Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Golf industry well represented at Nevada Drought Forum

This past April, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval established the Nevada Drought Forum to bring together the best minds, managers and all interested stakeholders to discuss the drought in Nevada, identify best conservation practices and policy needs and offer him recommendations. 

On July 17, the Nevada golf industry had a chance to participate in Nevada Drought Forum meetings in Las Vegas.  Northern Nevada was represented by the Sierra Nevada GCSA President Rob Williams with Southern Nevada GCSA President Grant Becwar representing the southern portion of the state. 

Messaging was focused on golf’s water use – less than two percent of the state total – and course efforts to reduce water usage through sound agronomic practices, efficient and targeted irrigation, use of reclaimed water, turfgrass research and continuing education provided by GCSAA and its affiliated chapters. 

Additionally, the economic benefit of golf facilities in the state was highlighted.  Nevada golf courses are businesses that serve as a valuable community asset, a source of tax revenues and employment, and an important recreational outlet for community members of all ages. The 98 golf courses in Nevada employ approximately 5,000 individuals, generate over $300 million in wages and have a direct economic impact of $1.1 billion.

Pictured at the Nevada Drought Forum (left to right) is Grant Becwar, superintendent at Revere Golf Club; Leo Drozdoff, director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Rob Williams, Class A superintendent at Stockton Golf & Country Club. 

“It was a great opportunity for the golf industry to show our policymakers that we are a beneficial user of water,” said Williams who serves as superintendent at Stockton Golf & Country Club.  “Our industry is going to play an important role in helping further develop the state as a leader in global tourism and we want to make sure our officials know that we can provide a great product while still reducing our environmental footprint.” 

“The golf industry appreciates the opportunity to participate in these forums and we look forward to working with the state and our local water districts to reduce the effects of this very serious drought,” stated Becwar, superintendent at The Revere Golf Club. 

Thanks to Rob and Grant for taking time out of their schedules to represent the industry.  For more information on the Nevada Drought Forum, visit the website at

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Don't miss the UCR Turfgrass & Landscape Research Field Day this September

Hope all of our GCSAA members had a great 4th of July weekend!  Before we know it, it will be Labor Day.  Where does the time go?

As we get into the dog days of summer, now is the time to mark your calendar for the annual University of California Riverside Turfgrass & Landscape Research Field Day.  This year's event will take place on Thursday, September 17 at the UC Riverside Turfgrass Field Station from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Headed by Jim Baird, Ph.D., turfgrass specialist at UCR, the day provides 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. Baird, staff and students will be available to answer your questions about turf and water conservation throughout California.

UC Riverside Turfgrass Field Station, Riverside, CA

Highlights of this year's agenda include "Who has the firmest, fastest Kikuyugrass turf?" which focuses on combinations of management practices to promote optimal Kikuyugrass quality and playability.

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

It's important that the golf industry support the field day and research program that meets the interests and continuing needs of the golf industry.

The event is open to all turfgrass and landscape industry professionals. More information is here. I hope to see all of our golf industry professionals at the event. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Critical that California superintendents monitor the formation of groundwater sustainability agencies

On September 16, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) that, for the first time in history, would regulate groundwater in the state.  California was the only western state that did not have a system of oversight in place. 

The legislation called for the formation of groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) by June 30, 2017; implementation of groundwater plans for critical overdraft basins by January 31, 2020 and implementation of groundwater plans for high and medium basins by January 31, 2022 with the overall goal of achieving groundwater sustainability 20 years after the implementation of each plan (2040/2042). 

Recognizing that groundwater is most effectively managed at the state level, the SGMA has empowered local agencies (counties, municipalities, water districts, combined agencies, etc.) to form GSA’s to develop and implement  groundwater sustainability plans that consider all beneficial uses and users of groundwater in the basin. Numerous GSAs have already been formed throughout the state.  To view those agencies visit the California Department of Water Resources website.

