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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 · 30,518 views

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Invisible TD Sand

Posted by Randy Wilson in Randy Wilson: Here at the 'Rock, in Skeletal Golf 26 March 2015 · 1,737 views

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


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




Rating Superintendent Job Opportunities

Posted by Jim McLoughlin in Jim McLoughlin: Career Advancement is JOB ONE!, 26 March 2015 · 1,850 views

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


A+ CHOICE:  With Established Multi-Course Contract Company 

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


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


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

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


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


B+ CHOICE:  Within Private Sector Board/Committee Format

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


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


B- CHOICE:  Within Daily Fee Course Operations

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


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


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


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

Upside: A job is a job.


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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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


Finding Staff: H2B Visa Program (Part 1)

Posted by Matt Leverich in Matt Leverich: Career & Technology Interchange, 24 March 2015 · 51,344 views

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

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

-- Matt

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

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


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


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

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


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


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

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



TurfNet RADIO: Revisit with Dr. Micah Woods on MSLN

Posted by Frank Rossi in Dr. Frank Rossi: Frankly Speaking, in By the Numbers 23 March 2015 · 1,995 views

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


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



You can't unring the bell...

Posted by Dave Wilber in Dave Wilber: Turfgrass Zealot, in Staff, Communication 17 March 2015 · 4,586 views

You can't unring the bell...

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Preparing for the Landscape of the Future

Posted by Joseph Fearn in Joe Fearn: Third Way Green, 11 March 2015 · 14,188 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.


Matt Powell: Renovation of the Seth Raynor layout at Dedham C&PC

Posted by Peter McCormick in The Renovation Report, 16 March 2018 · 436 views

In this episode of the TurfNet Renovation Report, sponsored by Golf Preservations, (new) host Anthony Pioppi chats with Matt Powell about the soon to be opened Brian Silva renovation of the Seth Raynor layout at Dedham Country and Polo Club in the metro Boston area.


Thanks, Matt, and welcome, Tony, to the TurfNet team!




Amoeba tree rings create interest of their own...

Posted by Peter McCormick in Joe Fearn: Third Way Green, 15 March 2018 · 184 views

Drury University is known to our community and visitors for our many large shade trees. We have been a Tree Campus since 2014 and take appropriate steps to maintain our campus canopy. This hasn't always been the case however. By assessing the appearance of the trees (cultural signs & symptoms) and evaluating tree age/diversity it is clear that for a period of time our precious trees were somewhat ignored -- and possibly impaired -- by less than optimal management.


One of the most important means to help maintain tree health is by decreasing mechanical damage...


But since 2011 Drury University and Drury Grounds have undertaken a significant effort to help our DU trees rebound. One of the most important means to help maintain tree health is by decreasing mechanical damage. If one looks closely at the root flare zone and surface roots of some of our trees, you can see the sign of repeated mechanical damage. Roots were scalped again and again by mowers set too low. Wounded bark calloused over only to be scalped again. This damage is still apparent on both roots and trunks.



These pictures show repeated mower damage to surface roots and flare zone damage from mowers and/or string-trimmers.


Now we are trying a novel approach. Our crew is using the surface roots to describe interpretative, flowing tree rings to cushion and shield the tree roots. Curves are gentle enough that we can mow with larger equipment. The convolutions help demonstrate how each tree is unique, and helps to highlight the roots, making them aesthetically appealing. The large size of the mulch area provides all the routine benefits of mulch rings (water conservation, soil improvement, weed suppression, and of course mechanical protection) without the boredom that can come from endless circles on campus (after all we have over 1500 trees, if not more). These rings have gotten a good reception, and I must say, we like them too.


Letting each trees unique character dictate the shape of tree rings creates artwork rather than just geometry around some of our champion trees.


The TurfNet Zone . . . "The Other Side"

Posted by Randy Wilson in Randy Wilson: Here at the 'Rock, 11 March 2018 · 1,710 views

You're traveling through another dimension . . . 



