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.

Monday, April 10, 2017

NWIGCSA leaders show dedication to chapter and community

In early April, board members of the Northwestern Illinois Golf Course Superintendents Association met and held a strategic planning session with Steve Randall, GCSAA's director of chapter services, and me. The mission of the session was to help the chapter design a roadmap of activities for the coming months and years and to help continue the momentum of a chapter which has made great progress over the years. To kickstart the meeting, Steve Randall worked with the group to determine everyone's expectations for the day's events, which included continuing to better serve and add additional value to the NWIGCSA membership, continually evolve as the chapter progresses, and GCSAA's role within chapters.

NWIGCSA board members working on the chapter's strategic plan.

Following meeting expectations, we moved into the SCOR analysis. Outcomes from the SCOR analysis included the growth of the chapter, valued added membership programs, community involvement, and promoting the superintendent profession, among others. The Northwestern Illinois Golf Course Superintendents Association also addressed the mission statement. After discussions regarding the need to elevate the superintendent profession to reflect their current role in the golf industry, as well as the need to promote the superintendent’s impact on the game as well as their environmental stewardship, the group crafted the following mission statement:

To elevate the profession and to enrich the quality of golf and the environment.

The group also addressed the vision statement and worked together to form the below vision statement:

A regional leader in the golf course management industry that provides value to an engaged membership.

These are two great statements which reflect the overall short-term and long-term goals of the chapter perfectly. The group created goals and action items which support both statements and the direction of the chapter. The goals create a wonderful opportunity for the chapter to promote the superintendent profession in the community and continue to add membership value to an already well-run association.

I want to thank the board members of the Northwestern Illinois GCSA for not only taking the time and contributing to a successful strategic plan but for their unquestioned commitment to the chapter and industry.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Michigan GCSA includes both superintendents and equipment managers at Northern Management Meeting

The Michigan GCSA Northern Spring Management meeting took place at Treetops Resort in Gaylord, Michigan. The event was hosted by Treetops superintendent, 16-year GCSAA class A member and Grassroots Ambassador Doug Hoeh. The featured education included Dr. Paul Koch from the University of Wisconsin discussing snow mold trials and applications, Brian Mavis of Mavis Consulting, Ltd. discussing his recent research regarding solid tine aerification, and Dr. Kevin Frank from Michigan State University providing an update on the turfgrass research taking place at MSU.

GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans was also featured and presented on the importance of individuals being connected within the industry, as well as to their chapter and GCSAA. He dove into the benefits of people coming together for a common interest and how this can impact positive changes in both our personal and professional lives. Rhett used real-life examples of entities working together to accomplish feats in which they would have been unable to complete as an individual. During the presentation, Rhett challenged attendees to get involved in both GCSAA and the MiGCSA to continue to move the industry forward.

Rhett Evans addressing the MiGCSA members during the Northern Spring Management Meeting.

This event did not only feature education for superintendents, a full-day’s education was also provided to equipment managers. Just over 15 equipment managers were on hand for the event, which featured four presentations focusing on various topics. Doug Veine of Bernhard Co. spoke on the importance of proper cutting units, Mike Honeycheek of J.W. Turf discussed transmission diagnosing & troubleshooting, Dean Morrison of Jacobsen spoke on Tier-4 technology updates, and John Garlets of Spartan Distributors presented on quality of cut on reel and rotary mowers.

