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My Final Day at The Hills

Posted by Peter Braun in Peter Braun: Interning in Ireland & New Zealand, in Internship, The Hills 27 March 2015 · 11,183 views

My final day of work at The Hills for Brendan Allen is finished. I cleaned out my locker, said good bye to the guys, and am ready for my trip to Auckland through the west coast. Working at The Hills was a pleasure. There is a great bunch of guys on the crew and that only improved the experience for me. The closeness of everyone is really unique to find in such a large crew. That only makes work easier. I wish everyone the best to their future endeavors. 

 

I cannot thank Brendan enough for taking me on for the season. I got to see a different operation and work with Browntop Bentgrass (Colonial Bentgrass) that I had not previously. One of the main reasons I chose to come to The Hills was the tournament that was being held here. To see course preparation for a tournament was something I had wanted to see for a long time.

 

I was impressed at how well the course was prepared prior to the tournament. Maybe there are just more guys who have been through multiple tournaments or Brendan was really on top of jobs that needed to be done, but there never felt like a change from summer work to tournament prep. Expectations are kept high during the season so when the NZ Open came around we knew what was expected and just did it. 

 

Working at The Hills was a great experience. This is a world class operation. If anyone gets the opportunity to come here or wishes to get away from the cold winters on the Northern Hemisphere I highly suggest coming over. To work at such a beautiful course with highly knowledgable personal and get to experience a unique golfing setting is a humbling experience. 

 

When I set down with Mike O'Keeffe in December 2013 I could not have expected to have such a fantastic time working and traveling in Ireland and New Zealand. A fun filled year could not have been possible without the help of many people.

 

A huge thanks to Mike O'Keeffe for setting up me up to interview with TurfNet and placing me at The Hills. Thanks to Jon Kiger and the staff at TurfNet for answering any questions I had about the blog and helping me get me set up for Ireland. To Brendan Allen and Aidan O'Hara, thank you for taking me on and teaching me more about managing a golf course to the highest standard than I knew possible. You are two of the best in the business. A shoutout to all of the Superintendents that took the time to show around their courses in Ireland and NZ. Without the support of all of you this year would not have been possible. Thank you. 

 

My journey has not ended yet though. As I said above I still have some time here till I fly out so I have a trip planned out to see the rest of New Zealand. Starting Monday I will be going around the country as I make my way up to Auckland. When I get back to the USA I will be volunteering at TPC Sawgrass for The Players, maybe I will see some of you there. I have accepted the position of Turf Grad at Hazeltine National Golf Club for hopefully through the Ryder Cup in 2016. 



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Invisible TD Sand

Posted by Randy Wilson in Randy Wilson: Here at the 'Rock, in Skeletal Golf 26 March 2015 · 1,326 views

Yesterday, Rockbottum's top covert film unit returned from Rivermont CC with footage of Mark Hoban, MGS, (Mad Golf Scientist) using his Invisible Soil-Feeding TD sand.

 

The film you are about to see is one of several updates of ongoing research testing taking place under Mark's control.  Next week we intend to reveal where he's getting this stuff . . . unless he comes up with some serious compensation.

 

 



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Rating Superintendent Job Opportunities

Posted by Jim McLoughlin in Jim McLoughlin: Career Advancement is JOB ONE!, 26 March 2015 · 1,444 views

Based on 25+ years of interacting with and counseling golf course superintendents through their careers, the following is an upside vs downside rating listing of the full spectrum of jobs that golf course superintendents might consider applying for at one time or another during their careers -- presented in the priority order of the better jobs first:

 

A+ CHOICE:  With Established Multi-Course Contract Company 

Upside: Maximum job security with unique job advantages.  (See Mar 12th blog)

 

Downside: There are too few jobs available -- only about 15% of superintendents work for contract companies today -- a figure that should double in the coming years. 

 

A- CHOICE:  Within Private Sector "Good Guy" GM Operations

Upside: All the benefits of working for the best GMs in golf.  (See Mar 5th blog)

 

Downside: GMs change jobs and no one knows who will replace the outgoing GM.

 

B+ CHOICE:  Within Private Sector Board/Committee Format

Upside: Highest salary potential; plus best chance to work at prestigious golf clubs.

 

Downside: High salary superintendents are terminated in tight economies; never-ending political atmosphere combined with the constant turning-over of Board and committee rosters translates into survey-tested 80% job insecurity.

 

B- CHOICE:  Within Daily Fee Course Operations

Upside: Great jobs when right owners and right superintendents match up.

 

Downside: While "high fee" operations generate max revenues, owners are too often inclined to maximize profits by squeezing operations and staff budgeting. Pressurized working environment because bankruptcy is at times never more than one bad weather season away. Job security often tenuous!

 

"Low fee" operations attract the worst kind of owners that operate within the thinnest of financial margins; there is no plus side here; take job if necessary and move on sooner rather than later.

 

D+ CHOICE:  w/i Private Sector "Power Broker/Bad Guy" GM Operations

Upside: A job is a job.

 

Downside: Weak GMs think of their welfare first and employees after that -- all of which translates into pervasive job insecurity. Job candidates must do their due diligence to identify this category of GMs before accepting jobs.

 

B+  WHEN A Municipal Golf Course Job Is An EARLY Career Choice  

C+  WHEN A Municipal Golf Course Job Is A LATER Career Choice

Upside: When municipalities directly hire staff to manage their golf courses (versus a contract company): an opportune early career job for superintendents and assistants because it presents the opportunity to prove to future employers that they can deliver top-level course maintenance with minimal budget resources.

 

Early in careers municipal employment can be excellent springboard to future quality jobs in the private, daily fee and public sectors of golf provided superintendents deliver the rarely seen combination of high quality course maintenance with tight fiscal efficiency. The opportunity is always there.

 

Downside: Few in the municipal chain of command understand course maintenance and job descriptions reflect this. Compensation tied to low-paying muni-wide salary schedules.

 

Second Option: Many municipalities hire outside contract companies to maintain their golf courses because of the municipalities' lack of familiarity with this task.

 

The inherent value of the above job listing is that it will help candidates to effectively pursue the better jobs while at the same time avoiding career mis-steps that many superintendents are not generally aware of.



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Finding Staff: H2B Visa Program (Part 1)

Posted by Matt Leverich in Matt Leverich: Career & Technology Interchange, 24 March 2015 · 4,819 views

Guest Post by Frank Duda, Golf Course Superintendent at Miacomet Golf Club, Nantucket, MA


While not perfectly related to career materials or technology, I thought it was interesting enough to include on this blog due to the potential importance of it in some of your operations, especially with it being in the news recently. The second post on how to streamline and manage the process will be coming in the next blog. I hope this offers insight to you and thanks to Frank Duda for writing this series.

-- Matt


On Nantucket Island, 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, finding an effective source of seasonal employment is a constant challenge. As is the case with other resort destinations, people come to Nantucket to vacation, not to work. Finding the required amount of employees willing to begin work every day at 5AM is nearly impossible.  Five years ago we started utilizing the H2B visa program to ensure we had sufficient employees for the summer season. This program authorizes your company to employ foreign nationals legally for a given time period. In our case, our authorized employment of H2B workers runs from April 15 ? October 15.  

While there are several additional requirements that the government places on your company when utilizing the H2B program, this program is integral in being able to ensure that our staffing needs are met. As the process and paperwork are rather cumbersome and takes a certain degree of skill to complete, we outsource this to a company that specializes in completing this paperwork. While outsourcing does add to the end cost of obtaining these employees, I highly recommend it to ensure that the paperwork is done correctly. This will avoid any frustration on your part and delays in your workers' arrival.

 

As the process and paperwork are rather cumbersome and takes a certain degree of skill to complete, we outsource this...

