Guest Column - May 2015
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Sports Field Management

Managing Turfgrass
Ever Heard of a CPA? What About a CSFM?

By Martin Kaufman, CSFM

Managing turfgrass can be a challenging task. How many people know what the transition zone is? Some people might think it is a demilitarized zone somewhere overseas. Does the general public realize all the possible turf types we may grow across the United States? Do they realize what it takes to make turf look green and usable for their purposes? Does the average person even want to learn how to grow grass?

A Certified Sports Field Manager (CSFM) is knowledgeable about all of these topics.

If you have struggled with a tax return, own a business or communicate with the administration of your organization, you may have worked with a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Most of us go through a budget process annually, so we may function in a fiscally responsible manner. A CPA is usually the professional financial adviser that your organization relies on to help manage your budget. Becoming a CPA requires education, experience and examination. The same is true for becoming a CSFM.

The CSFM certification is a higher-level program of education and professionalism in the turfgrass industry, offered by the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA). According to the STMA, 193 people are currently certified as CSFMs.

Status as a CSFM has laid the groundwork for my success in the sports turf industry. It has taken my career to new heights and provided tangible credibility to my work.

To gain certification, there are certain education and experience requirements. Experience can qualify a candidate; however, education alone may not.

Eligibility for the CSFM program is based on a point system. You may earn points based on your level of education or the degree of education you have obtained, as well as the field of study. For example, a bachelor's degree in business would earn fewer points than a bachelor's degree in turf management.

A degree helps earn points for eligibility, but so does experience. You may not become eligible for the exam based on education alone, but you may become qualified based solely on your experience in the field.

Eligibility points for experience are similar to points for education; you will earn more points for being the head of your department than you would while occupying a labor position.

Becoming qualified is the first step. Once that information is compiled and confirmed with STMA headquarters, you may qualify for the exam. An examination may be proctored at a location near you at any time of the year you choose to set up. The exam is also offered at the annual STMA Conference & Exhibition, which will be held in San Diego in January 2016.

The exam itself is composed of four parts: Agronomics, Pest Management, Administration and Sports-Specific Field Management.

Becoming a CSFM requires passion, commitment and professionalism. Sports turf managers are professional and passionate about growing the standards in the turf industry. As a CSFM, there is an extra level of commitment to excellence needed to continue raising the bar for sports fields.

Martin Kaufman, CSFM, is director of Sports Turf Management at Pure Green LLC. He has more than 15 years of industry experience. His professional experience includes: golf course management in the United States and Australia, professional football, minor league baseball, university athletic and campus care, as well as K-12 athletic, campus and stormwater management. Kaufman's widespread knowledge of the sports turf industry makes him a principal authority when managing contracts for outsourcing.