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?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Rolling Out the First Green in Florida

Recently, I had the pleasure to sit down with superintendent Charlie Butterbaugh and general manager John Cameron from the Daytona Beach Golf Club to discuss conducting a First Green environmental learning lab at their facility this fall. We discussed initial considerations of utilizing this program to expose students from an inner-city school to the many benefits of golf and get them excited about the practical science lessons involved. I was able to provide lesson plans supplied by the First Green that Cameron will use to pitch the program to the principal and hopefully get the ball rolling at his facility. 

Daytona Beach GC is part of ValleyCrest Golf, and they have expressed a keen interest in pursuing the program at their other facilities as well. Cameron and Butterbaugh said they would like to expand the program to other area schools after they get a feel for it with the initial offering. Both gentlemen were excited to have GCSAA involvement in this endeavor. I am looking forward to working with them as well, and I am hopeful that this will lead to a firestorm of interest in the First Green program here in Daytona and elsewhere around the state. 

First Green is an innovative environmental education outreach program using golf courses as environmental labs. Golf course superintendents host students on field trips where they test water quality, collect soil samples, identify plants, design plantings, and are involved in the ecology and environmental aspects of the golf course. The students are also introduced to many other aspects of golf.

I have discussed this program at chapter events and know that there are so many opportunities around the state to conduct the environmental labs and help young children gain an appreciation for the work you do every day on your golf courses. If you are interested in conducting a First Green field trip at your facility, please reach out to me at By hosting students, we can hopefully enlighten them to the numerous environmental benefits golf courses provide and get them excited about the game of golf.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Training, Training, and More Training

I was watching my boys practice for their flag football teams last weekend, and I noted how far they have come from their first involvement with the sport. They are beginning to understand the nuances of their pass routes, and they are getting much more adept at catching the football. It is amazing how their coaches have been able to hone the boys’ skills through the drills and training that they provide in practice. I am filled with anticipation for the upcoming season as I know their development will continue throughout.

In the same fashion that my boys’ coaches provide training for them, GCSAA provides training for our members to help them fine tune their skills. We have live and on-demand webcasts that can be utilized from the comfort and convenience of one’s office. Coming up in San Antonio in February, we have the Super Bowl of education events at the 2015 Golf Industry Show.

The GCSAA Education Conference at GIS is the largest education event in the industry and covers all aspects of golf course management, including agronomics, environmental management, communication and business management. In San Antonio, there will be 84 seminars, including 26 new seminars joining the line-up, as well as a variety of new education sessions and the always-popular education on the trade show floor: Answers on the Hour and Tech Tips on the Half.

Why is all this training so important? Just like my boys' flag football efforts, the GCSAA education that you or your assistants or your technicians participate in helps to build a more complete team. The stronger the individuals are, the better the team as a whole will function. On a number of occasions my boys have played against another team with one super stud player but the rest of the team is not of the same caliber, and the results typically end up with us defeating the other team. I've heard their coach say that if you can draft three or four key players that you can go a long way in the league.

The same is true for the golf course maintenance department. With a quality group of key individuals, you can go a long way to successfully achieving your goals. Obviously, the team needs a strong superintendent to lead them. But it is also critical to have well-trained and complimentary individuals supporting the superintendent in the positions of assistant superintendent, equipment manager and the other technicians on staff. If these key positions can come together as a cohesive unit and assist in training the rest of the individuals in the department, then you as the superintendent may well be on your way to success. Training, training, and more training at each level of your team helps ensure the quality standards you have set are met.

GCSAA can provide the educational offerings that will strengthen the team at your facilities. We are hopeful that you, the members, will see the benefit of being an inclusive association that provides for the training of all your key individuals and thus making your team solid at every position. 

Now let’s go out there and win one for the Gipper!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


I can’t get the song “Deep in the Heart of Texas” out of my head: The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas. After having recently visited San Antonio, Texas, I have to tell you I am thrilled with the host city for the 2015 Golf Industry Show. 
San Antonio may well be one of the most delightful locations we visit. The area immediately surrounding the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center is welcoming and clean with the added allure of the city’s River Walk. I am convinced that the upcoming Golf Industry Show is most certainly a must-attend event. The convention center is conveniently located with great access from the surrounding hotels. There are a number of high-quality hotels within a 10-minute walk of the center, and the ability to access it from the street level or the River Walk provides attendees the opportunity to enjoy the best that San Antonio has to offer. 

Along the River Walk, attendees will find an abundance of dining opportunities, as well as shops and some amazing cypress trees and gardens. The entire River Walk area is truly unique and provides an exhilarating pathway to the convention center where attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of educational seminars. 

At street level, you will find a city rich in historic significance that is well maintained with, perhaps, some of the friendliest people I have encountered. For those of you who know me well this will not come as a surprise, but there was more than one occasion that I found myself turned around. In each instance, without even asking, somebody offered me assistance. Yes, it is that obvious when I am lost!

Once at the convention center, attendees will be just as impressed with the facilities here. The ballrooms are well equipped to facilitate our large event sessions. The classrooms and lobby areas are as striking as the rest of the city. When the trade show floor is open, attendees and exhibitors alike will be impressed with the spaciousness provided.

During my visit to San Antonio, I did not have the chance to make it out to the golf courses hosting the GCSAA Golf Championships, but I have reviewed the facilities on our Golf Industry Show website. In speaking with Brian Cloud, field staff representative for the South Central region, he noted that the courses are just as impressive in person as they are on the website. If you haven’t already taken the opportunity to check out the website, I would encourage you to visit Registration for the GCSAA Golf Championships and Golf Industry Show opens Nov. 4, 2014, for GCSAA members. 

I know I probably sound like I am taking a pay check from the San Antonio visitors’ bureau, but my experience there truly heightened my eagerness to return for the Golf Industry Show Feb. 21 – 26, 2015. I know I am fixin' to be “Where Big Things Happen,” but more importantly will I be seeing you deep in the heart of Texas? I surely hope you don’t miss out on this great city and the numerous offerings GCSAA has in store for you!