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From the TurfNet NewsDesk


  • John Reitman
    Throughout a career that dates back to the Johnson Administration (Lyndon, not Andrew), Dick Gray never was much for professional titles. His last business card - at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida, where he once managed four golf courses - simply read "greenkeeper."
    Now, after parts of seven decades in the business, including seven years at PGA, Gray is ready for the next chapter of his life, but it hardly includes a corner room in the old superintendents' home. He eats right and works out daily in a gym he built in his home in Stuart, and at age 77 is living proof it is never too late to reinvent yourself. 
    Gray exudes a toughness that is the product of another era. A former college wrestler in his native Indiana, Gray still can whip most people half his age. And if he doesn't know you, he's probably sizing you up for a takedown while simultaneously forming a first opinion - because you never know.
    "I see the world through the eyes of a guy who has been on the mat," Gray said when he was named the 2016 Superintendent of the Year, presented by Syngenta (shown at right receiving the award from Syngenta golf market manager Stephanie Schwenke). "When I see someone, I'm sizing him up. I'm looking for opportunities and holes so that if push comes to shove, I know where I'm going and he doesn't. And that's my world."
    His career as a greenkeeper began in 1967 at Pete Dye's Crooked Stick in Indiana and included a half-dozen clubs in Florida close enough to Stuart that he has had the same address and home phone number for 40 years.
    That career that spanned more than 50 years came to an end, involuntarily, last June, when he failed to report that a couple of workers on his crew had tested positive for Covid-19 until after they returned safely to work. 
    That news was a blessing of sorts.
    Gray's wife of 33 years, Toni, had been battling breast cancer on and off for a dozen years. His newfound time off gave him precious time to be with her as the disease ravaged her body and spread to her bones, liver and lungs. Unable to fight any longer, Toni Gray lost her battle on Nov. 10, 2020.
    "She spent her 56th birthday signing papers over to hospice," Gray said. "That was on October 19. She was 21 years younger than I am. Last April, we were working on my will. I never thought about it being the opposite way. I always knew I would go first. Then all of a sudden, the cancer was back and that idea was reversed. Her personality just dissolved. That's the only way I can think to put it. It didn't erode. Erosion is slow. It was heartbreaking to see that personality dissolve in front of you. The last month to six weeks, there was little acknowledgement of anything other than pain. We were hoping for a miracle, but the miracle wasn't coming. We needed mercy."
    That loss has afforded Gray a chance to look back on his career and put things into better perspective. For years, he was up at 4 a.m. seven days a week and at the golf course shortly thereafter.
    "I always thought that if I was going to be the best I had to be at the golf course seven days a week," Gray said. "I thought I was in a groove, but really I was in a rut."
    Gray's greenkeeping career began at Crooked Stick in Indiana. That's where he first met Dye, and the two formed a close friendship that lasted a lifetime - literally.
    "This is my American Pie - the day the music died," Gray said when Dye passed away more than a year ago on Jan. 9, 2020.
    Eventually, the job took him to Florida where he was the head greenkeeper at Loblolly Pines in Hobe Sound and Jupiter Hills in Tequesta, as well as Martin Downs and Sailfish Point in Stuart. In the mid-1990s, Gray designed the Florida Club in Stuart. Gray, who later in his career earned a master's degree in hospitality management from Texas Tech, also was the club's general manager. His legacy on the golf turf management business was the way he treated his employees. When he introduced staff uniforms shortly after he started at PGA, he told his team they could choose their own hats with one condition - they all wore the same one. He made such an impact on the team they chose to wear Gray's signature cowboy hat.
    "He is the total package," Loblolly pro Rick Whitfield told TurfNet in 2017. "He can build it, he can grow it, he can maintain it and he can grow a crew."
    A decade after building the Florida Club, Gray took a break from the golf course for a sales job with Pathway BioLogic. That gig gave him a new appreciation for the way soil microbials and how they influence golf turf. He came in off the road to take the job at PGA Golf Club so he could spend more time with his wife as she fought cancer.
    After the separation from the PGA, Gray has been doing some consulting work around Florida for Tom Fazio, and he thought about peddling biologicals again. The death of his wife, however, has poured cold water on that idea. Instead, his thoughts have turned to selling his home on the St. Lucie River where he enjoys fishing, and moving north somewhere along Florida's I-10 corridor. He also is renovating a home in his native Logansport, Indiana, where he can spend summers and entertain his grandkids.
    "Stuart? It's just time to go," he said. 
    "I love to bluegill fish, and maybe I need a change of seasons. Here, we have gators behind the house that are 11 feet. At Sweetwater Lake in Indiana, the water is gin-clear and I won't get eaten."

  • Just a few years removed from what some called the driest period in the state's history, California might be on the cusp of another drought.
    According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the entire state is under some level of drought, ranging from Abnormally Dry to Extreme Drought conditions. And California is not alone. Nine other western states are completely under drought-like conditions and eight more are very close.
    Winter snow in the Sierra Nevada range supplies about 30 percent of the state's water supply through a system of aqueducts and waterways known as the State Water Project that captures runoff. The California Department of Water Resources says based on reports from 204 weather stations throughout the Sierras that snowpack in the mountain range that runs along California's spine for 400 miles is at an average of just 42 percent of normal through January 19. 
    The state is so dry that two power providers in Southern California interrupted power to thousands of customers, out of fear that winds could take down electrical lines leading to more wildfires.
    "The snow survey results reflect California's dry start to the water year and provide an important reminder that our state's variable weather conditions are made more extreme by climate change," said Karla Nemeth, director of the department of water resources, in a news release. "We still have several months left to bring us up to average, but we should prepare now for extended dry conditions. The Department, along with other state agencies and local water districts, is prepared to support communities should conditions remain dry."
    Rainfall throughout Los Angeles County was down by about 25 percent through 2020 according to the National Weather Service. No rainfall at all was recorded in the county in five months throughout the year, including four months straight from June through September. Some of the largest of the state's 47 reservoirs are well under storage capacity, including Shasta (42 percent), Oroville (34 percent) and San Luis (49 percent).