Employment Contracts Part 1: Discovering The Obstacles to a Contract

Posted by Peter McCormick in Matt Leverich: Career & Technology Interchange, 08 March 2018 · 361 views

Guest Post by Greg Wojick

I've been in the industry more than 35 years as both a golf course superintendent and now a principal in Playbooks for Golf, and in that time, Ive seen many changes -- in equipment, technology, management techniques, and in the education and agronomic expertise required to do an increasingly demanding job. Despite these advances, few superintendents throughout the country are acknowledged as professionals worthy of an employment contract.
According to the GCSAA Compensation & Benefits Report completed by superintendent members in recent years, only 20 percent of the over 3,000 who responded have a written employment contract. That statistic doesn't seem very encouraging. 
So why are employment contracts still more the exception than the rule among golf course superintendents?
The most apparent, long-standing problem I see is that laypeople, i.e., green committee and board members, still don't fully understand what it is that superintendents do, much less comprehend the level of skill and the breadth and depth of knowledge required to manage a golf course operation.
We all have read or heard about the fantastic new contracts that pro athletes/managers/coaches obtain (most always through the negotiation by their agents and/or lawyers). Why? Because in professional sports, owners and boards almost always "get" what the coaches and athletes actually do. Many were former coaches or athletes themselves. What's more, the quality of the work of these new hires can be easily judged by wins and losses and statistics. In other words, there is little mystery to what people in the sports arena do. You can say the same about the golf facility's general manager. Members pretty much understand what's involved. General managers are considered key players in the golf facility's profitability, while the superintendent's essential role in the club's viability often goes unrecognized.

General managers are considered key players in the golf facility's profitability, while the superintendent's essential role in the club's viability often goes unrecognized...

Confirming this great divide in understanding, one industry executive noted, "The club member's general viewpoint about superintendents is that they are analogous to a head engineer. The GM is regarded as more of a CEO. Although these characterizations are changing," he said, "its still the 'CEOs' who get the written employment agreements." In fact, about 75 percent of general managers countrywide are awarded employment contracts according to many in that industry segment.
In the modern-day golf world, many green committee and board members will attempt to grasp what a superintendent does -- and often erroneously believe they know the job better than the superintendent -- as they Google everything from "effectiveness of calcium nitrate" to "growing Bermuda grass in my region."
Unfortunately, even with this drilling for knowledge, a true understanding of the concerns, challenges, and constraints of the job eludes even the most well-intentioned committee member. We have studied this subject thoroughly at Playbooks, and have begun a new software platform that should create a much better environment to combat this critical issue by combining the best features of Twitter, blogs and native apps to let the superintendent control their message from one central location and ensure golfers actually receive it. Its called Conditions App and is fully launching this spring. 
Expanding this problem: Then, when it comes to hiring, those entrusted with the super's hire typically just use their intuition or thoughts from grillroom friends to rate and reward or terminate. More and more superintendents find themselves being told the club has decided to go in a different direction. There are no assurances of employment beyond today particularly when no contract is in place.
I spoke several years ago with Peter McCormick, TurfNet founder, about this very issue and he pointed to "employment instability" as the single biggest threat to the golf course superintendent as a career -- and as an industry.
"Underlying 'employment instability' is the flux of personnel over time on the employer side, particularly at private clubs," McCormick explained. "The people who hire a superintendent and are privy to the conversations at the interviews and resultant agreements and expectations -- whether they are a general manager, club official, committee, or board member -- very often aren't around five or ten years down the road. Unless those discussions and agreements are memorialized in a document agreed to by all parties -- in effect, a contract -- it all becomes hearsay over time. And hearsay can lead to potential misunderstanding, disagreement and rancor," he cautioned.

Unless those discussions and agreements are memorialized in a document agreed to by all parties -- in effect, a contract -- it all becomes hearsay over time.

I found that many supers don't have a contract simply because they don't ask for one. Some fear a club's rejection. Others told me they're happy to operate without a contract. One superintendent who spoke to me anonymously, like the others I surveyed, was among the many who just didn't think to ask for an employment agreement: "The members who hired me are smart. If they really wanted me to have a contract, they would have offered it to me before I agreed to take the position," he said.
Unfortunately, in today's highly competitive job market, many newly hired superintendents are so pleased that theyve been selected from the throngs of other applicants, that lobbying for a contract barely crosses their minds.
It's understandable, then, that most new hires will quickly agree to a reasonable offer without any negotiation, but many are also overly optimistic about their future with their club. They assume they will always be held in high esteem because, of course, they will always keep the course in top condition and will never make a mistake worthy of their dismissal.

