Tuesday, May 16, 2017

GCSA of Northern California strategic planning session held at Claremont Country Club

Session establishes a roadmap of activities for the upcoming year

GCSAA's Associate Director of Chapter Outreach Steve Randall and I recently conducted a strategic planning session with the GCSA of Northern California (GCSANC) board of directors and Chapter Executive Marc Connerly at Claremont Country Club in Oakland, Calif. 

The mission of the session was to assist an already organized and successful chapter in designing a roadmap of activities for the upcoming year. 

Those in attendance included GCSANC President Sean Tully, Vice President Stacy Wallace, Secretary/Treasurer Brian Boyer, Josh Clevenger, Phil Brown, P.J. Ringenberger, Gavin Dickson, Pete Bachman, Bubba Wright and Past President Gary Ingram. 

Following the board expectations for the session, we conducted a SCOR (Strengths, Challenges, Opportunities, Risks) analysis and identified numerous items in each category.  Through a democratic process, the board narrowed down the list to two priority items in each category with a focus on financial stability, labor issues, engagement of members and working with the Northern California Golf Association. 

GCSANC SCOR analysis
After the SCOR analysis, we moved into a discussion on the mission statement.  The mission statement ultimately communicates what the organization does. Following an in-depth discussion, the group decided changes were needed to better reflect the current mission of the association.  Below is the updated mission statement:

The GCSA of Northern California is dedicated to serving its members through promotion and advancement of our profession.

Following the mission statement discussion, we moved into the vision statement for the chapter. The vision points out how the chapter should be viewed by its members. It also provides a forward-thinking thought process to uncover a bigger picture perspective.

Following a brief discussion, the group decided to update the vision statement.  Below is the updated vision statement:

The GCSA of Northern California brings together turf professionals to support each other while preserving golf and the environment. 

To close out the session, we established a list of goals and action items for the chapter to achieve in the next 12 months.  Those included developing a comprehensive financial plan for cash reserves, increasing turf students and opportunities to join the profession, discussion of collaborative opportunities with the Northern California Golf Association and an increase of superintendent participation in events for the 2018 calendar year. 

We thank the GCSANC board and Marc for participating in the session.  GCSANC is a large and financially successful chapter, but still sees the need for continued improvement. 

If your chapter is looking for assistance in conducting a similar strategic plan, please don’t hesitate to call me and I would be glad to schedule a date this summer for a session.  The sessions last approximately three hours and in addition to laying the groundwork for the chapter, they are a great team building exercise. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

California golf industry’s voice is heard in Sacramento

Allied golf industry gathers at the state capitol to discuss issues of critical importance to the game

The California Alliance for Golf (CAG), the unified voice for the golf industry in California, visited the California State Capitol in Sacramento on April 19 to discuss issues affecting the industry to members of the California State Legislature.

The delegation was made up of representatives from the California Golf Course Owners Association, California GCSA, Englander Knabe & Allen (lobbyist for CAG), GCSAA, Latina Golfers Association, Moore Minister Communications, Northern California PGA and the Southern California Golf Association.

CAG representing the golf industry at the California State Capitol
The California GCSA and GCSAA were represented by GCSA of Northern California executive director Marc Connerly, Tilden Park Golf Club superintendent Kevin Shipley, GCSAA student member Steven Spatafore (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo), former GCSAA President and CAG board member Bruce Williams of Bruce Williams Golf Consulting and I.

The group met with Alf Brandt, Legislative Director for Speaker Anthony Rendon, staff from the office of Senator Steven Bradford, Kip Lipper, Office of Pro Tempore; staff from the office Assemblyman Chad Mayes, Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk Silva and Assemblyman Phil Ting.

Topics included the formation of the California Golf Commission (a commission that would be self-funded through an assessment on greens fees and membership fees), growth of the game programs in the state focused on youth, women and minority groups; the GCSAA/California GCSA BMP template and continuing water conservation goals as the state recovers from five years of severe drought. 

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 third consecutive year that CAG has visited the State Capitol. For more information on the organization and its efforts, visit www.cagolf.org.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Encanterra Country Club plays host to First Green field trip

Program uses golf courses as environmental learning labs

Encanterra Country Club in San Tan Valley, Ariz. recently played host to a First Green field trip.  First Green is an innovative environmental education outreach program using golf courses as environmental learning labs – the only program of its kind in the world.

The field trip marked the inaugural First Green event in the state of Arizona and featured 22 sixth grade students from Navarette Elementary School in Chandler, Ariz. 

