Friday, September 22, 2017

Cactus & Pine GCSA holds second annual Water Summit

Summit focuses on water management in the state of Arizona

Pictured from left: Cactus & Pine GCSA Board Member Mike Murphy, Cactus & Pine GCSA President Rory Van Poucke and GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans

The Cactus & Pine GCSA held their second annual Water Summit at Gainey Ranch Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona on August 28.

The summit was organized to provide Arizona politicians, government agencies, leading water experts, municipalities and allied golf organizations with an overview of the golf industries Best Management Practices (BMPs) in regards to water management.

Sponsored by Rain Bird, the summit was kicked off by GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans who spoke on the importance of golf course sustainability and the GCSAA BMP template that is being implemented by states around the country including Arizona.

Other featured speakers included golf course architect Gary Brawley of Gary Brawley Golf Design, Wesley Cook of Arizona Public Service, Chuck Cullom of Central Arizona Project, Jimmy Fox of Evergreen Turf, Bruce Hallin of Salt River Project, Kirk Hardin of Rain Bird, Dave Kopec, Ph.D., of the University of Arizona, Jeff Tannler of the Arizona Department of Water Resources and myself.

“Water availability and cost are critical to the golf industry in the Southwest,” said Rory Van Poucke, Cactus & Pine GCSA president and general manager/Class A superintendent of Apache Sun Golf Club. “We need to communicate to our policymakers that golf uses only 1.9 percent of the total freshwater in the state, but contributes $3.9 billion to the state economy. This is a tremendous economic return on a minimal natural resource investment.”

The event was attended by 88 Cactus & Pine members and guests including representatives of the Arizona Women’s Golf Association, Club Managers Association of America, Southwest Section PGA and numerous policymakers from local municipalities, state agencies and water districts including the Arizona Department of Water Resources, Arizona Public Services, Central Arizona Project and the Salt River Project.

“Golf is big business in Arizona,” said Cactus & Pine GCSA Executive Director Carmella Ruggiero. “Approximately 11.6 million rounds are played annually, the industry directly employs nearly 19,000 individuals and we contribute $72 million in state and local taxes. We have a terrific message to share and events like the Water Summit give us that opportunity.”

For more information, visit Cactus & Pine GCSA or view the Arizona Golf Industry Economic Impact Study.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Arizona and California BMP committees making progress on state manuals

Committees to publish state level BMPs by summer of 2018

The Arizona and California BMP committees both met recently and are progressing in meeting their goals of fashioning state-level BMPs by the summer of 2018.

The Arizona committee is currently editing all 12 sections of the document and will have a rough draft of those edits by September 15. The turfgrass team at the University of Arizona headed by Dr. Paul Brown, Dr. Dave Kopec and Kai Umeda, along with Cactus & Pine GCSA chapter executive Carmella Ruggiero, are overseeing overall project management.

Other committee members include Stephen Bais, Arrowhead Country Club; Gary Brawley, ASGCA, Gary Brawley Golf Design;  Doug Dykstra, CGCS, White Mountain Country Club (Chair); Shawn Emerson, Desert Mountain; Clay Fetherbay, Landscapes Unlimited; Keith Hershberger, Desert Mountain; Andy Huber, Pine Canyon Club; Ryan Jackisch, Arizona Department of Water; Jeff Jensen, GCSAA; Jim Key, Desert Mountain, Barrett LaMay, Apache Wells Golf Club, Marvin Mills, Marvin Mills Irrigation Consulting; Jack Peterson, Arizona Department of Agriculture; Phil Shoemaker, Desert Highlands Golf Club, Dr. Kirk Smith, Maricopa County Environmental Services Division; Jeff Tannler, Arizona Department of Water; Rory Van Poucke, Apache Sun Golf Club and Brian Whitlark, United States Golf Association.

The Arizona committee is working diligently with state regulators including the Arizona Department of Agriculture, Arizona Department of Air Quality, Arizona Department of Water and Arizona OSHA.

Upon completion, the Arizona BMP manual will be endorsed by the Office of Arizona Governor Doug Ducey.

The California BMP committee was formed in the spring and quickly went to work issuing an RFP for a third-party consultant to assist with overall project management and completion of the project.

Five third-party consultants responded to the RFP by the July 7 deadline and now a subcommittee made up of representatives from each of the state’s GCSAA chapters is evaluating the proposals and will be awarding the contract in late September.

The California BMP committee is chaired by Gary Ingram, CGCS, Metropolitan Golf Links. Other members include Jim Abate, TPC Agronomy; Jim Ferrin, Sun City Roseville; Pat Gross, United States Golf Association; Ali Harivandi, University of California Co-operative Extension; Josh Heptig, County of San Luis Obispo; Jeff Jensen, GCSAA; Craig Kessler, Southern California Golf Association; Tennessee McBroom, Montecito Country Club, Rancho San Marcos and Sandpiper Golf Clubs; Jim Schmid, The Lakes Country Club; Terry Vassey Old Ranch Country Club; Kurtis Wolford, Cherry Island Golf Course and Vince Zellefrow, El Camino Country Club.

