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From the TurfNet NewsDesk


  • John Reitman
    Editor's note: Rather than talk about what golf course superintendents and their teams are doing in response to the threat of COVID-19, TurfNet recently talked to a few people throughout the industry for an ongoing series about what they are doing in their newfound time at home.
    For more than 10 years, Sundays at the Tegtmeier house in Des Moines, Iowa, have been reserved for family dinners, but the introduction of the term "social distancing" to everyday vernacular has put those group meals on hold - at least for the time being.
    As people isolate themselves in their homes to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, life hasn't come to a halt, but it sure has changed it quite a bit. Those changes have not been all bad. For many, newfound time at home has helped bring families together in other ways.
    Des Moines Golf and Country Club remains open for play, so Rick Tegtmeier and his team are working every day while still practicing social distancing. The only other place he frequents is the grocery store. Otherwise, he and wife, Sherry, have been staying close to home.
    "This past Sunday we canceled our weekly family dinner. That one hurt," he said. "We are playing cribbage against each other again. We haven't done that for a long time."
    Some activities have required a bit more innovation, like building a new table for the deck, watching on Facetime as a friend hit golf balls into a pasture, and sitting in the driveway celebrating Happy Hour, while shouting to their neighbor across the street.
    "He had gone on spring break and was keeping his distance from everyone," Tegtmeier said.
    More than 600 miles away in Dublin, Ohio, Chad Mark, like Tegtmeier, has been busy at the golf course. When he is not at work at Muirfield Village Golf Club, he is polishing up his athletic skills.
    A longtime high school basketball coach, Mark and his sons, Drew, Ryan and Brett, stay busy playing hoops in the driveway. With gyms in Ohio closed, he's boxing using the Title Boxing system to get in his workouts.
    "My wife, April, has done a great job structuring their day. Get school work done and get outside to work on sports," Mark said. "April and I have gone for more walks in the neighborhood, and we notice more people are outside."
    University of Tennessee turfgrass pathologist Brandon Horvath and his family have spent much more time together during the past couple of weeks. Dinner time has been better - home-cooked meals and no fast food, as well as conversation at the table - because everyone isn't rushing off to soccer practice or games.
    Instead of racing off to the soccer fields, he and 15-year-old son, Alex, (pictured at right) have spent more time together, beating up on each other playing Rocket League, a soccer video game. The games tend to get a little intense, but all in the spirit of good sportsmanship.
    He's also started reading more and time home with family has helped him appreciate things all of us tend to take for granted from time to time.
    "Everything is just a little slower right now," Horvath said. "I've gotten back to reading. It's been a while since I've read a book cover to cover. I pick up books, skim through them and read a few chapters, then I get bored or I don't have time to finish them. Now, I have time.
    "I've realized during this how much we take for granted and how quickly it can be taken away. I'm more appreciative of the little pleasures."
    Ryan Gordon, superintendent at The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge near Seattle, says he hasn't really discovered any new activities, but has embraced the lost art of quality family time at home.
    That has included he and wife Liz helping their 10-year-old son, Knox, plan his distance learning, doing puzzles and baking cookies. 
    "I don't remember the last time I baked anything," Gordon said via email. "I've also enjoyed having Knox teach me to play some of his video games and sitting across from my wife in a comfortable chair chatting while she works on jigsaw puzzles. Our family meals are much more elaborate, delicious and the conversation at the dinner table has been better because we are not all rushing off to the next thing - baseball practice, email or picking up that thing at the big-box store somewhere."
    Their video game of choice so far has been Fortnite.
    "Overall, it's been a bigger emphasis on quality over quantity," he said. "People are figuring out what's essential and what's not. All the white noise is slowly fading away."
  • To help keep superintendents and others up to date with what the COVID-19 threat means as it relates to some of your partners, we will compile a list of updates from some of your partners. We will update as we receive more information.
    If you find anything to add to this ongoing list, please email jreitman@turfnet.com.
    Syngenta
    Occupational Safety and Health Administration
    New York State Turfgrass Association
    Ohio Turfgrass Foundation
    Tennessee Turfgrass Association
    Pure Seed
    Bayer
    Foley United
  • There is now more than one defendant in the ongoing Roundup cancer story.
    Multiple plaintiffs on March 20 filed lawsuits against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency after it concluded a regulatory review and re-approved use of glyphosate. The active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, glyphosate has been blamed for causing cancer in thousands of users, leading to thousands of lawsuits during the past two years against Monsanto and ultimately Bayer.
    One suit was filed by the Natural Resource Defense Council and another on behalf of the following groups: the Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides, the Rural Coalition, Organización en California de Lideres Campesinas and the Farmworker Association of Florida. 
    In a statement released Jan. 30 after concluding its regulatory review on glyphosate, the EPA said: "After a thorough review of the best available science, as required under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, EPA has concluded that there are no risks of concern to human health when glyphosate is used according to the label and that it is not a carcinogen. These findings on human health risk are consistent with the conclusions of science reviews by many other countries and other federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency, the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority, the European Food Safety Authority, and the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health."
    Nearly 50,000 cases have been filed against Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in 2018, claiming that glyphosate caused their non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
    Those who recently filed suit against the EPA and the thousands who are suing Bayer are basing their cases on information by the World Health Organization, a United Nations organization that in 2015 declared that glyphosate was a "probable carcinogen."
    A handful of cases have been decided through 2019, while the litigation process on thousands of other outstanding cases was postponed in January as attorneys on both sides worked toward a settlement.
    Bayer told Reuters in January that recent decisions, like that from the EPA, have slowed talks toward a settlement. The company, which is based in Germany, also told Fortune, however, that if talks toward a settlement progressed it would consider selling assets as a result.
