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

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Michigan Golf Alliance

Yesterday the Michigan Golf Alliance met at the Michigan PGA Section headquarters in Lansing. The MGA is comprised of representatives from the MiGCSA, PGA, GAM (Golf Association of Michigan), MGCOA (Michigan Golf Course Owners Association), CMAA (Club Managers Association of America), MTF (Michigan Turfgrass Foundation) and the ASGCA (American Society of Golf Course Architects).

The Alliance was formed in 2011 with Kate Moore Executive Director of the MGCOA spearheading the effort. The original concept was to bring the associations that represent golf together to plan the Michigan Golf Legislative Day on the Capitol lawn in June. Since this initial meeting there have been two great years taking golf's message to Lansing legislators with a focus on the economic and environmental impact to the state. The meeting yesterday was intended to plan the event in 2013, but turned into something that will be even bigger.

The current proposal is to replace the Legislative Golf Day with a Michigan Golf Alliance Summit in late May of 2013. This proposal would bring the boards of the MGA partners together for a day of golf and education on one another. The easiest way for me to look at it is a macro version of any golf facility. Everyone at a golf facility is working toward one common goal, to be a profitable successful business. And each person at that property has a role to play in doing that. But if there is not a good clean communication on what each person is doing you can not be as successful as you could if you were aware of everyone's issues and goals. The Superintendent needs to communicate with the Owner, the Pro, the Manager and the players and vice versa.

The goal of the summit is to have a clear definition of what each group is doing to grow the game of golf in Michigan. We all have our roles to play in this, but we all benefit from growing the game. How are we each doing this? Where are there opportunities to help one another with our current objectives? Where are we different and where are we the same? This event will be on a two year rotation with the Legislative golf day to keep a contact with Lansing we will still be inviting key legislators to lunch during the summit. During lunch each group will communicate to all of the attendees what their goals are for golf in Michigan.

This has potential to be a very powerful day for the future of our industry, not just the turf industry but the golf industry that drives all sectors.

The MGA L to R: Eric Rule, MGCOA Lobbyist, Joe Basso, CMAA Representative and GM AT Birmingham C.C., Kevin Helm Michigan PGA Executive Director, David Graham Executive Director of the GAM, Kate Moore MGCOA Executive Director, Tom Schwark MGCOA Government Relations Chairman and Owner of Sycamore Hills Golf Club, and Jada Paisley MGCOA Certified Meeting Planner (not pictured Jay Eccleton, CGCS, MiGCSA President, Becky Schooch, MTF Executive Secretary and Gary Koenes, PGA President)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The 47th Annual Big Event

The Big Event was held on Monday at Birmingham Country Club with host Superintendent Dan Dingman and Assistant Victor Morales-Rios. This is the 47th Big Event and this fundraiser brought in over $7,500 to fund research at MSU with the MTF, and Scholarships for MSU Students and for dependents of MiGCSA member with the Heritage scholarships, and the annul matching of member donations to the Wee One Foundation. This was a first class event that will be very hard to top. Some photos below, and if you would like to see all of the groups and more photos please click here.

Lee Collins, Steve Reban with new MSU Turf Physiologist Emily Merewitz and current MTF President/MiGCSA Past President John Fulling, CGCS

The GAM Team of Doug Hendershot, Director of Course Rating, David Baughman Green Committee Chairman, David Cameron, Green Committee Vice-Chair, and Course Rating chair Jim Evanoff

MTF Executive Director Gordie LaFontaine, Dr. Joe Vargas, John Kirtland and Dr. Thom Nikolai

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fundraising Season

This Monday the MiGCSA will host the 47th Annual Big Event at Birmingham Country Club. This event started with the Border Cities groups and the the Greater Detroit Golf Course Superintendents Association after that. Now this will be the 5th Big Event the MiGCSA has hosted. This event is the last of the three golf fundraisers we host every year. The first is at Arcadia Bluffs in June for the Northern Fundraiser and is the only site we do not rotate because it is such a great venue and we always have great participation. This year the second fundraiser was hosted by MiGCSA Member Ryan Osborn at Wuskowhan Players Club in West Olive, for the traditional Western Golf Day. This year has seen record attendance for our fundraising events with the largest Western Golf Day we have ever had at 116 players.

