Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A time to give thanks

As the holidays are fast upon us, it is a good opportunity to reflect on the numerous positive occurrences from the past year. 

I know a number of superintendents that have taken on the task of course renovations this past summer. Mother Nature did her best to foil several of these endeavors, but for the most part, the indomitable spirit of our professionals around the state prevailed. Congratulations to all of you who have successfully completed projects of varying degrees. May your golfers appreciate all that you have done to provide them with the best experience of playing golf.

From a chapter perspective, the FGCSA continues to represent their individual members in the most professional manner and has worked diligently to provide the services and programs to help them find success. The FGCSA represented the golf industry well at another effective state golf day this past February and helped deliver the positive message of how the game of golf contributes to the economy, physical health and well-being, and to the environment of Florida. Beyond the state golf day, the FGCSA works attentively throughout the year on behalf of their members. Thank you FGCSA for all that you do for the members in Florida.

Also, as far as local chapters are concerned, the Gulf Coast Chapter, in conjunction with the Alabama Chapter and the Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter, held an excellent event in October in Biloxi, Mississippi, as the Deep South Turf Expo hosted over 700 attendees. These attendees were treated to top-notch education in addition to a well-supported trade show. This inaugural offering exceeded expectations and should serve as a launch to even more successful events in the future. I am sure a heartfelt thank you is well-deserved to the Deep South Expo Board of Directors, Trisha Roberts, Melanie Bonds, and Linda Wells, among many others, who pulled together an excellent event.

From your national association, GCSAA continues to advocate on behalf of our members to ensure that your career goals are achievable and that you continue to have the resources necessary to meet the demands of your job. There are limitless hours spent on behalf of members by volunteers and by GCSAA staff. The board of directors and the individuals who serve as representatives on various task forces and committees as well as delegates deserve recognition for their efforts. Also, we continue to build a strong advocacy base through our GCSAA Grassroots Ambassador program. These boots on the ground help forge relationships with policymakers that can directly impact our profession. Thank you to all that go above and beyond fulfilling the demands of your facility by also representing the industry with enthusiasm and dedication in your service.

Finally, I want to sincerely thank from the Florida region, the Everglades GCSA, the Treasure Coast GCSA and the Central Florida GCSA for their support of the EIFG through their financial contributions to our philanthropic arm over the course of this past year. Your contributions will be put to good use to benefit the industry.  Thank you!

As always, I am grateful for the opportunity to work alongside the numerous outstanding individuals in Lawrence, Kansas, as well as my field staff counterparts throughout their respective regions of the country. But truly, I want to thank the members of GCSAA for your continued support and the good fortune to serve alongside you as we work to constantly advance the profession and enhance the enjoyment, growth and vitality of the game of golf.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

2015 USGA Mid-Amateur Championship demonstrates best of our profession

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to volunteer at John's Island Club – West Course from October 1-4 as they hosted the USGA Mid-Amateur Championship. I worked alongside John's Island staff, superintendent volunteers, assistant superintendents and industry partners. 

Longtime GCSAA members Greg Pheneger (29 years), John Curran (22 years), and Barry Balavender (15 years), had the golf courses in excellent shape for the event hosting 256 golfers on both the West and North Courses over the first four days. The field would be cut in half and then match play for an additional four days on the West Course would eventually determine the champion on Thursday, October 8.

The best part of the event was the illustration of how our industry pulls together to support one another. There was in excess of 40 volunteers to assist the effort. Two volunteers came from as far away as Scranton, Pennsylvania. FGCSA President David Dore-Smith brought two interns with him from across the state in Naples, despite the major renovation underway at his own facility. As the first president of GCSAA, John Morley, identified, "No life is, or can be, self-existent. We depend upon each other." This was evinced throughout the week during the championship.

This experience reminded me of several reasons I entered the golf industry and joined GCSAA in the first place. I love the sense of camaraderie that exists within our profession. In most endeavors in life, the entity that is competing for the same market share that you are looking to attract would never garner your support. In our profession, however, superintendents from the same golfing market came together to ensure that their colleagues at John's Island had every opportunity to conduct a successful tournament. 

I also truly enjoyed the opportunity to work in one of the greatest office settings: a golf course! I have been several years removed from the experience of waking up before dawn and riding a golf course from memory. Fortunately, I have been out on the West Course a number of times in the past and I did not end up driving into any of the 27 acres of sand on property. I came close, but was able to avoid the embarrassment! I also enjoyed the last glimpses of sunlight as it cast the shadows across the golf course. To me, this is the best time of day to be out on the course.

