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It has been ten or maybe even twelve years since I have been a GCSAA member. Yesterday, that changed.
As a student, assistant and superintendent, membership to the national association made sense to me. And for 15 years of independent consultant status, I paid the dues with not a lot of joy. And one day, after a very disappointing conversation with a GCSAA board member, I decided that there wasn't a benefit to me by belonging. It was, in effect, a silent protest. And a financial decision to take the money my business had budgeted for Dues and make sure that I was a member of several local chapters. And as a way of showing even more local support, I served on two boards as an affiliate (non-superintendent) member. Several terms. Worked hard. Won several awards. Took education seriously. Every year, I would consider national membership and just didn't see why.
On Thursday, last week, I returned from the 2019 GIS and promptly wrote a couple notes to GCSAA staff members about how to go about becoming member number 013641 again. It was easy. David Phipps, GCSAA Field Staff Northwest sent me a note, a form and some instructions. Shelia Finney got involved. On Monday, world came from Anthony Rittof at the Emerald City that not only was I quickly reinstated, but was allowed to rejoin as a Class A member. Didn't expect that. At all. And no, I've been to The Masters, so that wasn't a driving factor.
On Thursday, last week, I returned from the 2019 GIS and promptly wrote a couple notes to GCSAA staff members about how to go about becoming member number 013641 again. It was easy.
I don't care to go into the past too much. Lets just say, that as a young superintendent, I was very outspoken as a voting delegate and committee member. Especially as it came to the emerging technology and online interaction areas, where I felt that GCSAA was severely short sighted. For a time, I really wanted to be on the board and then, sand kicked in my face, I didn't. And I'll leave it at that. I spent decades being sour. Probably not helpful.
Let's look at the current and the future. The Positive. And sure, I get that I would be a member for 34 years had I not taken the sabbatical.
Currently, I see the GCSAA as strong and getting stronger. Doing really good things with Chapter Relations and identity. I don't care much about politics, but I guess you can say that we are well represented in the golf world. I mentioned field staff. When this idea first bloomed, my first interaction with someone who filled this job made no sense. But since then, my interactions with the likes of David Phipps and Jeff Jensen have been outstanding. I have watched this program bloom at the hands of Steve Randall and his staff. Working and Winning.
I spent decades being sour. Probably not helpful.
I have good friends and industry contacts on the board in leadership positions. Darren Davis, whom I met years ago and recognized as a real talent. Good old friend Kevin Breen. Eternal good guy Rafael Barajas. The esteemed T.A Barker. And the list goes on and on. Great people. Giving a lot of time and attention to help.
Help. A key word that I see any association needs to embrace. Maybe a better word is Service. Being in Service to members. Being there to help everyone grow. That to me is the mark of a great association. Otherwise, you just have a big old Moose Lodge. Look, if our profession doesn't get help from as many sources as possible, we run the risk of always being the second class citizens. No one really wants to hear that they need that help, but from my 30,000 foot view, golf is still in trouble.
Being there to help everyone grow. That to me is the mark of a great association. Otherwise, you just have a big old Moose Lodge.
As I walked around the convention center in San Diego, what I saw were some very happy members. People getting educated. People networking. People involved in trade in a good way. I saw moves to help with inclusion (I'm not gonna talk about Cheerleaders, there are strong women in our association who can do that). I saw buyers on the trade show floor doing business. And I saw leaders and contributors being recognized and awarded. Not just for the sake of mutual admiration.
So, I am proudly, once again, GCSAA Member 013641. And it makes me very very happy to offer up my credit card number to pay for that privilege.
Nicholas Carr, a technology and modern culture genius, wrote the book, "What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains". Although I don't usually quote folks who went to Harvard and got nominated for that Pulitzer thing, I am doing it now. Why? Because no matter how hard I work at warning the golf world about tech and AI and microwave signals cooking our brains, nobody listens.
So I thought maybe golf might listen to this little gem from Nicholas Carr:
The printed book focuses our attention, while the internet distracts us, rerouting our neural pathways.
For those unwilling to heed the warnings from the brain of an academic intellect, I have provided a short film that explains just what happens when the neural pathways get constipated.
By Peter McCormick,
TurfTrainer is a patent-pending turf brushing system designed to improve turf playability, performance and health in a simple, easy to install and operate, low-maintenance package.
Designed by Rodney Hine, noted Boston-area superintendent and TurfNet member, the TurfTrainer attaches to the bucket of a greensmower and is pulled beneath the bucket rather than pushed as conventional brushes are. Once installed, the TurfTrainer can be used on-demand without further removal or installation. A stow and go mechanism allows out-of-sight storage.
