2014 Agenda


Monday, March 31, 2014



8:00 am to 8:15 am: Introduction

Josh Heptig, Dairy Creek Golf Course



8:15 am to 9:00 am: Define "Affordable"

  • Our Symposium will begin with an open group discussion about what "affordable" means to the business of golf. Affordable means different things to different people. Can affordable be at different price points? Is affordable even a goal we should aspire to? As a group, we will try to answer these questions and lay out a map for the rest of the day's discussions.

Open Discussion

9:00 am to 9:45 am: If The Demand Isn't There, Is Anything Affordable?

  • The divergence between capacity to pay and capacity to control costs gets to the heart of the problem the game faces on the most systemic and elemental of levels. Craig will explore the macroeconomic factors that existed during the game’s steady growth period (1946-1999) and their relevancy in the twenty-first century. He will discuss how those factors that provided context for growing a game dependent upon long-term economic security, expanding disposable incomes, and a steadily growing middle class have changed. Simply put, if there are fewer folks in the market capable of affording what you’re selling at the price point necessary to turn a profit, what is the answer?

Craig Kessler, Southern California Golf Association


Break: 9:45 am to 10:00 am



10:00 am to 10:45 am: Case Study: River Oaks Golf Course in Paso Robles, California

  • One popular discussion among the talking heads of the golf business in recent years is the idea of non-traditional golf course of less than eighteen or nine holes. The talk is great but few have attempted the ideal. River Oaks Golf Course is the first "player development" course in the nation and plays to a par of nineteen with three sets of tees for each hole. Learn first-hand from their experience in providing public golf as a first step to becoming a core golfer and how their efforts at affordability have progressed.

Dick Wilhoit, Estrella Associates

Wes Wilhoit, Estrella Associates

10:45 am to 11:45 am: Breaking Through the Noise: What Does the Golfer Gain From Equipment?

  • Only nine percent of all golfers break 100. Two percent reach the eighties. Does the marketing effort laid forth by the manufacturers really reach a target audience that is just trying to get the ball airborne or is it just wasted effort? Should the focus be on the equipment or on what should be done with the equipment? Many believe that the first barrier to golf starts with the cost of equipment and that effort should be re-focused elsewhere.

Dick Rugge, Former USGA Sr. Technical Director

Lunch: 11:45 am to 1:00 pm


1:00 pm to 1:45 pm: Case Study: University of New Mexico North Course, Albuquerque, New Mexico 

  • The University of New Mexico North Course was originally an eighteen-hole golf course designed in 1941 by William Tucker.  Embraced by a vocal, pro-golf community, the layout was nonetheless reduced to nine holes and is now heavily used by the locals for non-golf uses such as walking, running, dog-walking and other passive activities.

    Recently the golf course received a grant to make the golf course more water efficient.  The new irrigation design, at a budget of $650,000.00, is an approach that runs counter to the standard systems specified today with double and triple row irrigation and stressing complete coverage.  Instead, the upgrade will integrate an efficient pumping strategy relying on moisture sensors and a single row layout spaced 75-feet on center supplemented by part-circle outer rows at the same spacing.  The golf course will be programmed to irrigate with center row only and be supplemented with outer spray as water becomes available. 

Andy Staples, Staples Golf



1:45 pm to 2:30 pm: Promoting the Game: Community Buy-In

  • As the perception of golf among the non-golfing public continues to be that of elitism and a drain on a community's natural resources, there must be a way for a golf facility to be inclusive of not just all people, but of uses as well.  If a golf course can truly be a resource for all residents, it can also provide profit centers beyond golf that can help the cost of the golf itself.

Ben Hood, Richard Mandell Golf Architecture


Break: 2:30 pm to 2:45 pm

2:45 pm to 4:00 pm: The Folly of Replicating Tournament Conditions

  • The golf courses we see each week on television are prepared for only one purpose: To look good on television and in other mediums. You’ve heard the warning many times: “Do not try this at home”. That is a mantra that should be heeded by greens committees and golf operators throughout the land. Trying to create an artificial environment beyond the minimum is a dangerous and never-ending journey that leads to a very expensive proposition and an unsustainable precedent.