...many newly hired superintendents are so pleased that they've been selected from the throngs of other applicants, that lobbying for a contract barely crosses their minds.

"Everyone loved me at the interviews," said the same super, believing his honeymoon period would never end. Equally optimistic, another superintendent told me: "I feel if I continue to work hard and communicate effectively, I will be able to overcome any tenuous situations that may arise. In other words," he added, "if I get dismissed, it will be my fault."
Despite the club's seeming upper hand during the interview process, there's actually no better time to ask for a contract than at the time of hiring. It shouldn't jeopardize your situation, but rather enhance it by establishing you as a competent professional who, like other industry professionals, expects more than just a handshake when agreeing to accept the job.
A contract offers superintendents what I call "failure avoidance". It spells out exactly what the employer expects of you and what you can expect of the employer. It basically stipulates the employment agreement and terms of employment. It also protects the superintendent from termination at the whim of an employer, indicating the process in which separation or termination could occur.
Unfortunately, some employers will perceive this as a reason to steer clear of contracts. As one club member admitted, "Employment contracts bring with them an obligation to deal fairly with the employee. In legal terms, this is called the 'covenant of good faith and fair dealing'. If the club ends up treating an employee in a way that a judge or jury finds unfair," he continued, "the club may be legally responsible not only for violating the contract, but also for breaching their duty to act in good faith." 
In my opinion, this is all the more reason to lobby for a contract. It can protect both superintendent and employer, which offers an overall talking point for superintendents planning to approach their club about securing an employment contract.
So just how do you go about selling the idea of an employment contract to your green committee and board? As the other industry experts and superintendents I spoke to will agree: It's all in how you market yourself and the mutually beneficial rewards of having a contract.
In Part 2 of this exploration (check back next month), we will lay out a detailed road-map for a well-written and attainable employment contract.
Sections of this blog were originally created by Greg in a survey for the MetGCSA. That content is courtesy of the MetGCSA.



Dr. Karl Danneberger of THE Ohio State University

Posted by Peter McCormick in Living Legends, 28 February 2018 · 658 views

In this episode of Living Legends, presented by the Nufarm Insider, host John Reitman chats with Dr, Karl Danneberger of Ohio State about his knack for engaging an audience, telling stories, his love of the game of golf, a bit about the challenges facing people entering the industry, the turf team at Ohio State, and his special off-topic interest...



GIS Gratitude...

Posted by Peter McCormick in Paul MacCormack: The Mindful Superintendent, 23 February 2018 · 495 views

I was finally able to attend my inaugural Golf Industry Show a few weeks back. It was a long time on the "to do list" as a Superintendent from the East Coast of Canada, and the experience did not disappoint. As I flew home, I was overwhelmed with gratitude and positive vibes from the whole event.


I would like to take a moment to thank some of the folks who made the trip so memorable.



  • Chris Tritabaugh, for teaming up with me to deliver my first ever seminar at the GIS. Chris was so accommodating and helpful during the lead-up, and delivered a great seminar.
  • Frank Rossi, for pushing me to step out of my comfort zone and convincing me to actually do the talk. He was also gracious enough to let me join him on the GCSAA Live broadcast and talk about mindfulness; it was a moment I won't soon forget.

  • all the participants in the actual seminar. Everyone was so attentive and respectful. It was a wonderful group to share our ideas with, and I'm sure they left with lots to think about. (Or maybe not think about)
  • all the people who stopped me and thanked me for writing the blog. It was so humbling to finally hear from those people for whom the writing actually makes a difference.
  • those brave Superintendents who actually took the time to share some of their stories of hardship and difficulty with me. The vulnerability and strength exhibited by those folks was very inspiring.
  • all the staff at TurfNet. It was such a pleasure to spend time with the Peter, Jon, Kevin and co. The community vibe was on full display at the famed Beer & Pretzels event. What a privilege it is to be a part of such a compassionate, caring group of professionals. It was also awesome to be able to meet so many long time TurfNet members in person!
  • my wingman and Turfnet member Mark Perry; its always better traveling with a friend.

