The MiGCSA is dedicated to providing value to our members through programs and services that enhance and promote our profession.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Us and Them

This article was spurned by a post on the Facebook page started by Gary Grigg called Golf Course Maintenance. If you are not a member it is a great group and is really a forum for many things. The topic that lead me to write this was on the GCSAA new classification system where class SM Members will go back to a classification of B. This was voted on at the 2016 GCSAA Annual Meeting after discussion by the chapter delegates and the Board of the MiGCSA did approve it as well.

There was a complaint on this page about the reclassification as feeling like a second-class citizen. It lead to many more comments about the GCSAA and the feeling that the membership dues are not worth it, things about the local chapter has my back but not he National or just flat out it is a waste of money what do they do for me? Now this is not the first time I have heard this, and personally there was a time when perhaps I would have not disagreed with it. If you look at GCSAA or MiGCSA Membership as a service, then it appears to be a terrible value. $375 for a GCSAA Membership and another $100 for the MiGCSA and all you get are a few magazines you don’t usually have time to read. When that is the mind set, I cannot blame someone for not seeing the value.

However, if that is your mindset I am not sure you understand how this all works. The GCSAA and MiGCSA are not a direct service in the traditional sense. These groups are an opportunity and can be as large of an opportunity as you can make of them.

If you sit back and wait for the GCSAA & MiGCSA do things for you it will not work, it is not supposed to work that way. It is like buying a new sprayer parking it in the barn and wondering why you have disease ridden turf, you must use it for it to work! Anything you need or could want is at your fingertips, but you must, under your own power move them. 

When I first started this job, I struggled with trying to come up with the “elevator pitch” to explain why the MiGCSA is important for members. I started listing all the things we do behind the scenes like foster relationships with the State and Local Governments, provide networking and educational opportunities, produce an industry leading magazine and a massive communication network and so on down the line into the minutia of the daily operations. But as I struggled with this I was turned on to a Ted Talk by Simon Sinek on the idea that people do not believe in what you do they believe in why you do it. This resonated with me and has changed my elevator speech completely.

The MiGCSA or GCSAA for that matter is not about doing things for you, even though they both do, a lot. They are about giving you the opportunity to be part of us, not them, just us. We are all Michigan Golf Course Superintendents members or not, it is what we do. Why do we do it? For the giant pay checks or the glory and appreciation? It is because we are passionate about our profession. As a group of people who are passionate about our profession we are unstoppable, when we all believe in why we do it together, we are unstoppable, when we utilize the opportunities by getting involved to whatever level you would like, we are unstoppable. Not us and them, just us. When the GCSAA does well we all do well, when the MiGCSA does well we all do well. It is not they do well, we are they. So, the next time you wonder about paying your dues to either group please think of it not as a service like your cable bill, but as an investment in all of us which absolutely includes YOU!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

2017 Michigan Turfgrass Conference

It is conference season time, and the 2017 Michigan Conference is again set to be a great event starting on January 3rd in East Lansing. I am often asked about the conference as if it were an MiGCSA event, but it is not. The conference is produced by the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation (MTF) and all of the planning comes from their very capable conference planning committee chaired by Amy Fouty, CSFM from MSU. Amy and her group have been doing a phenomenal job of getting speakers and topics that are up to the minute relevant to anyone who grows turf, and especially in the Golf Turf areas. This conference is also available at a great cost of only $195.00 for three days when you pre register.

If you have not attended this conference before make a point to do so now, if you have attended before get signed up. More information can be found here and you can register online at the MTF website here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Annual Call to Action!

It is 51 degrees and spitting a light rain today here in Rockford just north of Grand Rapids and as I write this I am taken back to this time of year pouring over budget numbers in the office as a Superintendent. The deluge of early order programs and picking them apart to maximize the dollars saved. I am betting there are more than a few people reading this doing the same thing, looking at the monitor of spreadsheets and paper laid out over the desk.

If so I am honored that you took a break from that to read this. I am also now going to make my annual call to action to add one more consideration into your decisions this fall. To consider the companies and individuals who partner with your Chapter. This is the critical part of the circle of support I often speak about. These partners are the main funding source of the MiGCSA. They do this because they believe in the Chapter and you, but they also do it because they want your business. The margins on many products you use are not a large as you may think, especially during early order. If these partners lose business to other companies that are not participating in the MiGCSA Industry Partner Program then it makes it harder every year to support you.

So please, when the early order information starts to come in, when the salesperson makes the appointment, when you make those commitments, please use the information on the signs below to help keep the circle of support intact. The Industry Partners support everything the MiGCSA does and the Fundraiser Sponsors help fund the future of our industry. This is one of the most important ways to support your Chapter and all of the members in it, thank you.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Fundraisers, where does the money go?

As we start to turn the corner into aerification, snow mold and irrigation blowouts it is also fundraiser season around Michigan. We have three every year, the first is always at Arcadia Bluffs on the first Monday in June and we blew it out again this year as this annual event continues to be a staple on many calender's. In September we have the Western Golf Day at Kent Country Club on September 19th and the Big Event at Plum Hollow on October 3rd. These are long standing events and are the highest attendance we see all year. Which allows us to raise a lot of money, but then what where does it go?