    "While the dry conditions during late summer and fall have led to a below average snowpack," Nemeth said, "it is still encouraging to have the amount of snow we already have with two of the three typically wettest months still to come."
    The last drought plagued most of the state at some point from 2011 to 2017 and resulted in mandated water-use restrictions statewide.
  • Several varieties of beneficial predators will attack clay versions of some turfgrass pests, such as fall armyworms and black cutworms. Photo by University of Georgia Turf managers can use all the help they can get when it comes to managing common pests such as fall armyworms and black cutworms. But little is known how natural predators interact with these pests.
    Research at the University of Georgia is shedding light on how various predators attack their pray when it is in its vulnerable larval stage. And the medium used to track this activity.
    The study showed that beneficial predator insects will attack even clay models that resemble their prey, the larvae of cutworms and armyworms. Results of the study by entomology University of Georgia doctoral candidate Fawad Khan were published in November in the publication "Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata." It is believed to be the first study that used modeling clay in such a manner in turfgrass research.
    The research team, that included assistant professor Shimat Joseph, Ph.D., created two sizes of simulated larvae from modeling clay. Then they collected natural predators from turf lawns at UGA's Griffin campus. Each collected arthropod spent 48 hours in a petri dish with two sizes of clay larvae models. This was enough time for them to make their marks. Because the clay stays soft at room temperature, any markings left by the predators were preserved.
    Researchers observed how the predators interacted with models in the field. Outside of the petri dish-controlled environment, they also placed the clay models near a fire ant mound in turfgrass. The study found different types of predators created distinct markings after attacking the clay models.
    Researchers noted the differentiations in the specific markings left by each of at least a dozen types of predators, so they could further study these relationships in real-world settings.
    According to Joseph, the clay models are effective and cheap. Clay models of worm larvae left on trees or in the turf canopy usually will attract predators within a day or two.
    Further research into predation on cutworms and armyworms by different predators in different systems so as to include the results in IPM programs and that predatory behavior actually can be manipulated and influenced.
  • Educational events like the Syngenta Business Institute (below) and the Green Start Academy, held by Bayer and John Deere, (below right) went from in-person to online events in 2020. Around the world, people are suffering the effects of a new infirmity; one that can leave its victims lethargic, disinterested and unable to focus on the task at hand. When seeking out its victims, Zoom Fatigue plays no favorites. It has affected people in every age group, from the kindergarten playroom to the corporate boardroom and everywhere in between.
    The only cure, it seems, might be a return to a normal way of life, one in which children can go back to school and their parents can attend meetings, trade shows and educational seminars in person. Until such time, virtual education is here to stay.
    That's true in turf, where regional conferences, university field days and even meetings that once occurred in what seems like an old-fashioned face-to-face format, now take place on a computer screen or cell phone.
    "I am on two to three Zoom calls every day," said Dan Meersman, director of grounds at the Philadelphia Cricket Club. "I'm in them all the time. I had to attend one last night where I did not have to speak much. I worked out in our basement while the meeting was going on. I paused to make a statement, then finished my workout."
    As the first virtual version of the Golf Industry Show approaches, many wonder what turnout will be like. Other virtual events that have occurred since last March indicate that turfgrass management professionals embrace the idea of online education.
    Although overall attendance was down at the hybrid version of the Carolinas GCSA show, nearly 2,200 "seats" were sold for virtual education, topping the previous in-person record of 1,379.
    When the University of Tennessee decided last spring to cancel its annual field day held each September at the East Tennessee Research and Education Center, the event was replaced with Turfgrass Tuesdays, a live webinar series held the first week of each month. 
    An average of 130 turf professionals logged in for each session.
    When educational conferences like Green Start Academy, presented annually by John Deere and Bayer, and the Syngenta Business Institute, went online, they were met with the same enthusiasm attendees had for in-person events.
    "I thoroughly enjoyed the Syngenta Business Institute," said Parish Pina, superintendent at The Ridge Club in Sandwich, Massachusetts. "I thought the way they made it interactive within groups and engaging to listen to, outstanding. I don't have many other online learning experiences to set a precedent as yet, but they have definitely set the bar."
    Meersman has been a speaker or mentor at the past two Green Start Academies, including the virtual version in 2020, when he led a breakout session after each of four weekly events. Meersman believes the comfort of attending from home or work in some ways improved the experience and led to better interaction between attendees and mentors.
    "I thought they were more candid and honest and asked really good questions," Meersman said. "And we had more time after each topic to discuss what was brought up in the discussion and provide real-world examples."
    For more than a decade, Syngenta has been providing business education for dozens of superintendents through the Syngenta Business Institute held in cooperation with the Wake Forest University School of Business.
    The program provides graduate school-level instruction on topics including financial management, human resource management, negotiating, managing across generations and cultural divides, impact hiring and other leadership- and professional-development skills. The event, which has been held annually at Wake Forest, was all virtual last December.
    "Syngenta is deeply committed to educating superintendents, so we were pleased to be able to offer the Syngenta Business Institute in a safe and effective virtual format," said Stephanie Schwenke, turf market manager for Syngenta. "I was very impressed with how engaged the 2020 class was throughout the week. They were extremely involved with each other, asked the four professors great questions, added invaluable insights for everyone and built relationships through the social events. The 2020 cohort exceeded my expectations. We look forward to meeting as many of them as possible in person during future industry events."
    Rick Mooney, vice president of maintenance and development at Shorelodge in McCall, Idaho, had read and heard all about SBI since its inception 12 years ago, and although the event was online in 2020 he was excited he had landed a spot in the annual rotation of about 40 golf course superintendents chosen to attend.
     "I came into the institute with an open mind willing to put in the effort and try to become a better business leader," Mooney said. "The curriculum was great, and I found myself fully engaged and feeling like we could have extended class possibly with a break for lunch with a morning and afternoon session. I found that I wanted further interaction with my peers, and I wish we would have had more time exchanging ideas and learning from each other's experiences as well as the instructors' input. If they offered a Syngenta virtual 2.0, I am sure that I would ask to continue my learning experience."
