Friday, April 22, 2016

California to phase in $15 minimimum wage over five-year period

The California State Legislature and Governor Jerry Brown reached a deal with the Service Employees International Union's (SEIU) on March 31 to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by Jan. 1, 2022. Governor Brown signed it into law on Monday, April 4. The deal was passed by the assembly by a 48-26 vote and the Senate by a 26-12 vote. The increase from the current $10 per hour starts on Jan. 1, 2017. Below is the phase-in of the raise:

January 1, 2017                 $10.50
January 1, 2018                 $11.00
January 1, 2019                 $12.00
January 1, 2020                 $13.00
January 1, 2021                 $14.00
January 1, 2022                 $15.00

Companies with 25 or fewer employees have an extra year to comply. Raises in the wage after 2022 will be based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The bill will affect 2.2 million California workers who earn minimum wage and will have a potential ripple effect for another 5.6 million workers who could see their pay increase by an average of 24 percent over the same time period.

The California golf industry opposed the ballot initiative from the SEIU that would have gone to vote in November through the California Consumers Against Higher Prices Coalition, but business/industry was not brought to the table for the hastily-put-together negotiations between the legislature, the governor and the unions. Initial projections were that the ballot initiative would have passed in November, so the governor and the legislature likely cut the deal early to receive some concessions including the ability to temporarily suspend the hikes in the event of poor economic conditions or a large budget deficit.

It's difficult to predict what overall effect the raise will have on business in California, but speaking from the golf industry perspective it could prove to be very difficult with the game’s inability to attract new participants or raise rates to offset the wage increases. Please keep in mind that our industry was well aware of the issue and have been submitting comments on it over the past several years.

If you have any further questions on the increases, please feel free to contact me at

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Golf industry issues comments on California Department of Water recommendations on landscape water use

The California Department of Water Independent Technical Panel (ITP) on Demand Management Measures met in San Diego, Calif. on March 4 to discuss recommendations on landscape water use reduction and efficiency.

Craig Kessler, governmental affairs director for the Southern California Golf Association and I represented the golf industry at the meeting, providing the panel with recommendations and comments on areas of concern.

Following the meeting, we submitted written comments on behalf of the California GCSA and the California Alliance of Golf. In particular, we focused our comments in opposition to the lowering of the ETAF from 1.0 to .8 and the limiting of turf on slopes from the current 25 percent to 10 percent.

While many of our facilities in the state already irrigate at .8 or lower in some areas, keeping the ETAF at 1.0 gives our industry flexibility in dealing with budgets and potential water restrictions based on the Maximum Applied Water Allowance (MAWA). Additionally, keeping the ETAF at 1.0 will allow those facilities that experience a high volume of traffic the ability to fully irrigate and recover from the abuse of this traffic.

Additionally, slopes of 25 percent on a golf course are very functional and serve as an integral part of the game of golf. With the advances in irrigation technology (particularly controllers) and the use of wetting agents, superintendents have the ability to effectively irrigate these slopes while eliminating runoff.

Other comments included increasing a potential tax credit cap (currently proposed at $10,000) on turf replacement and eliminating any potential landscape certification and continuing education requirements that could be placed on golf course superintendents by the Department of Water Resources.

The ITP will now take the comments from the various stakeholder groups and create a final report that will be submitted to Legislature.

See the draft report of the ITP's recommendations.

Friday, March 11, 2016

8th annual Hawaii Golf Ho'olaule'a Awards Ceremony honors Nakatsukasa and Tolbert

Longtime Hawaii GCSA chapter executive Clarence Nakatsukasa and Nanea Golf Club Class A superintendent Clint Tolbert were honored at the 8th annual Hawaii Golf Ho’olaule’a Awards Ceremony held February 20 in Honolulu, Hawaii. The gala, hosted by the Aloha Section PGA, honors those from Hawaii’s six major golf associations who have made extraordinary contributions to the golf industry.

Nakatsukasa, who is retiring as the Hawaii GCSA chapter executive at year’s end, received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the game. The award marked not only service to the golf industry, but service to his country and community as well.

