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Dr. Frank Rossi: Frankly Speaking

Superintendents and Skin Cancer... with Sean Sullivan

Posted 14 April 2017 · 369 views

In this important podcast, I speak frankly with Sean Sullivan of Briarwood Golf Club in Billings, MT, about his experience with skin cancer, and concerns that all superintendents should have about it.


We get into the various types of skin cancer, genetic susceptibility (as Sean's Irish heritage predisposes him), diagnosis, treatments and precautions... including Sean's references to "core removal" and PGRs.


As always, smart talk from leading thinkers, presented by DryJect.



Posted 04 April 2014 · 4,029 views

I have been doing some great travel this season so far from Spain and England to Canada, as well as Chicago and Wisconsin. There are few things I enjoy professionally more than walking a golf course with the person charged with stewarding the land. In every case the superintendent greets me graciously and shares their thoughts on golf turf management.



Anyone that has seen Jack Nicholson in The Shining can get a sense of what your golfers will be like this Spring--Here's Johnny!


My conversations with these truly Master Superintendents are often robust and wide ranging. I am fascinated by the decision-making process each superintendent employs at their facility. This year those conversations from two continents and five countries kept returning to the same point after turf management decisions were discussed--The superintendent's role in customer service.


Anyone growing grass in northern climates where their clientele have been cooped up for the long winter are bracing for when the Cabin Fever will break. Cabin fever is an idiom that was first used in the early 1900's when people were actually closed in and began to feel claustrophobic. The people suffered fevers, would sleep long periods of time, became lethargic, etc. The cure was to get outside into nature. Anyone that has seen Jack Nicholson in The Shining can get a sense of what your golfers will be like this Spring--Here's Johnny!


Spring golf is important in all northern climates and is already creating some challenges for facilities that are doing their revenue projections based on the last few Spring seasons. There will be incredible demand for golf when the weather actually breaks and for many this has already created dread and stress due to severe and widespread winterkill. This will give some facilities a competitive advantage, especially if there was little winter damage, good snow mold control and effective use of pigmented products.


Regardless of where the turf is on the spectrum of your expectations from below, meeting or exceeding this Spring, I urge you to be gracious and welcoming to your golfers. Yes the turf might look bad and their golf experience hampered by the conditions, but you can still be an ambassador for your facility.


This is not an easy task when you are waiting for the weather to help, waiting for the crew to return, waiting to see how "dead" some areas might be, waiting to burn off your own cabin fever. Many will expend enormous amounts of personal and professional energy to get areas recovered and back in play. To the folks facing this dilemma by the time you get to June it could feel like late August, based on the work needed to get the place up to meeting your expectations, never-mind exceeding them.


Know your customer and gauge the level of cabin fever you are dealing with


Now is the time to work smarter not always harder. Be thoughtful about your decisions and how they affect your customer. Know your customer and gauge the level of cabin fever you are dealing with--is it The Shining Jack Nicholson, the One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest Jack Nicholson, or The Joker Jack Nicholson?


This Spring will come eventually and our golfers will show up. When they do, be sure you are ready to greet them graciously in hopes they will enjoy the conditions you are able to provide. Golf can be successful in spite of the weather, but only if we are mindful of our role as customer service professionals.

Selling Gypsum

  Posted in Frank Talk, Uncategorized 29 October 2012 · 1,827 views

Stuck in the house for the hurricane, waiting for the power to go off, I can honestly say it is dangerous to watch too much of the Weather Channel.  But I know they must be selling ad time like there is no tomorrow. Who knew you could have a generator at your house that could power a small city, or why I need to be in Good Hands or with my Good Neighbor, or have someone On My Side.

If I were selling ad time on The Golf Channel Id be calling all the major gypsum manufacturers and telling them if they place ads on the Golf Channel I can guarantee massive sales. I can hear the sales folks, many of whom I like, conceiving ways of selling something dirt cheap that has little effect on the problem for 300% profit.
Short term, everyone near the coast is screwed. The salt spray and flooding at this time of year is  like the cold blast of salt spray that our roadsides experience every winter. If flooding remains for any period of time, i.e., more than 12 hours  maybe longer if it is cooler and the soil it lands on is not saturated already  turf loss could be massive.