- No Moving Parts - TurfTrainer attaches to the mowing bucket with no moving parts, minimizing maintenance. Flips up when not in use.
- Unobtrusive - Whether stored or in use, operator view is not obstructed and TurfTrainer does not impede routine mower maintenance or adjustments.
- Adapts to Surface Contours - The flexible mat follows the turf surface contour efficiently, providing a stand of turf ready for cutting.
TurfTrainer is manufactured using non-corrosive materials specifically designed to withstand the challenging elements found in turf brushing environments.
I haven’t delved into technology posts lately on this blog, instead focusing on career topics. It’s been due to not having enough time to offer quality advice in a field that constantly changes. Why, you might ask? Well, I have been working for the last 18 months on a new project for the industry that occupied any free time I had. And it’s finally done, at least version 1.
I don’t usually speak directly on this blog about our products, but I think this service is beneficial to both your operation and career, plus it has a lesson in doing things the right way and hiring professionally. Which of course I always encourage on this blog. The message here is to keep trying new and innovative things, they will eventually reward you.
We had an idea two years ago for a communications app for superintendents to communicate daily course conditions to golfers. The problem with all current forms of communication is that they require the golfer to visit them on their own or filtered through a social feed with all kinds of distractions competing for their attention. In particular, maintenance blogs and Twitter have become more of a sharing environment between turf professionals, and golfers get left behind or not engaged.
How could we solve this? Through a custom-built app just for supers to send info to golfers, and with push notifications to ensure golfers actually got the message. And Conditions app was born.
You would think with tech abilities from our other products that myself and our programming staff would jump on this with ease. Not so fast -- native app development is a completely different computer language than anything we use for web applications. We wanted to get out there quickly to verify it in the marketplace, and decided to use a third-party plugin that was built around a templated app. We would be submitting a slight variant of the app for each course to the App Store. It was the fast solution, and not the right one.
Dealing with Problems
In less than 7 months after we began building our test apps, Apple released the now infamous (in tech anyway) 4.2.6 guideline that essentially banned templated apps. This meant all our work building out examples and testing with our first alpha clubs was a waste of time and money.
We were left with one choice: bring it all in-house, hire, learn a new language, and build a completely custom solution through a singular app.
This was what we should have done originally and now benefits the users greatly. I always write that you should hire professionals to assist with your career materials, and it’s no different here. It’s something I should have known better from my advice to you.
In the end, the product is now better, built exactly for supers (by me), bug free, and we know a new computer language.
Testing It Out
Once we had a working version ready, we went to existing customers that were interested in jumping on early in the process. A key with technology is to ensure its reliability, especially when it involves your members. This is important when testing new things in your operation as well.
So we spent all of 2018 in a Beta, testing with a very limited number of clubs, tweaking and building until we got it just right.
The results from the Beta program were extremely positive from every tester. Golfers love the platform and are more educated as a result. I have received emails like this frequently:
Billy Weeks, Houston Country Club: “Our membership loves it! Congrats on a job well done with this app. If you need me as a reference for the app please use us.”
Pat Ryan, Sands Point Golf Club: “Everything is working great. Members love the app and a majority have signed up. It has been a huge help with our communications.”
And here we are, nearly 2 years later. Finally launching Conditions app at the GIS, fully confident in the reliability and success of the platform. Good things take time as they say.
I think Conditions is something that is going to make your job a lot easier in the critical area of communication. Don’t be scared to jump on new tech when it’s done right.
My Lesson Learned
Never take the quick and easy route, do it right even if it will take considerably more time. Always opt for the professional-grade solution in your operation.
Not rushing and taking our time we were able to perfect the functionality so it is ready for launch with no issues or chances of a third-party altering our course of action. The same can be done in your operation by testing out new things on your nursery or research sites, use tech with only your committee first, etc. and only using professional-grade solutions (vs DIY I talk about often).
Always be ready to innovate to stay ahead of the curve, even if that innovation takes time and trial/error.
Thanks for reading about this process, I felt it was a good way to explain a little bit inside our operation (delayed release of this app) and was an interesting business experience. Next post will be back to career/tech advice.
Conditions App Information
If you would like to see how the finished product came out and if it might help in your operation, you can visit goplaybooks.com/conditions.
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My official title here at Drury University is Assistant Director of Facilities – Grounds. I much prefer to call myself the Head Groundskeeper. I believe this job title says something about my philosophy of grounds management. Including 'Groundskeeper' in my title reminds me, and more importantly my crew, that I am to some extent like my team. We are all focused on “keeping the grounds”. Unfortunately, sometimes a rift can develop between us. The crew and I can have differing opinions on how well we are functioning in our role. This rift usually stems from a communication breakdown resulting in different concepts of where we are, and where we are headed.
