Thursday, December 30, 2010

GCSAA 2011 plan and budget

Jim Fitzroy, CGCS, president of GCSAA, just sent out a tome of an email regarding the 2011 GCSAA plan and budget. The entirety of that email is below.

Look for Golfdom to be covering much of what Jim talks about below next year. In fact, look no further than the post below this one to read more about John Miller being the new field staff rep for the Great Lakes region...


Over the past year I have shared with you information regarding the financial standing of GCSAA and how the association serves you by providing programs and services to enhance your success and that of your facility.

I appreciate the feedback you have provided and the concern you have shown for the association and its staff. I empathize with you as facility budgets have tightened and Mother Nature unleashed her fury on much of the nation. Despite these challenges, I am confident 2011 will be a year of stability with optimism for better times ahead for the association, the profession and the game of golf.

The purpose of this communication is to share with you the outcomes of the GCSAA 2011 Plan and Budget Meeting conducted by the board and executive staff earlier this month. The meeting was a culmination of study and discussions in association committee meetings, board meetings, a board strategic planning session and the chapter delegates meeting this past year. I believe we have constructed an association plan that delivers quality programs and services, while being financially responsible and balanced. The fact remains that we have a solid financial base with no long term debt and a healthy reserve fund. Here are some of the highlights of the 2011 GCSAA Plan and Budget:

Chapter Effectiveness
We continue to dedicate significant resources to enhance chapter effectiveness. The feedback from you has been clear that chapters need and want assistance in serving members. Earlier this year we announced a plan to expand the field staff program, and based on your positive feedback, we have opted to accelerate the growth of the program. Recently we announced the appointment of John Miller, CGCS as the field staff representative for the Great Lakes Region (Kentucky, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio). He joins Ralph Dain, who is the field staff representative for Florida. Next week, we plan to announce resident field staff
representatives for the South Central (Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico) and Southwest (Arizona, Nevada, California, Hawaii) regions.

Depending on the financial position of the association, the board approved the following sequence of filling the remaining regions of the Northeast (New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Ontario) and Northwest (Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado) in the fourth quarter of 2011. The Southeast (Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi) and Mid-Atlantic (Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, Virginia) regions will be filled in 2012; and the Central Plains region (Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri) in 2013.

In addition to field staff, we are continuing to fund and/or increase funding for key chapter resources in the area of outreach (media/public relations), advocacy (government relations), and leadership development (leadership academy, conference chapter workshops, strategic planning). I am heartened by the many stories of success where chapter and association resources have been utilized to the benefit of members and their facilities.

No GCSAA board member disputes the importance of research to our members and the business of golf. That is why we budgeted dollars and additional resources to continue our research program in 2011, albeit at a reduced level from years past. We have also noted contingency actions to make increased funding among the highest priorities should certain revenue levels be met. Our goal is to expand this program as soon as it is feasible.

Representing our members and the association remains a priority for GCSAA. We have shifted resources to provide a greater focus on government relations and compliance efforts, including helping chapters with regional issues they are facing. We will continue to collaborate with our peer associations to participate in the We Are Golf coalition, which seeks to establish a stronger presence for the golf industry with state and national lawmakers. We will also maintain a strong media/public relations program including visibility on the Golf Channel and in various publications, web properties and events that are directed toward owners, operators, managers, parks and recreation officials, developers and other decision-makers.

It is clear that GCSAA members are recognized for their value as 97 percent of employers consider them to be key to the economic vitality of the golf facility, and avid golfers indicate they are the top employee at a golf facility in delivering enjoyment. Similar to We Are Golf, GCSAA will continue to be active in Golf 20/20's Image of the Game initiative, which seeks to publicize the economic, health, environmental and charitable benefits of the game. We have many success stories in our advocacy/outreach efforts on a national and chapter level and providing more resources will help to continue and heighten that success.

Environmental Programs
GCSAA and its philanthropic organization, the Environmental Institute for Golf, will continue to put a focus on environmental stewardship and fostering industry collaboration on the sustainable management of golf facilities. Through the Institute's leadership, Golf's Drive Toward Sustainability is a collaborative initiative that will help to ensure golf courses remain viable and deliver environmental, economic and recreational benefits. Our focus will be to continue to produce tools for the industry to use, the cornerstone being Best Management Practices performance statements that present a supporting business case. The emphasis will be on continuous improvement for facilities. Two additional resources that will be provided in 2011 are the fourth and fifth phases of the Golf Course Environmental Profile; Energy Use and Conservation, and Pesticide Use, respectively. The GCSAA Golf Course Environmental Profile has been recognized as a resource for state and national surveys that measure the economic and environmental impact of the game. It has also been an important tool in golf industry advocacy efforts with legislators and regulators, and the media.

