During the past 30 years, many USGA regional conferences have been attended and organized in the western United States. Occasionally, we are asked to speak in other regions of the country with the latest being a swing of three conferences in Florida. While the presentations were all excellent, one of the most exciting aspects of the meetings was the audience. Many of the superintendents attending brought with them their Green/Golf Committee, Board of Directors, general manager and golf professional. How did they accomplish this? Perhaps it was the name - Green Committee University.
The concept of Green Committee University comes from the Florida Region – John Foy, director; Todd Lowe, agronomist; and Shelly Foy, administrative assistant. The entire program ran from 8:30 a.m. to noon and consisted of presentations from Todd, John, Southeast Regional Affairs director Kathy Gordon and yours truly. However, as noted with the name of the conference, this was not a scientific convention for superintendents with a little rules of golf education on the side. Instead, the Florida contingent put together a program aimed directly at golfers. More specifically, a program aimed at the key decision makers of private, public and resort golf courses. This drew nearly 250 attendees to the three conferences with only 20 to 25 percent of the audience being golf course superintendents.
Topics included the following:
- green speed
- comparing golf courses and the dangers of this practice
- cost savings versus cost cutting in a tough economy
- pace of play
- golf course etiquette
- common complaints from players and management responses
- fundamental required programs for golf facilities in Florida.
What was the reaction from those in attendance? Based on surveys taken at each site the information was very well received. These programs are a perfect example of a good plan and organization coming together for the betterment of the entire golf industry.
So what is going on in the Northwest Region in this regard? The Denver area regional conference was completed March 20 and included similar topics and a good cross section of attendees. Next on our agenda will be the Golf Alliance of Washington meeting which will be conducted March 26 at the Environmental Services building at Chambers Bay. This program is also golfer oriented with five organizations (USGA, GCSAA, PGA, CMAA and WSGA) combining their efforts for a program focused on the areas of economic and environmental sustainability, pace of play and preparations for the 2015 U.S. Open. We also have scheduled a guided tour of Chambers Bay by architects Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Bruce Charlton. We hope to see you there.
The final list of USGA regional conferences for the year in the Northwest Region takes us to the Hawaiian Islands. In an effort to cut expenses for attendees, we are taking the conference to each of the four major islands. The program will be the same each time with the focus on topics related to the industry in Hawaii. Presentations will be made on water use, economic and environmental sustainability, the great myths of golf maintenance, pace of play, Rules of Golf and the dangers of too much sun exposure.
The Green Section offers on-site continuing education through the Turf Advisory Service. For more information and to schedule a visit to your golf facility in the Northwest Region, contact Larry Gilhuly at firstname.lastname@example.org or Derf Soller at email@example.com