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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 · 34,544 views

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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



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Invisible TD Sand

Posted by Randy Wilson in Randy Wilson: Here at the 'Rock, in Skeletal Golf 26 March 2015 · 1,868 views

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

 

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

 

 



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Rating Superintendent Job Opportunities

Posted by Jim McLoughlin in Jim McLoughlin: Career Advancement is JOB ONE!, 26 March 2015 · 1,983 views

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

 

A+ CHOICE:  With Established Multi-Course Contract Company 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

B+ CHOICE:  Within Private Sector Board/Committee Format

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

 

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

 

B- CHOICE:  Within Daily Fee Course Operations

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Upside: A job is a job.

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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



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Finding Staff: H2B Visa Program (Part 1)

Posted by Matt Leverich in Matt Leverich: Career & Technology Interchange, 24 March 2015 · 57,258 views

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


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

-- Matt


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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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


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

 



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TurfNet RADIO: Revisit with Dr. Micah Woods on MSLN

Posted by Frank Rossi in Dr. Frank Rossi: Frankly Speaking, in By the Numbers 23 March 2015 · 2,172 views

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

 

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

 



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You can't unring the bell...

Posted by Dave Wilber in Dave Wilber: Turfgrass Zealot, in Staff, Communication 17 March 2015 · 5,284 views

You can't unring the bell...

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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



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Preparing for the Landscape of the Future

Posted by Joseph Fearn in Joe Fearn: Third Way Green, 11 March 2015 · 14,887 views

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

 

Chemical restrictions will continue, and increase

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

 

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

 

Inorganic fertilizer restrictions will continue, and increase

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

 

You will need a permit to run a chainsaw

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

The future is bright

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

 

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



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Microbes an alternative to (scarce) traditional fungicides in Denmark

Posted by Peter McCormick in Parker Stancil in Denmark, 18 June 2018 · 269 views

By using alternative products and management strategies, a great turf manager can find ways to manage world-class turfgrass with minimal crop protectants... like the broad selection that is accessible in America.

 

Here at Great Northern, head greenkeeper Aidan O'Hara uses beneficial microorganisms in his preventative fungicide plan. Microbes and soil pH are two of Aidan's many strategies for managing turf diseases.

 

Only three fungicides are legal to use in Denmark as of June 2018:

 

The legal pesticides for Denmark (that I know of).

 

Aidan had me apply TourTurf Bio Active Plus one morning. This product contains 3% nitrogen, 6% potassium, 10% seaweed, 22 amino acids, and a whole bunch of good microorganisms.

The TourTurf Bio Active Plus jug.

 

I had to do a little research on the product, because theres no way Im reading this Danish label!

 

Listed below are the different microbes/microorganisms in TourTurf Bioactive Plus and their purposes:

  • Bacillus subtilis: Produces cell elongating auxins (growth stimulators), solubilizes phosphates (good for disease resistance), and helps to protects the roots.
  • Bacillus licheniformis: Provides better stress tolerance for the plant, and eats away at the organic thatch mat layer.
  • Bacillus amyloliquefaciens: Helps with disease resistance, and prevents saline/salt and drought stress.
  • Bacillus pumilus: Helps with resistance to the diseases Rhizoctonia and Fusarium.

As an American turf manager would spray a fungicide such as Flutolanil (active ingredient in products like ProStar), here in Denmark we regularly use microorganisms to help prevent fungi.

 

The ProStar jug. (Shoutout to my sponsor Bayer Golf!)

 

With a very narrow selection of fungicides to use, including beneficial microbes in your Integrated Pest Management Program is the way to go!

 

I was glad to be using a John Deere sprayer Im comfortable with.

 

This spray application opened my eyes to using other management strategies for fungi control, and I hope other aspiring greenkeepers are now influenced to learn more about these different methods.



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Zombie Greens

Posted by Randy Wilson in Randy Wilson: Here at the 'Rock, 17 June 2018 · 1,295 views

A short film about Zombie greens and the unintended consequences of one dimensional golf . . .  also contains proof that Rod Serling took over my brain when I was seven years old. 

