Monday, January 27, 2014

Field Staff and the Golf Industry Show

With the GCSAA Education Conference at the Golf Industry Show just a couple of weeks away, I am hoping that everyone is prepared to head to Florida for some warm weather, education and networking. The week will be filled with numerous opportunities to educate yourself on what is new in the industry and to network with your peers. The trade show will be loaded with new products and innovations and there will also be education available on the show floor. Attendance numbers are trending up and the trade show is set to be the largest in recent years, which are positive signs for the golf industry. If you have already made plans to attend that is great. If you have not made plans to attend, I would encourage you to attend and to bring your greens chairman or owner. Give them a chance see what choices you have to make when purchasing products, as well as the level of professionalism golf course superintendents from all over the world have; I think they will be impressed.

You will also see all of the GCSAA field staff representatives in Orlando. Steve Randall, who covers the Great Plains and is also the associate director, chapter outreach, summed up the role of field staff in a blog post, Field Staff - How can we help you?

Recently, GCSAA received results from its Member Needs Assessment. First, thank you for participating in the survey. We take information received from our members very seriously. We use this information to ensure programs and services of value are offered.

If you are unaware, the field staff program began as a pilot program in 2006. It started with a chapter liaison of organizational development, then expanded with a chapter liaison of association management.  I was fortunate to obtain that position more than seven years ago. The roots of this program are in "chapter effectiveness."

Because of member support, the program has expanded to include nine regions in which a resident field staffer resides. A question I hear from members across the country is, "What does this field staff person do?" Or, "Why haven't I seen my field staff representative at our course?" This article hopes to shed some light on those questions.

We have been able to connect chapters to GCSAA in many areas. Through the connection with their field staff representative, chapters have successfully added assets and resources for their industry partners. Field staff representatives have also visited member and non-member facilities and individuals.

As the program evolves, I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions to enhance the program. While site visits have been conducted, would expanding this concept be an effective way to broaden our membership outreach? There are financial considerations to consider, but if evolving the program to include more direct member interaction is of benefit, let me know.

Without the efforts of everyone at GCSAA, the field staff program could not be effective. This is an organization-wide effort. We take information from the field and apply that to ensuring quality programs and services.

 Let's take a look at the basics of the program. Call it "Field Staff 101" if you wish:

Objectives of the field staff program:
The mission of the field staff program is to: Administer outreach and support to members and affiliated chapters to provide direct services to our members

The vision of the field staff program is to: Accomplish the "we" between chapters, members and the GCSAA

Accomplishing this vision is important. We want to eliminate the "us and them" mentality. We are all together to benefit the industry.

So, how do we accomplish the mission and vision?
  • Be a two-way communication vehicle - we only know what we know
  • Establish a direct voice for chapters to relay their needs and opinions to GCSAA and golf-related organizations
  • Expand the superintendents role as being a leader in the golf community. Support allied organizational efforts, state/regional golf days, events that support the the growth and enhancement of golf
Day-to-day functions of our field staff members:
  • Assist chapters with developing and implementing best practices
  • Facilitate strategic planning sessions. From sessions conducted in 2013 alone, chapters developed new outreach programs, assistant education sessions, networking events for members, membership recruitment and retention programs, communications plans and much, much more!
  • Assist chapters to improve financial standing. This includes working with chapters to identify proper revenue streams, effective cost/benefit analysis efforts and adding programs of value
  • Support chapters and research development through Rounds4Research
  • Work with chapters and members who have gone through natural disasters. Providing tool kits and communicating the message about the importance of golf to our communities is essential
  • Be part of board and membership meetings to provide information on the golf industry. Be a voice to provide resources provided by GCSAA that can be used by members and chapters alike
  • Provide communications tools and articles for publication. This includes our regional pages on 
  • Enhance the profession through:
    • Working with allied organizations to provide communications tools and golf industry information
    • Coordinating education and information with chapter executives
    • Providing case-study analysis for member retention, recruitment and meeting attendance
    • Working with chapters on educational programs and providing educational sessions
    • Facilitating communications for government affairs/advocacy issues
    • And much more!
This month alone I have facilitated strategic planning sessions, provided information and education at regional turfgrass conferences and been part of board meetings to share best practices and ideas that have worked across the country. This outreach is consistent among all our field staff members.

We are skilled at facilitation and listening to your requests. Working with our chapters and members directly while providing strategic oversight for the program is why we need to hear from you!

Please look for me at the GCSAA Education Conference and Golf Industry Show. If you have not met your regional field staff representative, please give them a call. These regional pages are a tool to introduce you to our quality staff and to the programs and services GCSAA offers. Take advantage and have a great start to 2014!

I look forward to seeing everyone in Orlando and discussing my role as your representative. 

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