Watch this short film for a quick glimpse of some of the fun at this year's Highlands Cup. You'll probably want to try and qualify next year.
For actual details, check out John Reitman's story in TurfNet News.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Watch this short film for a quick glimpse of some of the fun at this year's Highlands Cup. You'll probably want to try and qualify next year.
For actual details, check out John Reitman's story in TurfNet News.
Due to the success of our inaugural/trial trip to BTME in 2017, TurfNet will again host a delegation to BTME in January, 2018! Download the pdf for full details.
Dates of the trip are Thursday, January 18 (overnight departure from USA) to Friday, January 26 (morning/afternoon return flight).
We have a housing block booked for 16 people at the Harrogate Lifestyle Apartments across the street from the conference center. No shuttle busses!
Cost is $1750 double occupancy or $2300 single occupancy (only four available), plus airfare and incidentals.
Our housing block guarantee expires November 1. Firm commitments need to be made before then, on a first-come/first-served basis.
Sustainability as relates to the landscape is difficult to define. I mostly know what it is, but at the same time I'm not really sure. The word itself seems to ask, "Can my landscape sustain itself?". However, if sustaining is the question, then any landscape that can be perpetuated for whatever reason, and consuming whatever resources required, is necessarily sustainable.
Sustainability also seems to have an ecological component of harmony with the environment. This attribute seems very wise to me as nature everywhere continues to diminish in the face of development. No one can say all perpetual landscapes that are ecological harmonious are sustainable. I suggest sustainability is too vague a context, being fraught with widely held misconceptions that prevent its adoption as the best way to define, design, and manage our landscapes.
Don't Worry What We Call It
A landscape must support the organization in which it resides. If the landscape helps support the strategic imperatives of the organization, and stays within devoted resources, it will be sustainable. But again we are in a predicament. I suggest a landscape must do more than just support its parent entity. Landscapes can, and should, provide the widest reach of benefits possible. This maximizing of benefit does not readily conjure up a single moniker to name it. It is more a paradigm than a designation.
If a bed is functional AND sustainable, can't we just appreciate it?
I have found for a segment of the landscape users here at Drury University, sustainability is reflective of the direction they want to head in. However, I have also found that calling my landscape sustainable is a phrase that elicits a negative framework in some other people's minds. Both of these groups want the most from the landscape. What I name it is not as important as what function the landscape provides.
Function Is Paramount
I once asked someone from the Natural Resources Conservation Service the following question: What landscape can I cultivate that grows in optimal harmony with what my native ecosystem will support? The answer was a Tallgrass Prairie (pre-development Springfield, MO was savannah comprised of Missouri native trees, shrubs, grass and forbs). This answer intrigued me. I loved the thought of a beautifully diverse yet simple landscape requiring very little intervention or resources. There was only one small problem. The park I worked in at the time was a destination for families looking for recreation, and a major spot for civic functions. None of these occurrences could take place in a tallgrass prairie. What is obvious to all Grounds Managers is that the landscape has to function in a way that supports the organization and its mission. If the landscape is not functional, it cannot be sustainable.
...the landscape has to function in a way that supports the organization and its mission. If the landscape is not functional, it cannot be sustainable.
Function Is Not Singular
If someone were to attempt to describe a functional landscape, what words would they use? Here at Drury University there are five main functions that we insist the landscape fulfill: academically supportive, aesthetically acceptable, environmentally compatible, financially feasible, and supportive of DU outreach. By uniting these goals in the landscape we achieve sustainability. To the extent each of these goals is accomplished is the extent to which our landscaping is successful.
We left this clover in a high visibility area just to feed bees. Function is not singular (aesthetic).
The sustainability of the landscape is compromised when any of these goals are not fairly considered during implementation or ongoing operations. I suggest that just like any natural ecosystem (woodland, wetland, college campus, etc.) a landscape becomes more stable as diversity increases. As diversity decreases (monoculture) the landscape becomes unstable (unsustainable) and necessitates inordinate resource consumption to be maintained.
Note: In some instances, monoculture is appropriate. Sports turf, crop production, etc. are acceptable instances of monoculture, but even here proper culture strives for as much diversity as acceptable (seed blends, crop rotation, cultivars, etc.). We also strive to manage these systems in as "green" a manner as possible. We must think of diversity in terms of function, not only in biologic terms.