Getting to the bottom of it.
At the end of last year, our rift was why we were not being effective (we all agreed we could be better, the question was how). To find out why we had this gap in understanding, we undertook a meeting to have some discussion. I like to hear from my team because it gives them a voice and a stake in how we operate. Rather than ask why we weren’t effective, though, I chose to ask why we would accept mediocre performance? The answers were very interesting.
- Lack of recognition – hard work is taken for granted by organization
- Serious days result in more of the same – maximum exertion just gets us more maximum exertion
- No finish line – perpetually behind
- No consistency – emergencies prevent a plan
- Appreciation not shown with meaningful currency – put it in the paycheck, take us to lunch, get good gloves, etc.
- Little cognizance of how hard the work is – This isn’t a chain gang, but we do work hard
- We tolerate it – self-explanatory
- Complacency – we are in a rut
We’d Gotten Soft
Every crew I’ve been in has had these issues at some point. But the best crews always find a way to overcome, or at least to manage and get by. My final summary of our situation was we were soft. I mean we lacked the toughness to put our heads down and perform. We didn’t lack knowledge, tools, or even the capability to work hard. We simply lacked the conviction to do what we knew needed to be done. We were at the point where mole hills became mountains, and small obstacles weren’t being overcome. Of course, no crew wants to be called soft. If I was going to help us overcome, I needed to figure a way to get them to see this issue from a different perspective rather than just “being soft”.
Rather than ask why we weren’t effective, though, I chose to ask why we would accept mediocre performance?
Finding a way out
Communication within the team has many benefits. One positive is misunderstandings can be presented for open discussion. Instead of asking how our team could overcome “being soft”, I asked how we could improve our effectiveness. The team came up with several answers. What I think is remarkable about nearly every team I have worked with is we all know how to do a good job. By teasing out the thoughts of the crew, they answered the question of improvement on their own, with their own language. Acting as facilitator, all I had to do was summarize concisely what they said. Helping the team craft answers creates an attitude of shared commitment to problem solving.
Our Key Response
Overall, our crew performs pretty well on all these expectations. What we lacked most, at least in my opinion, was discipline. It is not that we had no discipline; it is just that we were demonstrating it inconsistently. Discipline allows a team to set a goal and pursue it to completion. Discipline also allows a team to manage problems that are potentially disruptive and overcome them. Discipline is the framework that underpins all other aspects of crew performance. At the end of last year, I told the crew we would set expectations and meet them. This commitment to discipline, first on my part, then on all our parts was to be the difference maker.
A Very Good Start
Crew dynamics fluctuate, but hopefully evolve. What seems to work for a period of time, sometimes does not work perpetually. This is to be expected. What must be sustained though is the discipline to set standards and goals, and then meet them. If the crew is committed to meeting high standards, those standards having been well explained and unanimously adopted, discipline becomes the catalyst for success. Apathy and inconsistency are the opposite of discipline. A lack of discipline becomes a consistent drag on all efforts to improve. So far this year our team has responded to the call to discipline and even they agree we are better for it.
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With each turn of a new year, it can be a helpful exercise to both reflect on the year that was and ponder the time ahead. I’ve never been a huge fan of the resolution thing and hopefully most of us have figured out that approach doesn’t really work anyway. Most resolutions fail principally because they start from a place of deficiency; the idea that something is inherently wrong with us and we just need to buckle down and fix it.
What if instead we simply reflected on our strengths and sought to set our positive intention on what is truly important to us? What might happen if we honestly reflected on the key themes of the previous year and examined whether or not they lined up with where we seek to set our intention? This exercise takes us out of the good/bad version of ourselves and replaces it with one rooted in acceptance. The funny thing is that it’s only when we accept ourselves fully, that we can start truly making positive changes in our life.
...it’s only when we accept ourselves fully, that we can start truly making positive changes in our life.
For me personally this exercise touched on three key themes this New Year. As I reflected on the year that was, and pondered my intentions for the upcoming year, these themes kept arising: presence, simplicity, and vulnerability.
Living a mindful life simply begins and ends with presence and means that we set our intention to be here for the unfiltered, raw immediacy of what is happening in our lives, and in the world around us. We can try to fool ourselves and come up with all sorts of strategies to get around it, but at the end of the day now doesn’t go anywhere… it’s right there waiting for us to return.