A decorated military veteran, Nakatsukasa didn’t get his start in the golf business until later in life. Upon graduation from the University of Hawaii in 1959, Clarence embarked on 20-year career in the United States Army. He retired in 1979 as a Major and during his tenure in the military he was awarded the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious and Commendation Medals and the Vietnam Campaign & Service Medals.

Following his retirement from the Army, he worked as a personnel management specialist with the Army Corps of Engineers and Pearl Harbor Naval Base and as an administrator for COMSAT, a satellite communications provider.

In 1994, Clarence needed a new challenge and accepted the superintendent position at Ala Wai Golf Club. Ala Wai, located adjacent to Waikiki, has consistently been cited as the world’s busiest golf course in terms of rounds played. In 1995, Clarence joined the board of the Hawaii GCSA serving as treasurer before moving into the executive director position in 2003. In 2005, Clarence retired from Ala Wai but has continued to oversee the operations of the Hawaii GCSA.

“Receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from Aloha Section PGA is very special,” said Nakatsukasa. “It’s a great finish to my career and I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to work with so many great individuals in our association and the industry over the last 20 years. I will miss it, but it’s time to relax and enjoy some other things.”

Pictured from the left is Hawaii GCSA chapter executive Clarence Nakatsukasa, Hawaii GCSA president Ryan Wood and Nanea Superintedent and Hawaii GCSA past president Clint Tolbert

Tolbert, who serves as the Class A superintendent at Nanea Golf Club on the Big Island, received the Superintendent of the Year Award. A 2002 graduate of the University of Georgia (and a devoted Dawgs football fan), Clint accepted the job as superintendent of the Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course in Oahu upon his graduation. He served for four years at the Klipper before accepting the job at Nanea.

In his time at Nanea, the David McLay Kidd-designed course has been consistently ranked a World Top 100 by GOLF Magazine.

“To be recognized by my peers as Superintendent of the Year is gratifying,” said Tolbert. “I have to thank my staff at Nanea for all of their hard work. Nobody can do it alone and they are a big part of my success.”

In addition to his agronomic expertise, Clint has been very involved with the Hawaii GCSAA. First elected to the board of directors in 2011, Clint has served as treasurer, vice president and president of the association (2013-2015) and currently serves as past president. “Volunteering and being a leader in our association is important to me,” said Tolbert. “I’m proud of being able to give back to our industry and I encourage other superintendents to do the same.”

“To be able to share this night with Clarence is something I will never forget. He has become a great friend and mentor. His presence will be missed and we wish him the best of luck in his retirement,” stated Tolbert in closing.

The Hawaii Golf Course Superintendents Association is committed to growing the game of golf in Hawaii by providing advocacy, education and outreach to its members and industry partners. For more information, visit It is an affiliated chapter of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Representative Paul Gosar speaks to the Cactus & Pine GCSA at Apache Sun Golf Club

The Cactus & Pine GCSA board of directors hosted Arizona Representative Paul Gosar on Thursday, February 18 at Apache Sun Golf Club in San Tan Valley, Ariz.

The event was held to educate Representative Gosar and his key staff on the industries efficient use of water in Arizona as well as the economic impact the game has on the state. Other guests in attendance included representatives from the Arizona Department of Water, Central Arizona Project, CMAA, the Southwest PGA and USGA.

Desert Mountain superintendent Shawn Emerson kicked off the event speaking to the group on the economic impact of the state’s approximately 300 golf facilities. The industry has a total economic impact of $3.4 billion and employs nearly 54,000 people with wage income exceeding $1.4 billion. Emerson noted that Arizona is the eighth largest state in terms of golf industry economic impact.

I spoke to the group on the GCSAA’s Water Use and Conservation Practices on U.S. Golf Courses study as well as potential pesticide restrictions in Arizona and the United States. Jensen also spoke to Gosar’s staff on federal tax exemptions for turfgrass rebates and other water related conservation incentives.

Representative Gosar capped off the day addressing the group on the new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule and the potentially devastating effect that the rule could have on golf facilities and other businesses, the Omnibus spending bill, the national debt and how to best work with our legislators and policymakers on both a local and national level. Those in attendance had numerous questions for Representative Gosar about the workings of the U.S. Congress.

