Monday, March 28, 2011

Coming Soon: New "Jonesy's World" Blog Format

Change is coming to Jonesy's World. Be advised that sometime in coming weeks we will be migrating this blog over to the GCI site to be hosted there. Those of you who have friended, liked or otherwise subscribed to this version will have to do the same thing on the new version. I'll post an update as we get closer to that day.

Why are we doing this? Greed, my friends, greed. Our advertisers like to know that people actually visit our site, and the thousands of visits we get on this blog don't count in those site traffic reports because I'm both impatient lazy and set this thing up on Blogger instead of our own site. So, we're going to restart over on so we can have everything in one place.

Also, we've had some problems posting pictures and doing other things on this platform recently. I'm told by my wonderful squad of geeks that the new blog platform will solve those issues and we'll also have all sorts of fun new bells and whistles, so that's cool.

Look for it soon kids!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Check out the digital edition

Hope you are among the thousands who like to look at the digital edition. Same great layout, same great content...fewer dead trees.

Here's the March edition...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

More New Stuff from GCI

By now, you should have seen the newest e-newsletter from our team: Disease Digest. If you didn't, check it out here:

Disease Digest: The Buzz on Dollar Spot

Look for these monthly throughout the disease season courtesy of an exclusive sponsorship by our pals at Valent Professional Products.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fire Destroys FarmLinks Maintenance Facility

The state-of-the-art Toro Maintenance Facility at Pursell's FarmLinks "living laboratory" golf course was damaged heavily by fire yesterday. Looks for photos and updates on soon.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Attack of the Killer Team of Columnists!

Feedback is a wonderful thing...and we get lots of it. It's not unusual to get a pile of e-mails whenever we run an interesting piece about the inner workings of the business or a major industry trend. Those types of features are always well read, turf articles are great and the operational profiles are dynamite...but the columns we run are what really seem to engage readers.

And why wouldn't they? I will say with absolutely no modesty whatsoever that we have an amazing group of columnists and contributors. Every month, we deliver opinions, ideas and the occasional punch in the gut from Tim Moraghan, Brian Vinchesi, Monroe Miller, Terry Buchen, Jeff Brauer, various guest columnists and even little old me. (BTW, each of our regulars has their own page on the fabulous GCI on any name above to check out their archives, biography and contact info.)

We're also very proud that Bruce Williams has become a featured contributor to the magazine. Bruce is, quite simply, the man. Legendary superintendent at Chicago's famed Bob O'Link and the one-and-only Los Angeles CC, son of a superintendent, past president of GCSAA, speaker, teacher, consultant, communicator and the go-to guy for all things related to high-end jobs in this business. Bruce's piece on negotiating last fall was just outstanding and brought forth tons of response. Next month, he writes on how superintendents can deal with club politics. This might be the single best article I've seen in 25 years in this business. I suspect it's something many of you will read, re-read, cut out and keep.

I'm equally proud to say that Dennis Lyon, another legend, past president, longtime honcho of Aurora, Colo.'s golf division and good friend will join our team of columnists next month. Dennis plans to devote his column to management, the "big picture" of the business, public/government golf and the future of the industry. Did I mention Dennis just won the USGA Green Section Award? Did I mention that Dennis is just a great, all-around straight shooter?

Our goal at GCI is simple: we will provide our readers with the unvarnished truth so they can enjoy bettter careers and lives. Keep the feedback coming and let us know if we're doing that.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Golf in the (Middle) Kingdom

Amazing things are being done in China right now. Here's a new course designed by Curley & Schmidt. Doesn't even seem real. My colleague Kyle Brown points out that China offers every imaginable type of topography. Here's proof.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Thinking about the GIS attendance figures

Much is made of the fact that the national is the biggest event in the industry. It is. But, consider this...

The numbers are a little fuzzy, but show hosts said attendance was 14,780 or so. That's good, all things considered, but remember that two-thirds of those who attended were there to sell stuff to superintendents.

GIS hosts said there were approximately 5,750 "qualified buyers" attending. That includes superintendents, assistants, management company execs, owners, managers, architects, builders and anyone else who says they have "purchasing influence" for one or more facilities. Based on past breakdowns of who those qualified buyers are, I'd estimate about 2,500 actual superintendents -- the core of the market -- were in Orlando.

There are 15,800 or so golf facilities in the U.S. (we'll disregard Canadian and International attendees/courses to keep this simple). That means the show attracts only 16 percent of the primary customers nationwide.