Mark Perry, Pat O'Brien and myself at GIS.

  • my wife Jill and kids Maria, Lucas, & Clara. They put up with me working a lot of extra time before the event, and held down the fort while we were away. Simply cannot do what I do without them.
  • all the people who work in all of the service industries that make a trip like that possible. All the folks in the hotels, the airlines, the conference center, the restaurants, and any other entity that we came in contact with. We were always greeted with a smile and these people often don't get enough credit for the stuff they put up with on a daily basis.

So hopefully those who you who attended learned a few things and returned home a bit richer for the experience.


Thanks so much for reading.


Carlos Arraya: Pillar Management at Bellerive Country Club

Posted by Peter McCormick in The Ladder, 22 February 2018 · 698 views

In this episode of The Ladder, presented by STEC Equipment, host John Reitman chats with Carlos Arraya of Bellerive Country Club about his career path, team building at Bellerive through Pillar Management, and fostering staff development through one-on-one "weeklies".


Carlos also discusses the benefit of giving up some management control to others and letting them make decisions. "It's amazing how much we can get done, and how much it improves everyones work/life balance."



A "Ted" Talk with the Legendary Ted Horton, CGCS

Posted by Peter McCormick in Dr. Frank Rossi: Frankly Speaking, 21 February 2018 · 804 views

In this episode of Frankly Speaking, I chat with Ted Horton, CGCS, legendary superintendent at Winged Foot and Westchester Country Club as well as VP of Resource Management at Pebble Beach, and board member of Audubon International. Now living in California, Ted is is currently a Sr. Consulting Superintendent for Brightview, specializing in environmental stewardship; golf course safety, security and risk management; tournament preparations; turfgrass agronomics and the administrative functions of large property maintenance.


In our own "Ted" talk, we chat about the advent of lightweight mowing on fairways back in the mid-'80s, including the economic adjustments and agronomic benefits incurred.


Much of the discussion centers around current and future water use on golf courses.



Saying thanks: Like the period at the end of a sentence.

Posted by Peter McCormick in Peter McCormick: View from the Cheap Seats, 18 February 2018 · 2,866 views

Laying the framework for this story requires a bit of background, so bear with me...


About three weeks ago Team TurfNet was headed for Niagara Falls, Ontario, for our 20th appearance at the Golf Course Hockey Challenge. For those unfamiliar, the GCHC is a 2-day event every January that pits 12 teams of superintendents, assistants and suppliers against one another in (usually) good-natured but serious men's-league caliber hockey. With three common threads among players -- playing hockey, working in the golf industry, and drinking beer -- it is the highlight of the winter for most.


But time marches on and players get older, have kids and all that stuff, so as the coach I found myself in mid-December with only 7 or 8 players... only half of the number needed. So I went on the recruiting offensive on Twitter.



I had been threatening for several years to start trading 50s for two 25s each, so it looked like this would be the year.


Understand that this is a low-cost venture for anyone who plays on Team TurfNet, and they are treated well ("Better than we ever were in the AHL," once said Jim Gernander, one of our players on family-hiatus this year).


From Year One back in 1999, I have provided custom uniforms (names and all), fed 'em and beered 'em, paid the team entry fee. Their only responsibility is getting themselves to Niagara Falls and then a shared hotel room for two nights. In Niagara Falls in January, that's cheap.


Within an hour of posting that tweet, I got a response:


"I am a first year Turfgrass management student at the University of Guelph. I have been playing hockey my whole life and and am interested in joining the team. I have heard nothing but good things about this tournament. Look forward to hearing back from you, and appreciate your time!



Scott Powers"


That's pretty cool. I replied to Scott that he's in, and immediately heard back from him:


"Sounds awesome! My older brother Paul is also a hockey player, is in the Guelph turf program and is interested if there is room. I am a 2XL jersey and will take #53, and my brother will take an XL #71. I really appreciate this and cannot wait!"


