2016 GIS chapter sessions

Specialized events focused executives, presidents and editors

Chapter Executives session

Chapter executives and leaders from across the U.S. and Ontario gathered at the Chapter Executive Session held during the 2016 Golf Industry Show in San Diego. Attendees were updated on GCSAA programs and services, heard best practices from their colleagues and networked with peers.

Rhett Evans, GCSAA CEO began the session by briefing the attendees on the recently completed Member Needs Survey. The survey not only covers how members feel about GCSAA, but touches on several chapter question as well. The key finding was that GCSAA and chapters had their overall approval rating go up. The approval rating was the highest it has been since 2006. Evans briefed attendees on the top “significant future changes” members see in the golf industry. They were:

  • Water
  • Government regulations and restrictions
  • Budget/cost of doing business
  • Technology improvements

Considering the respondents top concerns for the future, perhaps their answers for preferred education topics are not surprising: water, pesticides, regulations, budgets and technology.

He wrapped up his presentation by answering numerous questions from the attendees and by showing the newest edition of the “Thank a Golf Course Superintendent” campaign. Chapter leaders and executives then had the opportunity to participate in a question and answer session with Evans.

Next, the attendees heard updates from GCSAA staff on the completed affiliation agreement, the upcoming chapter assessment tool and the popular Chapter Outreach Grants. The grant application deadline is April 15. GCSAA's regional representatives briefed everyone on the strides made by chapters and the golf industry in each region.

Rounding out the session were two presentations from chapter executives. Carmella Ruggiero, executive director, Cactus and Pine GCSA; and Brian Laurent, Propel Solutions (Central Ohio, Greater Cincinnati and Miami Valley chapters) shared with their colleagues successes they've had in managing their chapters.

Ruggiero shared with attendees the secrets to her success in building community among chapter members and increasing chapter member attendance at various events. The Cactus and Pine GCSA is a statewide chapter in Arizona. Her key takeaways were:

  • Make members feel special and important. Recognize each member’s birthday, personalize all communications and make time to personally interact with membership during meetings.
  • Entice members to your meetings. Make meetings interesting and worth it for people to attend by thinking creatively regarding education and speakers. Also have events where families are invited to attend.
  • Make your meetings fun. Use branded themes for chapter meetings and provide gifts that further the theme.

Laurent talked to the group about utilizing video to increase attendance at chapter meetings, engaging membership and thanking sponsors. He shared statistics that backed up what many in the audience had already noted – videos are engaging, more likely to be viewed and everywhere. Laurent illustrated several ways he currently uses videos with the associations he manages: post videos of speakers for those who missed them, promote upcoming events with videos and use video profiles of members and vendors on chapter websites.

He also shared tips and equipment recommendations to get started. He uses a Canon T5i, a quality microphone and camera stand. For his aerial shots, he uses a DJI Phantom 3 drone. Laurent edits with Final Cut Pro.His final bit of advice was to not be intimidated by video. Jump in there and try – most smart phones do a decent job of video capture.

Chapter Newsletter Editor Session

Chapter newsletter editors and communication directors gathered for an afternoon session dedicated to the writing and production of chapter publications. Scott Hollister, GCM editor-in-chief, and Montana Pritchard, Montana Pritchard Photography led the sessions.

Pritchard regularly shoots pictures for GCSAA, PGA Tour, PGA of America and other organizations. He shared his expertise with attendees in the taking and selection of photos for their newsletters or magazines. He recommended using websites such as istock.com for quality generic images to use in publications and gave suggestions on taking portraits and scenic shots. He also reveiewed chapter publications and encouraged editors to use higher resolution images for better quality.

Hollister presented tips on great story ideas and how to put an end to writer's or publisher’s block:

  • Write about what you know.
  • Write about what you want to know.
  • Tell your readers’ stories, or better yet, let them tell their stories.
  • Follow trends.

He also recommended creating an editorial board of members to bounce story ideas off of and to assist in writing articles.

Conversations with Chapter Presidents

On Feb. 10, 25 chapter presidents and board members gathered for "Conversations with Chapter Presidents." 2015 GCSAA President John O'Keefe, CGCS, thanked them for their service and recapped key issues for the 2016 Annual Meeting. Discussion topics at the event also included:

  • Outreach efforts at the high school level to encourage students to choose the golf course superintendent profession.
  • Working to increase diversity.
  • Efforts in engaging assistant superintendents.

All three chapter sessions are held annually at the Golf Industry Show. Please contact Leann Cooper, senior manager, chapter services, for additional details regarding the 2016 sessions or to provide topics for 2017.