Thursday, August 10, 2017

GCSAA and WGCSA leaders meet

During the week of the U.S. Open, leaders from the GCSAA and Wisconsin GCSA took advantage and got together to discuss matters related to the industry. Present at the meeting were: Jon Canavan, WGCSA president, Josh Lepine, CGCS, WGCSA vice president, Jeff Barlow, CGCS, WGCSA treasurer, Mike Bremmer, WGCSA director, Brian Bonlender, WGCSA director, Rob Johnson, WGCSA vendor representative, Brett Grams, WGCSA executive director, Rhett Evans, GCSAA CEO, Darren Davis, CGCS, GCSAA vice president, Rafael Barajas, CGCS, GCSAA Secretary/Treasurer, John Fulling, CGCS, GCSAA director and Shane Conroy, GCSAA field staff. Mike Bremmer hosted the meeting at the Wisconsin Club in Milwaukee.

Mike Bremmer and The Wisconsin Club hosted the day's events.

During the meeting, a variety of pertinent issues were addressed, including the GCSAA’s current key initiatives, which include:

  • State-wide Best Management Practices implementation
  • Government Affairs
  • Professional development
  • Recognition and promotion of profession

The Wisconsin GCSA key initiatives were also discussed which, coincide with some of GCSAA’s initiatives and include:

  • Execution of Best Management Practices
  • Continual chapter growth
  • Continue to produce quality chapter events and education

This meeting provided an exceptional opportunity to gather information on what is being done at the local and national levels to continue to elevate our profession for both parties. One area of focus was Best Management Practices implementation strategies and approaches. Utilizing tactics and information from states who have previously implemented BMPs, such as Michigan and Florida, the group was able to discuss a variety of developmental approaches.

Growth as a chapter was also addressed. Constantly working to advance the profession and serve members, WGCSA President Jon Canavan brought up a variety of areas where the chapter has discussed growth programs and initiatives. With GCSAA representatives able to offer feedback and guidance, as well as take information back to headquarters, there was a lively discussion on remaining vigilant as an association to continue to grow the profession and association.

The group also used this time to discuss the labor issue in our industry. Finding talent at multiple levels in our industry is not a problem exclusive to Wisconsin, it's a national problem. This is being addressed at every level to ensure there is steady talent entering our industry. Currently, GCSAA is working with various allied associations in an effort to expose more individuals at every age to the career opportunities which exist in our great profession. There is also an immediate concern to produce individuals in golf turfgrass management. With this immediate concern, programs and initiatives are being addressed with specific allied associations and firms, which were discussed with the group.

Being able to conduct these intelligence gathering meetings offers great value to all involved. I know I can speak for each GCSAA representative and say the meeting produced both immediate, and long-term results, as well as valuable information each one of us can use to improve the industry. I want to thank each individual for taking the time out of their schedules to attend and offer input at this meeting. I'd like to thank Mike Bremmer for hosting at his beautiful facility, as well. I'm appreciative of the WGCSA board, and members for continuing to elevate not only our industry but all of golf. With such a successful month of June in the international golf spotlight, all the credit to Erin Hills superintendent and 14-year GCSAA member Zach Reineking and Thornberry Creek at Oneida superintendent and 30-year GCSAA member Steve Archibald as well as everyone on their crews for showcasing to the world how Wisconsin does golf.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Rainfall totals in the Great Lakes

For many superintendents in the region, this has been the season of precipitation. Whether it's record-breaking rain on a month-to-month basis or daily record-breaking rainfall rates, areas throughout the region have seen more rain this season than they have in the past. Just last week, areas in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin saw decades-old daily rainfall records surpassed; and this is on top the already wet season we have experienced. 

So just how much precipitation has the region seen this year? Below are graphs broken down by state (please click on the graphs for a larger image), showing how 2017 monthly totals (information from Weather Underground) stack up to the historical monthly averages (information from U.S. Climate Data). The last graph showcases the total precipitation the region has received this year vs. historical average totals (please note, all graphs represent rainfall totals in inches, and display information from March 1 - July 14). 