Hmmm. Two guys within an hour. Nice. But it grew from there, with the word spreading on the Guelph campus that Team TurfNet was looking for players. By the next day I had seven guys from Guelph, all under 25. In addition to Scott and Paul, the new rookies included Mark Perrin, Matthew Breznikar, Arran Marlow, Dawson Acker and Andrew Radonicich.


By the next day I had seven guys from Guelph, all under 25...


Nicknames are kind of a thing in hockey, so Scott and Paul instantly became "2X" and "1X" due to their jersey sizes. Joining them were Digby, Radar, Brez, Perrin and Marlow.


Since I would be ordering jerseys for everyone, and realizing that these guys were an unknown quantity and young, I was a little cautious about their level of commitment. I sent them all a broadcast email asking them to reply affirming their intent to play, and that they would show up Jan 30/31 in Niagara Falls.  Everyone replied. Of course I threatened that if they didn't show I would hunt them down, and they wouldn't want that black mark on their resumes...


They all showed up. The first night we had a team dinner and plenty of beer (on TurfNet, of course), and got to know each other a little bit. I handed everyone a TurfNet hat and their jersey (or "sweater" in Canada). This was their first taste of what it's like to wear the TurfNet red and white.


The Guelph guys had one of the their buddies, Isaac Swanton, with them and he looked a little uncomfortable. Turns out he was on Toronto 2's roster. Wrong team. Before we ordered dinner he stood up and was going to put some money on the table for his beers and take his leave. Seeing that, I ordered him to put his money away, sit his ass back down and have dinner with us. He instantly became known as "Toronto2" for the balance of the tourney. I suspect he may go 'free agent' from the Toronto 2 team before next year.


Before the first game the next morning, the dressing room was a little quiet, or quieter than it would become. With half the team made up of rookies and still an unknown quantity (other than their ability to drink beer and eat), there was a "feeling out" process. But the joking started and balls started to get busted a little as everyone loosened up. We did OK on the ice as well.






Club Car sponsored a "Beer & Pretzels"-type event in the hotel pub that evening, which gave everyone (including "Toronto2") a chance to hang out some more and enjoy the camaraderie.


By the end of our fourth game the next day, all were best buds. The team went 1-1-2 on the scoreboard, which was fine -- better than many years. But that's not what it's all about.


Since several of the Guelph guys would be traveling to San Antonio the following week for the collegiate Turf Bowl at GIS, I invited them to our Beer & Pretzels Gala.


Side note: Unbeknownst to me, the team collected $500 from among themselves to contribute to the Jerry Coldiron Embrace Life! fund, and gave it to me after the last game.


OK, that's the background. Now we get to the meat and potatoes of the story.


After everyone got home from Niagara Falls (some of us had 7- or 8-hour drives), I started to receive some emails of thanks for yet another fun mid-winter event. More came in over the next couple of days, and I waited to respond until I saw how many of the Guelph guys sent along an email of thanks.


About half did, some did not. So I sent out this broadcast email (annotated somewhat) to the team: 


"Thank you all (again) for the donation to the Jerry Coldiron Embrace Life! fund. I understand (assistant player-coach) Trevor Clark twisted your arms on this. As he said I don't normally accept monies from anybody, but in this instance I did and appreciate it very much. Jerry was one of my best friends and led his life in a manner all of us would do well to emulate. 
"Here's a homework assignment for you. Listen to this podcast of Dave Wilber and me talking about Jerry.  There are many life lessons in there.
"While you're at it, listen to this one too: It's Dave Wilber interviewing me a couple of years ago about the origins of TurfNet almost 25 years ago. I was chatting with Brez at the Club Car party Tuesday night and he had no idea what TurfNet is all about and that I started it. I'm sure others of you don't either. There are many life (and career) lessons in this podcast too. Getting knocked on your ass, dusting yourself off and getting back in the game. Overcoming fear. Listening to your subconscious. 
"Lastly, another tidbit of career education. I mentioned above that I've heard from most of you. The ones who haven't bothered to chime in with a short note of thanks know who you are. Now, understand that I don't sponsor the team and treat you guys right for kudos or acclamation of any sort. I do it because I like to do it and enjoy it.
"My point here, for you young guys, is that you have to get in the habit of ALWAYS thanking anybody who does you a solid, in any way. Do it that day or the following day, not a week or two later. If a superintendent comps you a round on his course, thank him. If you play in an outing, send the supt a note of thanks. And the BEST way to do it is with a handwritten thank you note. Email is OK, but handwritten has a much larger impact. Why? Because so few people do it these days.