(That said, if you look at the demographics of the superintendents who do attend, they clearly have higher-than-average budgets. So, that 16 percent who went to Orlando may command as much as 30 percent of all purchasing power in the U.S. market. That's why exhibitors still spend lots of money to be there.)

Yes, the show matters a lot...and attendance was surprisingly good. But, 84 percent of y'all didn't go to this year's national. A lot of us...including me...need to remember that the Big Show is a luxury that most facilities either can't afford or just don't care about because they're focused on surviving in the real world of today's golf market.

Monday, February 14, 2011

GIS Thoughts and Images #1

The GCI team is back from Florida and starting to catch up on the real world. I'll be posting a recap soon, but the bottom line for GIS 2011 is that we have glimpsed the "new normal" and it is a pretty damned good thing. Leaner, meaner but more focused and intense.

In the meantime, I'll be posting some of the more interesting images and moments from the show. Let's start with the fact that Golf Course Industry magazine is now the proud owner of the most famous bedroom slippers in turf. Dr. Kaminski passed along these beauties (which were, of course, featured in our cover story about him last year) and we're going to figure out a way to auction them off for an appropriate charity.

 But first, we need to deodorize these suckers...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Go Big or Go Home...Orlando Day 2

The days of a mass flood of attendees spilling onto the floor eagerly running for hats and other swag is over, but that doesn't mean there wasn't plenty of action on the show floor today. A few observations about the industry's biggest event...

- Exhibitors seemed very pleased with the quality -- if not the quantity -- of the superintendents and others on the floor today. The typical observation from suppliers was that those who are here are here to buy. I sure didn't talk to many superintendents that were just farting around. And you didn't see guys with clubs over their shoulders heading off to do "turf research" in the hotel lobbies this morning. It was all business.

Joe Livingston, friend of GCI
 - That fits with the new culture of the golf market. It's time to be serious, use resources well and justify trips and events like this. Well, not totally serious...

- Funniest thing said to me today: "Twitter? Seriously?"

- It was incredibly gratifying to get so many great comments about the improvements we've made to the magazine. We're pleased you think we're giving you a better publication, a better website and more information in more forms. Look for more.

- It was also very humbling to hear so many "attaboys" from folks who were supportive of the changes in my personal life. All I know is it's a helluva lot easier to survive this Bataan death march of a week sober.

Final note: I was talking with a young up and coming superintendent today who was interested in writing an article for GCI and asked for some ideas on moving on the ladder. We talked for a while and I shared some ideas. He said, "Why would you take time to help me with this." I reminded him of what the late great Harvey Penick was fond of saying, "If you play golf, you are my friend." In this case, we are all in this crazy business together...which makes us all friends.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

First Impressions - GIS 2011

Tuesday at GIS was far from the usual day the show we've come to expect in past years. Why? One word: compression.

The high expectations, high pressure to use time well and the highly compressed schedule that were created when organizers went to the two-day schedule for the trade show have made this the busiest event in years for me and many I talked with. Between seminars, sales meetings, luncheons, receptions and the inevitable and all-important 5-minute hallway conversations, I simply can't remember this many things going on in the "down" day prior to Wednesday's ribbon-cutting.

A few notable moments and thoughts:

- Legends. Two of my favorite people, Dean Graves and Frank Dobie, on stage to receive well-deserved distinguished service awards.

- Fail! Seeing at least three people crash into various objects (a large trash can, for example) because they were texting while trying to move about the convention center.

- Signs of Life. Hearing a healthy, optimistic buzz at the annual "Think Independent" reception which gathers many from the chemical, fertilizer and seed markets into one place for a few intense hours. (Imagine 300 really good sales people in the same room...the average customer would never stand a chance.)

- Personal Space Invasion. Awkward man-hugs now seem to be standard amongst us old guys. Exchanged them with Ron Dodson of Audubon, Gregg Breningmeyer of Deere, Dave Heegard of Lebanon, Stan Zontek of USGA and numerous others. This trend must be stopped. We're sweaty old dudes...we should act like it and just opt for the hearty handshake!

- Designing Woman. Great to see Jan Bel Jan, longtime Fazio designer who is now out on her on. Want to know how golf designs and facilities can be more accommodating and welcoming for female players? Talk to Jan.

- Tweeting. Good lord, we're all doing it, but it seems like opening a door and yelling something into an empty room. Is anyone listening out there?

