Monday, November 6, 2017

Hawaii GCSA holds annual meeting and golf tournament

Wailea Golf Club superintendent Mike Atwood elected as president

The Hawaii Golf Course Superintendents Association held their annual meeting and golf tournament October 19-20 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Over 85 members from the islands participated in the event held at Leilehua Golf Course and the Prince Waikiki Resort. 

Wailea Golf Club superintendent Mike Atwood was elected as the new president of the association.  Atwood is a 27-year member of GCSAA and oversees the 54-hole operation at Wailea located on the island of Maui. 

Hawaii GCSA Vice President Darren Flanagan
Class A superintendent Darren Flanagan who serves as the director of agronomy at Makena Golf & Beach Club was elected vice president and Scott Main, CGCS, and director of agronomy at Mauna Kea Resort was elected as secretary/treasurer. 

In addition to the golf and election, a full-day educational seminar was held in Waikiki.  Featured speakers included John Doyle of Simplot, Doug McCullen of Bayer, Walter Medina of the City and County of Honolulu, David Phipps, GCSAA Northwest field representative and I.  David spoke to the group on The First Green Program and I provided information on the GCSAA BMP template, grant funding and the formation of a committee on the islands to get the project moving forward.  

Special thanks to outgoing Hawaii GCSA President and Class A superintendent Ryan Wood of the Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course for his three years of service in the position.  Ryan was instrumental in the success of the organization during his presidency and time on the board.

David and I appreciate the hospitality shown to us by the Hawaii GCSA and I look forward to working with Mike and the board in the upcoming year.  He will undoubtedly continue the forward path of an already successful and well-run chapter. 

For more information on the Hawaii GCSA, visit their website.

Outgoing Hawaii GCSA President Ryan Wood presenting a $1,000 check to the Hawaii Junior Golf Association at the Hawaii GCSA Golf Tournament

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Grassroots Ambassador Mike Williams visits office of California Representative Pete Aguilar

Topics of discussion included WOTUS, H-2B visas, BMPs, and the economic impact of golf in California

GCSAA Grassroots Ambassador Mike Williams and I made a visit to the office of Representative Pete Aguilar (CA-31) in San Bernardino, Calif., on September 13.

Mike serves as the Class A superintendent at Shandin Hills Golf Club in San Bernardino and has been a GCSAA Grassroots Ambassador since the inception of the program previously serving in CA-27 before relocating to San Bernardino. Mike is also a board member of the GCSA of Southern California and serves as the chapter’s national delegate.

Visit with Representative Pete Aguilar's office
Mike worked for months to secure a meeting with the staff of Representative Aguilar and his persistence was rewarded through a meeting with Aguilar’s community outreach director Enrique Armenta. 

Topics that were covered in the meeting included WOTUS, H-2B visas, the GCSAA BMP template and its implementation in California, and golf's $13.1 billion dollars in economic impact in California. 

We also discussed Representative Aguilar using Shandin Hills as a stop on his “Job for a Day” tour of the Inland Empire.  The “Job for a Day” program gives him the opportunity to spend time with working people in the community and to bring their voices with him back to Washington.

Mike will continue working with Enrique to set-up an in-person visit with Representative Aguilar when he returns to California in October.

We thank Mike for his dedication to the GCSAA Grassroots Ambassador Program. He is a shining example of representing the golf industry at the federal and state level.

Numerous opening for Grassroots Ambassadors are available in California and other states.  Please contact Michael Lee, manager of government affairs at for a list of available openings and more information.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Northern California fires have devastating impact on local golf community

Fountaingrove and Mayacama among facilities sustaining damage

Wildfires that started Sunday night, October 8, in Northern California have burned over 115,000 acres, destroyed more than 2,000 homes and businesses and killed 17 people in Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties.

Fanned by high winds and dry conditions, the fires exploded around the wine region devastating areas around the towns of Napa, Santa Rosa, and Sonoma. More than 50,000 people have been evacuated and President Trump has approved a “major disaster declaration” for California.

