Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Coachella Valley Golf Industry Summit to be held Jan. 18 at PGA West

The Coachella Valley Golf Industry Summit will be held in conjunction with the PGA TOUR’s 2016 CareerBuilder Challenge.  The summit will take place Monday, Jan. 18 at the Palmer Private Course at PGA West.  The event is open to golf industry representatives, media, policymakers and the general public.

The goal of the summit is to provide a venue for the key players in the Coachella Valley golf industry to further enlighten the public about the massive economic and charitable impacts it has on the region, directly address the latest in the water issues facing California and impacting the industry, generate positive publicity for the local golf industry and the tournament, and continue to enhance a cooperative spirit and goodwill among a wide range of key golf industry players.
Organizers of the event include the Club Managers Association of America Desert Chapter, Desert Classic Charities (organizers of the CareerBuilder Challenge), GCSAA, Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, Hi-Lo Desert Golf Course Superintendents Association, Southern California Golf Association and the Southern California PGA. 

The event will feature three panels focused on golf course water use/conservation/management, economic impact of the game in the valley and what is right with the game of golf.  Featured speakers include Nicole Castrale, LPGA Tour player; Marc Connerly, executive director of the California Golf Course Owners Association; Kevin Heaney, executive director of the Southern California Golf Association; Pat Gross, USGA West Region Green Section director; Paul Levy, general manager at Toscana Country Club and vice president of the PGA of America;  John Powell, president of the board of directors for the Coachella Valley Water District; Stu Rowland, Class A superintendent at Rancho La Quinta Country Club; Craig Surdy, general manager at The Reserve Club and president of the Club Managers Association of America Golden State Chapter and Scott White, president of the Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

Numerous sponsorship opportunities are available and packages range from $2,500 (Supporting Sponsor) to $10,000 (Presenting Sponsor).  All sponsorship packages include credentials to the 2016 CareerBuilder Challenge as well as access to select hospitality areas during the event. 

Registration will open in December and for those interested in sponsoring the event, please contact me at and I will forward you a sponsorship package. Net proceeds from the summit will go to Desert Classic Charities. 

We look forward to you support of the summit and seeing you in the desert in January. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Longtime Southern Nevada superintendent overseeing grow-in of The Club at Sunrise

Course will be first in Southern Nevada to feature Platinum TE paspalum turfgrass

With more than 30 years in the Las Vegas golf industry, GCSAA Class A Superintendent Scott Sutton has seen his share of challenges. A superintendent at numerous facilities, including Durango Hills Golf Club, Red Rock Country Club, Sunrise Country Club (now Stallion Mountain) and Wildhorse Golf Club, Sutton’s newest project might be his most formidable. 

Designed in 1964 by Dick Wilson and Joe Lee, The Club at Sunrise, formerly Desert Rose Golf Club, was one of the first golf facilities in the Las Vegas valley and served visitors and locals alike for 49 years before closing in June of 2013. The course, owned by Clark County, received extensive damage in a 2012 flood and the decision was made to temporarily close the course and embark on a mega-renovation of the entire facility. 

As part of a $150 million flood control project implemented by the Regional Flood Control District, the facility has undergone a complete facelift including a course redesign, construction of a new state-of-the-art maintenance facility and a 4,400 square foot clubhouse featuring a golf shop, the Winterwood Grille and extensive patio areas for special events and weddings.

Golf course architect Randy Heckenkemper of Heckenkemper Golf Course Design was brought in to oversee the redesign. A veteran architect who has worked on numerous projects including renovations at McDowell Mountain Golf Club and TPC Scottsdale, Heckenkemper envisioned using paspalum turfgrass on the playing surfaces.

Platinum TE paspalum is a drought and salt tolerant variety of turfgrass that does well with recycled water, has a shorter dormancy period than Bermuda, can handle hard frosts and is excellent in regards to wear and traffic tolerance. Paspalum is often used in coastal and tropical climates that deal with salt water, but its unique qualities also make it an excellent choice for desert golf courses that play a significant number of rounds. 

Seeking out advice on paspalum use in the desert, Heckenkemper turned to Sutton who was using the turfgrass with some success in high salt areas at Wildhorse Golf Club in Henderson, Nev. 

“When Randy reached out to me and indicated that he had interest in using paspalum at The Club at Sunrise, it was a project that I became interested in quickly,” said Sutton. “I had experimented with the grass at Wildhorse in some areas and I knew the potential that existed if you were willing to use it on greens, fairways and tees.”
The Club at Sunrise's Scott Sutton

The early results have been positive. “The paspalum is a great surface to play off,” said Sutton. “The conditions are fast and firm and the ball sits up beautifully on the fairways and in roughs. High handicappers and seniors will really appreciate it as it allows you to sweep the ball.”

