Arizona’s Allied Golf Associations Hold Virtual Meeting
On Aug.17, 2020, Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers (AZ-25) spoke with members of Arizona’s allied golf associations. The call’s topics centered around the economic impact of the golf industry in Arizona as well as impacts of the current coronavirus pandemic and impending water crisis. The golf industry was represented by Desert Mountain Director of Agronomy Shawn Emerson; Ping Golf Corporate Counsel Dawn Grove; GCSAA Southwest Field Representative Jeff Jensen; Troon Golf Manager of Environmental Science Bri Kenny; GCSAA Manager, Government Affairs Michael Lee; Grayhawk Golf Club Superintendent Ernie Pock; Desert Mountain Superintendent Marc Snyder: Apache Sun Superintendent and General Manager Rory Van Poucke; and Cactus & Pine GCSA President and Whispering Rock Superintendent Mark Woodward, CGCS.
New Hampshire Bill HB 646
New Hampshire House Bill 646, “relative to labeling, signage, and restrictions on the sales and use of bee-toxic pesticides”, defines and restricts the use of bee-toxic pesticides which affect all species of pollinators and requires certain state agencies to publish best practices for transitioning away from these pesticides.
After a 13-6 vote in the Environment and Agriculture Committee, New Hampshire will complete a 2020 study before taking further action on the bill. This comes after a coordinated effort from GCSAA members in New Hampshire and RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment). While the bill is still live, the study will allow lawmakers to be properly informed.
Cactus and Pine GCSA Water Summit
The Cactus & Pine GCSA held their fifth annual Water Summit in August of 2020 at Phoenix Country Club in Phoenix, Arizona. The event provided water- related education to Cactus & Pine Superintendents as well as highlighting water conservation efforts of the golf industry to Arizona politicians, government agencies, municipalities, and allied golf organizations.
Speakers included Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers (R-25) as well as many other representatives of the Arizona lawmaking, regulatory, and trade bodies. A major focus of the event was a plan proposed by the Arizona Department of Water Resources to reduce water use on courses.
Arizona Sports Radio Interview with Rory Van Poucke
Rory Van Poucke was recently interviewed on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM where he spoke about water challenges facing the golf industry and the numerous advocacy efforts undertaken by superintendents to secure golf’s future in Ariz.
Letter to Arizona Department of Water Resources
In fall of 2019, the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) proposed a series of plans aimed at reducing water use by golf courses. The fourth plan of this series proposed a reduction of water use by 6 percent with the fifth plan proposing even larger cuts. In response, Grassroots Ambassadors partnered with Troon Golf and other allied associations as well as industrial leaders such as Ewing irrigation, Stotz Equipment and John Deere in Arizona met with leaders – including the Office of the Gov. Doug Ducey – in state and water agencies concerning these proposals and their devastating impact on golf.
The result was this letter from Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers to ADWR Director Thomas Buschatzke on behalf of the Arizona golf industry encouraging the ADWR to work with the golf industry on future plans as its “crucial that we find a balance between environmental sustainability and economic output.”
Sen. McSally (R-AZ) Recognizes Arizona Golf Industry
In support of the environmental stewardship demonstrated by golf course superintendents, Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) recorded this videoto be shown at the fifth annual Cactus and Pine GCSA Water Summit on Aug. 20, 2019, at Phoenix (Ariz.) Country Club.
Illinois Grassroots Effort Eases Restrictions
As Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker took steps to reopen businesses shut down by the coronavirus pandemic, golf courses that had been closed for almost two months, could open for play under some restrictive measures. Facing restrictions like twosomes only spaced in 15-minute tee times, no carts, no practice facilities and no carry out food on the course, Illinois courses found reopening under these harsh restrictions would result in only eight rounds an hour and little to no other revenue.
Determined to make the voice of the golf industry heard, Luke Cella, CGCS, chapter executive for the Midwest Association of GCS, proposed creating an action alert for members of allied associations urging them to work with the governor and Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to amend their restrictions on golf.>
In the span of 24 hours, 176 of 177 state legislators were contacted by more than 7,000 individuals resulting in more than 15,000 messages sent. The following day, Pritzker announced his administration would be allowing foursomes in single rider carts with more updates to follow. Read more about the effort in Illinois.
Hawaii Bill 101
When the Hawaii County Council drafted a bill to ban the county’s use of herbicides, superintendents on the Big Island made comments on the bill noting a variety of regulatory, operational, and language concerns. Shortly thereafter, Mayor Harry Kim vetoed Bill 101 and echoed the comments in a letter to the council explaining his concerns.
In a failed attempt to override Kim’s veto, the council convened a January hearing, which included almost six hours of testimony and debate from both sides, including Kim, who further explained his reasons for vetoing the bill and Lukas Kambic, a biologist with the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii, who said, “There is no evidence of any harm when used as directed.”
Six “yes’ votes were required by the nine-member council to override Kim’s veto. This supermajority failed when Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz changed her original vote – yes, with reservations – to a no vote, explaining her initial concerns about the language of the bill were underlined in Kim’s letter.
Phipps Chosen To Serve On Oregon Department of Agriculture Workgroup
The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) has organized a workgroup charged with helping the ODA evaluate the uses and potential restrictions on the pesticide product Chlorpyrifos. The ODA has considered further restricting use in the state beyond the limitations specified on product labels. Chlorpyrifos is one of the most widely used active ingredients in agricultural insect control products in the world and is used in Oregon to control pests on crops like alfalfa, grass fields, and wheat. GCSAA is proud to have one of its own, Northwest Field Staff Representative Dave Phipps, selected as a member of this advisory committee. As a former superintendent with more than two decades of experience in the golf course management industry, Dave offers invaluable knowledge on pesticide best practices.
Georgia GCSA Recognized for BMPs
On March 3, 2020, the Georgia State Senate read and adopted a resolution “commending the Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association for the development of the Best Management Practices for Georgia Golf Courses and recognizing March 9, 2020, as Georgia Golf Day at the state capitol”.
In addition to their work on Georgia BMPs, the state senate applauded superintendents for their extensive training and specialized backgrounds: “today’s superintendents draw on more environmental science than any generation before them; their training included biological sciences, chemistry, horticulture, soils, environmental sciences, and many related disciplines, uniquely, qualifying them for their duties”.
The resolution also recognized turfgrass scientists at the University of Georgia, GCSAA, the EIFG and the USGA for contributions to developing and publishing the "Best Management Practices for Georgia Golf Courses".
Georgia Golf Day
After being recognized for their work on the Georgia BMPs, Georgia GCSA members attended their state capitol for Georgia Golf Day on March 9. Georgia GCSA was joined by leaders of each of the associations serving on the Georgia Allied Golf Council as they met with legislators and staff members to discuss the environmental and economic benefits of golf in Georgia.
Cactus & Pine GCSA Holds Virtual Meeting with Sen. McSally
The Cactus & Pine GCSA hosted a virtual meeting with Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) on Aug. 5 to provide updates and discuss issues facing the golf industry in Arizona. The virtual meeting was the latest in a series of meetings and calls that Cactus & Pine GCSA has held this summer to promote golf in the state. Topics on the call ranged from the state of the golf industry to pandemic relief and water.
On the call were Shawn Emerson, director of agronomy at Desert Mountain; Jeff Jensen; GCSAA southwest regional field representative; Don Rea, owner and PGA professional at Augusta Ranch Golf Club; Marc Snyder, superintendent at Sesert Mountain; and and PGA Professional Don Rea, Desert Mountain superintendent Marc Snyder; and Rory Van Poucke, general manager/superintendent at Apache Sun Golf Club.