If you’ve ever been in one on my seminars on effective communications, you may remember I preach the incredible power of a brief handwritten note. Think about it: in an age when you get 200 emails and 50 text messages a day, aren’t you always surprised and delighted to receive a little handwritten snail-mail note from someone?

Let me give you a case in point. A week or so after our “GCI Tech: Forecasting the Future” conference in Charlotte, I grabbed my usual pile of office mail, opened a neatly hand-addressed envelope and found this from a top super from Virginia who’d attended the event: “I wanted to thank you and the entire GCI staff for a great event. In my 20 years of attending classes and seminars, I would have to say this was the most beneficial and educational event I have participated in. Golf is changing and I am glad you are trying to help us stay ahead of the curve.”

We received a lot of wonderful comments and emails and had great scores on our attendee satisfaction survey, but that note will stay on my bulletin board for a long time.

The other thing that will last a long time is my gratitude to our sponsors, Toro, Syngenta and Smith Turf & Irrigation, and our hosts, the Carolinas GCSA and Carolina Golf Club. Y’all went above and beyond expectations, and I particularly want to thank Matthew Wharton, CGCS/MG, and his team at CGC for their warm hospitality.

Superintendent Matthew Wharton greets golfers before the GCI Tech golf outing at Carolina Golf Club. Proceeds from the outing benefited the Wee One Foundation.

What did we learn from the event? Well, read Guy Cipriano’s cover story and you’ll find the answer is “a lot.” We covered a ton of ground in eight hours and probably the only complaint I heard was that it was a little exhausting trying to keep up with the brainpower in the room. That was the best backhanded compliment ever, I think.

How could we possibly top this year’s event? Where will we go next? Stay tuned...”

From my perspective, the most important thing I learned that many other folks – including our speakers and plenty of our attendees – are optimistic about the future for superintendents and clubs that are willing to take 100 percent ownership of their destiny. Waiting and hoping is not a business plan. Taking charge of planning, operations, marketing, P&L management and making a total commitment to hospitality and customer service is a business plan.

We were delighted to receive some serious and semi-serious invitations to host future events around the globe (Australia may have to wait a few years) and we will definitely do GCI Tech 2 in 2017. How could we possibly top this year’s event? Where will we go next? Stay tuned… So, you’re probably all bummed out that you missed the inaugural event and all the great info that was shared by our amazing lineup of speakers, huh? Well, cheer up because we videotaped everything and by now it should all be posted on the GCI website. Enjoy!