New Education Programs and Delivery
In our quest to continue to provide you the best education in the industry, we will invest resources to develop new seminars and utilize new technologies to deliver education and information.

New Programs and Services
We will produce new programs and services (and enhance current ones) to your benefit and to generate revenues to support those efforts. Among those that have been recently introduced or will be in 2011 include enhanced communications through the GCSAA Industry Spotlight e-newsletter, GCSAA online radio, a member-produced video channel on GCSAA TV and a redesigned website; development of a new and state of the industry Job Board; introduction of a Member Savings Program providing savings on a variety of goods and services for you personally and professionally; new superintendent competencies measured and addressed by the online Self Assessment Tool; a virtual trade show in cooperation with the International Golf Course Equipment Managers Association; enhanced networking through a new online discussion forums product and social media presence (Facebook, Twitter, blogging); tools to advance environmental stewardship including an online IPM template, BMPs and case studies. This is just a partial list of the recent offerings your membership has allowed us to develop.

Financial Analysis
Though the economy in general has shown signs of growth, the prevailing opinion is that the recovery is likely to be slow and steady. Golf, a leisure/recreation industry, is by nature likely to trail in that recovery. People will quite naturally spend money on necessities before discretionary items. For that reason, we see 2011 as a year of stabilization. Golfer participation, course openings, and rounds played will likely be flat. That will mean GCSAA revenues will be flat for the most part. We have been conservative in our projections and reduced our reliance on reserve funds, therefore we will actually show a decrease in revenues from 2010. To accomplish all that we have laid out in the plan, it is vital that we have your support for a dues increase to be voted on at the annual meeting in Orlando. As has been shared in the past, the percentage of revenues that comes from member dues (for classes A, SM and C) is 27 percent, which is 10-13 percent lower than that of similar associations.

I appreciate your continued support of GCSAA. Our association retention rate since 2003 of 92 percent for Class A, SM and C members and 97 percent for Class A members is a testament to the value you place on GCSAA membership. However, we must never take that support for granted. You are constantly being asked to demonstrate a return on investment for your expenditures and we as members should expect no less from our association. I believe the GCSAA programs and services offer considerable value over and above that investment. I urge you to take advantage of these opportunities. A great way to start would be to join your peers at the 2011 GCSAA Education Conference and Golf Industry Show, Feb. 7-11 in Orlando. Again, thank you for being a part of GCSAA and taking the time to read about our plans for 2011. Please contact me at should you have questions.


Jim Fitzroy, CGCS
GCSAA President

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Miller talks end of LPGA agronomist, beginning of field staff

I've had the good fortune of knowing John Miller, CGCS, soon-to-be former GCSAA LPGA staff agronomist, for a few years now. I even had the pleasure of shadowing him while he was on the job at the 2008 Kraft Nabisco Championship at Mission Hills CC in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

The GCSAA recently announced that beginning in 2011, Miller will have a new job for the association -- he will be the new field staff representative of the Great Lakes region. Consequently, that also means he's on his last few days as the LPGA Tour agronomist.

Golfdom caught up with Miller recently to discuss the change of jobs.

"Sure, I'm sad (about the end of the LPGA position), but we accomplished what we set out to do," Miller said. "It was a sign of the times -- there was no money to fund the position anymore. GCSAA decided not to renew the contract."

Miller said his favorite thing about the LPGA position was being able to work with superintendents around the globe to make their golf courses the best they could be.

"I was an extra set of eyes that could help out," Miller said. "But it turned out I learned as much from (the LPGA Tour superintendents) as they learned from me."

While I talked with Miller, he told me he had missed my call earlier that day because he was at a regional superintendent holiday party. So it's obvious that Miller isn't wasting any time getting started on his new gig.

"I'm really excited about this new position. GCSAA has been working hard on this field staff project, and it seems to be going over well with the membership," Miller said. "I think it'll be fun to take the knowledge that I have -- I'm a past chapter president -- and working with other chapters to see what their challenges are. There are a different set of challenges now than when I was a chapter president -- it's a whole new set of challenges. So I'm sure I'll be taking what worked for chapter A and applying it to chapter B. It'll be a lot of fun, and it'll be a good challenge."

Miller said there's an unusual symmetry between his new role as a field staff representative and his old position with the LPGA, especially here in the early goings.

