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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 · 16,409 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. 


Invisible TD Sand

Posted by Randy Wilson in Randy Wilson: Here at the 'Rock, in Skeletal Golf 26 March 2015 · 1,426 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.




Rating Superintendent Job Opportunities

Posted by Jim McLoughlin in Jim McLoughlin: Career Advancement is JOB ONE!, 26 March 2015 · 1,532 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.


Finding Staff: H2B Visa Program (Part 1)

Posted by Matt Leverich in Matt Leverich: Career & Technology Interchange, 24 March 2015 · 9,686 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.



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 · 1,576 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.



You can't unring the bell...

Posted by Dave Wilber in Dave Wilber: Turfgrass Zealot, in Staff, Communication 17 March 2015 · 3,713 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.


Preparing for the Landscape of the Future

Posted by Joseph Fearn in Joe Fearn: Third Way Green, 11 March 2015 · 9,076 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.


Volunteering at the 2017 Irish Open... again!

Posted by Peter McCormick in TurfNet On Tour 2017 - Irish Open Portstewart, 22 June 2017 · 293 views

Welcome to TurfNet on Tour, the blog showcasing our US-based team of volunteers at the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart Golf Club on the coast of Northern Ireland. Four representatives from TurfNet will represent 10% of the volunteer maintenance force for this European Tour Rolex Series event.


This year the tournament was moved from May to July and that presented a challenge to host superintendent Bernard Findlay. Just as in the States, greenkeepers here are needed at their respective courses in the middle of summer. We are delighted to provide course workers with a variety of backgrounds and skills to help ensure the success of this event. We will be part of a smaller combined crew by US tournament standards and will rise to the challenge of delivering and maintaining tournament conditions for the week.


Portstewart Golf Club, home of the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.


During a March visit to the course Bernard explained that their course often flies under the radar compared to the other two great links courses in the area (World No. 1 Royal County Down and Royal Portrush Golf Club which is hosting The Open Championship in 2019.) What I saw was an amazing links course that will be a great stage for Ireland's National Championship. Infrastructure-wise, it will be a dry run for the area for when they host The Open in just two years' time.


Personally this is another chance for me to experience first hand the hours and hard work that superintendents and crews endure on a daily basis. My first experience last year was especially insightful and this year should be as well.


Bernard Findlay, course manager at Portstewart and our "boss" for the week.


The area around Portstewart is awash in history and attractions, should weather and time allow a few side trips. Everything from Giants Causeway to the walled city of Derry are an easy drive for our midday breaks from our duties. We'll be sure to report on those, too.


Finally, we all know that a big part of the TurfNet experience is the friendships that are made within this community. It was a pleasure to look at this year's group of TurfNet volunteers and realize that I've visited each of their courses in the past few years.


...a big part of the TurfNet experience is the friendships that are made within this community.


David Escobedo in Arizona has been featured in our Tips and Tricks video series at two different courses there. Dana Chase and I met during his first volunteer assignment at the Ryder Cup in Wales in 2010 and when he returned home I filmed at his former course in Massachusetts. Our TurfNet summer intern Marty Richardson is on loan from his summer job at The Island Golf Club outside of Dublin. His most recent US position was working at Hazeltine with Chris Tritabaugh during the years leading up to and including the 2016 Ryder Cup and it was great to see him in action there last September. I am sure the friendships will be even stronger after a week together in our modest rented "holiday home" in Portstewart, below.



Sam MacKenzie, CGCS: The Value of Different Points of View

Posted by Peter McCormick in The Ladder, 22 June 2017 · 189 views

In this episode of The Ladder, presented by STEC Equipment, John Reitman chats with Sam MacKenzie, CGCS, director of grounds at Olympia Fields Country Club (Olympia Fields, IL), about Sam's career path over the 38 years he has been in turf management.


MacKenzie, the TurfNet Superintendent of the Year in 2008, reflects on people who have influenced him and the value in being exposed to different points of view in both turf maintenance and people management... as well as the current state of the industry as a career choice.




Golf Course Communications: Same Ol' Challenge, New Solutions

Posted by Peter McCormick in Matt Leverich: Career & Technology Interchange, 20 June 2017 · 232 views

By Greg Wojick


Greenkeeper /green-keep-er/ noun: Someone who solves myriad problems average golfers didn't know they had in a way they don't understand. See also Wizard, Magician.