Reconciling Sustainability and Function
Now we get to the crux of the issue. Sustainability is not always functional. I cannot put a tallgrass prairie at my admissions building. On the other hand, functional is not always sustainable. Traditional landscapes will require organizations to invest scarce resources that are more pressing elsewhere. This is where the penultimate characteristic of sustainability comes into play: balance.
By maintaining equilibrium between the aspirations of function in our landscape, we create stability...
By maintaining equilibrium between the aspirations of function in our landscape, we create stability. One characteristic enhances, or offsets, another. Where appropriate, native plants decrease resource consumption, which enhances financial feasibility. Aesthetically pleasing traditional landscape, where appropriate, supports the marketing potential (outreach). Just as in a natural system, a landscape becomes unstable when we focus too greatly on one facet (function) of that landscape.
Genius loci is a Roman philosophy that has to do with the spirit of a place. Landscape architecture utilizes this thought to suggest that the landscape must reflect the context (spirit) of where it resides. We interpret context several ways; the environmental context of an area is bedrock, climate, and life forms of the place. Context is also established in the community that inhabits the place. Also the organization, the finances, etc. Context is created by function, and vice versa. Omitting or short-changing any attributes (context/function) makes it unsustainable. The truly sustainable landscape is one that pays equivalent homage to all the functions required of it.
Sustainable landscapes must blend as many functions as possible. This bed fits the spirit/function of the area it is in.
I don't do many speaking gigs.
That seems weird for a guy who loves and eats and drinks communication. It's not that I'm afraid of public speaking. That fear went away long ago. It's not that I don't love the actual events. I marvel at the quality of the education that is presented to Turfheads and how good the interactions can be.
What makes me take on just a few of these every year and be very picky about who I am speaking to has to do with the mental side of preparing for these very important events. You see, I have been to so many bad talks and bad presentations, that next to being a fried in oil, my biggest fear is being awful. Yes, awful comes in many levels, but still...If you suck, you suck. If you don't deliver, well, no one has the pizza.
Next week, I am speaking to the Intermountain GCSA, the Utah and surrounding area group. Longtime TurfNet member and star interviewee of one of my podcasts, Justin Woodland invited me and well, he's just not the kind of guy that you turn down. And he also told me that my fellow TurfNet contributor Hector Velasquez was going to be part of the show. Can't-miss a moment with Hector. Have called Woody a friend for some time and have never met him in person. Wendover, Nevada is close to places I go. Just couldn't find a reason to say no.
Yes, awful comes in many levels, but still...If you suck, you suck. If you don't deliver, well, no one has the pizza.
Over the last several weeks, I've been obsessing about the two, 2-hour talks I have to give. One is on Communications and one is about Carbon Fertilization and if you know me, you know that I can sit and talk endlessly on these subjects. They are my favorite. My passion. My je ne sais quoi (that's, "certain special something" to you non-French speakers out there). I can bore the paint right off the wall with my brain melting database of human blather on these subjects. I have hard drives full of pictures, charts, graphs, studies, monkeys, soil tests and all the related stupid speaker gear that is used to make sumo-sized powerpoint presentations and numb minds with visuals and stories.
But that's not what I wanna do. And that's not what people need. I don't think that endless sets of digitally enhanced presentations with all the cool and unique transitions are the deal. Think about it. As Winter approaches, you will go to many seminars to keep up with our ever changing world. And there will be 1000's of slides squashed into hard drives to drive these points home. Data. Chart. Graph. Cool Pic. Cooler pic of next level technique..... yawn.
So I try to bring something different. Yes. I am a slave to Powerpoint and KeyNote. They help me create a roadmap, not because I get lost, but because I tend to love side trips, often in the opposite direction.
Next week, I am speaking to the Intermountain GCSA, the Utah and surrounding area group. Longtime TurfNet member and star interviewee of one of my podcasts, Justin Woodland invited me and well, he's just not the kind of guy that you turn down.
But I demand interaction. I often make people work together in dyads or triads or some kind of small group. I often throw out problem-solving sessions that are designed to make people think, not just about the topic at hand, but how they present and interact with that topic.
And I like to read the room. Demographics. Job Titles. Part of the Country. Hangover. After a big lunch. Etc. All this comes into play.
