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! 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

UC Riverside field day attracts more than 225 golf and landscape professionals

The University of California Riverside (UCR) turfgrass and landscape program recently held their 2014 Research Field Day in Riverside, Calif.  More than 225 golf and landscape professionals attended the full day event to learn about the world-class research activities conducted at UCR. 

Headed by Jim Baird, Ph.D., turfgrass specialist at UCR, the day provided 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. Jim Baird speaking to GCSAA superintendents at the annual UC Riverside Turfgrass and Landscape Research Field Day.
Some of the highlights of the day included the evaluation of natural and hybrid turf for water conservation; drought tolerance of turfgrass species and cultivars/evaluation of fertilizer products under deficit irrigation; evaluation of products for alleviation of salinity and drought stress; evaluation of fungicides for control of anthracnose; nematode control and managing of Kikuyu grass under deficit irrigation using Maxx and wetting agents/herbicides. 

New to the field day this year was the UCR turfgrass breeding project. Due to the long-term drought concerns and diminishing potable water supplies, UCR is developing drought tolerant turfgrass cultivars specifically for California climates. The objective of the program is to develop cultivars with improved drought, heat and salt tolerance, as well as winter color retention. Major efforts are being employed in selecting superior germplasm and early cycles of hybridizations in tall fescue, bermudagrass, perennial ryegrass and Festulolium. I found the breeding project to be of great interest and look forward to seeing its progress in the coming years.  

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

On behalf of the California GCSA Chapters, thanks to Dr. Baird and his team for a research program that meets the interests and continuing needs of the golf industry. To learn more about the field day, visit the website at or donate to the program by visiting the California Turfgrass & Landscape Foundation site at 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

EPA action benefits Arizona communities and golf facilities

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  issued a final regional haze rule under the Clean Air Act that provides for an emission-reduction plan for the Navajo Generating Station located in Page, AZ.  The decision ensures the long term viability of the generating station that provides stable and reliable power supplies to the Central Arizona Project (CAP) which supplies water to the majority of Arizona’s population.  

A technical work group (TWG) made up of representatives from the Central Arizona Project, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Gila River Indian Community, the Navajo Nation, Salt River Project, the U.S. Department of the Interior and Western Resource Advocates worked on an alternative plan that addressed the complex situation at the plant.  

The alternative plan allows CAP to continue to deliver affordable and renewable supplies of water while preparing for future cost increases in a deliberate manner.  The Cactus & Pine GCSA led by the efforts of board member Rory Van Poucke, Class A superintendent and general manager at Apache Sun Golf Club in Queen Creek, AZ. supported the alternative plan presented by the TWG.  “I attended several meetings with the EPA and CAP and we had numerous GCSAA superintendents who wrote letters of support to the EPA on behalf of the alternative plan,” said Van Poucke, who will run for the GCSAA board of directors in 2015.  “It was an important decision and will allow CAP to keep water delivery costs down which will benefit the golf facilities throughout Arizona.”  “Without this decision, we would have been looking at immediate water increases that would have further diminished the golf industries economic return.”

For more information on the decision, visit the Central Arizona Projects website at

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Exemplifying the "Aloha Spirit"

As the GCSAA southwest field representative, one of the perks of my job is covering the Hawaiian Islands (It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it).  I’ve had the opportunity to meet many great members from our fiftieth state, but none standout more than Russ Dooge, CGCS and general manager at The Dunes at Maui Lani Golf Course in Maui, Hawaii.  

Dooge, whose first job as a superintendent was at Kaluakoi Golf Club on Molokai in 1977, recently moved into the general manager’s chair at The Dunes at Maui Lani after serving 37 years as a golf course superintendent at numerous courses throughout the islands including Waikapu, Koele, Manele, Sandalwood, Kapalua, Kahili and King Kamehameha.  