  • On the count of 3, every teacher and every student at every level at every school across the country should say "thank you" to Al Turgeon.
    As professors, teachers and students of all ages change the way they teach and learn amid the COVID-19 scare, each owes a debt of gratitude to the longtime professor of turfgrass science at Penn State who pioneered distance learning and changed forever the way curriculum is delivered - and received. 
    While many instructors and many schools have been teaching online for years, Turgeon is the Lewis and Clark of distance learning. His Turf 235 class in 1998 was the first college course offered when Penn State rolled out the country's first online education program known as the World Campus. As it turned out, Turgeon and others at Penn State were working simultaneously yet independently of each other toward developing online curriculum when the two worlds collided in a case of great minds thinking alike. Turgeon's class was ready, and it went online first.
    The result is what today is an exhaustive distance learning program that offers 179 graduate and undergraduate degree and certificate programs.
    "It just so happened that the two worlds converged at that time," Turgeon said. "There were a lot of people who were involved in that, but it was fun being part of that group. I've derived a great deal of satisfaction being part of that and seeing it all come to fruition."
    Turgeon, now 76, retired in 2012. He recalls it wasn't always smooth sailing in those early days of the World Campus.
    "The way we engaged students was trial and error," he said. "The kids were our Guinea pigs."
    Distance learning was not something Turgeon just stumbled into.He has been involved in it since the 1960s, when he served as a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and developed instructional texts for soldiers.
    He worked with other early versions of distance learning tools at the University of Illinois, where in the 1970s he lectured by telephone from a remote location over a slide presentation on a platform named Telenet. 
    "I was asked to travel and speak at meetings," he said. "I just thought there had to be a better way."
    In the pre-Internet age of the late 1980s and early '90s, he worked with satellite feeds and recorded videos. Finally, by the mid-90s a student showed him something new, the Mosaic web-browser developed at the University of Illinois through funding provided by a bill written by then Tennessee Sen. Al Gore, Jr.
    "I knew right away that was the future of education," Turgeon said. "People could learn on their own time at their own place.
    "I learned HTML coding and we started developing online learning resources that improved over time."
    His concern in those early days of the World Campus was that distance learning would be perceived as "cheap or easy education," and he made sure that didn't happen. 
    "Nobody thought you could teach that way," he said. "When I started it, I had to make it tough."
    Today, Penn State entomologist Ben McGraw, Ph.D., teaches that Turf 235 class. When he first took over the class, he thought he might have to overhaul it. In the end, he has done little more than update graphics.
    "I thought I was going to change it all," McGraw said. "It was so rigorous when I came out the other end, I didn't change a thing."
    For those who doubt the veracity of distance learning or the quality of education it can afford, Turgeon says that all depends on how the instructor approaches each course.
    "I insisted that my students log in every day and do the lessons. I continually engaged them," he said. "I taught them to ask good questions, and I think that was a better situation than someone sitting in the last row in a room of 100 students. Now that is distance learning."
    1-2-3
  • Getting ready to record video for online instruction at Ohio State ATI in Wooster. Photo by Zane Raudenbush, via Twitter In an area where horse-drawn buggies still are a popular form of transportation, Ohio State Agricultural and Technical Institute is about to go high-tech with the way it delivers instruction to its students.
    Like just about every college, university, high school, junior high and elementary school in the country, OSU-ATI is taking its curriculum - turf and otherwise - entirely online for the spring semester. 
    Zane Raudenbush, Ph.D., and Ed Nangle, Ph.D., who run the turf program at ATI have been busy preparing for Monday's rollout of online-only education as schools nationwide do their part to help limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. 
    Ohio State's main campus in Columbus has a long history of delivering classes online. ATI, which is home to one of the country's most highly regarded two-year turf programs and relies heavily on field work and labs, does not have the same tradition of teaching through technology. The entire OSU system extended spring break for an extra week to allow instructors time to get ready for online-only instruction that begins next week.
    "This is unprecedented territory," Raudenbush said. 
    "We have to make the best of this and move on."
    Like many schools, ATI already utilizes online platforms like Canvas and Zoom. Now, it's a matter of creating content and converting it to a system that is simple to use while also giving students a quality educational experience.
    For Raudenbush, that will mean recording lectures and making videos of work in the field.
    His concern isn't necessarily about the quality of work he produces, but the quality of the educational experience for students who enrolled at ATI for face-to-face interaction and, through no one's fault, are cast into a world of distance learning.
    "My real concern is that not every student is well adapted to receive content online," Raudenbush said. "Data shows not everyone succeeds online. Some do fine, some don't do so well. That is my concern."
    An hour-and-a-half from Wooster in Columbus, turfgrass specialist Pam Sherratt is teaching HCS 2200 - World of Plants - a face-to-face class with 140 students that she is converting to online curriculum by Monday. Sherratt, who has been teaching the next generation of sports turf managers at OSU for 21 years, has a lot of experience with distance education. She also is teaching another course this year that is online-only, HCS 3370 - Sports Turf Management, which has 415 students logging in from around the world. Sherratt's colleague, Karl Danneberger, Ph.D., implemented distance learning in Columbus in 2007 with a golf turf certificate program
    For the students in her World of Plants class, Sherratt plans to convert her face-to-face class to online by meeting weekly with students through Zoom, recording lectures, uploading slideshows with audio and a lot of practice tests and study guides. 
    When TurfNet spoke with her, Sherratt still wasn't sure how she would deliver exams, but said there are plenty of options available through the university's Carmen system that ensure students are not getting any outside help during a test.
    "We're going to have our first Zoom meeting on Tuesday," she said. "I'm already teaching a class online, so this is not going to be a big deal for me."
    What Sherratt, who is known as "Turf Mum" by her students, will miss is the personal interaction that comes with lab work and field trips.
