I remember seeing an interview with some stunningly beautiful movie actress and the TV host asked her about going to her high school prom. “I never went to a prom,” she admitted. “I would have loved to have gone but no one ever asked me. I guess they assumed I’d turn them down.”

As I considered the crazy idea of doing a “Turfheads Take Over” issue of GCI, I admit I was a little like those guys in high school who were scared to ask the hot girl to prom.

The idea of committing to doing something no one had ever done before … publishing an entire issue of reader-written content … was a little risky. The fundamental notion was to ask the best people in the business to get personal about a topic that really matters to them. I wasn’t sure how people would respond. And begging a bunch of very important, very busy, highly respected supers to write for us was seriously intimidating.

Would they be comfortable with the idea? Was it a stupid concept? Would they write from the heart?

My biggest fear of all: What if they all just said no?

Not one person said no.

I really can’t describe how gratifying it was to have so many legends of the industry – many of whom had never before written an article for a national magazine – immediately agree to help us with this nutty project. Latshaw the Elder, Markow, Farren, Roney, Maples, Grigg, Clark, Horton … all of them said “yes” without any hesitation.

The fundamental notion was to ask the best people in the business to get personal about a topic that really matters to them. I wasn’t sure how people would respond.”

I was further delighted we were able to recruit many “friends of GCI” – folks like Brian Stiehler, David Beanblossom, Rick Tegtmeier, Pat Sisk, Billy Lewis, Mark Bado (a GM who gets it) and, of course, our pal Matthew Wharton. We even convinced Dr. John Dempsey, the amazing veteran course manager/turf PhD at Royal Curragh in the U.K. to give it a proper go.

Finally, we also corralled a few former supers who are now pursuing different paths: Mike Stachowicz, the chief grass guy for the National Mall in D.C., Brian Zimmerman, a past Wisconsin GCSA president who now happens to run our entire freaking Metroparks system here in Cleveland, David Gourlay, the wonderful Canadian transplant turned south Florida GM, and our boy Adam Garr who took his considerable agronomic talents to Syngenta a couple of years ago.

It’s kind of a nice early Christmas present to get to read so many great stories in one place. I love it and I really hope you do too. Maybe you’ll be inspired to give it a shot in 2017. We’re already planning it again for next December so if you’d like to join in the fun, start thinking about what you’d write about in your 750 words.

Before I turn this thing completely over to our turfheads, I just want to include a few personal notes about the year past and the year ahead.

First, thank you and happy holidays to all of our sponsors and advertising partners. It’s really heartening that you continue to invest in GCI and I’m delighted to report that we actually grew our business and our revenues last year despite tough market conditions. Thanks to you, we can continue to invest in quality content, employ great writers, and send our editorial team to cover far more industry events and cool stories than any other publication in our market.

Second, thanks to our contributing editors (who got this month off!) for your insights and your seemingly endless ability to come up with new and interesting things to say every month. Both Jeff Brauer and Terry Buchen have been writing for us for a couple of decades now and it’s remarkable to see how much fun they’re both still having.

Third, thanks to my boss Chris Foster and all of GIE Media for putting up with our nonsense. As you may have noticed, we aren’t exactly a traditional magazine and we don’t fit the mold of typical business-to-business publications. I’m very grateful they encourage us to be a little bit crazy.

Speaking of which, I’m now going to turn the asylum over to the inmates. With no further ado … here’s the first-ever Turfhead Issue.