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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 · 11,053 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 · 1,295 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 · 1,419 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 · 4,522 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 · 1,397 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 · 3,309 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 · 6,523 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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Kyle Miller: GIS recap and early season warmth

Posted by Peter McCormick in The Pin Sheet, 24 February 2017 · 136 views

In this episode of The Pin Sheet, host Jon Kiger chats with Kyle Miller, senior technical specialist at BASF, about the recent Golf Industry Show, his observations on the state of the industry, and the potential effects of early season warmth being experienced by much of the country.

 



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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 · 179 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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Color And Invasive Species On The Golf Course

Posted by Randy Wilson in Randy Wilson: Here at the 'Rock, 23 February 2017 · 275 views

For decades, as I pursued affordable seasonal color with wildflowers, native grasses, ornamental shrubbery and ground covers, I worried about accidentally introducing dangerous, invasive species.  Our region has a history of suffering invasive species, the worst being Kudzu, Fire Ants, General Sherman, Carpetbaggers and Bentgrass.

 

I abandoned the traditional golf course color platform--the formal tee-side annual flower bed--for two reasons:  First, beds of summer begonias, spring tulips, and winter pansies were expensive . . . especially when all seven of our members capped their annual dues at $200. 

 

 

Second, formal flower beds did not mesh well with my Rugged And Adventurous Tillinghastian golf course philosophy, as they tended more toward Candyassian golf.

 

Beginning in '84, I had a few successful attempts at introducing color and texture to the golf course through wildflowers and native grasses.  I also had numerous failures . . . which I blame on trying to emulate Mark Hoban, without possessing sufficient science genes.

 

Our region has a history of suffering invasive species, the worst being Kudzu, Fire Ants, General Sherman, Carpetbaggers and Bentgrass.

 

During this phase, I cleverly deduced that color was seasonal and that colorful plants capable of blooming year round were kind of rare.  (Yes, I realize if I had studied horticulture instead of Special Ops, I would have learned that much earlier.)

 

In '88, I ordered the world's supply of seeds and soon arrived at the following rules of Rockbottum CC Affordable Color Strategies:

 

1. Wildflower Field Size.  Rather than try for the glorious, expansive Wizard of Oz fields of color, I concentrated small plots of color--about the size of a kitchen table--here and there amongst the native grasses.  This improved maintenance efficiency, because areas not subjected to regular disturbances like mowing will allow Fire Ants, pine trees and sword-thorn vines to take up residence.

 

2. Aggressive Invasives.  On two occasions, a large wildflower planting vanished.  At first I suspected aggressive deer, but it turned out to be the much more aggressive Ladies Golf Association, procuring color for their table settings.  This removed any chance of reseeding, but apparently the LGA did not study horticulture either.

 

 

3. Wildflower Success Rates.  I carefully documented which wildflowers were compatible with my course's climate and what times of year they offered color.  California Poppies and Ox-Eye Daisies were great in March, Lance-Leaved Coreopsis took over next and then Plains Coreopsis became our stalwart favorite. They often hung around until late summer, growing in poor soil, gravel parking lots and on car hoods.

 

 

4. Native Grasses.  Our native grass tactics also came from spying on Hoban.  He would fall-harvest golden broomsedge with a chainsaw, sprinkling seeds all about and providing a wonderful golden winter color that juxtaposed brilliantly with dark green overseeded fairways . . . another invasive species down here.

 

 

There is something hypnotic about the texture of varying shades of native grasses perched on a hillside overlooking a green, gently blowing in the wind.  However, I wasn't able to grow anything but broomsedge.  I tried Little Bluestem, Creeping Red Fescue, Sheeps Fescue--with mediocre results--and since we were in the middle of a three year drought in Georgia, I went big on Buffalo Grass in the out of play areas . . . and the rain returned.

 

(I'm not suggesting I caused the rain by planting Buffalo Grass, that would be ridiculous.  I caused it by beginning a major greens rebuild project.)

 

5.  Affordable Color/Erosion Control Ground Covers on steep banks, hillsides.  Uh, never mind.

 

6. Beauty Shrubs.  Just prior to my discovery of the Augusta Syndrome in '86, I contracted Azalea Poisoning and bought 300 azaleas while suffering from the fever.  I then discovered their bloom peak was only three weeks, followed by 49 weeks of cleaning out plastic grocery sacks, dogwood leaves, and mylar balloons captured by azaleas.

