Monday, January 23, 2017

PA golf meets with Susquehanna River Basin Commission

On January 10, the local golf community of central and eastern Pennsylvania met with staff of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) to discuss rules and regulations for “consumptive” users withdrawing from the Susquehanna River Basin. Fifteen representatives from the golf industry including golf course superintendents, owners, irrigation specialists and industry representatives were in attendance for the two-hour meeting.

The SRBC’s mission is to enhance public welfare through comprehensive planning, water supply allocation, and management of the water resources of the Susquehanna River Basin. In short, golf courses pay the SRBC for water they withdraw from the river basin. The SRBC has a responsibility to protect the water of the basin and make sure there is enough for all users, but also make sure there is enough water emptying into the Chesapeake Bay at an acceptable quality.

The meeting was solicited by stakeholders in the golf industry as a way to touch base with the SRBC, talk about the current state of the golf industry, and share our perspective regarding irrigation withdrawals from the Susquehanna River Basin. The price of water was also discussed ($0.33/1,000 gallons of water). Since golf is a consumptive user (more than 10,000 gallons per day on a 30-day average), each course withdrawing from the basin is required to apply for a docket.

When a docket is close to expiring, the SRBC requires a complete review. New approvals are effective when old dockets expire, and new dockets last 15 years. Original dockets used to be longer, up to 25 years. In order to continue operation, new applications must be submitted six months prior to expiration. Costs to renew dockets can vary greatly. In some cases, a waiver can mitigate testing fees. Otherwise, applicants are required to perform aquifer testing and planning so starting the process years in advance is smart. Consumptive use regulations have been in place since 1971, and in the 90’s the SRBC started an effort to track down users.

The take-home message was this: Many golf courses are up for review as time nears to re-apply. The SRBC advises that conversations should begin five years prior to docket expiration. The industry also raised its concerns with the cost of this re-application for a new docket, as it can be quite a large fee for courses that may already be operating on thin margins.

Other items discussed were drought mitigation plans, the effect of oil and gas industry on the river basin’s water, and golf’s role in re-charging ground water. We hope to host similar meetings in the future.

Upcoming events

  • Jan. 26: Golf. My Future. My Game. Student event, STEM education in golf, Washington, D.C.
  • Jan. 30-Feb. 2: Mid-Atlantic Turfgrass Expo, Fredericksburg, Va.
  • Feb. 2: Golf. My Future. My Game. Student reception celebrating STEM education, Chevy Chase, Md.
  • Feb. 4-6: GCSAA Golf Championships, Orlando, Fla.
  • Feb. 6-9: Golf Industry Show, Orlando, Fla.
  • Feb. 22: MAAGCS Winter Education Meeting, Clarksville, Md.
  • Feb. 28: Penn State Turf Club meeting

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Help wanted – cultivating young professionals

GCSAA is often asked what we are doing to recruit new talent into the field, as well as what value are we providing to student members. Did you know that a student member can maintain a student membership for up to 24 months after graduation, so long as the student is not in a golf course management role? It’s true.

Furthermore, students have access to live and on-demand webinars. They have access to the job board, valuable scholarship opportunities, and an important resume critiquing service which can prove vital in landing the right job.

With regard to GIS, students are entitled to a free full registration, student hotel room block (special rates), 50-percent-off discount member pricing for seminars, access to student booth area, free professional headshots, and a student reception event.

In 2017, GCSAA is taking the following steps to enhance student engagement:

  • Student recruitment before college: GCSAA staff will participate at high school, FFA National Conference and Tradeshow, Vocational Tech School career day events to inform students of golf industry careers. We will provide superintendents tools (marketing packets and PowerPoint presentations) to engage with students at their local career events. GCSAA staff will participate in First Green and First Tee events across the country.
  • Mentorship program: By engaging students with assistant superintendents and superintendents, this program will facilitate career growth and upward mobility. This will be a software platform that will allow them to engage in a private arena to facilitate open communication.
  • Internship program: GCSAA will provide superintendents the tools to create active learning environments for students. Students will be provided with checklists for a productive internship experience. GCSAA will provide the means for them to communicate and reach each other.
  • Student Listserve: Students will be supplied with a Listserve communication tool. This will enable them to directly receive information that is pertinent to them. Student events, student internships, and networking opportunities will be communicated through the Listserve. They will also be able to network and engage with students across the globe.
  • Student chapter engagement: GCSAA will be making visits to universities and colleges that have GCSAA student chapters. We will offer speakers and educational content that they can choose from for their turf club meetings. We will be working with the GCSAA affiliated superintendent chapter to engage them with their student chapter.

As we look forward, GCSAA will continue to enhance these programs as to guarantee the success of our field heading to the future.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Opportunity waits at GCSAA Golf Championships

Think the GCSAA Golf Championships aren’t for you? Think again.

Think they are only for scratch golfers? Not so. In fact, there is an event for every skill level.

Think your employer will never go for it? We have a resource to help your justification.