 



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Your legacy is now...

Posted by Peter McCormick in Peter McCormick: View from the Cheap Seats, 17 June 2018 · 577 views

It's Sunday morning, 6:00 AM, Father's Day.

 

Even though the last round of the US Open will tee off at Shinnecock shortly, I'm not going to carry on about the brown greens that were broadcast around the world yesterday. I do feel sorry for Jon Jennings and his staff who have busted their humps for two years only to have it go to shit at the last minute... at the USGA's behest, I'm fairly sure. I guess they didn't learn anything from the wind-whipped forest fire on the greens there in 2004.

 

Moving on...

 

For me, Father's Day has become one of those semi/partly-annual opportunities for pondering the past, reflecting on life and family, what I've done well, maybe not so well, and whether it's time to adjust the rudder for the future. The latter should be a constant exercise, by the way.

 

It occurred to me recently that unless you're a Michelangelo, McCartney or Gretzky, the half-life of anybody's legacy here on earth is about a generation, maybe a generation and a half. Beyond that, you're one of those old farts hanging on the wall. If, that is, somebody had the foresight to print a hard copy of your photo before it got lost in the succession of hard drive crashes that erases so many digital memories today. (Hint: lesson there.)

 

As a kid, I remember a sepia-toned portrait hanging on the wall in my grandparents' home in Jenkintown, PA. I thought it was cool because the guy had a big bushy mustache and looked like a neat guy. His name was Joseph Adam Gehres, my great-grandfather on my mother's side, from Waverly, Ohio. Findagrave.com tells me his time on earth was 1855-1945. The photo on the left below is the one I remember. (Not sure about the look of my great-grandmother on the right. Ugh. But such was the fashionable look of the day.)

 

 

It's a safe bet that I'm the only person on earth thinking about Joseph Adam Gehres today. Most people today don't know their grandparents' or great-grandparents' names, much less remember them or think about them. That's changing somewhat for those who delve into Ancestry.com or one of its ilk.

 

About 20 years ago when visiting my parents in suburban Chicago, I sat with my mother and scanned a bunch of old family photos and had her identify those pictured so I could record them digitally for posterity. Hah. Where are those digitized photos and notes now? On some long-lost hard drive somewhere.

 

So the point here, after beating around the bush and going around the backside of the barn a few times, is that your legacy is today. Don't worry about what the future may think, what the record books will say about you, what you'll look like on findagrave.com. What is important is how you impact and influence those around you now.

 

The Superintendent Tradition has long dictated that for six months of each year, family is put aside to focus solely on the job. Thankfully that's changing, due in part to the influence of those like Chris Tritabaugh at Hazeltine. Chris recognizes that the job is important but only one segment of life. The golf course will be there tomorrow but kids will be of a certain age only once. Unlike many superintendents of the past, he refuses to miss that just to clock more hours at the golf course under the guise of dedication to the job.

 

The Superintendent Tradition has long dictated that for six months of each year, family is put aside to focus solely on the job...

 

I don't have any regrets in that regard. I wasn't a superintendent, but I worked many long hours building TurfNet... thankfully with the flexibility to work around family activities rather than miss them. I was there. I showed up. No regrets.

 

That's one reason I don't play golf. I pretended for about ten years, playing six or eight times a year in chapter outings and that type of thing, but I could never justify the six hours or whatever it took door-to-door to play golf on a Saturday or Sunday. Plus I sucked at it. Four hours of frustration and embarrassment for me, so I hung 'em up 18 years ago. No regrets there either.

 

In just a few hours Patty and I will leave the dogs at home and head north to Mallett's Bay for a day on Daughter B's boat (the best kind of boat to have... someone else's!). It has become a Father's Day tradition.

 

Investments made then (above, circa 1987) yield dividends later (below).

 

Long story short: Be a part of your kids' lives during their formative years and chances are they will want you to be part of theirs later on.

 

So show up. Be there. Do for others. It all comes back to you later.

