Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Seminar brings golf, environmental community together

On Feb. 3, the Southern California Golf Course Superintendents Association (SCGCSA), the Southern California Golf Association (SCGA) and the Council for Watershed Health held a joint seminar that brought together the Southern California golf industry and environmental community. 

Hosted by the American Golf-managed Brookside Golf Club in Pasadena, Calif., the Golf & Water Evolving Best Management Practices seminar featured more than 170 municipal officials, landscape architects, golf course superintendents, water efficiency professionals, golf professionals, club managers and others in an effort to examine existing water conservation programs, highlight case studies and determine the future for sustainable golf course design and management.

The keynote speaker was Mike Huck, principal at Irrigation and Turfgrass Services.  A former USGA agronomist, Huck is one of the foremost experts on golf course water use and conservation in the country.  His topic focused on current and future use of reclaimed water on golf courses.

Other featured speakers included Ken Alperstein, golf course architect with Pinnacle Design; Jim Baird, Ph.D., assistant cooperative extension specialist at UC Riverside; Ryan Bentley, superintendent at North Ranch Country Club; John Dalman of Toro Irrigation; Deb Deets, landscape architect with the City of Los Angeles; Penny Falcon, manager of water conservation policy with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power; Pat Gross, director of the USGA West Region Green Section; Tim Jackson, golf course architect with Jackson Kahn Design; Bob Perry, adjunct professor at USC and professor emeritus at California State Polytechnic University; Kathy Ramos, associate resource specialist with the Metropolitan Water District and Jesse Seguin, Class A superintendent at Brookside Golf Club.  Seguin provided a walking tour of the recent 22 acre turf reduction project that took place at Brookside. 

Special thanks goes to Craig Kessler, director of governmental affairs with the SCGA; Council for Watershed Health founding board member Arthur Golding and SCGCSA president Nate Radwick for their efforts in putting the program together.  Cyndy Neal, SCGCSA executive director, past president D.J. Ahlstrand and Council for Watershed Health representatives Drew Ready and Margaret de Larios were all instrumental in the organization and operation of the seminar. 

The SCGCSA, SCGA and Council for Watershed Health appreciate the support of the Southern California golf and environmental community in making this seminar a success. Plans are being made for future events that will be beneficial to all involved parties.  

Pictured is Class A Superintendent Jesse Seguin of Brookside Golf Club speaking to a group of more than 170 golf and environmental professionals at the Feb. 3 Golf & Water Evolving Best Management Practices Seminar held in Pasadena, Calif.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Sierra Nevada GCSA hosts annual Mechanics Training Seminar

The Sierra Nevada GCSA hosted their annual Mechanics Training Seminar Jan. 28, at The Ridge Golf Club in Auburn, Calif. The event was attended by 65 golf industry professionals, including 57 mechanics and equipment managers from all areas of Northern California.

Wildly successful, the event featured an array of practical applications as well as topics on leadership, communications and problem solving in the workplace. Featured speakers included Tim Conner of Turf Star, Jim Ferrin, CGCS at Sun City Roseville, Mark Pilger and Ben Showard of Reel  Sharp and SIP Grinders and representatives of Jacobson West and Belkorp Golf & Turf.  

  • Conner provided an entertaining presentation on "Finding the Root Cause," which focused on problem solving and diagnostics for the mechanic and how to find the simplest solution to those problems.
  • Ferrin spoke on the importance of the role the mechanic plays in the golf operation and provided ideas on how mechanics need to become more involved in the overall maintenance facility operations. Highlighted topics included budgeting, equipment purchase, leadership skills, communication with staff members and recognizing that mechanics are professionals in the industry, and their appearance, attitude and work ethic should reflect that.
  • Pilger and Showard presented on "Why We Grind," which included videos on best practices for grinding and the overall role that having sharp reel and bedknife edges plays in quality turf on the golf course.
  • Jacobson West presented on the operation and maintenance of Tier 4 engines as well as compliance with all Tier 4 emission standards.
  • Belkorp Golf & Turf spoke on hydraulic diagnostic skills and basic repair on turf equipment.

A special thanks to Class A Superintendent Scott McCullough of The Ridge Golf Club, who hosted the event and obtained the speakers for the day. Scott has been instrumental in the development of this seminar over the past several years.  
For more information on the Sierra Nevada GCSA, visit

Pictured are mechanics/equipment managers at the annual Sierra Nevada GCSA Mechanics Seminar at The Ridge Golf Club in Auburn, Calif.  The event was attended by 65 industry professionals, including 57 mechanics and equipment managers.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Cactus & Pine GCSA board discusses water issues with congressional rep

Cactus & Pine GCSA board members, along with chapter executive director Carmella Ruggiero, Apache Sun Golf Club owner Mike Musulin and I, met with U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (AZ-04)and staff on Dec. 16 at Apache Sun Golf Club in Queen Creek, Ariz.

