Friday, May 13, 2016

Support turfgrass research in California by joining the California Turfgrass and Landscape Foundation



The California Turf and Landscape Foundation (CTLF) is seeking members to help support critical turfgrass research in California. 

I urge you to consider supporting the organizations efforts throughout the state.  CTLF was formed in 2011 and under the leadership of Executive Director Bruce Williams, CGCS, and chairman Brian Sullivan, CGCS, at Bel Air Country Club, the foundation has made terrific strides in raising funds for important research projects. 

A large portion of those funds have gone to Dr. Jim Baird at UC Riverside.  Over $100,000 has been distributed annually with additional amounts coming from groups like the Metropolitan Water District to support conservation research.  It takes in excess of $200,000 per year to fund Dr. Baird’s graduate program and without further support, he will continue to be at risk of losing research and extension positions. 

Dr. Baird and his team are working hard to meet the evolving needs of both the golf and landscape industry.  With California still in the midst of a severe drought, there is some new and cutting-edge research addressing water and salinity management issues.  Examples include best management practices for turf under drought restrictions, effects of fungicides and wetting agents on drought stress, evaluation of products for alleviation of salinity and drought stress and the evaluation of natural and hybrid turf for water conservation. 

Without CTLF’s financial backing, some of these research projects would not be undertaken.  In addition to Dr. Baird’s work, CTLF has established relationships with Dr. Jim Kerns and Lee Butler of North Carolina State University for turfgrass diagnosis services as well as Dr. Doug Soldat from the University of Wisconsin and Dr. Bill Kreuser of the University of Nebraska who will assist with soil management issues and testing (those not covered by Pace Turf/Dr. Larry Stowell). 

Research plots at last September's UC Riverside Turfgrass & Landscape Field Day

Annual dues are $250 and your membership will help support projects crucial to the golf industry.  Invoices are available by contacting Executive Director Bruce Williams, CGCS, at bruce@williamsgolfconsulting.com.  More information is also available at www.catlf.org.

We appreciate your consideration and thank those that have already contributed including our local GCSAA chapters, PGA sections and regional golf associations. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Golf Industry makes visit to the California State Capitol



The California Alliance for Golf (CAG), the unified voice for the golf industry in California, visited the California State Capitol in Sacramento on April 27. 

The delegation was made up of representatives from the California GCSA, Englander Knabe & Allen, GCSAA, Moore Minister Communications, Northern California PGA and the Southern California Golf Association.   

The California GCSA and GCSAA were represented by Jim Ferrin, CGCS at Sun City Roseville and CAG secretary; former GCSAA President and CAG board member Bruce Williams of Bruce Williams Golf Consulting; Kurtis Wolford, Sierra Nevada GCSA President and Class A Superintendent at Cherry Island Golf Course and I. 

The group met with Keali’i Bright, Deputy Secretary to Natural Resources Agency; John Casey, Communications Director to Speaker Anthony Rendon; Kip Lipper, Office of Pro Tempore; Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, Assemblyman Phil Ting, Josh White, Legislative Director for Minority Leader Chad Mayes and key staff members of Governor Jerry Brown. 

Topics included a current overview of Governor Brown’s emergency drought declarations as well as the possible easing of those restrictions in the coming weeks due to ample snowfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the State Water Resources Control Board’s continuing changes to the state’s Model Water Efficiency Landscape Ordinance (MWELO), growth of the game and youth initiatives in the state with a particular focus on the SCGA’s Youth on Course Program, golf’s efficient use of water in the state (less than one percent of the total fresh water), the industries outreach efforts with local government agencies and municipalities and an ask on the industries behalf for a resolution proclaiming a Golf Day in California. 

Additionally, the delegation held in depth discussion on the economic impact of the game. The state’s nearly 900 courses have a total impact of more than $13 billion, employ 128,000 creating $4.1 billion in wages and contributes nearly $365 million to charitable causes. 

The event marked the first of two yearly visits by CAG to the State Capitol. For more information on the organization and its efforts, visit www.cagolf.org.   

Pictured are members of the California Alliance for Golf at the State Capitol in Sacramento, CA during CAG’s Legislative Day

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 jjensen@gcsaa.org.

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.