Chicagoland Association of Golf Course Superintendents

From Workshop to Association

By Bruce Sering, Superintendent, Evanston Golf Club, Skokie, Illinois

Seven superintendents in the Chicago area held the first, informal meeting on April 21, 1966 to discuss labor problems they were experiencing in the area. From that meeting evolved a new local superintendents’ association.

The first, informal meeting was held on April 21, 1966 undefined seven superintendents met to discuss a labor problem. It was a very candid meeting, valuable to each man, principally, because of the frankness of the discussion. Because of the success of the first meeting, it was decided to continue to meet from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 .m. once a month.

No Name for the Workshop

The host superintendent acted as chairman of the meeting. The topics for discussion were set up at the previous meeting and each superintendent would check his records and be prepared to speak on these subjects. It was a round table debate where each person gave his views. Minutes were recorded and duplicated for every participant; each member had a permanent record to keep and study.

To give examples of what we talked about, I will list some of the discussions I have on file: 

(1) Wage rates, fringe benefits, and budgets –(this subject took two meetings); (2) Rates and methods of applying chemicals. For example, we found out the rates that were used at our different courses for Dicamba herbicide; not only rates but how much water was used; dates and weather conditions, plus the results; (3) Watering –timing and how much; (4) Caddie and cart policies; (5) Equipmentundefinedif one of the participants in the group had a new piece of equipment, he could discuss the pros and cons of its use and any special mechanical problems.

As you can see from the partial list, this information was especially helpful to the younger superintendent, such as myself, in our group. But, as we improved our format, the more experienced superintendent gleaned some usable knowledge from the younger members. Thus, the meetings were mutually beneficial.

What we had up to this point was an excellent monthly workshop, but we wanted more. There were 11 active members by June, 1967; one man with over 40 years experience and one with only tow seasons as superintendent; six men over 35 and five less than 35. It was great up to a point, but we began to worry that our group was becoming too narrow in its scope; too many inbred ideas. We wanted outside speakers to address the group. We wanted more superintendents to attend our meetings. We wanted progress, but we had only 11 people. So, we had to organize, accept new members, receive a state charter, and become a chapter of GCSAA.

Chicagoland GCSA

Why a new association? There is already an excellent association serving our area. We do not consider ourselves iconoclasts. But, we do believe our philosophy differs enough to warrant a new association. We are still active members in the Midwest Association both by our attendance at meetings and our payment of dues. From a purely personal standpoint, I can see no reason why I cannot support both associations as long as my vote at the national convention is just that: one vote.

By early summer 1967, we had come to the point in our history where most of us thought we would stagnate as a workshop. We asked superintendents in our area if they would be interested in developing a new association and join with us in hammering out a set of bylaws. The total number of men interested came to 22. Again, as in our smaller group, the age differential was about the same, even numbers of older and younger men. In relation to types of courses represented at our first meeting, they ranged from the nine-hole public course to a 54-hole private course.

When we assembled for the first time, it became evident that it would take many meetings and much work to come up with a set of bylaws acceptable to all. To myself, a novice, it seemed incongruous that 22 men, who appeared to have the same goals, would debate these subjects so long and vehemently. What I thought would be several meetings of mutual agreement, turned into fall, winter, and spring debates. Basically, what we did was set up a planning committee of seven members. They would caucus on a section of the bylaws. Then, they presented their views to the entire group. The membership would modify what was presented and then vote on it. We proceeded from there to each new section and finally completed our bylaws using laymen’s terms. We hired a lawyer to convert the bylaws into a legal document.

The best way for us, as a fledgling group, to explain our activities is to quote briefly from our bylaws before they were converted into legal jargon: 

PURPOSE: To advance, promote, and encourage professional knowledge among its membership by the interchanging of scientific and practical knowledge relating to the care of golf courses thus bringing about more efficient operation on golf courses and increase prestige for each member. To encourage cooperation with other associations whose interests parallel those of this association. “…To qualify for active membership, an applicant shall be employed as a functioning superintendent on a golf course. His title and primary duty is that of a golf course superintendent. The applicant must be a member of the GCSAA and must remain a member of the National.”

Of course, these are only excerpts from our bylaws, but I think they serve to show our basic philosophy. Simply stated, it is an association solely for golf superintendents, with education our prime concern.

As a footnote to our progress, we have had four monthly meetings held on the third Monday of the month. The meeting begins with dinner at 6:30 p.m. Prior to this time, we have our board of directors meeting to review the plans for that night. Promptly at 7:30 p.m., the guest speaker for that night begins his talk. After the speaker is finished and the question and discussion period is ended, (ordinarily about 9:30 p.m.), we have our business meeting.

We are a new and growing association. We know we can be an asset to each of our members, the Chicagoland area and the GCSAA.

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