Thursday, March 26, 2015

So what's a Bully Cup?

I have talked about my relationship with the North Texas GCSA in this blog. I guess we all have a "home" chapter near and dear to our hearts – one that we started with early in our careers. My best guess is that I first attended a North Texas GCSA event around 1986 as an assistant superintendent at the Northwood Club in Dallas, Texas. Fortunately for me, I worked for a mentor who saw the value in getting his assistants involved with the local chapter and who served on the board of directors as a volunteer leader. Thank you, Mike Allen.

As the South Central field representative for GCSAA, it can be hard to keep up with local events, but there is one North Texas chapter event that is circled bright red on my calendar every spring. Next week, on March 31 at Ridglea Country Club, members of the North Texas GCSA will compete in a long-standing tradition known as the "Bully Cup." It is a friendly competition between members of the east side of the chapter territory against the west side. Most people think of it as Dallas vs. Fort Worth, but really it includes members from all parts of the vast North Texas GCSA area.

As an "old timer" with the chapter, I am often asked (actually I usually have to bring it up) how did the chapter come up with the name Bully Cup? I wish there was a prestigious and sentimental tribute I could tell, but actually it started like a lot of good Tall Texas Tales – golf, great friends and the pursuit of fun.

The actual tournament started in 1997 with a friendly match between members from the west side of DFW hosting the east siders at Pecan Valley Golf Club. Back then, it was very cleverly called the NTGCSA Ryder Cup. No one got hurt so the annual event continued at Twin Creeks GC, then at Shady Valley CC, then in 2000 at Sky Creek Ranch Golf Club in Keller. It was still called the DFW Ryder Cup that year, but a series of events on the course were the genesis of the Bully Cup, a.k.a the Battle for Bully. Fitting that the tale started at the course of one of NTGCSA’s legendary members, Stephen Best.

Basically, each Bully Cup match pits two members from the west against two from the east in individual and team matches. The format is purposely complicated so confusion and corruption are typically the overriding theme each year. That year, I was paired with one of my oldest friends and another NTGCSA legend, Dan Wegand.

About 10 holes into the match, we realized that the other side was actually keeping score, and we were in a lot of trouble. Our worthy opponents included a young buck we had really never heard of: Jay Stine. Mr. Stine, as we know him today, has turned out to be a big part of Bully Cup history himself over the years. After a few more holes, we knew these whippersnappers weren’t going to show their elders due respect. We stood on the 15th tee, 4 down with 4 to play.

I wouldn’t really call Dan’s tee shot a shank, but it was further right than a Rush Limbaugh rant. Since my tee shot was resting comfortably in a watery grave on the other side of the world, we had to find it in the Sky Creek National Forest or the match would be over. We imposed the elder’s five-minute search extension rule and finally found it (or one similar to it) at least 50 yards from the fairway in the deep woods with absolutely no shot. Upon further review, we noticed that the ball was actually resting against a small mammal bone. Dan immediately claimed to be a rules expert and lectured Buck and Wild that not only could we remove the bone, but we were allowed to move it a club length or two to get at least a fighting chance. They were so bored at this point, they shrugged it off and said "whatever."

Before Dan addressed the ball for the next shot I reached down and unceremoniously picked up the bone, waving it over his ball for good luck. Dan’s handicap was about a 12 at that time, but the shot he hit would have made even the 2000 version of Tiger Woods proud. It would make the 2015 Tiger believe he could make a cut again someday. He actually got it back to the fairway and within a hundred yards of the green. Next shot was another masterpiece that gave him a gimmie and a very fancy par. By the time we met back with our opponents on the green we had figured out that the bone was pure magic, and we waved it over every shot we hit for the rest of the round like a couple of genies. You guessed it: 3 down with 3 to play, 2 down with 2 to play, 1 down with 1 to play, yahtzee!!

To say we railroaded those boys wouldn’t be fair to trains. The west won the matches that day thanks to our half. We’ve told our story so many times that we finally have a version most people believe.

So where does Bully come in? Of course, the bone immediately became the symbol for prosperity and good fortune for all North Texas GCSA members. It was decided that day that the bone would be the prize for the winning team for the annual matches, and a very prominent DFW artist was commissioned to design and build a fitting trophy to showcase the award. He vehemently declined so the chapter was stuck with whatever nonsense I came up with and the result was the now famous Bully, who stands guard over the very bone that was used that day in 2000 to rescue some lost westsiders.

The more observant of you will realize that Bully is a Boxer. We've been notified about that by the American Kennel Club and lawsuits are pending. That may be why he's always in a bad mood. He is softening some and even has a twitter account @ntgcsabully. Rumor has it he will be live tweeting next week. . .

So, Bully still stands over the bone, and North Texas GCSA members will battle in 2015 at Bully Cup XIX to see who gets to take him home and enjoy the well-deserved accolades and rewards. And now you know about as much about the truth as anyone can remember.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

Did you hear the one about the Texan who didn’t like to brag about how proud he was of his state or people? Nah, you haven’t. It’s part of the DNA of native Texans and even those of us who became Texans “by the grace of God.” So, in true Texas style, I want to tell you how proud I am of my fellow Texans and my state for hosting the 2015 GCSAA Education Conference, GIS and Golf Championships in San Antonio. You may not be partial to our football, politics or style, but you gotta admit, we put on a pretty good rodeo.