It has always been difficult for me to accept the fact that most golfers don't understand even a small fraction of what happens behind the scenes in golf course maintenance. Maybe, much like magicians whose acts continue to mystify their audiences, the work of the golf course superintendent is just too much to fully grasp.


Attempting to bridge the gap between the knowledge of the professional turf practitioner and the lack of knowledge of the golfer is far from easy! In fact, it's probably one of the greatest challenges facing golf course superintendents today. 


After all, the job of the superintendent is complex. It spans numerous fields of knowledge well beyond greenkeeping. Most superintendents know volumes about fertilizers, increasingly sophisticated grooming equipment, sprayers, and irrigation systems, turf pests and diseases and the herbicides and pesticides that prevent and control them. Like a doctor, they have to be able to diagnose -- and treat -- the inevitable problems that arise affecting turf health -- while keeping a watchful eye on the environment. At the same time, they're expected to have the acumen of corporate execs, who are accomplished schmoozers, public speakers, and skilled at managing sizable staffs and equally sizable operating budgets. 


Few golfers understand -- and sometimes superintendents themselves forget -- the vast scope of knowledge the job requires. And many, by nature, are falling short in the interpersonal -- or schmoozing -- aspect of the job. Who, after all, has time for it in the thick of the season when the greater concerns of turf health and ball roll weigh on their minds 24/7, right? Wrong!


Though the average golfer will never fully understand, or frankly want to understand, the intricacies of turf management, it's still important to rub shoulders with the regulars and club officials who have at least a casual interest in better understanding maintenance practices. They may want to understand why greens may be fast or slow or why carts are being restricted to paths only. They may be a bit confused when they're scolded for not raking sand in bunkers or replacing divots, not fixing ball marks on greens, riding carts inappropriately, or not corralling the divots at the practice range tee. 


Though the average golfer will never fully understand, or frankly want to understand, the intricacies of turf management, it's still important to rub shoulders with the regulars and club officials who have at least a casual interest in better understanding maintenance practices...


There are a few insanely interested golfers who want to Google what causes certain turf diseases or grain on greens -- all the more reason to make it a point to communicate with the golfers at your club or course. I'm sure you've all seen how a little knowledge can be dangerous and result in some troublesome misunderstandings. 


Communicating Made Easier

Fortunately, whether we actually rub shoulders with members or communicate through the club's publication or website or through social media, there are numerous ways to keep those who are interested apprised of what we do and the impact it may have on their game. New on the block are apps that first allowed a club's general manager to alert members of clubhouse activities and menu changes  Now similar apps are available that allow golf course superintendents to alert golfers to myriad golf course developments, from areas under construction to aeration dates.


Daily, I read with enthusiasm, interest, and many times humor, the tweets, the blogs, the newsletter articles and the website efforts of superintendents. Thanks to these internet options, communications efforts have slowly been increasing. Kudos to the supers who dare to take the time and give the effort to educate and communicate.  


All in all, the efforts to demystify the details of maintenance are worth it. Done well, these communications will keep members and golfers happily informed and even earn you the recognition and respect that will peg you as a valued contributor to your club or facility.


All in all, the efforts to demystify the details of maintenance are worth it...


For those communicating and those who haven't fully taken the leap, here are a few tips that may help you feel more confident in your communications:


1. Are you communicating to the right audience? It may be more fun to tweet out to your superintendent buddies, but make sure that, in whatever you share through social media, you put your best foot forward. 


Pretend you're a new golfer at your facility who's waking up eager to play golf.  He or she is thinking: Is the course wet today? Is it open? Are the greens fast, soft? Is there any construction activity I should be aware of? Are there any outings? Will pesticides be applied today? Are carts restricted? Is the practice tee turf available for practice? 


Using your tweets, blogs, etc., to communicate useful information to the right audience will go a long way toward bridging the knowledge gap. Golfers don't really care that one of your workers didn't show up again today. Work toward using your communications to enlighten the VIP list at your club: the GM and professional staff; the green committee members and the chairman; the club president or the owner; the caddie master or starter; the key restaurant personnel and even the caddies. All these people are likely to come into contact with golfers and can serve as messengers of your updates and information. The more people able to offer accurate, detailed information on your behalf, the better.


2. Are you using the latest available communication tools?  How does a super get the chance to go beyond the routine issues on the golf course and explain the more complex issues that face the course? How does one explain the many types of bunker liners and bunker sands for instance? Using blogs, photos, and pointing to research articles are always good options, provided those research articles can be easily digested by the layman. 


