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.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Michigan GCSA continues to look to future

Rounding out January's travel, Steve Randall, GCSAA's director of chapter outreach, and I facilitated a strategic planning session with the Michigan Golf Course Superintendents Association board of directors. Along with chapter executive director, Adam Ikamas, CGCS, eleven of the twelve MiGCSA board members were in attendance which made for a successful session.


Similar to previous chapter strategic planning meetings, the discussion began with members determining what they were hoping to achieve during the session. With suggestions ranging from ways to better serve the MiGCSA members, to discussions on larger future goals, the meeting created a platform for future success. The mission and vision statement were also addressed, with board members providing valuable input on both statements. Ultimately, the vision statement was altered to reflect the chapter’s long-term goals.

The group then moved into the SCOR (strengths, challenges, opportunities and risks) analysis from which we were able to set clear goals and action items for the chapter. These goals and action items will help the chapter achieve short-term success, while also laying the foundation to achieve larger success in the near future. The action items developed by the group were put in place to act as necessary steps as the chapter continually evolves. These preliminary steps will allow the chapter to continue to elevate the industry and its membership while allowing the chapter to establish future goals which are relative to their overall vision.

I want to thank Adam, Steve and the entire MiGCSA board for their dedication to the industry and their association, as well as making the trip to East Lansing for the day. The event not only allowed me to gain valuable experience but also helped forge solid relationships which are the backbone of this great industry. I look forward to working with the MiGCSA on executing the goals which were established from the session.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The future looks bright as students near graduation

Water restrictions, pesticide regulations and fertilizer bans: these are just a few of the challenges superintendents face on a daily basis. Labor, however, may be the most difficult aspect of the superintendent's role currently. Whether it's finding individuals to fill out their crew, or bring in a qualified assistant superintendent, tracking down the right person with a passion for the industry has proven difficult over recent years.
These individuals are out there, and many will begin their careers this spring. Late last week, I was invited to speak with students at Michigan State University who are enrolled in the Golf Turf Management Certificate program. During the hour, I was able to discuss current trends within the industry and stress the importance of continuing education, association involvement and networking with your peers. I was also able to discuss with students various initiatives GCSAA is spearheading to assist them as they enter the workforce that will benefit them throughout their career.
I was impressed with the professionalism the students displayed, as well as their involvement in the industry.  I was asked poignant and direct questions about how they can take advantage of their GCSAA membership to continue their education and distinguish themselves as they apply for AIT, second assistant and assistant superintendent positions. All students in the class will be attending the Golf Industry Show next month, not only to compete in the GCSAA Collegiate Turf Bowl Competition but also to attend education sessions, work the student booth area on the trade show floor and network with potential employers.
If you're looking for an assistant superintendent or an individual who is passionate about turfgrass to join your team, please plan on visiting with members at the student booth area on the trade show floor. Not only will it align you with a soon-to-be-graduating turfgrass professional, it will allow you the opportunity to act as a mentor to one who is truly passionate about the industry.