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.

" 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 or contact Kaelyn Seymour directly at . 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.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

An inside look at the Bandon Dunes Resort

When the director of agronomy at Bandon Dunes, Ken Nice, heard I was coming down for my first official visit as a GCSAA field staff representative, the first thing he did was invite me to attend their weekly agronomy meeting. I felt very fortunate to be able to sit in on a staff meeting at one of our nation’s premier golf resorts and to get a peek of what goes on behind the scenes. What I experienced was nothing like I had ever expected. As soon as I got out of my car, I was greeted by Jeff (Big Bird) Southerland, superintendent at the Pacific Dunes course. (I had taken his parking place and he was curious who was sitting in the car.) He invited me into his office, giving us a chance to catch up. Soon, Bandon Dunes superintendent Jeff Wilson walked by and stuck his head in and welcomed me to the property. From the moment that I walked in, I felt completely comfortable and welcomed, like VIP.

The Bandon Dunes Agronomy Meeting
Once everyone was present, the meeting began and I sat back and watched the dialogue unfold. As each team member went over their schedule for the week and their respective equipment needs, I was taken by how well everyone was communicating and felt that each superintendent/manager’s report was a top priority by all. Near the end of the meeting, Ken gave me the opportunity to provide an update, which was unexpected, but I was grateful. 

Ken Nice and Jim Seeley
Later, Ken took me over to meet with Jim Seeley at the Wild Rivers Coast Alliance. The WRCA is Mike Keiser’s philanthropic arm of the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. The WRCA is committed to supporting communities along the South Coast of Oregon. Then, he took me over to a place that very few probably know exist. Mr. Keiser had a labyrinth made to honor his past friend and business partner, Howard McKee. The labyrinth signified Howards’ journey which contributed to the vision and experience that is the Bandon Dunes Resort.

Ken addresses the Golfweek Raters
Finally, we stopped by the methiozolin plots that were located at the practice facility. While observing the plots, Bradley Klein from Golfweek Magazine drove up and asked Ken if he would say a few words to his group of raters that were breaking for lunch while playing at the resort. Ken and I had just spent some time with Bradley up at the U.S. Open in Tacoma, so Bradley asked Ken if he would give his insight on the putting surfaces at Chambers Bay. Ken’s talk to the group primarily focused on the types of grass that they will be putting on at the resort. Ken explained the recent transition to Poa annua on the Bandon Dunes and the Pacific Dunes courses from the traditional fescue/colonial mix. They had continued to try to fight the Poa but the customer ratings for Pacific just continued to drop. Once Bandon and Pacific reached that certain threshold, they made the decision to lower the HOC and increase the level of nitrogen applied just a bit to encourage the conversion. Within a year the greens had established themselves and the customer ratings climbed back on top.

To defend the putting surfaces at Chambers Bay, Ken explained the greens and compared them to the greens on the Trails course, which is relatively the same age. Ask any superintendent that has grown a new golf course west of the Cascades, they can tell you that that the eight to ten year mark is an ugly phase where many of the annual biotypes have established and the transition is inevitable. That just happens to be where Chambers Bay is in its life cycle. Whether Eric Johnson and Josh Lewis decide to transition to Poa, that will be up to them, but Ken explained that they may take heed from the success he and his staff has had at the Bandon Dunes Resort. I can attest that the greens at Pacific were as good as greens can get and rolled beautifully. I must also note that the greens at Old MacDonald are still pure fine fescue and there are no plans on converting them soon.

After spending the day with Ken and watching his interactions with his staff and the customers, I began to really appreciate his manner of management. Ken and I spoke a lot on styles of management, and he explained how he was mentored by Jim Seeley, who prior to running the Wild Rivers Coast Alliance, was the executive vice president of operations for Kemper Sports for over 17 years. Jim is also a Life Member of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America and played in a number of PGA Tour events including two major championships, the PGA and the British Open. Ken had always respected Jim’s style of management and learned that he too could benefit from Jim’s style.

If I were to define Ken’s management style it would be a bottom-up style of management.  Bottom-up is a style where management seeks to develop ideas using the brainpower of your entire staff, as the manager you still determine the overall goals for your staff along with the dates you'd like to see these goals accomplished, but your employees of all levels assist in developing the mechanisms to reach those goals. This is a model that works extremely well in our industry and Ken was accomplishing it perfectly. Ken is highly respected by his staff, and it shows in every aspect of his operation. From the moment I walked onto the property, there was a sense of success and pride in each of his staff members and I can attribute that to the general atmosphere that Ken creates as the director of agronomy.

To top off my trip, Ken invited me to join himself, Tom Jefferson, CGCS, and Jeff Southerland for a round at Pacific Dunes. He set up four Evans Scholarship candidates to loop for us, which was a wonderful experience. A fitting end to a great visit at a wonderful facility.