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

Monday, December 22, 2014


I hope many of you are already aware of this but I have taken the lead with the Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program (MTESP) and we have launched a new MTESP 2.0 website last month. The hope for this site is to revitalize the MTESP and to provide turf managers with a real time live website that can help them identify areas of environmental risk. We are asking anyone who manages turf to please register their facility at this winter regardless of your plans for certification, we need registered users to help secure continued funding for the program. So please when you have a minute this winter go get registered, it is really easy. 

Wait a minute you may say, I do not want to do that I know we are our of compliance with so many areas why would I want to tell anyone about it? I know we can't afford to update our shop/fuel storage/mix load pad etc. so why should I document our lack of compliance and open us up to more risk? 

I understand this line of thought however I would argue that you are not opening yourself up to more risk, the risk is there and inherent regardless of your documentation. I can also say that the recognition of the risks by you and the communication to your facility decision makers is an important insurance policy for you personally and for the facility. Ignorance is not a reasonable excuse when it comes to fines or possible environmental accidents. However a clear documentation and assessment of your risks is a powerful tool when it comes to inspections and possible fines. I can tell you without any hesitation that the MDARD and DEQ look very favorably upon facilities that have made a clear and honest assessment of their environmental risk regardless of the facilities ability to properly mitigate that risk. The specific facility information in the MTESP is not available to anyone but myself, Dr. Kevin Frank and the Stewardship Specialists John Johnson and Kathy Antaya. The state departments are not interested in facility specific information, just the total number of facilities and if the facility is utilizing the program or not. So please go to the website and get your facility registered this winter. Thank you for your support of this very important program. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Opportunity Knocks

In this day of lightning fast communication through Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Webinars and a litany of great fast easy education it can be a very tough sell to spend the time and money to travel to a conference. I have been there, with a 2 year old at home it is becoming harder and harder to find the time to get away. We are heading full on into conference season and the time to register is now to get the early rate and good hotels but I know the drill many of you are waiting to see how the budget, weather, family etc pan out before your decision. The closer it gets the easier it is to just skip. This is not isolated to just you or to Michigan or to the MiGCSA it is a nation wide question, is it really worth it?

Of course I have to say yes, it is part of my job to travel to these various conferences and represent the MiGCSA and our members interests. But why is it important to our members when so much of this information that is presented at the conference is available for free at you leisure from the comfort of your office and a computer device? In my opinion it is not about the topics or the presenter. Those are great reasons to go but in today's age not the main reason. There is no information to be gleaned that can not be found online.

But what you can not find on Twitter or on a blog is the face to face interaction with your piers. The conversations started by a presentation or a presenter. The networking with so many that walk in your shoes on a different part of the state or country. The shared communal experience that is so unique and specific to us as Golf Course Superintendents. There is no way to duplicate this experience online or anywhere else.

It can be so hard to justify attendance to whomever needs the justification. There is no guarantee for this investment to be a good return for the facility, but I can not imagine anyone going to a conference about their industry and not coming back with a new idea or a contact that has the potential to pay incredible dividends for the facility and for the individual.

In the next two months there are some really great opportunities to test my theory. The Michigan Golf Course Owners, Golf Business Conference is December 1-3 you can see more info here. Just to our south in Sandusky the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation has a great lineup at a new family friendly venue at Kalahari Resort, you can see the OTF offerings by clicking here. Of course there is the must see event in Michigan in January the Michigan Turfgrass Conference that is built by the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation at the Kellogg Conference Center in East Lansing. The MTF has really put together a fantastic show this year packed with great topics and speakers you can go to to see the opportunities and registration information.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


This is the topic for most of the blogs I have read lately and for good reason. The winter of 2014 was one for the record books and one we hope not to repeat or break anytime soon.

