Friday, April 21, 2017

Florida Delegation Brings Golf’s Message to State Capitol

With the 10th Annual National Golf Day on the horizon in Washington D.C., I am proud to say that I was a part of a similar effort locally here in Florida. On Wednesday, April 19, a delegation representing golf's allied associations in the state gathered for the fifth consecutive year in the halls of the state capitol in Tallahassee. 

Our message is one of the positive contributions in the areas of economic drivers, environmental sustainability, and charitable giving. Our visit did not have a specific ask, rather it was our intention to continue to foster relationships with our elected officials. These relationships will prove fruitful in the future as water quality and quantity concerns continue to be at the forefront of policy decisions. We cannot afford to miss our seat at the table during these discussions or we may face legislation that is detrimental to our business.

Golf in Florida has an $8.2 billion direct economic impact to the state’s economy. This figure exceeds the total of $5.4 billion brought in by all the theme parks in the state…. Yes, golf is bigger than Mickey Mouse here in the Sunshine State. We were also able to share with our representatives how much golf reinvests in the local economy. It was reported in our meetings that in 2016 over $432 million was put back into golf facilities around the state. There is another $492 million of reinvestment on the books for 2017. Much of this work is completed using local businesses which again benefits local economies.

In addition to the positive economic impacts of the game, we were able to tell the story of the environmental benefits of golf courses within our communities. Obviously, we focused on the natural habitat we provide wildlife and the filtering and cooling effects which the turfgrass on the course offers in urban environments. Another takeaway we hoped to instill to the representatives was regarding our successful BMP program in Florida. We have certified 396 individuals throughout the state which is a testament to the commitment and professionalism of our members. Our BMP program has also helped golf be granted exemptions from 96 local ordinances around the state. We also relayed to legislators that the program received national recognition from GCSAA as the FGCSA was the 2015 recipient of the Excellence in Government Relations Award in large part due to the BMP program. 

Our closing message was that of the charitable giving associated with the game of golf. At the national level, golf gives back in charitable offerings nearly $4 billion annually. This amount exceeds the total charitable contributions of the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL combined. Here at home in Florida, golf combines to contribute over $383 million on an annual basis. 

With roughly 1,100 golf courses and over 132,000 individuals employed in the industry, we can truly call our state “The Golf Capitol of the World.” Therefore, events like Florida Golf Day remain important to promote the benefits of our game. If given the opportunity at the local level, I highly encourage you to speak with your representative and establish a relationship with them prior to needing something from them. These relationships may well be the foundation that allows us to continue to conduct our business in a manner that is both economically and environmentally sound.

Monday, March 27, 2017

South Florida Chapter Building for a Better Tomorrow

Recently, Steve Randall and I met with leaders of the South Florida GCSA to conduct a strategic planning session to focus chapter energies on a few goals that would provide leadership with a sense of direction. The group left that session with a sense of purpose and a very positive energy to achieve the outlined goals.
The goals we established were to grow professional membership as well as garner greater participation in chapter events. Through our work that day, we penned a concise mission statement to guide the chapter in their endeavors. The mission statement reads:
 The South Florida GCSA is a professional organization dedicated to advancing the golf course management profession by providing valuable member programs, serving the community and supporting turfgrass research across the region.”
Through a detailed SCOR analysis of the chapter, we identified the Strengths, Challenges, Opportunities, and Risks. Through a deeper dive into these results, we formulated the goals and action items that would be the focus for the upcoming 12 – 18 months.
·       Grow non-industry partner memberships (A, B, C, EM) by 25 members by the end of 2017. Create an EM Classification by July 2017 (Annual Meeting) Utilize non-member call list or mailings (spring and fall mailings) and create a membership packet (value of local, state, and GCSAA membership) to be delivered in person. Develop packet for distribution completed by May 1, 2017. Personal visits to be concluded by the annual meeting in July 2017.
·       Establish a 12-month event schedule for 2017 by January 2017. Dates with details to follow.
·       Establish a long-term goal during 2017 focused on the opportunity to partner with a charity foundation or community project (i.e. First Green or regional charity).
·       Establish one educational meeting focused on personal growth by the end of 2017. Topics can include business, communication, leadership concepts / financial / employment issues.
·       Create an assistants’ educational event to conduct by the end of 2017, potentially in November.
·       Create an expanded equipment manager education event.
It is with pleasure that I report after a follow-up meeting with the chapter leaders, that the chapter has made great strides in reaching their agreed upon goals for the upcoming year. The calendar is set as was an expectation. They have created a nice membership portfolio that will be used in site visits with non-member individuals. Their membership numbers have already begun to grow due to some individual efforts from board members. There are plans for an assistants' meeting as well as an equipment managers’ session. And a meeting that has personal growth as a focus is also being finalized.
I am encouraged by the early progress the chapter has made and am looking forward to seeing the South Florida GCSA build on these successes. I offer to other chapters within the region, as well as across the country, that GCSAA provides strategic planning free of charge. We are ready to facilitate these efforts and guide our chapters to enhance the services and programs that the local chapter provides their membership.
If you are looking for guidance for the chapter or want to dust off an older strategic plan, please contact me or your region’s GCSAA field staff representative and we will be glad to participate in the process with you. I am confident that through conducting a strategic planning session your chapter will have a better perspective on future direction and will have the stepping stones in place to reach your desired goals. Call us today and we will work with you to get this in motion!