  • The Syngenta booth is always a hub of activity during the Golf Industry Show. Even with this year's show taking place online, Syngenta's virtual booth still will have a lot going on.
    During the virtual 2021 Golf Industry Show, scheduled from Feb. 2-4, Syngenta will encourage superintendents to share their perspective for the year ahead, network and celebrate each other and focus on their personal health while also learning about the latest products available from Syngenta. 
    While visiting the Syngenta virtual booth or GreenCastOnline.com/GIS, visitors can choose their own adventure through an interactive video that provides insights into controlling turf diseases such as dollar spot, large patch, fairy ring, anthracnose, spring dead spot and take-all root rot featuring the latest fungicides, Ascernity, Posterity XT and Posterity Forte, as well as assurances and agronomic alerts. Upon completion, participants will receive their choice of a 12-ounce or 16-ounce YETI Rambler Colster can insulator. 
    Additionally, from Jan. 17 – Feb. 4, golf course professionals can follow @SyngentaTurf on Facebook and Twitter and share their positive #TurfPerspectives for a chance to win one of seven Solo Stove Yukon fire pits. 
    At GIS, Syngenta will introduce the GreenCast Turf App, which has been redesigned with added features and flexibility to fit each user’s needs. All data is now cloud-based, allowing for access on multiple devices and the ability to share information easily. 
    During the virtual show, Syngenta also will be supporting numerous events, including the Opening Ceremony, Ladies Leading Turf panel discussion and networking reception, the GCSAA Certification Luncheon, several education sessions as well as the annual Health in Action 5K, which will be hosted virtually.
    "While we are certainly going to miss seeing our customers face-to-face at the Golf Industry Show, Syngenta is committed to providing the best support possible for superintendents through the virtual format," said Stephanie Schwenke, turf marketing manager at Syngenta. "We hope it will provide an opportunity for even more turf professionals to participate who may not have historically been able to do so. Our team will be available throughout the show and look forward to interacting with everyone."
  • After leasing the property since 2012, Tracy and Steven Scott (below right, signing loan papers at the bank) bought Persimmon Hills Golf Course in Sharon, Tennessee, during a global pandemic, and he's been busy ever since.. As the world was on the verge of a global health crisis that has influenced the course of history, Steven Scott was in an unlikely place - in a bank securing a loan to buy a golf course.
    Last March 16, just days after "coronavirus" entered popular vernacular, Steven and wife Tracy signed papers to buy Persimmon Hills Golf Course, the daily fee facility in Sharon, Tennessee, that Scott had been leasing for almost a decade. They closed on the loan in early June.
    "I don't think we got to that point of panic," Scott said. "Everybody was scared. We didn't know how this was going to work out. We didn't know that people's jobs and lives were going to be on the chopping block, much less who was going to be on it. We asked ourselves, 'We're going to get through this, right?' ' There is another side, eventually, right?' We thought everything has to get back to normal eventually. We were hedging our bets on normal."
    A 2007 graduate of the University of Tennessee-Martin golf and landscape school, Scott has been leasing Persimmon Hills since 2012
    Whatever reservations he and his wife had about signing those bank papers to buy the property quickly were put to rest.
    After the first few weeks of the pandemic period, golf in Tennessee, including at Persimmon Hills, has been very busy.
    Through November 2020, the most recent data available, rounds played in Tennessee were up nearly 22 percent, which is outpacing the national average by about 8 percent. Compared with 2019, paid greens fees at Persimmon Hills were up a staggering 56 percent and member sales increased by 25 percent, Scott said.
    "We were banking on just doing as well as we had when we were leasing the course. We thought we can make a living doing this," Scott said. "We were not expecting the huge bump we got."
    Even when the Scotts decided they wanted to buy the property outright, getting a bank to OK the deal was not automatic.
    "The way our lease was structured, it was lease to own," he said. "Every rent payment was going toward the previous owner's mortgage and any equipment payments he had. My buyout was whatever it took them to get out of debt. Some banks told us that we had to keep paying down their debt for a few more years. We finally found the right bank to make it happen."
    Scott believes being a superintendent gives him a leg up on some of his competition, where operators come from the club pro side of the business. Especially at what literally is a mom-and-pop operation.
    "We don't have any frills. The golf course is our product," he said. "So, being the best conditioned golf course is how I make money. It's how we market ourselves. We don't have tennis courts or the biggest clubhouse, but we have the best playing conditions in this area."
    The 55-year-old clubhouse building is getting a renovation that Scott said is 40 years overdue, and future plans include a golf simulator to help drive revenue throughout the winter months.
    There is much about owning and operating a golf course that Scott did not learn in college.
    "As a superintendent, I spent all these years leaning on other superintendents for help," he said. "Thanks to social media, I can pick their brains and get help for whatever I need. As an owner, I find myself leaning on accountants and lawyers. I had one accounting class in college. I could have had five and it would not have been enough."
    Although he has to be educated on tax and zoning laws and concerned about safety issues for employees and guests, Scott also remains focused on the core of his business.
    "We offer a fair golf course for a good price, and we are going to keep it that way," he said. "The course has been here since 1965, and we hope to keep it here another 55 years."
  • Aqua-Aid Solutions recently launched Excalibur, a rapid response soil surfactant that delivers quick infiltration and consistent dry down.
    Excalibur is powered by Potentiated Hydrophobe Technology (PHT), a new surfactant technology to the U.S. market.
    PHT is comprised of a molecule with a strong hydrophobic chain that permits a more powerful affinity to attach to a soil particle surface allowing for better infiltration and longevity, the company says. 
    Excalibur is a great tank mix partner with your current agronomic program to target mitigation of varying environmental factors and place synergistic chemistries in the correct zone of the soil profile for maximum effectiveness. Targeting these zones within the soil profile makes excellent plant health achievable.
    Excalibur is safe to turf and can be applied at any time of the year to substantially improve turfgrass quality and resistance to stress. Excalibur is easy to apply through standard spray application equipment to all turfgrass areas.
