Golf Course Management

NOV 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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Page 38 of 112

34 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 11.14 I decided to become a GCSAA Grassroots Ambassador after reading the proposed rule for "Waters of the U.S." (WOTUS) that would allow the U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to expand their authority to practi - cally all bodies of water in America. I thought about the positives and negatives of this ac - tion and long-term impact it would have on the golf business. As superintendents all know, managing water sources is already a diffcult job; the new WOTUS rules had the potential to further complicate projects involving the lakes or ponds — even the ditches — on our golf courses. As a member of GCSAA, I have always believed that I should do my part to support the association by volunteering to serve where I can and, as my job permits, helping to make things better for everyone. I have been for - tunate to serve on several GCSAA commit- tees, and when the email went out looking for GCSAA Grassroots Ambassadors, I spoke with my general manager, and we agreed that I should participate. I was even more excited about this oppor - tunity after attending the frst ambassador training event and learning that I would have a chance to work hand-in-hand with a member of the U.S. Congress, but determining which one that would be wasn't so easy. My GCSAA feld staff representative, Brian Cloud, laughed when I described my situation: My home is in Fort Worth, Texas, where my wife and I own a home. For my job, I live in Marshall, Texas, but work in Benton, La. If you can get into a situ - ation with more shades of gray, I don't know how. However, the ambassador relationship is based on facility location, so I was paired with U.S. Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana. In my role as a GCSAA Grassroots Ambas - sador, I had the opportunity to work with Ron Wright, GCSAA's feld staff representative for the Southeast Region, to arrange details for a meeting with Fleming during the August re - cess. Fleming, who was a physician prior to going to Congress, serves on several congres - sional committees, including the House Nat- ural Resources Committee. He has knowledge of the golf business and knows that water issues are important to golf course superintendents. Our meeting took place at Strawn's, an iconic Shreveport restaurant, for what was to have been a 30-minute meeting on the WOTUS proposal. I must admit, I was a bit nervous and intimidated by the thought of emailing and then meeting with a member of Congress. How often does the average guy do this? My frst email to Fleming was an - swered the next day, and the ball was rolling. It couldn't have been easier to arrange, and (advocacy) Michael Upchurch Raise your voice Michael Upchurch (left), a recruit in GCSAA's Grassroots Ambassador program, and Ron Wright (right), GCSAA's feld staff representative for the Southeast Region, meet U.S. Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana to discuss legislative and regulatory issues affecting golf course management. Photo courtesy of Michael Upchurch the meeting was very casual and enjoyable. It lasted over an hour. Fleming listened to us and gave us valuable information on how bills move through Congress and the fow of regulation. The meeting with Fleming brought to light the reasons why we all should consider becom - ing GCSAA Grassroots Ambassadors. The best way we can move forward within the leg - islative and regulatory realm is by explaining to legislators what we do as golf course super - intendents and how it affects the environment. The GCSAA Grassroots Ambassador program will allow us to have Congress on our side when issues arise that will affect our industry, which will make us a stronger association in the future. A lot of people think their voice doesn't count today, that they can't make a difference so why bother? Congress isn't going to know what bills are supported or unsupported by our industry unless people call, email or write to them. With 19,000 members, GCSAA could send a strong message about legislation and regulations that affect our businesses. Michael Upchurch is the GCSAA Class A superintendent at Palmetto Country Club in Benton, La., and a 16-year mem - ber of the association.

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