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!



Thursday, October 16, 2014

GCSAA Golf Championships provide members an opportunity to compete and network

Registration for the 2015 GCSAA Golf Championships in San Antonio opens on Nov. 4, and it marks the fourth year that I have had the privilege to work as a tournament coordinator at this terrific event. 

I have the championship highlighted on my yearly calendar as it is truly one of my favorite GCSAA events. The championship gives me the opportunity to re-engage in tournament operations where I previously spent a great deal of my professional career, and more importantly, allows me the opportunity to meet hundreds of our great members throughout the country. 

Cordillera Ranch, a Signature Jack Nicklaus design

This year’s event in San Antonio promises to be one of the best ever. The GCSAA Tournament Committee has selected four facilities that rank amongst the best in Texas and the southwest United States. 

The event, presented in partnership with Toro and benefiting the EIFG, will take place Feb. 21-23, 2015, and the host facilities include TPC San Antonio (host of the PGA Tour’s Valero Texas Open), Cordillera Ranch, The Palmer Course at La Cantera and long-time San Antonio favorite, The Quarry Golf Course. The JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa will serve as the host hotel. 

This year’s schedule of events includes the National Championship, Golf Classic, Four-Ball and the increasingly popular Shamble. 

The GCSAA National Championship is a 36-hole, stroke-play event (Feb. 22-23) that features the top superintendents from across the U.S. competing for the Bobby Jones Trophy. The event is open to the first 100 entries with a verifiable USGA handicap index of 5.0 and below. 

The GCSAA Golf Classic is a 36-hole flighted event (Feb. 22-23) that uses a point quota scoring system. The event allows competitors to participate in a more relaxed atmosphere and provides outstanding opportunities to network with peers. 

The Four-Ball (Feb. 21) is a one-day event using the traditional four-ball format. Choose your own partner or GCSAA will assign you one from the pool. 

The Shamble (Feb. 22) is in its third year and has become a popular alternative for those who only have the chance to play one day, or prefer to play in a fun and relaxed event. 

Cost of the event is $475 for the National Championship or Golf Classic ($575 for affiliate members/Golf Classic only) and $175 for the Four-Ball or Shamble ($275 for affiliate members).  Entry fees include green fees, cart, range balls, on course contests, awards (gift certificates and plates), tee prize, Welcome Reception and refreshments at the 19th Hole gatherings following each day of competition. 

This is a first-class tournament experience and I encourage all of our members to participate in one of the events, regardless of your skill level. You will have a chance to develop camaraderie, enjoy some great Texas hospitality and maybe even win a sought-after GCSAA Championship plate. 

If you have any questions on the event, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly or visit the website at I look forward to seeing all of you in San Antonio!