All of the proceeds from these events go right back to you... well not in direct cash form but to all of us in the form of industry support. The highest percentage goes to the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation to support the world class turf research going on a t MSU. Since the inception of the MiGCSA in 2008 the Association has been able to donate $120,000 to the MTF! All of the research done at MSU is for the benefit of our members and we are glad to be the largest single contributor to the MTF on an annual basis.

We also use these funds to support the scholarships we give out every year. There are the 4 Heritage Scholarships that are awarded for $1,500 each to dependents of current members after an application and essay. And the Student Scholarships, up to 2 at $2,000 each. These are available to turf students at MSU and are awarded based on an interview process.

The final group that regularly receives funds is the Wee One Foundation. In recent years the MiGCSA has been a sponsor of these events and have matched member donations.

Other turf related philanthropic causes and groups can also be funded by request and approval from the MiGCSA Board of Directors.

So if any of these seem important (hint: they should) to you and you want to have a great day with your colleagues then please sign up and participate in one of the remaining fundraisers and in turn help to support and fund the future of our industry.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Tyranny of the Urgent

“Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.” 
― Charles E. Hummel, Tyranny of the Urgent

Even though I am no longer an active Superintendent with the day to day concerns and worries of these very trying stretches of weather I still get the same feelings I used to get and often discuss them with members.

The stress of not knowing when to make the switch in irrigation practises from hot and dry with heavy overnight watering to hot and humid where the same irrigation cycle you had to run yesterday turns the course into a petri dish the next night. Where to find the balance of green speeds and healthy turf. Trying to get some holes into the greens to vent them and praying for some relief from the things we can not control, but control us all.

I see this from more of a distance now but that also provides a perspective that is slightly different. So many members during these times can not imagine leaving the facility for an hour much less most of a day. I can relate, but now as I attend all of the Chapter events I see the relief and benefit for all of our members in the networking and shared experience of both pain and success it is a vital part of getting through these days. I now it is really hard to get away, impossible even. But to take a step back, spend the day with your peers and know you are not alone, to know you have a huge resource in your fellow members will do more for you than any amount of hand watering ever will. No amount of spraying will ever replace a new bond or tip you will absolutely get from attending an MiGCSA event. So take a minute to look at the calendar and make plans to get away for a day, to learn something or meet someone new. Or if you want to have an event closer to your facility or in a different format please let us know and we can help make it happen. Break away from the urgent fire extinguishing routine and take a minute to get some fire prevention tips.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Team Work

I think that no matter what section of the golf business you are in, or really any part of life it is better to work with others to achieve a common goal. As a Superintendent I know I could not be effective without a team that was motivated and had a very strong understanding of expectations for their job but more importantly the overall goal. How can each person do their job in a way that helps achieve the desired results. Once you can gain understanding from others on what your desired outcome is let them go forth and help achieve that in their own best way.

The same is true for the MiGCSA. I had the opportunity to participate in a meeting of the Midwest Chapter Executives in Chicago last week. Items discussed included Strengthening member and chapter relationships with GCSAA, Sponsorship & Commercial members - meeting their needs and maximizing revenue, Managing your volunteers/board members, Technology - what are some of the winners you’ve found / losers too!, Member communications / print / digital / social - keeping things fresh, Contracting out tasks (design, office tasks) what can you / what do you have to do Yourself, Future Local Collaboration - Research/Education. In attendance were Luke Cella, CGCS (Midwest Association of Golf Course Superintendents, Randy Robinson (Iowa GCSA), Brett Grams (Wisconsin GCSA), Brian Laurent (OTF & Multiple Ohio Chapters) and Shane Conroy (GCSAA Field Staff)

Much like an MiGCSA Meeting I learned so much from my peers and even more importantly formed and strengthened relationships that have the potential to be extraordinarily important now and in the future. Team work is more than you and your facility or company, look beyond at what others are doing and utilize their experience. Come to a meeting and form or strengthen those relationships. Save time money and stress by leaning on each other to achieve the desired results.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Super Supers Behind the Scenes

I hope that by now most of the membership has seen our episode of Super Supers with Michigan Golf Live, if not please check it out here:

This idea was originally floated by Past President Jay Eccleton, CGCS years ago. It has been through many discussions and starts and stops. Finally last year it all came together. The GCSAA awarded us with an outreach grant to help offset the cost of production and we filmed this all in a few days at Egypt Valley Country Club with then President Jeff Holmes, CGCS.

We had seen this awesome video done by the Georgia Chapter: and really wanted to do something to highlight our members and our passion for the profession. So finally the time was right to partner with MGL and Bill Hobson. His broadcasts reach 250,000 golfers in Michigan on Fox Sports Detroit every weekend. So we pulled the trigger after much panning and discussion on how best to communicate our message. The first draft of the video was sent to the board and myself in the fall of 2015. After more discussion and edits over the winter we finally got it to where we wanted it.

This was a process that none of us were used to as video editing and production is well out of our wheelhouses. So far all the responses we have had are positive. If you would like to send the board some feedback we would appreciate it at