 

Oh, and Happy Father's Day to those so blessed.



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Scott Ramsay, CGCS, and the ongoing green reclamation at Yale Golf Course

Posted by Peter McCormick in The Renovation Report, 14 June 2018 · 342 views

In this episode of the TurfNet Renovation Report, host Anthony Pioppi chats with Scott Ramsay, CGCS, about the ongoing restoration of the Seth Raynor-designed classic at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

 

Ramsay has been at Yale since 2003 and was the TurfNet Superintendent of the Year in 2006. Working for an academic institution, he occasionally claims the tongue-in-cheek title of "Director of the Department of Applied Botany" at Yale.

 

The "renovation of the renovation" at Yale -- a complete renovation was finished up in 2003 -- focuses on reclaiming lost green area and tree removal. The Yale course in the middle of a 450 urban forest owned by the university.

 

Ramsay quips that "we don't measure greens here in square feet... we measure them in acres".  He relies on a 1934 aerial map along with poking a lot of holes to find the cinder choker layer that Raynor liked to use. Once the original green outline is determined, he uses the "scalp and pray" method to bring the turf to green height.

 

He also discusses his new 15,000 sq ft plug nursery in which he has cultivated the mix of German bents, velvets, Penncross and Poa that match the original turf on the golf course.

 

Spend a half hour or so with Tony and Scott!  Good conversation!

 

Presented by Golf Preservations, the greens drainage specialists and full service restoration/renovation contractors.

 



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Frankly Speaking (again) with Jim Wagner of Hanse Design

Posted by Peter McCormick in Dr. Frank Rossi: Frankly Speaking, 14 June 2018 · 239 views

In this episode of Frankly Speaking, I chat again with Jim Wagner of the Hanse Design Group, this time about the intersection of golf course design and maintenance in this era of moving targets and shifting requirements within golf.

 

How critical is the golf course superintendent in a renovation project? Wagner says that the ultimate success of a project can be predicted by gauging the enthusiasm level of the superintendent, and that often depends on their inclusion in early conversations and later in the decision-making processes.

 

How can superintendents leverage the current and continuing influx of investment money into golf course renovation projects? Listen and find out.

 

The "Howard Stern of TurfNet?" Really?

 

Presented by Civitas/Intelligro and DryJect.

 

 



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Bob Farren: Synonymous with Pinehurst

Posted by Peter McCormick in Living Legends, 07 June 2018 · 336 views

In this episode of Living Legends, presented by the Nufarm Insider, host John Reitman chats with Bob Farren, director of golf course maintenance at the Pinehurst Resort. With nine courses, seven superintendents and up to 250 full and part-time staff, management of the Pinehurst courses seems a daunting task, but one which Farren takes in stride.

 

Spend a half hour learning about how one of the most visible people in golf turf management became so, starting with his family involvement in golf growing up in West Virginia and moving along to mentoring and developing an army of former assistants.

 

Farren weighs in on how the industry and superintendent responsibilities have changed over the years, and if he were King for a Day, what he would do to "fix" golf. For one, he would start by eliminating out of bounds from the game...

 



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Shine a light...

Posted by Peter McCormick in Paul MacCormack: The Mindful Superintendent, 07 June 2018 · 467 views

One of the fundamental truths of life as a human being is that, no matter what, we all suffer. Whether physical fatigue, mental exhaustion, anxiety or another factor... episodic or chronic... some measure of it is unavoidable. The level or degree ebbs and flows, but at some point we all encounter it. How we engage and relate to this inevitable suffering can be one of the keys to living a balanced life.

 

As golf course superintendents, our jobs require total immersion if we are to be successful. Pitfalls and traps such as long hours, pressure from members and management, and unrealistic expectations result. These can infringe on our quality of life at the minimum, and add up to burnout if we are not mindful of our condition and responses.

 

As golf course superintendents, our jobs require total immersion if we are to be successful. Pitfalls and traps such as long hours, pressure from members...

