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2017 May/June GCSAA Chapter Leaders Recap
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2017 GCSAA Chapter Leaders Recap

by Eric Strasheim, Superintendent, Murphy Creek Golf Course  

This past March 14th and 15th I had the privilege to attend the 2017 Chapter Leaders/Executives Symposium at GCSAA National Headquarters in Lawrence Kansas with Gary Leeper, RMGCSA Executive Director.  This was my first trip to national headquarters and it is a very impressive place with very impressive people. 

The first day was started by Steve Randall the Director of Chapter Outreach and consisted of an introduction by everyone in attendance which was from chapters all over the country.  Then the CEO of GCSAA, Rhett Evans did a presentation of how to make a difference in your life and for your chapters.  Rhett used many examples from William H. McRaven, the former United States Navy Admiral Ninth Commander of the USA Special Operations Command and is credited with organizing and overseeing the raid that got Bin Laden.  If you get a chance look his stuff up on YouTube.  

Next up was a presentation by three chapters from around the country on what they are doing and planning for the future. After watching I came to realize that the RMGCSA is what many other chapters aspire to be and as a member you should be proud of this.  

The morning concluded with programming updates on BPM’s (much more to come), Rounds for Research and Grassroots Ambassadors. The afternoon consisted of Roundtable discussions on a variety of topics of which the conclusions which are taken from the GCSAA Media Room are below.

Suggestions shared at 2017 Chapter Leader/Executive Symposium 

As part of the 2017 Chapter Leader/Executive Symposium March 14-15, attendees participated in round table discussions with topics chosen with input gathered from a pre-meeting survey and from the GCSAA field staff. 

Creative education ideas to drive meeting attendance

1. Think outside of the box when coming up with education topics. For example, financial planners, health and wellness, technology, leadership, business, shop tours, dress for success, meteorologist, business etiquette, managing millennials), keynote speakers.
2. Fewer agronomic topics.
3. Survey your members to find out their wants.
4. Share ideas through a GCSAA portal or communications outlet.
5. Several chapters have round table discussions at chapter meetings. Discussion is facilitated by a superintendent at each table, and they have proved popular with the chapters that host them.

Ideas to engage student chapters or encourage student involvement

1. Student representative on board of directors or committees
2. Several chapter leaders have been asked to participate in high school career fairs. GCSAA is creating materials for these events.
3. Free memberships for students. One chapter’s industry partners covered the cost for the local university turf club to attend the chapter’s conference.
4. Lack of students in turf programs will create a labor shortage. Attendees agreed it was important to keep students interested in the golf course superintendent profession.
5. Students are leaning toward sports turf vs. golf.
6. Host student networking events
7. Create mentoring/shadowing program for students.
8. The group agreed that it is easier for a student to get a first job if they are already a member of their local chapter. This can be a key message to communicate regarding the value of belonging to a local chapter.

Communication and operations

1. Email vs. Twitter depends on the age of the member
2. Digital vs. printed newsletters. Printed can increase vendor sponsorship, and several chapters are reintroducing printed newsletters to increase sponsorship and in reaction to reader preference.
3. Peer-to-peer contact is the No. 1 way to drum up attendance or participation.
4. Vendors spreading the message for the chapter has proven effective.
5. This is a place for both a la carte sponsorship opportunities and packages.
6. Sending out invoices via mail.
7. SOPs for board members is important but sometimes lacking. GCSAA has examples for chapters that need them.
8. More chapters are returning to calling trees to drum up attendance and participation in events. It shows members they are missed when they aren’t at an event.
9. Possible use of text messages (Robo Talker program).
10. Create a sense of urgency in marketing programs/events and use it in your lead sentence or subject line (five spots left, discount for signing up early). It is a proven way to get people to take action.

Rounds 4 Research implementation

1. Personal ask for donations can be a powerful tool for success.
2. Cash donations in lieu of rounds for facilities that aren’t allowed to donate rounds.
3. Outreach to state golf associations.
4. Toolkit to members to ask for donations, making it as easy and hassle free as possible. Use can use the documents GCSAA provides.
Find a “champion” of R4R. 
5. Go to PGA pro or club manager to obtain rounds from courses (phone calls, emails, mailings)
6. Market to course members.
7. Golf radio shows/promotional spots.

Golf event ideas
1. Random pairings, different formats, night golf, match play/team play championships, inter-club formats with other local GCSAA chapters.
2. The participants were split on handicaps being required and concluded that you must know your membership and what they want out of these events.
3. Facility determines success. No other factor drums up attendance like the quality of the facility.
4. Vendor paid team tournament.
5. Two-person formats are becoming more popular. Start with team events early in the year and then roll into individual formats later in the playing season.
6. Social hours after golf.
7. Be prepared to negotiate for a good price. Asking for the lowest available price from host facilities (PGA pro rate) has worked for some in attendance.
8. Offer GIS or GCSAA Golf Championship entry for prizes, or a yearlong giveaway for those who participate in the most tournaments.
9. Giving away swag (hat, shirts, towel, ball markers) is appreciated. Quality matters.
10. Going to nine-hole formats for time.
11. Superintendents are afraid to leave the course during certain times of the year.
12. Alternate events to golf (Top Golf, bowling, skeet shooting, baseball games) are popular social events.
13. Courses won’t pay for golf only events for superintendents, so many chapters try to work in an education component for the day.

While the round table discussions were lively and offered great ideas, the attendees felt they barely scratched the surface of these topics. GCSAA will look at ways to create additional opportunities for chapter leaders and executives to take these discussions to the next level. What does your chapter do that is unique? Let Leann Cooper, senior manager, chapter services, know.

That wrapped up day one and David Phipps our GCSAA Field Representative picked up dinner for Gary and myself along with other Superintendents from the Seattle area and also from Southwest Missouri.  As always the networking with others superintendents was very enlightening and valuable.

Day two started with Leanne Cooper, Senior Manager of  Chapter Services discussing a sneak peek at just completed Chapter Assessment Surveys and what the next steps will be.  Up next was a leadership lesson conducted by Paul Long, CEO and founder of “Fundamism”.  Paul was a very dynamic and funny speaker and the presentation included several interactive bits.  The morning and event concluded with J.D. Dockstader, COO of GCSAA discussing key initiatives and updates of the GCSAA.

In the short time I spent in Lawrence it was easy to see that the GCSAA really has it together and the national membership has many great leaders and future leaders. 









Contact Gary Leeper at RMGCSA
Voice: 303-255-9611 Fax: 303-458-0002
12011 Tejon St., Ste. 700., Westminster, CO 80234 EMAIL: