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The Next Decade for Golf In this issue: MI Golf Business Conference IN PERSON The road ahead : the market for superintendents Riverwood GC: members since 1978


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Break Out of Your Bubble by GILDA JOHNSON, MGCA President Last week I had the pleasure of golfing with Kathy Aznovarian at the beautiful and beautifully maintained Golden Fox course at, Fox Hills Golf Club. It was a beautiful day – clear skies, soft wind, not too humid. A perfect day to venture out of my Lake Forest bubble, a business bubble that if I am not careful, I can be very comfortable operating within. I always enjoy spending time with Kathy, Sandy, and Jennifer – not only do I enjoy their company, but also the opportunity to speak about our businesses, to share ideas, opportunities, and frustrations. It is so difficult to operate in this business, or any other business in a vacuum. As business owners and operators, we steer our businesses through so many obstacles. This year staffing, weather, and the forever present Covid curve balls quickly come to mind. Planned and unplanned capital expenditures are forever knocking at my door. At the least opportune times, I am reminded that the Tee Off Times is published 4 times a year by the Michigan Golf Course Association. Opinions expressed by guest writers do not necessarily reflect the views of the MGCA. For information on Tee Off Times please contact us at

“depreciation expense, “a deduction that I love for tax purposes, is a real expense that will need to be addressed sooner or later. This year spending money has been trickier than ever. Scarcity in raw materials, production delays, shipping bottle necks and contractors with full schedules has required me to plan much more ahead for the simplest of projects.


Nov. 29 - Dec. 1, 2021 Somerset Inn, Troy There are many opportunities, risks, and liabilities that we manage every single day. Thankfully we have resources at our disposal through our association, and our affiliation with the NGCOA. The best resource we have, however, is each other. I am so happy that I have on my phone a list of rescue numbers… 1-800 dial Kathy, Sandy, or Jennifer, 1-800 call Bill or Steve, 1-800 call Jim. People I can call for names of contractors, ideas on how to repair bridges, get rid of geese, ways to better utilize my software, staffing concerns. You get the idea. I am a better operator hav-

ing the comfort that help, or a friendly ear is only a phone call away. Developing these relationships with my fellow golf course owners and operators has helped me become a better business owner. Had I not attended our annual conferences and golf outings, almost annually, for the past 20 years, it would have been very difficult to develop my cherished relationship with my fellow golf course owners. Kathy and Sandy were among the first people I met when I first joined the MGCA over 20 years ago. So happy that I did then. I encourage all of you reading this Tee Off Times to think about your participation in our Association. Perhaps you would like to join one of our organizing committees. At the very least, please attend your business conference. Kathy once mentioned to me, “Even if you take away one idea from the conference,” it is worth attending. I would add, if you establish a rapport with one person at the conference, it is worth attending. There are not many opportunities for us to escape our business bubbles, on November 29th, I hope you do and join us at our annual business conference. I guarantee your money back if you don’t find it was worth your money. Well, not quite. I need Board consensus on that. Money back or not, I hope to meet you and see you there!

Board of Directors President

Vice President


Past President

Kathy Aznavorian Fox Hills Golf & Banquet Center

Jeff Hoag Scott Lake Country Club

Bill Mory Meridian Sun Golf Course

Tom Schwark Sycamore Hills

Corey Crowell Indian River Golf Course

Toni Joers Concord Hills

Bay Paul Course Logix

Susan Vanderburg Indian Lake Hills

Bernie Friedrich Boyne Golf

Bob Koutnik Fox Run Country Club

Gilda Johnson Lake Forest Golf Club

Jim Dewling Total Golf Inc.

Jim Szilagyi The Lynx Golf Club


Bill Fountain Majestic at Lake Walden

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The Big Question of 2020 Answered by JADA PAISLEY, Exexutive Director Will the resurgence of golfers that we saw in the rollercoaster of a ride in 2020 return in 2021? The answer is in your tee sheets and parking lots. In your golf carts and in your pro shop. Newer golfers to the wonderful sport have returned and have left an energy and excitement to the golf business. There are more families, women and children golfing than most have seen in a while. In July at our MGCA Annual Golf Outing at Stoatin Brae, we had the highest attendance in many years, with over half of the teams there being mixed. As a newer customer I have invested time and money into a weekly league, food and of course beverage, a practice area near me, and golfing with friends and family more than ever before. I’m guessing most of your new customers are doing the same. The demand of golf has brought along some additional questions that I hear from of our members. From finding skilled labor to supply chain issues that affect all areas of your operation. How does the owner keep them coming