Irene Cline, executive director of the California GCSA, Central California GCSA and Sierra Nevada GCSA is overseeing the administrative needs of the committee.

Once the BMP manuals are completed, they will be published online in an editable format that superintendents from both states can access and make specific to their facilities needs and local regulations.

More information on the project and to view the national BMP template

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

California Assembly Bill 574 would authorize “Toilet to Tap”

Direct Potable Reuse would have effect on water prices for the golf industry

AB-574 was recently introduced to the California Assembly by Hayward Democrat Bill Quirk. The bill would require the State Water Resources Control Board to develop regulations in four years for direct potable reuse (DPR).

DPR is a process in which purified water, created from treated wastewater, is introduced directly into a municipal water supply system. Essentially “Toilet to Tap”.

DPR is a three-step process consisting of microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light with hydrogen peroxide. It requires advanced technology and highly trained engineers to complete the treatment process. DPR must meet or exceed all federal and state drinking water standards.

While DPR has a stigma attached to it for obvious reasons, the California public is showing signs that it would be more receptive to the process as the state will continue to face uncertain water supplies in the future.

So what does DPR have to do with the golf industry? To put it simply, “all water becomes water.” No longer will there be a line between recycled and potable sources.

Recycled water, long hailed as a savior to the golf industry (and rightfully so) will slowly transition out. Purple pipe will stop being constructed in favor of DPR and the golf industry will end up fighting other interests for this water, many of which can claim a better public use for it.

Additionally, recycled water use was a tool for the golf industry to counter environmentalists who believe that using potable water to irrigate courses is a waste of natural resources. DPR throws that argument out the window.

While the costs of DPR appear to be slightly less than imported water sources, it promises to be more expensive than the recycled water that approximately one-third of California’s nearly 900 golf courses receive now. This all comes at a time when many courses are struggling to keep their doors open.

While this technology promises a reliable source of water for a state that will continue to see an increase in population, it will present a series of challenges for the golf industry that will need to be addressed.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Palm Springs City Council vote to ban gas-powered leaf blowers

Ban goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2019

On June 19, the Palm Springs, Calif. City Council voted 3-2 in favor of an ordinance to ban gas-powered leaf blowers in the City of Palm Springs. 

Mayor Robert Moon and Councilmember Chris Mills voted against the ordinance with Councilmembers Ginny Foat, Geoff Kors and J.R. Roberts voting in favor. 

The ban will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019, with fines starting on April 1, 2019. 

Four golf courses, including the 36-hole Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort owned by the City, will be affected by the ordinance.  The local golf industry (GCSAA, Hi-Lo Desert GCSA, SCGA) provided written comments in opposition to the ordinance and Southern California Golf Association director of government affairs Craig Kessler and I spoke at the meeting providing testimony on the burdens that such a ban would place on the golf industry. 

In addition to the golf industry, hundreds of representatives and workers from the landscape industry turned out to voice their concerns over the ban and the effect it will have on efficiency and costs associated with residential landscaping. 

While Palm Springs becomes part of the 47 percent of American cities who have banned gasoline-powered blowers, the golf industry is going to take the phase-in time to re-open dialogue with the Council in hopes of carving out an exemption for golf courses and possibly other large landscapes including hotels, parks and sports fields. 

Neighboring Indian Wells, Calif. and several other cities throughout the state have exemptions for golf courses and we will continue to pursue that avenue as well as provide the Council members with an on-course demonstration on the ineffectiveness of battery and electric blowers on large landscapes in one of the world’s harshest desert environments. 

More information on the ordinance and television coverage of the meeting.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Reflection Bay Golf Club to host Girls Junior Americas Cup

54-hole competition to be contested over Jack Nicklaus-designed course in Henderson, Nev.

As we move into the summer golf season, one of the events that I’m excited about volunteering for is the Girls Junior Americas Cup (GJAC).

GJAC, established in 1978, is a premier international team golf tournament that encourages sportsmanship, friendship, personal growth and development of young women golfers.

Reflection Bay Golf Club - Henderson, NV.
This year’s event will be contested July 30 – Aug. 3 at Reflection Bay Golf Club in my hometown of Henderson, Nev.  The 54-hole competition features 18 teams representing Alberta, Arizona, British Columbia, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Mexico, Montana, New Mexico, Northern California, Northern Nevada, Oregon, San Diego, Southern California, Southern Nevada, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. 

Each team consists of the top four girls from each city/state/country with teams counting three scores and throwing out the highest score from each day of competition.  The lowest three-day totaled score will determine the winner. There is no individual competition. 