For those who would like some of the work done for them, our new app (Conditions) contains a library of informative, easy-to-read articles that help explain many of the complex challenges we all face on the golf course in a format that members are now used to via an app. 


With the job of golf course superintendent getting increasingly complex and demanding, online communication options seem the way to go. But keep in mind, it should never totally replace the in-person communication. Developing personal relationships is, and always will be, a key aspect of the job. 


...online communication options seem the way to go. But keep in mind, it should never totally replace the in-person communication.


3. Are you taking enough time each day to communicate?  Communicating, no doubt, requires time and effort. And sometimes, you may wonder if it's really paying off. But I can assure you, providing regular course updates, particularly during times of extreme heat stress or disease outbreaks, can only serve you well. Members will appreciate having the ability to understand what is going on at their golf course and will feel more confident in your ability as a turfgrass manager. Just as important, it will eliminate the need to speculate about what is happening on the course.


Future success for superintendents is tied to the success that they have when it comes to communicating with those not-in-the-know. And today, the superintendent has more tools available than ever to do it!



After nearly 30 years as a golf course superintendent and consultant, Greg Wojick co-founded Playbooks for Golf in 2008.


Fishin' At Rockbottum

Posted by Randy Wilson in Randy Wilson: Here at the 'Rock, 19 June 2017 · 586 views

It's summertime at Rockbottum CC and that means it's time for us to lighten up.


No more serious punditry, projections, predictions or pedantic posturing.


Just fishin'. 



Things I'm pretty sure to be so...

Posted by Peter McCormick in Paul MacCormack: The Mindful Superintendent, 17 June 2017 · 2,726 views

In everyone's life they have a few core things they know in their heart of hearts to be so. I hesitate to use the word truth, because it can so often get twisted and deformed. One person's version of "truth" can be vastly different from someone else's, so for the purpose of this piece, we will leave that word alone.


In our industry there are also things that appear to be so. These things are not dogma, nor are they written in stone anywhere. They are simply things that I have noticed over the course of my career that just are no more, no less. This is by no means an exhaustive list, so feel free to add anything that you might feel adds to the conversation. Here they are in no particular order:

  • Work is better when it's fun. This goes for not only you, but for your staff as well.
  • Following that last one, it can be helpful to remember that we prepare surfaces for golfers to play a game on. It's not a life or death scenario. We maintain golf courses so people can also have fun... period.
  • Walk as much as possible. Whether it's moving from job to job, or you push or carry your bag when you golf, walking forces us to slow down and see things from a completely different vantage point... always helpful.
  • When you are out on course and you have one of those moments that stop you in your tracks (you know the ones I mean, flower or tree blossoming, or your entire crew working in unison) stop and enjoy it. Savor it. It helps one truly appreciate how lucky we are.
  • It can be quite useful to make pausing frequently a part of your day. It helps you to slow down and focus. A few deep breaths can bring you back to the present moment and go a long way to resetting your busy mind.
  • Yelling at people rarely (only exception being if they are in grave danger) helps a situation. Resist the urge to tear someone a new one, or dress someone down. It might appear to fix things in the short term, but it rarely does any lasting good.
  • Practicing your listening skills is a wise use of your time. Talk less, make eye contact, and truly be present when you are having a conversation with someone... no matter who it is. People in this world like to be listened to and feel appreciated.

Practicing your listening skills is a wise use of your time. Talk less, make eye contact, and truly be present when you are having a conversation with someone... no matter who it is. 

  • Unhelpful habits (isolation, negative self talk, procrastination) can be changed. You must be honest with yourself and move towards change with an open and compassionate viewpoint. You can't shame our guilt your way to real and lasting change.
  • Never stop learning or asking questions. Continuously approach your job and your life with an open, curious mind. As soon as you are certain about something, it's usually a good sign that it's time to move on to something new.
  • Thinking big is often very helpful, but not at the expense of the small day-to-day details. Remember to check in often and keep things in perspective.
  • Embrace your creative side. Whether it's on course or sitting home on your couch learning to play guitar, it's always helpful to embrace creativity.
  • You are not your golf course. The speed of the greens, the density of your fairway turf, and the look of your bunker faces has nothing to do with you as a person. Never use what happens or doesn't happen on the golf course as a tool for measuring your self worth.

Never use what happens or doesn't happen on the golf course as a tool for measuring your self worth.