Now as we round the corner on the final event we get to sit down and decide how to properly disperse the funds. These funds are not used to run the Association at all, and are 100% allocated for the MiGCSA Foundation. This is a separate entity from the Association. The Board uses these funds to pay out Student Scholarships at MSU. To award MiGCSA Member Dependents with the Heritage Scholarships. Last year we used some funds for the MSU Turf Club to get to the Golf Industry Show. But the vast majority goes directly to fund research at MSU through the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation. Last year we were able to donate $25,000 to the MTF. Thank you to all of you that have or are going to participated in the 2012 Fundraisers. There are still spots for 3 foursomes at Birmingham on Monday, so come on out if you can!

Ryan Osborn and MiGCSA President Jay Eccleton, CGCS

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

State of the Union

I wanted to update everyone on a milestone for the MiGCSA in terms of one of our most important areas, memberships. The largest membership numbers we have ever had were in 2009 when we reached 642 total members, in 2010 we had 635 but as of this time last year the membership had sagged to 567. This was due to the Association not having any direct management for over a year during the transition from Eurich to myself. We simply did not have the ability to process and follow up on membership renewals. So you can see the large drop during the membership renewal from 2010 to 2011.

However success is not measured in where you have been but where you have arrived. As of today, 8/8/2012 we have 637 current MiGCSA members. And with the work of the Membership committee chaired by MiGCSA Secretary/Treasurer Gregg Matthews who are calling our expired members I think we will have the highest membership numbers we have ever had. With these numbers we also have 284 Class A and SM Superintendents in the MiGCSA. This is important because it related to the number of votes we have with the GCSAA, at 284 we are now the second largest chapter in the country behind the Carolina's (which is two states). The Board and I are very happy with this direction, because bottom line this entire thing is for the Members, this is a constant in Board meetings to make sure we are doing everything for the members. So thank you to everyone who has renewed this year. I see no reason why we wont surpass the 2009 high water mark this year, and I think 700 is a real possibility.

In other news on a more personal level my wife Laura and I are expecting our first child this December, 12-12-12 is the due date. We found out we are having a little girl a few weeks ago and were able to get some really cool 3D ultra sound pictures. Everything is progressing along well and she and baby are healthy. Laura and I are really looking forward to having some time together this year for Christmas. She still works at Crystal Mountain and normally that is a very busy week. She and I have never had a Christmas off together since we met, so to have a newborn and some time together as a family will be a very special thing.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Legislative Golf Day

The Proclamation of
Golf Month in Michigan
Yesterday was the Legislative Golf Day in Lansing on the lawn of the Capitol building. This is the second year this event was held in June and on the lawn. It was a beautiful cool morning that started with an address from Senator John Proos, who represents the 21st district of Berrien. He spoke about the impact of golf state wide and especially in his County with the Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores Golf Club in Benton Harbor. The Senator also presented the proclamation to the Michigan Golf Alliance that June is golf month in Michigan. Greg Lyman from the GCSAA and EIFG also spoke about some of the issues that are or may affect golf in Michigan. One of the most urgent issues is H.R. 872, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011.

Greg Lyman drove his modified bus to
transport us around the Capitol
After the presentations MiGCSA President Jay Eccleton, Steve Randall, and Greg Lyman and I headed off to visit Senator Debbie Stabenow’s office on Lake Lansing road in the Greg Lyman EIFG short bus. It was quite the scene when the bus pulled up to the Senators office and we poured out in our suits and ties. We were able to get a meeting with Kali Fox the Regional Manager for the Lansing office. Senator Stabenow is the chair of the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry and will be very involved with the H.R. 872 farm bill. We made our support clear to help reduce the amount of regulations needed to apply pesticides on golf courses. Kali noted our support and will pass the information on the Senator.
The putting green in front of the
Capitol Building
Then we got back on the bus to head back to the Capitol lawn for lunch on the turn. Over 400 legislator’s and their staff came to lunch that was served by Eagle Eye Golf Course. Spartan Distributors one of the event sponsors brought a 4700-D Rough mower and an EZ-Go Beverage cart to serve drinks at lunch. The PGA had blow up hitting nets to give legislators a quick lesson, and a roll out putting green on the sidewalk.

After lunch Greg Lyman had set up meetings at the DEQ and Agriculture Department. So we met up with Jeff Spencer, Stewardship Specialist with the DEQ at lunch and got back on the bus to head over to Constitution Hall where the DEQ and MDARD are housed. Greg, Jay, Jeff and I met with Bryce Feigner, Chief of the Office of Environmental Assistance and Assistant Chief Richard Alexander. This meeting was meant to introduce the MiGCSA and our new structure to the DEQ and to discuss the Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program. This was a very fruitful meeting and the DEQ is excited about our new direction and the streamlined system to be able to work with Golf Course Superintendents in Michigan. We decided to set up a meeting at a future date to discuss all of the ways the MiGCSA can work with the DEQ, MDRAD and possibly the DNR to promote the environmental stewardship of Golf Courses and the Superintendents that care for them.