The MiGCSA is doing all we can to help provide direction and support for our members on this issue. It started in the Spring with the Ice & Recovery Seminar at Oakland Hills and will bookend with the Winter Preparation Seminar at Franklin Hills next week on October 23rd. This summer the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation (MTF) purchased a cold weather growth chamber that should be installed this fall. The MSU Turf Team will now be able to conduct research all year in a controlled environment and hopefully find some best practices to prevent or mitigate the damage from ice over. Dr Emily Merewitz has started a crowd funding campaign for individuals to help fund research on this issue as well, a great example of the forward thinking from MSU and the commitment of the Turf Team to researching this problem. If you want to donate to this research you can go to

We all hope for a mild winter with beautiful turf in the spring and a summer of normal maintenance. But please know there are many people working together in Michigan to find solutions to this issue so when the winter turns on us again we will have some ways to fight. Thank you to all who have supported the MiGCSA this year by attending our fundraisers, meetings and by being members. You have helped support a great community dedicated to providing value to our members through programs and services that enhance and promote our profession.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Finish Strong

As we wind into the fall of what was one of the easiest or toughest seasons our members have had depending on the level of winter damage at your facility we are also looking to this winter. The MiGCSA hosts 3 fundraisers every year starting with Arcadia Bluffs in June. Our second was at Battle Creek Country Club on the 10th of September and our final is at Tam-O-Shanter C.C. on October 6th.

After the Arcadai record breaking attendance we were running $13,000 ahead of last year in revenue. However with a low turnout at the Western event we lost some ground. If we can have good attendance at Tam-O-Shanter in two weeks we can hopefully present a much larger check to the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation in January.

Please come out and help us finish this year with a great event and support the turf research that now includes a cold weather growth chamber to hopefully come up with some BMP's for winter survival. You can register for this event here and remember this is open to anyone so please bring your neighbors and friends to help us sell this event out! 

The 2013 Fundraisers raised $14,021.18 we are hoping to come close to doubling that amount this year.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Future...

The MiGCSA is often best looked at as a new start up business for me, we started in 2008 and have seen many bumps in the road. But since this is a new business there is just not a lot of history to compare ourselves to.

Right now we are in a position of growth of both membership and financial. At some point we will hit a ceiling of some sort, or at least a leveling off. The key for the MiGCSA is to continue to improve and adapt to the needs of our members. The easiest way to do this is to listen very carefully to what they want and to see what they do, then in the simplest of terms do that.

What is the future of the MiGCSA? I have a few ideas, but I would really love to hear what you think. Are we doing all we can for our members? No, I hope we can never say that, if we do then there is no room for improvement and that leads to stagnation. We need to be a nimble group and business constantly adapting to the environment, member needs and support. This is easy to say and much harder to do. The gains we have made in our first 5 1/2 years were primarily the low hanging fruit, the gains in the next 5 1/2 will be substantially more difficult but can also be the most dynamic.

What does a GCSAA Affiliated Chapter look like in the future, again I have some ideas but I do know this for sure: it does not look like the one we have now. That does not mean we are doing anything wrong now per say although I am sure there are a few things. It means that we need to manage for what is coming not for what we did, do not simply keep doing what you do well because it worked yesterday. If you look at your life or business how many things that you did 5, 10, 15 years ago apply to today? If you say most of it I would caution you to take a very hard and honest look at some new ideas. Ask Kodak if what has worked in the past is good enough, once one of the largest companies in the world, now gone because they did not adapt soon enough or look at what is next while business was good.

The best time to plan for the future is when things are good, whether it be profits or members or course conditions. It is markedly harder when those things are not good to try to implement new ideas and techniques. Make mistakes they are the kindling for innovation. If you are mistake free you are not trying enough new ideas, learn from them and grow from them. As always please let us know where you think we can improve even if it does not end up working at least we know we tried. Thank you all for your support of the MiGCSA.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Who does what?

One of the great things about being a Golf Course Superintendent in Michigan is the amazing resources we have at our disposal. One of the challenging things is knowing who does what for the Turf Industry in Michigan. I know personally I was not aware of all the details or even the big picture until I joined the Northern Michigan Board in 2005. So I am going to try to clear up some of the confusion I often hear and have personally experienced.

The MiGCSA is your GCSAA Affiliated Chapter, we are the largest single state chapter in the country and we host more than 20 networking events a year along with the quarterly Course Conditions magazine. We also keep the website current and the hub for Golf Course Superintendents in Michigan. We host three golf fundraisers a year of which the major benefactor is the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation (MTF).

