Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Top 10 reasons to join a professional organization

I recently read a blog post by Jacqueline McClellan, a graphic designer at 4CDesignWorks. Her blog was titled the Top 10 Reasons to Join a Professional Organization. As I read her post, each of her top ten reasons seemed to resonate directly at our industry, and pointed right to the value of our chapters and GCSAA.

In recent times, chapters and GCSAA alike have seen stagnant growth within our associations. The recession took a large portion of our members, many of which haven’t re-joined. As many chapters work to increase their attendance and membership, it made me think that perhaps we need to first ask the question why? Simon Sinek has a great Ted Talk on the subject and it couldn’t be clearer what he is saying. Are we communicating the reasons why we exist to our members and prospective members alike? If not, I believe we can change and start turning the tide.

The most important group to focus on is our up-and-coming members. That means the Class C and Student members. This is the group that will be leading our association in the future and without that solid base, we are sure to see little, if any, growth to look forward to.

So what are the top ten reasons to belong to a professional organization? Here are Jacqueline McClellan’s top ten with my interpretation of her bullets:
  1. Broaden your knowledge: GCSAA offers courses through webinars and at conference and show that keep members up to date with the latest industry trends. Staying ahead of the trends will not only keep you informed of the latest tools, it will help you stay ahead of the competition.
  2. Take charge of your career: GCSAA and local chapters offer a job board on their websites. Taking advantage of this can help you find the right job that you’re looking for.
  3. Build a better resume: GCSAA offers resume assistance to ensure that you have every advantage offered to you when job searching. Also, listing associations that you belong to will show your future employers that you are dedicated to staying connected to the golf industry and current trends.
  4. Enhance your network: Networking is the key to all the movers and shakers in the turf industry. Whether you are serving on a local board, a GCSAA committee or simply meeting fellow superintendents at the Golf Industry Show, you are able to support one and other in achieving your professional goals. Don’t confuse networking with social media. Yes, you broaden your network, but there is nothing like developing a personal relationship outside of your Android/iPhone.
  5. Be a leader: Within GCSAA and your local chapter, there are opportunities to develop your skills as a leader. Simply as serving as a board member or aspiring to run through the chairs of either will strengthen your ability to lead as well as nurture your professional growth.
  6. Become a mentor: I have always said that giving back to an association is the greatest way to realize the benefit of belonging to an association. Participation in webcasts, or forums sponsored by your association is a great way to grow your network. This also gives others a way to reach out to you to grow their own network.
  7. Make a new friend: Jacqueline said it best: Once we graduate from school, we all know how hard it is to get out and meet new people and make a new friend! Use professional networking groups as an opportunity to escape the norm and meet new people that may give you a reason to come out of your shell a bit more and have fun.
  8. Give back to the community: Many local chapters, as well as GCSAA, support local and national charities. Following Hurricane Katrina, thousands of dollars were donated from local chapters and the EIFG to support members that were impacted. It is also a good way to help give back to your local turf programs.
  9. Strength in numbers: That cannot be more evident today as we watch the GCSAA Government Affairs team in action. The Grassroots Ambassador program demonstrates that members can have a direct impact when organized into one voice. GCSAA’s Government Affairs team has made significant impacts in Washington D.C. in protecting the tools that we use to maintain our golf courses.
  10. Stay inspired and stay motivated: We are all in this industry because we have a passion for what we do. Others may not understand why we are so passionate but when they just take one look at the Georgia GCSAA’s promotional video “This is my office,” they may just see why.
These ten points struck a chord for me and I hope they did the same for you. Professional associations are not the thing of the past, we need them more than ever now. In order for associations to continue, we all have to understand why we belong. With that understood, we can easily communicate the value to those peers that haven’t taken that all-important step of membership.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Is becoming a GCSAA Grassroots Ambassador on your to-do list for 2016?

The 2015 season is now officially in the books. Many of you are probably in the middle of budgeting for 2016, I find that this is also prime time to reflect on your personal growth and the goals that you may have set for the year. Whether setting goals with my crew or setting goals with my supervisor, I have always utilized goals to help fulfill my responsibilities – and even guide my career. I would like to take this opportunity to perhaps suggest a goal or two that might push you out of your comfort zone but will allow you to grow professionally.

Undoubtedly, you have probably heard of the GCSAA Grassroots Ambassador program. You may have even toyed with the notion of becoming a Grassroots Ambassador but felt that it would be too much of an undertaking. I want to encourage you to take a second look. So far, the Northwest region has filled 22 of 47 possible positions including the completed states of Alaska and Idaho and with just one each remaining in Montana and Wyoming.

"...you are simply developing a relationship with that person or their staff member and you do that by just telling your story."

The goal of the Grassroots Ambassador program is simple. By the end of the day, GCSAA would like to make sure that each member of congress knows our industry's position on a particular issue across all 50 states. This will be accomplished by matching a GCSAA member with each member of congress, as well as each state senator. GCSAA will support the Grassroots Ambassadors through training and regular communication and offers the opportunity to attend the Grassroots Ambassadors boot camp at the Golf Industry Show.  As an ambassador, you will not only be that person that conveys our position, but you will also serve as the go-to person for that congressman or congresswoman when they have a particular question regarding our industry. In a nutshell, you are simply developing a relationship with that person or their staff member and you do that by just telling your story.