 

This same sack-capture phenomenon also occurs in the ground cover known as Ileagnus, (uglyagnes) and juniper, (juniperus horribilus) but at lesser levels in Vinca Bee Flat Minor.

 

7. Color Trees.  Our best consistent summer color came from Crepe Myrtle trees, with beautiful, huge pink and white and purple blooms.  The Crepe Myrtle can be kept short, using Bonsai techniques, won't shade turf, impede golfers or root up cart paths like an asphalt mole.

 

8. Totally Native Areas.  Win some, lose some.  Golf TNA must be waaaay out of play, for they will eventually harbor large scary reptiles, giant spiders, and local bureaucrats trying to catch you irrigating non-essential areas like rough, bunker faces and greens.  It is important to have a covert plan to maintain non-maintained Totally Native Areas.  Golfer complaints could lead to another form of invasive species, the Customer Service Evangelist and their week-long indoctrination seminar.  

 

Non-golf TNA might be out of your control, especially if the pro rents the course out to a local establishment of questionable repute, a situation that inevitably leads to extremely aggressive invasives.

 

 

 

 



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Tech Tip: Online Password Management Solution

Posted by Peter McCormick in Matt Leverich: Career & Technology Interchange, 20 February 2017 · 188 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 · 294 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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Dr. Ben Wherley: The influence of deficit irrigation on turf growth and performance

Posted by Peter McCormick in Dr. Frank Rossi: Frankly Speaking, 16 February 2017 · 384 views

In this episode of Frankly Speaking, I chat with Dr. Ben Wherley of Texas A&M about the influence of deficit irrigation on turf growth and performance, along with the many issues surrounding water and the impact of shortages on management decisions. Smart talk from leading thinkers... Frankly Speaking.

 

 

Presented by DryJect and Turf Screen.



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Rest in Peace, Beaver

Posted by Peter McCormick in Joe Fearn: Third Way Green, 13 February 2017 · 301 views

Here at Drury University we are very interested in supporting the ecology of our area. This effort is challenging in our urban setting. Regardless, it is an effort we see as critical. We install native plants and trees that appeal to pollinators, and act as food sources to the local insects, birds and animals. We evaluate the surrounding neighborhoods and see where we might build larger sections of habitat by creating green corridors. Over the five years I have been here I have seen the results of our efforts. We now see increasing diversity and populations of pollinators, birds and animals.

 

But I never expected to see a beaver (unfortunately, a dead one) on campus.

 

A Beaver? Really?

Tuesday, February 7, I was contacted on Drury Grounds Twitter about a dead beaver near campus. The Tweet asked if I had seen this animal and included a picture of the dead beaver. I replied I hadn't, but asked where it was. The response said in a road that runs directly adjacent to campus. What was a beaver carcass doing in downtown Springfield? While working at a nearby park for Springfield/Greene County Parkboard I had seen one beaver in a boxed-in creek. But that was seven years ago and nearly half a mile away. Our closest running water to where this beaver was found is ¼ mile as the crow flies. I don't know how beavers forage, but ¼ mile doesn't seem too far, if the setting is natural. Our setting is not heavy urban, but it doesn't scream beaver habitat either. Regardless, there was a dead beaver in the road.

 

Strange roadkill for downtown Springfield, Missouri.

 

We Did What We Always Do

In the Grounds Management field dead animals are a regular, if infrequent occurrence. I hadn't thought about the carcass again until Wednesday morning. Central facilities got a call concerning the dead animal. I dispatched our Trash Steward to pick it up and discard it in a dumpster. While this unusual incident made some buzz in the Facilities department, the story could have ended there... but it didn't.

 

Central facilities got a call concerning the dead animal. I dispatched our Trash Steward to pick it up and discard it in a dumpster...