GJAC is a major stop on the college recruiting circuit and being chosen to play for your state/country is one of the highest honors in girls’ junior golf. Former champions of the event include six-time LPGA winner Pat Hurst and World Golf Hall of Fame member Lorena Ochoa who won the tournament three consecutive years (1997-1999).

Al Greenhall is the superintendent at Reflection Bay and the Southern Nevada Golf Association (SNGA) is host golf association for the event. The tournament needs volunteers in all areas of operations and anyone with interest can contact Ann Sunstrum with the SNGA at It’s a great opportunity to help junior golf and see some of the future stars of the LPGA Tour.

For complete information, visit the GJAC website.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors vote 3-2 against purchasing supplemental water to irrigate Dairy Creek Golf Course

Hundreds of golfers show up to support keeping facility as an 18-hole course

On June 6, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 against purchasing potentially potable water to supplement irrigation efforts at Dairy Creek Golf Course in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Costs for the supplemental irrigation would have ranged from $1,500 - $2,000 per acre-foot.

Supervisors Lynn Compton, Bruce Gibson and Adam Hill voted against purchasing the supplemental
County Supervisors Meeting in SLO
water with Chair John Peschong and supervisor Debbie Arnold voting in favor.

Hundreds of golfers from around the San Luis Obispo area as well as numerous allied golf industry representatives showed up to speak on behalf of Dairy Creek and the water purchase which would have allowed the course to remain an 18-hole facility.   

Dairy Creek, a county facility located in El Chorro Regional Park, is irrigated with recycled water from the neighboring California Men’s Penal Colony.  A decrease in the prison population due to realignment over the past several years has resulted in 60 percent less recycled water deliveries for the course leaving only 100 acre-feet per year available for irrigation. 

Dairy Creek is not scheduled to receive another delivery of recycled water until Dec. 1.  Even with record-setting precipitation during the winter of 2016-17 and stormwater capture efforts, the reduction in recycled water leaves only enough irrigation for greens and select areas on tee boxes.  The reduction in irrigated areas has had a devastating effect on Dairy Creek’s ability to attract and maintain golfers in a competitive marketplace. 

"Keep Dairy Creek Green and 18"
What’s next for Dairy Creek?  While an opportunity may be available to use well water from the California Men’s Penal Colony, Dairy Creek will most likely be looking at reducing the number of holes from 18 to 9 (keeping the practice facility) to accommodate the reduced recycled water deliveries that will be 100 acre-feet for the foreseeable future. 

Golf course architect Andy Staples was brought in by San Luis County Parks and Recreation (working closely with County Golf Course Superintendent Josh Heptig) to create numerous master plans based on water availability.   Using his Community Links concept, Staples has put together a plan to reduce the facility to 9-holes and a state-of-the-art practice facility (which would be home to the Cal Poly golf team) while incorporating programming that includes mountain biking, disc golf, trails, camp/cabin sites, zip lines and batting cages that would enhance an already active regional park.

The programming provides the highest-and-best-use of the Dairy Creek property (at 100 acre-feet of water) while maintaining a golf-oriented amenity that can be accessed by 100 percent of the community.

While the outcome of this meeting was not what the golf community had hoped for, the efforts of Josh Heptig, Andy Staples and the golfing community should be applauded.  

For more information on Dairy Creek including updates on the water situation, visit the website.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Nevada revised statutes to impact the use of pesticides by golf courses

Nevada Department of Agriculture will require licensing of golf course pesticide applicators 

The Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) recently announced that per Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) Chapter 555, if any maintenance or management company bids or contracts for golf course (or any landscape) maintenance, they are considered by the NDA to be a pest control business. The business and all employees applying pesticides must possess pest control licenses from the NDA.

The business license fee is $250 annually and individual licenses (primary principal, location principal, principal and operator) are $50 annually.

Courses advertising (includes bidding for maintenance that involves pesticide applications, i.e. third-party management companies), soliciting for pesticide applications, or using power equipment to make pesticide applications will need licenses 

A brief presentation, FAQ sheet and application are available in a PDF format Please email me at and I can forward those documents   

As is the case with most regulations, they can be complex in the interpretation It is the intent of the NDA to work with each golf facility to determine an individual course of licensure.  

To begin the process, e-mail your club name, address, contact name and phone to  A staff member from the NDA will then contact you You may also address any questions concerning the revised statute to the below:

Jay Steele, PCO Licensing 702-668-4561 or

Scott Cichowlaz, Continuing Education 702-668-4570 or

Ron Balsamo, Pest Control Program manager 702-668-4574 or

The above contacts have been very helpful to the golf industry, including by providing education at the recent Southern Nevada GCSA meeting held at Rhodes Ranch Golf Club in Las Vegas Don’t hesitate to reach out to them as they are glad to assist and have made it a priority to work with golf courses throughout the state