Over this past year my personal avoidance strategies reared their ugly heads multiple times. Fatigue and exhaustion will wear anyone down over time, and staying present and connected can feel akin to climbing a mountain in a blizzard. But when the winds die down and the snows abate, we can take a deep breath and reconnect. We simply start anew. This is the gift that returning with non-judgmental awareness to the present moment affords us.
Setting our intention towards simplicity can also be most helpful. When things get out of hand at any given time, it can usually be traced back to loading our plate too full. Some years just seem to throw more of life’s difficult truths our way and this past year had that in spades for my family and I. All of a sudden my already quite full plate began to feel overloaded. This is where making the choice towards simplicity steps in.
When things get out of hand at any given time, it can usually be traced back to loading our plate too full.
When life deals us a full house, it can be really wise to pause, step back, and evaluate our loads. We can all too easily find ourselves stuck in the habit of busyness and by adding those inevitable difficult life truths (death of a friend or family member, illness, or financial hardship) we realize that “just one more thing” can be the tipping point. When our plates are piled sky high, unfortunately the only realistic outcome is a plate shattering crash.
By identifying what is essential in our lives, we can work to eliminate all of the extraneous stuff getting in the way. Removing things and doing less can feel like a cop out in this age of constant busyness, but in the end the space we create will allow for a better quality of life.
Removing things and doing less can feel like a cop out in this age of constant busyness, but in the end the space we create will allow for a better quality of life.
During this past year I had to step back on more than one occasion and honestly look at my personal plate. Long story short, I had gotten off-message in a fairly substantial way and it forced me into the uncomfortable position of taking inventory and choosing to step away from a number of personal commitments. And believe me when I say it was really difficult for me to do this. I am not well versed in the art of saying “no”. I am also not particularly good at accepting the brutally obvious facts when they are right before my eyes. My loved ones helped me to see the detrimental effects my choices were having on both myself and those around me. In time, the need to let some things go became glaringly obvious to me. I gently gave myself the space to put my stubbornness aside, reflect on the choices I was making and decide to return to some positive lifestyle choices. I am happy to say that things are much better for my willingness to do so.
Creating a new relationship with vulnerability takes a great deal of courage. Laying ourselves bare and sharing our baggage with those who matter can seem quite daunting, especially in the male-centric turf industry. Vulnerability can sound more like a pest we believe needs to be defeated than a friend we should welcome to the table. But when we open to vulnerability, a funny thing happens… we suddenly realize that we are all the same. We are not individual green keepers struggling against the elements, alone in the wilderness; we are human beings. Our collective humanity binds us together and ties us all to the same moment. When we can step out of our self-protective cocoons and realize this shared nature of our lives, it all becomes more bearable, even relatable. When we open to the ever changing world around us and choose to connect on a deeper level we can better face the inevitable ups and downs of life, together.
...when we open to vulnerability, a funny thing happens… we suddenly realize that we are all the same.
So as this moment turns into the next, let's take some time to reflect on all that is important in our lives. Make a point to set aside some quality time to quietly think about creating some new intentions. May we honestly examine our values and what we consider most important in our lives as a whole and approach this exercise with openness, compassion and non-judging. And may we remember to always apply a liberal dose of kindness; both to ourselves and others.
Friday morning, we woke up at the Rosapenna Golf Resort in County Donegal and the golfers had a short walk to their golf pavilion. We were playing the Sandy Hills course which was designed by Pat Ruddy. The resort also boasts a course laid out by Old Tom Morris but it was booked for a Golfing Union of Ireland competition.
The weather was fairly brisk as seventeen golfers took to the tee for our 8:20 start time. Once the golfers were dispatched on the course, many of the non-golfers had a leisurely breakfast and made the short walk into the village of Rosapenna.
As the tide was out, we were able to walk along the beach. Once in the village, we walked up some steps along the rocks, found a local coffee shop and the McNutt Tweed Shop - a specialty woolen store. The items in the store were unique to this region and certainly could not be found in the myriad of stores back in Dublin. The operation is so small and intimate that one of the lead designers was working the till that day.
A light rain started as we were leaving the store, so we opted to walk through the village to return to Rosapenna Resort. After the golf, we enjoyed soup and sandwiches in the café above the golf pavilion. We had time for one final group shot around the iconic statue of Old Tom Morris.
Simon had been dispatched back to the Matthews home base as he was to be redeployed as a driver on Monday and needed a three-day break from behind the wheel. Our driver for the drive back to Dublin was none other than Paddy Matthews himself, founder of the company. We loaded the bus as usual and settled in for the 4+ hour ride to Portmarnock Links Hotel. Once in Portmarnock, the evening was spent packing up for the next morning's drive to the airport and reminiscing on our outstanding and remarkable week together.
