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?