 

Some of the additional requirements include paying every employee a prevailing wage, as determined by the United States Department of Labor, advertising the position on both state job banks and local newspapers to ensure that any United States citizens are not being adversely effected by you bringing in foreign nationals, and incurring the travel costs of the foreign nationals to arrive at your location. While these requirements involve additional costs, the cost is more than offset by having dependable, dedicated employees throughout the summer season.

When we first started using the H2B program five years ago we only had a petition for  people, all Filipino nationals, to supplement our additional 8-10 seasonal employees. Over the years we have increased our crew size and this year we are set to have 13 Filipino nationals serve as the backbone of our crew, with an additional 8-10 Americans supplementing them.

 

We have had so much success with this program that our H2B employees are asking us to sponsor their family members or friends in the program. I currently have a waiting list for our H2B employees to bring a guest of theirs to join our company in future years? petitions. Knowing that we will be able to meet our staffing needs for many years to come through the H2B visa program is essential to our operation in a resort location.   

 

We have had so much success with this program that our H2B employees are asking us to sponsor their family members or friends in the program...


In a subsequent blog post I will go into further detail about the paperwork process and what is involved with meeting the government?s requirements as well as completing the process as quickly and smoothly as possible.

 



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TurfNet RADIO: Revisit with Dr. Micah Woods on MSLN

Posted by Frank Rossi in Dr. Frank Rossi: Frankly Speaking, in By the Numbers 23 March 2015 · 1,435 views

In this episode of Frankly Speaking on TurfNet RADIO, we are following up with Dr. Micah Woods of the Asian Turfgrass Center on the MLSN concept and new discussion about using growth potential as a means of scheduling nutrient management additions. An excellent review of a progressive approach to golf turf nutrient management!

 

Check it out below or download it here for offline listening on your favorite device.

 



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You can't unring the bell...

Posted by Dave Wilber in Dave Wilber: Turfgrass Zealot, in Staff, Communication 17 March 2015 · 3,376 views

You can't unring the bell...

I am profoundly aware of the need for all Turfheads to be critical. It really is our job. One mentor told me that if he didn't "point and bitch" enough, he wasn't doing his job. And I adopted this. I was a ruthless stickler for the details.

 

Hated by many. Loved by no one. Followed infrequently.

 

I remember someone sending me a book called Don't Sweat the Small Stuff (*and it's all small stuff). I returned the book with a scathing letter indicating that it was my job to "sweat" in parts per million. It was brilliant writing. And I was a dead wrong ass.

 

In our culture, if we do our jobs right, then often we don't hear anything. Perhaps a "greens were good today" or a "thanks for getting the order to me early" happen... rarely. But when things are wrong, well, you need a personal force field when you get near the driving range tee or the super's office. It trickles downhill to our staff. It shouldn't. But it does.

 

In our culture, if we do our jobs right, then often we don't hear anything...

 

In my last position, I rarely heard much about good stuff. But when I missed something or didn't get it quite right a criticism bomb went off nearby. The shrapnel of words cut me deeply. Perhaps this is why I'm no longer there. Which is neither here nor there.

 

Here comes early season for many of you. And for others in warm climes the long winter golf season coming to an end brings a summer of projects and preparing for another long winter golf season. And so, it's a good idea to sit and think about your management strategy.

 

This isn't one of those "catch someone doing it right" speeches or words in support of everyone getting a trophy no matter how much they suck. But I will tell you, the Turfheads I see who stop the flow of criticism, act as a dam and release positive reenforcement are dead solid perfect winners.

 

This isn't one of those "catch someone doing it right" speeches or words in support of everyone getting a trophy no matter how much they suck. But I will tell you...

 

I recently read a beautiful blog entry about this. Better written that I could ever do. So here it is. Do yourself a favor and take it in. Deeply. And use it. Effectively. https://www.katehedd...ective-feedback

 

Because when the pressure is on and you let those you lead know constantly that they suck, guess what, they will suck. For sure. The banging gong that destroys. Don't be that. No one will follow you.

 

Read Kate Heddleston's words. And determine a strategy that coaches, uplifts and supports. I'm not saying settle for bad work. But, when an employee gets it wrong, well, the correction won't sound like gong beating and then you will be a leader.



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Preparing for the Landscape of the Future

Posted by Joseph Fearn in Joe Fearn: Third Way Green, 11 March 2015 · 6,595 views

Recently I watched a video on TurfNet TV from Randy Wilson, called Ten Years from Now. It, of course, takes place ten years in the future and talks about the scarcity of fungicide, fertilizer and diesel fuel. Even effluent water is being bought by a bottled water company rather than being used for irrigation on their course. Buddy laments they should have gone half organic when they had the chance, but they were worried about being ridiculed by the "Dark Green Fairway Movement". It is truly a great parody video, but like all parody has a ring of truth to it. Now I don?t know where golf specifically is headed, but I have some thoughts on several possible environmentally-focused changes for the industry as a whole.

 

Chemical restrictions will continue, and increase

There are a number of hort/ag chemicals that have been banned in the past decade or so. I haven't kept a list of them, but I know it happened. This trend will continue and even accelerate. Even the neonicotinoids, which were heralded as a safer chemical, are coming under intense fire for possibly damaging bee colonies. Industry mainstays like glyphosate are in the sights of many environmental groups, and the sheer quantity of glyphosate used by the industry makes this product a ripe target. I only use chemicals under the most urgent situations, but for high quality sports fields and golf, some chemical use is a necessity. If our industry helps guide restriction legislation, rather than fight it out of hand, we will get to use the safest, most effective chemicals in the future.

 

If our industry helps guide restriction legislation, rather than fight it out of hand, we will get to use the safest, most effective chemicals in the future...

 

Inorganic fertilizer restrictions will continue, and increase

In parts of the U.S., most noticeably around the Chesapeake Bay, fertilizer can only be applied after a soil sample indicates the need, and then only using certain products. This is a wise step, especially for homeowners, but I imagine there is very little oversight or monitoring. Certification is already needed in most situations for pesticide applications, and certification of fertilizer applicators is ramping up too. The fertilizer industry is seeing that organic fertilizers have more impact across the spectrum of turf nutrition needs because they benefit not only the plant, but also all the organisms and soil around it, creating a much healthier grass ecosystem. As more companies produce more organic and hybrid fertilizers, costs will come down. Given the efficacy and broad spectrum benefit of organics and hybrids, they may already be a better value per dollar.

 

You will need a permit to run a chainsaw

Power equipment in the green industry is loud and relatively polluting when compared to other combustion based engines. Even with CARB standards, mowers and blowers are resource intensive. They use a lot of gas, generate more emissions than a car, and are uniformly loud. While all industry equipment, i.e. weed eaters, chain saws, hedge trimmers, etc. are much improved and more efficient today than in the past, they still will face scrutiny in the future, especially at the local level. In many places there are already noise restrictions, and a number of locales have restricted blower use. As cities enlarge, and green space shrinks, air quality concerns will allow legislators to focus on power equipment and the restrictions will increase. Couple power equipment with urban forest oversight and chainsaw permitting is a distinct possibility.

 

I will not be allowed to irrigate... at all

Irrigation restrictions are everywhere. In Nashville in the early 2000's we went on curtailment and could only water from 1am to 5am (4 million sq. ft. of total turf at 40 different sites, it couldn't be done). This effectively was a ban on commercial irrigation. During the 2012 Midwest drought, here in Springfield we could only water on odd/even days. Again, given the size of my campus, this was essentially a ban. I could water everything, but improperly and ineffectively. As water utilities need more water for drinking supplies and industry, horticulture irrigation will be the odd man out. Smart irrigation and increasingly efficient systems plus components will delay but not prevent the day when there is no water for irrigation.

 

Smart irrigation and increasingly efficient systems plus components will delay but not prevent the day when there is no water for irrigation...