The Northwest has been a hotbed for activists that are trying to take pesticides off the market. Cities such as Durango, Boulder, Portland, Seattle, Spokane and Eugene are just some that are constantly under pressure to outlaw the use of pesticides. If you are a pesticide user in these areas, you are commonly viewed as the enemy.

I know I’m preaching to the choir, but we need to tell our story as to why golf courses are safe for the environment; explain how when used properly, and by the label, pesticides are safe to use. Ken Gorzycki, CGCS of Horseshoe Bay Resort in Texas, said it best, “if we are not at the table then we are going to be on the menu.”

I am including an up-to-date list of the Northwest Grassroots Ambassadors. If you know any of them, please feel free to reach out and thank them for serving your association. If you feel that you are up to taking on a position, please contact me at dphipps@gcsaa.org or contact Kaelyn Seymour directly at kseymour@gcsaa.org . Also, ambassadors receive .25 service points per year for completing their 2 member touches per year, and .50 education point per year for completing 50% of the events on the engagement calendar.

Let’s take this bull by the horns and speak up for our industry!

Congressional District
Member of Congress

Don Edwin Young
John Krull
Senator Murkowski

Amos Stephens
Senator Sullivan

Marty Bauman


Diana DeGette

Jared Polis

Scott Tipton

Kenneth Buck

Doug Lamborn

Mike Coffman

Ed Perlmutter

Senator Bennett

Senator Gardney

Zach Bauer


Raul Labrado
Eric McCormick
Mike Simpson
Adam Bagwell, CGCS
Senator Crapo

Kevin Hicks
Senator Risch

Gerald Flaherty, CGCS


Ryan Zinke
Dan Rootes
Senator Tester

Senator Daines

Dane Gamble


Suzanne Bonamici
Mike Turner, CGCS
Greg Walden
Richard Jensen
Earl Blumenauer

Peter DeFazio
Chris Gaughan, CGCS
Kurt Schrader
Brian Koffler
Senator Wyden

Chuck Wolsborn
Senator Merkley


Rob Bishop
Thomas Rhoades
Chris Steward

Jason Chaffetz

Mia Love
T.A. Barker, Jr
Senator Hatch

Senator Lee


Suzan DelBene

Rick Larsen
Jacob Close
Jaime Herrera Beutler

Daniel Newhouse
Bo Lacy, CGCS
Cathy McMorris Ridger

Derek Kilmer

Jim McDermott

Dave Reichert
Marcus Harness
Adam Smith

Denny Heck
Tony Bubenas, CGCS
Senator Murray

Scott Phelps, CGCS
Senator Cantwell


Cynthia Lummis
Jeffrey Jensen
Senator Enzi

Dwayne Dillinger, CGCS
Senator Barrasso

Jason Busch

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Size doesn't matter

Earlier last month, Marty Baumann, superintendent at Anchorage Golf Club, called me to ask a favor. He said that there was a young man from his club, Ian Bruchhauser, who qualified for the Regional Drive, Chip and Putt contest at Chambers Bay on September 12. The community and the golf club rallied together and raised enough money for Ian to travel to Tacoma, Washington, to compete. Marty asked if I could contact the golf course management staff at Chambers Bay to see if Ian could get a round of golf while he was there. Marty explained that Ian is from a single-parent home and golf is the world to this kid. At age 11, he has already managed to score par at Anchorage Golf Course and being able to play at the U.S. Open venue would be a dream come true. I reached out and as I expected, Josh Lewis came through and delivered.

Marty called me recently to report on Ian's trip. When Ian arrived with a set of junior golf clubs, he was instantly a target for teasing from some of the other contestants.  A Ping representative was made aware of Ian’s need for clubs and the rep arranged for Ian to be fit by the Ping Tour Fitter! To top that off, Ian caught the attention of a couple college scouts that were there as well.

But, the scouts were not the only ones left with a good impression from Bruchhauser. Ian’s playing partner for the day had a caddy. The caddy was so impressed with Ian’s play that he asked his name and said he'll be watching for him on the tour. Following his round on the course, the bus driver also took him over to the pro shop and purchased a divot tool for Ian. The driver said that Ian was very talented and he wanted to do something special for him.

Ian Bruchhauser (right) placed 3rd overall in the 12- to 13-year-old division
The teasing turned out to have no effect on Ian’s performance. Ian placed 3rd overall in the 12- to 13-year-old division, missing second by only a stroke. What is remarkable is how well he competed for his size. You see, Ian is barely four feet tall. The only reason he didn’t get first was because he was outdriven in distance. He actually beat the first place finisher in the chip and putt portions of the contest. What Ian lacks in size, he more than makes up for in heart and talent. 

Every once in a while there is a small kid that stands out like a Tiger, a Bubba or a Jordan. Perhaps we are seeing one of our next generation's star in the making. Oh, and by the way, he finished his round at Chambers Bay at even bogey. That’s not too shabby.