Educating Golf Course Equipment Managers
The International Golf Course Equipment Managers Association (IGCEMA) has come a long way since being founded in 2006. It’s looking for ways to expand its reach and fulfill its mission to better educate technicians.
The association recently approved a certificate program that covers the competencies used by people employed in the golf course equipment manager, equipment technician and related services industries, says Stephen Tucker, CEO of IGCEMA. It covers cutting units, drivelines, electrical systems, hydraulic systems, internal combustion engines and sprayers.
We saw a huge need to develop these core competencies,” said Tucker. “Technicians are being hired to manage millions of dollars worth of equipment. Right now, superintendents may not know exactly what knowledge equipment managers have. The certificate program can be used to qualify technicians for positions and allow them to show employers the knowledge they have.”
In addition to the certificate program, the IGCEMA board is also planning to offer in-person training to equipment managers and technicians over the winter months.
“That’s something our association is looking at putting together by the end of this year,” Tucker says. “We know where it’ll be and have the classrooms and labs all set, now it’s just a matter of timing and funding.”
Part of that funding will come from a new product the association released at the Golf Industry Show. The association developed a height of cut gauge that can’t be flexed or otherwise manipulated, so it provides consistent measurements no matter who is using it.
“It’s being sold to members and non-members via the Pro Shop on igcema.org,” Tucker says. “We are using it as a membership tool. By coming to the site and buying the tool, equipment managers learn about us as well.”
Tucker says initial sales are strong, with some of the top clubs in the country using the height of cut gauge, including Pine Valley Golf Club, PGA National Resort & Spa, Four Seasons Dallas (where Tucker is equipment manager), and many more.
At the Tipping Point
The association, which is run by an all-volunteer, global staff, is at a crossroads.
“We’ve grown enough that it’s time to start hiring staff to push our association forward,” Tucker says. “We’re trying to find ways to fund that. The big push for us has always been to help educate technicians. The focus now for us is building relationships and figuring out innovative ways to do what we want to do. We feel that education programs will be a large part of it.”
Some of that relationship building includes working with the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) and local chapters to see how the organizations can help each other.
“We’re looking to see if it makes sense to introduce a new classification into existing superintendent chapters,” Tucker says. “We think that it would bring more value to superintendent associations to have equipment managers included.”
The IGCEMA is also broadening its footprint globally.
“We just became a supporting partner in the Asian Golf Industry Federation,” Tucker says. “We’re looking at ways to expand our reach outside the U.S.”
The innovative ways the IGCEMA continues to grow stems from a primary trait of many equipment managers: resourcefulness.
“It’s what we do,” Tucker says. “Equipment managers look at how equipment is designed and then have to figure out how to make it do exactly what we want it to. If we want to continue growing and keep technicians engaged, we need to come up with innovative ways to accomplish our goals.”