What this legislation means for golf, agriculture and other industries is not clear at this point, but the state is allowing stakeholders to provide input and assist in developing resources to help GSAs make informed decisions about sustainable groundwater management for the 515 alluvial groundwater basins in California. 

It is imperative that the golf industry be represented as these GSAs form throughout the state. We must remain vigilant and protect our best interests while assisting in developing a sound policy that makes sense for all stakeholders. 

While our normative organizations will be doing their part to monitor the formation of the GSAs, it is going to take an all hands on deck approach to identify, and more importantly, sit down at the table with these agencies. 

For more information on the SGMA, the establishing of the GSAs and the structure for managing California’s groundwater, visit

Friday, May 22, 2015

Cactus & Pine GCSA never fails to make members feel special

I recently attended the Cactus & Pine GCSA annual election meeting at Phoenix Country Club in Phoenix, Arizona. For chapters who are looking for new ideas or could use tips on how to put on a seamless annual election, I highly suggest you contact Cactus & Pine Executive Director Carmella Ruggiero. Carmella and the Cactus & Pine board of directors never disappoint and they make each and every member feel special. 

Their annual election meeting is not an event, it’s an experience.  This year’s theme was “Making Golf Fun Again.” From the moment you arrive, you know you are in for something a little different. Cactus & Pine's President-elect Rory Van Poucke served as the doorman at the entry to the club and greeted each member as they arrived.  From there, it was on to the registration area which was littered with volunteers to make sure every detail of the day was handled.  Custom lanyards are provided for all members and each receives a gift bag overflowing with snacks and sweets. 

The meeting area and every table is decorated in the theme of “Making Golf Fun Again” and at every seat is a special gift for members that included car chargers, note pads, mouse pads and other assorted knickknacks. 

The speakers for the event were individuals, companies and golf facilities who have placed an emphasis on bringing fun back to the game and encouraging growth, especially among the millennial generation.  Top Golf, American FootGolf, PGA professional and trick shot artist Craig Hocknull and many others entertained the crowd throughout the morning and provided great information on what our game is doing to encourage new participants. 

And don’t forget about the food. Breakfast, a filet mignon and crab cake lunch and hor’s d oeuvres following golf in the afternoon. Even the golf format for the day – pink ball scramble – was focused on the “Making Golf Fun Again” theme. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Wickenburg Ranch Golf Club superintendent Andy Huber who completed his term as president. Andy has been a pleasure to work with over the past year and is one of the great guys in the industry. I would also like to congratulate new board members Jeff Plotts of TPC Scottsdale, Matt Guilfoil of Desert Canyon Golf Club, Matt Rusch of San Marcos Golf Club, Marc Snyder of Desert Mountain Golf Club, Jonathan Williams of Sewailo Golf Club and Casey Ruddick of Southwest Turf. I look forward to working with all of you in the upcoming year. 

A special thanks goes out to Phoenix Country Club superintendent Charlie Costello and the entire staff and membership for their hospitality and allowing us access to their incredible facility.  Anyone who knows Charlie knows the attention to detail that he pays to his golf course and it ranks as one of the truly great facilities in the southwest United States

I can’t say enough about the efforts of Cactus and Pine, particularly Carmella, who puts so much time into putting together a great event that runs smoothly, provides incredible member value and – most of all – keeps her members feeling special and coming back for more.  While not every chapter has the finances or volunteer staff to put on an event of this scale, you can create a similar culture and experience that will keep your members coming back time and again.  

If you are interested in speaking with Carmella or looking for some suggestions for upcoming meetings or events, contact her at

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mandatory water conservation regulations adopted in California

The California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) adopted a final emergency regulation on May 5, requiring an immediate 25 percent reduction in overall potable urban water use statewide, in accordance with Gov. Jerry Brown’s April 1 executive order.