    Benefits of Excalibur include:
    Enhances adsorption to hydrophobic particles provides consistent dry-down and soil hydration Radically increases the infiltration of water Potentiated chemistry sets a NEW standard for management of environmental stresses Provides resilient, high-quality, consistent turfgrass Effective at significantly lower use rates than competing products.
  • Harry Niemcyzk and Patricia Cobb in a 1985 issue of Weeds, Trees & Turf. Photo from Michigan State University Libraries The turf industry lost two legends during the holiday season. 
    Harry Niemczyk, Ph.D., a longtime entomologist at Ohio State, died December 16 at age 91. Don Waddington, who spent nearly 30 years as a professor of turfgrass management at Penn State, died on New Year’s Day. He was 89.
    A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Niemcyzk earned a doctorate degree from Michigan State in 1962 and two years later took a position at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, an arm of Ohio State. He spent the next 30 years there, and his self-published book Destructive Turf Insects (1981) became required reading for many turfgrass students across the country.
    An Air Force veteran, Niemczyk reached the rank of staff sergeant during the Korean War and served as a technical instructor. Niemczyk was an avid outdoorsman and particularly enjoyed bird watching and fishing the rivers and streams of Michigan. According to a 2012 newspaper article, Niemcyzk was so passionate about sharing his love for fishing that he was known by other anglers as Pierre Z. Guide. 
    He was preceded in death by his wife of 66 years, Dolores. Survivors include Mark Niemczyk of Apple Creek, Ohio, Sharon Niemczyk of Portland, Oregon, Kathy Kruse of Wooster, and Lisa (wife of Kip) Nussbaum of Orrville, Ohio.
    Waddington was a native of Norristown, Pennsylvania. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Penn State, but struck out to Michigan State for a master’s degree and earned a doctorate at UMass in 1964. He made his way back to Pennsylvania a year later to begin a 26-year career at Penn State.
    His research focused on soil amendments and modification, nutrient availability and uptake, soil test calibration, nitrogen source evaluation, and surface characteristics of athletic fields, including methods to assess impact absorption properties and traction. He and colleague Jack Harper collaborated on studies related to the safety and playability of athletic field surfaces. 
    Waddington has published his research results in scientific journals as well as publications for turfgrass managers. He is co-author of the book Turfgrass Soil Fertility and Chemical Problems: Assessment and Management.
    During Waddington's Penn State tenure he taught more than 1,100 students in two-year turf management, four-year undergraduate and graduate programs. Courses included soil physical and chemical properties, fertility, and weed control. For two years after retirement he continued to advise graduate students and teach courses in the two-year program.
    He was preceded in death by his wife of 55 years, Caroline, and brothers Harold and Samuel. He is survived by his children Mary Waddington of State College, Pennsylvania, James Waddington of Bradenton, Florida, Lauretta (Marcus) Mann of Allentown, Pennsylvania, Kathy (Richard) Lirette of Pace, Florida, David (Monica) Waddington of Springfield, Virginia, and Douglas Waddington of State College.
  • The most-read story on TurfNet in 2020 is Matt Henkel's ongoing battle with brain cancer. For better or worse (mostly worse), 2020 was a memorable year for golf. 
    Defined by years of declining interest, the game enjoyed a revival in most places in 2020. Although year-end statistics won’t be known until later into January, it’s safe to say year-over-year growth in 2020 has set many records. That’s the good.
    That renaissance was driven almost entirely by a global pandemic that for months literally drove a stake through the heart of many other activities and forms of entertainment. That’s the bad.
    We have compiled a list of the 10 most-read stories of the year on TurfNet. Some brought good news; some, not so much. Click on the headline to read the full text of each story.
    10. Jacobsen turfcare manufacturing moving exclusively to U.K.
    In an attempt to further streamline operations of its turf division, Jacobsen will move all manufacturing of its turfcare products to its facility in the United Kingdom. The Ransomes/Jacobsen manufacturing center in Ipswich offers more flexibility and will lead to increased manufacturing efficiency, the company said. 
    9. Yale Golf Course begins long road back to former glory
    First, Yale Golf Course lost its longtime superintendent, then its general manager then the course at the Ivy League school in New Haven, Connecticut, was closed in response to Covid. It was all downhill from there as conditions waned at the 100-year-old Seth Raynor classic.

    When it comes to doing more with less, few can match Matt Lean in Stuart, Florida. 8. Florida superintendent redefines low-budget success
    On the surface, Monterey Yacht and Country Club in Stuart, Florida, sounds like one of South Florida's premier golf clubs that can be found in a 10-minute radius. In reality, Monterey YCC is a modest, yet well-maintained nine-holer that redefines low-budget golf. Providing players at this 55-and-older community is superintendent Matt Lean, who has rewritten what it means to do more with less.
    7. Former superintendent goes all-in to help solve labor problems
    Finding solutions to some of golf's most pressing issues, like those related to labor, requires a unique way of thinking. Solving golf's labor issue, says former superintendent Tyler Bloom, is the result of a formula that includes matching the right applicant with the right job at the right golf course under the right superintendent. It's a process Bloom calls workforce development, and he is willing to stake his future on it.
    6. For Schwab, facilitating change in the workplace begins at home
    Creating a more diverse workplace in the golf industry is not part of a plan developed by a multi-association ad-hoc committee, nor is it a result of a bullet point plan on an academic's PowerPoint presentation. At least not at Pheasant Run Golf Club in Sharon, Ontario, where superintendent Leasha Schwab has created an inclusive workplace in which everyone is held to account by how they perform their job rather than how they look while doing it.
    5. Walter Montross, 66, career superintendent and Charter TurfNet Member
    A legend in the Mid-Atlantic for more than 40 years, Walter Montross died on Easter Sunday at age 66. A Maryland native who graduated from the University of Maryland in 1975, Montross started under Lee Dieter, CGCS, at Washington Golf & Country Club (Arlington, VA), then went to Springfield (VA) G&CC for 11 years, and in 1990 moved to Westwood Country Club in Vienna, VA until he retired in 2011.
