Monday, June 9, 2014

May In the South Central region

May in the South Central region is always busy for members, from both an agronomic and a tournament-season standpoint. In an effort to keep members informed of my activities as your field staff representative, I've included some of the highlights from last month.

The spring of 2014 has been challenging for many members in the South Central region. A very slow winter recovery for bermudagrass has been experienced due to a harsh winter that included extreme temperatures, winter storms and extended periods of ice and snow cover. Spring temperatures have been relatively low, resulting in slow winter recovery at many courses, most notably on putting surfaces. One member in the Houston area reported that the thermometer didn't reach 90 degrees in May, something that hasn't happened since 1969. Ultradwarf bermudagrass has been hit hard in Northern Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Slow recovery has been experienced as far south as Houston and San Antonio.

In response to these conditions, Ron Wright, Southeast field representative, and I composed a letter relating our experiences and observations during our travel in our regions. The letter was targeted to golfers, employers and club officials to explain the widespread damage that occurred and to encourage support and patience for superintendents as they manage recovery.

We encourage members who are experiencing issues to share this letter by posting it in locker rooms and proshops, republishing it in newsletters, and posting it on websites and social media. We hope the information is useful, and we look forward to assisting our members in the future.

In May, the South Central region wraps up a very busy professional tournament season that includes four PGA events, one LPGA event and a Senior Tour event. Despite a difficult season, GCSAA members have provided some of the best playing conditions found on any of the professional tours. Several GCSAA members have served as volunteers at each of these events. This summer the region will host the US Senior Open in Edmond, Okla., and the LPGA Walmart Championship in Rogers, Ark.

The Texas Golf Economic and Environmental Impact Study has been completed and is due to be published in the near future. Several South Central members were instrumental in providing information and data for this report, which will
include extensive data regarding water use on Texas golf courses as well as several other environmental topics.

The report will demonstrate that Texas’s $4.2 billion golf industry (direct impact) generated a total economic impact of $6.2 billion in 2012, supporting over 80,000 jobs with wage income of $2 billion. These figures represent a significant increase in the economic direct impact from the study conducted in 2006. The full report will be published and available from the Texas Golf Association.

Outreach Activities

North Texas GCSA Chapter Event – Pro/Superintendent, Lantana, Texas
This is the second year for the chapter to host this tournament format, which is successful in bringing superintendents and golf professionals together for a day of camaraderie.  Approximately 15 golf courses were represented by teams, including the courses superintendent and golf professional. During the event, I rode the golf course with the chapter’s media manager, taking photos and interacting with tournament participants. This activity was very beneficial, providing the opportunity to meet with chapter members as well as golf professionals from around the DFW area.

South Texas GCSA Scholarship Tournament – High Meadows Ranch, Texas
This event is extremely well attended with more than100 members participating in the golf tournament and fundraising activities. The members of this chapter raised more than $24,000 in an auction that included course maintenance supplies and services, as well as hunting and sports packages.

This successful auction will fund very generous turf and legacy scholarships for the chapter. Every item in the auction was sold at a price close to retail value or greater, as chapter members enthusiastically participated. Each of the auction items were donated by affiliate members. Following the auction, meeting participants enjoyed a very well-conditioned golf course.

LPGA North Texas Shootout – Las Colinas Country Club, Irving, Texas

On Friday, May 2, I volunteered to work on the maintenance staff for superintendent Rob Wiggins. This is the second year for the event to be held at this venue and enthusiasm and support have grown in the DFW Metroplex. Las Colinas is a Club Corporation Management Company course, and I worked with CCA regional superintendent, Charlie Trammell. The company does a good job utilizing equipment and labor resources from their neighboring properties in DFW. Several courses had representation on the course maintenance staff. The golf course received very good reviews from the golf media and LPGA players and staff.

Lone Star GCSA Board of Directors Meeting – Horseshoe Bay, Texas
I participated in the Lone Star GCSA Board of Directors meeting on the morning of May 5. The meeting focused on the upcoming Texas Trophy event and the newly released Water Conservation BMP and plans to promote usage among LS members across the state. I have offered to help the chapter by communicating with chapters and individual members regarding the document.