    "Every year, I give my students an aloe plant. And every year many of my old students text me a picture to show me they still have it," she said. "We do other things, like tour the Chadwick Arboretum, and we won't be able to do that."
    Like Raudenbush, Sherratt is keeping in mind that this new world she, her colleagues and their students have been cast into is by no one's choice, and she plans to teach, test and grade accordingly.
    "Their lives have been disrupted enough," she said. "Many students are working three jobs just to be here and now they've probably lost all of them."
    Administrators at Auburn University told instructors to be prepared to migrate to online-only instruction before a decision was made to move in that direction. That didn't affect things too much for Beth Guertal, Ph.D., who is teaching Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management this semester.
    "Whenever I teach a class, I also teach it online," she said. "There are already 15 people taking that class from all over the world."
    She uses Canvas and Panopto to deliver lectures, assignments and extra credit to her students.
    "It's not a lot unlike what TurfNet does with webinars," she said. 
    Exams are handled through Honor Lock, an proctored online service.
    Although distance learning is a proven commodity at Auburn, it has its downside, she said.
    "You don't get to know the students," she said. "And you don't get to identify which ones might make good graduate students."
    For those who might not be up to speed on how to convert traditionally face-to-face curriculum to an online format, Guertal says most universities now have entire departments to assist professors with developing and managing online content.
    "Keep it simple," she said. "Don't spend hours or days learning how to do this. Universities have a lot of resources to help you set this up, or even do it for you."
  • CLICK HERE TO NOMINATE YOUR TECH FOR THIS YEAR'S AWARD!
    Would your equipment manager appreciate some ongoing education at the John Deere factory, or an opportunity to gain additional hands-on experience working at a high-profile tournament? Would your operation benefit in the long run if your tech had such an opportunity?
    If so, nominate your equipment manager for the TurfNet Technician of the Year Award, presented by John Deere. Our judging panel will assess nominees on a variety of criteria, including criteria on which candidates are judged include: crisis management; effective budgeting; environmental awareness; helping to further and promote the careers of colleagues and employees; interpersonal communications; inventory management and cost control; overall condition and dependability of rolling stock; shop safety; and work ethic. 
    The winner will receive the Golden Wrench Award (a real gold-plated wrench) from TurfNet and admittance to either a training session at the John Deere factory training center in Morrisville, North Carolina, or the opportunity to work at the 2021 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
    Nomination deadline is April 30. CLICK HERE to nominate your tech.

    2015 Goden Wrench winner Robert Smith of Merion Golf Club. Previous winners include (2019) Dan Dommer, Ozaukee Country Club, Mequon, WI; (2018) Terry Libbert, Old Marsh Golf Club, Palm Beach Gardens, FL; (2017) Tony Nunes, Chicago Golf Club, Wheaton, IL; (2016) Kris Bryan, Pikewood National Golf Club, Morgantown, WV; (2015) Robert Smith, Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, PA; (2014) Lee Medeiros, Timber Creek and Sierra Pines Golf Courses, Roseville, CA; (2013) Brian Sjögren, Corral de Tierra Country Club, Corral de Tierra, CA; (2012) Kevin Bauer, Prairie Bluff Golf Club, Crest Hill, IL; (2011) Jim Kilgallon, The Connecticut Golf Club, Easton, CT; (2010) Herb Berg, Oakmont (PA) Country Club; (2009) Doug Johnson, TPC at Las Colinas, Irving, TX; (2007) Jim Stuart, Stone Mountain (GA) Golf Club; (2006) Fred Peck, Fox Hollow and The Homestead, Lakewood, CO; (2005) Jesus Olivas, Heritage Highlands at Dove Mountain, Marana, AZ; (2004) Henry Heinz, Kalamazoo (MI) Country Club; (2003) Eric Kulaas, Marriott Vinoy Renaissance Resort, Sarasota, FL.
  • Erin and Adam Engle and their children Everett and Grace have made helping others their life's work through their foundation - Griffin's Guardians. Adam and Erin Engle could have crawled into a very dark place when they lost their son to pediatric brain cancer nearly six years ago, and no one would have blamed them.
    Instead, the Engles turned a negative into a positive and started Griffin's Guardians, a non-profit foundation in their son's memory that has since raised more than $1 million to assist countless other sick children in central New York and their families, help fund medical research projects and bring awareness to children's cancer.
    "We wanted to continue Griffin's legacy," said Adam Engle, Griffin's father. "We saw what people who were less fortunate than us were going through. We wanted to help them out."
    Griffin Engle died Sept. 12, 2014 after a brief battle with glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer. It is fairly common, accounting for approximately 15 percent of all brain cancers and affects approximately three per 100,000 people, but is extremely rare in those 20 and younger, according to the National Institutes of Health.
    Doing something to honor Griffin's life and continue his legacy while also helping other families going through the same horrific experience helped the family cope.
    "We wanted to do it to help other people," said Engle, superintendent at Lakeshore Yacht and Country Club in Cicero, New York. "But, it was therapeutic for us as well."
    A month after Griffin's death, Erin Engle filed paperwork with the state to start a non-profit foundation dedicated to helping other families affected by childhood cancer. By Dec. 4, Griffin's Guardians had won approval and was up and running.
    "It happened way quicker than we thought," Erin said. "We were told it would take about six months, but it was approved in six weeks. Then we just went with it."
    Fundraisers throughout the year, including soccer and hockey tournaments, a head-shaving event, school fundraisers and the annual Gold Tie Gala have helped raise $1.25 million since 2014, which funds medical research conducted at the University of Michigan and helps families of children being treated at Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital in Syracuse.
    "I had discussed it with Adam, and I told him I wanted to go big or go home," Erin said. "I wanted to make a difference, so since Day 1 we hit the ground running."