    4. Nicklaus says Muirfield's Mark is the right man for Tour's doubleheader
    When the PGA Tour returned to play in July, it did so at Jack Nicklaus's Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio where director of grounds operations Chad Mark and his team hosted two PGA Tour events in two weeks - The Workday Charity Open and The Memorial Tournament. "The back-to-back tournaments at Muirfield, if anyone was going to handle it, I think it's in the hands of the right person," Nicklaus said of Mark.

    Chase Best (left) and Jake Yonkers (right) first were connected through baseball. Their connection runs much deeper today. 3. Superintendent in need of a transplant gets a kidney from an unlikely source
    At age 10, Chase Best's kidneys functioned like those of a 50-year-old man. Today, his kidneys function at about 8 percent of normal capacity, leading to fatigue, lethargy and worse, like minimizing the body's ability to cleanse itself of impurities. His condition worsened over time, and he's been on a donor list for the past three years. Ultimately, he found a donor in  his former Pony League baseball coach, Jake Yonkers. He's been undergoing dialysis since Jan. 6. Friends started a gofundme page on behalf of the family to help raise money and awareness.
    2. Assistant has vision to introduce at-risk kids to careers in turf
    Chris McIntyre did not have a lot growing up in Green Bay, Wisconsin. A part-time job at a golf course was an unlikely landing spot for an African American kid from the other side of the tracks. Today, McIntyre believes it is his responsibility to pay forward his good fortune and do for others what his former boss did for him.
    1. For superintendent and his family, one question remains: Why?
    Matt Henkel, general manager and superintendent at Prairie View Golf Club, a public forest preserve property in Byron, Illinois,, was diagnosed with brain cancer 12 years ago. After several surgeries and radiation treatments, he was cancer-free for four years until his annual check-up last fall when doctors discovered a grade 4 glioblastoma that has left the family feeling gut-punched, unsure of the future and asking "why".
  • Editor's note: There is a lot to say about 2020, but I can't really write what I want to and stay within the guidelines of journalistic ethics, so this watered down version will have to do. Suffice to say, “sayonara, 2020.”
    Even when he was alive, Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve has never been must-see TV for me. In fact, it has been a long time since I've made it a point to celebrate New Year's. Turning another year older has never been all that appealing, so, in sort of a silent protest, I've been asleep by midnight more often than not during the past two decades. 
    Historically, I have approached New Year's resolutions with the same lack of enthusiasm.
    Exercise more, lose weight, find a new hobby, learn to play a musical instrument all have had their moments on the New Year's resolution list with mostly disappointing results. Other than fishing, I have never had much interest in any other hobbies, and I continue to struggle with weight as I sit and stare at the dusty piano in my living room. But this is 2020, and if this year has taught us anything, it is that everything is different now.
    A lot more people than usual probably will stay up - albeit at home and alone - to ring in the New Year. I don't really care about Jennifer Lopez or Miley Cyrus, or anyone else scheduled to perform on Rockin' Eve. I am more interested in staying awake so I can tell 2020 to kiss it - even if there is little evidence to suggest 2021 will be much better.
    For nine months we have been told to stay home for the safety of ourselves as well as one another. We have been assured by elected officials that “we are in this together” despite an unemployment rate that skyrocketed to 14.7 percent in April. 
    The virus has exposed every crack in every institution and every business in every country. Literally, nothing, other than big-box stores and delivery services, has been immune to the effects of the virus. Small businesses and large, schools, places of worship, sporting events, family gatherings, restaurants all are feeling the effects of the virus. As vaccines slowly trickle out, questions remain about their efficacy and side effects, and it is unclear if and when all aspects of the economy will fully reopen in every state.
    A few things, however, are crystal clear: We have far less control over the details of our daily lives than we knew, elected officials (in both parties) are, more often than not, incompetent as leaders and the collective state of our mental health is extremely fragile as is our society's ability to confront it and meet the needs of those most at risk.
    If ever there was a time for a New Year's resolution, this is it. As a matter of fact, there are easy-to-implement lifestyle changes that many of us have been practicing since spring.
    If anything good has come from the pandemic, it is that we have enjoyed more time with family and we have had a chance to take a long, hard look in the mirror to think about how we treat others. Perhaps it is because many feel so fragile and on edge with the unknowns that accompany a global pandemic, but most of the people in my circle have become much more kind and thoughtful in how they treat others - and it is appreciated. This does not include the anonymous and passive-aggressive world of social media, but the folks we talk to on the phone, communicate with via email, meet on Zoom or, on the rare occasion, see in person.
    Being kind, being happy and being hopeful are far easier and more effective than the alternatives, and they are lifestyle changes that I hope outlast the pandemic. Goodness knows we all need it.
    Sure, promises to eat better and exercise more will return again - tomorrow. Not to mention, I still have that piano in the living room. I just hope I don't break the stool before learning to play it.
  • Dotted with nearly 30 of the country's most exclusive country clubs, Westchester County in New York is synonymous with great golf. 
    The Westchester County town of Harrison is taking steps toward beginning eminent domain proceedings to acquire Willow Ridge Country Club.
    According to published reports, the 121-acre property has been losing members for several months and money for many years. From 2012 to 2018, the property has lost at least $300,000 per year, according to IRS documents.
    The town is expected to hire the law firm of Bond Shoeneck & King to represent the town in the eminent domain proceeding.
    A golf course has operated on the site since the Maurice McCarthy-designed Green Meadow Country Club opened in 1917. The presence of 25 acres of wetlands on the property makes redevelopment for use other than a golf course unlikely.
    That club closed during the Depression, reopened briefly in 1941 and closed again when the U.S. entered World War II later in the year. It changed hands three times before reopening in 1965 as Willow Ridge.
    The golf course was redesigned in 1947 by Alfred Tull and again in 1998 by Ken Dye.
    Until November 2013, the club was renting the property from a private owner. It paid $100,000 a year before members bought the property for $5 million with more than 50 years still on the lease.
    A club membership subcommittee formed recently to map out options for the future of the club, considering possibilities such as a merger, sources said.