A few couples (the Crowthers, Galls, and John Brauer and Lisa Donovan) opted to stay in Dublin another evening, but the rest of us took the bus to the airport to catch a series of flights home. We caught one last amazing Irish sunrise on our way to the airport, and it symbolized the beauty of this country that we had experienced for the entire week.
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By Parker Stancil,
In May of 2018, I promised myself that once I started my new, but temporary, life in Denmark, I’d be as good of a friend as I could be to anyone I would meet.
I had no enemies when I started, and I saw no reason to have any by the end of my summer.
I lived in the Great Northern greenkeeper employee housing with 14 other greenkeepers. The crew was diverse, from all over: Ireland, England, Scotland, Lithuania, Australia, Denmark, Poland, Latvia, Jamaica, and Bulgaria.
I’m proud to say I have friends from all over the world now. In the turf business, connections are a big key to success, so it’s important to get your name out there and keep in touch with everyone you meet.
I’m proud to say I have friends from all over the world now...
I did my best to make friends when I was in Scotland, too, working the Scottish Open. I really enjoyed getting to know the crew and the volunteers there, and I’m happy to still be in touch with those I met.
I’m happy to be back in the States to see my family and friends, but I’m always going to have my other family on the other side of the world.
I’d like to give a big thanks to Great Northern for having me for the summer, Gullane Golf Club for letting me volunteer for the Scottish Open, and everyone else who made my summer so enjoyable.
Below are pictures of friends I made during my travels and a list of my new friends I worked with at Great Northern.
- John Cunningham- Ireland
- Jack Smillie- England
- Jack Darling- Scotland
- Deivydas Gulbinas- Lithuania
- Justas Poskevicius- Lithuania
- Dave Dusch- Australia
- Tom Larsen- Denmark
- Jack Sredojevic- Ireland
- Grant Dilasser- Scotland
- Peter Sredojevic- Scotland
- Robert Barnat- Poland
- Sarunas Gr- Lithuania
- Scott Dunsmuir- Scotland
- Benny Christoffersen- Denmark
- Chrisitan Hainer- Denmark
- Edijs Ukstins- Latvia
- Michael Gordon- Jamaica
- Michail Trivonow- Bulgaria
- Anette Bolander- Denmark
- Christian Bensen- Denmark
- Dainius Rudys- Lithuania
- Evaldas Aleksandravicius- Lithuania
- Danielius Monkevičius- Lithuania
- Rune Carlsund- Denmark
- Vadims Arakčejevs- Latvia
- Line Trier- Denmark
- Jakob Nielsen- Denmark
- Kristian Jensen- Denmark
- Aidan O’Hara- Ireland
I am fortunate to be able to spend a few months each year on a small island in the lower Bay of Fundy in eastern Canada. (Some would say I'm "lucky", but luck has nothing to do with it.)
Our home is almost at the northern tip of this 9 mile x 3 mile island, which narrows down to a 50 yard-wide peninsula topped by the Head Harbour Lightstation, a scenic lighthouse with 270 degree views of the surrounding bays. The lighthouse is a popular destination for tourists, lighthouse aficionados (of which there are many), and my dogs.
Dawn arrives early here, somewhere around 4:15 AM. That's Eastern daylight time, which we choose to stay on rather than move the clock ahead an hour to the proper Atlantic time in which we actually live. We can see the Eastern time zone in Eastport, Maine, across the bay, so it's no big deal either way... but always a minor source of confusion and calculation when arranging dinner times with neighbors or whale-watch boat reservations. "Island time or American time?"
In any case, whether it's 4:15 or 5:15 AM, our dogs start to stir when the sky begins to brighten. They all sleep in our bedroom on their own beds, so even though we take their "jingles" (collars with noisy tags) off before we go to bed, I still hear them when they start to rustle. Usually because I've been awake for a while anyway.
So our morning drill is for me to get up, turn on the coffee pot that's been readied the evening prior, put their jingles back on and let them outside. Once proper ablutions have been performed, they run back to the house for their breakfast, bowls also filled the night before. I pour a cup of coffee and wander over to my laptop on the dining table, which looks out over the early morning skies. I start to go through my email to the raucous symphony of jingles against bowls, at least for the 15 seconds it takes for two of the three (those with all or some Golden Retriever genes) to suck down their food.
After about half an hour, they've had enough waiting around and start to congregate around me. One rubs against my legs, another sits and stares, the third whines. Time to go for our walk.
