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   

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Southwest region still in need of grassroots ambassadors

The GCSAA Grassroots Ambassador program is off to a successful start with 89 members now advocating GCSAA policies and initiatives at the local, regional and national level.  

For those of you who are not aware of the grassroots program, it was established at the 2014 Golf Industry Show and matches a GCSAA member with all 535 members of Congress (by 2018), allowing members to establish strong and beneficial relationships with elected policymakers and represent golf on issues that are important to the industry.  

Class A, SM and C members are eligible to serve as an ambassador and appointments are for a two-year period.  Ambassadors are required to perform the following activities during the two-year period:

  • Attend more than 50% of events on ambassador engagement calendar.
  • Build and maintain positive relationships with assigned policymaker, and keep abreast of, and advocate, GCSAA policy statements and initiatives.
  • Regularly review GCSAA publications, action alerts and updates on GCSAA Government Relations Online.
  • Respond to GCSAA action alerts in a timely manner and engage colleagues to participate in such efforts to the extent required or necessary. In this role, a GCSAA grassroots ambassador must be able to represent GCSAA as a whole and the advancement of its members and the golf industry in general. 
  • Meet personally with assigned policymaker or his or her key staff at least twice each year using these options:
    1. Attend one August recess activity while policymaker is in the district.
    2. Visit policymaker in his or her district office.
    3. Visit policymaker in his or her Capitol Hill office.
    4. Host the policymaker at a golf course.
    5. Invite assigned policymaker to attend chapter meeting or other GCSAA affiliated function.
  • Attend GCSAA Advocacy Boot Camp if attending the Golf Industry Show, if it fits in with personal schedule.
  • Promptly report to the GCSAA government relations department all actions and outcomes tied to ongoing advocacy efforts.
  • Include government relations and advocacy information in your chapter newsletter or chapter websites, as appropriate.  
  • Provide bi-annual government relations updates at chapter meetings.                 

There are a number of congressional deistricts in Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada still in need of qualified ambassadors.  You may only represent the district in which your facility is located.  All GCSAA ambassadors will receive the training and resources needed to become a successful advocate for the game. 
For more information on the program, or to check on availability in your area, please contact me at , Kaelyn Seymour at or visit the website at 

Becoming a grassroots ambassador is a great way for you to enhance your overall skill set and advocate on behalf of the game you love.