In addition to the paspalum, the bunkers have been completely renovated and the facility has removed large areas of turf and replaced it with desert landscaping that provides increased water savings. “Everything we have done has been focused on reducing water use and our environmental footprint,” said Sutton.  “As a golf course superintendent I take that responsibility very seriously.” 

Operated by Northbrook, Ill. -based KemperSports, who builds, owns and manages golf courses, resorts, athletic clubs and lodging venues across the U.S., Caribbean and Central America , The Club at Sunrise is scheduled to reopen to the public in early December.  “It’s a terrific project for the Clark County community and KemperSports is honored to be chosen to oversee it,” said Matt Kalbak, PGA Class A member and director of operations for the project.  “Golfers are going to get a great experience at an affordable price and I know they will be impressed with the changes.”
For more information on the project, or to book a tee time, visit the website at 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Forum for implementation of Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

The California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) will hold a series of forums for stakeholders on the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

The forums are being held to ensure successful management of groundwater resources at the local level. Achieving success will require that local agencies have the necessary tools and resources and that public stakeholders remain engaged in long-term, sustainable groundwater management activities.

The public forums are intended for residential well owners, groundwater users and other interested members of the public. The public forums will focus on:

• The public stakeholder role in SGMA implementation;
• Local agency requirements regarding GSA formation and public involvement;
• Drought management and groundwater sustainability;
• SGMA and water rights;
• State involvement under SGMA (including technical and financial assistance and state intervention).

The forums will be held at the below locations:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - Los Angeles Area
Technical Session 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Public Forum 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Los Angeles Valley College
Campus Center Building, Monarch Hall
5800 Fulton Avenue
Valley Glen, CA 91401

Thursday, October 22, 2015 - Visalia
Technical Session 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Public Forum 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Assembly Room
210 W. Center Avenue
Visalia, CA 93291

Tuesday, October 27, 2015 - Sacramento and Webcast

Technical Session 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Public Forum 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Joe Serna, Jr. - CalEPA Headquarters Building
Coastal Hearing Room
1001 I Street, Second Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Webcast of the meeting will be available here.

Thursday, November 5, 2015 - Redding
Combined Technical Session and Public Forum 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Redding City Hall
City Council Chambers
777 Cypress Avenue
Redding, CA 96001

The California golf industry has a stake in the management of groundwater resources at the local level and we need a seat at the table with the Groundwater Sustainability Agencies that will be formed throughout the state by June 30, 2017.

These meetings will be informative in nature and offer an opportunity to ask questions concerning sustainable groundwater management plans that will be implemented for critical groundwater basins by 2020 and mid- to high-priority basins by 2022.

Southern California Golf Association director of governmental affairs Craig Kessler and I will attend the meetings in Los Angeles. I urge industry representatives to attend one of the above meetings in their area.

To RSVP for the forums, click here or for more information on groundwater, visit the SWRCB website.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Coachella Valley Golf Industry Economic Impact Study highlights the major role golf plays in the region

The Hi-Lo Desert GCSA recently released the Coachella Valley Golf Industry Economic Impact Study.  The study, that originated with a chapter outreach grant from GCSAA and a matching contribution from the Hi-Lo Desert GCSA, also received significant financial contributions from the California Alliance for Golf (CAG), California Golf Course Owners Association (CGCOA), Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, Southern California Golf Association (SCGA), Southern California PGA (SCPGA) and The Golden State Chapter of the Club Managers Association of America. 

The 30-page study highlights the major role golf plays in the recreation and entertainment industry of California’s Coachella Valley while serving as a major draw of tourism to the region.  Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics Company, conducted the research to determine the volume of golf-stays by locals and visitors at facilities within the region and their associated expenditures to build up a model of the industry’s impact on the regional economy. Surveys were distributed to golf facilities and resorts throughout the region to collect detailed financial and operating data.

Home to 123 golf facilities (13.9 percent of California’s total), the Coachella Valley golf industry has a direct economic impact of $752 million, a total economic impact of $1.1 billion and supports more than 14,000 jobs throughout the region.  Additionally, the Coachella Valley golf industry had a state and local tax impact of $82.9 million in 2014.

A special thanks goes to Dean Miller (Past President, Hi-Lo Desert GCSA) for serving as the liaison to Tourism Economics and assisting with numerous aspects of this report, Craig Kessler (Director, Governmental Affairs, SCGA), Stu Rowland (Past President, Hi-Lo Desert GCSA) and Pat Truchan (Board Member, Hi-Lo Desert GCSA) for providing comments on drafts of this report.

By monitoring the full economic impact of the Coachella Valley golf industry, our allied golf organizations can inform the media, public, and most importantly, policy makers about the relevance and importance of the golf industry to the region.   

To view the study in its entirety, visit the Hi-Lo Desert GCSA website.