    Private investors have looked at the property, including neighboring Apawamis, and at least one management company is interested in the property.
  • With the convention business feeling the brunt of a global pandemic, you're not alone if you've wondered how the rest of the turf industry might respond to a virtual education conference and trade show.
    More than 700 turf managers participated in Conference Comes to You, a virtual educational event presented in November by the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association.
    The event offered 30 two-hour educational seminars and was open to members of the Carolinas GCSA as well those from 35 regional chapters and the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association.
    A total of 727 turf managers bought nearly 2,200 "seats" in the monthlong educational series, which outpaced the previous in-person record of 1,379. Last year's in-person Carolinas GCSA Conference and Show attracted a record-high 2,020 attendees. Still, this year's total is nothing to sneeze considering the dichotomy of the newness of bringing an entire educational conference online in a year when many also happen to be suffering from Zoom fatigue.
    In July, when the pandemic forced the cancellation of that three-day event historically held at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, the association crafted a slate of 30 unique two-hour seminars over 30 days in its place. Close to 2,200 seminar seats were sold, easily eclipsing the record of 1,379 at the traditional conference.
     
    "Most importantly, we delivered on our mission statement despite the pandemic," Carolinas GCSA executive director Tim Kreger said. "Our association exists, first and foremost, to provide educational opportunities for the continual advancement of the profession of the golf course superintendent in the Carolinas. We're proud we were able to deliver."
    Nearly 40 vendor partners stepped forward with financial support for the virtual conference. The 35 participating regional chapters as well as BIGGA received a share of each seminar fee paid for by their members.
     
    "That kind of support from industry partners and our allied chapters speaks volumes for the credibility the Carolinas GCSA has developed over decades," says president, Brian Stiehler, CGCS, MG from Highlands Country Club in Highlands, NC. "Conference Comes to You was an untried idea in the middle of extremely uncertain times, yet our partners stepped right up. The board is extremely proud of our staff for developing the concept then bringing together all the elements to make it a reality."
    Participating chapters included: Alabama, Calusa, Central Florida, Central Ohio, Connecticut, Eastern Shore, Everglades, Florida, Florida West Coast, Georgia, Gulf Coast, Hawaii, Heart of America, Hi-Lo Desert, Louisiana-Mississippi, Met GCSA, Miami Valley, Mid-Atlantic, Minnesota, New England, New Jersey, North Florida, Northern California, Palm Beach, Rdige, Rocky Mountain, Seven Rivers, South Florida, Southern California, Southern Nevada, Suncoast, Tennessee, Treasure Coast, Wisconsin and Virginia.
  • Paul MacCormack
    Fox Meadow Golf Course, Stratford, Prince Edward Island
    Simplicity - We glimpsed how much fun less can be this season. Let's make it stick.
    Sustainability - This pandemic offered us a view of what we need to make the game truly sustainable. 
    Fun - The game needs to just be more fun . . . period. 
    Connection - Value our ability to connect with others and never take it for granted.
    Kindness - Don't have time for pettiness and meaningless debates. Just be kind. 
    Leasha Schwab
    Pheasant Run Golf Club, Sharon, Ontario
    Living wages for people starting out in the industry (ex. spray techs, AIT, second assistants, in some cases even assistants are very underpaid).
    More in-depth learning opportunities. I feel we constantly review the same things in education. 
    People from clubs with lower budgets sitting on boards, winning awards, etc. 
    The public gaining an understanding about how valuable the greenspace of golf courses is.
    More inclusive memberships, golf can be expensive to get into and it would be beneficial to have more flexibility for people just starting out. 
    Matthew Gourlay
    Colbert Hills, Manhattan, Kansas
    Robotic mowers.
    Continued enthusiasm with play ... rounds up 50 million nationwide in 2020 vs. 2019.
    Capital improvements for the course, maintenance facility, equipment, etc.
    Understanding from members/golfers of the stresses of maintaining a golf course.
    More Christmas wishes?
    Laurie Bland
    Miami Springs Golf Course, Miami Springs, Florida
    I wish great health and well-being of all my family, staff, patrons, vendors and the public in general.
    I wish that everyone gets to enjoy peace and balance into the new year in beyond, not just in their work life but their personal life too.
    I hope that one day (in the near future) we will get to redo this historic golf course and celebrate its great history with the world. 
    I hope that the general public knows that golf courses here in Miami and around the world provide so much, not only the physical well-being but also the mental well-being. We must protect them!
    I’m excited to see golf taking off again, seeing more new faces that are coming out to enjoy this great game. I hope more folks consider us in the municipal/public realm in the future.
    Steven Neuliep
    Etowah Valley Golf Club and Lodge, Etowah, North Carolina
    Good mental and physical health for staff and golfers.
    Better work life balance for management level employees.
    Golfer expectations better matching resources provided by the facility.
    Continued innovations of products required to properly maintain a golf course (Ex. chemical control products, g.c. supplies and equipment advances).
    Get turf professionals to gravitate toward non-agronomic/ scientific educational offerings. Things like: financial management, personnel management, retirement planning and mental and physical health education!! Taking these will make us all more well rounded and also allow us to be better at our profession.
    John Kaminski
    Penn State University
    Confirmation this month that I'm 2.5 years cancer free so I can get back to playing more golf as I did in 2020.
    COVID Vaccine shots - ready to get back to teaching and traveling and visiting my students on their golf course internships in 2021.
    Golf outings to continue to go up post COVID. COVID was actually good for much of golf and I hope this trend continues after we get back to "normal".
    Economy to remain strong and improve. So golf projects and restorations continue to expand.
    Courses to continue to recognize the shortage of qualified labor. We seem to be seeing an uptick in requests for information and applications as superintendents are once again recommending this as a good career for people. The future looks really good for young people wanting to go to school for turfgrass science.
    Anthony Williams
    TPC Four Seasons, Irving, Texas
    That the boom in golf rounds played in 2020 would translate directly into bigger maintenance budgets in 2021.