In my years with GCSAA, I’ve always been pleasantly surprised at how highly members speak of the annual tournaments. Specifically, the relaxed atmosphere, the extensive networking that takes place, and the lasting friendships forged through the experience. Not to mention, the world-class venues that will highlight this year's event.

Furthermore, your participation benefits the EIFG, and will help ensure continued success in key initiatives rooted in advocacy, education, research, and scholarships. Still not sold? Here is a list of other benefits:

  • Fun contests and prizes
  • Luxury accomodations at less than half the normal rack-rate
  • Flexible schedule: play one, two, or three days
  • Complimentary breakfast and on-course beverages
  • Fantastic tee prizes including equipment, apparel, and accessories
  • Skeet shooting event at welcoming reception
  • Great network of sponsors to add value
  • And more!

Learn more: See scheduling and register.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Local superintendents to partake in leadership academy

Three superintendents from the Mid-Atlantic region will be attending the 2017 Golf Industry Show in Orlando on a fully-paid scholarship as part of the EIFG's Melrose Leadership Academy. The Melrose Leadership Academy supports the professional development of GCSAA members, and is set up to provide up to 20 scholarships every year.

Please join me in congratulating:

  • Thomas R. Bass Jr., Falling River Country Club in Appomattox, Va.
  • Eric Pockl, CGCS, The Club at Blackthorne in Jeanneatte, Pa.
  • Derrick S. Wozniak, Radley Run Country Club in West Chester, Pa.

Find out more on this year's winners.


The Melrose Leadership Academy was established in 2012 by Ken Melrose, retired CEO and chairman of the board of The Toro Co., and is supported by a $1 million gift to the EIFG from The Kendrick B. Melrose Family Foundation. This program will have a positive impact for each superintendent selected and ultimately, the game of golf.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

First Green takes off in Mid-Atlantic

At the conclusion of Wednesday's First Green field trip at Westminster National Golf Course, the invigorated fifth-grade students putted golf balls and mounted turf equipment, persistent in their quest to test drive the unfamiliar but intriguing power machines. As for those of us teaching the labs, we were tired. But it was well worth it. Because throughout the day we got to talk to 100 students from Spring Garden Elementary about applied STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education within the context of golf.

Over the course of 5 hours, two separate groups of 50 kids arrived at Westminster to participate in a rotation of labs focusing on water conservation, math, golf and the environment, equipment and putting. We talked about things like wildlife habitat, calculating area, soil moisture, watersheds, living filters, and simply golf.

For most, it was their first introduction to the game, and what a great introduction it was. For them to learn about our industry, for them to learn about applied science in the outdoors, for them to experience something new, that is what First Green is all about.

And the success of the day was appropriately summed up when one student told me he'd enjoyed the trip to the golf course better than the trip to planetarium because, well, he got to hit golf balls.

And maybe, unbeknownst to him or us, he found his future career.

Special thanks to the Mid-Atlantic Association of Golf Course Superintendents and Finch Services, who provided the day's equipment display.

Students sprint toward their first lab of the day

Superintendent Galen Evans describes different turf species

Superintendent and MAAGCS President Chris Harriman teaches kids applied math

Students mount power equipment next to the putting green

Michael Bostian and Jon Lobenstine teach water conservation

Students learning to calculate area


Superintendent Tyler Bloom introduces kids to turf equipment


Craig Kirby (background) of Golf. My Future. My Game, works with kids on the putting green

Monday, October 31, 2016

Outcomes and outlooks

Several weeks ago, GCSAA hosted the annual Chapter Delegates Meeting at headquarters in Lawrence, Kan. Below is a review of key items that were covered throughout these meetings. Questions, comments, or concerns can be directed towards me or your chapter delegate.

Otherwise, it is a busy time for chapters in the Mid-Atlantic region as annual meetings and fall educational conferences are in full swing. Take a look below the delegates recap to see events and opportunities coming up around the region. Hope to see you soon!