back and yet streamline many other parts of the business with not enough time resources? Capital planning to operational planning, there is not a shortage of items that need your attention. So how do you make the most concise and cost effective future focused decisions? The MGCA Team, along with the Educational Support Foundation Trustees has been planning the MI Golf Business Conference and Vendor Fair November 29-December 1 at the Somerset Inn in Troy, with relevant and timely education sessions. One of the many reasons members join the MGCA is networking and education. Developing your own network of “advisors” is so important regardless of whether you are a new or longtime golf course operator. In a new section of this issue, we get to know one of our long time members more. In our next issue we will get to know new member, Burr Oak. Both mentioned the value that a network can bring. Making future focused decisions is something all leaders need to do, and gathering input from colleagues along the leadership journey. This year’s conference will be loaded with opportunities to do just that.


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Riverwood Golf Course and Resort MGCA Member since 1978 ing junior golf FUN. I am also very proud of my sister Cindy, for becoming one of the many golf professionals to come from the Mt. Pleasant area.

In 1960 Dick Figg and his brothers bought Riverwood Golf Course. Dick and his family they have been operating the course ever since. Daughter Terri Sommerville is an operating manager, and grandson John Sommerville is Director of Golf. There have been many changes in the golf industry since 1960. Let’s find out a little more than you already know about Riverwood Golf Course from Dick Figg and his daughter Terri Sommerville.

Most recently you chose to add The Pines at Lake Isabella to your golf options for customers. How did you make that decision? Terri: My Dad just turned 88 and wanted to acquire a property to add diversity in their golf packages for customers. We are seeing the benefit of doing so.

What was the motivation behind purchasing the golf course in 1960? Dick: I started my career as a teacher. Although I loved teaching, I wanted to be my own boss. Being raised on a farm planting and harvesting were some of my favorite things. I loved golf and saw similar elements of farming so making the decision to purchase the golf course and become my own boss and become an entrepreneur was the right one. What are some of your favorite memories of growing up and learning the business of golf at Riverwood? Terri: Some of my favorite memories as a child are being able to go out and putt on the putting green. When we were old enough to drive the golf cart, we played our own version of “Whack a Mole”, but it was called “Whack a Gopher”. Mainly I look back and appreciate the wonderful work ethic that was instilled by my parents. Dick: After travelling with my own children to compete in golf tournaments, I realized we needed to do this for our community. We started the “Riverwood State Junior Tournament” in 1970 and have continued yearly. The only break we took was last year due to the pandemic. Terri: I am very proud of my parents for starting the “Riverwood State Junior Tournament” in 1970. As the only junior tournaments in the Mt. Pleasant area it helped mak-

Dick: In Mt. Pleasant in order to be competitive, I have found that we have needed to add additional revenue streams; the bowling alley, lodging for golfers, and now another golf course to add to the customer experience. Riverwood Golf Course has been a member of the Michigan Golf Course Association for decades. What are some of the benefits you have found to be the most valuable? Terri: It is wonderful to have someone to have our back with the Legislators and represent the the golf business. I Continued on page 9


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Member Spotlight Continued from page 7

have called MGCA many times with a question or have needed a referral. Networking and keeping on top of current business practices. Dick: There are a lot of things, however being part of a collective group and working on a common goal as an association. I have always felt comfortable calling and talking with the MGCA team to share my story or ask a question. What kind of advice would you give newer MGCA Members? Terri: Use the MGCA as a resource. Get involved with the many benefits. We have loved being a part of the Golden Passbook. Dick: The MGCA is looking to help you. We are stronger together. And get engaged and network. The cumulative knowledge of all of the members is available to you.

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Closing thoughts from Terri and Dick: We are inspired by the amount of new golfers that are taking up the game of golf and continuing to play. We have noticed golfers aren’t as likely to commit to 18 holes, but they are still getting out to golf. New customers realized that golf is a fun social sport. Our great customer service brings them back. Hospitality shown top down at our operation is key to repeat customers.