The meeting was initiated by Cactus & Pine secretary and GCSAA board candidate Rory Van Poucke, who serves as the general manager/superintendent of Apache Sun Golf Club.  In addition to Van Poucke and Ruggiero, also representing the Cactus & Pine was President Andy Huber and board members Kai Umeda and Jim Marshall.  

With Arizona and the Southwest U.S. in the midst of a severe drought, the meeting centered around water use and conservation on golf courses.  The congressman and his staff were educated on reclaimed water use, turf reduction programs, irrigation efficiency and technology, turfgrass research, BMPs and the industry’s work on assisting with the development of model drought compliance legislation.

Pictured are members of the Cactus & Pine GCSA with U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (AZ-04)
and his key staff members at Apache Sun Golf Club in Queen Creek, AZ.

Van Poucke also provided an economic impact study that outlined the golf industry’s $3.4 billion impact on Arizona’s economy.  Golf is now the leading driver of tourism to the state.

Additionally, the EPA’s newly proposed Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule that GCSAA and the golf industry is opposing was discussed.  The congressman has condemned the EPA’s new rule and understands the devastating economic consequences it will have for golf, agriculture and small businesses throughout Arizona and the U.S. if it is implemented.

The Cactus & Pine GCSA appreciates Congressman Gosar and his staff’s time and any questions concerning the meeting can be directed to Rory Van Poucke or Jeff Jensen.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Hi-Lo Desert GCSA leads efforts on economic impact study for the Coachella Valley golf industry

The Hi-Lo Desert Golf Course Superintendents Association, along with significant financial support from the California Alliance for Golf, California Golf Course Owners Association, Golden State Chapter of CMAA, Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, Southern California Golf Association and the Southern California PGA, has contracted Oxford Economics to conduct an economic impact study for the Coachella Valley golf industry. 

The valley is home to 123 golf courses and these facilities are an integral part of the local economy, as well as a year-round activity for both residents and visitors. The study will calculate direct, indirect and induced economic impacts for the golf industry in the region. 

Oxford Economics, one of the world’s leading providers of economic analysis, forecasts and consulting advice, will be reaching out to facilities in the region via an online survey in January and will be requesting the following information:

  • Revenue by type (rounds, merchandise, memberships, food and beverage, lodging, meeting space rental, equipment rentals, etc.)
  • Taxes paid
  • Employment numbers and associated income
  • Customer residence (local/visitor)
  • Investments (equipment, renovation and construction)
  • Major events (fan attendance, sponsorships and media) 

In addition, average visitor spending data will be compiled from Tourism Economics' work with Palm Springs to calculate the spending of golf visitors outside of the resort/golf course. 

Lastly, government data on golf will be compiled from Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics information will anchor the results to known measurements for employment, personal income and sales.

By monitoring the full economic impact of the Coachella Valley golf industry, our allied golf organizations can inform the media, public, and most importantly, policy makers about the relevance and importance of the golf industry to the region.

If you have any questions concerning the study, please contact Hi-Lo Desert GCSA president Dean Miller at or GCSAA Southwest field representative Jeff Jensen at


Monday, November 24, 2014

Chapter Delegates discuss proposed model to update both member classifications and member standards

87 GCSAA chapter delegates met in Lawrence, KS in October to discuss a number of proposals including a $10 Class A/SM and $5 Class C dues increase, the addition of an equipment manager classification and a model to update both member standards and member classifications. 

The dues increase is based on a 3.3 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index since 2013 and would raise dues levels to $375 for Class A/SM members and $190 for Class C members.  The dues increase will assist GCSAA in continuing to provide its core mission programs and services as well as more recent initiatives and program developments. 

The new equipment manager’s classification would assist equipment managers in obtaining golf specific education while providing a vast array of GCSAA central resources to assist in the advancement of their careers.   The decision to add this classification was reached after conversations with numerous members from around the country. 

Both of the above issues will be placed before the membership for a vote during the 2015 annual meeting in San Antonio.

The proposed updates to both member standards and member classifications created the most discussion during the meeting.  After careful consideration, the GCSAA board has made a recommendation that:
  •       Reduces the number of member classifications from 13 to 5. The classifications would   include Class A, Class B (currently SM), Class C (Assistants), Equipment Manager and Member. 
  •          Class A eligibility would be strictly determined by the sliding education and experience scale.  Education and service points would no longer be required to maintain Class A status.
  •         In place of the current points system, various educational certificates would be created to help members to continue to market themselves and their individual achievements.
Key points to consider:
  •         Aligns this association with the vast majority of associations around the world in focusing education around designations and not classifications.
  •          Proposal is still centered on formal education.
  •          Maintains CGCS as the pinnacle of continuing educational attainment.
  •          Reduces the confusion around CGCS, Class A and SM members.
  •          Creates a cohesive and inclusive association.
The proposed updates to both member standards and member classifications will not be voted on in 2015 and GCSAA will use the next year to solicit additional input from the membership. The membership will vote on the new pathway at the 2016 annual meeting.