The Michigan Turfgrass Foundation (MTF) has been in existence since October 24, 1956 when eleven turf managers met at the MSU Memorial Union Building for a final organizational meeting of the MTF. The MTF has one guiding mission to support the world renown turf research that is done at Michigan State University. The MTF are the organizers the Michigan Turf Conference in East Lansing each year. They also do the Tee Times for Turf Auction, the Field Day at MSU and the LaFonatine Golf Outing each year. Gordie LaFontaine is the Executive Director of the MTF and has served the MTF in many roles since the 1960's. For many years the MTF also acted as a de facto statewide organization for Superintendents before the MiGCSA inception in 2008.

The Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program (MTESP) was started in the 1990's and has had many faces. Greg Lyman brought the program to it's highest heights and Debbie Swartz continues on in the same direction until funding was cut in 2009. Dr. Ron Calhoun took up the torch and then Dr. Kevin Frank took the helm after Dr. Calhoun left for Residex. The program is now under the direction of Adam Ikamas, CGCS MiGCSA Executive Director and is being digitized and reformatted as MTESP 2.0, this will be out this fall. Funding for this program comes from the Michigan Groundwater Stewardship Program.

The Michigan Golf Alliance was formed in 2011 and is comprised of the major golf organizations in Michigan. These include the Michigan Golf Course Owners Association (MGCOA), Michigan Golf COurse Superintendents Association (MiGCSA), Golf Association of Michigan (GAM), Michigan Section PGA, the Greater Michigan Club Managers Association (GMCMA) and the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation (MTF). This group plans and produces the Michigan Legislative Golf Day every June and have an overall goal of getting more people to play more golf in Michigan.

All of this may look confusing, however we are extremely fortunate to have so many resources and groups working every day to support and promote the golf industry. I can say with certainty that in comparison to any other state we have the  most active golf community in the country.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

June is Golf Month in Michigan

There has been a flurry of activity for your Association in early June. Starting with the 2014 Northern Fundraiser at Arcadia Bluffs, the largest, by far, fundraiser the MiGCSA has ever had. With 190 on Monday and 80 on Sunday night we were able to raise more than $20,000. This is the first of our three fundraisers every year with the next on September 9th at Battle Creek Country Club and the final at Tam O Shanter on October 6th. 100% of the proceeds from these events is distributed every year to fund student and member dependent Heritage Scholarships, donations, and philanthropic interests like the Wee One Foundation, EIFG and the MSU Turf Club. But the vast majority will go directly to funding turf research at Michigan State University in donations to the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation.

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley addresses the attendees at
Legislative Golf Day
The second big event in June was Legislative Golf Day on June 5th. My day started at 7:15 am on the Michigan Big Show with Michael Patrick Shiels along with my counterpart from the PGA Kevin Helm. We spoke about the economic impact golf has on Michigan and that June was proclaimed Golf Month in Michigan by Governor Rick Snyder. To hear the entire interview you can CLICK HERE. After the interview we were treated to our first speaker of the day in Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley. He spoke about the comeback of the Michigan economy and the impact of the wildly successful Pure Michigan campaign, now the most successful tourism campaign of all time! Lunch on the turn hosted a record number of legislators and their staff members after the visits to their offices in the morning. After lunch the heads of the Michigan Golf Alliance met with representatives from Pure Michigan to discuss more interaction on both sides to help utilize the campaign to grow the game of golf in Michigan. This is a great event, I highly recommend you try to attend at least once, it is a great way to promote and preserve the game in Michigan which is very important to all of our members.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ice, What we Know for Sure

For the most up to date information on this important issue
be sure to follow
Ice... it has been the word of the year so far in 2014. Reports of damage from ice cover to putting greens are wide spread but at the same time hit or miss especially in the Detroit area. Some courses have seen significant damage while the course across the street has none. As you can imagine this is extremely frustrating to the members of these clubs and to the Superintendents who manage the turf. While much is being done at Michigan State with funding from the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation (MTF) by Dr. Kevin Frank and the Turf Team to try to study the reasons some turf has died and others have not we still do not know the answers.

