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New and noteworthy in #GIS18 education

If variety is indeed the spice, then GCSAA’s educational offerings during the 2018 Golf Industry Show will be among the spiciest on San Antonio’s menu come February. (Step aside, Tex-Mex.)


San Antonio Riverwalk
A colorful collection of educational opportunities will be on tap at the 2018 GCSAA Education Conference in San Antonio. Photo courtesy of

Whether you’re looking to glean down-in-the-dirt turf know-how, discover impactful projects you can immediately implement at your facility, or explore innovative approaches to managing your team, your time or your finances, you’ll find it all and more in the 430-plus hours of education awaiting in the Alamo City.

Conference tracks tailored to assistant superintendents, equipment managers, students and other attendee groups make mapping out your ideal itinerary and meeting your personal educational goals easier and more achievable than ever. The diversity of options extends to the style of the curriculum as well, with learning available in a classroom setting, out in the field, in interactive formats, and as lively “edu-tainment.”

Here’s a look at a handful of highlights at this year’s education conference. Remember: All sessions and trade show floor education are included with GIS registration. Seminars and field trips are an additional cost and require separate registration. For the lowest prices, register for GIS by Jan. 12.

Freshly forged tracks

Tracks are recommended GIS agendas for those in certain roles or with a specific area of interest, and 2018 features two newly established tracks: students and Spanish language. Another standout facet of the student-specialized programming is the first-ever Student Pavilion on the trade show floor, which will host 30-minute talks on topics such as job interview strategies and connecting with a mentor.

Higher heights

Ever found yourself thinking, “This would be so much easier if I just had a bird’s-eye view”? Drones, also known as UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), are immensely valuable in golf course maintenance, and a pair of new seminars focus on delivering the knowledge you need to take flight for improved operations. Check out Closer to Reality: Drones and Site-Specific Management on Your Course on Tuesday, and High in the Sky Management: UAVs for Managing Water, Fertility and Disease on Wednesday.

Turf Equipment Technician Certificate Program

For the first time, equipment managers can take the exams for GCSAA’s recently developed Turf Equipment Technician Certificate Program on-site at GIS. Those interested will have the opportunity to prep for Thursday’s tests with a series of two-hour seminars on Wednesday, which will tackle a wide range of exam material, including points not covered in the study guides.

Presents of mind

The philosophy of mindfulness — the awareness of your actions, thoughts and feelings in the present moment, without judgment of them, as a means of finding balance and reducing stress — may seem a bit abstract for the superintendent’s toolbox, yet this simple approach affords benefits particularly pertinent to turf managers. “Superintendent is a high-stress profession — they’re hard workers, and a lot of things are out of their control — so mindfulness can be useful to them, and many of them are seeing the appeal in it,” says Kelli Flanner, senior manager of curriculum at GCSAA. In Monday’s new seminar Mindfulness and Millennials: Using Both to Get Results and Keep Your Sanity, you’ll get an introduction to mindfulness and how to tap this innate ability for the purposes of dealing with stress, becoming a stronger leader, and fostering a positive workplace environment.

Room for debate

In The Great Debate, a fast-paced, lighthearted one-hour session on Tuesday, you’ll hear from a selection of superintendents as they debate agronomic practices, with the topics dictated by the spin of a wheel. Enjoy exposure to differing views on the pursuit of common goals.

Return engagements

Love a previous year’s session on, say, social media or do-it-yourself projects? The presenters in all sessions change every year, so you’ll find a fresh batch of insights and perspectives beneath each tried-and-true subject matter umbrella. Access the full list of sessions and presenters.

Megan Hirt is GCM’s managing editor.