 

This suffering takes on a much deeper meaning when mental illness enters the room. We have all had an experience with mental instability, be it anxiety, discontent, apathy or simply a short fuse. If you tell people otherwise, you are simply lying to them and worse, to yourself. That lie is the greatest trick that mental illness pulls. Not only do those affected suffer with the actual disease or condition, but then most feel the need to hide it. The stigma or shame of dealing with mental illness in a culture that considers it a sign of weakness can be crippling in and of itself.

 

The ripple effect of this type of suffering can be extremely difficult for families and friends. They also feel the stigma first hand, and will often go to great lengths to protect and shelter their loved one. The affliction not only affects the direct sufferer, but also goes a long way in governing the lives of those that love and care about them. It becomes a tiring cycle of adaptation, frustration, advocacy, and compassion.

 

Thankfully there are signs that things are slowly changing. There are movements afoot to unlock doors and shine a light on the stigma attached to mental illness. For those who live this struggle every day it cannot come fast enough, but the tide does appear to be slowly turning. As superintendents and members of our broader communities as a whole, what can we do? How can we help?

 

There are movements afoot to unlock doors and shine a light on the stigma attached to mental illness...

 

I have experienced anxiety, depression, and panic attacks first hand. My lovely wife Jill has had to learn to cope with her anxiety and sensitivities over the years. My amazing oldest daughter Maria battles severe obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). These are struggles that our entire family deals with every day.

 

From that standpoint, here are a few tips

  • Help is available. If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out and get help. No one deserves to suffer alone. Please reach out to anyone you know who might be suffering in silence; your help can literally change a life.
  • Vulnerability does not equal weakness. Those who deal with mental issues on a daily basis are some of the bravest and strongest people I know. The internal struggles they live with could cripple even the strongest of people. Allowing people the space to be open with their pain moves us closer towards being a healthier, more caring society.
  • Shine a light. The irony of mental illness is that it only gains power over us when we hide it. By keeping it locked away it only grows and becomes a far bigger problem in the long run. Bringing it into the open and letting people know that it's ok to have issues may actually go a long way to preventing more issues down the line.
  • Compassion is key. Those who suffer from one of the various forms of mental illness need helpbut they also need our compassion and our kindness. Care and love go a great deal further than shame and guilt.
  • Advocacy and education. If someone close to you suffers, educate yourself and then go to bat for them. Spread the word in an effort to change the perception of mental illness. Those who live with these diseases must have resources to learn how to manage their illness and regain their lives. Nothing changes unless those who can speak up do so.
  • We are all in this together. Many of the most highly intelligent, creative and thoughtful people throughout history (including those you know) have suffered from or are suffering from mental illness. High mental acuity and sensitivity can produce wonderful art, music, dance and writing.  But the flip side is that many of these same people are prone to stimulus overload, anxiety and depression. Giving creative people enough space to be who they are helps us all.
  • Take care of yourself. No one is immune to mental illness, but taking good care of ourselves can go a long way to keep us mentally well. Study after study shows that self-care is vitally important to overall physical and mental health. Mindful meditation, whether through breath work to relieve anxiety or simply taking time to be truly present in life as it unfolds, can be a wonderful, life enhancing management tool once acute symptoms are under control. Making self-care a top priority can go a long way towards healing mental trauma and also lessening its impact in the future.

Thanks so much for reading...

 



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Diversity Abounds...

Posted by Peter McCormick in Joe Fearn: Third Way Green, 31 May 2018 · 382 views

Several years ago, when I started as the Head Groundskeeper at Drury University, I came into a campus that was one dimensional and lacked meaningful diversity in any terms. The campus was comprised mostly of shade trees and turfgrass. Having recently worked at a municipal Springfield park that was abundantly planted and had been growing in for seven years (post installation), I was taken aback by the stark appearance of the campus. This is not to say it didn't look well-tended or thoughtfully laid out. It just looked plain. While I did note that there was a dearth of flowers and smaller trees, I didn't think of it in terms of diversity. Now, after several years of hard work, I see how beneficial the pursuit of increasing diversity is to a landscape.