Creativity=Grants from the Educational Support Foundation Starting back in 2005 with a grant from the Dul Family, the Player Development Leadership Award has for the past 15 years provided over $20,000 in grants to golf course owners and operators who developed proven steps to cultivate new golfers and new rounds. These on-going programs overcome the non-golfer’s perceived barriers to playing golf and/or encourage golfers to play more. The award(s) are presented to MGCA members that demonstrate creativity

and success in growing the game. Each year the Scott Family Educational Support Foundation reviews dozens of applications for these grants. If you would like to be considered, visit the MGCA website for details. Watch for the entry deadline and check it out at To be considered, an MGCA member’s program must include actual playing opportunities, not just golf lessons. The following criteria will also be considered when reviewing and judging the entries: • BACKGROUND How did you develop the program and how long has it been in existence? • GOALS What is the goal of your program? Who is your target customer? • INNOVATION What is innovative about your development program? • IMPACT How do you measure its impact or success? 9

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President’s 2022 Budget Proposal Impacts Golf by RONNIE MILLS, Senior Director of Advocacy, NCGOA This summer, President Biden presented his 2022 budget proposal, outlining his tax and spending proposals and their effects on the federal budget over the next decade. While the path to passage is a long and winding road, it provides a roadmap for his administration’s priorities. The federal government has already committed $4.5 trillion in COVID-19 relief. At press time, only $3.2 trillion of these funds had been obligated. Will unobligated funds be used to pay for some of his budget proposals? Whatever the outcome, the 2022 federal budget will impact individuals and businesses. Who will pay, and how much, will be debated well into the fall. If enacted, the President’s priorities, will challenge every business, small and large. Here is a list of some of the targeted tax increases and new public policy mandates directed at the business community.

• Raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% • Raising the top income tax rate on individually-and family-owned businesses from 37% to 39.6% • Expanding the estate tax’s reach through repealing stepped-up basis • Increasing the top capital-gains tax rate to 43.4% • Enacting the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act • Mandating that employers provide a paid sick leave • Establishing a new government-run family and medical leave program As a golf course owner or operator, your bottom line will be affected by this new spending plan. Inflation is already affecting your purchase power. Labor costs will continue to be a challenge moving forward. Moving forward everything will start with your budget. (this Is an excerpt from the article In the July/August Golf Business Digital Magazine. Visit to read all)

Legislative Bulletin by BRIAN CALLEY, President, Small Business Association of Michigan As the economic recovery continues, new risks are emerging across the landscape. Nothing will throw a wet blanket on economic activity like uncertainty, and uncertainty is building. We have work to do on several fronts that will draw the small business community into many aspects of shaping public policy, including some areas not traditionally in our lane. Unlike last year, the risks facing most small businesses are about the accumulation of many small things. This differs from earlier in the pandemic when, for many businesses, the main obstacle was government ordered closures of businesses. Thankfully (hopefully) executive orders closing businesses are behind us. Still, many businesses are struggling with supply issues, labor shortages and rising costs, even as this summer gave us a little taste of normalcy. One small business owner shared with SBAM that his fuel TEE-OFF TIMES

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costs increased 27% during the first 30 weeks of the year as compared to the previous year. Many retail and restaurant businesses have limited hours of operation because of shortages in available workers. Shipping and deliveries are less predictable and often include delays and supply disruptions because of shortages in product. There is a long list of added costs and delays that far exceed the traditional challenges that face small business owners. It is taking a toll. Now, with labor shortages already holding back the small business recovery, parents in the workforce face additional uncertainties with consistent availability of schools in question. The owner of a small business in the staffing agency industry recently shared that well-qualified candidates are beginning to pull out of contention because they lack confidence that their kids will consistently be in school this fall. Death by 1,000 cuts. These are complex issues. But we can certainly start with ensuring schools stay open and the unemployment system returns to normal.

What Makes for a Good Handicapping Formula? by STEWART HEALEY, President, Handicomp Ever wonder what the most accurate handicapping systems are for club or league play and how they could be determined? It’s hard to deny. More accurate handicaps deliver more competitive tournaments, leagues, and recreational play. To visualize this think of a bell curve where the most accurate “spot on” predictions are in the center and less accurate “higher & lower” predictions are spread to each side. The tighter scores are to the center of the curve the more accurate the system. The more scores are spread out from the center the less accurate the system. So, how is accuracy measured using score predictions? Simply sample a database containing a large volume of golfers and scores (which we have), look back a number of scores for each golfer (say 30) and calculate the handicap at that time to see how well it predicts the next score shot. Then include that


score in a new calculation and predict the next score shot and repeat. It will produce results of high & low misses and spot on predictions. Compare findings and you have the answer. For illustration we compared the two primary club services in Michigan, which are the World Handicap System and our own Handicomp Golf Handicap System using a random sample of 5k golfers and 60k predictions. The WHS won 30% of the predictions, 17% were ties, and the HGHS won 53%! The average width of the WHS bell curve was 4.9 strokes and the HGHS was a tighter 4.1. At the league level it’s more complicated because so many systems are home grown. In fact, within our Golf League Network we show more than 60 different custom configurations, ranging from a 3 score average to using as many as 40 scores. The most popular custom configuration (17% overall) is 5 scores, dropping the high and the low. Whereas most popular overall is a “league play only” version of the HGHS, which is preferred by nearly 40% of leagues.