A special thanks goes to Apache Sun owner Mike Musulin for hosting the event and Cactus & Pine president Rory Van Poucke and chapter executive Carmella Ruggiero for organizing the day’s activities.

“Advocacy has become a critical component of the golf industry,” said Van Poucke who also serves as the general manager/superintendent at Apache Sun. “We have to educate our legislators and policymaker on the industries efficient use of natural resources, the economic impact of the game and the benefit of the game to our communities as a whole.”

For more information on the event, contact Carmella Ruggiero at

Cactus & Pine GCSA Board of Directors and guests with Arizona Representative Paul Gosar at Apache Sun Golf Club on February 18, 2016.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Golf Course Superintendents Association of Northern California recognizes Boyer as Superintendent of the Year

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of Northern California (GCSANC) recently held their 2016 GCSANC Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, California. 
The event was attended by over 100 GCSANC members and guests.  In addition to electing the new board of directors and officers who will oversee the chapter in 2016, the chapter gave out their yearly awards highlighting the best of the superintendent profession in Northern California.
Brian Boyer, Class A superintendent at Cinnabar Hills Golf Club in San Jose, California. was honored as GCSANC Superintendent of the Year.
Boyer, who serves as the Secretary/Treasurer of the chapter, was elated upon hearing of the honor. “It was unexpected and I truly appreciate my fellow members recognizing my efforts,” said Boyer.  “This is a team award and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my staff and the management at Cinnabar Hills.  It’s truly a humbling experience.” 
For Boyer, the award is an accumulation of his work at Cinnabar as well as his efforts advocating on behalf of the superintendent profession and the golf industry.
Boyer got his start in the golf business as a cart attendant at Cattails Golf Club in South Lyon, Michigan.  As Brian likes to tell it, all the “cool kids” at the course worked on the maintenance staff.  He approached superintendent Doug Palm to see if he could work part-time on the crew and thus began his career in turfgrass. 
He attended Michigan State University and received a B.S. in Turfgrass Management.  During his time at Michigan State, he interned at Desert Forest Golf Club in Carefree, AZ. and the renowned San Francisco Golf Club.  This was Brian’s first introduction to the Bay Area golf scene and he worked under the watchful eye of superintendent Bob Klinesteker for four years. 
In 2005, Brian got an opportunity to interview at Cinnabar Hills and was hired as the superintendent just before his 26th birthday.  During his tenure at Cinnabar, the facility has received numerous awards including the “Water Saving Hero” award from the Santa Clara Water District, Top 45 golf facilities in the USA for 2009 by Golf World Readers and Best Public Golf Course in the Silicon Valley for ten years by the San Jose Mercury News.  Additionally, he was awarded the 2009 Turfgrass Excellence Award for Public Courses from GCSANC.
“Brian is an amazing asset to our facility,” said Cinnabar Hills general manager Ron Zraick.  “His work on water issues in the San Jose area has been exemplary.  Due to the drought, our local water district's conservation requirements went well beyond the state mandates.  Brian stepped up to the plate, worked with the Santa Clara Water District and assisted with a solution that is beneficial to our facility and the community.  He sets a great example for our industry on how to work with our policymakers while protecting golf’s best interests.”

Cinnabar Hills Class A Superintendent Brian Boyer receiving the "Water Saving Hero" award from the Santa Clara Water District. 
In 2014, Cinnabar exceeded their 20 percent water reduction requirement and reduced usage 31 percent in 2015.  The facility participates in monthly conservation and recycled water committee meetings and attends water district board meetings twice per month. 
Boyer has also been an active participant with GCSANC. He hosted the 2010 Clifford and Myrtle Wagoner Scholarship and Research Tournament which peaked his interest in board service.  In 2010 he ran for the board of directors and has never looked back, currently serving as Secretary/Treasurer.  “I really enjoy the behind the scenes work of the chapter and working with my fellow board members to assure GCSANC’s continued success,” said Boyer. 
His work has also left an impression on GCSANC and California Golf Course Owners Association executive director Marc Connerly.  “Brian is very diligent in his duties as Secretary/Treasurer and puts the chapter’s best interests ahead of his own,” said Connerly.  “He has the respect of his fellow board members and superintendents in Northern California and I’m elated that he received this prestigious award.”  
The Golf Course Superintendents Association of Northern California is dedicated to serving its members, fostering communication, advancing the profession, improving the environment and enriching the quality of golf. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter (@GCSANC). It is an affiliated chapter of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Recommendations on extended emergency regulations for urban water conservation from California SWRCB