 

Diversity Stabilizes the landscape

Diversity (biodiversity, design diversity, management diversity) is an important objective for the landscape. Increasing biodiversity improves the ability of the landscape to respond to environmental changes. If our landscape consists of only one plant, and we get an unusual weather event, an entire population could be wiped out. Biodiversity also prevents one organism from dominating the landscape to the detriment of others. If a pest outbreak occurs, the susceptible target could be decimated, but unsusceptible organisms will not be.

 

Design and maintenance diversity also prevents our landscapes from becoming monotonous. Design diversity could be as simple as adding native plants to a landscape. Maintenance variation could be changing mow patterns or employing FRAC codes to prevent resistance.

 

Planting variety helps improve more than just plant biodiversity.

 

Even in the relatively homogenous landscape (strategically homogenous, (think golf course or sports field) diversity is sought after. Turfgrass blends/mixes are SOP, and aesthetically designed roughs and landscaping amenities are common management principles.

 

Stratified planting

Here at Drury University a means to increasing both biodiversity and design diversity is through stratified planting. Stratified planting means blending large trees, small trees, shrubs, perennial plants/flowers and turf. Within these plant types a mix of deciduous/evergreen is also beneficial. This increase in plant diversity adds habitat for organisms. There are birds that nest closer to the ground and there are others that prefer elevated tree cavities. Stratified plantings also help to provide a variety of food sources for animals and birds. Providing a range of foods promotes biodiversity. Stratified plant arrangements also capture rainfall which benefits the environment by decreasing runoff and cleaning pollutants.

 

Stratified planting provides layered habitats for different animals and insects.

 

Plants, plants, and more plants

A wide variety of plant diversity is important for maximizing the health and benefits of the landscape. An obvious benefit of plant diversity is a rotation of bloom. The aesthetics of a rotation of bloom is a highly desirable aesthetic feature in the landscape. Perennial plants have lower maintenance impact because they are planted once, and can potentially be divided in the future to be planted elsewhere. Early blooming plants are vital forage when insects and animals are coming out of the winter period to replace spent reserves. Some native plants also have a mutualistic relationship with other organisms (Milkweed/Monarchs is one such widely known relationship). Some plants can also be used to help restore the ecosystem (legumes fix Nitrogen) and a matrix of plants can help decrease water runoff and soil erosion.

 

Dandelions are an important early-season food source for bees.

 

Birds and Beasts

An indicator of ecosystem health is the prevalence of birds and animals in the landscapes we manage. This is not to say that every landscape must strive to have a menagerie of animals roaming the grounds, but some diversity of animal residents shows you have a healthy ecosystem. On our campus we have groundhogs, skunks, squirrels and rabbits (nothing extraordinary here). We also have a healthy range of birds including a nesting pair of Red-Tail Hawks, nesting Eastern Bluebirds, Kingbirds, Killdeers and Scissortail Flycatchers (again the usual suspects). What is remarkable, though, is that none of these animals and birds were present six years ago. If they were seen on campus, they were only passing through, not calling it home. This is strong diversity for an urban setting. Just this year I saw my first Black Snake on campus and I couldn't be happier.

 

What is remarkable, though, is that none of these animals and birds were present six years ago. If they were seen on campus, they were only passing through, not calling it home. 

 

The Next Steps

Improving the ecological health of the Drury University campus is a worthy goal. A landscape that demonstrates diversity in different forms is pleasing to patrons, plus can help support the organizational goal of demonstrating sustainability and environmental commitment. As green-space dwindles, and development changes the appearance of the landscape, managing our grounds as refuge for plants, animals, birds and insects is increasingly vital. Biodiversity is a key component of nature, and should be a key component for Grounds Managers also.

 

Diversity is essential in the landscape. Who can really say what is the most important species?

 



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Employment Contracts, Part 3: What to Include in the Contract

Posted by Peter McCormick in Matt Leverich: Career & Technology Interchange, 22 May 2018 · 495 views

Guest Post by Greg Wojick

 

In the first two parts of this series, we have reviewed the obstacles to contracts and how you can sell the idea to your club. This final part will provide you with a detailed roadmap on what should be included in the actual contract.

