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GIS Conference and Trade Show Wrap Up!

My fellow Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) Board of Directors and I are extremely pleased with the most recent Golf Industry Show (GIS) held in Orlando. Once again, the attendance numbers matched or surpassed the association’s goals. Total attendance for the event rose to 13,600, including nearly 600 first-time member registrations. The 250,000-square-foot trade show at the Orange County Convention Center drew 6,300 qualified buyers to view the latest golf facility solutions and interact with the 569 exhibitors, and we were very enthused that the GCSAA Education Conference filled 5,800 seminar seats. The highest number since 2008! The staff and board are eagerly awaiting the results of the GIS attendee survey, but during and after the event we have received high praise from countless attendees and exhibitors.

left to right Pat Sisk, CGCS, Dick Bator, myself

Prior to the start of the GIS, our annual golf tournament was held at nearby golf facilities. This year the weather was fabulous! A special thanks goes to The Toro Company, which sponsored the event for the 23nd-consecutive year. More than 450 players competed in some aspect of the event. Michael Stieler, CGCS at Spring Creek G&CC in Ripon, CA, won his second tournament title with a second-round 1-over-par 73, which wrapped up a two-day total of 2-over-par 146. Stieler, who previously won the GCSAA National Championship in 2012, started the second day of the event three shots off the pace set by three-time winner Seth Strickland from Miami (FL) Shores CC. During my first 20 years in the business, I personally missed out by not participating in the event. 2012 was my first year to participate and I haven’t missed one since! I spoke with several first time players this year that told me they would also be back every year.

During the Opening Session on Tuesday night our 2017 Old Tom Morris Award Winner and my good friend, Paul R. Latshaw shared stories from his long career. It was a wonderful tribute to a noteworthy career and in typical Paul fashion; he kept the crowd very entertained. In addition to Latshaw, the winners of our other top GCSAA awards and the newest certified golf course superintendent class were recognized. Outgoing President Peter J. Grass, CGCS, was recognized for his many years of service to the association and had the opportunity to thank friends and family who supported him in his year as head of GCSAA. The board and staff will miss Pete’s leadership.

left to right Myself, Paul R. Latshaw and Paul B. Latshaw, CGCS

On Thursday morning, the inaugural Health in Action 5K, presented by Heritage Action and GCSAA, myself and 148 other participants were up before the crack of dawn to run or walk the 3.1-mile course. James McCurdy, Ph.D., of Mississippi State University, took the men’s first-place honor with an amazing time of 17:46. Among the women, Brielle Stephenson of Syngenta, came in first with a time of 24:23. My personal goal was simply to complete the course without stopping! I am pleased to report that I accomplished my goal in a time of 30:40. All proceeds from the event will benefit the philanthropic arm of the GCSAA, the Environmental Institute for Golf.

Later that day the association’s annual meeting was held. Bill H. Maynard, the director of golf course maintenance operations at the Country Club of St. Albans in St. Albans, Mo., was elected to a one-year term as president. Maynard, a certified golf course superintendent (CGCS), served as vice president of the association in 2016 and has been a member of the association’s board of directors since 2010. At the meeting, I was also honored and proud to be elected vice president. Rafael Barajas, CGCS and director of golf course operations at Boca Grove Plantation in Boca Raton, FL was elected secretary/treasurer, John R. Fulling Jr., CGCS and grounds and facilities manager at Kalamazoo (MI.) Country Club; Mark F. Jordan, CGCS and natural resource leader at Westfield Group Country Club in Westfield Center, OH; and John Walker, director of golf course maintenance at Bentwater Yacht and Country Club in Montgomery, TX, were re-elected to two-year terms. Our newest board of director is Kevin P. Sunderman. Kevin is the director of grounds at Isla Del Sol Yacht & Country Club in Saint Petersburg, FL. After receiving the highest number of votes among the director candidates, with board approval president Maynard appointed Kevin to complete the one-year remaining on Barajas’ term. In addition, delegates voted to approve a $5 dues increase for 2017 and amended the definition of equipment managers in the bylaws.

left to right Kevin Breen, CGCS, myself, and Pete Grass, CGCS

The annual meeting is open to all GCSAA members, and if you have never been, I would urge you to attend next year.

Penn State University’s Team #10, my alma matter (class of 1991), took first place in GCSAA’s Collegiate Turf Bowl Competition. The competition is presented in partnership with John Deere Golf. The foursome of Thomas Goyne, Derek Buganza, Curt Moore, Kevin Heimann, along with advisor Ben McGraw, Ph.D., returned to State College, PA with the traveling trophy and stipend. Second- and third-place honors went to Team #55 from Cal Poly Pomona and Team #23 from Auburn University, respectively. Fifty-eight teams, composed of 204 students from 36 different schools, competed in the event.

If you attended the GIS this year in Orlando, I hope that you share my enthusiasm of the event. If you were unable to attend, I hope that you will join us next February 3-8th at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, TX. As always, if there is something that GCSAA can assist you with please never hesitate to contact my fellow board of directors, our staff, or me. See you next year in Texas!

Darren J. Davis, CGCS
Vice President, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America
Golf Course Superintendent, Olde Florida Golf Club

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