 

The future is bright

I know that these predictions are not particularly far out or insightful. If anyone in our profession is surprised by them, they haven't been paying attention. There are certainly other changes to come also. Thinking as a green industry professional, I support these measures whole-heartedly. Increasing restrictions and environmental pressure will be good for our industry. No more will just anyone get to call themselves a turf expert or groundskeeper. For professionals, the ability to provide a high quality product, aligned with and heavily relying on natural processes, will be a necessity. This expertise will allow those able professionals to command better pay and control.

 

As future development expands, golf courses and college campuses will become some of the most important green spaces, both sought after and supported by government and the private sector. The challenge for our industry is to understand where we are headed, whether we like it or not, and to help define what that future will be. If our industry resists, we will not be able to affect the result, even though we will have to work within it.



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The Turfgrass Zealot Project, Ep. #28, Talking Education with Thomas Bastis

Posted by Dave Wilber in Dave Wilber: Turfgrass Zealot, 23 March 2017 · 279 views

The Turfgrass Zealot Project, Ep. #28, Talking Education with Thomas Bastis

If I have a man crush, it may be with Thomas Bastis of the California Golf Club of San Francisco. That may not be much of a secret, but it's true.

 

Thomas and I had a chance to record a cool interview talking about education and giving back as a Superintendent. It's a wonderful concept that doesn't always work.

 

This podcast represents my return from a brief sabbatical to get reenergized and to get through some personal challenges as well. 

 

 

I'm excited to have Thomas be my first guest for the restart.

 

The Turfgrass Zealot Project is only on TurfNet.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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Resistance Radio... pesticide resistance, that is!

Posted by Peter McCormick in Dr. Frank Rossi: Frankly Speaking, 22 March 2017 · 288 views

In this episode of Frankly Speaking, host Dr. Frank Rossi chats with Penn State entomologist Dr. Ben McGraw and weed specialist Dr. Jim Brosnan from the University of Tennessee about pesticide resistance, ABW surveys with surprising results, old vs new chemistries, weed susceptibility testing, UT's new herbicide selection tool, and the upcoming Poa Day at UT to be broadcast via Facebook Live.

 

Not to mention New England sports, banjo playing and beer drinking!

 

Smart talk from leading thinkers... presented by DryJect.

 



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Do You Wear Pants?

Posted by Randy Wilson in Randy Wilson: Here at the 'Rock, 14 March 2017 · 1,448 views

WARNING for those of you who wear pants!  Do you suffer from Mandatory Khaki?

 

There has been a significant breakthrough!  Watch this film . . . or suffer this summer in sweltering silence.   

 

 

 



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The Story From Here… or There

Posted by Peter McCormick in Paul MacCormack: The Mindful Superintendent, 11 March 2017 · 524 views

We all love a good story. From our favorite bedtime yarn to our best movie, stories capture us in a unique way and share what it means to be human. Stories and those who tell them bind us together as a culture and allow us to access a deep sense of shared community.

 

But what happens when our stories become, well, not our stories? What happens when stories are used against us for nefarious reasons? In this day and age this appears to be an increasing problem. The wild west that is the internet is chock full of false stories passed off as truth. Every day billions of dollars are spent by marketing firms trying to tell us a compelling story that will in turn convince us to buy something we dont need.  And then there is politics

 

Creative storytelling becomes even more problematic when our leaders and politicians engage in deliberate falsehood. Everyone assumes that politicians are going to fudge a wee bit, (heck I think its even in the job description) but lately it has gone beyond the little fib to grandiose, boldface lying. The stories we are hearing every day from every corner of the globe are designed to pull the wool over our collective eyes and keep us permanently in the dark.

 

Too often the bigger issue is that we allow this foolishness to go unchecked. As a society we have been flogged with so much misinformation and creative storytelling that our apathy cells are multiplying at an alarming rate. Its high time that we start to take back the narrative and start telling our own stories again.

 

Our greenkeeping community has many great stories to tell, but we are notoriously bad at self promotion...

 

Let's start with what we know best: ourselves. Our greenkeeping community has many great stories to tell, but we are notoriously bad at self promotion. We need to highlight not just our agronomic successes, but also our under the radar stories that all too often seem to make their way to the back of the closet.  Here are a few of these stories

  • Brian Youell (Uplands Golf Club), Dean Piller (Cordova Bay), and Gregor Kowalski have raised over $1,000,000 for multiple sclerosis in Victoria, BC. (local golf superintendents earn national award giving back)

  • Chris Tritabaugh and Ryan Moy (along with the crew) show us all that you can host a major event like the Ryder Cup and still run a calm, smooth operation. Their approach has shown that there is another way forward through better management.

  • Ken Nice and his team at Bandon Dunes won the 2016 Environmental Leaders in Golf Award. (Nice earns award for environmental stewardship at bandon dunes)

  • Paul Carter and his crew continue their outstanding environmental approach to golf course maintenance at the Bear Trace at Harrison Bay. Paul has won too many awards to list here, so I will just share a cool article about his eagles (golf-eagle-cam-tennessee-earth-day)

So let's make a pledge moving forward. Let's start doing a better job telling our own stories. Tell people about all the good stuff we do, whether its on or off the course. This industry is chock full of amazing people who have stories worth telling and it's high time we let people know.

 

Editor: Paul is too humble to blow his own horn, but his recent public relations effort (along with his brother, Andrew, who produced the video, and the Atlantic Golf Superintendents Association) should not go unmentioned:

 



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Water Conservation on Campus: A Tale of Irrigation and Slow, Spread, Soak

Posted by Peter McCormick in Joe Fearn: Third Way Green, 08 March 2017 · 424 views

As of February 28, 64% of the State of Missouri is in the moderate drought category according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. This is up from 50% the week before, and as of this writing the remainder of the state was in the abnormally dry category.

 

By contrast, California, which had been in a several years-long drought, is now declining in all drought categories. 75% of the state is not rated at all and even the stubborn droughty areas of Southern California are getting moisture. In fact, many areas are now concerned they will not be able to manage any more rain heading into the rainy season. This unpredictable variability regarding water, in an industry heavily reliant on water, demonstrates the need to wisely manage and conserve water at all times.

 

 

 

Irrigation Challenges

When I arrived at Drury University the Grounds Department was faced with the following obstacles in our campus irrigation:

  • Poorly designed, installed, maintained systems
  • Poor communication of water needs for landscape health
  • Lack of monitoring of natural rainfall timing and amounts
  • Poor cycle planning and regular adjustments
  • No desire for water conservation

The main cause for this situation was a lack of adequate irrigation knowledge and responsibility by the in-house staff, and the contractors that installed systems. If either of these parties had fulfilled their professional duties, these challenges could have been avoided.

 

For most of the readers of TurfNet, the high level of understanding regarding irrigation theory and application decreases these difficulties, but they still do occur. Over the last five years Drury Grounds has taken many steps to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of our irrigation systems. Our approach has been:

  • Appropriate cultural practices (mowing height/frequency, soil health, IPM)
  • Understanding of appropriate irrigation to promote plant health (E/T)
  • Retrofitting of systems to deliver adequate water (coverage, pressure, volume)
  • Retrofitting of systems to maximize system efficiency (smart controllers, sensors, efficient heads & nozzles)
  • Culture of conservation
  • Willingness to eliminate irrigation if appropriate with organizational strategy

We aren't doing anything amazing. But what we are doing is working. Our usage has continued to decline while our overall satisfaction with the landscape continues to increase. My point is that irrigation effectiveness is vital and will promote peripheral landscape benefits as a result. But the pursuit of landscape benefits does not necessarily lead to irrigation conservation.