    Money goes directly to affected families and can be used for travel expenses associated with trips to the hospital, car repairs, rent, mortgage or even something as simple as helping parents with their laundry.
    A program within the foundation called Lighten Your Load provides families with laundry soap and supplies and quarters - everything parents need to to do laundry outside the home while their children are in the hospital.
    It's one more service the foundation provides to help make things as easy as possible for affected families.
    The foundation has won widespread support from throughout the Syracuse-area community for its work in helping families of sick children across 17 counties who are served by Upstate Golisano, including the backing of the area's biggest sports celebrity.
    Since 2014, the foundation twice has received contributions from the Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation, a non-profit organization started by Syracuse University basketball coach Jim Boeheim, himself a cancer survivor, and his wife that funds a variety of community programs in central New York.
    "We didn't realize how amazing this community was until we needed them," Erin said. 'They are loyal and support local charities to help make our community stronger and better."
    The community benefits in return.
    According to information provided by the foundation, Griffin's Guardians has disbursed nearly $13,000 to families in need - just in February.
    Even the Engles' other children help keep the foundation moving.
    Grace Engle, 15, was 9 when she lost her brother. Definitely old enough to know what was going on. She reminded her mother throughout her work with Griffin's Guardians that siblings go through loss and suffering, too, so the foundation started a program called Grace's Sibling Sunshine that raises money to buy gifts for siblings of sick children.
    A variety of fundraisers help support the program, and Grace learns what the children's interests are and matches gifts to kids. The program started with selling handmade crafts when she was 9 to hosting events at Build-A-Bear.
    Younger brother Everett, now 8, helps raise money through events like school fundraisers to support the EVERett Lasting Memory program that provides family photos to those supported by the foundation.
    "Cancer doesn't just affect the child," Erin Engle said. "It affects the entire family."
    The Engle's own children not only are a critical part of the foundation's work, they have helped their parents navigate through a period that no one wants to go through.
    "I didn't want this to destroy their life. I didn't want their outlook on life just to be Griffin's death," Erin said.
    "Grace made me a mother. Griffin made me believe in strength and bravery. Everett saved me. I knew I couldn't curl up in a ball after this. I had to take care of a 2-year-old who had lost his brother. He couldn't lose his mom and dad, too."
  • Renee Powell has been the pro at historic Clearview Golf Club since 1995. Since the end of World War II, making golf available to minorities has been the family business for the Powell family.
    Started in 1946 by family patriarch Bill Powell, a World War II veteran and entrepreneur, Clearview Golf Club in East Canton, Ohio, is the country's first golf course built and owned and operated by an African-American. Powell died 10 years ago, but the golf course he built from the ground up still is owned today by his children Renee and Larry, and they have carried on his legacy by bringing golf to an underserved community in northeastern Ohio.
    She is the club's pro and Larry is its superintendent.
    For her years of dedication to the golf industry as an ambassador to the game as a playing and teaching professional, Renee Powell has been named the recipient of the Donald Ross Award, presented annually by the American Society of Golf Course Architects to one "who has made significant and lasting contributions to the profession of golf course architecture."

    Bill Powell built Clearview Golf Club in East Canton, Ohio in 1946. Powell has been playing golf since age 11, is the second black woman to play the LPGA Tour and was a touring pro in the United States and the U.K. for 13 years. She captained women's golf teams at Ohio University and Ohio State, and has served as an ambassador of the game on USO tours to dozens of countries during the past five decades.
    The Clearview Legacy Foundation, established in 2001, has a three-pronged mission of promoting education by using golf as a tool to reach children, minorities, veterans and the disabled; preservation of the history of the game and Clearview's place in it and turfgrass research through work to develop, achieve and promote sustainable turfcare practices.
    The course was placed on the National Register of Historic Places 19 years ago.
    The first African-American woman to earn Class A PGA membership, Powell was named an Honorary Member of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in 2015. Brother Larry has been the Clearview superintendent for more than five decades.
    Past Donald Ross Award Recipients
    2019 - Joe Passov, golf writer
    2018 - President George Herbert Walker Bush, U.S. President
    2017 - Alice Dye, ASGCA Fellow, golf course architect
    2016 - Michael Bamberger, golf writer
    2015 - Bradley S. Klein, golf writer
    2014 - Maj. Dan Rooney, founder, Folds of Honor Foundation
    2013 - Rees Jones, ASGCA, golf course architect
    2012 - Bill Kubly, golf course builder
    2011 - James Dodson, golf writer/editor
    2010 - Tim Finchem, PGA Tour Commissioner
    2009 - Ron Dodson, sustainable golf advocate
    2008 - George Peper, golf writer
    2007 - Dr. Michael Hurdzan, ASGCA, golf course architect
    2006 - Jim Awtrey, chief executive officer, PGA of America
    2005 - John Singleton, irrigation pioneer
    2004 - Thomas Cousins, philanthropist, urban golf developer
    2003 - Bill Campbell, president, USGA, captain, Royal & Ancient Golf Club
    2002 - Byron Nelson, professional golfer
    2001 - Jack Nicklaus, ASGCA, professional golfer, golf course architect
    2000 - Jaime Ortiz-Patino, owner and president, Valderrama Golf Club
    1999 - Arnold Palmer, professional golfer
    1998 - Judy Bell, president, USGA
    1997 - Gene Sarazen, professional golfer
    1996 - Ron Whitten, golf writer
    1995 - Pete Dye, ASGCA, golf course architect
    1994 - James R. Watson, agronomist
    1993 - Brent Wadsworth, golf course builder
    1992 - Paul Fullmer, ASGCA executive secretary
    1991 - Michael Bonallack, secretary, Royal & Ancient Golf Club
    1990 - John Zoller, executive director, Northern California Golf Association
    1989 - Dick Taylor, editor, "Golf World" magazine
    1988 - Frank Hannigan, executive director, USGA
    1987 - Charles Price, writer, "Golf World" magazine
    1986 - Deane Beman, commissioner, PGA Tour
    1985 - Peter Dobereiner, "London Observer" columnist, author
    1984 - Dinah Shore, sponsor of women's golf tournaments
    1983 - Al Radko, director, USGA Green Section
    1982 - Geoffrey Cornish, ASGCA, golf course architect, historian
    1981 - James Rhodes, governor of Ohio
    1980 - Gerald Micklem, captain, Royal & Ancient
    1979 - Joe Dey, executive director, USGA
    1978 - Herb and Joe Graffis, founders, National Golf Foundation
    1977 - Herbert Warren Wind, "The New Yorker" columnist, author
    1976 - Robert Trent Jones, ASGCA, ASGCA founding member
  • Skip Heinz kept a tidy shop when he was the equipment manager at Kalamazoo Country Club in Michigan. It was part of the reason he won the TurfNet Technician of the Year Award in 2004.