The regulation adopted by the board this week places each urban water supplier into one of eight tiers, which are assigned a conservation standard, ranging between 8 percent and 36 percent. For more information on which tier your provider falls under visit

Additionally,  commercial, industrial and institutional properties that are not served by a water supplier, or are self-supplied such as by a groundwater well, must also reduce water use by 25 percent or restrict outdoor irrigation to no more than two days per week. No reporting is required but these properties must maintain documentation of their water use and practices.

What does this mean for golf facilities in California? It's not a one-size-fits-all approach to conservation.

Local water supplies will have discretion on how they achieve their required reductions. If you are using potable water to irrigate, you need to contact your water provider to discuss your situation. Some districts may place larger restrictions on outdoor irrigation. YOU HAVE TO ASK TO FIND OUT.

If you are using groundwater, the state, not the local water provider, will oversee use. Courses will be required to reduce water use by 25 percent or restrict outdoor irrigation to no more than two days per week. If your wells are not currently metered, it is recommended to have them metered and start keeping monthly pumping records. Although reporting is not required at this time, if a complaint is filed against your course it will be much easier if there are proper documentation and records in place. THE ONUS FALLS ON YOU.

The regulation will be submitted to the Office of Administrative Law, which has 10 days to approve or deny the regulation (May15). If approved by the Office of Administrative Law, the regulation will take effect immediately and remain in effect for 270 days from that date.

For more information on the emergency regulations, visit


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

California addresses irrigation timing restrictions

The California golf industry understands the magnitude of the state’s current water crisis and our facilities fully intend to cooperate with Governor Jerry Brown’s executive order issued April 1, 2015.  However, day and time of the week restrictions on irrigation are an ineffective way to meet conservation goals and obtain the most out of the limited water that is available. 

Golf industry water conservation task forces have been formed throughout California in response to time and day of the week restrictions that were unworkable for the golf industry. These task forces developed protocols to sell the value of allowing “large landscapes” to meet water conservation mandates in a manner consistent with sound business practices. These practices would allow golf courses, parks and cemeteries to reduce consumption while retaining 100 percent control over irrigation practices – an “alternative means” of complying without being restricted to watering only on certain days of the week and only during certain hours of those days. In return for the easing of restrictions, participating large landscapes would be required to achieve greater water use reduction (typically 5 percent) than other water users. 

Why are day of the week and time restrictions inefficient?

  • Extreme temperatures, humidity and high winds affect irrigation requirements and superintendents will be forced to ineffectively use water if day of the week and time restrictions are in place when those conditions are present. 
  • With day of the week and time restrictions, superintendents may not be able to fully take advantage of water savings that arise from precipitation events or cooling temperatures. With such restrictions, you cannot risk missing a watering day even though weather forecasts may call for a chance of rain or a cooling trend in the next 12-48 hour period. 
  • Golf courses and other large landscapes may be forced to extend irrigation operations and operate pumps outside of “off peak” energy conservation windows currently in place by many California energy providers, placing an additional stress on the electrical grid.
  • With a reduced watering window, golf courses and other large landscapes, in some instances, may apply more water than needed on the prescribed days creating more potential for turfgrass disease and subsequent pesticide applications that would otherwise be unnecessary if water could be more judiciously managed.
  • The use of advanced technology, including state-of-the-art irrigation systems, mobile sensing technology and soil moisture meters, allow superintendents to determine exactly when, where and how much water is needed. The water needs of the turf will often not correlate with prescribed water schedules, thereby making those irrigation cycles less efficient or forcing the superintendent to irrigate more heavily than otherwise required. 
  • By not being able to hand water with hoses due to time-of-day restrictions, superintendents will be forced to apply additional irrigation to the entire putting green surface, as opposed to spot treating small areas in need of supplemental irrigation.  
Governor Brown’s most recent mandate does not prohibit the use of alternative strategies to achieve requisite conservation requirements and the golf industry urges water providers to explore various alternative means of compliance (AMC) documents that have achieved desired or greater than desired results across the state on golf courses and other large landscapes. If your facility is interested in viewing an AMC document, please contact me at