Stormwater on Campus

Rainfall and stormwater on our campus (courses) is another issue we all face. While we don't have to push up sand in bunkers after a heavy rain, we are still faced with many challenges due to stormwater. These are:

  • City of Springfield MS4 permit  (EPA term for stormwater runoff)
  • Speed with which water moves off campus
  • Erosion and damage
  • Increase infiltration on campus
  • Treatment of water on site (pollution prevention)
  • Budget allotments, competing financial pressures
  • Slow, Spread, Soak

Existing water issues need functional correction that meshes with the landscape.

 

Managing stormwater in (on) the landscape is rarely a priority to an organization if consequences are contained in the landscape. But when the water damages infrastructure, there is increased organizational demand to correct it. But dealing with water before it causes damage is the best, and most cost effective, method of management. To do just this Drury Grounds has endeavored to use the following efforts:

  • Go to where the problem is
  • Take advantage of what water wants to do
  • Keep water on campus
  • Slow, Spread Soak
  • Resource allocation Big Project/Small Project
  • Permission?
  • $$$$$$$$$

Water problems should be viewed as opportunities for increasing Slow, Spread, Soak. The answer here is a rain garden... not a drain.

 

Managing stormwater on campus is a win/win effort for our grounds operation. First, it demonstrates our commitment, in a very proactive way, to our University's infrastructure. Dealing with stormwater BEFORE it can create damage is financial stewardship at its best. Next, it is great public relations. Water conservation is always good press. Our efforts in this area show we are concerned with our organization and our community. For an industry that can sometimes be under environmental scrutiny, this goodwill pays dividends.

 

In conclusion

Water is a valuable resource to both the Grounds manager and the community at large. If we compete for this commodity, then no one wins. Good water management creates allies. When Drury University keeps rainfall on campus it benefits our landscape, but also decreases the amount of water that goes into the sanitary sewers or stormwater system. Nothing written here should be new to grounds Managers. What this blog should do is support water conservation by our industry. When, not if, we face water shortages, it is in our best interest to be seen as a conservation partner, not simply consumers. The best time for water conservation is always.

 

(This is a strategic blog in support of water conservation. My next blog will be tactical, discussing how Drury University manages stormwater on campus)



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Tom Zoller of Tehŕma Golf Club: Fortunate career breaks

Posted by Peter McCormick in The Ladder, 03 March 2017 · 499 views

In this episode of The Ladder, host John Reitman chats with Tom Zoller, longtime superintendent and now Managing Director at Tehŕma Golf Club (owned by Clint Eastwood) in Carmel, CA.  Zoller relates his experiences growing up and through the ranks of the greenkeeping profession to his current position.

 



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Frank Dobie: Redefining success after more than 50 years

Posted by John Reitman in Living Legends, 01 March 2017 · 713 views

Don't bother checking an episode of America's Most Wanted to locate Frank Dobie, and there is no need to scan those posters hanging on the wall in the post office, either. As a matter of fact, Dobie just might be the easiest person to locate in all of golf.

 
Dobie, 76, is the country's longest-tenured golf course superintendent. He has been a greenkeeper since 1961 when JFK still was in the White House. And he has worked at his current job, as superintendent and general manager of Sharon Golf Club in Sharon Center, Ohio, since construction began on the George Cobb design in 1964. 
 
For some added perspective, in 1964: Ford first unveiled the Mustang, the average cost of a gallon of gas was 30 cents, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had a year-end close of 874, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, the U.S. Congress formally authorized the war against North Vietnam, and The Beatles came to America for the first time and had the year's top song with I Want to Hold Your Hand.
 
Just how does someone survive 56 years in the same industry and 53 years at the same job?
 
Simple, says Dobie.
 
"You have to create advocates every year, people who will back you up, be proactive and positive," Dobie said. "There is always someone who doesn't like you. I have my detractors, I've had them all these years, but the advocates drown them out. Our membership police that, so I don't have to defend myself."
 
Dobie never had a greater advocate at Sharon than the late M.G. O'Neil, the former General Tire and Rubber executive who was the club's president for 46 years until he died in 2009. 
 
"He told me 'I don't want to talk to a bunch of people. I want you in charge of the whole program: general manager and superintendent,' " Dobie said. "I was general manager from Day 1 at age 24. I didn't know finance or food service. He asked me 'Can you grow grass.' I said 'yes,' and he told me 'we'll teach you all you need to know about the other things.' "
 
O'Neil's finance lessons were simple: "Don't spend more money than what you have to spend," Dobie said.
 
It sounds simple, but being frugal has helped Sharon remain healthy financially during troubled times.
 
"Every year since 1966 when it opened, the club always made a profit," he said. "There has never been an assessment on members, never been a deficit.
 
"We waited for stuff. We didn't pave the parking lot for the first 17 years. It evolved slowly, but we were always fiscally sound, and it's one of the reasons why to this day we have a full membership."

 

I've always said the only way I'd leave was if I was not being paid enough, I didn't like the people I work with or if I was not being challenged. I'm still getting all those things."

 

O'Neil was more than just a mentor to Dobie.
 
"He always told board members not to get involved in operations. Their job was to establish club policy, raise dues, and things like that," Dobie said. "He always told me that one of his biggest jobs was watching my back," he said.
 
A 1960 graduate of Penn State's two-year turfgrass management program, Dobie counts Joe Duich, Ph.D., and former Bob O'Link superintendent Bob Williams, among his mentors. Ironically, Williams's son, Bruce Williams, CGCS, in turn, was one of Dobie's former interns.
 
Dobie has been giving back to his profession almost since the day he started at Sharon. He's been on the board of directors of the Musser International Turfgrass Foundation since 1969, and has been its president since 1988.
 
To further illustrate just how long Dobie's career at Sharon has been, he recently hired a retired teacher who used to work on his crew decades ago, to tend bar.
 
Dobie has had plenty of opportunities to find greener fairways elsewhere, including a job offer from Augusta National.
 
"I've always said the only way I'd leave was if I was not being paid enough, I didn't like the people I work with or if I was not being challenged," he said. "I'm still getting all those things."

 

He challenged you every day. He'd always ask you quick questions and quiz you. It was the best place I could have worked.

 

Being challenged was why Jason Mahl chose Sharon for his internship after he graduated from Ohio State ATI in 2000. He had offers from bigger clubs, with more staff, but he chose Sharon because of the lower superintendent-to-intern ratio.
 
"He was well known, but I knew all about him, because we took a field trip there when I was at ATI," Mahl said. "It was always in the back of my head that it would be a good place to go and learn.
 
"He challenged you every day. He'd always ask you quick questions and quiz you. It was the best place I could have worked."
 
Frank Dobie's bunker construction method has been working for him since the 1960s.
A true innovator, Dobie developed his own bunker construction method in 1967 and says he is the first superintendent to use a bunker liner. Any changes to bunkers at Sharon since it opened have been either to enlarge, shrink add or remove them. None have been rebuilt due to failure of his system, In fact, a fairway bunker on No. 18 is the original bunker Dobie built in 1967.
 
Dobie also has been an innovator of nutrition, which, he says, has helped him prolong his career.
 
He eats only organic foods, never takes any sort of medication, "not even aspirin," and takes about 14 vitamins and supplements each day, including things like krill oil (for Omega 3 fatty acids), alfalfa (to ward off arthritis) and coral calcium for overall plant, err, bone and joint health.
 
He views supplements the same way superintendents look at some of the products they apply to turf.
 
"When the turf is calcium or potassium deficient, you add things that make the plant healthier and less susceptible to disease," he said. 
 
"I can't prove it works, but when I take them, I'm healthier and less prone to disease."
 
More than 50 years of success don't lie.