My point here, for you young guys, is that you have to get in the habit of ALWAYS thanking anybody who does you a solid, in any way. Do it that day...

"Go to a card store and pick up a box of ten simple thank you cards with envelopes. Buy ten stamps and put them in the box, with a pen. Put the box of cards, stamps and pen in the glove compartment of your car or truck. THEN, whenever you need them, they are right there. Write a brief note, put a stamp on it and mail it THEN.
"I still have thank you notes from 20+ years ago in my archives. Why? Because they meant much more to me than an email, or nothing. AND, when someone who receives your card saves it and comes across it again in the future, they will think well of you, again. Who knows where that might lead? It's quick, simple, and inexpensive to do. So do yourselves a favor and get in the habit of doing it. Every time."
Fast forward to San Antonio. I'm standing inside the door at the Quarry Golf Club, where Beer & Pretzels had just gotten underway. A LOT of interns from around the world (part of Mike O'Keeffe's Ohio Program) were there already. Then I saw a bunch of young guys outside heading for the door, and recognized a few of the Guelph boys.
In marched 1X, 2X and Marlow, grinning, with Toronto2 again in tow. The former three proceeded to hand me handwritten thank you cards that they had gone out and purchased somewhere in San Antonio.

The former three proceeded to hand me handwritten thank you cards that they had gone out and purchased somewhere in San Antonio....

I busted out laughing and told them, "At least you guys can READ!". Seriously, each one included a heartfelt note of thanks, and that meant the world to me. I was (and am) very proud of them.
THAT -- along with the new friendships made every year -- is why I have spent the money, made the organizational efforts and the long drive to Niagara for twenty years.
The moral of this long-winded story is that we have many opportunities to get noticed in life for less-than-stellar reasons. When you have a chance to get yourself noticed in a positive manner for very little cost and effort, do it.


Receptions, special dinners and "Beer & Pretzels UK Edition"

Posted by Peter McCormick in TurfNet at BTME, 2018, 02 February 2018 · 82 views

With two or three days of education in the books, the pace of BTME turned to receptions and special dinners. Tuesday evening was BIGGAs Welcome Reception in historic Royal Hall. A capacity crowd pushed attendees to the upper reaches of the balcony for the first time.


The event was hosted by BBC Morning Show personality Naga Munchetty. Her passion for golf was combined with typical British wit which kept the audience both engaged and laughing. While some industry award events become bogged down with long speeches, the presentation of BIGGAs many awards was fast-paced and efficient.


Of particular interest on the awards front was TurfNet member Brian Stiehler, CGCS (HIghlands Country Club, Highlands, NC), who was the only BIGGA member to receive his Master Greenkeeper (MG) designation in this cycle. BIGGA also has a category of awards for Young Greenkeepers. The Young Greenkeeper of the Year was 25 year old Alistair Morrison of Durness Golf Club in the far Northwest of Britain. He is the sole greenkeeper at the club in the village of 300 people.


Brian Stiehler, CGCS MG, right, receives his Master Greenkeeper certification from Les Howkins, BIGGA chairman.


On Wednesday afternoon TurfNet hosted our second annual reception at BTME at the Majestic Hotel. This is our opportunity to connect with our many friends in the UK and around Europe. Trip participants are also encouraged to invite any other BIGGA members they may have met in Harrogate during the week. As the photos here attest, we attract a Whos Who in golf course maintenance from around Europe. We were thrilled that BIGGA CEO Jim Croxton, Chairman Les Howkins, and current President Chris Kennedy joined us.


On Wednesday evening thoughts turned to the universal concerns of Golf and the Environment. STRI hosts a dinner for their Golf and the Environment awards and we were dispatched to different tables around the special events space at The Crown Hotel. Hearing of these initiatives from courses with much smaller staffs inspired many TurfNet members to redouble their efforts back home. Our friends at Carnoustie Golf Links won Environmental Golf Course of the Year. Having visited Carnoustie before BTME in 2017 and during the TurfNet 2017 Scotland trip we were delighted to see their many environmental initiatives receive this preeminent award.