  • Your personal bank of energy is not endless, so choose how you use it with care. Giving all of yourself to your job from time to time is fine, but doing it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is not. Remember that you have a wife, kids, family, friends, and most importantly your inner self to allocate energy to as well.
  • Take care of yourself. Sleep lots, walk lots, eat well and give yourself a break from time to time.
  • Most things that are worth doing well take intention, commitment, and some heavy lifting. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.
  • Be kind to those around you. Everyone is doing the best they can at any given moment. Doesn't mean you can't help out and lend some insightful direction, but don't overdo it.
  • Love yourself, love your family and friends, and love your job. Usually best to keep them in that order.


Take care and thanks so much for reading.



Brian Whitlark: Factors affecting playability of putting surfaces

Posted by Peter McCormick in Dr. Frank Rossi: Frankly Speaking, 17 June 2017 · 343 views

In this episode of Frankly Speaking, I have a fascinating chat with Brian Whitlark, western regional agronomist for the USGA Green Section, about factors influencing playability of putting surfaces. On the table for discussion are green firmness, angle of approach from the fairway vs the rough, slope of the green, ball roll distance/green speed, and mower setup.


Whitlark is a certified professional soil scientist and has worked extensively with golf courses facing challenging soil and water conditions. Since joining the Green Section, Whitlark has conducted applied research in a variety of areas, including mitigating saline and sodic soils, evaluating practices to produce quality putting surfaces, exploring the pros and cons of using turf colorants and optimizing mower setup. He has written extensively for practitioners in the areas of soil, water and soil test interpretation.


Whitlark is a graduate of the University of Arizona at Tucson, where he received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, with an emphasis in turfgrass science. 



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



Captain's Day and STRI visit...

Posted by Peter McCormick in Marty Richardson: Interning at The Island Golf Club, 15 June 2017 · 147 views

The next few weeks at the Island Golf Club are going to be very busy. Starting with this weekend we have the Captains day and then the weekend after that we have the Open qualifier. Captains day is a member tournament put on by the course and the elected captain of the course. Its a one-day tournament coming up this weekend. It is normally teams of four that are competing for the best score to win great prizes. Its also a great time for members to talk more with one another and a good time for the captain to play the course.  So the next few weeks are pretty busy around the course.


The golf course is looking fantastic with all the little spots of rain we have been having the course is in tiptop shape. Course Manager Dave Edmondson has only put out about 16 kg/35 pounds of actual nitrogen on 1.1 hectares/2.7 acres of greens thus far in 2017. Height of cut on our greens is 5mm and they are going to stay at that height for a while.



A couple weeks ago we had STRI (Sportsturf Research Institute) visit the course. The STRI is the worlds leading authority on the design, construction and maintenance of golf greens and courses. Their head office is based in West Yorkshire UK. They offer a variety of services not only to golf but also to other sports turf industries. To golf courses though they offer assessments and recommendations to help improve  any problem areas on your greens or course and provide a quick and efficient solution to that problem. They also provide pest, weed, and disease ID and mapping along with many other services.



While they were at the Island they were testing the trueness of the greens to see how they would play for the upcoming tournaments. They were using a machine called the STRI Trueness meter. All though I do not know the numbers on the trueness (and doubt they would like me to share them), I know they have been testing the greens for the past three years now at the Island and the greens seem to be improving.  



Keep America Beautiful

Posted by Peter McCormick in Joe Fearn: Third Way Green, 09 June 2017 · 355 views

Recently I was asked by a teacher here at Drury University to speak to a class studying the psychology of sustainability. While considering what I would say, I began to question where I came up with my environmental perspective. Turning back the clock in my head my first environmental memory was the early 1970's "Crying Indian" campaign by the Keep America Beautiful Foundation. I can remember getting choked up by this public service announcement. The image of the American Indian broken-hearted by the litter and pollution our society generated touched me deeply. If you are in my age group, you may have been touched by this ad as well.



Earth Day 1990

In my teenage years and as a young adult, I didn't do anything especially environmentally focused. I didn't litter, but I also didn't recycle, or think about how I might be impacting the environment. It wasn't until getting into groundskeeping that my 'eco focus' was to reemerge. In 1990 I was living in Alexandria, VA and working at George Mason University. 1990 was the 20th anniversary of the first major organized Earth Day. Living a short distance from Washington D.C. allowed me to go "downtown" to the Mall several times over the years for rallies of different sorts. While the first Earth Day was in 1970, my first was Earth Day +20. It was very powerful to be on the Mall with a massive crowd of 350,000 to draw attention to environmental issues. 27 years removed, I am still struck by this day.