 

Spirit of the Bear

I must honestly say that I hold spheres of knowledge I believe is factual but that I don't really know is accurate. My beliefs regarding Native American culture is one of those spheres. I believe Native American Indians lived in harmony with nature. They took what they needed, wasted little to no resources as they used them, and didn't disrupt their environment too heavily. In total, they stepped lightly on the land. They also held nature in high regard. So the teeth and claws of a Grizzly Bear would be an honored and cherished talisman for an Indian and would be passed through generations. When animals gave of themselves for the tribe, they would be appreciated and their spirits revered. The tribe honored the spirit of the bear. I believe this is true without exactly knowing where this knowledge came from.

 

Spirit of the Beaver, Honorable Burial

I also believe in the mysticism of nature. There is a power to it. I don't define it too rigidly for myself, so I will not argue how any of you readers choose to define it, or not define it. Nature indicates some higher power. I also believe all living things have inherent importance. I was therefore not surprised when I woke up Thursday morning at 4:40 am with the clear conviction that we should have buried the beaver on campus. My fear as I headed to work was that the dumpster holding the beaver had already been tipped. It hadn't. There was a layer of new trash over the bagged carcass, but it was still there. I wondered about a force at work? We began looking for a place to perform the burial.

 

Nature indicates some higher power. I also believe all living things have inherent importance. 

 

There is an area on campus where we have begun a tree planting effort we call saturation-planting. Our goal is to confront our community with a density of young trees that draws attention to lack of small trees elsewhere on our campus, and in our community. We are talking a lot of trees in a smallish space. This area, we figured, would be the most like what a natural beaver habitat would be. We dug deep, lined the hole with wood chips and buried the beaver body. We did not wrap it as we want the soil system to reclaim what it should. As in all of nature, death will support life.

 

 

Eulogy

Nature and Man don't always coexist in harmony. I am under no illusion that man's needs will sometimes (frequently) not supersede natures. Often I agree with this one sidedness. But I also believe deeply in the idea that opportunities for co-existence and co-habitation abound. Many opportunities for mutuality are discounted out of hand, diminished by competing priorities, or simply never dreamed of in the first place.

 

Posting about this story on Facebook got 2,884 views as of this writing. All the comments were positive. I think it is safe to say that there is a sentiment in our area (nation?) that values animals and nature. Many people see that by helping people, and other living creatures, we are also helping ourselves. Nearly all Groundskeepers I have met have a strong nature-supporting ethic. Burying this beaver was our way of demonstrating that.

 



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Welcome to 2017...

Posted by Peter McCormick in Paul MacCormack: The Mindful Superintendent, 26 January 2017 · 547 views

As you might know from previous posts round about this time of year (un learning, merry christmas to me), I am a big fan of the Christmas season. But, as you also may have guessed, I am not a big fan of the New Year's resolution thing. I am all for challenging the status quo and improving one's life, but feel that it should be an ongoing, lifelong pursuit, not just a once a year sound bite.

 

So to start this year off, we are going to touch on an issue that has been prominent in my consciousness lately. It is the concept of groundlessness. You know those times in your life when the rug is completely pulled out from underneath you, and you are faltering in the middle of a slow motion fall. These times can be catastrophic, tragic, and life altering. They shake our sense of being to the core and leave us feeling completely without direction, but they can also remind us that nothing in our lives is static and unchanging. Change is the only constant.

 

I have personally been going through one such "groundless" experience for the past few months. Fox Meadow, the course that I am (thankfully still) the GM/Superintendent at, has changed ownership. The process of the sale and changeover has been a rollercoaster ride of emotions and unknowns, but things are progressing positively now. Many of you have probably gone through similar experiences. The golf industry is shifty at the best of times, and we all live with a bit of uncertainty even when things are going well.

 

The golf industry is shifty at the best of times, and we all live with a bit of uncertainty even when things are going well...

 

Like any unsettling event, the core staff and I have gone through many personal ups and downs. We have felt upset, worried, unsure of our futures, and most of all scared. These emotions can eat you alive if you are not careful, sweeping you away into the abyss of fearful scenarios. There have been many worried chats about how things might turn out, but meeting it together as a team has made a huge difference for all of us involved.