 



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Rick Tegtmeier: 4-year, 36-hole renovation at Des Moines Golf & Country Club

Posted by Peter McCormick in The Renovation Report, 01 March 2017 · 826 views

In this episode of the TurfNet Renovation Report, host Peter McCormick chats with Rick Tegtmeier, CGCS MG, about the recently completed four-year, 36-hole renovation project at Des Moines Golf & Country Club where he has been director of grounds since 2007. A humorous anecdote about architect Pete Dye... mistakes made and lessons learned... tips for dealing with architects, working with contractors and how to get the best from in-house staff... Rick lays it all out for us.

 

Whether you're embarking on a renovation project or might be some day in the future, there's something for everyone to file away and put to use.

 



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Thursday at BTME: Trade show and Moortown Golf Club, an early Ryder Cup venue

Posted by Peter McCormick in TurfNet on Tour 2017: St. Andrews and BTME, 24 February 2017 · 432 views

Most of the education at BTME ended Wednesday and that left a final day for us to visit the trade show in Harrogate's Exposition Centre. As mentioned before in this blog, the BTME show is on a smaller, more manageable scale that the GIS.

 

We decided to visit a few familiar companies as well a few companies that may have been new to the group. Visits to both Bayer and Syngenta were the real eye-openers as we learned how relatively few chemicals European greenkeepers have to work with. Bayer's UK Head of Sales for Turf and Amenity products in the UK, Neil Pettican, explained that there are virtually no insecticides available to superintendents there.

 

The group with Bayer's Neil Pettican.

 

The group visited STRI the primary research agency in Europe. Their main testing facility is nearby.

 

We stopped by the Aquatrols booth and learned from Paul Lowe about the products that are in use in the UK and other areas of Europe.

 

STRI's Scott Allen tells the group about the types of research done on turf in the area.

 

Paul Lowe shares details on the European market for Aquatrols.

 

Terry 'Red' Plemons showed the True-Surface line of rollers.  Also in the booth was Arjen Spek, European specialist for Foley United, who showed the group some features on the Foley line of products.

 

Terry "Red" Plemons at True-Surface

 

Foley United's Arjen Spek shows of some features of their latest grinder.

 

In the "new to us" category we learned about many of the features of the Baroness line of mowers from Adam Butler their UK Sales Manager. The manufacturer has greater penetration in Europe than in the US.

 

Adam Butler introduces the group to features on the Baroness line of mowers.

 

After visiting Baroness we caught up with Royal County Down's course manager, Eamonn Crawford. Royal County Down is a favorite during TurfNet trips to Ireland and Eamonn shared some background on what he does to maintain the No. 1 ranked course in the world.

 

Visiting with Eamonn Crawford of Royal County Down.

 

Before leaving the exhibit hall we stopped by the Better Billy Bunker stand to say goodbye to our St. Andrews host Andy Campbell. Andy is already working on the arrangements for TurfNet's Members Trip to Scotland in October.

 

We stopped by the Better Billy Bunker booth to say our goodbyes to our St. Andrews host Andy Campbell.

 

After a quick lunch at Harrogate's Five Guys (which is exactly like any Five Guys in the US) some of us took a short taxi ride to the Moortown Golf Club near Alwoodley. An Alister Mackenzie design, Moortown was the first European location to host the Ryder Cup which it did in 1929.

 

 

Ben Leeming, one of the deputy greenkeepers, showed us around the course and Secretary Peter Rishworth showed us the club's extensive collection of Ryder Cup memorabilia. There is also a little-known second Ryder Cup that was presented to the ladies of the club by Samuel Ryder for providing the catering for the event.

 

 

Peter Braun and Matt Gourlay chat with John Greenwood, Michael Joyce and Ben Leeming from Moortown Golf Club.

 

The Ryder Cup at Moortown Golf Club.

 

The evening was somewhat understated as many of the UK-based attendees had already headed home and we had to pack up for early flights out of nearby Leeds. We reflected on our time together over dinner at Montpelier, a traditional UK pub.

 

I would be remiss at this point if I didn't give a shout out to the St. George Hotel our home base for the week in Harrogate. Friendly, helpful staff, comfortable rooms, a nice lobby bar, and an overall "can do" attitude made for a great home away from home. The only question is how many more rooms we'll need for next year's conference. 

 

The St. George Hotel in Harrogate



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Anthony Williams, CGCS, Four Seasons Resort, Irving, Texas

Posted by John Reitman in The Pin Sheet, 23 February 2017 · 144 views

 

Our buddy Anthony Williams, CGCS, recently took a break from his plaque-polishing duties to celebrate a new job - as director of golf course maintenance and landscaping at the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas.

 

Williams spent 30 years with Marriott Golf, and most recently was superintendent at 36-hole Stone Mountain Golf Club near Atlanta, where he also was the arborist for Stone Mountains 3,200-acre state park.

 

Plaques he must regularly polish include the 2009 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year award, J.W. Marriott Award of Excellence, Georgia GCSA Superintendent of the Year and Distinguished Service Awards.

 

A ninth-degree black belt in karate who had to put his skills to use on the job to ward off would-be muggers at the 2008 GIS in New Orleans, Williams also authored The Environmental Stewardship Toolkit:  How to Build, Implement, and Maintain an Environmental Plan for Grounds and Golf Courses.

 

The Four Seasons has been the site of the PGA Tours AT&T Byron Nelson since 1983, and will play host to one more event before moving to Trinity Forest in 2018.

 



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Tech Tip: Online Password Management Solution

Posted by Peter McCormick in Matt Leverich: Career & Technology Interchange, 20 February 2017 · 599 views

This topic isn't specific to the turfgrass industry but we are all adding more and more technology into our daily operations, which typically means new logins and passwords for various software or websites. Add to that your personal accounts for bills, family activities and more, and it can get frustrating to remember all of them. As of today, I have over 50 logins! 

 

When it comes to daily organization, I have written in the past about my use of Wunderlist, a free app for making lists and a lot more. I honestly couldn't function without it and would have had to hire an assistant long ago. If you missed that blog post, you can check it out here

 

Why am I talking about Wunderlist when this article is about passwords? For years, I kept a list in Wunderlist of all my usernames and passwords. I used to use Apple Keychain as well, but keeping them in Wunderlist was easier for me as I have it open constantly every day, and Keychain didn't work for my PC or phone. Wunderlist was a simple solution, but not very secure and I still had to reference the list every time I needed to login plus keep it updated manually. 


So, recently I stumbled upon a great series from a tech blog I follow, 9to5Mac, and software called 1Password.It has really made my online password management a breeze and has made it extremely secure. The premise is pretty simple - login with one password and it works for all of your other ones. You can add all secure information too, like bank accounts, alarm codes, etc. and it works on any operating system or device. You'll quickly see how amazing it is to just have the one password that works for everything, and their encryption is extremely well done. They even have a feature called Watchtower that alerts if a site has been hacked and can reset your password for you with their Strong Password Generator. There are options to add it for your whole family as well which is very convenient. 

 

That's it. Seems silly to me I didn't know about it until now but it has worked so great for me I wanted to pass it along to you as well since this blog covers technology now and then. You can check out full details on it at https://1password.com/

 

 

Note: Just in case you don't know - its not a good option to just have your browser save your logins/passwords on websites because it's not that secure, and more importantly, you should be clearing out your browsing history and cache frequently for a faster experience and for security purposes. 



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Mid-winter jolts of energy, and paths less taken...

Posted by Peter McCormick in Peter McCormick: View from the Cheap Seats, 17 February 2017 · 610 views

Back in the day when Daughter B was in the college application mode, envelopes in the mail were opened with a combination of anticipation, excitement and trepidation.  Unlike many of her peers who threw a dozen or more applications against the wall hoping that at least one of choice would stick, she had applied to a mere four or five.

 

When the letter arrived from Middlebury College here in Vermont, the opening yielded a somewhat confusing result: "We are pleased to offer you a place in the Middlebury College Class of 2008.5, commencing February 1, 2005."  Okay...