The experience of working outside among friends, sharing a common goal of creating the best golfer outing, and knowing at the end of the day you are a part of a greater fraternity of exceptional individuals who are there to assist you as you toil in the same fashion they do, rejuvenated my zeal. It is an honor to work alongside the outstanding individuals who are a part of the golf industry as a regional GCSAA representative. Thank you for the privilege!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Make an impact: "Sliding Doors" and "The Butterfly Effect"

Lying in bed before starting my day, I thought about past events in my life and how I got to where I am. Two movies popped into my head: the 1998 film "Sliding Doors" featuring Gwyneth Paltrow depicting how a woman’s life would be altered if she missed or made her train and the 2004 movie "The Butterfly Effect" with Ashton Kutcher. The concept of the butterfly effect is that something as small as a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world can have a bigger effect on larger system like the weather in another part of the world.

I am confident that we have all had "sliding door" moments in our lives and careers. Think about when you chose to make being a superintendent your career path. You passed through those sliding doors and set in motion the events in your career that you have already experienced and will experience. On a daily basis, we make decisions or pass through sliding doors that can have minimal or major consequences on the way we live our lives or make a living.

Bringing this into a GCSAA-related thought, there are a variety of services and programs that GCSAA offers that will undoubtedly help you as you work through your career opportunities. Your involvement within your local GCSAA chapter offers a number of interactions with others and educational offerings that can impact you and your career. Your decision to become active locally can enhance opportunities that may become available to you. Board service or committee participation can illustrate that you are a leader within the industry and set you on a different path.

On a national level, GCSAA education and career services are great tools to assist you as you progress in your profession. The opportunities your association provides are sliding door moments of which you can choose to take advantage. Those that do take the time to act on these services enhance themselves and grow their career.

Once you become active within the association, there are myriads of possible butterfly effects that you can initiate and from which you may benefit. I think of the opportunity to be a role model and the impact that may have on other individuals and their careers. Great leadership inspires me to want to be better at what I do. There are so many people in our industry both locally and nationally that evoke a positive desire to achieve more than previously imagined. You are the leader at your facility and your actions have daily impacts on those that work for you and those for whom you work. Your involvement within the association broadens the impacts you may have beyond the facility level. This is probably the aspect that is most rewarding to me as I moved from being a superintendent to GCSAA field staff and I was able to increase the amount of influence I may have. I love the interactions I am able to have around my region with so many great individuals with whom I share the same passion.

Our GCSAA Grassroots Ambassador program is another example of the butterfly effect. As we attempt to connect a GCSAA A, SM, or C member with a congressional representative we are hopeful that these relationships at the local level will be impactful when it comes to big-picture issues that have consequences industry wide. If you have not already done so, I would strongly urge you to consider our Grassroots Ambassador program and see if you can help influence the decisions that ultimately determine how you are able to perform your job.

As you pass through the sliding doors of your career, you can take advantage of the services and programs GCSAA has to offer and allow your association to help advance your profession. At the same time, through your involvement, you can provide the start to a butterfly effect that has dramatic, positive consequences for the industry for which we all share a passion.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Golf BMPs keep industry exempt from rainy season fertilizer blackouts

Following the evening national news a few days ago, there was the traditional preparedness programming for hurricane season. After a few minutes of the program, it dawned on me that not only is it hurricane season, but it is also the fertilizer blackout period for the communities that have enacted blackouts.

Around the state of Florida, there are roughly 70 local ordinances calling for fertilizer blackout periods that extend from June 1 through October 1. Fortunately, for those of us working in the golf industry, the golf course best management practices have allowed golf courses to remain exempt from these restrictions. Can you imagine what it would be like if you were trying to recover from your summer aerifications and verticutting practices without the ability to fertilize to promote recovery? It is a scary proposition!

The FGCSA was recognized for their continued work with their BMP certification program as they received the GCSAA Excellence in Government Relations Award during this past Golf Industry Show in San Antonio. The program continues to promote golf course superintendents as the true environmental stewards that they are. This voluntary program, with the goal of having 50 percent of the FGCSA members certified by the end of 2015 (50 by 15), is beneficial in continuing to keep the golf industry ahead of the ongoing legislative pressures that impact many of our partners in other sectors of the turfgrass industry.

Although the program is voluntary, it is acknowledged by the Florida DEP, with whom the FGCSA has worked very closely throughout the entire BMP development. The certification program also provides a great day of education for those who attend, as well as rewarding GCSAA CEU’s and state pesticide CEU’s. 

I am writing about this to highlight the program that has served the golf industry very well through troubling times regarding restrictive legislation that could have serious impacts on the way superintendents are able to maintain their properties. When the FGCSA initially embarked on writing the BMP manual, nobody could have foreseen how impactful it has been. Today, it is equally difficult to determine how impactful the BMP Certification program will be down the road. I would hazard a guess that having our members certified in the practices contained in the document will only strengthen our position and not hinder it. To that end, I would highly encourage you to participate in the certification program if you have not already done so.

There are opportunities to attend seminars on July 8 in Wimauma, on August 31 in Naples, and during the FTGA Conference and Show September 14 and 15. In an effort to keep golf exempt from the rainy season fertilizer blackouts and for your own education and professional enhancement, why not take advantage of a seminar near you and help the Florida GCSA meet their goal of 50 by 15?