Monday, December 5, 2016

November in the South Central region

Warmer than normal temperatures were prevalent in November throughout the South Central region. The unusual weather extended the growing season a bit longer than normal but other than that did not cause any significant agronomic challenges to our members. The Thanksgiving holiday gave a much-needed break for members in the region who survived another testing growing season. My month was highlighted by a busy travel schedule as well as extensive member contact.

Two South Central Region members awarded Melrose Leadership Academy scholarships and will be attending the 2017 Golf Industry Show in Orlando! Congratulations to Jeff Hansen from Squaw Valley Golf Course in Glen Rose, Tex. and Dade Wilson from Chenal Country Club in Little Rock, Ark. These two, along with 16 other superintendents, received this opportunity as part of the Melrose Leadership Academy program, which supports the professional development of GCSAA member superintendents. It is administered through the Environmental Institute for Golf (EIFG), the philanthropic organization of the GCSAA. The program was established in 2012 by Ken Melrose, retired CEO and chairman of the board of The Toro Co., and is supported by a $1 million gift to the EIFG from the Kendrick B. Melrose Family Foundation.  I have been in contact with both Jeff and Dade and they are both super excited about the opportunity and the chance to network with their peers in Orlando!

Two new Grassroots Ambassadors in the South Central region! I'm very happy to report that Jake Snyman from Central Texas and Kevin Girt from far south Texas have agreed to serve as ambassadors for their districts and will be a part of the winter 2017 class. These two members are very engaged and will be great additions to the ambassador roles. If you have thought about becoming involved, now is a great time to make the plunge!

Outreach activites

North Texas GCSA Board of Directors Meeting, Euless, Texas

On November 2, I attended the North Texas GCSA Board of Directors meeting to talk about a special event called “Earth Day Texas” being held in Dallas, Texas on April 21-23, 2017. The organizers of this event have expressed an interest in having the GCSAA and the local chapter involved along with many other organizations from the world of golf. The board was very positive about the event and feel that it would be a great opportunity for the chapter to become involved in a community-wide effort. It will be a great opportunity to display the great work that superintendents in the North Texas area do regarding environmental protection, water conservation, wildlife habitat, and the responsible use of fertilizer and pesticides. The chapter is identifying a committee and I will work closely with them to set up and organize the event. We are also going to try to coordinate participation from members of the Lone Star Golf Course Superintendents Association and the Texas Turfgrass Association. I'm very excited about this opportunity and feel that the chapter is committed to doing a really good job. More to come as the event draws near in 2017.

Central Texas GCSA Annual Meeting, Kyle, Texas

On Monday, November 7, I attended the Central Texas GCSA Annual Meeting held at Plum Creek Golf Club in Buda, Tex. The event included a great educational format provided by the Winfield Academy. I have attended several events this year that has included education provided by Winfield. They are providing a great service to chapters and have brought in headline speakers from around the country. This event included Dr. Thom Nikolai of Michigan State, Carmen Magro of Agronomy Management Solutions as well as a former Texas Department of Agriculture employee who spoke on laws and regulations.

The chapter elected Jared Heine as the 2017 President. This was a special moment for the Heine family as Jared's father Ricky has served as president of the chapter in the past. Matt Cowan from Barton Creek will serve as the vice president and Craig Felton will serve as secretary/treasurer.

Arkansas GCSA Chapter Event, Little Rock, Arkansas

On November 9, I attended the GCSA of Arkansas chapter event at Bass Pro Shops in Little Rock, Ark. This event was held on the morning after the presidential election so members were excited to hear about something other than politics! About 30 members attended the event which included an educational program provided by one of the chapter’s Platinum Sponsors, Ameriturf. Dale Miller of that company gave a very good talk on foliar nutrition and soil chemistry. Members in Arkansas are ready for a little bit of a breather over the offseason after a tough summer.

North Texas GCSA Scholarship Tournament, Dallas, Texas

On November 14, I attended the North Texas GCSA Scholarship fundraising tournament at Dallas Athletic Club. This event is a perennial sellout and raises money each year to fund Legacy scholarships for the children of NTGCSA members. Sponsorship is always very strong as vendors of the association provide support to make it a very special experience for participants. Many superintendents brought club officials, golf professionals, and guests from their courses. It is a great opportunity to display the great work being done by the chapter. At the event, I was privileged to play with good friends Jorge Croda and Chuck McCaskill, former North Texas chapter president. We had a great day on the golf course for a very worthy cause. It was estimated that close to $15,000 was raised for their scholarship fund and about $500 was also raised on a betting hole for the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital.  

