The Western Canada Turfgrass Association (WCTA) has expressed great disappointment over the development of a "partnership agreement" between the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association (CGSA) and the British Columbia Golf Superintendents Association (BCGSA). The arrangement between the CGSA and the BCGSA seems to have snubbed the WCTA and its role with the industry, according to a recent letter to its members.
The letter to WCTA members, in its entirety, is as follows:
The WCTA, currently 700 members strong, has successfully represented, supported and helped provide education and networking opportunities for golf superintendents, sportsturf managers and the turf management profession for nearly 60 years in British Columbia and western Canada.
This letter is to let you know the WCTA Board of Directors is tremendously disappointed and perplexed that an announcement was made on December 8th outlining a partnership agreement between the British Columbia Golf Superintendents Association and the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association without any prior communication to the WCTA Board or any form of opportunity to be included in the ‘go-forward’ agreement.
The agreement, aimed at, “How to grow their relationship to better serve superintendents, golf course management professionals and the entire golf industry in B.C. and across Canada,” comes after an eight month long consultation process undertaken by the CGSA, designed to explore the future sustainability of a national golf superintendent organization amidst financial crisis caused by declining membership/conference revenues and a major accounting error that surfaced during a 2014 audit.
The CGSA consultation included input from 114 golf superintendents across Canada, several provincial organizations (including the WCTA) and other stakeholders but did not include any discussion about continuing a 30+ year working relationship between the CGSA and WCTA nor was there any effort made toward exploring collaborative efforts between the BCGSA and WCTA.
While the document states, “The insights gathered strongly suggested that the time for competing with provincial associations is over,” the decision to disregard the WCTA will most certainly have a negative impact on our association’s activities, while polarizing the industry, creating a counter-productive atmosphere of exclusion and duplication, and increasing costs in a market that simply is not large enough to support multiple organizations doing the same things.
In a recent survey of 91 members, the BCGSA reported 52% of those polled want the BCGSA to continue working with the WCTA toward a partnership agreement. Conversely, some strongly believe the WCTA does not represent the needs of the British Columbia golf superintendent sufficiently, the golf sector should stand alone and therefore the WCTA should represent sports turf only.
The WCTA’s membership indeed spans several turf management sectors and has found amazing synergies with those groups while retaining a very professional approach to the golf industry. Never have the needs of the golf industry been conceded, in fact quite the opposite, as the WCTA’s strength in numbers and our ability to focus resources have proven highly beneficial to golf. We have made these accomplishments by being inclusionary and would point out other successful alliances of golf and sports turf groups, for instance, the Atlantic Golf Superintendents Association and Sports Turf Canada.
With the knowledge that almost 60% of golf courses in BC are represented by a WCTA member and the majority of BCGSA members are also WCTA members, the WCTA Board believes the sensible approach is to unify provincially first and then work toward supporting a national association. Combined with other strong provincial groups, long-term sustainability of a national organization can be ensured while regional and local needs continue to be met with a very high degree of success.
To operate like a business, the WCTA has to be able to move forward and continue to provide the direction and quality of service the golf and sports turf industry has been used to since 1958. The association’s original mandate of ‘Research, Education and Networking’ remains as relevant today as it did then when a small group of individuals came together to create an organization that would support their needs. With an impassioned desire to serve, the Association evolved and grew over time, recently adding industry advocacy to its mandate. The WCTA continues to drive important, industry leading efforts in many areas including environmental advocacy, providing accessible education and networking opportunities, communication/industry news and a variety of member services programming.
On behalf of all WCTA members, the Board wishes to build on past successes, creating advances and opportunities based on a common thread while recognizing and fulfilling individual sector needs. Many industry organizations are highly successful with this approach and we believe there is a bright future for an organized and synergistic relationship between the CGSA, BCGSA, WCTA, Sports Turf Canada and others.
The Board also understands there are differing opinions on how best to serve the industry and remains dedicated to honest, constructive dialogue focused on solutions. We are encouraged by the support of our members, shown through stable numbers over time and wide appreciation of WCTA member services, events and programs.
However the key to the extent of collaboration is ‘political will’ and unfortunately, the CGSA/BCGSA exclusion of the WCTA is effectively asking the golf sector to make a choice that will impact the future of the WCTA as an energetic, responsive, regional organization.
It is therefore time to have a definitive conversation. If it is the will of the approximately 300 golf course members of the WCTA to move to a partnership with the CGSA, make us aware as the industry cannot afford continued division generated by competing industry organizations.
Before responding, we encourage all WCTA members to think deeply about this issue and make frank, constructive comments to any or all Directors of the Board. All feedback will be carefully considered and we will be glad to answer any questions.
Thank you for supporting the WCTA. If you no longer wish to remain involved, for whatever reason, please let us know. If you wish to participate with committee work or put your name forward for a Director position, we would be happy to have the help.
All the best over the holiday season,
WCTA Board of Directors
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