Coming out of the winter of 1980, several chapters asked GCSAA to survey all the chapters to inquire whether they wanted to be mailed (no e-mail then) the minutes of GCSAA Board meetings for distribution to their chapters board members and to any of their chapter members requesting a copy.
The chapters voted 95-0 to implement this policy that served the Association well as evidenced by the fact that every existing activity/program given attention at the time realized sizable growth because the members felt for the first time that they were part of the team. This was a transformative time for GCSAA that everyone thought would last indefinitely.
Unfortunately, however, within a few years a disruptive headquarters relocation battle within GCSAA unsettled everything, politically divided the membership, and consequently, the still relatively new policy of distributing Board meeting minutes was abandoned and has not been revived to this day.
The Consequences Of Failed Leadership
The most critical consequence of this relocation skirmish was that all the headway that had been made up to that time to advance the job security and access to outreach counseling on behalf of the members stalled and quickly dissipated - not to return to this day.
For a detailed listing of the devastation wrought upon superintendents and their families when politics over-rides job performance and costs them their jobs - see April 28, 2016 blog message.
Why Board Efforts To Address Job Security Matters Fails
Through the years GCSAA watchers including myself have asked well-respected leaders within the membership why they consistently decline invitations to serve on the GCSAA Board? The persistent answer always has been:
"Because the nominating committee has been delivering more 'nice guys' with the best intentions' to the GCSAA Board than natural leaders who are needed to make the tough decisions. Important policy proposals consistently fail by 2-7 and 3-6 votes and I don't want to spend that much time traveling the country, attending meetings when so little gets done - especially when I know my one vote will not make a difference."
Clearly, the nominating process requires adjustments to ensure that it will become more effective delivering dominant leadership on a year-to-year basis to the GCSAA Board - because without enhanced leadership at the top the two embattled issues of our time: namely, making better job security and access to outreach counseling available to the membership will never get on the radar.
Recommended Plan Of Action
Following are four recommended steps that would upgrade the nominating process and return GCSAA to a much-heralded era of operational transparency.
Step Number One:
Only chapter past presidents would be eligible to be nominated to the GCSAA Board. This would produce several hundreds of potentially qualified nominees at any one time from all the chapters.
Rationale: Logic suggests that chapter presidents would have demonstrated the necessary leadership qualities to a greater degree than any other official, or member within a chapter.
GCSAA nominating policy should always ensure advancing the very best qualified leaders to its Board.
Step Number Two:
Only chapter boards can nominate past presidents to the GCSAA Board with the following understandings: only one past president can be nominated each election cycle; and the nominee must be a member of the same chapter as the endorsing board.
Rationale: Chapter boards are the best "quality control" element available to ensure that only the best candidates get nominated to the GCSAA Board.
Step Number Three:
Sponsoring chapters would be required to submit a personal career web site profiling the career, professional vision and lifestyle of their nominees when notifying the GCSAA Nominating Committee of their selections.
The nominee would be responsible for designing/developing his own website - using outside counseling support, or not - which the endorsing chapter board must approve of before submitting its nomination to the GCSAA Nominating Committee.
The nominees personal career website would include, in part: a series of appropriate links depicting the nominees educational, career and lifestyle accomplishments; a full text presentation of all writings published by the nominee; a +/- 500 word essay stating what the nominee's short and long term visions are for GCSAA; and for those seeking re-election to the Board a statement of the nominee's issue by issue voting record while serving previously on the GCSAA Board.
The endorsing chapter would pay for the development of its nominee's personal career web site - the cost of which must stay within the limits established by GCSAA.
Rationale: Because the nominees' web site addresses could be included within each candidate's information package that GCSAA sends out to all its members before an election, the concept of a personal career web site guarantees that there will be a well-informed voting membership attending every GCSAA annual meeting.
Step Number Four:
It is imperative that GCSAA returns to be the totally transparent organization it once was, which would require reinstating the policy of e-mailing Board meeting minutes to the board members of all of the 100-plus chapters.
Rationale: The primary fallout of GCSAA failing to restore the policy authorizing the distribution of Board meeting minutes would be that the members would continue to have absolutely no idea what the voting records were of the members they are electing as officers, or Board members.
Accordingly, without access to nominees' voting records, there would no available way for members to judge whether any candidate for election was an effective leader, or not.
Can anyone imagine a U.S. Senator, or a U.S. Congressman running for re-election without the American people knowing of their voting records? The entire election process would be declared unconstitutional and shut down.
Where Does GCSAA Go From Here?
Of course, this brings everything back to the original source of the problem; namely being dependent on the GCSAA Board to vote passage of important policy legislation.
The consensus opinion, again, of GCSAA watchers is that the Board would more than likely be willing to upgrade the nominating process. But, becoming a totally transparent organization could be another matter.
But then, GCSAA might want to create a second transformative era similar to that referenced earlier above because this would launch GCSAA, its members and the profession to new national levels of recognition and respect.
Because the long-range welfare of every golf course superintendent across the land will totally depend in the years ahead on realizing the two goals of upgrading the GCSAA nominating process and returning the Association to transparent governance everyone should be well-motivated to get the job done.
It is time for leaders within GCSAA and at the chapter level to take charge, organize a campaign and lead!