    By the looks of photos he has posted recently on Twitter, he is doing the same thing at his current job at Royal Poinciana Golf Club in Naples, Florida.
    If you know someone who keeps a shop as neat and organized as Skip, nominate them for the TurfNet Technician of the Year Award, presented by John Deere.
    Cleanliness is only one of the factors we consider when choosing an award winner. Other criteria on which candidates are judged include: crisis management; effective budgeting; environmental awareness; helping to further and promote the careers of colleagues and employees; interpersonal communications; inventory management and cost control; overall condition and dependability of rolling stock; shop safety; and work ethic. 
    Click here to nominate your equipment manager. The nomination deadline is April 30
    Three finalists will be profiled on TurfNet. The winner, who will be named later this year, will receive the Golden Wrench Award and some other good prizes from our new sponsor, John Deere.
    Previous winners include (2019) Dan Dommer, Ozaukee Country Club, Mequon, WI; (2018) Terry Libbert, Old Marsh Golf Club, Palm Beach Gardens, FL; (2017) Tony Nunes, Chicago Golf Club, Wheaton, IL; (2016) Kris Bryan, Pikewood National Golf Club, Morgantown, WV; (2015) Robert Smith, Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, PA; (2014) Lee Medeiros, Timber Creek and Sierra Pines Golf Courses, Roseville, CA; (2013) Brian Sjögren, Corral de Tierra Country Club, Corral de Tierra, CA; (2012) Kevin Bauer, Prairie Bluff Golf Club, Crest Hill, IL; (2011) Jim Kilgallon, The Connecticut Golf Club, Easton, CT; (2010) Herb Berg, Oakmont (PA) Country Club; (2009) Doug Johnson, TPC at Las Colinas, Irving, TX; (2007) Jim Stuart, Stone Mountain (GA) Golf Club; (2006) Fred Peck, Fox Hollow and The Homestead, Lakewood, CO; (2005) Jesus Olivas, Heritage Highlands at Dove Mountain, Marana, AZ; (2004) Henry Heinz, Kalamazoo (MI) Country Club; (2003) Eric Kulaas, Marriott Vinoy Renaissance Resort, Sarasota, FL.
  • Chase Best (left) found an unlikely kidney donor in Jake Yonkers. Yonkers coached Best's Pony League baseball team 26 years ago. Photo from Heather Best via Facebook Since it was established 38 years ago, Space Camp has made dreams come true for almost 1 million children. One former camper says jokingly that the event might have helped save his life.
    When he was 10 years old, Chase Best was diagnosed with Mesangiocapillary glomerulonephritis type 2, a rare kidney disease also known as Dense Deposit Disease. And that diagnosis was made while he was undergoing a physical exam to attend Space Camp, an educational event held since 1982 at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
    That was 26 years ago. Now Best, the superintendent at Polo Fields Golf and Country Club in Louisville, Kentucky, is just weeks away from a kidney transplant that has been years in waiting and that he hopes will add years to his life. And his donor happens to be his Pony League baseball coach from 20-plus years ago.
    "I've had (DDD) my whole life. Doctors found it during a physical to go to Space Camp," Best said. "Who knew Space Camp probably saved my life?"
    At age 10, 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. He's been undergoing dialysis since Jan. 6. Friends started a gofundme page on behalf of the family to help raise money and awareness.
    "Daily, it just wears me out," Best said. "It is mentally and physically exhausting to have this disease.
    "I deal with depression, and there are some days I just want to go into a dark room and curl up in the corner and not deal with anyone."
    It was baseball that first connected Best and Jake Yonkers more than 20 years ago, however, the events that have transpired since and have forever linked them are straight from a movie.
    Besides being the superintendent at Polo Fields Golf and Country Club, Best also is the assistant boys basketball coach at Corydon Central High School in his hometown of Corydon, Indiana. It was there that he recently reconnected with Yonkers, who owns a commercial lighting sales operation and is an assistant coach on the girls soccer team. 
    When Yonkers heard his former pitcher needed a new kidney, he was only too willing to start the process to learn whether he was a match and give his ex-player one of his kidneys.
    After rounds of interviews and batteries of tests and blood work to determine if Yonkers was a match, both recipient and donor are waiting for a transplant date at Jewish Hospital across the Ohio River in Louisville, hopefully later this month or early April.

    Chase and Heather Best (center) with their children Gavin Smith (left), Drew Smith (right) and Brinley Best (front). Photo from Kristie McKillip via GoFundMe "The chances of a former baseball coach being a match for one of his players only happens in a Lifetime movie. This kind of thing doesn't really happen," Yonkers said. "All these steps have to happen. I felt like it was out of my hands. The thing I was most concerned about, because Chase was doing dialysis three times a day, was to find out if I was a match. If I was not a match I just wanted to find out because there were other people behind me waiting to start testing. That was stressful to me. If I was not a match, I just wanted to find out so they can move on to find a match."