Here is what we do know: As frustrating as this is to the golfers is is devastating to the Superintendent. As inconvenient as is it is to the members, it is something that has caused loss of sleep, fights with spouses, missing family activities, weight loss, mental anguish and fatigue for the Superintendent. As much as the golfers want the greens to be ready multiply that 100 fold to reach the desire the Superintendent has to get them open. We do know that every single Superintendent would have done anything to prevent this from happening, every single one. No one would have skipped a practice no matter what it is or how hard it would be if they thought it would help. There is no one more distraught, a very fitting description (dis·traught adjective \di-ˈstrȯt\ : very upset : so upset that you are not able to think clearly or behave normally) than the Superintendent about the damage. It will take time to recover, and there is no substitute for time. Not money, not effort not a single thing can substitute for time with the exception of a little help from Mother Nature which has yet to arrive.

Here is what we do not know: Why this has affected some greens and not others. What practices are best to prevent ice damage in the future regardless of what theories are out there based on what happened or did not happen this winter. We do not know if there is a best practice that can be stamped across all situations, in turf management there usually is not.

What disturbs me the most is when I hear of anyone saying that they did the right thing while someone else did the wrong thing. This is just pure speculation, if course A has damage and course B does not it is not because one Superintendent cares more, or did more than another. Anyone in this business knows you do not become or stay a Superintendent for long if you do not have passion for this work and for the results they produce. In this close knit community of professionals it is the exception to hear that one Superintendent is critical of another, especially on an issue that is as tenuous as this. I know this is the exception and very far from the norm, but even one comment to a member or guest can have a ripple effect that can lead to even more problems for a fellow Superintendent.

Please remember that we are all in this together and should support one another, you never know when Mother Nature will turn her wrath on you. With a short season already off to a slow start the pressure is immense to get the putting surfaces back open, and once open to get them up to what would normally be mid summer speeds. Please be patient and know that your Superintendent is doing EVERYTHING they can to get the course back to normal, and remember that they would give ANYTHING not to have this problem in the first place.

Adam Ikamas, CGCS
MiGCSA Executive Director

Monday, February 17, 2014

MiGCSA wins Social Media Award at GIS

On Wednesday at the 2014 Golf Industry Show the MiGCSA was one of the recipients of the 2014 Golf Course Industry Social Media Awards presented at the Aquatrols booth. The Overall Social Media Award was presented to Executive Director Adam Ikamas, CGCS at 3:30. This award was given out by Pat Jones of GCI. Along with this award MiGCSA Member Adam Garr of Plum Hollow also garnered an award for his use of video, well deserved for his pioneering work in this field.

Monday, January 20, 2014

MTF Donations crest $100,000 since MiGCSA Inception in 2008

One of the most important and mutually lucrative relationships the MiGCSA has is with the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation. The MTF’s primary goal, as a foundation is to assist in the funding of the turf management programs at Michigan State University. Most of us are quite familiar with the MSU programs and know the high caliber of real world research that the Turf Team produces every year.

As Superintendents our members are among those most benefiting from the tremendous program at MSU. Those who had the opportunity to attend the turf program at MSU know they received a solid education, and we all know that the students coming out of the program each year will be valuable assets to Michigan golf courses and great additions to our workforce.

For these reasons and more, the MiGCSA feels it is necessary and a privilege to be able to contribute to the MTF’s efforts. Each year the MiGCSA hosts multiple fundraiser events which help fund the MTF. In 2008 the MiGCSA hosted four separate events in each district of the MiGCSA. In 2009 we hosted three. Each year, the MiGCSA Foundation committee distributes the proceeds from these events to the multiple parties but the vast majority goes to the MTF and then on to the MSU Turf Team. In 2008 the MiGCSA donated $15,000 to the MTF and in 2009 and 2010 we made another $15,000 donation. In 2011 the MiGCSA was able to add $10,000 to the donation for a total of $25,000 and in 2012 the donation was $16,800, and with the donation of $14,021 the chapter has crested the $100,000 mark since inception in 2008!

The 2014 check presentation from L to R: MiGCSA President Gregg Matthews, MiGCSA
Executive Director Adam Ikamass, CGCS and MTF President Brian Schweihofer
at the Michigan Turfgrass Conference.