 

When you get the go-ahead on the contract, your next step is to be sure that it covers all the bases. Here's a basic checklist based on industry standards along with lessons learned and a few cautionary tales from superintendents--and club members themselves--who have been through the process, or have chosen not to.

 

The contract should define:

 

Your responsibilities/performance parameters.

Be sure to spell out your duties in detail. "Contracts offer peace of mind to both sides by setting expectation levels," says one superintendent.

 

Peter McCormick of TurfNet cautions, however, that establishing performance parameters can be tricky. "Out on the golf course, performance in terms of playability and aesthetics becomes very personal, subjective, and not easily quantifiable. The only way to reduce subjectivity," he continued, "is if there is a document of agreed-upon maintenance standards in place. This should be separate from (but appended to) an employment contract so it can be revised as needed and agreed. The document of maintenance standards can also serve as the basis of a job description, which can be either integral or appended to an employment contract," he added.

 

One club member I spoke to cited what he perceived to be a serious drawback to detailing duties and expectations: "By 'binding' both the club and the superintendent to specific roles and responsibilities, a contract limits everyone's flexibility," he said. "This may pose a problem down the road if the club decides it doesn't like the contract terms or wants to terminate it early. That can't happen without the superintendent agreeing to new terms to the contract."

 

Moral of this story: Carefully review the responsibilities and performance parameters you agree to put in writing.

 

The chain of command.

"It's good to have something in writing that identifies not only what is expected of the employee, but also who, specifically, the superintendent is responsible to," said another survey participant, explaining, "The club's governance changes over time. Board members come and go, and at some clubs, general managers come and go even faster. It's important that new personnel understand the chain of command."

 

Rule of thumb: The fewer people you report to, the better. Best case is only one!

 

"The club's governance changes over time. Board members come and go, and at some clubs, general managers come and go even faster. It's important that new personnel understand the chain of command."

 

The length of your contract.

It's always best to lobby for a multi-year contract or, better, one that automatically renews at the end of each year. Without a definitive end point, it seems both parties are less apt to think about making changes.

 

As one superintendent with a short-term contract lamented:"I had a contract at a previous club, and it didn't seem to work in my favor. It always felt like a ticking clock that eventually would stop, prompting the club to take something away from me. When I started, for example, I had full family medical benefits provided by the club. When my second contract was up, they took that opportunity to force me to contribute to my benefits package," he continued. "And the small raise they gave me barely covered the new expense. If I had no contract, it wouldn't have given them a definitive time to make this move on me."

 

Salary and performance reviews.

Note what your compensation is, when it is payable (weekly, biweekly, or monthly), and when you can expect to be evaluated for a raise. More than half the survey respondents receive annual performance evaluations. Be sure to define a performance review schedule in your contract.

 

"With a contract, you're assured some sort of financial growth," said one survey participant, adding what he perceived as a downside: "But along with that assurance is the pressure to live up to -- or exceed -- expectations, year after year."

 

For most of the superintendents I surveyed, having a contract that offered financial security seemed to far outweigh any performance concerns. One of the most favorable stories I heard relating to contracts and compensation came from Peter McCormick. He shared a conversation he had once had with a superintendent who had worked for 10 years or so without a contract at a club that had not lived up to verbal promises of future salary advancement made when he was hired.

 

Peter explained: "The superintendent looked around casually as jobs came up but was happy where he was, even though underpaid relative to others in the area. He had a frank conversation with his green chairman, who went to the board on the superintendent's behalf. The end result was a 10-year contract with a significant salary increase and retirement contributions," continued Peter. "Relieved of anxiety about his future and the feeling that he wasn't being properly compensated, he was able to move forward reenergized and with a renewed focus and sense of purpose."

 

Good for both him and the club. This is another example of how contracts can work in everyones favor!

 

"Relieved of anxiety about his future and the feeling that he wasn't being properly compensated, he was able to move forward reenergized and with a renewed focus and sense of purpose."

