Support — It’s A Two Way Street By Larry Gilhuly

Larry Gilhuly is Northwest Director, USGA Green Section

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The word support is one that forms the foundation of the USGA Green Section. Through our Turf Advisory Service we support golf course facilities to be the best they can be while keeping budgets in mind. Through our Green Section web page and Record we support the entire golf industry with up-to-date information on virtually every facet of golf course maintenance. Through our research program we have supported the funding to create most of the grasses found on golf courses in Hawaii. However, one of our personal favorite supports to the golf industry is when we are allowed to travel to portions of our region to provide regional educational conferences.

Golf in Hawaii and on the Mainland has changed rather dramatically in the past 5-7 years with economic factors being the driving force. At the same time, the USGA has also felt the pinch of reduced funding to conduct various programs that have been a staple of the USGA Green Section. One of those programs that have been significantly impacted was the regional conferences that were held on an annual basis. Historically, these programs have been primarily targeted at golf course superintendents with most of the program focused on golf course maintenance topics. However, with a need to outreach more into the entire golf industry and discuss the major topics of water use, economic sustainability, pace of play, and rules the USGA focused all of our regional programs in 2013 on these topics. That is why the regional conferences held on the four major islands during the first week of April were so critical. It was not only the content of the meeting to support the golf industry in Hawaii that was important. It was also the return support from those in the entire golf industry on each island that was of equal importance. The USGA needed to see if their outreach efforts were being felt in Hawaii by producing surveys of those in attendance to determine if their message was getting out to the PGA, club managers, golf association officials and volunteers to the game. As you will see, the support through attendance at these meetings came through loud and clear!

The Hawaii regional conferences were not in any way a singular effort by the USGA Green Section. While we put together the program, these conferences were a combination effort of all of the golf associations in the state. The Hawaii Chapter of the GCSAA, HSGA, Aloha Section of the PGA, HSWGA, HSJGA and the local chapter of the CMAA were all instrumental in getting the word out to their constituents. The following shows the total amount in attendance for each island and how each group added to a very successful show of support from the entire golf industry.

Oahu 60

  • Superintendents 11
  • Professionals 9
  • Golf Association 15
  • Club Managers 7
  • Industry suppliers 10
  • Course officials 9

Maui 34

  • Superintendents 12
  • Professionals 9
  • Golf Association 3
  • Club Managers 3
  • Industry suppliers 4
  • Course officials 4

Big Island 19

  • Superintendents 11
  • Professionals 2
  • Golf Association 1
  • Club Managers 2
  • Industry suppliers 2
  • Course officials 2

Kauai 32

  • Superintendents 12
  • Professionals 12
  • Golf Association 4
  • Club Managers 1
  • Industry suppliers 2
  • Course officials 2

A total of 148 attended the four conferences with Oahu leading the way with 60, Maui with 34, Kauai with 32 and the Big Island with 19. Unfortunately, the Big Island date interfered with a local PGA event, thus numbers for this island were lower than expected. Regardless, this is exactly the type of broad based support the USGA was looking for when they directed us to expand our programs. Also, based on the survey results the programs overwhelmingly met or exceeded expectations. These surveys were passed on to the USGA and we are currently working on trying to place this conference in the fall of 2014 to alternate with the bi-annual Aloha PGA Section conference that will be conducted this fall. Finally, we will be doing annual TAS visits to several golf courses in July and September. If you wish to be added to our itinerary for this year let us know. If not, make sure to include us in your budget for 2014 as we will be introducing a new type of visit that focuses on playing conditions next year. Stay tuned and thank you for your ongoing support.