Golf Course Management

JUL 2017

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

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30 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 07.17 (advocacy) Michael Lee Twitter: @GCSAA Politically motivated Since joining GCSAA nearly eight months ago, I've been thoroughly impressed by the leadership, vision and ambition of the organi - zation, but more than anything else, I've been inspired by the emphasis placed on advocacy and the enthusiasm members have for getting involved with the public policy matters facing the superintendent profession. In my role as government affairs manager, I've been tasked with organizing and expanding the ranks of our grassroots advocates, primarily through our initiative known as the Grassroots Am - bassador program. The roster of ambassadors has grown con - sistently since the program launched in the summer of 2014, and today stands at more than 280. We've set a goal of filling all 535 positions — one for each member of Con - gress — by 2020. I'm confident we'll hit that target, because if there is one thing I have learned about superintendents, it's that they are go-getters who proactively tackle problems and challenges, often in creative ways. One only has to take a brief scroll through superin - tendents' social media activity to see examples of innovative use of space, land management, reclamation or refurbishment at the properties they oversee. Whether it's Adam Breitenfeldt's redesign of an awkward-shaped and unused area into an inviting patio space and bocce court at Law - rence (Kan.) Country Club, or the craftsman- ship exhibited by Zach Wike and his crew at Beavercreek (Ohio) Golf Club in building bird - houses and walnut log benches out of downed trees, there is never a lack of resourcefulness or productivity on display from GCSAA mem - bers. It is this very ingenuity that gives me op- timism about the advocacy challenges we will encounter and overcome in the years ahead. For nearly eight years prior to joining GCSAA, I worked for Sen. Jim Inhofe of chaired by Gosar — regarding water issues in the western U.S. and the golf industry's steps to conserve and responsibly use this precious resource. Bill Bieck, CGCS, golf course oper - ations manager at Heritage Hills Golf Course in McCook, Neb., has connected with Sen. Deb Fischer, and was recently asked to be a county chairman for her 2018 re-election ef - forts. Thanks to regular interactions with Denver-area staff from Rep. Diana DeGette's office, Mitch Savage, assistant superintendent at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club in Denver, was invited to participate in a small-business roundtable with the congresswoman in April on the topic of the H-2B visa program and its importance to the region's employers. These invitations and recognition prove that, as an association, our grassroots advocacy is headed in the right direction. Politics is a game of numbers, and no one person can pass legislation through Congress alone, which is why connecting with each and every lawmaker at a grassroots level is crucial. If you would like to advocate alongside your fellow superintendents, whether on a specific issue or as a Grassroots Ambassador matched with a member of Congress, get in touch with GCSAA's government affairs department ( , or email me at, and we'll provide you with the information and tools you need to be an influential voice for the golf industry. Michael Lee is GCSAA's government affairs manager. He can be reached at 785-832-3612. Oklahoma. In my role as state director, I was constantly looking to connect with constit - uents who had intriguing stories to tell, and who could contribute to the public dialogue on various issues, including those that touch the golf industry, such as environmental stew - ardship and conservation, labor and immigra- tion, health and wellness, and economic devel- opment. I know firsthand how much members of Congress value the efforts of business lead - ers in their states and districts who, day in and day out, strive to improve the communities in which they live and work — and that's pre - cisely what golf course superintendents do. That said, we can't expect lawmakers and reg - ulators to recognize our contributions unless we speak up about them. I often remind am - bassadors that although members of Congress come from many different walks of life, as far as I know, there aren't currently any who are golf course superintendents. We therefore can't assume that they're aware of how certain leg - islation can impact our industry, so we must bring our concerns to them. Which brings me back to my point about superintendents being go-getters. Some amaz - ing strides have already been made since the inception of the Grassroots Ambassador pro - gram. Rory Van Poucke, superintendent at Apache Sun Golf Club in San Tan Valley, Ariz., wasted no time signing on and estab - lishing contact with Rep. Paul Gosar of Ar- izona. Van Poucke has hosted the congress- man multiple times at Cactus & Pine GCSA functions, and was recently invited to speak to the Congressional Western Caucus — a group of lawmakers from 35 states, which is GCSAA government affairs manager Michael Lee (far left) with (from left) superintendent Greg Brandriet of Elkhorn Ridge Golf Club in Spearfish, S.D., Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, and superintendent Dan Wegener of Elmwood Golf Course in Sioux Falls, S.D., at National Golf Day in Washington, D.C., in April. Photo courtesy of Dan Wegener

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