So where am I today? The short answer is it is hard to say. By some measurements, one could say I am part of the problem. I work in an industry that is fueled, grown, and maintained overwhelmingly by petroleum based products (as every industry is). On the other hand, by some measurements I am part of the solution. Drury University has reduced chemical inputs significantly, utilizes almost all organic refuse on campus, and has planted hundreds of trees in urban Springfield, MO over the past five years. The real truth is my eco-impact is a mixed bag. Both personally and professionally I try to be (what I consider that to be) environmentally conscious but it is difficult. I recycle, keep my tires properly inflated, plant natives, and occasionally use public transportation. But is that all there is?


The real truth is my eco-impact is a mixed bag. Both personally and professionally I try to be (what I consider that to be) environmentally conscious but it is difficult...


It's Complicated

When you ask someone a difficult question, one that if answered honestly may indicate that someone might not have taken the smartest, or most ethical route, that person may attempt to muddy the water by saying "it's complicated". That's how I feel about my approach to sustainability. From a strictly environmental/sustainability standpoint, a typical modern landscape provides nowhere near the ecologic services that a natural ecosystem does (oak/hickory forest, savanna, wetland, etc.). But from a commercial or organizational standpoint, most people don't want to do business, or go to school, in a tallgrass prairie. So what the grounds manager ends up with is two opposing, and competing, imperatives. Introducing all the subtleties of stakeholders between these two ends adds to the complication.


Organizations will dictate conditions that result in drastically different landscapes. The landscape must meet those demands in "the greenest way possible" Above, Sunderland Intramural Sports Field. Below, Parking Lot 7 detention basin.


Eyes on the Prize

Reconciling environmentalism and acceptable landscaping can take many different guises. The proper answer for some sites may very well look like a wholly natural site. For other places it may look like just an average yard. The particular landscape isn't as important as the underlying objective of being as "green" as possible, in as many parts of your landscape operation as your organization allows. The key here is that becoming more environmentally compatible -- the context work processes are evaluated by -- can be the ultimate objective. When an operation removes the rigid demand of pursuing environmentalism and replaces it with a gentler yet still prevalent environmental outlook, voluntary compliance in many possible forms flourishes. This 'eyes on the prize' approach works better because a green attitude becomes woven into all aspects of the job.


Pragmatic, Not Dogmatic

I understand, and share, the passion of environmental movement. I firmly believe that by pursuing the greenest approach to all of our grounds management tasks we are being good stewards of the earth, and good stewards of our organization's objectives. What I don't agree with is the knee-jerk beliefs from the extremes on both sides of these issues as to how to move forward. It is better to incorporate the best ideas from everywhere in order to achieve the best results for our landscapes as a whole.


Smith Residence Hall naturalizing project. The greenest approach would be to reintroduce meadow. However, we wouldn't try that in front of administrative buildings.


Jackson served industry as a superintendent and communicator

Posted by John Reitman in Living Legends, 30 May 2017 · 572 views


For much of his career in golf, Joel Jackson almost seemed more like a media type than an industry insider.
As director of communications for the Florida GCSA for almost 15 years and editor of its magazine for 25, Jackson was by default the face of the association. 
Although his face and name are synonymous with trends relevant to turfgrass managers throughout Florida and the Southeast, many might forget that Jackson had a long career as a superintendent, too.
Jackson's five-decade career in golf also included 20 years as a superintendent for Disney Golf and three years at Orlando's posh Isleworth community. Jackson, who turns 75 in November, all but gave up golf cold turkey in 2015 when he and his wife, Susan, left the sun and fun of Central Florida for the sun and fun of Southern California in 2015. He's met plenty of folks who congregate regularly at nearby Balboa Golf Course, but despite urging from his wife, he can't muster the desire to join them.
"I played at chapter meetings. I'd stay and play after work at disney," said Jackson, who once played to a 10 handicap. "I'll go to the driving range at Balboa. Should I play? Yes. No. Yes. No. I just don't have the motivation.
"I exercise at a track. It's 3.1 miles out back. I don't try to hit 10,000 steps a day, or anything like that. I know I need to get back out and play golf. Mentally and physically, I know it's a good thing to do."
After all, it wasn't a retirement spent on the golf course that drew the Jacksons to SoCal, anyway. The reason they ventured west was to be close to their daughter, Jennifer, who works as a producer in the film industry.
When he's not hobnobbing with Hollywood insiders, Jackson spends time doing what he does best - meeting people, building new relationships and making new friends. And when you live in urban metro Los Angeles, there are a lot of places within walking distance where he can do that.
As much as he understands the place of effective communication for today's golf course superintendent, Jackson is a bit of a throwback, too.
He doesn't have a formal turf degree, and instead learned just about everything he needed to know on the job or in a seminar.
A native of Tampa, Jackson joined the Coast Guard after college. When he left the service, he earned a master's degree in geology from the University of South Florida, and spent some time early in his career teaching science in Apopka, a northwestern suburb of Orlando.
Teaching never scratched Jackson's itch, and he bopped around several clubs throughout Central and South Florida, picking up the trade before finally landing with Disney in 1977. 