Tim Moraghan, ASPIRE Golf Consulting

Bruce Williams, Bruce Williams Golf Consulting

Ted Horton, ValleyCrest Golf Maintenance

4:00 pm to 5:00 pm: Zero Waste Golf

  • At our second Symposium on Affordable Golf, we discussed the many facets of a Sustainable Golf Facility and that the fundamental challenge in maintenance is to reduce inputs. Superintendent Josh Heptig has devised a system at his facility where he has indeed done just that and as a result, nothing is wasted at Dairy Creek Golf Course, a truly self-sustaining facility.

Josh Heptig, Director of Golf Operations

County of San Luis Obispo, California

5:00 pm till: Happy Hour

Dairy Creek Golf Course Clubhouse

Tuesday, April 1, 2014



8:00 am to 8:45 am: Returning the Game to Affordability – How Less Can Actually Be More

  • For decades, advances in golf course construction and maintenance have pushed the limits of the business far from their intended goals of efficiency and quality.  Instead of solving problems in terms of time and costs, we have created more problems than solutions in the search for the perfect playing fields.  Ironically, golf was never intended to be played on a perfect playing field. 

    One way to do more with less is to re-visit the basic principle that golf was originally meant to be played within nature’s own constraints.  Returning the Game to Affordability – How Less Can Actually Be More is based on the return to the way golf was meant to be played, which first requires an understanding of how the game got from there to here.

Richard Mandell, Richard Mandell Golf Architecture

8:45 am to 9:30 am: Case Study:  Monarch Dunes Golf Course, Nipomo, California

  • Any way to get the new golfer is the mission for Monarch Dunes Golf Course. Their program, simply entitled LEARN GOLF, aims to minimize intimidation, cost, and time for the beginning golfer. Vertical integration allows the beginner to start their golfing career on a twelve-hole par-three course and graduate to their regulation golf course. Between both facilities, there are enough fun and games to keep everyone engaged, no matter their golf game at the time. It is a very active private club experience in the quintessential public golfing environment.

Tom Elliott, CGCS

Jim DeLaby, PGA Professional


Break: 9:30 am to 9:45 am



9:45 am to 10:45 am:Brown is the New Green? Firm and Fast? Or is it Something Else?

  • Many feel that the "browning" of golf courses today is a step in the right direction for an industry that has relied too heavily on our nation's natural resources - primarily water - in the past. The resulting backlash seemed at first an over-reaction to a word (brown) that required a little more consideration than literal translation. Our speakers will debate the sensitive issue of how to manage golf courses in this age, how choices made for playability can affect public perception and a facility’s bottom line, and most importantly how our most precious resource - water - factors into the equation.

Rhett Evans, CEO, GCSAA

Mike McCullough, Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency

Mike Huck, Irrigation & Turfgrass Services

10:45 am to 11:55 am: Customer Service:  What Does the Golfer Really Want?

  • Utilizing The Golf Experience - Your Way survey as a guide, five everyday golfers speak out on what truly is important to their own golf experiences. When pressed, the industry may find out that much of the effort is being expended without the desired results expected from the end-user. Maybe that effort can be directed elsewhere.

Roundtable Discussion

11:55 am to 12:00 pm: Final Thoughts

Open Discussion


Golf Outing at Dairy Creek Golf Course

Tee Times Beginning at 1:00 pm




Dairy Creek Golf Course is the newest of the three courses operated by San Luis Obispo County Parks. This "links-like" course is located on El Chorro Regional Park land just east of Highway 1 between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay, it boasts some incredible elevation changes, forced carries over water and rocky arroyos. The bentgrass greens will put the steadiest stroke to the test. Add tricky sea breezes whipping around nearby Hollister Peak and suddenly you've got a 6,548-yard course to be reckoned with.


Date: Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Time: Tee Times will start at 1:00 pm

Limited Space Available