- Veterans. Perhaps the younger guys were all in seminars all day, but it seemed to me the vast majority of superintendents I ran into were the established, older guys. I'm curious to see if this holds true tomorrow as well.

In general, the mood is cautiously optimistic. There isn't a lot of concern about total attendance and such. The attitude is that the people who are here really want and need to be here and aren't just hanging out and partying. It's always fun, but this GIS seems like serious business. And that's a good thing.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Trade Show Tip #3 - More on Socks

After advising everyone that changing your socks is a great idea, I promptly failed to pack ANY socks.

Thankfully, Walgreens sells these...

Problem solved!

On the Ground at GIS

Okay, Day One in Orlando. A few notes:

- Get ready for the first Twitter overload show. Between @johnkaminski, @gcimagazine, @gcsaa and @ everybody else, Twitter might chirp in pain and die. That said, good way to follow the show if you can wade through the redundancy.

- Talked with Rhett Evans today for a video interview we'll be posting later this week. I asked him specifically if the idea of going to an every-other-year schedule for the show was still being discussed. His answer, in a lot more words, was "nothing is off the table." This is the just the second time I've met him. I like him. Good guy.
- The show floor seems farther along that usual in terms of people getting booths set up. A lot of folks said they want to be done today so they can have sales meeting tomorrow. The new schedule (two-day show) is forcing everyone to use their time on site more wisely.

- Best thing I've seen so far: Palm tree outside my hotel window instead of a snow plow.

Look for updates, pics and videos from us on the GCI site, Twitter and Facebook. Note that we'll be doing a preview edition of our Fast & Firm e-newsletter coverage overnight tonight and sending special show editions out Tuesday night and Wednesday night for your morning reading pleasure.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Trade Show Tip #2: Booze or No Booze

In my drinking days, I always scouted the closest spot to do some shopping for my favorite beverages when I went to GIS. For those of you who do indulge in the occasional adult beverage in the privacy of your hotel, here's a handy list of spirits shops near the Orlando convention district.

For those of us who have realized we have already reached your lifetime quota of adult beverages, here's a place to find a meeting outside of the convention center.

There's also a daily AA gathering into Room 309B of the OCCC Mon-Fri at 5 p.m.

Enjoy responsibly kids!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Trade Show Survival Tip of the Day

Our good friend and colleague Kevin Gilbride suggested this to me a few years back and I've become a big proponent of it:

When your feet are starting to hurt after a long day at a conference or trade show, take a quick break before you go out for the evening and put on a fresh pair of socks. You will feel like a new person.

Sounds bizarre, but it works. Trust me on this people.

And no, you may not see the rest of the sock lady...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Carolinas Green

Here's my latest column for the Carolinas Green, the Carolinas GCSA's official publication. It's a carry-over from my consulting days but I still love doing it. I write about the issues of the day with a special focus on our pals down there. This column touches on their show in Myrtle Beach last November and the state of golf/turf trade shows in general.

If you've never seen a copy of their magazine, it sometimes rivals anything being done by GCI or anyone in the industry. Trent Bouts, a very fine fellow who writes for us periodically, magically pulls a great publication out of his hat every two months. Frankly, the quality of Carolinas Green reflects the fact that this chapter does pretty much everything right. Their show, education programs, member service and staff should be the envy of any regional professional association.

That also makes them an 800-lb. gorilla politically and economically within GCSAA's sphere. Biggest chapter, biggest association revenues by far and exceedingly capable leadership and staff. It's the "Mini-Me" version of the national. If such things interest you, it's always wise to consider where the folks down South stand on any issue.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Market Across the Pond

Pitchcare is sort of the British version of inpendent alternative to the offical BIGGA pub. Here's their look at the recent BTME/BIGGA conference and show written by Laurence Gale of their team. Not surprisingly, the event was not immune to the same problems we have here.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The $20 Question: GCSAA's Proposed Dues Increase

In the midst of a GIS that will be scrutinized (as least by me and the 63 other blogging golf/turf writers) for participation, the GCSAA CEO question and as a benchmark on the overall health of the business, there's another interesting issue: bumping the national's dues by $20.

The association has made its case well (it's been a while, they already deferred the increase once and it's a small amount). If anyone cares, my humble opinion is that it's overdue, modest and if the $350,000+ it generates annually saves some member service jobs, it's a good thing.