 

Bonus compensation.

You might consider building in a bonus for such things as becoming certified or maintaining your certification, meeting or exceeding your budget goals, managing a major enhancement project, hosting tournaments, bringing in new members, or any other practice you feel goes above and beyond your everyday job function.

 

One survey respondent noted receiving a bonus for seeing the club's new irrigation system installation through to completion, on time and on budget. "The club gave me $25,000 and my assistant $5,000," he said. "They recognized that successfully managing a project of that size required many extra hours and superior organizational skills."


Professional memberships and educational seminars.

Don't hesitate to push for funding and time off to attend both professional and educational industry events. Explain how maintaining professional affiliations and attending local, regional, and national conferences, field days, and seminars are essential to staying abreast of industry trends and practices.

 

Insurance.

Define your medical, dental, life, and disability insurance coverage. This assures coverage for the length of your contract.

 

As one club member noted, "If the contract promises the superintendent health benefits, you can't decide to stop paying for those benefits as a way to save money. The only way to change the terms of the contract is to renegotiate them."

 

A perfect example of why a contract is worth pursuing.

 

Retirement contributions.

It's a good idea to include in your contract regular contributions to a 401K or other retirement vehicle.

 

Vacation.
On average, superintendents receive two to four weeks of paid vacation annually. Some reported receiving significantly more time, particularly during the winter months for a majority of superintendents in the country.

 

Be sure to specify not only the amount of vacation time you want, but also when you would like to take it. If you want a weekend off in the summer with your family and can agree on that arrangement, put it in writing.

 

Housing/housing allowance.

Include maintenance, utilities, taxes, assessments, and related upkeep.

 

Meals.

Provide for a meal allowance. At least one meal a day is standard during the months of a facility's restaurant operation. A number of the supers surveyed are allowed any number of meals, as long as theyre on the job.

 

Vehicle allowance.

Many clubs provide a vehicle or an allowance to purchase one. Be sure to specify whether gas, insurance, and maintenance costs are included, as well as how often the vehicle will be replaced.

 

Facility privileges.
Note any and all club privileges you, your family, and guests might be entitled to. If you're entitled to use the pool, golf, or play tennis, note this, along with any fees that you are exempt from paying as an employee using the facility.

 

Severance.
Surprisingly, a number of superintendents surveyed did not have a severance package and longed for a reasonable separation agreement. Others were hoping to improve the package they currently have. Most who commented on their package understandably wanted their severance pay to grow along with their tenure.

 

"My severance is three months salary," noted one superintendent who would like to negotiate for more. "I have been here for eight years and would like one month for every year of service, not to exceed 12 months," he said.

 

There are a number of ways to handle severance. Among the most common is to pay all the annual salary that would have been earned from the actual date of termination and/or, as this superintendent noted, one month's pay for each year of service.

 

Conditions of contract termination.

It's important to spell out how, when, and why your contract -- or your employment -- can be terminated. One super surveyed stressed giving careful thought to the timing of a termination: "I would strongly encourage any superintendent who has club housing and a family in the town's school system to build in a termination notification on or before June 30. This way," he said, "you have two full months to find new housing and a new school system for your children. This was a big issue for me, and the club did agree to the new notification clause."

 

Indemnification.
Including this type of clause in your contract will protect you from claims, lawsuits, fines, etc., that you might incur as an employee of the facility. One superintendent surveyed felt it was more important to have some way to protect himself against "the bad decisions the club ends up making." While still another commented that, no matter what protection this or any of the other contract clauses might offer, his club would always have the upper hand: "If it came to a dispute between the club and me, their 200 attorneys would squish me like a bug," he said. "Basically, my contract is a piece of paper that says my benefits in writing."

 

One superintendent surveyed felt it was more important to have some way to protect himself against "the bad decisions the club ends up making."

 

Keep in mind, as with any legally binding document, you should always have an attorney look at it -- and preferably one who knows the profession -- to ensure youre properly protected and that the contract complies with federal and state laws.