    More than 10,000 kidney transplants per year are performed in the United States, and the procedure is considered safe for both donor and recipient, according to Dartmouth University, but there is always a risk in any surgical procedure regardless of how common it is. 
    A father of two - daughters Bella (18) and Hallie (15) - Yonkers said his decision to surrender a kidney is as much for Best's wife and stepsons Gavin (18) and Drew (18) Smith and 10-year-old daughter Brinley as it is for the recipient himself. 
    "People have told me about the risks, and I know there is no guarantee of life," Yonkers said. "The only guarantee is if Chase doesn't get a kidney, he is going to die. I can't imagine that little girl growing up without a dad. His daughter has to have a father. There is no getting around that."
    A Purdue graduate, Best has been a superintendent for 12 years. He interned years ago at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville and still considers Mark Wilson his greatest mentor. A father of three, he has coached boys and girls golf in the past and has been an assistant to coach Joseph Hinton on the boys basketball team for the past seven seasons.
    He learned he finally had a donor and that his Good Samaritan was his former Pony League ball coach during a ceremony held at a Corydon Central basketball game on Feb. 28. Video of the announcement went viral and was picked up by local TV and Good Morning America. Both men are scheduled to appear today on ESPN.
    The event was staged by his wife, who has been active in helping spread the word about her husband's condition and increasing awareness about kidney disease in hopes of finding a donor who is a match.
    "She made it her goal to find me a kidney," Best said. "She never let me quit. She helped me tremendously.
    "I would never go through this for the attention. But I do want to do what I can to increase awareness about kidney disease and organ donation. The human body is an amazing thing; its parts can continue working even after you are gone."
    Although he wants to educate others on the importance of organ donation, Best still has reservations about taking a kidney from a healthy person, whether it is an old friend or a stranger.
    "I would never ask someone to do this," he said. "I know it's safe and a donor can live a long, normal life with one kidney, but what if something happens? If something happens down the road, is it my fault? He has a family, too. If something happens did I destroy that family?
    "I never realized the support I had in this community."
    Although he has mixed feelings about someone else putting themself at risk on his behalf, he is looking forward to the day when he feels better.
    "I've missed out on a lot in my life, like my daughter growing up, because I just can't do everything that other people do," he said. "I get mad and I snap a lot. I've pulled my family aside and apologized to them because I just can't be the person I want to be."
  • Through the years, Bruce Clarke's name has become synonymous with anthracnose research.
    Professor and extension specialist in turfgrass pathology at Rutgers University, Clarke has served in various roles at Rutgers since 1981. In that time, he has authored more than 80 scientific articles and books. And his research work has become the blueprint of anthracnose management from coast to coast.
    Recently, Clarke was named the recipient of the Nebraska Turfgrass Association Presidential Award. The award is given annually to "an individual who has made a significant contribution to the turfgrass industry in Nebraska, the nation, or both."
    The recipient of the 2016 USGA Green Section Award, Clarke's research lab has produced several graduate students who have significantly impacted the field of turfgrass pathology. His research with anthracnose is just one of these impactful areas of study.
    The NTA also honored superintendent Ron Kothe and Jerry Deines with its Distinguished Service Award.
  • Bill Davis, Ph.D., of Wake Forest University (foreground) leads a negotiations session at a recent Syngenta Business Institute. Golf course superintendents looking to take their leadership skills to the next level can  apply for the 2020 Syngenta Business Institute, scheduled for Dec. 1-4, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  
    Now in its 12th year, the SBI program is led by Wake Forest University School of Business faculty. The graduate-level curriculum has been tailored specifically for golf course superintendents and focuses on topics such as financial management, work/life balance, navigating generational and cultural differences, leadership skills, effective communication and negotiation tactics. 
    "We know superintendents are responsible for more than managing the agronomics of a course. They are also held to a high standard for budget and employee management," said Stephanie Schwenke, turf market manager for Syngenta. "That's why Syngenta is committed to going beyond our innovative turf solutions and continues to offer opportunities like SBI. Through this program, superintendents learn skills that will help them grow as leaders on the course and within our industry."  
    Syngenta will select approximately 25 individuals employed in the United States as a superintendent, director of agronomy or at an equivalent level to attend the three-day program. Applications must be submitted online by midnight on Aug. 11. 
    "The value of SBI is so great. I've attended a lot of continuing education seminars, and this was definitely the most impactful post-college educational activity I've ever been able to participate in," said 2019 SBI attendee Thomas Slevin, golf course superintendent at Napa Golf Course at Kennedy Park in Napa, California. "The amount of personal reflection I've experienced from SBI has only just begun. If you're willing to challenge yourself and do the personal reflection, you'd be absolutely crazy not to apply."
    To learn more about the Syngenta Business Institute and to apply, visit GreenCastOnline.com/SBI. Superintendents can also contact their local Syngenta territory manager for more information. Completed SBI applications are due by midnight on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020. Selected participants will be notified of their acceptance in October. 
    Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter with @SyngentaTurf by using #SBI20. 
  • As trends in the golf industry shift - namely fewer people playing on a shrinking number of courses, heavily scrutinized management practices and a labor crunch, and no end in sight for any of it - golf course architecture too must take a different path.
    Golf course architect Andy Staples is out to change the way people view the game. He believes factors like courses that are shorter than 18 holes, have few if any hazards and are easier to maintain and traits like compelling design don't have to be mutually exclusive.
    In fact, the concept that a good golf course has to fit a certain template and level of difficulty is a tradition as old as the game itself, and it is a hurdle that comes up in conversation so often, it makes Staples laugh when asked about it.