 

After a bit of research, we discovered that Middlebury accepts 20% of its freshman class as "Febs", reporting in February instead of September to fill the dorm spaces vacated by juniors leaving for their semester abroad. Makes sense. And it gives the Febs the fall semester off for adventure.

 

DB was excited to accept and enroll in February.

 

We assumed that the college deemed her qualifications not quite good enough to be accepted for September, but they would take her for February.  Quite a bit later we discovered our assumption was incorrect. Quite the opposite, in fact.

 

Turns out that the admissions people earmark certain applicants -- the movers and shakers, class presidents, newspaper editors and the like -- for admission in February to give the snow-laden campus a mid-winter jolt of energy. A week prior to most of campus returning from J-term, Febs arrive for orientation to a rowdy and raucous welcome from a group of prior year Febs.

 

Sophomore Febs welcoming the new freshman group at Middlebury College.

 

Matters on the home front prevailed this year and I didn't make it to GIS... but I worked the show via social media and couldn't help but feel a similar mid-winter energy emanating from Orlando. Most of the attendees had had a few months off to come down off of last season, kick back and regroup. The palpable jolt of energy from GIS obviously recharged many to do battle again in the spring.

 

I am usually too busy when attending the show to pay much attention to the education sessions, but the vantage point "from away" gave me new insight this year. Kudos and high fives to GCSAA (yep, I'm saying that) for injecting new energy with the Lightning Round Learning sessions on Tuesday morning. A smorgasbord of presenters  (11 total, moderated by the always entertaining Dr. Frank Wong) had five minutes each to present a maximum of 20 slides that automatically advanced every 15 seconds. Hey, I got charged up and I wasn't even there!

 

 

Really, how many multi-hour-long presentations of charts and research stuff can one tolerate without going brain dead? The Lightning Round thing is EXACTLY what GIS needs to reinvent and reenergize itself.

 

I was also tickled to see some "alternative" (in a good way, as opposed to "alternative facts") presenters on the docket. Witness Jason Haines, a progressive "think without a box" superintendent from a small, low budget club in coastal British Columbia.  I have watched Jason's Turf Hacker blog and occasionally selected a post for our Turf Blog Aggregator. I also follow him as @PenderSuper on Twitter, and simply get a kick out of his no-fear, old-school-be-damned, question-everything, who-cares-what-others-think approach to minimalist turf management. Hey, he rides his bike to work as well.

 

This was Jason's first GIS, traveling on GCSAA's nickel. I can picture his head just about exploding from trying to get his bearings and make sense of the scope and scale of the conference and show, sort of like a kid from the sticks walking onto the streets of Manhattan. But more kudos and high fives to him for making the trip, sharing his experiences and proselytizing his ideas on fertility, disease management and fiscal responsibility for others to evaluate.

 

Jason presented on a variety of topics, including a panel discussion with Chris Tritabaugh and Matt Crowther on low input turf management; a Lightning Round spot on why he loves his job at Pender Harbour Golf Club; a four-hour seminar with Larry Stowell of PACE Turf on his MLSN fertility regimen, and a presentation on digital job boards. From what I could see, all were well received and Jason made a lot of new friends at GIS.

 

 

"For a greenkeeper from a 9 hole course that most people have probably never heard of it was mind blowing to be presenting my thoughts and experience to those who I have looked up to my entire career." -- Jason Haines

 

 

Promulgating alternative thought is not the type of thing that GIS education has been known for in the past... but it is precisely what is needed to propel golf turf management forward in this "contracting" golf climate... and to give superintendents something to chew on as they return home to tackle whatever another golf season throws at them.



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Takeaways from Hazeltine, and reflecting with our Mindful Superintendent

Posted by Peter McCormick in Kevin Ross at the Ryder Cup, 06 October 2016 · 2,600 views

 

As my 2016 Ryder Cup duty comes to a close, it's nice to reflect back on my experiences. There are a few strong takeaways from the event for me. None of them have to do with any sort of agronomic stuff.

 

First, the welcome that superintendent Chris Tritabaugh gave to everyone at Monday's orientation was special. He introduced and acknowledged each member of his staff, every volunteer, and all of the industry affiliates (me).  As a TurfNet correspondent, this was the category I fit into for the first time in my career.  Not a volunteer, but still acknowledged. Thanks Chris! It made me feel good, instead of just "some guy" carrying camera equipment around all week.. It made everyone feel good. No question, this set a great tone for the week.

 

 

Another takeaway is how strangers can bond together so quickly for a common goal. After orientation on Monday, it took a mere day or two to create a very well-oiled machine. Many times I was out filming and thought it was like poetry-in-motion. Maybe it was because I was looking through a lens taking it all in, and not worrying about keeping my mow lines straight.

 

With my new friends from the Swedish Golf Federation...

 

In my case, I tried mostly not to get in the way. I tried to observe from a distance and not stick the camera in people's faces. It is hard to observe from a distance, when this industry is so welcoming and friendly. Granted, I probably knew half the volunteers in advance, but that still leaves the other half. I was floored by the number of the "other half" that introduced themselves and just started conversations about my ON COURSE videos, agronomics, Colorado... you name it. It all set in when it was time to leave and say our goodbyes. I remember shaking hands with so many people I didn't know before the start of the week. Special.

 

 

 

As I got to the airport on Monday morning, things quickly came full circle for me.  I bumped into David Duval from the Golf Channel, and one of the heroes from the 1999 Ryder Cup. When our conversation started, I mentioned the '99 Cup.  His tired facial expression instantly changed to a smile, grinning from ear to ear. I told him I was there in-person, inside the ropes when he made that arm-pumping walk around 14 green as the USA made that improbable comeback. I actually think we both relived that moment for a few seconds, as our conversation became quiet.

 

Although I had a fabulous time at Hazeltine -- thank you Chris Tritabaugh -- I realized something I hadn't thought of in years.  Personally, the 1999 Ryder Cup will always be branded within me as my greatest moment in golf!

 

Until next time...



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Back to Nebraska...

Posted by Peter McCormick in Jeff Lenihan at Arsenal FC, 31 August 2016 · 2,183 views

Well, that's the end of my summer. I'm back at the University of Nebraska to finish up my last semester and graduate this December with a degree in Turfgrass Management and a minor in Business.

 

As I sit here in my apartment in Lincoln, I can't help but feel very grateful to everyone who has helped me over the past three years of great experiences.

 

First, I want to thank Weston Appelfeller at the Columbus Crew SC for answering my shot-in-the-dark email three years ago about a potential first internship in the industry. Out of many emails to many places, Weston was the only one to respond and I can't thank him enough because that led to the rest of the opportunities I have been lucky to have.

 

While at the Columbus Crew, I was put in touch with Mike O'Keeffe at Ohio State about potentially going overseas for work experience. Mike runs the world-famous Ohio Program, which helps place agriculture and horticulture students from America at internships all over the world and vice-versa.

 

Mike told me about a company in Macclesfield, England that was looking for their first ever intern. He gave my information to Richard Campey at Campey Turfcare Systems and I went on to have an incredible summer, as outlined in my last blog "Jeff Lenihan- Pitch Prep in the UK".

 

 

With Campeys in Finland.

 

While touring around Europe with Campey Turfcare, I met Steve Braddock at Arsenal, and that's where this story comes full circle. I had an awesome summer at London Colney and worked with some great people. Even though I am a Manchester United fan, I couldn't help but be impressed with the facility and operation that they have going there.

 

Mowing in lines on one of my last days with Campey Turfcare intern Alex Jensen from Australia

 

I also wanted to thank Aquatrols for sponsoring my blog this year! And, obviously, I want to give a big thanks to everyone at TurfNet, especially Peter McCormick and Jon Kiger, who have helped me along the way for the past two years. Thanks for following along!

 



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Trip reflections...

