fog so thick you see fish swimming by. At eye level.
In the masonry business, you also have to adapt to conditions completely out of your control. For example, on the eve of the biggest job you’ve booked in 5 years, your lead mason runs off with his new girlfriend to Acapulco to open a smoothie stand, your brick supplier and scaffold rental company both go out of business, and when you finally start laying brick, the weather goes from sunny and calm, with temps in the 70s at 7 AM, to 40 mile per hour winds at lunch, plus a temperature that’s plummeted to 45 degrees and fog so thick you see fish swimming by.
So why do we keep doing it? Playing golf and staying in the masonry business? Because there’s no feeling like hitting that perfect drive or sinking that 25 foot putt to win a dollar from your best friend. And there’s no feeling like helping create a building that’s both beautiful and practical, a building that’s going to serve your community for a couple of generations, a building you’re proud to show your kids.
So I hope I’ve made my case that golf and the masonry business are a lot alike. But not completely. For example… every golf game is a one-time experience that’s fun but short lived and that only benefits us when we play. The masonry business is a lifetime commitment that isn’t always fun but is always rewarding and that can benefit generations of people.
So whether it’s golf or work, let’s keep swinging away at both. You never know when you’ll sink that eagle putt, or build the next great monument.
About the Author
Art Fox has been the head of marketing for Mortar Net Solutions since 2012. He helped introduce the original MortarNet to the masonry industry back in 1992 and has been involved in the growth of the company for the last 25 years. Between 1974 and 1977, he was a lead foreman for a construction company in Albuqueque, NM and from 1977 to 1979, he ran his own residential and light commercial construction and remodeling company.