We had bentgrass at Isleworth. That's where I was introduced to white patch. I'd never heard of that before."


After 14 years of tending the turf at Disney's Lake Buena Vista Course and helping prep for an annual PGA Tour event, Jackson left Disney when some guy in Orlando named Arnold Palmer convinced him to manage cool-season grass at Isleworth.
"We had bentgrass at Isleworth," Jackson said. "That's where I was introduced to white patch. I'd never heard of that before."
He returned to Disney three years later in 1991, taking over the reins at Osprey Ridge and finished out a 20-year career for the company in 1997.
It was during his years as a professional communicator where many in the industry had the chance to meet Jackson.
He began editing the Florida Green for the Florida GCSA in 1990 and was the association's director of communications from 1998 until he retired two years ago. He wrote, took photographs and even sketched his own editorial cartoons.
"Joel was the glue that held the association together and made it stronger," said Darren Davis, CGCS at Olde Florida Golf Club in Naples. "He kept us moving forward at all times. Having been a golf course superintendent, the editor of the Florida Green and a past president of the FGCSA, prior to becoming a full-time paid staff member, Joel had the knowledge and past history that enabled success. Joel was an icon in Florida and the association. His personality, his work ethic and his passion made him successful. It was a joy to work with Joel and he is missed in Florida."



Jeff Vannoy on Summer Stress

Posted by Peter McCormick in The Pin Sheet, 23 May 2017 · 526 views

In this episode of the BASF Pin Sheet, host Jon Kiger chats with Jeff Vannoy, Sr. Product Manager for BASF Turf. Topics include planning for (starting at EOP the previous fall), causal agents, and avoiding and/or minimizing summer stress on fine turf.


Jeff also explains the popular BASF Holiday Spray program which provides a template for superintendents to control summertime diseases with spray applications around the three major US summer holidays: Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day.



The Turfgrass Zealot Project, Ep. #29 with Kevin Hicks

Posted by Dave Wilber in Dave Wilber: Turfgrass Zealot, 17 April 2017 · 1,183 views

Innovation. It's one of the great and wonderful words in our business. I get to chat with Kevin Hicks, superintendent at Coeur d'Alene Golf Club about thinking ahead.


How's your strategy for looking at new ways to do the same old, same old? Or does it get old at all?

A great interview with one of the most forward thinking supers in our business. And we get to talk about all kinds of everything that always leads back to talking grass.



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

Posted by Peter McCormick in The Renovation Report, 01 March 2017 · 1,993 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.



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 · 542 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


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

Posted by Peter McCormick in Peter McCormick: View from the Cheap Seats, 17 February 2017 · 819 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.


Takeaways from Hazeltine, and reflecting with our Mindful Superintendent

Posted by Peter McCormick in Kevin Ross at the Ryder Cup, 06 October 2016 · 5,052 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...


Back to Nebraska...

Posted by Peter McCormick in Jeff Lenihan at Arsenal FC, 31 August 2016 · 3,068 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!



Trip reflections...

Posted by Peter McCormick in TurfNet on Tour 2016: Jorge Croda, 30 August 2016 · 745 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. 


Saturday Brings Three New Olympic Golf Medalists into History

Posted by Peter McCormick in Rio2016, 21 August 2016 · 1,798 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.


"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 · 1,430 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. 


Jon Kiger: Final thoughts on the Irish Open

Posted by Peter McCormick in TurfNet on Tour: Irish Open 2016, 16 June 2016 · 1,635 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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