The salt spray and flooding at this time of year is like the cold blast of salt spray that our roadsides experience every winter

I assure you applying gypsum will not help. It wont hurt, but it wont help. Stay focused on the big stuff, i.e, getting rid of the salt water or flood water, work to remove silt or other debris, scratch the surface to prevent sealing from fines, and then give it a few days to dry and assess your loss.
If we get some sunny, windy weather the drying could move along nicely but this is ideal. Ask Rocco Greco of En Joie Golf Course in the southern tier of NY. Rocco and his staff worked nothing short of a miracle getting the course playable for a Senior Tour event last year after Hurricane Irene.
I am not positive, but I think if Rocco was asked what helped him he would say buying two firetrucks, not gypsum.

Be Safe, Have Sandy Do It.

  Posted in Uncategorized, Frank Talk 29 October 2012 · 1,584 views

As the east coast braces for the Hurricane Sandy, I had a thought as I was getting the farm ready for the storm. There are a few trees I want down but cannot convince my wife to agree. The I thought I had was why not have Sandy do it? I can use a chainsaw very quickly.


Posted Image

A tree on my farm is more of an inconvenience than a problem. Yet I can hardly think of a golf course that does NOT need some strategic tree removal. Removal that is blocked by emotion and politics.


Year after year the turf struggles in the tucked locations. Fans can provide some benefit but natural light and air movement at least 3 mph at the ground surface makes the difference between a marginal putting surface and an excellent putting surface. For many this has been worse the last few seasons with intense climate changes of high temperatures and increased rainfall. More reason to modify the growing environment.


Posted ImageNow the last thing I would promote is for golf course superintendents and staff to be out and about in the storm. So for sure safety has to be the number one issue. No need to wander out into 30-50 mph sustained winds. However, when the worst of the storm is over before most of the world walks outside again, especially at this time of year, one never knows how the wind can blow, or the chainsaw turn.


Just between us, the tree that was an immovable object miraculously was felled by Sandy. Be SAFE.

Water is Gold

  Posted in Uncategorized, Frank Talk 17 October 2012 · 1,566 views

All I could think about was water. Everytime Ron Paul would speak about returning the US to the Gold Standard of backing our currency instead of using the full faith and credit of the US, all I could think about was water. Seems odd but if you think about how haphazardly we flood the US economy with printed money expecting some to be wasted, you might see how many golf courses use water. Not precisely and filled with waste.

I would go as far as to say that if you were a good water manager this year, it was an easy year.

All the rage about moisture meters has certainly changed the way many golf superintendents irrigate the golf course and in some small way improved efficiency, but we have a long way to go. This season was a perfect example. Hot and dry for much of the country yet many struggled with problems that could only be brought about by improper irrigation practices. Certain disease and cultural damages can be ascribed to drying things down to far or over-watering. I would go as far as to say that if you were a good water manager this year, it was an easy year.


Should you wonder if water is as good as gold, ask the people who pay for it. During my visit to Las Vegas for the GIS last year I learned many golf courses in the desert pay upwards of $1 million per year for water. Of course this is because they have recognized that it is a limited resource. It follows then that the golf superintendents I met during my travels are all very thoughtful, precise and reflective about their watering strategies. They spoke to me about AMOUNTS not MINUTES of water.

Parts of the country that have the water will want to do business with parts that dont.

The future of water use for golf courses is perilous at best. In a recent meeting held at Cornell University about Best Management Practices (BMP) for water quality it was made clear by government and scientists that water will be monetized in the future in a way it has not been in the past. Parts of the country that have the water will want to do business with parts that dont. And the first step in business is knowing your product, where, how much, how good, who uses, etc In this case its water and it is good as gold.

Frankly Speaking is presented by DryJect/Maximus by DryJect, and Turf Screen by TurfMax.
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