Friday, August 21, 2015

Cactus & Pine GCSA holds Town Hall Meeting to educate policymakers

Event focuses on water use and management as well as the positive economic impact that the game has on the state

The Cactus & Pine GCSA held a Town Hall Meeting on Aug. 14 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.  The meeting was organized to provide Arizona politicians, government agencies, municipalities, water districts, policymakers and leading water experts with a more thorough understanding of the golf industries use of water in the state, the economic impact of the game in Arizona and ongoing turfgrass research being conducted at the University of Arizona.   

Featured speakers included Dr. Paul Brown of the University of Arizona, Class A superintendent Rob Collins of Paradise Valley Country Club, golf course superintendent Shawn Emerson of Desert Mountain, GCSAA Southwest field representative Jeff Jensen, Dr. Dave Kopec of the University of Arizona, Class A superintendent Phil Shoemaker of Desert Highlands Golf Club and Brian Whitlark of the USGA. 

Collins spoke on maximum water and resource efficiency with a focus on the numerous projects that have been conducted at Paradise Valley; Emerson on the economic impact of the game to Arizona and the media coverage generated by the PGA TOUR’s Waste Management Open; Jensen on the water advocacy efforts of GCSAA and national economic impact of the game; Shoemaker on the private/municipal negotiations that brought recycled water to the North Scottsdale Corridor and Whitlark on proven water conservation practices for golf courses in the Southwestern United States. 

Dr. Brown and Dr. Kopec spoke on turfgrass research.  Brown focused on an overall perspective of water use on turfgrass in the state and irrigation efficiency/technology while Kopec covered research being conducted on more drought and salt tolerant turfgrass varieties, particularly Saltgrass.

The event was attended by over 70 participants including staff members from the offices of Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Sen. John McCain, staff members from Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01), Congressman Matt Salmon (AZ-05) and David Schweikert’s (AZ-06) offices as well as numerous policymakers from local municipalities and water agencies/districts including the Arizona Department of Water Resources, Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, Salt River Project and Scottsdale Water. 

Pictured from left is Cactus & Pine GCSA President Rory Van Poucke, Linda Rizzio from Congressman David Schweikert's office and GCSAA Southwest field representative Jeff Jensen

“The Cactus & Pine GCSA understands the magnitude of the current drought in Arizona and the Southwest,” said Rory Van Poucke, Cactus & Pine GCSA president and general manager/Class A superintendent of Apache Sun Golf Club.  “Our members are committed to reducing water use through sound agronomic practices and strategies. The bottom-line is that the Arizona golf industry is a beneficial user of water.”     

Arizona is home to over 300 golf courses with a total economic impact of $3.4 billion.  Nearly 20,000 workers are employed by Arizona golf facilities with total wages in excess of $300 million. Additionally, the golf industry is only responsible for approximately 2 percent of the state’s overall water usage.    

“Golf is a valuable asset to Arizona economy,” said Carmella Ruggiero, executive director of the Cactus & Pine GCSA.  “We are a source of employment, provide tax revenue (nearly $80 million annually) and serve as important recreational outlet for the community and visitors to the state.  This meeting gave us a chance to showcase the importance of our industry.”

The event was the largest of numerous outreach efforts that the Cactus & Pine board of directors has conducted in the past year under the leadership of Ruggiero and Van Poucke, who will be running for the GCSAA board of directors in 2016. 

For more information on the association, visit the website at  

Desert Mountain Superintendent Shawn Emerson speaking on the economic impact of golf in Arizona.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Golf industry well represented at Nevada Drought Forum

This past April, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval established the Nevada Drought Forum to bring together the best minds, managers and all interested stakeholders to discuss the drought in Nevada, identify best conservation practices and policy needs and offer him recommendations. 

On July 17, the Nevada golf industry had a chance to participate in Nevada Drought Forum meetings in Las Vegas.  Northern Nevada was represented by the Sierra Nevada GCSA President Rob Williams with Southern Nevada GCSA President Grant Becwar representing the southern portion of the state. 

Messaging was focused on golf’s water use – less than two percent of the state total – and course efforts to reduce water usage through sound agronomic practices, efficient and targeted irrigation, use of reclaimed water, turfgrass research and continuing education provided by GCSAA and its affiliated chapters. 