Lone Star GCSA Texas Cup – Horseshoe Bay, Texas
On Monday, May 5, I participated in the Lone Star GCSA Texas Cup. This one-day event brings chapter leaders together from around the entire state. Approximately 90 members participated in this great day of golf and camaraderie. The event is also heavily supported by affiliate members with participation and funds. During the golf tournament, I was paired with LSGCSA Vice President Terry Gill and discussed current issues and challenges with the chapter.

Member Outreach – Joe Todaro, Texas State Technical College
During a return trip through Central Texas, I met with the department head of the golf course and landscape management program in Waco, Texas. Joe has done a good job recruiting new students and growing enthusiasm for the program. Joe also serves as an affiliate board member for the Central Texas GCSA. During our visit, we discussed the chapter’s membership and participation, and the 2015 GCSAA Conference and GIS in San Antonio. The chapter and the college are exploring ways to promote participation by all members at the conference.

Oklahoma GCSA Chapter Event – McAlester, Okla.  
On Monday, May 12, I attended an Oklahoma GCSA chapter event at McAlester Country Club. Despite threatening weather, the event had good participation with about 30 OKGCSA members. The event included limited announcements but lots of interaction time prior to and during lunch. Unfortunately, severe weather hit McAlester very hard during the golf portion of the event, sending members scrambling home to safety.

Texas AgriLife Water Expo – Dallas, Texas
On Friday, May 16, I attended a Texas AgriLife Water Expo at the AgriLife Extension Research Center in Dallas. The program included excellent information on the latest innovations and technology addressing water conservation. The event was geared to professional landscapers, field managers and golf superintendents. The most impressive information was related to the drought-tolerant turf cultivar research that is being conducted at several sites in the southern U.S. Several bermudagrass, paspalum and zoysia cultivars have performed very well under drought and severe winter conditions and have very good potential for golf course use in the future. The event also included a moderate trade show and educational sessions.

Lone Star Sports Turf Managers Association Chapter Event – Frisco, Texas
On Thursday, May 22, I attended the Lone Star Sports Turf Managers
Association regional event held at Toyota Field, home of the FC Dallas soccer team. I participated at the invitation of event host and STMA director Allen Reed. During the event I met many sports turf managers and discussed common issues related to agronomic conditions, labor, water issues/shortages, and other issues. I spoke with chapter president Rusty Walker regarding the possibility of the organization working with the superintendent chapters to conduct events that would provide common education topics and continuing education credits. Many affiliate members at the meeting commented that they would support events that included superintendents, sports turf managers and support staff.

Colonial PGA Event Volunteer – Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, Texas
During the week of the Colonial PGA event in Fort Worth, I served on the tournament volunteer staff each morning. I have served in this capacity for several years and use the opportunity to interact with Colonial staff members, several GCSAA members who volunteer, and many student members who work internships during the tournament. Scott Ebers and the entire CCC staff were praised for course conditions during the entire week. I was able to provide updates and news regarding the course and maintenance staff activities via social media.

Member Outreach – Stephen Tucker, CEO - International Golf Course Equipment Managers Association
On Thursday, May 29, I had lunch with Stephen Tucker, equipment manager at Las Colinas Four Seasons and CEO of the IGCEMA. Stephen is very passionate about the association he founded and gave me a very good understanding of its mission. Our conversation focused on how chapters could include and attract equipment technicians by providing membership classifications and technician education. Stephen provided a summary of the very successful event that he helped coordinate in St. Louis recently. I believe this format would be a good model for chapters in the SC region and could create a much-needed infusion of membership and enthusiasm for these organizations.

June 2014 – Activity Schedule

June 2: North Texas GCSA Chapter Event – Prosper, Texas
June 5: Tarrant Regional Water District – Meeting with Water Conservation Managers
June 10: Texas Gulf Coast SA Chapter Event – Victoria, Texas
June 11: Member Outreach - South Texas GCSA
June 17: Central Texas GCSA Chapter Event – Horseshoe Bay, Texas
June 18: Member Outreach - Central Texas GCSA
June 24: South Texas GCSA Chapter Event – Houston, Texas
June 26: Texas Alliance of Recreational Organizations Board of Directors Meeting
June 27-29: LPGA Event Volunteer – Rogers, Ark.