If you have any questions concerning the above proposals, please don’t hesitate to contact me at or speak with your assigned chapter delegate.  We will be glad to walk you through the discussion.  More information is also available at

Thank you again for your support over the course of 2015 and Happy Holidays to all! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

GCSA of Northern California executive director Barb Mikel retires after 24 years of service to association

Long-time GCSA of Northern California (GCSANC) executive director Barb Mikel retired Oct. 31, following 24 years of loyal and distinguished service to the association.

Congrats on 24 great years Barb and best of luck in the future!

For those of us lucky enough to know and work with Barb, we will miss her humor, work ethic, honesty and organization that she brought to GCSANC. Personally, she was nothing but welcoming and supportive from day one of my employment with GCSAA and made my transition to working with chapters that much easier. She provided guidance and insight into how a successful chapter is run and I will always be thankful for her assistance.

As one of the longest serving executive directors of a GCSAA-affiliated chapter, I sat down with Barb to talk about the past, what made her successful and her plans for the future:

·       Having managed a successful chapter for 24 years, what advice would you give to a young chapter executive who may be taking on this responsibility for the first time? 

Make it simple, easy and fun. Get organized yourself, and then keep your board organized. Bring your talents and interest to the table. Most things are accomplished because of pooled talents; discover them in yourself and your board members; keep growing, personally and professionally, it makes everything more interesting; and new ideas are always fun. One of the great things about the Nor Cal chapter members and boards is openness to advancing the association and the superintendent profession through innovation.

·        You have worked with numerous chapter presidents over the years, including several who moved onto the GCSAA board of directors.  In your mind, what makes a successful chapter president?

      The best presidents know when to lead and when to follow. Boards are a collection of interests, egos, agendas and talents. Good presidents know when and how to let each board member do what they want, what they like and are good at doing. Remember, it is a volunteer commitment and the best presidents also lead by example, maintaining the respect of fellow board members.

·       You have worked extensively with GCSAA Chapter Services over the years.  How did that relationship and the tools they provide assist you in doing your job? 

When I started with GCSANC in 1990, the GCSAA was undergoing a leadership change.  I knew nothing of GCSAA and its programs. Thankfully, Nor Cal has history with the GCSAA organization structure, due in part to the service of Clifford and Myrtle Wagoner. Myrtle used GCSAA resources so the office was already geared to participating with GCSAA on a chapter level. My background was business. Having several for profit and nonprofit accounts made me quickly aware of the tremendous level of support provided to local chapters by GCSAA. That began with Don Brethauer and continued with his successors. Greater emphasis on staffing support via member services/chapter services has provided a place to turn with questions unique to the organizations interrelationship.  Web support, insurance support and affiliated chapter interactions have grown and strengthen that relationship over the years.  

·        You are an accomplished pilot and fly to many GCSANC and California GCSA events. Where did you pick up your love of flying?

Growing up I lived near the Burbank (Bob Hope) and Van Nuys airports watching some interesting airplanes arrive and depart (the U2 was first flown out of Burbank) - yes I am old enough to remember!  Always thought it would be great fun to fly.  In the mid-1970s, I managed and owned interests in two outdoor advertising companies providing real estate for sale signs to over 1000 broker/agent companies. One company was located in the San Fernando Valley and the other in the Hayward/Oakland area of California. The travel time between each was 6-8 hours. This provided a good reason to satisfy my desire to fly and allow for better time utilization. I began flight training at Van Nuys Airport. Two months after I received my private pilot’s license, I purchased one half interest in a Grumman Tiger AA5B. I sold the companies but kept the airplane and starting flying for fun and pleasure. 

·        Many people might not know that you are an avid fly fisher.  What are some of your favorite rivers to fish?  

      Fly fishing in Baja, California, Los Barriles in the mid-1980s, bone fishing the Turk Caicos off Pine Key, New Zealand, Australia, Moorea, San Juan River, Missoula, Bitterroot, Big Wood, Silver Creek, Lake Te Anau, and the rivers feeding into the lake Glaisnock, Eglinton, Clinton Rivers. It was a great way to incorporate our scuba diving enthusiasm with our fly-fishing expeditions.

·         What do your retirement plans include?

·         An airplane “Winnebago” adventure.  I plan to load the plane, pick a destination fly there, stay as long as I like, pick another destination and go. I would like to do a Maine to Florida segment incorporating some fly-fishing in the eastern rivers and streams. Always wanted to revisit Russia. I studied there in 1968 (USSR then) but didn’t travel beyond Sochi in Georgia. Would like to do the Trans Siberian Railroad east to west. Alaska has always been on my “go to place” list.  Some flight time in New Zealand and Australia would really be fun as well. 

      What will you miss the most upon your retirement?

      Plain and simple, the people in the golf industry. Only in the pilot community have I found such good and wonderful people. 

On behalf of GCSAA, I would like to thank Barb for her 24 wonderful years of service. You will be missed by all of your GCSANC members and allied golf professionals throughout California. Your dedication to the golf industry is exemplary and we wish you a happy and fruitful retirement filled with adventure and relaxation!