 

"Contracts are worthwhile only if the language is properly written, and the only way to do that is to have a lawyer look at it," concurred one of the survey participants who, like many of the respondents, made sure to seek legal counsel.

 

Final Thoughts

If you're among the many superintendents seriously thinking of pursuing an employment agreement, remember that you should first be sure your track record qualifies you for a binding contract and then be fair about what youre asking for. If you shoot for the moon, you're likely to turn off an otherwise receptive group. If lobbying for a contract seems like more trouble than it's worth, keep in mind that once you've reached a mutually acceptable agreement with your employer, you can go to work every day confident about your job and undistracted by issues that may cause you to question your future employment. In the work world, there are few feelings better than that.

 

 

Sections of this blog post were originally created by Greg in a survey for the MetGCSA. That content is courtesy of the MetGCSA.

 



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Josh Saunders: Labor shortages, career experiences

Posted by Peter McCormick in The Ladder, 04 May 2018 · 816 views

In this episode of The Ladder, host John Reitman chats with Josh Saunders, superintendent at the Longue Vue Club in the Pittsburgh area. Saunders laments some of the challenges of hiring staff in his area: hours, weekends, and opioids... his quests for interns and assistants... tapping into new demographics... putting a hard sell on the industry as a career... the lure of tournament golf on a resume... and how agronomy over time yields to management of budget, membership and assistants.

 

Presented by STEC Equipment.

 



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The Turfgrass Zealot Project, Episode 32 with Armen Suny

Posted by Dave Wilber in Dave Wilber: Turfgrass Zealot, 22 March 2018 · 1,609 views

Armen Suny and host Dave Wilber turn their thinking amps up to 11 and have a session. And you are invited!

 

From sand-based greens to robotic mowers. From chaining old rollers near golf shops to perfect biology. And more. When Armen and Dave sit and jam, anything can and usually does happen. 

 

Enjoy this episode as a way to get motivated as the Spring of 2018 is upon us!!

 

The Turfgrass Zealot Project is only on TurfNet.com. And ANYONE can listen!

 
 



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

Posted by Peter McCormick in TurfNet at BTME, 2018, 02 February 2018 · 370 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

 



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2018 TurfNet Members' Trip to Ireland announced

Posted by Peter McCormick in TurfNet in Ireland, 2018, 27 November 2017 · 1,759 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 GOLF

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

 

ACCOMMODATIONS

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.

 

SPOUSE/NON-GOLFER PROGRAM

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.

 

TurfNet EMERALD CHALLENGE

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.

 

COMMENTS FROM PRIOR ATTENDEES

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



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Looking after the Non-Golfers...

Posted by Peter McCormick in TurfNet in Scotland, 2017, 24 November 2017 · 1,722 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.



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2018 BTME trip announced... details available here.

Posted by Peter McCormick in TurfNet on Tour 2017: St. Andrews and BTME, 09 October 2017 · 1,509 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.

 

Downloads:

 

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



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Chemical Rescue...

Posted by Peter McCormick in Marty Richardson: Interning at The Island Golf Club, 29 September 2017 · 1,437 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.



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Takeaways from a milestone event...

Posted by Peter McCormick in Kevin Ross at the Solheim Cup, 01 September 2017 · 2,065 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!

 

Family first. With the Solheim Cup and thousands of fans all around him on Saturday, Rick Tegtmeier shares a moment with his granddaughter while his wife Sherry looks on.

 



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Turf colorants: History, uses and best practices

Posted by Peter McCormick in The Pin Sheet, 03 August 2017 · 3,417 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.

 



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Sunday: Final Round Preparations and Cheerios

Posted by Peter McCormick in TurfNet On Tour 2017 - Irish Open Portstewart, 20 July 2017 · 1,022 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.



Photo

Takeaways from Hazeltine, and reflecting with our Mindful Superintendent

Posted by Peter McCormick in Kevin Ross at the Ryder Cup, 06 October 2016 · 29,539 views

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

Until next time...





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