Jeff Spencer and Greg Lyman
We then headed upstairs to visit the Michigan Department of Agriculture and drop off information for Keith Creagh the Director of the MDRAD. Most of the staff were at a retreat so we were not able to meet in person with the Director. But we have tentative plans to meet at a future date possibly at The Emerald in St. Johns to play golf and introduce the MiGCSA to this very important department.

It was a great day to bring awareness of golf and the MiGCSA to the decision makers in Lansing. This is a great event and will continue to grow, hopefully we can get more MiGCSA members to attend and visit legislators in the upcoming years. As Greg Lyman told the attendees it is hard to measure the effect of these events, as it is hard to measure the lack of regulations in the golf industry.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

On the road again

It has been quite the whirlwind over the last month and a half since my last post. In that time I have had the opportunity to represent the MiGCSA and Michigan Superintendents at a variety of industry events all around the State. The first was at the Annual Can-Am challenge at the TPC of Michigan in Dearborn. This event is a match play between the MiGCSA and the Ontario Golf Course Superintendents Association and has been taking place for over 35 years. The MiGCSA won the event 40 to 20, there is talk of a bus ride to Toronto for next years event, if you have not played in a Can-Am before I would highly recommend it, and the OGSA will be great hosts in 2013.

Alan Mullaly, CEO of Ford
On May 7th the Golf Association of Michigan held it's Annual Meeting at Franklin Hills Country Club. In the GAM year in review video GAM Executive Director David Graham spoke about the impact the Michigan Golf Alliance has in Lansing, and in planning the Michigan Golf Day on June 13th. This is a great example of how our statewide chapter has a greater impact on the golf industry in Michigan, with four separate chapters we would certainly not have a seat at the table with the Golf Alliance. The meeting also featured guest speakers, including Rick Smith, Golf Instructor and Designer. He had some unique ideas about golf and how to grow the game, something that is important to everyone in the room. I think my favorite idea is to charge a higher fee the farther back tees you choose to play, this would encourage people to go up a tee or two, and increase the speed of play. The second speaker was Alan Mulally President and CEO of Ford Motor Company. I did not know much about Alan before this event but I have to say I was very impressed by his demeanor and candor when discussing the bailouts and hearings in Washington, best advise was not to take a corporate jet when testifying in front of Congress.

The MiGCSA Team, Vice President
Greg Pattinson, Myself, Secretary/Treasurer
Gregg Matthews, and Director Phil Owen
And last week on Sunday the 20th the MSU Turf Team was given a special award at the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony. This is well deserved and thanks in part to the MiGCSA representative on the MGHOF Board Retired Superintendent Fritz McMullen. It is another benefit of a united voice for Superintendents to have Fritz on the board to make sure Superintendents and other Turf Industry professionals are considered for induction. The next day was the Wee One Foundation Fundraiser at the Country Club of Detroit. This event has really become a must attend for many in Michigan, and it is an important event for the MiGCSA Board as well. This year the MiGCSA was again a Platinum Sponsor and matched donations from members for a total of $2,975. These funds come from the MiGCSA Foundation and are only possible because of the support at our three fundraisers and our Premiere Foundation Sponsors. The first of these events is on Monday at Arcadia Bluffs. The Western event is scheduled for September 17th at Wuskowhan Players Club in Holland, and the Big Event in the Detroit District is October 8th at Birmingham Country Club.

Jack Nicklaus at the Senior PGA
After the Wee One I traveled to Benton Harbor to attend an event with the PGA at the Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores. All of the leaders from the Michigan Golf Alliance were invited to this media event featuring The CEO of the PGA of America Joe Steranka, many others from the PGA and Kitchenaid and Jack Nicklaus. One of the key items I picked up from this event was the economic impact golf has on the State of Michigan, this is one of the key items we use at Michigan Golf Day as well to educate legislators in Lansing about one of the many important impacts golf has in Michigan. I was able to see a little bit of the instructional clinic by Jack, but I don't think any of it can help me, not even tips from Jack Nicklaus. The last leg of my journey took me back to East Lansing to see a presentation from the first of three candidates for the Turfgrass Physiologist position at MSU. I was also able to have lunch with the candidate and members of the MTF board after the presentation. I have to admit much of the presentation was over my head as a former grass cutter and now paper pusher, but the room was packed with academia from the Crop and Soil Department at MSU, I was there mainly to represent the MiGCSA and to take part in the process. The second candidate presented yesterday, I was not able to attend as my wife and I had our second appointment to hear our baby to be heartbeat. She is about 12 weeks along and it was quite an experience. MiGCSA President Jay Eccleton attended in my absence.