One rubs against my legs, another sits and stares, the third whines. Time to go for our walk.
While it would be easy to consider this an annoyance — and I do, occasionally if the weather is foul — I actually appreciate it as a nudge to get outdoors and enjoy the wonders of that early morning walk to the lighthouse. And this epitomizes the old saying of "it's a journey, not a destination".
The lighthouse at the end of the island is only a quarter-mile away, but often takes us fifteen minutes or more to get there. Between stopping to sniff (both them and me, at different things), squatting or lifting a leg (them, not me), we take our time. It's not a race.
I try to take my cue from Paul Mac and be mindful, fully present, immersed in observation on these walks. If you allow it, a multitude of sights, sounds and smells presents themselves.
It rained all day yesterday so there was a lingering humidity in the air this morning. This tends to intensify the fragrances of spruce, balsam, moss, salt water, rockweed, Rosa rugosa or Rosa virginiana... which occasionally amalgamate into what we call "the Smell", a unique, almost intoxicating combination fragrance that's unique and indigenous to the coast of Maine and the Maritimes.
if one pays attention, pockets of specific fragrances become apparent. My wife's favorite (even though she's still sound asleep in bed) is the smell of balsam fir (Abies balsamea), which can almost make you dizzy as you walk through it, or stop to enjoy and breathe deeply, through the nose. I wish I could embed a scratch-n-sniff patch here.
I have counted as many as eight different predominant fragrances on our way to the lighthouse. But you'll miss them if your mind is elsewhere.
This particular morning, the sun was just a tad above the horizon and an intense orange in color, casting a long, equally intense reflection on the water. This is fleeting, as within a matter of minutes the color can fade as the sun rises higher, or can disappear altogether if there are striations of clouds in the sky. We walk right toward it, but it still begs a pause in our journey.
Which brings me to the sounds, the third component of this sensory extravaganza. A series of "we-eeps" in the trees alerted me to a group of eight or ten goldfinches flitting about. My favorite bird song here is "Oh-sweet-Canada-Canada-Canada" of the white-throated sparrow, a bird which I hear frequently but have never seen. They are always in the treetops somewhere. Then there's the ding-dong of the ubiquitous black-capped chickadee.
Down the road a ways comes the caw-caw-caw of a group of large crows. A croak from the tidal flats to the left alerts me to a blue heron, standing in wait for his next meal to swim by. The impatient shrieks of a juvenile bald eagle — one of two born back in April in the nest up in one of the black spruces that we pass — is echoed by the staccato cry of one of his parents, probably saying, "You're big enough to start getting your own breakfast". They are usually perched at the very top of one of the spruces. I've often wondered how a 20-lb bird can do that.
Intermingled with all this are the familiar calls of the herring gulls, the honk-honk of (what I think is) the black-backed gull, and the occasional osprey mimicking a bald eagle.
A lone mourning dove perched quietly on an overhead wire this morning, and a solitary cormorant paddled in the water.
Many mornings this summer I've heard finback whales spouting, sometimes very close by. It's particularly eerie when it's foggy. You can hear 'em but you can't see 'em. Either way it's pretty cool.
If the wind is blowing from the west and it's close to low tide, I can often hear the wailing of seals (gray and harbor) from the colony on the north end of a small out-island just offshore.
Then there are the wildflowers, adding visual and aromatic texture to the roadsides. The lupines are done by this time of year, but swards of fireweed (often mistaken for purple loosestrife by those who just give them a quick glance) provide masses of color. Indian paintbrush, black knapweed (with a flower similar to Canada thistle and favored by monarch butterflies), ox-eye daisies, Angelica, wild asters, and the low-growing bunchberry (in the dogwood family, believe it or not) are either obvious or require some looking, but they're there, often adorning or framing a lowly guardrail along the road.
Those seeking McDonalds, amusement parks or miniature golf may say there's nothing happening on this little island, just the other side of the easternmost town in the continental US. But I disagree. There's plenty going on if you stop and observe. In some ways, though, the real beauty of such a place isn't what it is or has, but what it isn't or has not.
By the way, we do have a nice 9-hole Geoff Cornish-designed golf course on the island, part of the provincial park.
Most golf course superintendents hop in the golf car or utility vehicle for their morning ride to inspect the course, for the sake of expediency. Some prefer to walk, however. I believe Chris Tritabaugh at Hazeltine walks his morning rounds. It surely takes longer, but my bet is that the quality of observation is greatly enhanced.
In our own ways, we're all fortunate. Not lucky... but fortunate.