Posted by Peter McCormick in TurfNet on Tour 2016: Jorge Croda, 30 August 2016 · 630 views

Italy is a beautiful country full of art and culture with monuments, churches, landscapes, and rich agriculture. All small towns have a castle and a story to tell especially in Tuscany and Veneto which were both gateways to my travels. It seems that in Italy art is in the blood of all architects, designers and artists both past and present generations.
 
Having the opportunity to experience this trip filled me with a great sense of thankfulness and appreciation for many things. 
 
I am thankful that I was able to blog about the trip and share my experiences with other people interested in golf.  I am thankful that I was able to spend so much quality time with my wife and experience so much history and culture along side her.  I am thankful that I had the opportunity to explore the country of my forefathers and find my roots. 
 
 
I am also extremely appreciative of my assistant, Roberto Cruz, and the maintenance crew at Southern Oaks for the exceptional job that they did maintaining the course while I was away. 
 



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Saturday Brings Three New Olympic Golf Medalists into History

Posted by Peter McCormick in Rio2016, 21 August 2016 · 1,670 views

JON KIGER AUG 21 | If one of the goals for course set up between the Men's and Women's Olympic competitions was parity the organizers succeeded. South Korea's Inbee Park claimed the Gold Medal to end the tournament at 16-under the same score that Great Britain's Justin Rose shot to win Gold on the Men's side. The seven time major champion became the first woman in 116 years to earn Olympic gold.

 

New Zealand's Lydia Ko finished at 11-under to earn the Silver Medal and China's Shanshan Feng finished at 10-under for the Bronze.

 

(L-R) New Zealands Lydia Ko - Silver, South Koreas Inbee Park - Gold, and Chinas Shanshan Feng - Bronze

 

While golf's usual refrain for those who don't win is "wait until next year" Olympic participants and those who stayed home will have a four year wait to have a chance at Olympic glory. And with such a long wait until the next competition it is only fitting that the top three competitors are honored compared to the "winner take all" attention paid to traditional tournament winners.

 

 

The 120 golfers who participated can forever add "Olympian" to their resume and the 41 countries represented have reason to take great pride in being a part of golf's return to the Olympic stage after 112 years.

 

If there is another Gold Medal to award it's to Olympic Golf Course superintendent Neil Cleverly, his local crew and the volunteers from around the world. To pull tournament conditions off (TWICE!) under these circumstances was nothing short of remarkable.

 

Working double shifts for three weeks and enduring travel, lodging, security and other logistical challenges was beginning to take its toll on the volunteer crew by Saturday morning. Several volunteers reported general fatigue. Being a part of history in a special setting and the camaraderie of the rest of the crew carried them through the final hours of preparation.

 

Neil Cleverly (front in blue jacket) with local crew and volunteers for the Olympic Golf competitions. 

 

One of golf's enduring qualities is its ability to bring people together whether you're joining a threesome at your local muni or meeting colleagues from around the world to do something never before accomplished in the modern era. In Rio in 2016 it definitely accomplished that in abundance.

 

Welcome Back, Golf. See you in Tokyo in 2020.



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"Not where you go, but who picks you up..."

Posted by Peter McCormick in Nate McKinniss: Interning at Co. Louth/Baltray, 2016, 16 August 2016 · 1,146 views

"It's not where you go, but who picks you up." I remember Dr. Danneberger saying this about his traveling stories. Personally experiencing this on my own excursions and adventures this summer, I couldn't agree more.

 

My side trips have been to several spots in Ireland and one to Holland. With each adventure I met many new people, each adding to the experience.

 

All roads led to County Louth Golf Club at Baltray, my home for the summer.

 

Arriving first at the village of Baltray. It was this small seaside village that became my summer home. County Louth Golf Club will always be special thanks to all the employees and members of this club. Many from County Louth have assisted my summer excursions in more ways than one.

 

All who I have met there showcased the Irish hospitality. Knowing I was so far away from home, they wanted to make me feel as close to home as possible. With everything brought about for me, they succeeded.

 

The clubhouse/restaurant at County Louth Golf Club. My accommodations were above.

 

Outside of Baltray, I've met other passionate people in the golf industry. Most of these connections came from volunteering at the Irish Open. Had I not gotten to know the volunteers at the K Club, my trips to Portmarnock Links and The Dutch would not have been the same. The visits were fantastic. Each golf course was class, more importantly though the people that picked me up made it all the better.

 

I did not drive a car in Ireland. Public transportation was the key to traveling. It took a while to get used to, however transport was made easy thanks to Damien Keenan and the Matthews Bus Services. Damien had supplied passes that covered trips to Dublin and Dundalk. The Matthew bus was always on time, comfortable and convenient. 

 

The big Matthews white bus, right on time.

 

Dr. D was right; I have learned the best trips come about by who picks you up. My excursions this summer were made enjoyable from the Matthews Coach getting me to and from plus the people guiding me along the way. I wouldn't say Baltray is the number one place for everyone to visit in Ireland; however, for me, this summer, the people I spent this experience with made it the greatest place to be. 



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Jon Kiger: Final thoughts on the Irish Open

Posted by Peter McCormick in TurfNet on Tour: Irish Open 2016, 16 June 2016 · 1,334 views

"You know it's been an amazing week when you start getting regular texts from Mossy in the Netherlands, Paddy in Mullingar, and Josh in the UK..."

It has taken me a nearly three weeks (and getting over a nasty cold picked up over there) to compile my thoughts on just what our week of work at the Irish Open meant to me. It greatly exceeded my expectations on so many levels.

 

First -- I have the utmost respect and admiration for Course Manager Gerry Byrne. He and his team had to do so much in advance of our arrival that I can't imagine how the months leading up to the Irish Open stressed and demoralized the regular staff.  Even after we volunteers arrived and the staff swelled to 25 or so there was still so much work to get done in advance of the Wednesday Pro-Am. Gerry brought out the best in us. I personally worked harder that week knowing how hard the in-house staff worked before we got there.

 

Gerry, Jamie and Philip provided steady leadership for many of us who had to learn our way around the golf course (or in the case of the contract labor learn ABOUT a golf course.) There were few tense moments but then I realized that these crew leaders didn't have that much recent experience organizing a large staff.

 

Second -- I had always heard about the monotony of certain tasks around the golf course, but that week I gained a real appreciation for how the monotony challenges your motivation. Keeping a staff motivated and having them take ownership of their work must be a constant challenge.

 

 

Third -- I learned that this profession really is meant for people who can accept that their performance will be judged by many factors that are out of their control. Weather is the primary factor, but sponsoring organizations, owners and other factors are all part of the challenge.

 

"These friendships were forged in the bunkers and the canteen but will be nurtured over many years to come..."

 

Fourth -- Responding to these outside forces and challenges helps people rise to a level of performance that they didn't know was possible. Working under these conditions also brings people together. Teamwork, bonding, friendship, and appreciation are all byproducts of being focused as a group on the tasks at hand.

 

Fifth -- It was confirmed to me that the golf maintenance industry is made up of some of the nicest and friendliest people one is ever going to meet. I was certainly looking forward to getting to know Team TurfNet/Irish Open a little better during our time together, but came away with so many more new friends from a variety of locales. It's great waking up to a text or instant message from Mossy in The Netherlands or Paddy from Mullingar. These friendships were forged in the bunkers and the canteen but will be nurtured over many years to come. Seeing Josh from The Belfry post photos of his son being born was especially meaningful after having gotten to know him over the course of the week.

 

Finally, thanks to everyone who played a role in this "Week of a Lifetime". I am indebted to our hosts, my fellow crew members, family and co-workers who carried on my absence, and of course our blog sponsors who supported the project. The only remaining question is, "Where do we go from here?"

 

Rory McIlroy poses with the greenkeeping staff after winning the Irish Open for the first time. 