It has been a busy month so far, with the first fundraiser on Monday at Arcadia Bluffs coming up and another candidate presentation and luncheon tomorrow it looks like there are no signs of slowing down.

The MSU Turf Team with their Award

Friday, April 6, 2012

MiGCSA Strategic Planning

Steve Randall leads the board on their s.c.o.r results
This week on Tuesday and Wednesday the MiGCSA Board gathered at the Hancock Turfgrass Research Center for a two day Strategic Planning session with John Miller and Steve Randall from the GCSAA. John is the field staff for the Great Lakes and Steve is the Senior Field Staff for the GCSAA and was instrumental in the early formation of the MiGCSA.
We last had a meeting like this in 2009, but with the changes within the MiGCSA and golf in in Michigan we thought it would be a great time to re visit our direction. Many of the board members in attendance were also there for the last meeting, but for some of the newly elected members this was the first meeting.

The day started at noon with Steve Randal handing out a s.c.o.r. analysis. This is meant to identify the strengths, challenges, opportunities and risks. Everyone completed this analysis and read the results aloud and Steve wrote them down. Once everyone had the results on the whiteboard they were all ranked from 1 to 3 in level of importance.

This was followed by looking at the MiGCSA Mission statement. The original was “To provide leadership for Golf Course Superintendents and other golf industry partners on the economic, environmental and recreational vitality of golf in Michigan.” This was a great original mission but we thought we needed to start in a new direction; we made a change to “The MiGCSA is dedicated to providing value to our members through programs and services that enhance our profession.” We all felt this more accurately represented where the MiGCSA is and where we are going. We also added a new set of visions for the association. These are as follows.

Michigan Golf Course Superintendents Association members will be consistently recognized as:
  • A community of professionals networking and supporting one another to enhance their position in the golf industry 
  • Supporters of scholarships, education and research efforts to benefit our members
  • Professionals working to enhance environmental stewardship
  • Leaders on initiatives to grow the game of golf
  • Crucial to the economic vitality of golf
  • Actively participating in the betterment of their communities
Using these new tools the board was able to set action items for the immediate and long term future. It is an exciting time for the MiGCSA as we move from a maintenance mode into an improvement direction.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Back from the GC.. Back fro the GC.. back from the GCSAA!

I am on my return flight from GCSAA Headquarters in Lawrence after the Chapter Leaders and Executives Symposium with MiGCSA President Jay Eccleton, CGCS. As I often do once I get on a plane returning from anywhere I tend to reflect, so I thought this is a perfect 1 hour and 15 minutes to get in a blog entry.
This is my third trip to GCSAA Headquarters and I have to say it is not quite as exciting or the same as my first experience years ago as the chapter delegate of the NMTMA, but I am always impressed by the amount of care and advocacy the staff in that building bring to the table for all of the members of the GCSAA and MiGCSA. I have not met a more dedicated group in any other section of my life. The field staff has really been put in place so more members can experience this extreme dedication to individual member needs, and that is the real key is individual contact. I know it has been said before but I wish every member could experience the GCSAA headquarters, but now the field staff can try to bring this experience to the members. I was also struck by the amount of times the MiGCSA was referenced during the various topics, and I am happy to say in a positive light.

This is also the second time I was able to network with my new set of piers, and what a fantastic source of information and unique point of views. It is very similar to the Superintendent profession, a small group of dedicated professionals with a very unique set of issues that is very hard to have others understand. I do have the unique advantage as some others do as well of being a Superintendent at heart. I relish the opportunity to learn more from them on the Association Management and to be of use to them on the Superintendent point of view.

I now look away from reflection and on to upcoming events. The MiGCSA Board will be gathering in Lansing at the Hancock Turfgrass research Center next week along with John Miller and Steve Randall from the GCSAA to have a strategic planning session for the MiGCSA. This is a requirement of the GCSAA affiliation agreement but is also a great way to benchmark our progress and to make sure our direction is understood. This will be the first strategic plan we have had since I have been in my new position.

It is spring, a time of new growth and renewal; I hope this will pertain to the MiGCSA as well as we make a path for the future of the Association in Michigan.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tiger by the tail...

