Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Honeybees on the course

Spreading the word about the positive impacts your golf course has on the community and environment can be challenging. Jeff Sexton, CGCS at Evansville Country and GCSAA Grassroots Ambassador, however, was able to get the local news network involved. Amanda Chodnicki of 44News based in Evansville, IN visited Evansville Country Club and interviewed Jeff, Dr. John Scott Foster of the Wessleman Woods Nature Preserve and Don Neyhouse, a Technical Sales Consultant for Bayer CropScience. All three spoke on the positive effect bees have on the environment and how Evansville Country Club is leading the way for golf courses in Southwest Indiana who are looking to start a beehive restoration project on their property.

Currently, Jeff and his staff have two bee boxes on the course, each housing 20,000 bees. They hope to add two more boxes next year. Indiana Congressman Larry Bucshon has taken an interest in the project which shows what a great impact the Grassroots Ambassador Program can have on local golf courses.

Jeff is helping demonstrate that golf course superintendents take the surrounding environment very seriously. He is hoping to prove that neonicitnoids can safely coexist on a golf course with honeybee colonies and is doing a great job.

Check out the Channel 44 newscast:

Bees On Golf Courses - Amanda Chodnicki 44News
Adding Bee Hives On Golf Courses - Amanda Chodnicki 44News
Posted by Amanda Chodnicki 44News on Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Friday, August 21, 2015

Fall is in the air

With the morning temperatures on the cooler side the past few days, the weather has been cooperating for most turfgrass management practices. Fall is my favorite time on the golf course, not only due to the weather, but because it really is a time when you can check a lot of items off the 'to-do' list. This is the time of year when it becomes possible to switch gears from hand-watering and syringing greens to working on larger projects around the course.

It's easy to become focused on the tasks at hand at the golf course this time of year, but remember there are a lot of other opportunities in the industry which allow you to enjoy yourself and network with local peers. The Great Lakes region is known for its great fall weather (as you all know and enjoy). Most local GCSAA chapters have monthly meetings in September and October, which feature relevant education and networking opportunities followed by golf at some great courses in very favorable weather.

The meetings are set up to give you the opportunity to continue not only your education, but also the friendships you have forged over the years. It is an excellent way to find out how practices are done at other facilities and see colleagues in a relaxed atmosphere. As we enter into what is the final third of the golf season for much of the region, I encourage you to attend these meetings and enjoy the camaraderie and game you all work so hard to preserve.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Volunteer at a golf tournament

Everyone knows the amount of work required to provide the excellent playing conditions at the various professional and amateur golfing events around the world. Some of these tournaments are planned years ahead of time and countless hours are put in by the superintendent and the staff leading up to the event. However, you may not know the significant role volunteers play during the week of the event, making the tournament possible. Volunteering at one of these tournaments is extremely fun and rewarding.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to volunteer at Blythefield Country Club in Belmont, Mich. for the LPGA Tour Meijer Classic. GCSAA members Collin Ramonick, Katie Heffron and Jeff Starke have the course in fabulous condition and I was privileged enough to help them out during their marquee event. Many other turf industry professionals were on hand during the week to assist the grounds crew and make sure Collin and his staff had everything needed to make this week a success. For me, it was a great way to spend a morning or an afternoon and was a very rewarding experience. I was able to meet new industry folks and was able to reconnect with some old, familiar faces. Volunteering allows you to see courses at their best and find out how other facilities handle some of the day-to-day operations. Who knows, you may be able to bring a method or idea back to your facility. Everyone in attendance during the morning and afternoon shifts are in a light mood and it's a fun, easygoing atmosphere. Regular crew members are always available to lead the way and are grateful to have a few extra hands. Events like these are an excellent way to bring the industry together and really show how turf professionals go the extra mile to help a peer in need. The relationships gained during these events are a great way to start a new friendship and an easy way to get involved in your industry and profession.

With all the excellent professional and amateur tournaments taking place in the Great Lakes region each year, I challenge you to volunteer for at least one of these fun events. Most of these events allow you to volunteer for shifts that fit your schedule so you may not need to volunteer for the entire week. I guarantee that you will have a great time and will meet some fantastic people. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Become a Grassroots Ambassador

It's no secret the golf industry has come under a lot of scrutiny from legislators and the public in recent years. Perceptions of wasting water, applying dangerous chemicals and disturbing wildlife habitats in a negative way could not be further from the truth. While those of us who work within turfgrass management know superintendents are environmental stewards, many of those outside the industry have a skewed vision of what golf courses bring to the community and environment.

Getting the message out to legislators is an important step in making sure our industry is well-represented at the local and national level. GCSAA is asking for your help in this process. The GCSAA currently has a grassroots network comprised of GCSAA members serving as Grassroots Ambassadors that want to help in the association's government relations efforts. The goal is to have one member of GCSAA match up with each member of congress. The program is set up to have the volunteers act as the go-to persons for lawmakers on golf course-related issues.