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The Road Ahead by ADAM IKAMAS, Executive Director, CGCS, Michigan Golf Course Superintendents Association As a golf course owner and operator, you are already know that the most important asset is your golf course. It goes without saying that your Golf Course Superintendent has the highest impact on your course. As you are planning for your upcoming investment in course conditions, looking towards the future of the availability of qualified and educated Superintendents and Golf Professionals is important to note. The dip in enrolment in turf schools from the late 2000’s is now hitting the market. As a generation of current Superintendents from the high-water mark of MSU enrollment pre 2000 look at retirement there is not as many in line behind them to take their place. Our website ( had more than 60 open positions posted last winter some with Assistant salaries north of $60,000 a year. The market for Superintendents has changed dramatically in the last ten years, many turf students enter the private sector and do not leave, it is the path to an eventual job as a Superintendent in the private sector. I believe there will be a severe shortage of folks with a degree and experience that will be taking posi-

tions in the public sector and to attract them the budget and salaries will be significantly larger than they are currently at some facilities. As with all markets they are never wrong, and I do not see any change in the direction for this one. There are many avenues out there to help with this dilemma, however. The main source of information and extending education is through the GCSAA ( I cannot more highly recommend their library of online resources and in person education. If you have someone on your staff who has the leadership skills but not the agronomic education this is a great way to get it. Of course, also making sure they are a member of the MiGCSA and the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation (MTF) will help provide more local opportunities to network with their fellow Superintendents. All of this will help to get them the agronomic information they need and the local support to ensure your conditions are not at risk. There is a great value in the dues and expenses involved with these groups, every golf operation is one bad math morning while mixing a spray tank away from going out of business. We are in a time of great revenue for many golf operations, it is important that much of this is invested in the most important asset you have.

Corporate Member Profile

Leed Source Group is proud to be a new corporate member of the Michigan Golf Course Association. Leed Source Group works with golf courses, country clubs, resorts and entertainment centers throughout Michigan and the USA, providing quality Clubhouse, Banquet and Patio Furnishings. They are a Michigan company representing manufacturers that are uniquely qualified to supply Tables, Chairs, Booths and Outdoor Furnishings that can take the wear and tear that TEE-OFF TIMES

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your clientel gives them. Contact: Buzz Goebel or Lee Scott to see what we can do for you! Leedsource Group: 616-443-7513 Lee or Buzz can offer industry specific insights and can offer testimonials from clients around the country. 12

Workplace Outdoor Safety Take a bite out of outside hazards Besides being pesky, a hazard of working outside are bugs and insects. The range of injuries range from a painful bite site to long-term disability and death. As far as frequency of injury, bug bites are far more common than animal bites. Serious illnesses include West Nile Virus, Anaphylaxis, Lyme disease, and others. Some of the venoms from biting insects can also cause major injuries. So what’s out there?  Mosquitos – As the Great Lakes State, Michigan is known for an abundance of water. Unfortunately this provides a perfect breeding ground for mosquitos. Most of the time, a mosquito bite is more of a nuisance than anything. However mosquitos can transmit a variety of diseases that can be considered life altering. Such as West Nile Virus, Zika Virus, and Easter Equine Encephalitis.  Fleas - These parasites aren’t just for dogs and cats. They’ll bite a human if they come in contact with one. The good news is that fleas found in Michigan usually don’t carry diseases.  Ticks – Ticks can transmit Lyme disease which, depending on the length of exposure, can cause a range of health conditions including arthritis, nervous system disorders, and heart irregularities.  Bees, Wasps, and Hornets – Technically, these do not bite, but rather they sting. Most of the time, getting stung causes pain and swelling which goes away after a short amount of time. Employees should inform their employer if they are allergic as the venom may cause anaphylaxis which can be serious or fatal.  Spiders – Brown Recluse and Black Widow spiders are common to Michigan. The bite of a Brown Recluse is often not painful initially, but evolve into a sting and then into intense pain up to eight hours later. Afterwards, a small blister and necrosis – the death of body tissue – develops. The bite of a Black Widow show up as two small punctures and, because the venom of a black widow attacks the nervous system, cause muscle cramps, abdominal pain, weakness and tremors. Severe cases might also see nausea, vomiting, fainting, dizziness, chest pain and respiratory issues.