    "I hear it all the time," said Staples, principal of Scottsdale-based Staples Golf Design. "The perception is that a course that is built in a sustainable manner and is easy to maintain either is a lower-tier course, or you can't afford to maintain it."
    Sustainable and compelling design that minimizes time spent on maintenance, mowing and inputs and reduces water and energy consumption can help grow the game, Staples says. 
    "I believe design matters; architecture matters," he said. "I believe compelling, interesting architecture compels people to play more. Years ago, just the game itself brought people out to the golf course. It's not that way anymore. Compelling design that is easily maintained is what golfers find appealing."
    It also is what the industry desperately needs, says Staples. 
    Golf course superintendents from coast to coast are struggling to find and retain labor. Golf courses are competing with and losing to retail outlets and restaurants for labor. The situation is even worse in states where mandated raises in the minimum wage are underway.
    High school students once lined up for golf course jobs thanks to the allure of free golf and working outdoors. Now, it's the job no one wants.
    Golfer demand and scrutinized maintenance practices from those outside the industry who don't know and don't want to know what happens inside the ropes often are at odds with each other. Access to adequate water supplies is a real issue in much of the country and it's a challenge that is not going away.

    Andy Staples renovated Rockwind Community Links in New Mexico in 2013. Staples got his start in the business with Wadsworth Golf Construction and has owned his own design firm since 2002. Today when he meets with decision makers at daily fee courses and private clubs on projects such as master plans, renovations and total rebuilds, he brings up alternative to traditional golf course design like 12-hole designs, removing bunkers or eliminating them entirely and for those who decide to keep them, changing the design to reduce maintenance time spent in bunkers or on the faces of them.
    His firm boasts more than 100 projects varying in size and scope, and he implements a sustainable design philosophy in all of them, including elements that support water and fuel efficiency and require minimal maintenance input.
    One project currently underway in Arizona, the golf course once had 60 bunkers totalling more than 90,000 square feet. Today, the same course has 58 bunkers occupying just 60,000 square feet. That's a reduction of more than 30 percent. 
    "I tried to have several holes with no bunkers at all, but the members saw that idea and said 'there has to be something.' " he said. 
    He hopes one day he can convince people that it's OK to have a golf course with no bunkers at all.
    "I have one project now going on that has just seven bunkers and some transition areas," he said. 
    "It's not an easy conversation. My dream is to have a client that allows me to design a course with no bunkers."
    Although no one has taken him up on the idea of a bunker-free golf course, Staples has not lost hope.
    "Every property is unique and different," he said. "Conversations with owners and superintendents are getting easier. Now, they're actually expecting a philosophy around water conservation and energy efficiency, things we never got into years ago. Now, the No. 1 issue on everyone's list is labor. We're trying to reduce bunker quantity and maintenance and we're think about interest rather than putting mindless bunkers in everywhere.
    "In my business today as opposed to when I first started, we were not having these conversations. We were ignoring them. I never had a sit down with a senior group of players on a Tuesday afternoon after their round. Now, I'm having those kinds of meetings all the time, communicating, educating and building trust."
  • Lebanon directs focus on Emerald Isle line
    LebanonTurf, a provider of plant nutrition products for the golf and landscaping industries, is launching a new campaign highlighting its Emerald Isle Solutions True Foliar Technology. 
    Emerald Isle Solutions use fulvic acid and sea plant extract to deliver nutrients directly to the plant through foliar absorption. As part of the program, LebanonTurf announced a new, permanent lower price point for Emerald Isle Solutions and expanded the True Performance rebate program. Now, it is no longer a product bundle, and customers can get the rebate from Emerald Isle Solutions without having to buy the LebanonTurf Country Club MD product. The available rebates include a 10 percent rebate on $8,000 of Emerald Isle Solutions and a 5 percent rebate on $4,000 of Emerald Isle Solutions.
    LebanonTurf also is giving away a $500 Amazon gift card each month, plus a $5,000 grand prize donation to the winner's local GCSAA or STMA chapter.
    Andersons names new director of turf segment
    The Andersons has named Anthony Goldsby as director of its Professional Turf business. Goldsby will replace Bob Eichenberg upon his retirement in March and will be directly responsible for the division's business strategy, sales and marketing initiatives and customer service.
    Goldsby joined The Andersons in May 2018 as an agronomist for the professional turf business. Since then, he has provided technical and agronomic support. Prior to joining The Andersons, Goldsby was national turf products manager for Ewing Irrigation.
    He received bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees from Kansas State University, where he also served as a research technician for the university's 13-acre turfgrass research facility.
    Profile Products acquires HydroStraw
    Profile Products, a maker of erosion-control products, announced the acquisition of the erosion-control and seed businesses of HydroStraw. 
    The transaction includes all HydroStraw erosion-control and seed product lines, as well as the company's Rockford, Washington, production plant/distribution center and employees. 
    The transaction closed on February 20, 2020. Financial terms were not disclosed.
  • The University of Minnesota is among the recipients of 73 research grants funded by the USGA this year. The USGA will fund 73 research grants this year totaling nearly $2 million to help superintendents maximize conditions and the golfer experience while minimizing inputs.
    The 2020 grant recipients – 16 of which involve new projects – will receive an average of $25,000 this year. Notable grant support includes a focus on conserving water by better understanding new technologies and the social aspects of irrigation scheduling through the University of California at Riverside, in addition to a continuing effort to define the value of golf courses from an ecosystem services perspective through the University of Minnesota.
    Since the founding of the Green Section in 1920, the USGA has supported the largest private turfgrass and environmental research effort in the history of golf. The USGA Turfgrass and Environmental Research Program, which is one of several continuous efforts led by the Green Section aimed at enhancing golf course sustainability, develops and supports research that produces a healthier environment and improved playing conditions.
