A while back I attended a local chapter meeting. I hadn't been to one in a long time as I was at the height of travel everywhere but where I live. I'd been a chapter board member of this and another chapter as a superintendent, but my role as consultant meant my reclassification. So I really wasn't sure if I belonged at a Super's Association Meeting. And this was in the time before commercial sponsorship were the more sorted out thing that they seem to be today.
So in my spare time I wrote an opinion piece for TurfNet.com about how I felt like, based on what I had seen and heard, local chapters were in trouble. Like much of my writing when I feel a bit of passion, it caused a minor stir. A big discussion erupted on the turfnet forums. I got a bunch of phone calls. I was invited to that particular chapter's board meeting, with my membership being called into question (about 20 min of Wilber Oration actually helped them see some light). I'll stand by that piece. It was right for the time and it get people thinking and...created some change.
When my world travels slowed along with the golf construction biz, I found myself spending a lot of time in my home area and so it just seemed natural to be involved with the local chapters. I volunteered to be on the NorCal (basically the San Francisco Bay Area) chapter's education committee. I was asked to speak at a Sierra Nevada (Sacramento/Tahoe/Reno) chapter meeting. I ended up volunteering to run for the Sierra Nevada Board (ran unopposed...but still a race). Same with the NorCal. In fact in 2011 and 2012 I sat on both boards.
Why? basically because I wanted to be involved and to offer up whatever I could however it worked. Did it take some time? Yes. DId that time fit into my schedule? Yes. And the rewards have been great. Getting to be involved with a whole new set of turfheads who, mostly, had less experience in chapter management than I did. Yes, I was becoming "the old guy".
This Monday was the annual meeting of the NorCal chapter and the last day of my board term. 23 years with that association. And I looked around and realized that I really am the old guy... or at least the older guy. Young fresh faces intermixed with great wise people. The gents that I served with this year were a great mix of some some the first supers I met when coming to the area as a youngster and some innovative wonderful souls.
I was blown away when I received the chapter's Affiliate Merit Award. They had a bunch of pictures of all the award winners on a table and I was right there with them. Pretty cool. And in 2010 my friends in the Sierra Nevada group bestowed the same award on me. It's really not about the award. But the recognition, for me, who doesn't exactly fit the mold of average commercial member is pretty dang cool.
You see. I was wrong. Local associations are not dead. Like the moon, there may be some less lit days, but the fullness returns. And if you have forsaken your local chapter, you might want to rethink that. As its gotten harder and harder on turfheads in the new adaptive economy, you need your homies. A lot. So I'm glad I was wrong. Really glad.