In this episode of Frankly Speaking, I chat with David Bataller, Director of Golf Operations at PGA Catalunya Resort near Barcelona, Spain.
An admittedly bad student who was "fired from high school", David went on to high school and riding BMX bikes in Kansas before embarking on his career at PGA Catalunya. After serving as golf course superintendent for 15 years, he was recently promoted to Director of Golf Operations. David quips that he has never been fired from a golf course.
PGA Catalunya is a GEO-certified (Golf Environment Organization) property. Listen in as David and I discuss that, along with his trials with industrial grade (50%) hydrogen peroxide to dissolve surface organic matter.
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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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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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By Peter McCormick,
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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By Jon Kiger,
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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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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By Peter McCormick,
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.
- TurfNet trip brochure
- BIGGA membership application
- Continue to Learn conference application
- Continue to Learn brochure with seminar descriptions
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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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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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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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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.
As my 2016 Ryder Cup duty comes to a close, it's nice to reflect back on my experiences. There are a few strong takeaways from the event for me. None of them have to do with any sort of agronomic stuff.
First, the welcome that superintendent Chris Tritabaugh gave to everyone at Monday's orientation was special. He introduced and acknowledged each member of his staff, every volunteer, and all of the industry affiliates (me). As a TurfNet correspondent, this was the category I fit into for the first time in my career. Not a volunteer, but still acknowledged. Thanks Chris! It made me feel good, instead of just "some guy" carrying camera equipment around all week.. It made everyone feel good. No question, this set a great tone for the week.
Another takeaway is how strangers can bond together so quickly for a common goal. After orientation on Monday, it took a mere day or two to create a very well-oiled machine. Many times I was out filming and thought it was like poetry-in-motion. Maybe it was because I was looking through a lens taking it all in, and not worrying about keeping my mow lines straight.
With my new friends from the Swedish Golf Federation...
In my case, I tried mostly not to get in the way. I tried to observe from a distance and not stick the camera in people's faces. It is hard to observe from a distance, when this industry is so welcoming and friendly. Granted, I probably knew half the volunteers in advance, but that still leaves the other half. I was floored by the number of the "other half" that introduced themselves and just started conversations about my ON COURSE videos, agronomics, Colorado... you name it. It all set in when it was time to leave and say our goodbyes. I remember shaking hands with so many people I didn't know before the start of the week. Special.
As I got to the airport on Monday morning, things quickly came full circle for me. I bumped into David Duval from the Golf Channel, and one of the heroes from the 1999 Ryder Cup. When our conversation started, I mentioned the '99 Cup. His tired facial expression instantly changed to a smile, grinning from ear to ear. I told him I was there in-person, inside the ropes when he made that arm-pumping walk around 14 green as the USA made that improbable comeback. I actually think we both relived that moment for a few seconds, as our conversation became quiet.
Although I had a fabulous time at Hazeltine -- thank you Chris Tritabaugh -- I realized something I hadn't thought of in years. Personally, the 1999 Ryder Cup will always be branded within me as my greatest moment in golf!
Until next time...
Well, that's the end of my summer. I'm back at the University of Nebraska to finish up my last semester and graduate this December with a degree in Turfgrass Management and a minor in Business.
As I sit here in my apartment in Lincoln, I can't help but feel very grateful to everyone who has helped me over the past three years of great experiences.
First, I want to thank Weston Appelfeller at the Columbus Crew SC for answering my shot-in-the-dark email three years ago about a potential first internship in the industry. Out of many emails to many places, Weston was the only one to respond and I can't thank him enough because that led to the rest of the opportunities I have been lucky to have.
While at the Columbus Crew, I was put in touch with Mike O'Keeffe at Ohio State about potentially going overseas for work experience. Mike runs the world-famous Ohio Program, which helps place agriculture and horticulture students from America at internships all over the world and vice-versa.
Mike told me about a company in Macclesfield, England that was looking for their first ever intern. He gave my information to Richard Campey at Campey Turfcare Systems and I went on to have an incredible summer, as outlined in my last blog "Jeff Lenihan- Pitch Prep in the UK".
With Campeys in Finland.
While touring around Europe with Campey Turfcare, I met Steve Braddock at Arsenal, and that's where this story comes full circle. I had an awesome summer at London Colney and worked with some great people. Even though I am a Manchester United fan, I couldn't help but be impressed with the facility and operation that they have going there.
Mowing in lines on one of my last days with Campey Turfcare intern Alex Jensen from Australia
I also wanted to thank Aquatrols for sponsoring my blog this year! And, obviously, I want to give a big thanks to everyone at TurfNet, especially Peter McCormick and Jon Kiger, who have helped me along the way for the past two years. Thanks for following along!