One of the truly good guys in the golf industry, Dooge twice served as Hawaii GCSA president and has represented the association as chapter delegate since 1996.  Along the way, he became the first certified golf course superintendent in Hawaii (1985).  He was awarded with the Hawaii GCSA Lifetime Achievement Award in January. 

I had the chance to chat with Russ recently about his new role and its challenges, the state of the industry and his perspective on a career that has spanned nearly 40 years.

Your first job as a superintendent was at Kaluakoi Golf Club in 1977.  Back then, did you ever see yourself in the role of a general manager?
No, but I did give a lot thought to getting my PGA Class A membership and possibly heading that direction. 

What have been the challenges in your first few months in the new position and how has it differed from your past positions as a golf course superintendent? 
The biggest challenge has been getting more golfers to play our course. The rates at The Dunes are higher compared to other courses around the area, so we have had to be creative. Additionally, I am learning to put income before spending - and I needed to start wearing long pants and aloha shirts!

We are starting to see a trend with superintendents moving into the general manager’s position. What advice would you have for a superintendent interested in taking that path?
Pay attention in staff and budget meetings and learn about the other departments. In particular, I spent a lot of time around the golf shop and was able to learn more about that side of the business. Do not be afraid to think outside the box in order to attract new customers.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for the modern-day golf course superintendent? 
Getting more people introduced to the game of golf, water availability/cost and the environment. In Hawaii, the anti-GMO people are going after pesticide use which makes life difficult. 

You have been a past HGCSA president, long-time board member, chapter delegate and GCSAA committee member.  How has this service to both HGCSA and GCSAA contributed to your career development?
Meeting people from around the country and making new friends has helped me in understanding the game of golf better and how it works in other parts of the U.S. I have also learned to be a better public speaker over the years, although I still have a long way to go in that area.

You were awarded the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award by the HGCSA.  What does it mean to you to be honored by your peers in the golf maintenance industry?
I have been recognized twice by the HGCSA and to be honored by your peers for something that you love doing is a great accomplishment. I did not start out in this business to gain awards but to make golf courses better and more fun to play. I like to joke that the Lifetime Achievement is the award that is given to the oldest surviving superintendent! 

If you could go back and give your 21-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?
It would be to listen a lot more and be humble.

On behalf of GCSAA, thank you to Russ for his years of service to the association and the golf industry.  We look forward to many more.  If you run into Russ at GIS or get a chance to visit Maui, make sure you stop and say hello and catch a little bit of his “Aloha Spirit”.  It’s contagious! 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

California Golf Course Superintendents Association shows support to California Alliance for Golf

The California Golf Course Superintendents Association (CAGCSA) has contributed $6,000 to the California Alliance for Golf (CAG) to assist the organization’s efforts to promote the game of golf in California.

A non-profit organization, CAG’s mission is to enhance business opportunities by serving as an advocate for the golf industry before the state’s legislative bodies and government agencies while promoting the economic, environmental, and numerous community-based benefits the game of golf provides to the citizens of California.

The CAG unifies all aspects and entities within the golf industry including: amateur golf associations (men, women, juniors and seniors), golf professionals, course superintendents, golf course owners and club managers, course architects and builders, management companies, hard and soft good vendors, and major equipment manufacturers.

“The California Golf Course Superintendents Association is a proud member of CAG and our financial contribution will assist the organization in sharing its message with all who participate in the game throughout California,” said Jim Alwine, president of the CAGCSA and Class A superintendent at Bernardo Heights Country Club in San Diego, Calif. “Our members benefit from the advocacy and lobbying efforts of CAG, effectively improving our government relations network. CAG’s commitment to the industry and growth of the game is outstanding."

“We are thrilled with this contribution from the California Golf Course Superintendents Association and it comes at a critical time, as we are in the process of expanding our outreach efforts,” said Tom Addis, president of CAG and executive director of the Southern California PGA.  “In addition to providing us with excellent playing conditions, golf course superintendents are integral to the overall enjoyment of the game and we are happy to collaborate with their association.” 

For more information on CAG or how to become a member, please visit the website at