Golf Course Management

MAR 2014

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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03.14 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 47 "My country club has been unbelievably supportive, as have our GCSAA members. Their caring and compassion is unreal," says Ihms, 56. "I received emails from GCSAA members, some of which I only shook their hand, yet they have taken this time to comfort me. That's what this business is all about." From the Aggies to Arkansas By the time he was 13, Ihms was prepping for his future. As a youth in Llano, Texas, a small town northwest of Austin known for its abundant deer population, Ihms earned cash doing night watering at a nine-hole course. By day he'd golf there, and the wheels started turning. "I knew I liked golf and I knew I liked the outdoors," says Ihms, who learned the impor - tance of being a volunteer and serving from his mother, Janet, who was in the front row when as a youth he spoke in front of 500 people at a 4-H convention in Chicago. "It was a pretty good life." Ihms enrolled at Texas A&M. Oh, he thought about being an engineer until, as he says, "I realized my math skills probably would not make that an enjoyable experience." Upon learning there was a degree for turfgrass sci - ence, Ihms pursued. His decision sounds like a case of per - fect timing. The legendary Dr. James Beard was the face of the program at Texas A&M during that period, when the rhizotron was developed and groundbreaking work, such as an overseeding system for warm-season grasses, materialized. Ihms credits Joe DiPaola, a graduate assis - tant at that time, for helping mold his future. DiPaola, currently global lawn and garden re - search and development head for integrated solutions at Syngenta, recalls icon Dr. James Watson as a frequent visitor who would go to Beard's house for dinner and kick around the - ories way past the 10 o'clock news. "It was a special moment in time. It created a long-lasting network that paid dividends for the industry and for the individual," DiPaola says. "A&M was at the center of it. We were building facilities. We were a team. They were creative times." When he departed Texas A&M in 1979, Ihms landed his frst professional position as an assistant at River Plantation Country Club in Conroe, Texas. His frst superintendent job was at Golf Crest Country Club in Pearland, Texas, followed by jobs at Walden on Lake Houston Golf and Country Club in Humble, Man with a vision GCSAA member classifcations. Field staff. Rounds 4 Research. China. PGA of America and United States Golf Association. This is by no means a multiple-choice quiz, but Keith A. Ihms, CGCS, certainly could be a man with the answers. As he settles in for his term as GCSAA president in 2014, Ihms has an agenda of ideas. A key target: Coming to a resolution and possible reduction on the total of member classi- fcations, which currently includes more than a dozen. "Do we want to simplify it? If I had a goal, I would hope that the board of directors this year would be able to, by the time of the Chapter Delegates Meeting (in October), say, 'This is what we think. What do you think?' We need to decide," says Ihms, director of grounds maintenance at the Country Club of Little Rock (Ark.). Ihms also ponders expansion for GCSAA's feld staff, which has grown to nine individ- uals who cover the nation's membership chapters. Ihms envisions some regions with two feld staff members. "An example is maybe in the D.C. area there's a person who can help in government relations," he says. Capitalizing on Rounds 4 Research's success in 2013 is another objective for Ihms. Administered by the Environmental Institute for Golf (EIFG) and presented in partnership with The Toro Co., Rounds 4 Research has raised approximately $175,000 for turfgrass research and education. A crucial factor is ensuring the end users support the program. "The ones hitting on the tee are the benefciaries of that program," Ihms says. "They're the ones who are beneftting from the research." GCSAA's international footprint has widened in recent years. Ihms hopes to build on those relationships, including in China, where GCSAA supports industry trade shows and education. Expanding staff devoted to international efforts should be considered, he says. Ihms likes GCSAA's positioning as it looks ahead, with the goal of becoming the global leader in golf course management by 2020. He says GCSAA's relationships with the PGA of America and USGA are evolving and becoming stronger, which is important to GCSAA's future status. "We're going to be involved in some of their initiatives, whether it's growing golf or pace of play. We serve an important role in that because our association has the boots on the ground that can affect it," Ihms says. "We all want the same thing because if we don't grow golf or we don't make golf more enjoyable, none of us are going to be happy." GCSAA has weathered bumps in the road. Ihms, though, realizes the journey is far from over. "Financially, I think we've done a good job and we're sound. We're smaller, obviously. We on our board don't like it smaller because it's a dollar number, so it impacts our pro- grams overall," Ihms says. "We feel we're in a good position, but that being said, we still have to stay very diligent in what we're doing." — H.R. 044-057_March14_Pres.indd 47 2/18/14 1:39 PM

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