 

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open flag signed by the 2016 greenkeeping crew at the K Club. Note: Liam Neeson was NOT on the crew (Irish humor)

 

 

 

 

 



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GCSAA Priorities: Upgrade The Nominating Process And Return To Transparent Governance

Posted by Jim McLoughlin in Jim McLoughlin: Career Advancement is JOB ONE!, 26 May 2016 · 1,729 views

Coming out of the winter of 1980, several chapters asked GCSAA to survey all the chapters to inquire whether they wanted to be mailed (no e-mail then) the minutes of GCSAA Board meetings for distribution to their chapters board members and to any of their chapter members requesting a copy.

 

The chapters voted 95-0 to implement this policy that served the Association well as evidenced by the fact that every existing activity/program given attention at the time realized sizable growth because the members felt for the first time that they were part of the team. This was a transformative time for GCSAA that everyone thought would last indefinitely.

 

Unfortunately, however, within a few years a disruptive headquarters relocation battle within GCSAA unsettled everything, politically divided the membership, and consequently, the still relatively new policy of distributing Board meeting minutes was abandoned and has not been revived to this day.

 

The Consequences Of Failed Leadership

The most critical consequence of this relocation skirmish was that all the headway that had been made up to that time to advance the job security and access to outreach counseling on behalf of the members stalled and quickly dissipated - not to return to this day.

 

For a detailed listing of the devastation wrought upon superintendents and their families when politics over-rides job performance and costs them their jobs - see April 28, 2016 blog message.

 

Why Board Efforts To Address Job Security Matters Fails

Through the years GCSAA watchers including myself have asked well-respected leaders within the membership why they consistently decline invitations to serve on the GCSAA Board? The persistent answer always has been:

 

"Because the nominating committee has been delivering more 'nice guys' with the best intentions' to the GCSAA Board than natural leaders who are needed to make the tough decisions. Important policy proposals consistently fail by 2-7 and 3-6 votes and I don't want to spend that much time traveling the country, attending meetings when so little gets done - especially when I know my one vote will not make a difference."

 

Clearly, the nominating process requires adjustments to ensure that it will become more effective delivering dominant leadership on a year-to-year basis to the GCSAA Board - because without enhanced leadership at the top the two embattled issues of our time: namely, making better job security and access to outreach counseling available to the membership will never get on the radar.

 

Recommended Plan Of Action

Following are four recommended steps that would upgrade the nominating process and return GCSAA to a much-heralded era of operational transparency.

 

Step Number One:     

Only chapter past presidents would be eligible to be nominated to the GCSAA Board. This would produce several hundreds of potentially qualified nominees at any one time from all the chapters.

 

Rationale: Logic suggests that chapter presidents would have demonstrated the necessary leadership qualities to a greater degree than any other official, or member within a chapter.

 

GCSAA nominating policy should always ensure advancing the very best qualified leaders to its Board.

 

Step Number Two:    

Only chapter boards can nominate past presidents to the GCSAA Board with the following understandings: only one past president can be nominated each election cycle; and the nominee must be a member of the same chapter as the endorsing board.

 

Rationale:  Chapter boards are the best "quality control" element available to ensure that only the best candidates get nominated to the GCSAA Board.

 

Step Number Three:

Sponsoring chapters would be required to submit a personal career web site profiling the career, professional vision and lifestyle of their nominees when notifying the GCSAA Nominating Committee of their selections.

 

The nominee would be responsible for designing/developing his own website - using outside counseling support, or not - which the endorsing chapter board must approve of before submitting its nomination to the GCSAA Nominating Committee.

 

The nominees personal career website would include, in part: a series of appropriate links depicting the nominees educational, career and lifestyle accomplishments; a full text presentation of all writings published by the nominee; a +/- 500 word essay stating what the nominee's short and long term visions are for GCSAA; and for those seeking re-election to the Board a statement of the nominee's issue by issue voting record while serving previously on the GCSAA Board.

 

The endorsing chapter would pay for the development of its nominee's personal career web site - the cost of which must stay within the limits established by GCSAA.

 

Rationale: Because the nominees' web site addresses could be included within each candidate's information package that GCSAA sends out to all its members before an election, the concept of a personal career web site guarantees that there will be a well-informed voting membership attending every GCSAA annual meeting.

 

Step Number Four:  

It is imperative that GCSAA returns to be the totally transparent organization it once was, which would require reinstating the policy of e-mailing Board meeting minutes to the board members of all of the 100-plus chapters.

 

Rationale: The primary fallout of GCSAA failing to restore the policy authorizing the distribution of Board meeting minutes would be that the members would continue to have absolutely no idea what the voting records were of the members they are electing as officers, or Board members.

 

Accordingly, without access to nominees' voting records, there would no available way for members to judge whether any candidate for election was an effective leader, or not.

 

Can anyone imagine a U.S. Senator, or a U.S. Congressman running for re-election without the American people knowing of their voting records? The entire election process would be declared unconstitutional and shut down.

 

Where Does GCSAA Go From Here?

Of course, this brings everything back to the original source of the problem; namely being dependent on the GCSAA Board to vote passage of important policy legislation.  

 

The consensus opinion, again, of GCSAA watchers is that the Board would more than likely be willing to upgrade the nominating process. But, becoming a totally transparent organization could be another matter.

 

But then, GCSAA might want to create a second transformative era similar to that referenced earlier above because this would launch GCSAA, its members and the profession to new national levels of recognition and respect.

 

Because the long-range welfare of every golf course superintendent across the land will totally depend in the years ahead on realizing the two goals of upgrading the GCSAA nominating process and returning the Association to transparent governance everyone should be well-motivated to get the job done.

 

It is time for leaders within GCSAA and at the chapter level to take charge, organize a campaign and lead!



Photo

Saturday: Ballymac Golf, then onto Dublin for a Guinness tour

Posted by Peter McCormick in Ireland 2015: TurfNet Members' Trip, 18 October 2015 · 2,320 views

The last day of the TurfNet Members' Trip 2015 (for those not extending) kicked off with a 9-hole scramble match at the Ballymascanlon Hotel and Golf Course, the only parkland course on the trip this year.

 

 

John Gall and John Gosselin are all smiles as the trip winds down on Saturday.

 

Before the round, trip organizer and Mr. Irish, Jon Kiger, snuck away to 100-year old Lawless Barbers in Dundalk for a hot towel shave. Nice.

 

Among the swag for trip attendees were some very stylin' shades from sponsor Aquatrols. Maureen Gall sported them on the trip to the Guinness Storehouse, with hubby John Gall.

 

No visit to Dublin is complete without a trip to the Guinness brewery at St. James Gate.  The Storehouse covers seven floors surrounding a glass atrium shaped in the form of a pint of Guinness. The ground floor introduces the beer's four ingredients (water, barley, hops and yeast), and the brewery's founder, Arthur Guinness. Other floors feature the history of Guinness advertising and include an interactive exhibit on responsible drinking. The seventh floor houses the Gravity Bar with views of Dublin, and where a pint of Guinness can be enjoyed.

 

The TurfNet group at the start of the Guinness factory tour.

 

The tour starts with instruction in the classic Irish toast, Slainte'.

 

The tour includes hands-on instruction in the art of crafting "The Perfect Pint of Guinness" (it's not as easy as it looks, as Guinness is nitrogen-infused and must be allowed time to settle before topping up). Here Kas Kachmarek, father of Joel and Mark, proudly displays his certificate of achievement in crafting the Perfect Pour.  Slainte', Kas!

 

Enjoying a pint in the Gravity Bar.

 

Traditional Irish music is never far away.

 

It could be argued that Jorge Croda, as a Mexican national working in Texas, was as far out of his element as anybody on the trip... but he was always with a smile, a kind word and a pint nearby.  It was great having him on the trip.





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