 Make sure that clothing completely covers areas where bugs are likely to be as they generally do not bite through clothing.  Use insect repellant with 30% DEET.  Avoid reaching into areas where bugs and insects are likely to nest including under logs or into holes.  If a nest is identified, do not attempt to remove it, leave it to the experts

To learn more about the Michigan Clubs Fund visit:

Want to hear more from Michigan Clubs Fund Safety Experts? Attend the breakout session at the Michigan Golf Business Conference on Tuesday, November 30 at the Somerset Inn in Troy... Breakout Session: Golf Cart Safety Program

After attending this session attendees will walk away with a Sample Safety Policy and Procedures Manual that will outline the recommended procedures and training needed for you course’s golf cart safety program.


 Prior to beginning work outdoors, complete and assessment for what bugs or animals are likely to be in the area. If any are identified, take the proper precautions. 13

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Michigan Golf Business

Register for the full conference before 10/15 and the Preconference Education will be complimentary!

Nov. 29 - Dec. 1, 2021 Somerset Inn, Troy

Visit the conference website at for how to register, make your hotel reservations, and for the best value to bring your entire team!


Sneak Peak

Save the Date! Here are just a few highlights for our upcoming 2021 Michigan Golf Business Conference.


Additional Price for Pre-Con unless you register prior to Ocober 15. The Preconference education will start in the afternoon at 2pm. Learn how to “Become Cyber Resilient” with Chad Pullman, CEO of Nuwave Technologies. Cyber incidents have increased 400% since COVID-19. Two-thirds of all attacks impact small and mid-sized businesses. Chad will conduct an additional session as he walks you through “How a Cyber Attack Happens” and shows you what a hacker is looking for. Pullman

Additional topics this afternoon will include panel led discussions on “Master Planning for your Capital Expenditures” and getting back to market basics with “Are you taking care of the tee time maker?” Our Opening Night Reception marks the official start of the conference from 6:00-8:00 pm



Greg Kelser is our opening keynote on Matters of Leadership. Greg graduated from Michigan State University and along with Earvin “Magic” Johnson captained the Spartans to the 1979 NCAA basketball championship. Greg then played for the Detroit Pistons for six years. He has served as the television broadcaster for the Pistons since 1988. Your choice of breakouts for the day will be plentiful and pertinent. Everything you need to know about Golf Cart Safety from the Michigan Clubs Fund, Supply Chain Creativity in Food and Beverage, updates from our partners at Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, and more! VENDOR FAIR including lunch will provide networking opportunities with colleagues and also connect you to suppliers in the industry.


Our afternoon keynote will have a panel discussion on “Future Focused for the Michigan Golf Industry” featuring the Michigan Golf Alliance facilitated by Jay Karen, CEO of National Golf Course Owners Association with topics on labor issues, skilled labor issues, technology and other current conditions affecting the Michigan Golf Industry. Jeff Hoag will then lead a panel discussion on “Embracing New Golfers”. After the afternoon breakout sessions, celebrate your peers at the Annual Awards Banquet.



After the MGCA Brief Business Meeting during breakfast, have time to complete those conversations started at the beginning of the conference in The Masters round tables. 15

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1005 Abbot Road Suite A East Lansing, MI 48823 (517) 482-4312

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Tee-Off Times is published by the Michigan Golf Course Association, editor – Jada Paisley. MGCA offices are located at 1005 Abbot Road, Suite A, East Lansing, MI 48823. Phone (517) 482-4312, Fax (517) 267-8984. Articles written by outside authors do not necessarily reflect the view or position of the MGCA. MGCA’s position on key issues will be clearly stated. Manuscripts are accepted at the approval of the editor who reserves the right to reject or edit. Appearance in the Tee-Off Times does not constitute endorsement of the advertiser, its products or services, nor does Tee-Off Times make any claims or guarantees as to the accuracy or validity of the advertiser’s offer and reserves the right to reject any advertising deemed unsuitable. Advertising rates and other information available upon request.

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Profile for Michigan Golf Course Association

Fall 2021 Tee-Off Times  

The Fall 2021 issue of the Michigan Golf Course Association's Tee-Off Times publication.

Fall 2021 Tee-Off Times  

The Fall 2021 issue of the Michigan Golf Course Association's Tee-Off Times publication.

Profile for mgcoa

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