Additionally, the economic benefit of golf facilities in the state was highlighted.  Nevada golf courses are businesses that serve as a valuable community asset, a source of tax revenues and employment, and an important recreational outlet for community members of all ages. The 98 golf courses in Nevada employ approximately 5,000 individuals, generate over $300 million in wages and have a direct economic impact of $1.1 billion.

Pictured at the Nevada Drought Forum (left to right) is Grant Becwar, superintendent at Revere Golf Club; Leo Drozdoff, director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Rob Williams, Class A superintendent at Stockton Golf & Country Club. 

“It was a great opportunity for the golf industry to show our policymakers that we are a beneficial user of water,” said Williams who serves as superintendent at Stockton Golf & Country Club.  “Our industry is going to play an important role in helping further develop the state as a leader in global tourism and we want to make sure our officials know that we can provide a great product while still reducing our environmental footprint.” 

“The golf industry appreciates the opportunity to participate in these forums and we look forward to working with the state and our local water districts to reduce the effects of this very serious drought,” stated Becwar, superintendent at The Revere Golf Club. 

Thanks to Rob and Grant for taking time out of their schedules to represent the industry.  For more information on the Nevada Drought Forum, visit the website at

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Don't miss the UCR Turfgrass & Landscape Research Field Day this September

Hope all of our GCSAA members had a great 4th of July weekend!  Before we know it, it will be Labor Day.  Where does the time go?

As we get into the dog days of summer, now is the time to mark your calendar for the annual University of California Riverside Turfgrass & Landscape Research Field Day.  This year's event will take place on Thursday, September 17 at the UC Riverside Turfgrass Field Station from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Headed by Jim Baird, Ph.D., turfgrass specialist at UCR, the day provides a synopsis of UCR’s current research activities and featured numerous tours through state-of-the-art research areas designed to study water and salinity management issues on turf and landscapes. Dr. Baird, staff and students will be available to answer your questions about turf and water conservation throughout California.

UC Riverside Turfgrass Field Station, Riverside, CA

Highlights of this year's agenda include "Who has the firmest, fastest Kikuyugrass turf?" which focuses on combinations of management practices to promote optimal Kikuyugrass quality and playability.

The UC Riverside turfgrass research facility and program, funded in part by the California Turfgrass & Landscape Foundation, under the executive leadership of former GCSAA past president Bruce Williams, CGCS, currently provides the only university-based turf research in the state of California. 

It's important that the golf industry support the field day and research program that meets the interests and continuing needs of the golf industry.

The event is open to all turfgrass and landscape industry professionals. More information is here. I hope to see all of our golf industry professionals at the event. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Critical that California superintendents monitor the formation of groundwater sustainability agencies

On September 16, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) that, for the first time in history, would regulate groundwater in the state.  California was the only western state that did not have a system of oversight in place. 

The legislation called for the formation of groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) by June 30, 2017; implementation of groundwater plans for critical overdraft basins by January 31, 2020 and implementation of groundwater plans for high and medium basins by January 31, 2022 with the overall goal of achieving groundwater sustainability 20 years after the implementation of each plan (2040/2042). 

Recognizing that groundwater is most effectively managed at the state level, the SGMA has empowered local agencies (counties, municipalities, water districts, combined agencies, etc.) to form GSA’s to develop and implement  groundwater sustainability plans that consider all beneficial uses and users of groundwater in the basin. Numerous GSAs have already been formed throughout the state.  To view those agencies visit the California Department of Water Resources website.

What this legislation means for golf, agriculture and other industries is not clear at this point, but the state is allowing stakeholders to provide input and assist in developing resources to help GSAs make informed decisions about sustainable groundwater management for the 515 alluvial groundwater basins in California. 

It is imperative that the golf industry be represented as these GSAs form throughout the state. We must remain vigilant and protect our best interests while assisting in developing a sound policy that makes sense for all stakeholders. 

While our normative organizations will be doing their part to monitor the formation of the GSAs, it is going to take an all hands on deck approach to identify, and more importantly, sit down at the table with these agencies. 

For more information on the SGMA, the establishing of the GSAs and the structure for managing California’s groundwater, visit