I paid a lot of money a few years back to attend a seminar called "World's Greatest Speaker Training". The seminar leaders were: Brendon Burchard, online marketing and seminar guru; Bo Eason, Ex NFL Player and star of an award-winning one-man play; Roger Love, THE Vocal Coach to the stars. I took it all in and you know what the big takeaway was? Simple. Know and interact with your audience in ways they have never been known or interacted with. Yeah. Simple. And so complicated. Four days of pushing my limits by watching real professionals push theirs. Hmmmmm. Interesting. I was riveted because they were pushing hard.
So today, a few days away from the event, I am in Agony. I am sorting through all the notes and materials that I have to make sure that I create a roadmap that helps me deliver. I feel the responsibility and the weight of making sure I'm prepped and ready, down to having the right socks on.
And I am feeling Joy. What a cool thing and a cool opportunity to come and share. I'm not the end all oracle of knowledge. But the real joy will be seeing people finding their own way through the info with a little guidance.
And let me ask you this, when you go and see me speak or anyone else, would you remember that the speaking gig is a pretty tough gig? If there is tech difficulty or the occasional stage fright or something else, would you be kind? If there is a question and answer opportunity, ask questions. Follow that person's social media after their talk and see what comes up. Remember they traveled a distance to get there and will go yet another to get home.
I don't do many speaking gigs. And I thought I would let you see why.
Golfers today have grown accustomed to playing on quality turf and are willing to pay higher greens fees to play on tour-quality greens. Chemical Rescue is one method widely used by greenkeepers and golf course managers in the UK and Ireland on links, heathland and parkland courses.
Rescue is a selective herbicide from Syngenta that attacks ryegrass in greens, tees, fairways, approaches, and roughs. In the past turf managers would have to remove ryegrass through hand-weeding or re-turfing areas. Rescue attacks the ryegrass and other coarse grass weeds like Yorkshire Fog and Purple Moor-grass but leaves the finer grasses unaffected.
The main reason greenkeepers want to remove ryegrass from their course is to achieve the most uniform turf surface possible. Using Rescue helps to achieve this creating a more consistent ball roll. It also gives a cleaner finish when mowed. Removing unwanted ryegrass from out-of-play areas allows wildflowers and biodiversity to thrive.
The way Rescue herbicide works is that when sprayed the chemical pinoxaden targets specific enzymes within ryegrass that are responsible for cell division and shuts those down to instantly stop growth.
The Island Golf Club uses this product approximately twice a year -- once in the early spring months to minimize summer growth and again in the late summer, early fall months. Our last spray was at the beginning of August. The Island uses about 1 liter per hectare on their greens and the same amount for their approaches.
The Island has been using this Rescue regimen for about 3 years now in alignment with industry approved codes and practices. The final product on the greens is a smoother surface improving the playability and the appearance of the course.
Throughout the years writing this blog, I always find the September edition the toughest one. Being a superintendent/GM in the northeastern portion of the continent is always difficult this time of year. You are worn out by the season, many of your younger staff members have returned to their studies, and you still have a few miles left to go before winter. Finding clarity and creativity can be a challenge.
Creative inspiration can be an elusive concept to pin down. We know it when it hits us, but try too hard to grasp and it slips through our fingers like kiln-dried topdressing sand. For me personally, creativity can be a double-edged sword during this part of the season.
When I walk too close to the burnout stage, my energy gets a bit thin. This is something to be mindful of as it is unpleasant to experience... but I have also discovered that my 'big idea' creativity gets a boost from feelings of fatigue. During such times, focusing on the task at hand can be tricky, but if you need someone to think beyond the ordinary grind, then I'm your man.
...my 'big idea' creativity gets a boost from feelings of fatigue.
As superintendents, we have a unique relationship with creativity. The architect lays out their vision, golfers play on it, and we are charged with both preserving it and reimagining it on a daily basis. It's like taking custody of painting or a song that will eventually fall into complete disrepair if there is not someone to maintain it over time. It can be a delicate balance that has many different 'right answers'.
Creativity at this time of the year can also take various forms. Whether you are reorganizing your labor pool, analyzing your budget, or planning for next season, they all can benefit from new and inspired thinking. Being open to new ideas and merging them with your tried and true processes can be fun. We are constantly reevaluating our goals and finding new ways to achieve them.
Your attitude and thought processes inevitably have a big impact on your creativity. Are you resistant to change? (We all are to varying degrees.) Are you open to input from the rest of your staff? Are you constantly looking for new learning opportunities and taking advantage of networking?
