New Rules for IRS-Recognized Nonprofit Country Clubs Will Be a Game Changer

New York City by Eric J. von Hofen

Home of the Nonprofit - New York City


For years people have tried to figure out how nonprofits work and where the money trail goes. The IRS feels that enough is enough and that more transparency needs to take place. There are thousands of nonprofits in the United States and, believe it or not, Country Clubs will have to play be these new rules. The IRS has beefed up reporting requirements with respect to compensation, and these new requirements will apply to Country Clubs and other nonprofits alike. The changes were prompted by audits showing discrepancies in what nonprofits across the country were disclosing. In 2012, after the Club’s taxes are filed, the lists of the top money makers and their compensation amounts will be be made public. This reporting will be done on the new IRS Form 990. Will you be on the list and ready for that public relations nightmare?

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GuideStar Monitors Nonprofits


This information will be streamlined directly to the Guidestar.org web site. According to GuideStar, they have a database of more than 1.8 million IRS-recognized nonprofit organizations. Many people use this web site to monitor their favorite charities to see the good work that they are doing and where the money is going. Well, now your members will be using this site to see how much you are making. This “SuperLeak” will have many golf course superintendents running for cover and wanting to give up that company truck. I think that this process will forever change the mystery of what the top guys in the country are making. No more speculation or rumors on who got what in the last big deal. The GCSAA will have to rewrite the results of their compensation study to show the facts.

I hope there is a silver lining around this cloud, and that Country Clubs will see the value of their top people and take care of them. But I feel that there will be some losers in the deal and they will be compared to the guy down the street and the cuts will follow. This is truly a game changer.

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A LOOK AT ELYRIA COUNTRY CLUB

ELYRIA COUNTRY CLUB by Eric J. von Hofen
The club and course first opened in 1905 with only a few holes. In 1925, famous golf course designer William Flynn rebuilt the course and added 9 more holes. Flynn went on to design a hand full of courses in Ohio and also designed Cherry Hills (Englewood, CO), The Country Club (Brookline, MA) and Shinnecock Hills (Southampton, NY). In 1975, golf course architects Jack Kidwell and Michael Hurdzan updated the course and added some new tees. Today the course is a mature beautiful 18-hole course that plays to 6,750 yards from the championship tees. Massive Oak trees line many of the fairways and the clubhouse area. Water is in play on 10 holes with the Black River providing a interesting views on 6 of these holes. The Bentgrass greens, tees and fairways are some of the best around.

Elyria has had only 5 golf course superintendents since the doors opened. It many areas of the country, this is unheard of. I was the superintendent of a course in Naples, Florida that had 12 supers in 5 years. This tells you how special Elyria CC really is and how crazy I was to take the job in Naples. In 1988 and 1989 I worked at Elyria, under CGCS Frank Feck, as a foreman and learned how to maintain bentgrass from a master. It was great to return 22 years later and see that the course is still on track and better then ever. Current superintendent, Pat Rodgers is the one calling the shots these days and he differently has his finger on the pulse of the operation. Congratulations to the member’s and staff for keeping a piece of Ohio history alive and well.

This HD video takes you on a tour of one of the oldest golf courses in Northern Ohio.

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At The 2011 Golf Industry Show Size Didn’t Matter

Toro booth at the GIS 2011 show in Orlando, Eric von hofen

Just like another golf season, we have another Golf Industry Show in the books and they seem to come and go quicker every year.  It’s hard to believe that golf turf industry professionals have been meeting, on and off, like this since 1927.  The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and the National Golf Course Owners Association teamed up to host this year’s event and they did a good job with what they had to work with.  The show was much smaller but the quality was there.  It seemed like the education offered was taken and enjoyed.  Lacking was any education for the guys that were taking the Club Managers path to better themselves or to become a Club Manager.  I also missed seeing the touch of class the Club Managers added to the show over the last few years.  For many attendees of the GIS, this was the only chance to rub elbows with the guys that hire superintendents or golf course architects. Many of the other decisions at the clubs are made by the men on the ground, the Superintendent. The show provided a good match for Superintendents looking for purchasing equipment or learning about the latest and greatest turf drug.

The floor of the GIS 2011 in Orlando, Eric von Hofen

I did feel like there were still a lot of guys missing from management companies and from the west coast.  There were a fair amount of guys from Europe that made the trip, which was good to see.  The buzz was that many could not make it because they were saving up for Las Vegas next year.   The college students and professors I spoke with all said that enrollment was down, but that it was not a bad thing.  The students that are enrolled now in the turf programs are there for the right reasons.  There were a few big name golf course architects noticeably absent from the show and the ones present asked many of us on floor for any job leads, big or small.  One guy even asked me the same question two times.

Over all this years show was worth the trip.  Going forward, I understand that there are talks about making more changes to the show and conference.  This is smart to ensure the financial stability of the GCSAA and NGCOA.  Good luck to our new CEO of the GCSAA, Mr. Rhett Evans, working through all of that. See you next year.

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First Day of Winter and Golf Courses are Off Color

Eric von Hofen and frost damage on bermudagrass
This year’s golf season in the Sunshine State kicks off to a cold reception on the first day of winter.  I wrote a post last week explaining just how cold it has been in Florida and it has not let up.  Normal temperatures during this time of the year are in the mid 70’s during the day and low 60’s at night.  But not this year. Over the last two weeks, golf course superintendents have arrived at work to find temperatures in the 30’s and frost in some areas. In the picture above, it shows that the roughs on golf courses in Miami are damaged from the frost. Normally we have two or three days of cold weather a year and the turf bounces back when it warms up. Golf courses up and down the east and west coasts of Florida have been hit very hard. Palm Beach County is home for many snow birds living in gated golf communities are realizing that for the second year in a row the turf behind their homes will be dormant. Those golf courses that chose to overseed the roughs will look good while others will look brown and in need of water. It just needs sun and a few 80 degree days and we will be back in business.
Eric von Hofen
This picture shows frost on a paspalum tee box in Miami. It is a shame that this has to happen during the high golf season when so many people come from around the world to enjoy the sun and emerald green fairways of Florida. This Holiday season, golfers will have little to show off at their home courses. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that January will bring some warmer days. We need to see some green fairways to see some green in the cash register.

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Golf courses feeling the cold in Florida early this year

Eric von Hofen new #17 green
This year’s golf season in the Sunshine State kicks off to a cold reception in December.  Over the last two mornings, golf course superintendents have arrived at work to find temperatures in the 30’s and frost in some areas.  Normal temperatures during this time of the year are in the mid 70’s during the day and low 60’s at night.  But not this year.  I’ve received reports that courses in the Palm Beach and Jupiter areas were covered with heavy frost and play had to be postponed until it melted.  The Naples area was hit just as hard.  Greg Norman’s Shark Shootout kicks off Thursday at Tiburon in Naples with another fun field of PGA TOUR players, including Ian Poulter, Bubba Watson, Fred Funk, Matt Kuchar and Anthony Kim.  Thursday morning might be interesting if we have another night that produces a heavy frost.
Eric von Hofen and green temps

Last winter Florida was knocked around by cold fronts that swept through the state on a weekly basis.  We had four days that produced frost on golf courses in Miami, which is a rare occurrence in South Florida.  Bermudagrass loves to grow when soil temperatures are above 58 degrees.  As you see in this picture, we are well below that.  I have not mowed greens for the last two mornings, trying to keep the turf we have.  Green speeds have increased to above 12 on the Stimpmeter even without mowing. So stay tuned this weekend to the Shark Shootout to see quick greens and the affects of the cold weather.

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