First off, I want to thank GCI for offering this opportunity to speak about something near and dear to my heart. This is a topic and title I have written about before and I am sure will write about again. It is about the value, both real and perceived, in professional associations, in our case specifically the GCSAA and the 98 affiliated chapters. This is a hot topic on both sides and passion can run high in both camps. As you can imagine, I am pretty well dug in on one side, but I was not always that way.

I knew that being part of the group that represents our industry was important, so important that I joined GCSAA at 18 years old as a crew member at the golf course I worked on at the time. But that was about it for many years. As a student at Michigan State, I kept the membership. As an assistant, the course I worked for paid the Class C dues. The same was true when I became a superintendent in 2004. I would occasionally read an article or two from the magazine and attend GIS when the course could afford it, but really that was my only interaction with the GCSAA. Some of you reading this are avid GCSAA members who get involved, some of you are not members, and some are probably even avid detractors of the GCSAA and/or your local chapter. You may say the GCSAA or local membership dues are not worth it, it is a waste of money and what do they do for me anyway? Now this is not the first time I have heard this, and personally there was a time when perhaps I would have not disagreed with it. If you look at GCSAA or your local chapter as a service, then it appears to be a terrible value: $375 for a GCSAA membership and another $100-plus for the local dues, and all you get are a few magazines you don’t usually have time to read.

“The GCSAA and your local chapter are not a direct service in the traditional sense. These groups are an opportunity and can be as large of an opportunity as you can make of them.”

However, if that is your mindset, I’m not sure you understand how this all works. The GCSAA and your local chapter are not a direct service in the traditional sense. These groups are an opportunity and can be as large of an opportunity as you can make of them. If you sit back and wait for these groups to do things for you, it will not work. It is not supposed to work that way. It is like buying a new sprayer, parking it in the barn and wondering why you have disease ridden turf. Anything you need or could want is at your fingertips, but you must use your own power to move it.

When I first started this job, I struggled with trying to come up with the “elevator pitch” to explain why the MiGCSA is important for members. I started listing all the things we do behind the scenes like foster relationships with the state and local governments, provide networking and educational opportunities, produce an industry leading magazine and a massive communication network, and so on down the line into the minutia of the daily operations. But as I struggled with this, I was turned on to a “Ted Talk” by Simon Sinek on the idea that people do not believe in what you do, they believe in why you do it. This resonated with me and has changes my elevator speech completely.

Your local chapter and GCSAA is not about doing things for you, even though they both do a lot. They are about giving you the opportunity to be part of us, not them, just us. We are all people in the golf industry, association members or not. It is what we do. Why do we do it? For the giant paychecks, or the glory and appreciation? It is because we are passionate about our profession. As a group of people who are passionate about our profession, we are unstoppable. When we all believe in why we do it together, we are unstoppable. When we utilize the opportunities by getting involved to whatever level you would like, we are unstoppable. When the GCSAA does well, we all do well. When the local chapter does well, we all do well. It is not they do well. We are they. So, the next time you wonder about paying your dues to either group please think of it not as a service like your cable bill, but as an investment in all of us which absolutely includes YOU.

Adam Ikamas, CGCS, is the executive director of the Michigan GCSA.