Encanterra superintendent Scott Anderson (center) speaking to students
Encanterra’s Class A superintendent Scott Anderson oversaw the proceedings with assistance from USGA West Region agronomist Brian Whitlark, University of Arizona area extension agent Kai Umeda, Encanterra director of golf Mark Black and I. 

The field trip provided students with an introduction to the game of golf and the superintendent profession while providing numerous STEM based learning activities. 

Learning stations included a stream flow calculation, use of a prism and soil moisture meter, a Stimpmeter demonstration, walk mowing demonstration, cup cutting, bunker raking and the opportunity to play a 9-hole putting course set-up by Anderson and his staff. 

The trip was three hours in length and the students were split up into three groups with a school instructor/chaperone also participating in each group. 

This marked the third First Green field trip that I have participated in and the trips illustrate the environmental and community benefits of golf courses while introducing potential players to the
Encanterra director of golf Mark Black discussing the short game
 game (students, teachers and parents).  It also provides an outstanding media/public relations opportunity for participating facilities.

First Green was established in 1997 and over 15,000 students have participated in field trips.  The organization originated in Washington, but field trips are now offered in all regions of the United States. 

First Green has extensive resources for golf course superintendents, including online lesson plans, as well as facilitating the connections between golf courses and local schools and science/horticulture teachers.

For more information on First Green (including how to videos) or to schedule a field trip, visit the website at www.thefirstgreen.org or call at 425-746-0809. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

GCSAA Grassroots Ambassadors engage in association’s government relations efforts

Goal of the program is to build and maintain a positive relationship with members of the United States Congress

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) Grassroots Ambassador program launched in 2014 with the goal of matching a GCSAA member with each member of the United States Congress to serve as a liaison between the lawmaker and their staff on issues of critical importance to the golf industry.

With the recent announcement of the spring Grassroots Ambassador class, the program now features 270 GCSAA Class A, B and C members throughout the country who are actively engaged with their congressional representative. 

Michael Lee, manager of government affairs for GCSAA, oversees the program. Lee, who formerly worked as state director for U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), knows firsthand the effects of grassroots programs.  “It’s important as an association that we have a unified message and our ambassadors are well educated on the issues,” said Lee.  “Congressional members hear from hundreds of constituents on a daily basis and having a proper plan in place assures that your message doesn’t get lost in the clutter.” 

That message is focused on GCSAA’s six priority issues:  Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), fertilizers, labor and immigration, pesticides, value of golf and water management.  “The priority issues are reviewed yearly by the government affairs committee, GCSAA board of directors and staff and we use that input to take actions on those items as necessary,” said Chava McKeel, GCSAA director of government affairs. 

Once accepted into the Grassroots Ambassador program, members participate in an initial training session that provides them with political basics and the “how to” of advocacy.  Throughout the remainder of the year, ambassadors receive monthly news updates and participate in “live” issues based training webinars.  If they attend the Golf Industry Show held annually in February, ambassadors are also enrolled in four-hour government affairs bootcamp.  All training materials are also available On Demand through gcsaa.org. 

Additionally, Lee provides each ambassador with an outreach plan tailored to preferences and schedule that maps out putting together successful congressional engagements.  Each ambassador is required to have two physical “touches” with their assigned member of Congress or staff annually. 

“The face-to-face meetings are crucial to the success of the program and moving forward our priorities agenda,” said Lee.  “These meetings, as well as annual events like National Golf Day (April 26 on Capitol Hill), educate our lawmakers on the economic importance of golf to their communities, as well as the industries responsible use and management of natural resources. Letters, emails, and phone calls are effective communication tools, but nothing beats advocating in person with congressional members and staff.”   

Over the past three years, GCSAA Grassroots Ambassadors have promoted and in some cases defended the above mentioned priority issues.  Waters of the United States (WOTUS), H-2B Visa’s, neonicotinoid and Glyphosate bans, overtime reform and the economic impact of the game of golf are just a few areas of focus that ambassadors have taken action on.   

“The program is really starting to make strides,” said McKeel.  “The golf industry has a voice and our concerns are being addressed.  At the same time, it gives our members a great opportunity to learn and participate in the legislative process while representing an industry that they care so dearly about.  We are really excited about where we are and where we are heading.” 

For more information on the Grassroots Ambassador Program, click here or for information concerning National Golf Day on April 26, visit www.wearegolf.org.