 

One thing which has helped a lot during this tumultuous time is the simple gift of the pause. My staff and I have been using this tool to constantly remind ourselves that things will work out if we can stay focused on the bigger picture.  It has been important to allow ourselves to be human. Being fearful and upset are completely normal emotional states during a time like this. But by working on pausing in the midst of the upheaval, we afford ourselves the space to make conscious decisions about what needs to be done.

 

These emotions can eat you alive if you are not careful, sweeping you away into the abyss of fearful scenarios...

 

This is not to say we have all been Zen monks about the whole situation, allowing the world to unfold around us with total equanimity. Practicing pausing has allowed us to take a step back and focus on what has made us successful as a management team in the past. This has helped us avoid getting trapped in "what if" scenarios to which there are no answers.

 

Our futures are never certain. Change is the only true constant and our ability to truthfully accept and deal with our circumstances will determine a great deal about the quality of our lives. The space afforded by taking pause gives us the breathing room to take stock, view our situations with honesty, and then move forward together in a positive direction.



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Audiocast: Joe Alonzi, CGCS... Career superintendent, mentor to many

Posted by Peter McCormick in Living Legends, 13 January 2017 · 689 views

In this episode of Living Legends, Where Are They Now?, host John Reitman chats with Joe Alonzi, CGCS, who retired in 2014 after 22 years at the storied Westchester Country Club. A superintendent for over 40 years, Alonzi is well known for having mentored many assistants who went on to successful head superintendent jobs in their own right.

 

Straddling the villages of Harrison and Rye, just north of New York City, Westchester Country Club is on the top shelf of golf course superintendent jobs. It boasts 36 holes designed by Walter Travis, a nine-hole executive course, and a history that rivals just about any other club in the country. It was a PGA Tour site for more than 30 years, and past members include names like Johnny Carson and Jackie Gleason.

 

With a hotel, an Olympic-sized saltwater pool, squash and tennis facilities, more than 6 miles of roads and a beach club located 5 miles away from the main clubhouse, Westchester is more like a small city than a mere country club.

 

 

Living Legends is presented by Nufarm. Check out the Nufarm Insider for the latest news from Nufarm.



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The Renovation Report with Thomas Bastis, CGCS... 8 years after.

Posted by Dave Wilber in The Renovation Report, 15 December 2016 · 1,856 views

Eight Years. It's a blink of an eye. Thomas Bastis checks in with Dave Wilber 8 years after his world class renovation of The California Golf Club of San Francisco.

 

Thomas shares his experience in looking back as his old/new golf course matures. It hasn't all been easy. But he's candid about what worked and what didn't work and what he might do again.

 

He also gets firm and fast with some good stories and insights. And being the early adopting tech leader that he is, Thomas speaks about what he's working on. Always keeping it new.

 

It's an hour of deep conversation and insight with one of the industry greats. 

 

The TurfNet Renovation Report is sponsored by Golf Preservations and by Jacobsen and is only on TurfNet Radio.

 

 



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The Ladder, with Justin Sims of The Alotian Club

Posted by Peter McCormick in The Ladder, 29 November 2016 · 1,196 views

In this episode of The Ladder, John Reitman chats with Justin Sims, golf course superintendent at The Alotian Club in Roland, AR, about Justin's career path (from college to East Coast Sod in NJ, The Club at Cordillera in CO, The Olympic Club in CA, Victoria National Golf Club in IN, Augusta National Golf Club and finally to Alotian) -- and his quest for varying experiences along the way.

 

Recorded at the recent Northern California Golf Association Assistant Superintendent Boot Camp.

 

Presented by Penn State World Campus.

 



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The Turfgrass Zealot Project, Ep. 27 with guest Kevin Ross of CC of the Rockies

Posted by Dave Wilber in Dave Wilber: Turfgrass Zealot, 27 November 2016 · 1,581 views

Join me as I interview Kevin Ross, CGCS, about the state of the "superintendent job" and his upcoming retirement from the golf course.

 

We talk about everything. Especially his upcoming job change. And his time at The Ryder Cup. And much much more.

 

I love Kevin. He's one of my favorite people and favorite Turfheads. Anywhere.

 

So I am humbled and honored to have him join us!

 

 


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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 · 2,427 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 · 2,043 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 · 596 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 · 1,634 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 · 1,067 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 · 1,239 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 · 1,632 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 · 2,191 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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