Longtime friend-of-TurfNet Jose Milan, center (Turf & Ornamental Global Market Manager at Bayer) with l-r Drew Barnett, Scott Bordner, and Todd Fyffe at TurfNet "Beer & Pretzels UK-Style".

Dr. John Dempsey, frequent webinar presenter and Twitter personality, with Sean Tully.

Bruce Williams of GRIGG makes a point to Scott Pavalko at the TurfNet reception.

Tony Girardi with more long-time friends-of-TurfNet, Gloria and Phil Cowen of VinylGuard.

The entire TurfNet group with Jim Croxton (BIGGA CEO), Les Howkins (BIGGA Chairman) and Chris Kennedy (BIGGA President



The Turfgrass Zealot Project, Special Episode: Celebrating Jerry Coldiron

Posted by Dave Wilber in Dave Wilber: Turfgrass Zealot, 04 December 2017 · 2,199 views

A great friend of TurfNet, Jerry Coldiron, needs to be remembered as the wonderful, amazing man that he was.


Peter McCormick, founder and Maestro of TurfNet, chats with me about the passing of a great friend and Turfhead. To so many, Jerry was a light of positive influence... and his untimely and unexpected passing will leave a huge hole in the industry.


We speak candidly about what relationships mean and how the relationships that last are formed and maintained. And we tell some good stories about a good guy.


If you didn't know Jerry, you will know him. And if you knew Jerry, you will know him better.





Please note: A tribute site is under development at http://jerrycoldironembracelife.us. The fund set up in Jerry's memory (while a foundation is being established) can be found at https://givehope.com/Jerry-Coldiron-Embrace-Life. Please consider a donation'



2018 TurfNet Members' Trip to Ireland announced

Posted by Peter McCormick in TurfNet in Ireland, 2018, 27 November 2017 · 1,586 views

Welcome to the 2018 Ireland Trip Blog! In a bit of a departure from previous years we are starting the blog well in advance of the trip so all the details may be found in one place. It seems we've done a good job of branding our members trips as "that Ireland trip". When I'm approached at a trade show, via email or on the phone I'm often told,"I want to go on your Ireland trip some day. Those trips looks like fun."


Actually, the 2018 trip will only be the fifth time weve been to Ireland, alternating with Bandon Dunes, Kohler, and most recently Scotland.


The dates are October 12 (leave the US) to October 20, 2018 (return to the US). Details are in the attached PDF.



The October 2018 Ireland trip has the perfect mix of old favorites and new experiences. We will return to

The Dunluce Course at Royal Portrush warrants an asterisk since it has been renovated in advance of hosting the 2019 Open Championship. That's right... we will be playing an Open Championship course a few months before it hosts the event.


County Louth Golf Club/Baltray


New to the list of golf courses are:

Portstewart Golf Club


Hole #1, Ardglass Golf Club



The locations of our overnight stays also represent some favorites and some new locations. With arrival and departure out of Dublin we will spend three days there. Our first two nights will be at the Grand Canal Hotel and our last night will be at Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links.


We will return to County Louth for two nights, but this time we will stay in the waterfront village of Carlingford at the Four Seasons Hotel. Carlingford offers plenty of pubs, restaurants, and shops within easy walking distance of this hotel, which has undergone extensive renovation in advance of our stay.


The quaint village of Carlingford in East Ireland.


For the first time we will spend two nights in Northern Ireland in the town of Derry. The Bishop's Gate Hotel is especially central to many evening options and Derry itself is Ireland's only remaining walled city. More importantly, the last three courses we play are a short 45-minute ride from the hotel.



The Ireland trip (more than our other destinations) is ideal for non-golfing spouses or other family members. Some of the best times we've had have been as these 'golf maintenance widows' explore the countryside and get to know each other from the comfort of our luxury coach bus.


It's a great daily formula: Breakfast all together, coach drops off the golfers, tours with the non-golfers for 4-5 hours, golfers get picked up, everyone is together for the evening. Wake up and repeat the next day.


This year we even offer a "Tee and Tour" package with half golf and half touring for those who choose not to play golf every day.