While superintendents employ cultural and mechanical practices to plan for adverse weather, we simply can't control or predict the weather. Seasons like this where extreme weather is the norm shows just how important these best management practices are. They also highlight the dedication and commitment superintendents display on a daily basis, as many have been working around-the-clock to ensure the course is in the best possible condition at all times.

Monday, July 10, 2017

US Open a huge success for all involved

With the U.S. Open making its first trip to Wisconsin, there was understandably excitement and enthusiasm among golf's allied associations throughout the state. The Wisconsin GCSA, the Wisconsin Turfgrass Association, and the Wisconsin Section PGA partnered together to take advantage of this exceptional opportunity. 

The Wisconsin GCSA board worked together with allied associations to create a fantastic ad campaign for the three aforementioned associations. Utilizing GCSAA's Chapter Outreach Grant, administered by the Environmental Institute for Golf (EIFG), the three associations created digital billboards (examples below) which highlighted the environmental and economic benefits golf and turf create throughout the state. The billboard campaign began the week prior to the tournament and ran throughout, until the week following the conclusion of the U.S. Open. This exposure equated to over 87,000 views of the various billboards which ran in the Greater Milwaukee area.

20-year GCSAA member and current Wisconsin GCSA President Jon Canavan, who serves as Director of Golf and Turf Management of the Milwaukee County Department of Parks, had this to say about the importance of the campaign: 'With the eyes of golf on the state of Wisconsin, we saw a great opportunity to tell our story for all of golf and turf. There is such great support for golf from our allied associates in the state of Wisconsin. I would like to thank the WGCSA, WTA, WPGA, GCSAA and EIFG for their support of this great campaign. This is a great of example to how different associations can come together to help grow our great game.'

Wisconsin GCSA Chapter Executive Brett Grams was instrumental in getting the campaign off the ground. He added: 'This project fit in nicely with our chapter's mission and vision of advancing our profession, advocating for our industry, and supporting the future of golf in Wisconsin. Thanks to Minnesota GCSA Executive Director Jack MacKenzie, CGCS, for sharing the idea when they did a similar project at the Ryder Cup in Minnesota last fall. We simply gathered additional support from our allied associations in Wisconsin to expand our media buy. The EIFG Chapter Outreach Grant made us that much more successful in telling the good story of environmental stewardship, and the positives of golf in the local landscape. The feedback has been nothing but positive to date.'

Along with the successful ad campaign, 14-year GCSAA and WGCSA member Zach Reineking, superintendent of Erin Hills, showed the world what a great place Wisconsin is for the game. Add to the fact that Wisconsin native Steve Stricker not only qualified for the tournament the week prior, but made the cut to play the weekend, this was truly a magical event for golf, and the entire state. Credit to the Wisconsin GCSA for promoting our industry successfully on such a grand scale, and elevating our profession to greater levels.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Golf takes over Michigan capitol

Michigan legislators were once again consumed with all things golf during the annual Michigan Golf Day at the Capitol in early June. The Michigan Golf Alliance, made up of the Michigan Golf Course Superintendents Association, the Michigan Golf Course Owners Association, the Michigan Section PGA, the Greater Michigan Club Managers Association, the Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program, the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation and the Golf Association of Michigan, organizes and assembles the event each year.

This year's event was another huge success, as Michigan Senate and House offices were visited by professionals from the golf industry. During visits this year, I joined Harrell's Golf Representative and Michigan Turfgrass Foundation treasurer Doug Johanningsmeir, as we met with members and staff from the Michigan Senate.

We were far from alone representing the golf course management industry, however. Current Michigan GCSA President and 22-year GCSAA member Mark Ostrander, MiGCSA Vice President and 20-year GCSAA member Dan Dingman, as well as MiGCSA Executive Director Adam Ikamas, CGCS, an 18-year member of the association, were all on hand meeting with state Senate and House Representatives throughout the day.

Mark Ostrander (left), Adam Ikamas, CGCS (center), and Dan Dingman representing the MiGCSA board at the 2017 Michigan Golf Day.
The day's advocacy efforts focused on Michigan's nearly 800 golf courses and the role they play in the state's economy. Michigan golf plays a vital role in the state's tourism industry and has massive economic ($4.2 billion), wage income ($1.4 billion), job total (58,000) and charitable ($118 million) impacts on the state.

