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

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Must see

We have between 20 and 30 events every year and every one is a great opportunity to make new relationships that will help you and you facility in ways you may not even realize. But one event every year is targeting a larger goal, Legislative Golf Day on June 9th at the Capitol Building in Lansing. We partner with the Michigan Golf Course Owners, the Golf Association of Michigan, the Michigan Section of the PGA and the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation as a group called the Michigan Golf Alliance to represent all of the golf industry in Michigan. We take the positive financial and environmental message to legislators to make sure they all know how crucial our industry is to Michigan.

Did you know golf is a 4.2 Billion dollar industry just in our state and generates 52,000 jobs? This type of information is very pertinent when legislators are making decisions that could affect the golf industry. We have been able to make a great impact with this presence every year but we are missing one thing... YOU!

It is a very hard time of year to get away, I know from experience and from helping to plan this event. But please take the time to set the date in stone to come represent your industry and facility in Lansing. The day is very easy, everything is taken care of for you. Where to go who to see and what to talk about as it relates to golf. No there are no pressing issues at this time directly related to golf, but imagine how many there could be if we had not been doing this event for so many years. It is impossible to measure lack of needless legislation that is directed at golf, but our impact can not be overlooked. But we need more people there that day, to represent the entire state. Please come see this day in action, come see what we can do as a group to help each individual on June 9th. More information at

Thursday, March 24, 2016


Do you have a mission statement at your facility or business? Can you recite it right now from memory? If not then I would guess it is not used to make decisions on a daily basis. If it is not a good mission statement then that is probably a good thing, but also a bad thing. If your mission statement is old or was not poured over in a strategic planning meeting then you may be better of not knowing it by heart and letting it help guide your decisions. However if it is good and well thought out it can be one of the most valuable tools in the entire business. I say this not just for us but from so many successful business leaders.

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

I can say that this was a very thought out mission and has evolved with the growth of the chapter. I can also say that I personally run any decision or directive through the "mission filter". If an idea or directive does not succeed in helping us in this mission it will likely not get to the light of day. It helps me on a daily basis make operational decisions for the Board and Membership. It helps the Officers and Board make large decisions to help to continue on an upward path.

The latest addition to our mission is the word promote. We are doing some things this summer to promote our members. The biggest is an entire episode of Michigan Golf Live dedicated to Superintendents and the MiGCSA. The debut of the show is scheduled for the week of Saturday, May 21st. It will air 3 times that week, including Sat/Sun at 9:30 a.m. The second week of airtime is Sept 10th on Fox Sports Detroit. We work hand in hand with media outlets like the Free Press in this article about our winter damage survey. We now have a seat on the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame Board to help to promote the lifelong work of so many of our members like Dr. Joe Vargs who will be inducted this year. A seat with the Michigan golf Alliance to help promote our members to allied golf groups and associations. Before we added the promotion to the mission these ideas and directives may never have come to fruition.

Take a look at your mission at your business or facility and ask if it is part of your decision making process, should it be? Or does it need to change to reflect your current business model? Or can adding one word open up so many opportunities to be more efficient and productive? It is more than just a few words if you allow it to be.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Survey Says!

We just sent out a survey this week on the winter of 2015/16, about which one respondent appropriately responded is not over yet. We had some significant melt off in Michigan this week and thought it would be a good time to see how everyone is doing. Winter damage is a very sensitive subject and everyone wants to know how everyone else is looking. We had a great response of almost 100 Superintendents. The results can be found here.

From the results it looks like we will have a good spring as far as damage over the winter. Of course damage to putting greens and other areas can occur during the volatile spring weather. But the survey indicated that there is a good chance that the majority of properties will come into spring with no damage from ice. Of course there will always be some, but not as widespread as the last two seasons. This is great news for all of our members and their members.

These surveys are usually easy to get out to our membership. If you ever have a question, problem or idea please let us know at or by speaking to the Board Members in your district. We went from questions to answers in one week on this. Time is critical in our industry, so please take advantage of your association and our ability to increase communication to one another and to the public on widespread issues.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Happy New Year

2016 is upon us just like that, it seems to happen faster every year. The course gets closed and conference season begins, and what a great one to start off the year at the Michigan Turfgrass Conference. Another home run by the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation (MTF) and their Conference Committee, Chaired by Amy Fouty. I know it can sometimes be confusing as to who does what around here. That is actually a good thing because it means we are doing things well together. This year was no exception, the lineup was superb, the schedule Tuesday to Thursday was an amazing “why did we not do this before improvement” the organization and flow was flawless. Thank you to Amy, Becky Schooch, MTF Executive Secretary, Gordie LaFontaine, MTF Executive Director, Brian Schweihofer, MTF President, Dr. Kevin Frank and the many, many more who serve on committees and work so hard to produce such a great show.

The winter is also a great time to take stock of your shop and property. One of the hats I wear is the Program Director for the Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program (MTESP) which I started with in 2013. I hope many if not all reading this know we are now a 100% online program. The winter is a great time to sit down in the office and register your facility with the MTESP at The 12 modules are easy to complete and can really help you get a better understanding of your property and how it interacts with the local environment. Where the water goes, where it comes in, how is it impacted by your practices. It is easy and it is free to participate in the modules. Go take a look, it really is a great tool for us here in Michigan.