Text Box: Members of the South Florida GCSA Board of Directors participate in a GCSAA strategic planning session to drive organizational priorities. The group has made excellent strides in achieving the goals established and serves as a model for pursuing a GCSAA strategic plan.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A reminder of how golf gives back

I am going to try to put my thoughts and emotions into words but I am afraid I will come up short of capturing exactly how I am feeling. On Friday, January 20, the deeply caring and benevolent spirit of those who comprise the golf industry were on display at The Breakers Rees Jones® Course in West Palm Beach (owned and operated by The Breakers Palm Beach). The overwhelming outpouring of support had me in an emotional frenzy the past couple of days, so I really want to ascend to a high summit somewhere and shout out that people are good and thoughtful and giving!

Since I am in no shape to climb to a mountain top, I will settle for writing this blog post with the hope that it reaches more readers anyway.

It is during a most challenging time in the life of GCSAA member Neil Sheridan that our industry (really, our family) pulled together in such a remarkable fashion to show Neil just how valued he is not only as a member of The Breakers community but also as a part of the state and national golf community. Neil has recently been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. More specifically, a rare tumor that develops off the adrenal gland called Pheochromocytoma.

Currently, the tumor is about the size of a softball. After a couple of months of stomach issues, back pain, and loss of appetite, the cancer was discovered. Unfortunately, by this time, it had spread to his T9 vertebrae and is nearly wrapped around his aortic artery, which completely rules out surgery unless it can be shrunk down.

Neil is 35 with two children under the age of three! The treatment plan Neil is doing now is called M.I.B.G. which is a high dose of radioactive isotope and is being carried out at Sloan Kettering, one of the leading cancer centers in the world. The facility is based in New York and they specialize in treating this extremely rare form of cancer. He is truly in the best hands possible.

As you may imagine, this care comes at a hefty price and will undoubtedly create some hardship for Neil. This is where The Breakers’ Director of Golf and Grounds Mark Reid and Danny St. Louis, director of golf at Breakers West, put together a plan to hold a fundraising event for Neil and his family. The initial thoughts were to have 18 teams of four play the Rees Jones Course in the afternoon and donate the proceeds from the day to Neil, as well as having some raffle fundraisers to kick in a little extra.

Was that ever a colossal underestimate of how much participation and support this event would garner. There was such a great demand to be a part of the day that the decision was made to have a morning shot gun in addition to the afternoon shot gun. Both events were full with no additional room for a foursome.

The energy of the day was palpable as I spoke with individuals from all walks as well as those within the industry that were there to support Neil. The group I was paired with, friend of a friend of Neil's wife Kate, came from Georgia, Orlando, and Palm Beach Gardens. They just knew they wanted to participate in such a worthwhile endeavor. Class was on display at every turn this day courtesy of the entire Breakers organization!

The Breakers ran a first class event on behalf of Neil and his family and the day exemplified why they are considered a premiere golfing destination with world-renowned facilities as well as top quality human beings. It was truly a pleasure being on hand for this occasion along with the best that the game has to offer.

I have had the opportunity to speak with Mark Reid since the day and express how moved I was to be a part of this event. He echoed my emotions and relayed that he was also touched by the support that was shown. If there were more Mark Reid’s in this world, we would definitely be living in a better place! Mark anticipated that the event will have raised, when all is said and done, roughly $95,000.

For something that started with the hopes of raising a little bit to help support a family in need, the enormity of the day still escapes words for me. It’s not the dollar amount that was raised that is what I will remember long after Neil has won his battle with cancer, but rather the display of the best of the human spirit and the positivity of the day that enveloped all who were there.

Neil, you remain in my thoughts and prayers as well as the prayers of those many more who were also touched by the magnificent outpouring of love and support! Thank you for allowing me the honor of sharing the day.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Funding research: A fundamental pillar of the EIFG

How different are the practices and tools that you use on a daily basis from the ones you implemented 5, 10, 15 years ago? I am going to guess quite a bit different the further you go back in time. Many of these changes can be directly attributed to research that makes you work more effectively and efficiently.

As I participate in a number of meetings with local and state boards, research funding frequently becomes a topic of discussion. I know, locally, that the Florida GCSA is helping fund six different projects over the next couple of years. Where does the money come from for these projects? Local chapters and individuals make donations to the research fund for the FGCSA. I assure you, however, that there is so much more that can be done. If you need a second opinion, feel free to contact any of the University of Florida faculty. I am confident they will let you know their needs for research dollars.