    Since the research program’s inception, the USGA has invested more than $41 million to advance golf by using science and innovation as the foundation to impact thousands of courses and millions of golfers.  
    Led by Cole Thompson, Ph.D., the research program is part of the USGA’s mission to advance the game through an annual $10 million investment to support the health of courses. Universities or research companies submit grant applications that are reviewed by 17 scientists on the TERP committee. As part of its ongoing mission to advance the game, the USGA will complement current turfgrass and environmental research with projects that benefit other areas of course sustainability, including golfer experience.
    Recipients include Environmental & Turf Services, Kansas State Univeristy, University of Minnesota, Loyola University Chicago, Rutgers University, Penn State, University of Nebraska, Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, University of Florida, Texas A&M, University of California at Riverside, Purdue University, Cal Poly Pomona, University of Georgia, University of Arkansas, University of Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, University of Massachusetts, New Mexico State University, Colorado State University, Oregon State University, Michigan State University, University of Wisconsin, North Dakota State University, North Carolina State University, University of Tennessee, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Ohio State University, Texas Tech and the University of Connecticut.
    Through the program’s emphasis on sustainable turfgrass management and environmental protection, the USGA has improved the efficiency of key areas of course management, including water conservation, pesticide and nutrient distribution, and turfgrass breeding.
    Collectively, superintendents across the country have reduced overall water use by 19 percent since 2005, in part due to research-based irrigation methods such as employing weather data in plant water-use estimates, replacing potable irrigation water with recycled wastewater, the adoption of precision irrigation technologies and improved educational opportunities for superintendents.
    USGA research has contributed to the reduction of an estimated 86,000 tons of annual fertilizer use on golf courses since 2007 and has defined application strategies that limit the transport of nutrients to surface water and groundwater.
    USGA-supported turfgrass breeding programs have developed more than 30 cultivars that use fewer resources and produce better playing conditions. These cultivars have been used worldwide in golf, sports turf and residential lawns.
    Research from the program also has contributed to USGA recommendations for putting green construction.
  • If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make any noise?
    That's the question Ken Schumacher, a golf course superintendent in southeastern Michigan, asked himself when he wrote and implemented a BMP program then didn't tell anyone about it.
    "I wrote a BMP program after collecting bits and pieces from what other superintendents and chapters were doing," said Schumacher, superintendent at Bedford Hills Golf Club in Temperance, Michigan since 1993. "Finally, I asked myself 'what good is this if no one knows about it?' "
    So, eventually, Schumacher, right, decided to share his work with municipal leaders in Bedford Township. Before he realized what he had done, he had been recruited to serve on the board of the township's green initiative committee. And his work on the golf course has helped reinforce the environmental stewardship efforts that so many golf course superintendents excel at but struggle to share with others outside the industry. 
    Now, Schumacher, 46, attends not only green committee meetings, but township meetings and more as well, but his success at the local level illustrates the challenges that face golf course superintendents when trying to convince others of their stewardship work on behalf of the environment.
    His BMP program includes fertilizer and chemical use, water management and wetting agents, recycling, conversion to LED lights and more. And he is able to prove what he is doing through regular testing of soil and water.
    "When I wrote our BMP program, I used information from 10 other places, and when I wrote it all down I discovered more than half of what we were doing we already had been doing for years," Schumacher said. "I thought if no one knows about, what good is it? How can you say you are not polluting if you don't have the data to prove it? Now, we have the data to prove it.
    "A lot of people (in local government) are anti-fertilizer. When I brought it to the township they asked me to be on the (green initiative) board. It has opened doors for us and it has made it easier to work with the township. We gained business from it."
    Schumacher's BMP program has gone a long way in changing the way some in local government think about golf.
    "We were a little apprehensive when we heard 'golf course.' When you hear that, you think about generating revenue and cutting expenses," said Al Prieur, Bedford Township Deputy Supervisor. 
    "Environment is not the first thing you think of when you hear 'golf course.' "
    At least some in the township have changed their way of thinking, even if it is just how they think about Schumacher and Bedford Hills. In response to his efforts, the township honored Bedford Hills with its Environmental Excellence Award.
    "Ken is very focused on the environment," Prieur said. "What he has done is a real breath of fresh air.
    "If you have a golf course that is environmentally friendly, it means you have a golf course that is a good neighbor, and you don't have to worry about what is coming off the golf course to areas around it.
    "We are hoping to take what he has done at the golf course and take it to our local businesses." 

    Although Bedford Hills is in Michigan, the southern edge of the course literally runs along the Ohio state line and the densely populated Toledo metro area. Schumacher even lives in Ohio and spends more time at OTF conferences in Columbus than he does East Lansing.
    Don Lawrence has known Schumacher for years. A former OTF president, Lawrence is also an ex-superintendent and a Michigan State turf grad. A sales rep for Advance Turf Solutions, Lawrence believes Schumacher's path is exactly what superintendents should follow to help dispel the notion that they do not water and spray without regard for the ecosystem.
    "He only does what is needed where it's needed when it's needed," Lawrence said. 
    "It speaks highly of him to put himself out in front and be part of that community and be a voice of reason for the golf industry."
    There are a lot of golf courses in the Toledo area that includes southeastern Michigan, and although there is no cookie-cutter solution that fits all of them, Schumacher is willing to share his program with anyone who wants to use it as a template on which to build their own program.
    "I was surprised the township asked me to be on the board. I wasn't ready to get involved. That was not my intention," Schumacher said. 
    "I don't want a parade, but I think when someone shows interest you have to tell them what you are doing. To me, this is the future of greenkeeping. If we don't all do this, we're going to die."
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