Travelogue: Idaho GCSA and Montana

By |  March 8, 2016 1 Comments

I’ve known Peaks & Prairies (and Idaho GCSA) executive director Lori Russell for years… she likes to remind me that the first time she met me I was in my early 20s and had blue hair. (I did have blue hair in the early 2000s, for two days — it was a long Lollapalooza weekend. I don’t think a photo of this exists, thankfully.)

I was honored to receive an email late last year inviting me to Boise, Idaho to speak at the Idaho GCSA Spring Meeting and Trade Show. I’ve traveled the nation extensively, but a visit to Idaho had thus far evaded my travels. That was about to change.

The Record Exchange, Boise, Idaho

The Record Exchange in Boise gets my thumb’s up… excellent selection, good prices.

I got in to Boise on a Monday afternoon and had a little time to kill, so I poked around downtown a bit. I was impressed! Boise has a nice downtown, with lots of non-chain restaurants and most exciting, lots of microbreweries. An unexpected bonus: the Record Exchange, a top-notch used CD/record store. I spent about an hour there and walked out with some driving music for the mountains (Rob Zombie live, and some War sampler that mainly celebrated The Cisco Kid.)

Seth Jones speaking at Idaho GCSA

I’m yammering about “My Second Office” and begging people to send me photos like this one… number of photos I’ve received thus far? ZERO.

Tuesday morning the meeting kicked off at the Red Lion Downtowner Hotel, with about 100 people in attendance. I was batting third in the speaker line-up, with Brian Horgan, Ph.D., University of Minnesota and Bill Griffith, Walla Walla Community College, going on before me.

My talk went well, I think — you’d have to ask the group. The previous evening I was warned that it was a quiet group I’d be speaking to, but my experience was the opposite… lots of interaction with the room. Which made me run a little over my time. But I got through everything and lunch was still warm…

The best talk of the event in my opinion was Horgan’s talk (he gave three different talks! Whew!) on “Sustainable Turfgrass Systems.” It started out as a lecture about the future of the game, and then turned to a discussion about the USGA and University of Minnesota’s partnership to essentially study all of the game’s problems.

Seth made a funny

If you know me, you know I don’t like to take these talks too seriously…

There were some BIG IDEAS Horgan threw at us (a 5-hole round of golf, OK… but how about driving someone to No. 5 tee to start their round there? Why? Because there’s a gap in play!) I told him after dinner that night, this whole topic is something we’ll be following up on, because it was cool stuff that needs to be reported on and pondered. Horgan agreed. I sense a trip to U of M upcoming.

Someone in the back of the room asked Horgan what he thought would happen to the game in 100 years. “Will groups of superintendents like this even still meet?”

I’m paraphrasing here, but Horgan said something to the effect of… with a rapidly growing population, and cities getting bigger and bigger… expect less golf courses, especially in urban areas. (How’s that for a teaser? I’m booking my flight to Minneapolis… right… now.)

Idaho GCSA Trade Show

The Idaho GCSA Trade Show

Following the speakers, they had a nice small trade show next door. Lots of prizes, and after an hour or so, they wheeled out a keg of beer. My favorite thing was being able to get a better understanding who was who (as in who were the supers, who were the vendors) once the trade show was in full swing. And the beer. Beer at a trade show is good.

Mooney, Jones and Hoolehan

Rick Mooney, Whitetail Resort, me, and Sean Hoolehan, Wildhorse Resort.

That evening there was some serious action on the pool table, and, fueled by some local microbrew, I let my competitive side loose. Apologies to what Sean Hoolehan and I did to all challengers. (Except for you, Rick Mooney! Expect the same treatment from my Jayhawks if we meet your Spartans in the tourney!)

Twin Falls Idaho

This view was only 15 minutes off the interstate. Worth it.

Wednesday was a drive day — from Boise to Billings, Mont. I was off to Billings to meet with Golfdom research editor Clark Throssell, Ph.D., and have some important discussions regarding the research section of the magazine: what we’re doing good, what we could do better, and where we’re going in the future.

(Read: we were going fly-fishing.)

Jones and Gamble

Dinner with Dane Gamble in Bozeman, Mont., was a cool, lucky moment.

I often write about my good luck… how’s this for good luck: the EIFG’s online auction ended that Tuesday. We donated a Golfdom Summit “Golden Ticket.” I called Associate Editor Buddy Gannon and asked him who won the auction. “He’s a superintendent in Bozeman, Mont.” Buddy said. “I think he’s on your way during your drive today…!”

Small world, huh? I called Dane Gamble of Bridger Creek GC and left him a voicemail, thanking him for his generous bid and congratulating him on the win… and would he have time for dinner that evening?

I was in the middle of the mountains when he returned my call, so straight to voicemail. But we connected, and sure enough, less than 24 hours after the auction ended, I was having dinner with the winner of the EIFG’s online auction. So cool, so very lucky.

Seth and Stribs

Stribs and I on the river. My lucky fishing hat wasn’t so lucky this trip.

After dinner, on to Billings, where I met up with Clark. We really did discuss the research section of the magazine, and we agreed that we like it, but it could always be better. How? With reader input. Clark has an open-door policy. We’ll ask more formally later in the year, but if there is a topic we should be pursuing, a researcher we should be talking to, etc., please let him know. Check out the February research article by Ben McGraw, Ph.D., on the ABW-sniffing dog… that article was a direct result of reader interest. So what interests you?

Stribley, Throssell and Jones

2016 Golfdom Research Section meeting.

Fly fishing was great, and I had three wonderful guides for my first time in Clark, Joe Stribley, superintendent at Yellowstone CC, and their pal Randy. The weather was ideal (it got up to 60 or so, and this was in late February!) but the fishing was not — Clark and Joe each reeled in about four or five each, while I avoided the shut-out by catching one rainbow trout. But hey, at least I only fell in the river once.

I’ve gone on way too long, but it was a great trip to Idaho and Montana. Beautiful country, great people, mediocre pool players. Thanks to everyone, from Lori, David Phipps, Brian, Kevin Hicks, Clark and Joe, to my new pals at Whitetail, Simplot and Floratine. I look forward to the next time!

Photos: Golfdom

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About the Author: Seth Jones

Seth Jones, a 25-year veteran of the golf industry media, is Editor-in-Chief of Golfdom magazine and Athletic Turf. A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Jones began working for Golf Course Management in 1999 as an intern. In his professional career he has won numerous awards, including a Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) first place general feature writing award for his profile of World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman and a TOCA first place photography award for his work covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In his career, Jones has accumulated an impressive list of interviews, including such names as George H.W. Bush, Samuel L. Jackson, Lance Armstrong and Charles Barkley. Jones has also done in-depth interviews with such golfing luminaries as Norman, Gary Player, Nick Price and Lorena Ochoa, to name only a few. Jones is a member of both the Golf Writers Association of America and the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association. Jones can be reached at

1 Comment on "Travelogue: Idaho GCSA and Montana"

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  1. Seth just saw what you posted from Idaho and Montana and let me say it was special. I remember our farewell as you departed from the Red Lion that Wednesday morning and your plans for the drive but little did I know you would hook up with 2 of my favorite supes from my 3 years in Montana early in the 80 s. Dane and I and another friend went to my first NBA game ever in LA. in1980 ( Magics first year). Needless to say I was a rabid fan for 20 years. Strib was the assistant at Yellowstone cc and a good friend. Seeing you guys out on the river was harkening me back to the 80 s. Please keep up your Great work! We’ll try some fishing on the salmon when you get here.
    Thank you and best wishes John Didier

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