Well I have been a long supporter of all that is communication and social media, and this week I really made my belief stronger. I had seen many of these memes flying around about what you think you do, what they think you do etc. so I decided to make one for the Golf Course Superintendent. So on Thursday I found myself with a few extra minutes in the morning and went to work. In about 30 minutes I was able to put together the image you see on your right.

I had no idea what was about to happen when I posted in on Facebook at 12:18. It started slow, the GCSAA shared it with their feed and many MiGCSA followers commented on it and started to share it. But then it went off like a wildfire in an open field. I started to see it on other pages within hours, and they were getting comments and shares as well, I can not track those as they took it and posted it as their own.

As of today it has 300 likes, 51 comments, and 169 shares just on the MiGCSA page alone. I have no idea the total reach yet, Facebook does have metrics on these things but I won't see the results until tomorrow. I have offered to send hi resolution versions of this out via email if they contact me, and this morning I had a request fro SWEDEN! It went from Northern Michigan around the world in less than three days. It has been interesting to be on this end of something that went "viral" and I have to admit it is pretty cool.

The response has been overall extremely positive, so thank you for that. And of course if you want a hi res copy you can email me at, this is for personal use only and not for re-sale, the images are just grabs from the internet and I am sure at least the Carl Spackler image is copyrighted.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Gearing up for Vegas

As with most things it seems like everything is much farther away than they are, like the objects in mirror are closer than they appear warning. But here we are less than a week away from the 2012 GIS in Las Vegas. I have been asked to do a presentation in the Chapter Executives track on the Communication efforts of the MiGCSA. I have been involved with the communications with the chapter since the day the committee was formed. I believed then as I do now that this is the fulcrum of the MiGCSA. Just as it becomes an issue at a golf course when people do not know what is going on, without proper and easy communication to decision makers you absolutely can not succeed.

As I write this I am taking a break from my power point, I am getting to the point where I will cover this Blog. I am the first to admit it is the weakest of the MiGCSA communication. Like many people in this age I lean towards the quick concise routes of Email, Facebook and Twitter.

This will be my first time attending GIS not as a Superintendent I am not sure what to expect. Add to this presenting to a group of my new piers may be a little nerve racking. I have done presentations in the past to Superintendents on turf, which is something I have more experience with. However I feel that the MiGCSA has a great story to tell. The fact that it exists from the 4 original chapters is amazing, and the way we use so many ways to make our information available to the members is well ahead of many other chapters. So it is my hope and goal to help other chapters to move ahead into the new digital social media age, if they are not there. It can be intimidating, and can be easily dismissed as trivial. Many people have a view of Twitter and Facebook of their teenage daughter constantly on their phone wasting time. But even thought it may be a small percentage of members who are on Facebook or Twitter now it is a terrible mistake to not prepare for future members. Think back to the mid 90's, how many members used Email? Probably about as many as are using Facebook now. So using that same curve it will likely be the main form of communication in the next 10 years. In doing research for this presentation I found some startling facts,take 1:45 to see the video below.

Pretty amazing way to communicate. I am looking forward to presenting this data to other Chapter Executives and how they can use it for themselves.

Of course I hope everyone joins us at The Las Vegas Hotel and Casino on Wednesday night for the MiGCSA Gathering featuring the Bronk Brothers concert. See you in Vegas!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Conference Season

It is closing in on the time of year for conferences. And of course here in Michigan that means the GLTE in Grand Rapids. This will be the last year for the conference here as the MTF is moving it back to Lansing in 2013. I joined some MTF Board Members in mid December to tour the Kellogg Center where the conference will be held. It is really going to be a great event and much improved from the Holiday Inn conferences of the past.

This will be my first time attending any conference as the Executive Director of the MiGCSA. I am really looking forward to it. My main focus this year will not be on education to take back too the course, I will be more focused on being available for members and to get the 2012 Industry Partner Program out to all of our very supportive partners. 

Of course there is also the MiGCSA Annual Meeting where we will be nominating three new board Members. This is significant as these will be the first new Board Members since I started in my new role. A clean slate for them without all of the turbulence of the past and only a new positive direction. We will also be presenting a check to the MTF for $25,000! This is from all of the great support we had at our fundraisers this year. There is also $7,000 in scholarships and a donation to the MSU Turf Club.

As I close in on a full year in my new position I am very happy about my choice to take on this new challenge. The MiGCSA is in a positive financial standing and I believe a positive industry standing. I am excited to dig into 2012 and see what else we can do to improve this chapter.