    For superintendents and their staffs to come out of the shadows and walk in the light of the game they make possible. Teach and tell everyone (start with the person in the mirror) the realities of how golf operations really work and how tough it is to craft great playing conditions with limited resources at every level of the industry. However, don’t forget to tell how great it is when it all comes together!
    For all of the organizations that sponsor events and education for the golf industry to feel like they got more than their money’s worth this year and continue to invest in the human assets that will steward golf today and in the future. That would be truly visionary and help heal many of 2020’s wounds.   
    For everyone to reach their next level of aspiration. Where ever you are in this great industry, be it an intern/apprentice, irrigation/spray tech, equipment manager, assistant superintendent, superintendent or director of agronomy no matter the position; I wish that you reach your next level of opportunity this Christmas. If we are all growing it will be difficult for our industry to fail so help someone move forward.
    That everyone who is fighting a personal battle no matter the foe (depression, finances, faith, substances, weight, health, grief etc.) will find some measure of peace. Give the gift of kindness to yourself and others this Christmas.  
    Mike Fidanza
    Penn State University
    Time to read those turf articles we've been meaning to get to, or better yet, read a good book outside of turf.
    Time to watch those TurfNET webinars we've been meaning to get to.
    Time to teach and mentor our younger members of the industry.
    More time to spend with family and friends to clear our minds and alleviate stress.
    We should all make the time to visit Damon DiGiorgio and Pinki at Playa Grande in the Dominican Republic!
    Nate McKinniss
    Muirfield Village Golf Club, Dublin, Ohio
    Safety/health - that employees remain free of any accident or illness.
    Timely rains - to minimize the long summertime dry spells while refraining from excessive moisture.
    Budget increases - especially for smaller clubs with high golfer demands.
    Growing interest in turf from younger generations and women, too.
    Work hard, live harder - that people can spend more quality time with family and friends; in addition, enjoying their interests and hobbies more often.
  • CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A NOMINATION FOR TURFNET SUPERINTENDENT OF THE YEAR
     

    Tripp Trotter, head of marketing for Syngenta turf and ornamental, and 2019 Superintendent of the Year Matt DiMase.
    Deadline to submit a nomination for this year's award is December 31.
    With all the challenges facing golf course superintendents this year, Covid, labor issues, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and golfers, lots and lots of golfers, we fully expect to bursting with nominations for this year's TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award, presented by Syngenta.
    After all, superintendents always are called on to do things that to others might seem impossible. Take last year's winner, Matt DiMase, for example.
    With Hurricane Dorian bearing down on The Bahamas just last summer, DiMase didn't give much thought to leaving. 
    The superintendent at The Abaco Club on Winding Bay, DiMase could have ridden out the storm with his wife and kids in the safety of the family home in Ocala, Florida.
    But he didn't.
    DiMase rode out the storm, brought the devastated golf course back from the dead and played a key role in a humanitarian effort to help members of the club, his employees and members of his Bahamian community. His selflessness earned him the honor of being named the recipient of the 20th annual TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award, presented by Syngenta. 
    "For us, this is a job, but for our members, this club is their investment," DiMase said when he received the award at the last Golf Industry Show from Syngenta turf market manager Stephanie Schwenke. "I told my team we can stay and protect their property, or we can abandon ship and who knows what will happen. . . . I didn't want to leave. I wanted to stay because of the people."
    Nominations for DiMase's successor are now being accepted. Although it's hard to imagine anyone going through a more trying experience than what DiMase faced in 2019, there has been much about 2020 that has been hard to believe.
    A panel of judges will select five finalists and ultimately the winner from the list of nominees. In a year that will be defined by a global crisis and one in which people starved for outdoor recreation have flocked to courses around the country, the nominations should be plentiful.
    Criteria on which nominees are judged include: labor management, maximizing budget limitations, educating and advancing the careers of colleagues and assistants, negotiating with government agencies, preparing for tournaments under unusual circumstances, service to golf clientele, upgrading or renovating the course and dealing with extreme or emergency conditions.
    CLICK HERE to submit a nomination. Deadline for nominations is Dec. 31. This year's winner will receive a Sonos Cinematic Surround Sound Audio System and Weatherproof Outdoor Sound System courtesy of Syngenta.
    You can nominate a colleague, supervisor, employee or heck, even nominate yourself.
    Previous winners include: Matt DiMase, The Abaco Club on Winding Bay, Great Abaco, Bahamas (2019); Carlos Arraya, Bellerive Country Club, St. Louis, MO (2018); Jorge Croda, Southern Oaks Golf Club, Burleson, TX, and Rick Tegtmeier, Des Moines Golf and Country Club, West Des Moines, IA (2017); Dick Gray, PGA Golf Club, Port St. Lucie, FL (2016); Matt Gourlay, Colbert Hills, Manhattan, KS (2015); Fred Gehrisch, Highlands Falls Country Club, Highlands, NC (2014); Chad Mark, Kirtland Country Club, Willoughby, OH (2013), Dan Meersman, Philadelphia Cricket Club (2012), Flourtown, PA; Paul Carter, The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay, Harrison, TN (2011); Thomas Bastis, The California Golf Club of San Francisco, South San Francisco, CA (2010); Anthony Williams, Stone Mountain (GA) Golf Club (2009); Sam MacKenzie, Olympia Fields (IL) Country Club (2008); John Zimmers, Oakmont (PA) Country Club (2007); Scott Ramsay, Golf Course at Yale University, New Haven, CT (2006); Mark Burchfield, Victoria Club, Riverside, CA (2005); Stuart Leventhal, Interlachen Country Club, Winter Park, FL (2004); Paul Voykin, Briarwood Country Club, Deerfield, IL (2003); Jeff Burgess, Seven Lakes Golf Course, Windsor, Ontario (2002); Kip Tyler, Salem Country Club, Peabody, MA (2001); Kent McCutcheon, Las Vegas (NV) Paiute Golf Resort (2000).
  • For more than a decade, TurfNet has been the leader in online education for professional turf managers. 
    Thanks to our longtime partner Brandt, TurfNet has been producing more than 20 webinars annually since 2008. Topics range from career development to stress management caused by a global pandemic, and from weed, disease and pest management to the latest in turf management research topics presented by the industries leading scientists.