To that end, GCSAA, through the EIFG, has an excellent vehicle to help support these research projects. Our Rounds 4 Research program has distributed over $435,000 to local organizations since 2012. The program should not be new to any of you as I have been promoting it across the state for the past five years. We are very excited about the upward trend the program has experienced over the last couple of years.

Some of the positive indicators include a 15 percent increase in rounds donated in 2016 over 2015. In the same time period, the number of rounds sold experienced a 22 percent increase. Also, the amount bid per round was up 20 percent. In 2016 there was a $52,000 increase in proceeds over 2015. All of these indications point toward a successful 2017 auction.

We have dedicated a task group for Rounds 4 Research, which is chaired by GCSAA Secretary/Treasurer, Darren Davis, CGCS. Also serving on the committee is Nick Kearns, superintendent at The Oaks Club, in Venice, Fla. I am confident that the group will be invaluable in making 2017 the best year yet. Also, I am sure you would all like to hear another voice promoting the program!

To assist in reaching even more facilities, GCSAA is poised to promote your efforts through mailers, e-pushes, and other marketing materials that demonstrate the benefits of this worthwhile endeavor. We have also adjusted the timing of the auction to May 1-7, 2017 to run just prior to The Players Championship, where our relationship with The Golf Channel may help encourage additional participation from golfers.

Now is the time for you to help out by donating a foursome to Rounds 4 Research that can be auctioned off in May. You set all the parameters for the round and simply submit it to us and we will take care of it from there. To make it even easier for you, here's the donation form.

Please take a couple of minutes to consider this program as a way of making your life as a superintendent just a little bit easier. Pass along the information to whomever you need to at your facility to donate the rounds and let us take it from there. Funding research should be a fundamental pillar for all of us, and in the end, you will benefit from the work we all commit to together.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Charting a path for the future of your chapter

As a leader of your chapter, how many times have you felt like Michigan Football Coach Jim Harbaugh coaching against The Ohio State University and wanting to throw something violently to the ground? Hopefully not too many times! As was the case for Coach Harbaugh, nothing good can come out of that type of reaction. He cost his team 15 yards and looked silly trying to replace the broken headset upon his head. As a chapter leader, nobody will call an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against you but you would indeed look just as silly.

What if I told you that GCSAA offers a service that can help alleviate some of the frustrations of running a chapter and help you chart a path for the chapter's future? Well, indeed we do! By conducting a GCSAA strategic planning session, we can help develop goals and action items that will lead you to the fulfillment of your mission statement. What’s that? You don’t have a mission statement. We can work with you to identify why your chapter exists and capture that in a mission statement that should guide your activities moving forward.

The process proceeds like this: At the outset, we determine from the group what they hope to achieve during the session. Hopefully, by the end of the day, we will have achieved what the group has set out to accomplish. We will do a SCOR analysis of the chapter to determine Strengths, Challenges, Opportunities, and Risks that are impacting the chapter and how it is functioning. Once they have been identified the group prioritizes the top items under each of the SCOR sections.

From here it becomes a matter of formulating a few achievable goals and action items for the upcoming 12-18 months and perhaps a long-range vision for the chapter. Individual responsibilities and timelines are determined and then the work begins. GCSAA provides the documentation of the outcomes of the strategic planning session and this document serves as a guide to meeting the set objectives. The key is to set only enough goals that can be achieved yet still move the chapter in the right direction. This process can be revisited at the end of the 12-18 month time frame to determine successes that have been achieved and perhaps areas that came up short of the desired goals.

If the process is followed, I will state that the chapter will have moved forward and met their established goals. The icing on the cake for conducting a strategic planning session is that the service is free. Also, for those who participate in the process, GCSAA education points are awarded.

GCSAA Director of Chapter Outreach Steve Randall and I recently conducted a strategic planning session with the South Florida GCSA. In this session, we went through the process that I described and established a few key initiatives for 2017. I have offered my assistance to the group throughout the process, and I sensed that the group left the meeting charged up for the challenge and ready to meet the outcomes we established.

I would encourage you and your chapters to follow suit and plan to conduct a strategic planning session in the coming months. It is a great way to chart a path for the future of your chapter and eliminate some of the frustrations that exist in being a chapter leader. The Buckeye in me wants to make another Harbaugh analogy but I will leave that go for now as I am certain that next year will bring another opportunity to poke fun of the coach from up north. In all seriousness, please reach out to me if there is a desire to conduct a strategic planning session for your chapter and we will get it on the books and start the process moving.

Members of the South Florida GCSA board of directors working on formulating the future direction for the chapter through a GCSAA strategic planning session. From left to right: Roly Molina, Lissa Donald-Minus, Kevin Fipps, Ricky Reeves, Rod Zimmerman, Shane Warriner (PGA), and Billy Entwistle Jr.