Nothing ignites the spark of idea generation like visiting colleagues at courses nearby. I had a wonderful opportunity to visit two courses last week near Halifax, Nova Scotia. Both were in the care of good friends who are doing truly amazing things with their properties. They inspired me to come back home and measure some of their practices against our property.
Nothing ignites the spark of idea generation like visiting colleagues at courses nearby...
Another helpful tool with regards to creativity is stillness. As one practices meditation, the mental clutter of unhelpful thoughts slowly recedes over time. When that mental clutter disappears, you end up with more clarity. Liken this to when an idea hits you when you are not thinking about it (my favorite time is in the shower). By clearing your mind of the chatter, your innate creativity bubbles to the surface more easily.
So this fall give yourself the chance to recharge your creative mind space. Lean into those feelings of tiredness and see what creativity might emerge when you are no longer holding the reigns quite as tightly. Take some well-earned time away from your course to reconnect with your loved ones.
Be well and thanks for reading.
In this episode of Frankly Speaking, I chat with Mike Huck of Irrigation and Turf Services in Orange County, CA, one of the foremost experts in water availability, usage, regulation and what it all means for the golf course industry.
We talk about the end of the California drought, trends in overseeding, painting and turf reduction; costs of treating vs transporting water; use of hand-held vs in-ground soil moisture sensors, among other things.
We wind up with what we have learned from the drought, what we should be doing, and what we can expect as it pertains to the future of the golf industry.
As always, smart talk from leading thinkers. Presented by DryJect.
In this episode of The Ladder, presented by STEC Equipment, host John Reitman chats with Anthony Williams, CGCS, of TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas in Irving, TX. The conversation revolves around the role of the assistant superintendent and how it has changed dramatically over the past twenty years.
A former TurfNet Superintendent of the Year, Anthony joined TPC Four Seasons after a 30-year career with Marriott Hotels, where he received Marriott's highest honor the J.W. Marriott Award of Excellence. Anthony was responsible for 36 holes of golf at the Stone Mountain Golf Club and was also the arborist for 3,200 acres of Stone Mountain Park in Stone Mountain, GA.
He is an accomplished speaker and writer, and also a 9th degree black belt in martial arts.
Back in June, I was headed home from a trip to Minneapolis to visit my son, who had been interning at Toro. My route took me through Des Moines, Iowa, so I decided to visit Rick Tegtmeier. This was my first visit to Des Moines Golf & Country Club, and Rick was anxious to show me around. So, out we went for a tour of the golf course... all 36 holes of which had been completely renovated over the past four years under Rick's guidance.
Even though I was on a tight traveling schedule, I really didn't care how long it took -- this was one of those experiences that somehow you know not to rush. I think the tour gave Rick a little relief from everything else that was going on. When I finally got back in the car and on my way, I told my wife that I had a great feeling about the upcoming Solheim Cup in August.
I really didn't care how long it took -- this was one of those experiences that somehow you know not to rush.
Fast-forward to the recently completed event, and boy was I dead-on! The 2017 Solheim Cup is now among my greatest career experiences, ever. Since arriving back home, I have been asked about my favorite moments or takeaways from the tournament. Let's just say there are so many that it certainly was hard to select just a few to feature for this video. So, here are some of my best takeaways from the 2017 Solheim Cup. It really is just a sampling of great moments, just like I thought there would be when I got back in the car that day in June.
It was one great ride, and I want to thank everyone for coming along!
In this episode, host John Reitman chats with career superintendent, mentor-to-many and current "international agronomy consultant", Dick Bator.
Bator's superintendent career included stops at Pine Valley, Merion and Oakmont. Over those years he mentored -- some may say 'tormented' -- many assistants who went on to careers as head superintendents.
He shares with us some of what made him tick, and advice for today. Some takeaways:
In this episode of the Pin Sheet, recorded August 2, 2017, host Jon Kiger chats with Jeff Vannoy of BASF on the history, uses and best practices for utilizing turf colorants on actively growing, semi-dormant and dormant turf.
In this episode of the TurfNet Renovation Report, host Jon Kiger chats with golf course architect Forrest Richardson about the 2017 renovation and re-invention of the Short Course at Mountain Shadows (and resort) located near Scottsdale in Paradise Valley, Arizona.