Transportation will again be provided by Matthews Coach Hire. They will ensure our comfort and safety for the week. A professional, friendly driver/guide will assist us during the trip.



We will face off against our Irish colleagues in the tenth playing of the TurfNet Emerald Challenge. Ballyliffin has stepped forward to host this event, which traditionally has been the most fun round of the trip. Two TurfNet participants are paired up with two Irish superintendents in each group and the laughs and 'craic' are non-stop. Our pairings party on Sunday night in Dublin will get things rolling.



I hope you will consider joining us in Ireland. Here are some comments from previous participants.


"I can't thank you enough for all you have done the past week to make this the trip of a lifetime. I could not have done this while working 7 days a week and answering to a demanding membership. I have made friendships that will last a lifetime. You (Jon) have done unbelievable things to keep this whole trip more than anyone could ask for." -- Rich Struss, CGCS retired, NY



"I wanted to take a moment to express my heartfelt gratitude for the opportunities, friendships and experiences that happened throughout the trip to Ireland. First off, thank you to TurfNet for arranging the trip and a special thanks to Peter McCormick and Jon Kiger for being an integral part of the success of the trip and experience.


The attention to every detail of the trip was fantastic. It was an amazing group of people that participated in the trip together. I got the opportunity to make new friends and everyone went out of their way to make sure that I was included and felt welcome. I want to make sure that they all know how much fun I had and how much I appreciate the new friendships."  -- Jorge Croda, CGCS, TX


The Island Golf Club


Attached Files


Looking after the Non-Golfers...

Posted by Peter McCormick in TurfNet in Scotland, 2017, 24 November 2017 · 1,406 views

A big part of our international members trips is making sure the non-golfers have side activities to partake in while the rest of the group is away playing golf. Thursday was moving day where as a group we were checking out of the hotel in St. Andrews and moving into Edinburgh for our last two nights together.


The group was playing Crail Golf Club on the way to Edinburgh. Rather than having Diana Frank and Maureen Gall wait at the golf course I contacted my friend Susie Malcolm. Her husband Jim is a longtime singer/songwriter from just up the road in Perth. Jim performed for TurfNet in January when we were in St. Andrews as part of the BIGGA/BTME trip. He would have played for us this trip but ironically he is touring the States while we are over here.


Susie picked up Maureen and Diana at the hotel and they visited Rosalyn Chapel and Stirling Castle on the way to Edinburgh. As an added treat I arranged for each of them to receive a couple of Jims CDs, including his latest with Susie.


Maureen, Susie and Diana at Roslyn Chapel, above. Looks like they enjoyed each other (below).


The same type of side trips will be part of our TurfNet Members Trip to Ireland next year (October 12 -20, 2018) and will include use of our larger tour bus.



Jim and Susie Malcolm's latest CD.


2018 BTME trip announced... details available here.

Posted by Peter McCormick in TurfNet on Tour 2017: St. Andrews and BTME, 09 October 2017 · 1,340 views

Download the trip brochure

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.




Questions? Contact Jon Kiger or Eleanor Geddes. Ready to book? Contact Eleanor Geddes at 404-461-9602.


Chemical Rescue...

Posted by Peter McCormick in Marty Richardson: Interning at The Island Golf Club, 29 September 2017 · 1,154 views

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.


Takeaways from a milestone event...

Posted by Peter McCormick in Kevin Ross at the Solheim Cup, 01 September 2017 · 1,764 views

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!




Turf colorants: History, uses and best practices

Posted by Peter McCormick in The Pin Sheet, 03 August 2017 · 3,187 views

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.



Sunday: Final Round Preparations and Cheerios

Posted by Peter McCormick in TurfNet On Tour 2017 - Irish Open Portstewart, 20 July 2017 · 804 views

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.


Takeaways from Hazeltine, and reflecting with our Mindful Superintendent

Posted by Peter McCormick in Kevin Ross at the Ryder Cup, 06 October 2016 · 24,158 views


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


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



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


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


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




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


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


Until next time...


Back to Nebraska...

Posted by Peter McCormick in Jeff Lenihan at Arsenal FC, 31 August 2016 · 5,644 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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