I’m proud of the host chapters and their members: the Central Texas GCSA and the Lone Star GCSA. I know they took their role very seriously and wanted to be hospitable. They planned for months to make sure their members knew it was important. Many of them dressed in true Texas style so visitors would know who they could ask for directions, restaurant recommendations or just to visit a little. They delivered in a big way. The Lone Star Reception at Pat Obrien’s near the Alamo was one heck of a party. It has definitely turned in to one of the “can’t-miss” events of every conference. If you can’t have fun at a LSGCSA event, you just ain’t tryin.

"Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called 'walking.'"  George W. Bush

I’m proud of Ken Gorzycki, CGCS; Terry Gill, president of the LSGCSA; and Thomas Speakman, president of the CTGCSA, for the welcoming message they presented at the Opening Session.

It took a lot of guts to
volunteer to be a part of the program and they knocked it out of the park. Ken delivered a message that included a heartfelt welcome, some stirring Texas history and even a lesson about Texas fairy tales that none will soon forget. His joke was pretty funny, but it was also a nice tribute to a great Texan who used that joke regularly whenever he spoke – Mr. Robert Dedman. Mr. Dedman is best known in the Texas golf business as the Founder and past Chairman of Clubcorp a company that owns and operates more than 200 golf and country clubs across the US.

I’m proud of the many Texas companies who supported the GIS with their sponsorship dollars and trade show support. Way too many to name but it was great to see even some of the smaller companies stepping up to be a part of the show. I’m sure they had to be happy with the opportunity they had to connect with their Texas customers as well as those from around the world.

Proud of the Texas weather. In true Texas form, we had all four seasons in one week. Hopefully it made visitors feel at home as they got to experience a slice of their home weather while on the road.

I’m proud of the superintendents and their amazing staffs who hosted rounds of the Golf Championship. I have the privilege of being part of the GCSAA staff who works the tournament, and I can tell you participants were very impressed with the golf courses conditions all week. My position this year was course coordinator for the Canyons Course at TPC San Antonio. Tom Lively, CGCS, and his staff went way beyond the call of duty to deliver a great golf course and to make every step of the process of hosting the tournament seamless. I heard the same comments about all the hosts – Thank you Mark Semm at Cordillera Ranch, Bruce Burger at the Quarry, and Dustin Strickland at The Palmer Course at La Cantera.  Please let your staffs know how much we appreciate their hard work and dedication to the event!

“If you’ve ever driven across Texas, you know how different one area of the state can be from another. Take El Paso. It looks as much like Dallas as I look like Jack Nicklaus.”  Lee Trevino

Congratulations to Old Tom Morris Award Winner and Texan Dan
Jenkins. As a lifelong fan of his writing and a Fort Worth boy, it was a huge thrill to see him humbly accept the award. When I was a superintendent in a previous life, our club hosted a tournament hosted by Mr. Jenkins and I can tell you he is a huge advocate of superintendents and a big fan of their work.

Proud of native Texan Keith Ihms, CGCS, who completed an amazing year as president of the GCSAA. I know fellow Texans feel the same way about Keith and sincerely appreciate his commitment to the profession, the association and the industry. Also very proud of Fighting Texas Aggie Classmate of 1985, Johnny Walker, who ran an outstanding campaign for a GCSAA board of directors position.

And how about a Texan winning the National Golf Championship? Congratulations Matt Cowan for an incredible 1-under at Cordillera
Ranch in cold blustery conditions. Lots of Texans placed high in their flights and took home coveted pewter plates.

I’m proud of the folks in San Antonio. Can’t tell you how many times visiting members told me that it really felt like San Antonio wanted us there and the people were genuinely courteous and friendly. I got a kick out of that because they were just doing what comes naturally and acting like you’re “spose to.” I sure know the food didn’t disappoint. The Riverwalk was packed every night with members enjoying the fine Texas cuisine, including Tex-Mex, BBQ, or anything else their taste buds desired.

Proud of the student chapters from around the state that showed up to network and participate in education sessions. Several participated in the Turf Bowl and had good showings. Maybe if the test included a section on calf roping or reading defenses, they would do a little better – sorry couldn’t resist.

Proud of the many San Antonio superintendents that I know of who hosted their colleagues for educational events or even just for a getaway round of golf or a tour of their course. In particular, thanks to Brian Wollard at historic Brackenridge Golf Course who hosted the First Green field trip. Craig Felton of Oak Hills Country Club, who was also instrumental in coordinating the field trip. Daniel McCann at San Antonio Country Club hosted a couple educational events, and I know Bruce Burger at the Quarry had several visitors during the conference. Way to roll out the red carpet guys.

"I'm from Texas, and one of the reasons I like Texas is because there's no one in control." Willie Nelson

The numbers are still rolling in, but I’m very proud of the outstanding attendance by Texas members. They put their money where their mouths are and supported the conference in their own back yard. I know several members who brought their assistants, club officials, golf professionals and even key crew members. This wasn’t limited to Texans – all of the states in the region that I work in participated in mass, including Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arkansas. It’s important for members in a region to support the conference when it is a “home game,” and y’all walked the walk.

I sure hope visitors to the conference got to experience first-hand some of the things I've rambled on about like a true Texan. If you didn't get to attend, I hope it gets you fired up for the next time the show comes our way. Y’all come back now, ya here?