Texas Gulf Coast Superintendents Association Annual Meeting, Victoria, Texas

Following the North Texas event in Dallas, I made an across state trek to far south Texas to participate in the Texas Gulf Coast Superintendents Association Annual Meeting on November 15. The event was held at historic Victoria Country Club and hosted by former chapter president Andy Andress. It was well attended by about 40 members. The day started with a golf tournament and I was privileged to be paired in the same group as incoming president Kevin Girt.  Kevin is excited about being president in 2017 and has said that he has set a goal to grow membership. We talked extensively of how this could be coupled with what GCSAA will be doing as far as membership growth during the year. 

During the annual meeting, Kevin Girt was named the 2017 president. He was also awarded the 2016 superintendent of the year, a very prestigious award for this chapter. The chapter also awarded “players of the year awards” for vendors and superintendents. This chapter does a good job of promoting and honoring their members through their award program. 

Texas A&M Research Facility Construction Site

I took the opportunity while traveling through Central Texas, to visit the construction site of the
Texas A&M Turfgrass research facility. The project is near completion and could possibly be open before the end of 2016. While there, I met with the farm manager who gave me a complete tour of the site. The research program has been utilizing the acreage on the site for turf research. The new facility will include offices, a shop and equipment storage and a classroom. Scotts Miracle-Gro has been a major sponsor of this project and has provided funds to build a state-of-the-art facility that will rival all research programs in the country I look forward to attending the grand opening which will be held in early 2017.

Oklahoma Turfgrass Research Foundation Conference, Stillwater, Oklahoma

On November 29 and 30, I attended the Oklahoma Turfgrass Research Foundation’s Annual Education Conference and Trade Show. Shelia Finney, GCSAA senior director of member programs, also attended this event as part of her effort to work with field staff at high-profile events within their region. This event is well attended by more than 200 attendees as it provides outstanding education, and active trade show, and many networking opportunities. On the first day of the conference, Shelia and I were given the opportunity to address the conference attendees in the golf education session. Shelia did a great job of explaining her new role with GCSAA and providing her background. She discussed her passion for serving members and made it clear that she was available to all members. She encouraged members and the Oklahoma chapter to become engaged and to help grow membership for the good of the overall industry. I also made a presentation with Brad Joliff, the chapter’s delegate and gave a review of the recent chapter delegates meeting.

Following our talk at the golf session, we addressed the equipment managers’ education session and gave a short explanation of the benefits of GCSAA membership. Many of the attendees were enthusiastic about this opportunity and we provided membership applications to those who were interested. By the end of the conference, we had 9 new equipment managers. Welcome to the association!  

We also staffed a trade show booth at the conference and had very good activity with members and non-members regarding GCSAA programs and services. During the two days, we probably talked with close to 100 individuals who stopped by the booth for information. Overall it was a very good experience for me as a field representative to spend time with Ms. Finney and learn more about her goals and objectives. I'm excited to be a part of the initiatives and look forward to great things to come. 

Oklahoma GCSA Chapter Social Event, Stillwater, Oklahoma

While in Stillwater, I also attended the Oklahoma GCSA chapter social event held at a restaurant near the Oklahoma State University campus. It was a fun event and close to 80 members attended. It was a good, informal way of networking with members, and no trip to Stillwater is complete without a visit to Eskimo Joes!

December travel schedule

On December 5, I will attend the Central Texas GCSA Annual Toy Drive tournament being held at the University of Texas Golf Club in Austin. This is a terrific event where attendees are required to bring an unwrapped toy that will be donated to a local hospital or charity. I've heard they've already sold out so that means more than 120 toys! Wow! As a Texas Aggie, I'll have to be on my best behavior being on our biggest rival’s home turf. Looking forward to a great day but you won't catch me wearing burnt orange!

On December 6, I will attend the North Texas GCSA Crew Championship and Assistant Championship held at Bridlewood Golf Club in Flower Mound, Tex. This event has been going on for a long time in this chapter and it brings out crew members from courses all around DFW. I've heard there are well over a hundred signed up so far but I bet if you call the office you could still get your crew signed up to enjoy the great day. I love going to this event and interacting with the hard-working folks that make our members look great. Jay Tinsley and his hard working crew will have the course in excellent condition, I am sure.

The following week, I will be attending an event that I have been privileged to attend for more than 30 years. The Texas Turfgrass Association conference will be held December 12-15 at the Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio. This event is always the highlight of the year for all types of turfgrass managers from around the state. There will be cutting-edge education, a terrific trade show and lots of social events for networking and developing new friendships. Bruce Burger will host the golf tournament at The Quarry Golf Club on Monday, December 11. I know the tournament committee has worked hard to make the tournament a can’t miss event so plan on attending for a little winter golf. Visit for more information regarding the entire event and I hope to see you in San Antonio. Seeing the Riverwalk lit up for Christmas and enjoying all of the great restaurants is absolutely worth the trip.

December will be a busy month with lots of other end-of-the-year activities. I'm also looking forward to taking a little time off to spend with my family and I hope you are too. The Clouds had a very special new addition this year, our first grandson Abram Joshua Cloud and I don't know who's more excited about Santa coming this year! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!