The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) recently released draft comments and staff recommendations concerning the extended emergency regulations for urban water conservation that are scheduled to run thru October 31, 2016.

California urban water suppliers had proposed further refinement to the conservation tiers that were originally adopted May 5, 2015 and then extended on Nov. 13, 2015. Some of the factors that the urban water suppliers and other stakeholders sought refinement for included consideration of temperature, population growth/seasonal population, use of drought resilient supplies and groundwater credits.

If adopted, some of these recommendations could have a beneficial effect on golf courses using urban potable water supplies.

The SWRCB recommended a climate adjustment in the Emergency Regulation that reduces the conservation requirement by up to 4 percentage points for water suppliers located in the warmest regions of the state. The climate adjustment would be based on each urban water supplier’s approximate service area ET for the months of July through September as compared to statewide average ET for the same months.

Additionally, a formula was recommended to adjust urban water supplier conservation standards to account for water efficient growth since 2013. The adjustment will be equal to the ratio of the additional volume of water used since 2013 to the baseline water use for 2013, multiplied by the water supplier’s conservation standard.

Lastly, the SWRCB recommended a one-tier (four percentage point) reduction to the conservation standard of urban water suppliers using new drought resilient water supplies. The credit would apply to urban water suppliers that certify, and provide documentation upon request, that at least 4 percent of its potable supply is comprised of indirect potable reuse of coastal wastewater (the creation and use of which does not injure another legal user of water or the environment) or desalinated seawater developed since 2013.

All credits and adjustments are capped to allow up to a maximum of a four percentage point decrease to any individual water supplier’s conservation standard (tier).

The recommendations did not include additional credits for non-potable recycled use, relaxing conservation requirements for isolated hydrogeological regions or changing the process for assigning conservation tiers to account for year round residential per capita water use. View the draft comments in their entirety. A final draft and formal vote on the refinements to the extended regulations is expected in early February.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Consider serving on your chapter board of directors or volunteering for a committee in 2016

I hope this finds all of our GCSAA members enjoying a happy holiday season.  As 2015 comes to a close and we look forward to a new year, I urge all of you to consider assisting your affiliated GCSAA chapter by running for a board of director position or serving on one of the numerous committees that assist the chapter in establishing policy, running events and promoting the chapter.

The golf industry has faced its share of challenges over the last decade and courses continue to close across the country at an alarming rate. A declining middle class and uncertainty undermining the national economy have contributed to the struggles of the industry.

Over the years, GCSAA has felt this wrath through declines in national membership and diminishing participation at the affiliate chapter level.  While the membership numbers have now stabilized, many of our 98 affiliated chapters are experiencing difficulty with meeting attendance, filling board of director positions and obtaining members to volunteer for committee positions.

Your current board of directors is hard at work offering members a multitude of benefits that foster your career success and that of your golf facility, including:
  •  Providing resources for you to advance your career
  •  Providing relevant information to stay ahead of the game
  •  Tools to effectively manage your facility
  •  Widespread community of peers in the industry to keep you connected
  •  A voice in industry-wide initiatives to sustain the future of golf
Support their time and hard work through attendance at events and volunteering a little bit of time to help the chapter grow and continue to succeed. Serving on a board or committee will improve your leadership skills, provide a sense of duty and accomplishment and extend your professional and personal networks.

I understand that your free time is at a premium.  Increased demands at work, family commitments and civic responsibilities can make chapter participation difficult.  However, as a golf industry professional, I urge you to make a commitment to your future, the superintendent profession and to the game of golf.  I guarantee that you will get more out of it than you put into it.

Happy Holidays!