Eligibility to become a Grassroots Ambassador is open to all Class A, SM and C members. Being involved in this program is highly rewarding and only takes a few hours of your time each month. It is a great way to get involved in the association and make sure your industry is well looked-after. For more information, please check out the following two links:

GCSAA Grassroots Network

GCSAA Grassroots Ambassadors

Please contact myself, Chava McKeel, director of government relations, or Kaelyn Seymour, government relations specialist, with any questions or would like to request more information.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Serving our members

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to travel to Westfield Group Country Club to meet with GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans, as well as many other members of the Northern Ohio GCSA and Central Ohio GCSA chapters. Rhett was responsible for addressing the members of the NOGCSA during their June monthly meeting. Rhett's presentation detailed ways that GCSAA is advocating for superintendents and the golf industry as a whole. Here are some highlights that he covered:

  • The Clean Water Rule (formerly WOTUS – Waters of the United States) was put forth by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The rule was jointly released in April 2014 and was finalized in May of this year; the rule has not been submitted into the Federal Register yet, so it has not gone into effect as of now. Under the rule, many golf course body of waters may come under federal jurisdiction. If this is the case, it may be mandatory for golf courses to acquire federal permits for any land management activities in or around the body of water, including pesticide or fertilizer applications. The GCSAA is asking for your help in getting this rule blocked in the Senate. Send a message to your senator through this form urging him/her to vote "yes" on Senate Bill S. 1140. Everything is pre-populated, you only need to enter your name and address. Please go to the website today!
  • The association is committed to advancing the superintendent profession and the 'Thank a Golf Course Superintendent' campaign is helping to do just that. Phase one of the campaign aired on The Golf Channel around the time of the Masters and Phase two and three will come out later this year. The campaign was very successful and we had over 1,000 notes of appreciation submitted. GCSAA has selected a winner of the contest correlated with the campaign, who won a trip to this year's PGA Championship taking place at Whistling Straits.
  • We all know golf is facing challenges like many other industries, but there are many positives to take away, as well. Even with over 100 courses closing a year, the industry remains in a healthy position. Participants enjoying the game and the amount of rounds played remained steady last year, even with the poor weather much of the U.S. experienced in 2014.
  • National Golf Day in Washington D.C. had a strong superintendent showing. Many members of GCSAA made the April trip to D.C. to meet with lawmakers and legislators to make sure golf's voice is heard. Chava McKeel and her government relations team is doing a great job for the association, and with her continued efforts, golf facilities and your interests as a turfgrass manager are well-represented. Advocacy on issues like the Clean Water Rule and the H-2B visa program are just a couple examples of the quality work being done to serve members and the industry as a whole.
  • The Grassroots Ambassador program has seen good participation thus far. The goal of the program is to pair a member of GCSAA to a member of Congress. Once paired, the ambassador spends only a couple of hours a month educating the representative on the impact golf facilities have on the economy, the positive environmental contributions golf courses have on local wildlife and the positive effect golf courses have on local communities. Ambassadors are still needed to team up with a member of Congress. If you are interested, find more information on the program and sign up here.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or concerns; I look forward to seeing you at an upcoming chapter meeting.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Michigan Golf Day and the MTESP

Yesterday, Steve Randall and I had the opportunity to travel to Lansing, Michigan to attend the Michigan Golf Day at the capitol. This great event is attended by The Michigan Golf Course Owners Association, the Michigan GCSA, the Michigan Section PGA, the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation, the Golf Association of Michigan and the Greater Michigan Club Managers Associations. Together, these associations make up the Michigan Golf Alliance. The alliance puts on the event to showcase and promote, not only the game of golf, but also the positive impact golf has on the Michigan economy.

The day began with David West, vice president of Travel Michigan, updating those in attendance on the Pure Michigan travel campaign. David mentioned how the campaign has been very successful thus far and will begin running ads in new geographic areas this summer and fall. David explained that golf will be a heavy focus of the ads and he looks forward to continuing to showcase Michigan as one of the premier golf destinations in the world. David wrapped up his discussion by reading a proclamation signed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder declaring June as Michigan Golf Month.

Throughout the day, we were introduced to many of the legislators on hand, including Gordon Wenk, chief deputy director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) and James Johnson, division director of the MDARD. James and Gordon discussed the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) and the positive impact it has had on Michigan agriculture. Together, with Adam Ikamas and John Fulling of the MiGCSA, we were also able to discuss the Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program (MTESP). The MTESP is a great program helping to advance the environmental stewardship of the turfgrass industry. If you haven't checked out the MTESP, I highly encourage you do so. It is a great way to recognize environmental achievements on the golf course. Even if you aren't from Michigan, it is definitely worth your time. Find more information here: https://www.mtesp.org/

A big thank you goes out to all members in attendance from the various associations, and to Eagle Eye Golf Club in Bath, Michigan for catering the lunch to all those who participated including the legislators and their staff.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Welcome Back!

After a brief hiatus, I would like to welcome everyone back to the Great Lakes regional blog. Here you will continue to find information relevant to the Great Lakes region, as well as its 20 affiliated chapters. I am very excited to use this platform to provide you, the members, with information in a timely manner.

I will be using this blog to share experiences from across the region and update members on the latest happenings in their area. I am looking forward to sharing information on a number of topics and all things golf course management related, so we should have some fun along the way.

Please feel free to comment on any and all future posts and I encourage you to check back frequently as I update the blog throughout the year. I also encourage you to check out the other GCSAA regional pages as they contain a great deal of valuable information.

I also wanted to bring to everyone's attention the numerous tournament volunteer opportunities in the Chicagoland and Wisconsin areas this summer. Please check out the MAGCS home page for more information on volunteering your time to help out at one of these great events. I had the opportunity to volunteer at the BMW Championship the last time it was at Conway Farms, and it truly was a great experience and felt great to be part of the team. All of these events are world class and are a lot of fun.

Thank you to everyone for their support, and for checking out the Great Lakes regional page. I will also be sharing information on my Twitter feed. Follow along!: @GCSAA_GL

I look forward to seeing you at various events throughout the year.