Adam Ikamas, CGCS, has been a long time staple at Michigan Golf Day and knows how important the event is for the industry, "We are very proud to be part of the Michigan Golf Alliance and help produce this important day every year. I am often asked why do we do it, as there are no pressing regulations working their way towards golf, why spend the time and resources on this day. But that is precisely why we do it, to maintain a good working relationship with the legislators in Lansing and the departments. It is hard to measure the lack of regulation. We are not specifically against any regulations but we just want to be involved in making smart decisions on any issues that may affect our industry. It is important that the folks in Lansing know who we are, what we do and why we do it, Legislative Golf Day is one of the many ways in which we accomplish this." says Ikamas.

This was Mark Ostrander's first trip to Lansing for the event, and he emphasized, "It is an honor to represent the MiGCSA at Legislative Golf Day. Our partnership with the Michigan Golf Alliance gives us the strength needed to have a presence when it comes to regulations that affect our industry. All of the legislators that we have the opportunity to talk to appreciate the impact the game of golf has on our state."

Dan Dingman joined Mark as a first-time attendee of the event, and encouraged others to attend in the future, "Taking part in the 2017 Legislative Golf Day was a great experience. During a beautiful summer day on the front lawn of the capitol building, the Michigan Golf Alliance continued their commitment to maintain relationships with the legislators in Lansing. This year’s event was well attended and resulted in a successful day for golf in Michigan. I highly recommend attending this great event in the future to anyone in the golf industry.”

'Lunch at the Turn' on the Capitol Lawn.
Aside from legislative visits, Michigan Golf Day also provides 'Lunch at the Turn' for all House and Senate Representatives, as well as their staff. This is a great way to meet, and continue conversations with state legislators in a relaxed and informal setting. It allows industry professionals tell their story and communicate the positive effects they have on the community and state. Following lunch, Michigan's Lt. Governor Brian Calley spoke on the importance of golf in the state and presented the Michigan Golf Alliance association presidents with the 'Pure Michigan Golf Month' proclamation.

While advocacy events are extremely important, there are also costs involved. The Michigan GCSA utilizes GCSAA's Chapter Outreach Grant to help offset some of these and keep chapter costs to a minimum.

Hats off to the Michigan Golf Alliance on yet another great day of advocacy. Please plan on joining us in 2018, as next year's Michigan Golf Day at the Capitol will undoubtedly be a success.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Being neighborly

Over the course of the past couple months, in the spirit of bringing members together, chapters have held events with their neighboring chapter. Beginning in mid-April, the Bluegrass GCSA and Kentuckiana GCSA brought their members together for the annual Powell Cup. Following suit in May, the Michigan GCSA crossed over country lines to go head-to-head against the Ontario GSA in the Can-Am competition; and taking place next week, the Southern Illinois GCSA will compete against the Mississippi Valley GCSA chapter in a friendly competition outside of St. Louis.

Members from the BGCSA & KGCSA heading out for the Powell Cup at Champions Trace Golf Club.
Chapter competitions are nothing new. A couple of these events have been going on for decades, and other similar events in the region are coming up throughout the season. Many of the cross-chapter events allow members to play with and meet new members with whom they previously would not have had the opportunity. It also gives members the chance to see additional venues outside of their immediate area. The networking opportunities which arise from these events help bring the industry together and elevate the profession. Events like these help showcase the unity within the industry and offer members education from additional sources.

Not only do these events tend to be some of the most popular events on the schedule each year, they lay the foundation for chapters to work together on future projects and initiatives. Bringing the industry together for events like these, shows all involved, both in, and out of our industry the professionalism which lies in our industry, and the passion all members share throughout the profession.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Golf advocacy at National Golf Day

Speaking with golf industry professionals and representatives from GCSAA who have attended National Golf Day over the past several years, I had heard how great the event is. Having not experienced National Golf Day myself, combined with the fact I had not been to Washington, D.C. since my eighth grade field trip, and throw in that it was the 10-year anniversary of National Golf Day, I was beyond excited for this opportunity to represent GCSAA in our nation's capital to discuss the positives of the golf industry.