Intentionally or not, the board sent a message to members when it let four very visible veteran employees go last year: things are serious and we need to manage expenses appropriately based on a gloomy revenue outlook. They've cut to the bone and they believe the dues increase matters to core member service. These are good men trying to do the right thing by members and the staff. It has to suck. I once again shake my head in amazement that anyone would agree to serve at that level and deal with this stuff as a second full-time job.

So, I think the increase is merited and it will pass. The men and women who come to the chapter meetings and delegates gatherings and who generally run things will say, "Sure. It's only $20."

But, the secondary question is whether this will become a hot-button issue for folks who believe it's another indication that GCSAA is out of touch with the needs of the grassroots membership. An increasing number of guys reach into their own pockets for dues and education. To them, $20 is meaningful. But, for far more folks, the $20 may simply be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

There will be grumbling and this will even seal the decision not to renew for some. It might be 5 or 50 or 500, but it certainly won't be close to the 2,000 or non-renewals it would take to nullify the revenue gained from the dues increase. Thus, the association will be ahead financially on the deal.

Yet, for every action there is a reaction. There will be some interesting hallway conversations and late-night lobby bar discussions about this in Orlando. But, the real measure of the impact of the increase won't come until next fall...when dues notices get sent out and we see just how many camels buckle under the final straw.

Friday, January 21, 2011

How to Manage Younger Employees

Try reading the rules, Shankopotomus!
Here's a great short piece from Harvard Business Review on how to overcome the challenges of managing younger employees.

Key quote:

The best managers of younger employees are people who would otherwise love teaching for a living. They prize helping others grow and tend to overexplain their reasoning for decisions. Rather than assuming that twenty-somethings possess enough experience or perspective to read between the lines of their choices, these managers take an extra few minutes to lay out pros and cons and diagram their rationale. Three short minutes of explanation usually make excellent junior employees excited, since they feel the immediate benefits of gaining insight into decision-making processes. It also makes them better at working for you and your company, because it teaches them how you think.

The fact is that you have to change your Boomer mindset in order to get the most of today's employees. Don't just think outside the box...throw the damn box away.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Rule

I'll steal a bit from Bill Maher and institute an irregular feature here at Jonesy's World. Let's call it "New Rules."

Today's new rule is: No more pictures of superintendents with their course dog sitting next to them on a utility vehicle. It's been done. To death. Seriously. Enough.

And while we're at it, stop naming every damn course dog "Mulligan" or "Bogey."

That is all for today's installment of New Rules.

Foley to retire from GCBAA

A little birdie (well, a google search alert) told us that our friend Paul Foley will retire this year after an outstanding five-year term as executive director of the Golf Course Builders Association of America (GCBAA). Despite tough economic times for course construction, Foley stabilized the organization, oversaw their successful integration into the GIS alphabet soup mix and put together a helluva a format for their annual meeting. Justin Apel is in line to take the reins when Foley leaves.

I'll miss Paul. Awesome, sincere guy. Enthusiastic, detail-oriented and always follows up. Justin will have big shoes to fill but Paul will be right there with him during the transition, so the association will continue to be in very good hands.

Speaking of GCBAA, I'm proud to say that GCI partners with the association on our annual Builder Excellence Awards program. If you've been involved in a great restoration, reconstruction, new development or environmental build in the past year, check out the awards program and enter to get some well deserved recognition for your facility and your team. Look for details about the 2011 awards on our site soon.

Meet the, I mean our GIS

Got a bone to pick with one of our columnists? Want to give them a piece of your mind? Want to punch them in the nose?

Well, just drop by Booth #901 at the GIS in Orlando on Wednesday, Feb. 9, and you'll have your chance. Here's the schedule for our annual "Meet the Columnists" day.

Jeff Brauer 9:30-11 

Tim Moraghan 11-12:30
Monroe Miller 12:30-2

Pat Jones 2-3:30

Brian Vinchesi 3:30-5

And, remember the have to warn us before you throw the punch and no hitting in the face.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Roger Stewart Owns the ELGAs

It's pretty clear that the TPC maintenance team takes the Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards pretty seriously...and I suspect that has a lot to do with our pal Roger Stewart. Stewart's won a pile of these in the past and, instead of entering himself this year, he seems to have focused on helping his team with the process.