Recent EntriesItaly is a beautiful country full of art and culture with monuments, churches, landscapes, and rich agriculture. All small towns have a castle and a story to tell especially in Tuscany and Veneto which were both gateways to my travels. It seems that in Italy art is in the blood of all architects, designers and artists both past and present generations.Having the opportunity to experience this trip filled me with a great sense of thankfulness and appreciation for many things.I am thankful that I was able to blog about the trip and share my experiences with other people interested in golf. I am thankful that I was able to spend so much quality time with my wife and experience so much history and culture along side her. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to explore the country of my forefathers and find my roots.I am also extremely appreciative of my assistant, Roberto Cruz, and the maintenance crew at Southern Oaks for the exceptional job that they did maintaining the course while I was away.
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JON KIGER AUG 21 | If one of the goals for course set up between the Men's and Women's Olympic competitions was parity the organizers succeeded. South Korea's Inbee Park claimed the Gold Medal to end the tournament at 16-under the same score that Great Britain's Justin Rose shot to win Gold on the Men's side. The seven time major champion became the first woman in 116 years to earn Olympic gold.
New Zealand's Lydia Ko finished at 11-under to earn the Silver Medal and China's Shanshan Feng finished at 10-under for the Bronze.
(L-R) New Zealands Lydia Ko - Silver, South Koreas Inbee Park - Gold, and Chinas Shanshan Feng - Bronze
While golf's usual refrain for those who don't win is "wait until next year" Olympic participants and those who stayed home will have a four year wait to have a chance at Olympic glory. And with such a long wait until the next competition it is only fitting that the top three competitors are honored compared to the "winner take all" attention paid to traditional tournament winners.
The 120 golfers who participated can forever add "Olympian" to their resume and the 41 countries represented have reason to take great pride in being a part of golf's return to the Olympic stage after 112 years.
If there is another Gold Medal to award it's to Olympic Golf Course superintendent Neil Cleverly, his local crew and the volunteers from around the world. To pull tournament conditions off (TWICE!) under these circumstances was nothing short of remarkable.
Working double shifts for three weeks and enduring travel, lodging, security and other logistical challenges was beginning to take its toll on the volunteer crew by Saturday morning. Several volunteers reported general fatigue. Being a part of history in a special setting and the camaraderie of the rest of the crew carried them through the final hours of preparation.
Neil Cleverly (front in blue jacket) with local crew and volunteers for the Olympic Golf competitions.
One of golf's enduring qualities is its ability to bring people together whether you're joining a threesome at your local muni or meeting colleagues from around the world to do something never before accomplished in the modern era. In Rio in 2016 it definitely accomplished that in abundance.
Welcome Back, Golf. See you in Tokyo in 2020.
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"It's not where you go, but who picks you up." I remember Dr. Danneberger saying this about his traveling stories. Personally experiencing this on my own excursions and adventures this summer, I couldn't agree more.
My side trips have been to several spots in Ireland and one to Holland. With each adventure I met many new people, each adding to the experience.
All roads led to County Louth Golf Club at Baltray, my home for the summer.
Arriving first at the village of Baltray. It was this small seaside village that became my summer home. County Louth Golf Club will always be special thanks to all the employees and members of this club. Many from County Louth have assisted my summer excursions in more ways than one.
All who I have met there showcased the Irish hospitality. Knowing I was so far away from home, they wanted to make me feel as close to home as possible. With everything brought about for me, they succeeded.
The clubhouse/restaurant at County Louth Golf Club. My accommodations were above.
Outside of Baltray, I've met other passionate people in the golf industry. Most of these connections came from volunteering at the Irish Open. Had I not gotten to know the volunteers at the K Club, my trips to Portmarnock Links and The Dutch would not have been the same. The visits were fantastic. Each golf course was class, more importantly though the people that picked me up made it all the better.
I did not drive a car in Ireland. Public transportation was the key to traveling. It took a while to get used to, however transport was made easy thanks to Damien Keenan and the Matthews Bus Services. Damien had supplied passes that covered trips to Dublin and Dundalk. The Matthew bus was always on time, comfortable and convenient.
The big Matthews white bus, right on time.
Dr. D was right; I have learned the best trips come about by who picks you up. My excursions this summer were made enjoyable from the Matthews Coach getting me to and from plus the people guiding me along the way. I wouldn't say Baltray is the number one place for everyone to visit in Ireland; however, for me, this summer, the people I spent this experience with made it the greatest place to be.
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