To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the trip, Chava McKeel, GCSAA's director of government affairs, worked with Michael Stachowicz, turf management specialist for the National Park Service and a retired 25-year member of GCSAA, as well as members of the Mid-Atlantic GCSA to set up a National Service Project. Over 100 individuals representing GCSAA were on hand to spruce up the National Mall. Some of the activities which took place during the national service project included: repairing irrigation heads, aerifying the National Mall turf, edging pedestrian paths, cleaning benches and spreading turfgrass seed. This project was one of the highlights of the week and allowed golf industry professionals, especially those from GCSAA, to continue golf’s proud tradition of giving back. Everyone involved, including myself, had a great time, and found it a true honor to be working on such a recognized and historical area of our country.
GCSAA president Bill Maynard, CGCS, repairing irrigation during the National Service Project with the Capitol Building behind him.
Following the National Service Project, National Golf Day commenced with over 200 individuals from the golf industry, more than 70 of whom were representing GCSAA, meeting on Capitol Hill to advocate on golf’s behalf. Being part of this important event was truly an honor and many positives came from the meetings with U.S. senators, representatives and their staff members. It was fantastic to be able to connect with passionate industry professionals from every facet of the golf industry and deliver golf’s positive message to policymakers. This event has grown each of the past 10 years, and the effects of our advocacy is paying off.
From left: Greg Martin, Don Ferreri and me as we begin our legislative visits.
For the day’s meetings, I joined current president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects Greg Martin, of Martin Design in Batavia, Illinois, and 30-year GCSAA member Don Ferreri, superintendent of Seven Bridges Golf Club in Woodridge, Illinois. The three of us made up the Illinois contingent. We met with senior staff members from the offices of Senator Dick Durbin, Senator Tammy Duckworth, Representative Bill Foster of Illinois’ 11th District and Representative Randy Hultgren from Illinois’ 14th District. During our meetings, we were able to convey golf’s economic impact in Illinois and explain our positions on various policies which will affect the golf course management profession. Each office was receptive to our message and this created a relationship which will grow as we continue to communicate with staff members throughout the year.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Elcona Country Club host First Green Field Trip

Ryan Cummings was determined to host a First Green field trip, so much so, he spent over two years planning with the school and faculty to ensure the event took place. In late April, his hard efforts paid off, as over 120 seventh grade students from Northridge Middle School descended upon Elcona Country Club in Bristol, Indiana, for a day filled with science, math, environmental awareness, physical activity and fun.

Elcona CC superintendent Ryan Cummings educating students on the club's rain garden.
As the students arrived, they were split into eight groups, which then broke off into the six education stations setup among the club grounds. Ryan Cummings manned the station next to the club's rain garden where he provided education to the students on how the recycled wash water provides habitats for various plant life and pollinators, creating a vast ecosystem. He also spent time discussing some of the aspects of the golf course superintendent profession and provided a hands-on demonstration with the students using a soil sifter to showcase the different soil textures found throughout the property.

Ryan Cummings providing students hands-on education on the various soil types found on the property.
Adjacent to Ryan's demonstration, Northridge Middle School math teacher Caleb Mast involved students in a math problem. Students participated in an activity allowing them to measure a golf green using the offset method to determine the green's total area. This gave students another hands-on activity while utilizing real-life examples. Other stations on the day featured a salmon run activity which simulates the life of spawning salmon and a geocaching scavenger hunt utilizing GPS and the club's hiking trails.

Along with the STEM education, the students were also able to learn the basics of the game of golf. Elcona Country Club Head PGA Professional Tom Thome was on hand and led a station on the club's driving range where each student had the opportunity to hit golf balls during the day. For many, it was their first time ever picking up a golf club. Former Northridge High School golf coach Dennis Sienicki also volunteered his time and manned the putting green station. Here, students learned about putting basics and green undulations; and were able to attempt putts on various hole locations set on one of the club's practice greens.

A huge thank you goes out to 13-year GCSAA Class A member Ryan Cummings who worked tirelessly to ensure this event took place. I would also like to thank The Fort Golf Resort superintendent and 34-year GCSAA Class A member Randy Brehmer, CGCS, for volunteering his time and assisting at the various stations throughout the day to ensure the event's success.

To find out how you can host a First Green field trip and impact your local community, visit First Green.