"It's almost the exact same process as when I started out with the LPGA. It's a lot of introductions and getting the word out," Miller said. "It's the same thing with the chapters -- meeting with chapter presidents and leadership, finding out their needs. It's the same as I did with the LPGA. It's taken an interestingly parallel path."


Regardless of what you think about GCSAA's field staff program (and I am interested in what you think about it, leave me a comment below), let me tell you that Miller is a great hire and a great representative for the association and for superintendents everywhere. Any time you speak with him, you can just tell that the guy is razor sharp. If he wasn't in turf, I think he'd do just fine as a politician. And he's one of the friendliest guys out there, too.

So good luck in your new position with GCSAA, John, we're rooting for you over here at Golfdom!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Leach says woman sat in 35-degree water for two hours

So much for a slow Monday after Christmas, Greg Leach, assistant superintendent at Lubbock (Texas) CC, said.

Leach arrived at the course around 7 a.m. and was enjoying what he called a "slow Monday after Christmas" at the course when one of his crew members came into the shop and told him there was a car in the pond on No. 15.

"I thought he meant someone stole a golf car and drove that into the pond," Leach says. "I didn't realize it was a real car until I saw it. I was about to call 911 when I saw someone was still in there."

Leach figured the woman in the car was dead. Overnight temperatures dropped to 25 degrees and there were areas of ice on the corners of the pond. Then he saw her move.

"I kicked off my boots and jumped in. The water is about four feet deep," Leach told Golfdom in a phone interview this morning. The car door was already open when he got there, but the woman was still buckled into her seat. "She was moving and speaking, but she wasn't making any sense."

Leach said he was in the water for all of two minute, but the cold water was enough to make his lower body entirely numb. The maintenance facility has a surveillance camera, and reviewing that evening's tape showed headlights going into the pond at 6:30 a.m.

"She sat in there for two, maybe two-and-a-half hours," Leach says.

By the time he had her out of the pond, the first police car was on the scene.

Leach, who got his turf degree from Texas Tech and has been at Lubbock CC for four years, said he once helped pull a 97-year-old man from a pond, but he was in a golf car. This was new territory for him. By the time Golfdom caught up with him on Tuesday morning, he had already done two interviews, one with the local TV news and another with a local newspaper reporter.

"It was a little bit exciting for what I thought would be a slow Monday morning," Leach said.

Assistant super rescues woman from pond

Greg Leach, assistant superintendent at Lubbock (Texas) CC, made the news by rescuing a woman from a vehicle crashed into a course pond. "First I thought she was dead," Leach told KCBD News in Lubbock.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Tragic news out of Texas A&M

Dr. J. Chris Stiegler, assistant professor of turfgrass science and ecology at Texas A&M, and his wife, Jenny, both died in a car wreck on Christmas Eve near Waco, Texas. Their infant daughter Emily has been upgraded from critical to stable condition.

Our prayers go out to the family and especially that baby girl.

Here's the TV news story from Bryan/College Station's KBTX.

Here's the story from yesterday's Bryan-College Station Eagle, a true tear-jerker:

From, also posted yesterday:

A fund has been established for Emily as follows:

Emily Grace Stiegler in care of Citizens State Bank
4611 West 6th Avenue
Stillwater, OK 74074

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy holidays from your friends at Golfdom!

Hi everyone!

In case you haven't heard yet, there's a new editor-in-chief of Golfdom magazine... and yeah, it's that guy sitting on the couch wearing the Chiefs jersey right there... that's me, Seth Jones. (GO CHIEFS!!!)

I'm excited to be here. This is my 8th day on the job so far. I don't remember the last time a mundane day in the office has been so rewarding. I'm thrilled to have this new job, and I promise to work hard for the readers of Golfdom.

The Golfdom blog... well, it's been a lonely place for a while now. There just hasn't been any action. I look back and, wow -- this is the 5th post of the year? (At least I can say I'm responsible for 20% of the posts in 2010!)

I plan on changing that. I like to blog. Especially when I'm travelling for work. Not every blog post will contain cataclysmic information regarding the golf course maintenance industry. Some will be for fun. Some will be serious. But there will be something here for you to check out regularly. That's a promise.

Last thought from me: happy holidays. I hope all our many superintendent readers around the world have a wonderful holiday season. Travel safe. Enjoy the company of your families. Get a little rest.

We'll see you here again soon. Thanks for checking in on us.

(Photo by my daughter, Evey. She's only four! Not bad, huh?)