    Our most recent webinar, Managing Covid-19-related stress by Paul MacCormack, Jodie Cunningham, Carlos Arraya and Anthony Williams, closed the book on our 13th season of TurfNet University Webinars. We produced 21 seminars this year, bringing our 13-year total to nearly 300 webcasts that have been viewed thousands of times.
    All webinars, including the live version and the recorded archives, are free for everyone.
    Topics this year have included Nematode management, Disease control in the summer of 2020, Tips on attracting and retaining employees, Managing annual bluegrass weevil, Update on the University of Nebraska GDD model and a two-part series on stress management as it relates to the pandemic of 2020.
    The 14th season of TurfNet University webinars kicks off on January 6 when Anthony Williams of TPC Four Seasons in Irving, Texas, delivers his career- and personal-development presentation entitled Jumpstart your career in 2021.
    His annual presentation includes how to establish realistic standards and how to go about working toward achieving them. He also talks about how to market yourself, from self-promotion and public relations strategies in your current position to resume-writing and other career advice tips designed to help you realize your next opportunity. 
    Particular emphasis will be placed on a look back at 2020, what we've learned and how lessons learned from a global pandemic in 2021 and beyond.
  • Above, Andrew Green (left) and Sam Green have a passion for helping grow the game by combining unique architectural experiences and solutions to help golf course superintendents. maximize playing conditions. Below right, Sam (left) and Andrew get ready to tee off. Photos courtesy of Andrew Green Spend just a few minutes talking with Sam and Andrew Green, and it's not readily apparent that they are related, much less brothers. Sam has a slow drawl that gives away his residence of Wilmington, North Carolina. Accentless Andrew, a resident of Bel Air, Maryland, sounds like he could be from Anytown, U.S.A.
    Sons of a Roanoke, Virginia-area dairy farmer and graduates of Virginia Tech, the Green brothers do share a love for the game of golf, and although they approach the industry from different sides, they also have in common a drive to make the game better for those who play it and more inviting for those who yet do not.
    Andrew, 43, is a renowned golf course architect who prepped with McDonald and Sons, and whose resume as principal of Green Golf and Turf includes work at such historic layouts as Oak Hill, Congressional, Scioto and Inverness.
    A former superintendent, Sam, 49, is a partner in Aqua Aid Solutions, which provides a variety of solutions and products to help superintendents improve soil and plant health.
    "We both have a passion for the dirt and the earth," Andrew said. "I didn't have 1,000 acres to farm. I found golf as an opportunity to connect to the earth."
    His passion is creating unique golf experiences for scratch players and novices alike.
    "There are a lot of places for golfers to spend their money," Andrew said. "I want to offer them a one-of-a-kind golf experience. That is the value in connecting with your history and uniqueness, so people can be connected and feel like they are part of something that is not mass produced."
    Older brother Sam originally had plans to become a pediatrician when he enrolled at West Virginia University. When he realized a career as a doctor was not in the cards, he enrolled at Virginia Tech with an eye on a career as a professional turf manager.
    He worked managing the athletic fields at Tech and later prepped in Hilton Head at Harbor Town under Joe Vuknic, who recommended a turn working for one of the biggest names in the business.
    "Joe told me that if I was going to go anywhere in this business, I would have to work for Paul Latshaw," Sam said. "I went to work on his crew in 1994 at Congressional, and I became his assistant in 1995 when John Zimmers left. I stayed on as his assistant through the 1997 U.S. Open."
    While Andrew's work has drawn widespread acclaim throughout the industry, his older brother remains one of his biggest fans.
    "During his time with Chip McDonald, he learned everything there is to do on a golf course," Sam said. "He can get on a bulldozer, a Sand Pro or hold a shovel. You name it, he's done it.
    "He's learned to shape from the ground up. He's worked his ass off. To graduate with two degrees to the success he's had, if it has anything to do with building a golf course, he's done it. The vision he has in his mind, it's unlike anything I've ever seen. And I'm not saying that as his brother, but as someone with 30 years in this industry."
    Whether it is designing or redesigning golf courses, or providing plant and soil health solutions for superintendents, the Greens are common in their desire to help provide a memorable golf experience for scratch and novice players alike.
    Andrew draws on technology to help recapture pieces of the past in restoring some of the country's greatest layouts.
    "Architecture combines my love for golf and the ability to create things in the dirt with the technology piece," he said. "I love the way technology allows us to do work we've never done before - surveying greens, laser technology, drones, computers and balancing that; it's one reason I love what I'm doing."
    Currently restoring Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio, Green achieved creating that uniqueness two hours away in Toledo, where his restoration of Inverness Club has drawn rave reviews and was named by Golfweek as the top renovation of 2018. The Donald Ross classic was the site of the U.S. Junior Amateur in 2019 and next year will be the site of the Solheim Cup.
    "When working on old courses, I surround myself with digital images, articles, club history, aerials and drawings," he said. "Inverness is one of the most enjoyable projects I've worked on - finding the best solution for the modern game while keeping Donald Ross's intent. There were so many tools available to get that information. Technology allows us to get the information we need while also protecting history and making places better."
    Those who play Inverness would agree.
    "We put a long-term plan in place. We wanted to return Inverness to the Donald Ross golf course that it was intended to be," said Inverness green committee chairman Matt Douglas. "We stayed steadfast in that mission, and we made the membership aware of that, and they embraced that. I can tell you that our membership is absolutely blown away by the strides we have made."
    Sam believes his role with Aqua Aid and his drive to help provide superintendents with some of the tools they need to be successful and Andrew's vision for creating unique layouts that appreciate the game's past while embracing its future are inexorably linked in helping grow the game.
    "There is so much pressure on turf managers around the world on a daily basis," Sam said. "There are so many data points: moisture levels, tissue testing, sunlight data. You better be able to deliver a piece of research, or you're going to get passed by. Turf managers are getting younger, and they are data driven.
    "If Andrew can build it and get it dialed in, then the person managing it can get it dialed in for their members."
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