The original golf course at Mountain Shadows was designed and built in 1961 by Arthur Jack Snyder. Course architect Forrest Richardson, one of Snyders students, completely redesigned the course to be a true par-3 with an eye toward retaining the fun for golfers, maintaining the diversity of golf holes, controlling pace of play, and containing maintenance costs while increasing the revenue potential of the facility.
With 18 holes ranging from 200 yards to 75 yards, the footprint of the Short Course at Mountain Shadows was reduced from the original 40 acres to 33 acres, with only 13.5 acres of managed turf. The reclaimed seven acres were converted to residential purposes which made the entire project attractive and successful financially.
The 17.5 hole, the Forrest Wager -- named after Richardson -- is a par 2 golf hole where the object is to play against your opponents in similar fashion to the golf game Bingo Bango Bongo. One point is awarded for the closest to the hole on the first shot played, another for the first player to hole out and a third point for the lowest score.
With a single tee start at 7:50 AM our last reporting time was again 5 AM. Bernard captured the final day rollout of equipment and personnel. After seeing/filming these for many years I was finally included in one! Rain was forecast for later in the day and started briefly for about an hour during our Sunday duties.
The leaders after three rounds were Daniel Im from the USA and Jon Rahm from Spain. They were set to tee off with the final tee time at 1:10 PM. This meant the tournament would end sometime around 5 PM.
David, Dana and I had already decided that we would leave after the morning shift in the hopes of getting settled in Dublin in time to watch the last few holes on television there. Marty was headed back with volunteer Mike Brennan from Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links as our car was again at capacity.
Our morning rounds were completed efficiently and the equipment was stored for the final time that week. The combined group of Portstewart greenstaff and volunteers gathered for our final meal together -- the now familiar hot breakfast.
Tee mowing team leader John O'Brien of the Portstewart Golf Club staff after his last shift of the week. He walked over 140 miles while mowing since the previous Sunday.
During the breakfast we were joined by Miguel Vidaor, tournament director for the European Tour. David captured the following video of his remarks. He declared the tournament and our work a success and thanked us for our efforts. Tour consultant Eugene Hennessy added that we "were a tribute to the profession and we always did our jobs with a smile."
All smiles on the final morning of tournament prep. (L-R) Portstewart Deputy Course Manager Brian McConway, European Tour Consultant Eugene Hennessy, and Damien McConway from nearby Castlerock Golf Club. (Portstewart's Jonny Hemphill with the photobomb in the background!)
We said our goodbyes (or "cheerios" as they say locally) and realized that like a last gathering at high school graduation we would likely never have this same group assembled again in the future. A quick stop at the house to pack up and we were on our way.
On the road out of town we stopped at Dunluce Castle. Originally built by the MacQuillan family in the 1500s, the castle has a rich history and is in outstanding shape for its age and exposure along the Antrim coast. An extensive visitors centre and good signage told the story of this piece of Irish history. Bringing our trip full circle was the fact that stones brought from nearby Giants Causeway were used in construction of the castle.
Dunluce Castle on the Antrim coast.
The drive to Dublin was mostly motorway and we arrived into the area in about three hours. Dana checked into his friend Sean's BnB in Portmarnock while David and I headed into the Castle Lodge BnB in Malahide. We also made a quick stop at Malahide Castle, ancestral home of the Talbot family since the 1100s until being turned over relatively recently to local authorities for preservation.
It was early in the afternoon and David and I were able to reserve a tee time for nine holes at Portmarnock Golf Club. We watched the last few holes of the Irish Open in the bar of the club.
David with Ireland's Eye over his right shoulder at during a nine hole round at Portmarnock Golf Club.
Spaniard Jon Rahm won the tournament by six shots finishing at 24 under par with a total score of 264. Those staff and volunteers who were around for the award presentation (we weren't the only ones to get on the road early) posed for a photo with Rahm and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open trophy. It goes without saying that this practice should be adopted more broadly across professional golf circuits worldwide.
Irish Open Winner Jon Rahm of Spain poses with his trophy and the remaining greenkeeping staff.
Sunday night David rested up for his flight while Marty and I met up with Malahide resident and retired greenkeeper Eddie Donlon for dinner and a few pints. With a more normal wake up hour the next morning, there was finally time to reflect on our amazing week together at the Irish Open in Portstewart.
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.
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...
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!
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.
"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.