Delegates Meetings Review

  • Political Action Committee - GCSAA is investigating the possibility of resurrecting a GCSAA Political Action Committee (PAC) to further its advocacy efforts. GCSAA stressed that if a PAC were started the money distributed would be to aid champions of policies that advance GCSAA’s priorities from the GCSAA Priority Issue Agenda, not a particular person or party.  Staff will provide additional educational materials to each chapter before year end to help gauge the level of interest. 
  • Rounds 4 Research Auction - The delegates celebrated the success of the top 4 chapter fundraisers in the 2016 R4R Auction. Chapters are encouraged to find a champion – a delegate, the president, chapter executive – someone who will spearhead the initiative in their chapter. 2017 Auction will be April 1-9. Chapters just need to recruit the rounds to donate – GCSAA administers the rest of the program. Call or email Mischia Wright, Associate Director, EIFG at 800-472-7878 or mwright@gcsaa.org.
  • Member Engagement Through Committees and Task Groups - Delegates learned more about GCSAA’s committee and task group process.  We are asking you to spread the word that GCSAA is looking for volunteers. The Call for Volunteers for 2017 will open on November 1. More information will be available on the GCSAA website or call our office at 800-472-7878.
  • Membership Growth – GCSAA has a renewed focus on membership growth and value.  We need your help at the local level as we are working to achieve a set goal of 20,000 members by 2020. Delegates were presented with several different membership growth initiatives, including ideas to partner with affiliated chapters. Delegates heard about, and asked questions concerning, potential bylaws definition changes surrounding the ISM and EM classifications aimed at being more inclusive and introducing others to golf employment opportunities.
  • Department of Labor Overtime Rule - December 1, 2016 is the deadline when the new Department of Labor overtime pay rule goes into effect. The final rule will raise the exempt salary threshold indicating eligibility from $455/week to $913 ($47,476 per year). All golf facilities should come into compliance with this significant jump in the salary threshold in the next 6 months. GCSAA has provided a webinar and other important resources to help you get ready for the change.
  • BMP Planning Guide and Template - Delegates heard about GCSAA’s 50 by 2020 BMP initiative. This aims to have all 50 states with a golf centric BMP program in place by 2020. GCSAA unveiled portions of its new BMP Planning Guide and online template which can be utilized by the chapters creating the state level BMPs programs. We will need your help at the local level as key constituents within your state and chapter will play a vital role in this initiative.
Upcoming Events
  • West Virginia GCSA Fall Conference: Oct. 31 - Nov. 2, Lakeview Golf Resort and Spa
  • First Green Event: Nov. 2, Westminster National Golf Course, MD
  • Eastern Shore AGCS Fall Conference: Nov. 1-3, Princess Royale Resort Hotel, Ocean City, MD
  • Tidewater Turfgrass Association Meeting: Nov. 3, James River Country Club
  • Philadelphia AGCS Annual Meeting: Nov. 7, Fieldstone Golf Club
  • Mid-Atlantic AGCS Annual Championship: Nov. 7, Cattail Creek Country Club
  • VGCSA Assistants Forum: Nov. 9, Independence Golf Club
  • Greater Washington GCSA Meeting: Nov. 15, Evergreen Golf Club
  • Penn State Turf Conference: Nov. 15-17, State College, PA
  • VGCSA Conference/Annual Meeting: Dec. 5-6, Colonial Williamsburg
  • Mid-Atlantic GCSA Annual Meeting: Dec. 7, Baltimore Country Club

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Local organization diversifies the game

As we all know, golf is a great game. It’s easy to fall in love with golf. Strike it pure once, and you’re hooked. But how do we get people introduced? I’m not sure we’ve answered that question. For me, my dad revealed the game. But if you don’t have a friend or family member who plays, then maybe you never get introduced. Frankly, it can be an intimidating sport to pick up on your own. Furthermore, how do we get more young people acquainted with our profession?

Craig Kirby and his non-profit organization, “Golf. My Future. My Game,” are working to grow and diversify our game of golf. Kirby has partnered with schools in the Washington D.C. area to set up programs that give African-American kids access to the game. In fact, each of his 12-week classes enrolls about 80 students. But Kirby’s mission doesn’t stop there. He also wants to introduce these kids to the various careers that golf has to offer. As stated on their website, Golf. My Future. My Game, the organization’s goal is to raise awareness of the values, camaraderie, lessons, and opportunities that golf has to offer.

According to a 2015 study by Dr. Michael Cooper, President of Urban Golfer, LLC, and former Director of Diversity for World Golf Foundation, we learn that American golfers are 77 percent male and 80 percent white. Likewise, golf industry workers are 90 percent male and 88 percent white. As we know, many courses in the region are struggling to find reliable employees, including assistant superintendents. So what better way to help broaden our workforce than to simply tap into an untapped demographic?

That’s where we come in. Craig has a vision for his organization where we can teach young people about our profession. Similar to a round-table discussion, Craig will be looking to superintendents in D.C. area to engage these kids and introduce them to the superintendent work life. Through that, we can build greater sustainability for not only our sector of the industry but also for golf as a whole.

Craig’s organization has partnered with one of only four courses in America that are African-American owned, The Marlton Golf Club, just outside of Washington D.C. in Upper Marlboro. The Marlton Golf Club is the venue that serves as the catalyst for the programs offered by “Golf. My Future. My Game.” As Kirby mentions, “Golf is a sport from which everyone can benefit.” And as these programs are certainly most beneficial for the youth they serve, the industry itself stands to benefit from Kirby’s philanthropic heart. That there is a win-win.

Craig Kirby and Jimmy Garvin with Holy Family Catholic students (photo credit: Heaven Nez Cree, Creative Content Designer, Golf. My Future. My Game.)

Jimmy Garvin talking with Holy Family students about the difference in heights of cut around the golf course (photo credit: Heaven Nez Cree) 

Holy Family students ready for the green (photo credit: Heaven Nez Cree)