The golf community was not spared from the devastation and at the time of this article, several facilities had incurred extensive damage including Fountaingrove Golf and Athletic Club and Mayacama both located in Santa Rosa.

Mayacama Golf Club.  Photo courtesy of Dale Engman.

The fire swept through Fountaingrove burning down the clubhouse, maintenance facility, and areas on the golf course.  According to Fountaingrove superintendent Dustin McIntosh, the facility experienced devastating losses. 

Mayacama, an exclusive private club set on 675 acres was also hard hit.  According to Class A superintendent Dale Engman, the property, which features a Jack Nicklaus Signature design golf course was burnt in areas and the maintenance facility was severely damaged.  The clubhouse, pump station and golf course villas, fortunately, survived the fire. 

Maintenance facility at Mayacama.  Photo courtesy of Dale Engman.
I have spoken with numerous GCSAA members in the area and I will continue to provide updates as I receive them from those on the scene. At the time of writing, only 5 percent of the fire has been contained and many communities remain evacuated. 

If you are a GCSAA member residing in the area who has experienced personal losses due to the fire, please visit our GCSAA Disaster Relief page and click on the fund request criteria link for further information. 

Our prayers go out to all of those affected by these fires and our efforts will focus on providing support directly to the GCSAA members who suffer personal loss due to this disaster.

Update 10/16 - 9:00 a.m. - Good article by GCM's Howard Richman on Silverado Resort Director of Agronomy PJ Ringenberger and family who have been displaced by the fires.

Update 10/15 - 8:00 a.m. - Silverado Resort Director of Agronomy PJ Ringenberger reports that the resort and course are in good shape overall but will have a massive clean up effort.  Fountaingrove Superintendent Dustin McIntosh has been able to access that property and get water to his greens.  He also has a company wiring in generators to his pump stations and the extensive and long clean up effort will begin this coming week. Dustin reports that his home and personal property were saved. 

Update 10/13 - 3:30 p.m. - Below is a link to a video shot by Fountaingrove Golf & Athletic Club employee Phil Carson showing the devastation at the facility.  We appreciate Phil allowing us to use the video and our prayers go out to all of the employees and their families at Fountaingrove.

Update 10/12 - 5:00 p.m. -  Over 180,000 acres have now burned along with more than 3,500 structures.  29 people are reported dead with more than 400 unaccounted for.  I had a call this afternoon with Northern California PGA Executive Director Chris Thomas and we were able to compare outreach information.  We have identified that the following courses have not received any damage as of this time:  Bennett Valley Golf Club, Chardonnay Golf Club, Foxtail Golf Club, Green Valley Country Club, Napa Country Club, Oakmont Golf Club, Santa Rosa Country Club, Sonoma Golf Club, Vintners Golf Club and Windsor Golf Club.  Both voluntary and mandatory evacuations remain intact for much of the area.  

Update 10/12 - 10:15 a.m. -  Spoke with Silverado Director of Agronomy PJ Ringenberger.  While his home is lost, his family is safe and he is grateful to the golf community for everyone supporting him and the others in Napa.  Communication continues to be difficult with members in the area.  If you speak to any GCSAA members needing disaster relief funds, please have them call me at 785-840-7879 or email at

Update 10/11 - 11:00 p.m. -  I spoke with Silverado Superintendent Ryan Nicholson who provided me with the following:  "We are anticipating increasingly dry winds out of the north this evening and the entire town of Napa is under an evacuation watch at this time. The entire area around Silverado and Napa valley C.C. is under mandatory evacuation. The golf course sustained moderate damage with our maintenance facilities, equipment, and clubhouse still intact. A large percentage of residence were damaged, however. Many tournament structures from the Safeway open were leveled as well. In the process Director of Agronomy PJ Ringenberger lost his house and everything in it, just narrowly escaping the fires."

Ryan and his wife are safe at this time and a GoFundMe page has been set up for the Ringenberger family.

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.