He talked about the ELGAs and all things environmental in this interview I did with him last year. Congrats to all the winners...and the folks behind them who helped them with the application process and supported their hard work!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Another Empty Office in Lawrence

As the GIS approaches, there's been more chatter in some circles about the CEO search at GCSAA. My opinion hasn't changed since I wrote this column a while back. I don't care why they parted ways with Mark Woodward and I don't think many members are losing any sleep about who they'll choose to replace him. Will they announce a successor at the GIS? I'll say it again: I just don't care. 

That said, if it was up to me, I'd at least try to find an incredibly creative and charismatic bomb-thrower from outside the industry. They need someone to lead and establish a new direction, not someone with a lot of preconceived notions about the business or an association managment type who measures every decision based on how the board might react. But they won't do that. Odds are they'll stick with Rhett Evans, the interim CEO, who seems like a nice, competent guy.   

But now there's another big, empty office in Lawrence, Kansas. Mark Bisbing -- a guy I'm honestly not sure I ever met -- has bailed out of GCSAA to head to sunny Florida and work with my old friend Joe O'Brien at The First Tee. As director of corporate sales and business development, Bisbing was theoretically in charge of a big chunk of the revenues for the association (trade show space, magazine ads and sponsorships). In short, he ran sales...and sales haven't been great.

I'm not saying Bisbing wasn't up to the job or that he was a bad guy (seriously, I couldn't even pick him out of a police lineup and I know everyone in this business). All I'm saying is that it definitely wasn't a good time to be in charge of marketing in a big non-profit with major economic and organizational challenges on every front. I sincerely wish him well in his new endeavor...or at least I would if I actually knew him.

Ironically, the corporate relations job opening was announced in GCSAA's crappy "Industry Spotlight" e-newsletter earlier today. Why is it ironic? Under Bisbing's watch, they actually outsourced this whole "Industry Spotlight" thing to a third-party company that uses online news searches to throw together a few stories from around the country, plug them into an electronic template and create a vehicle to sell ads. It is, plain and simple, a money grab that offers little information you couldn't get from a .05-second Google News search. No original content, no effort, no education, no value. By contrast, take a look at what our modest little staff does with our Fast & Firm e-newsletter. (Okay, I admit that was shameless self-promotion. Sue me for being proud of what we do.)

So, there's another job opening in Lawrence. If you really love a good challenge and would enjoy the Sunflower State lifestyle, apply now. Just make sure you come to the interview prepared with a brilliant plan to reinvent the trade show and replace about $7 million in annual revenues that have disappeared as the show and other non-dues income has declined. BTW, to put it in superintendent terms, that task is roughly analagous to taking a 9-hole pitch-and-putt and turning into Augusta National in six months. Good luck!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Blog of the Month!

Thanks to the miracle of Twitter, we found Chris Tritabaugh's blog about Northland CC in Duluth, Minn., checked it out and decided it was more than worthy of being GCI's Blog of the Month. Take a look here!

The New GCI Site is Live!

I'm pleased to report that the new Golf Course Industry site is now live and functioning quite nicely, thank you. Love to hear what you think about our design, navigation, etc., as well as any comments on the new "Fast & Firm" e-newsletter we launched yesterday.

Monday, January 10, 2011


If you have an iPhone or an iPad and you haven't already done so, please download the fabulous, fantastic, amazing Golf Course Industry app now. Do not pass go, do not collect $200...just download it, baby.

Our old pal Shack is moving up in the world...

Geoff Shackelford has done a deal with Golf Digest/Golf World. His already excellent blog will now be even more visible (and perhaps profitable). Good for him. Seems like yesterday he was "the kid" Ron Whitten recommended to me when I was starting that other magazine 11 years ago.

In Case You Missed It...

I loved Tim Moraghan's column from our December issue...check it out!

Never say never...

Okay, way back when, I said I'd never have a Facebook page, a Twitter account or, god forbid, a blog.

Wrong on all accounts.

Welcome to Jonesy's World, my blog for readers and friends of Golf Course Industry. I will write about whatever the hell I want to write about, but will try to occasionally include something relevant about the business that might accidentally help you do your job.

Let's start out with this: I just crashed the Minnesota GCSA annual meeting in Minneapolis last week (I was speaking at their trade show and invited myself to attend their meeting) and the discussion was about taking their great "Hole Notes" chapter publication from a printed/mailed format to an online format.

Despite the fact that this is the way of the future and that it will save them substantially on printing and mailing costs, there were still objections from folks who liked the old-fashioned "dead trees and ink" format.

What's your take? Could you survive without a printed copy of your chapter publication?