During the event, Rhett, John Fulling, CGCS, and myself were able to speak with the equipment managers. During our discussions, Rhett gave a brief background on the equipment manager classification within GCSAA and detailed the educational and professional opportunities that exist with GCSAA membership. Rhett also spoke on the important role equipment managers play in any golf operation and how GCSAA is committed to serving equipment managers, and everyone within the association will continue to work on their behalf. John Fulling, CGCS, provided input from the board’s perspective and a superintendent’s perspective. John reiterated Rhett’s comments on the importance of having a skilled equipment manager on staff at any golf course, and how superintendents rely on equipment managers throughout the season. Additionally, John detailed how GCSAA is working with suppliers and industry representatives to provide current and pertinent information to the equipment mangers which will continue to add value to their role at golf facilities. I was also able to speak with the equipment managers to provide information regarding my role within GCSAA. I explained how I can be a resource for them moving forward, as well as ways they can personally help shape the equipment manager classification by getting involved and providing member feedback. I would like to thank the over 70 MiGCSA members who were in attendance, as well as Rhett and John for attending and contributing the to the event’s success. A HUGE thank you goes out to the MiGCSA education committee for all their hard work and for continuing to provide valuable events throughout the state for all members.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Tri-State GCSA brings equipment managers and superintendents together

The Tri-State GCSA held its first ever combined superintendent/equipment manager meeting this past month. The event was held at Victoria National Golf Club in Newburgh, Ind. and was hosted by 13-year GCSAA class A member Kyle Callahan. The event saw over 40 total members participate, of which, more than 15 were equipment managers, which was a great turnout for one of the smaller chapters in the country.

The event was split into two education formats: one catering to equipment managers, the other to superintendents. There was some crossover between the education, with a reel grinding course covering basics offered to superintendents, and an advanced reel grinding course put on for the equipment managers; additional equipment manager education featured updates and diagnostic testing of Tier-4 engines. All presenters provided a wealth of knowledge which many in attendance will be able to take back and implement at their courses.

During the event, I was able to give a brief presentation to the membership and provide a history of GCSAA’s equipment manager classification, and the benefits available to equipment managers through GCSAA membership. I would like to thank Jeff Lechner, a three-year GCSAA class EM member and equipment manager at Evansville Country Club, in Evansville, Ind. Jeff joined me during the presentation and discussed the benefits he has received through the GCSAA equipment manager membership over the past few years. Jeff provided real life experiences and touched on how the ongoing education has given him an advantage with his day-to-day operations.

It was great to see both of these membership classifications come together for a day of education, networking, and fun. The equipment manager and superintendent positions go hand-in-hand at any facility, and their individual success depends upon each other. Thank you to the Tri-State GCSA board for setting up this beneficial event; I look forward to seeing its growth over the coming years.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Creating awareness for golf's best manangement practices

Ohio's green industry descended upon Columbus, Ohio, last week to advocate on behalf of the industry and meet with Ohio state senators, representatives, and influential policy makers. Industries represented included nursery, landscape, irrigation, pest management, lawn care, agriculture, and turfgrass, with associations from each profession partnering to put on the event.
Senate President Pro Tempore Bob Peterson provided opening remarks for the day's events, who was followed by Karl Genhardt, deputy director of the Ohio EPA speaking on water quality and quantity issues throughout the state. Senator Bob Hackett also presented to the group on issues impacting the state's green industry.
Senate President Pro Tempore Bob Peterson with opening remarks.
During the day's events, I teamed with Westfield Group Country Club superintendent and GCSAA Director Mark Jordan, CGCS, as we met with lawmakers, their staff, and officials from the EPA. We used our time with the aforementioned individuals to educate, and create awareness of GCSAA's Best Management Practices Template and Guide which will be utilized at a state level to incorporate BMP documents for all 50 states. We were able to discuss the process of developing GCSAA's Best Management Practices Guide and Template, and receive feedback as we begin the initial stages of developing Ohio's BMP document. Our discussions with these influential groups will help us complete the statewide BMP document with the proper regulatory considerations in place, and allow us to receive timely feedback during the developmental process.
Senator Bob Hackett receiving the Ohio Nursery & Landscape Legislator of the Year Award.
Following the day's meeting with legislators, a reception was held at the Ohio Statehouse Rotunda. This reception allowed industry professionals to meet with legislators in a more relaxed environment and follow up on conversations held earlier in the day. This provided me a great opportunity to build upon relationships and reconnect with legislators which were developed during my first Statehouse visit, along with Zach Wike, Beavercreek Golf Club assistant superintendent, and Jason Mahl, Moraine Country Club superintendent, in early 2016.