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From the TurfNet NewsDesk


  • John Reitman
    Deere's high-tech solutions for superintendents include an autonomous fairway mower (not available yet) and a GPS-guided spray unit. The past, the present and the future of John Deere were on display this week in and around the company's western Illinois base of operations.
    In America's heartland, seemingly every tractor and every harvester on every farm is green and yellow and covered in dust, serving as a reminder to the kind of hard-working spirit, grit and determination that is the very backbone of this country.
    This week's PGA Tour event, the John Deere Classic at the TPC at Deere Run in Silvis, which was built two decades ago on land owned by an ancestor of John Deere himself, is a reminder of the company's devotion to the golf industry and a reminder to folks around here who earn a living feeding the rest of the country and the world that there is more to Deere than implements used in agriculture and construction.
    Some of the company's recent innovations, and others that are not yet available in the golf market but soon will be, took center stage during a demo day in the run-up to this year's tournament - serving as a testament to where Deere came from, where the company is now and the path it is forging into the future.
    That list included a Gator-mounted/GPS-guided sprayer, upgrades to Deere's triplex mower lineup, acquisition of a data-management platform and a demo of the much-awaited autonomous fairway mower.
    Deere has partnered with Precision Makers, a Netherlands based company that specializes in autonomous technology for various equipment forms, to provide riderless mowing technology for the golf and sports turf markets.
    Paired to a Deere 7500A, the brains of the riderless mower system is Deere's Starfire GPS receiver, which is the same system found on the GPS-guided sprayers.
    Mapping the fairways is as quick as driving each fairway - twice for an inner and outer border. There is no limit as to how many fairways can be mapped, and updating routes after a renovation are as simple as driving each new fairway configuration.
    "We're listening to what our customers are telling us they need," said Brooks Hastings, product manager for Deere.
    From coast to coast, superintendents everywhere are plagued by labor shortages. At daily fee operations, a shortage of help could mean not filling fairway divots or raking bunkers. At private clubs, it could mean cutting out some detail work and even switching from walk mowing greens to triplex mowers.
    Autonomous mowers could provide a solution to those struggling to meet their labor needs.
    A crowd of onlookers comprised largely of superintendents and distributors agreed, judging by the audible gasps when the autonomous mower approached and made a couple of passes in front of the group.
    "I'm very excited. I can't wait for this," said Dan Meersman of the Philadelphia Cricket Club, one of the many invited to the event. "Even in urban areas, it's so competitive. Everyone struggles to get enough help."
    "This allows superintendents to reallocate labor to things they couldn't get accomplished before." Hastings said.
    The system has been field tested at several sites. Demo opportunities will be announced next year. The company has not announced when the system will be available.
    The riderless mower was just one example of how Deere is working to help superintendents work smarter while also overcoming some of the challenges they face in day-to-day management of the golf course, like labor shortages and the pressure to improve playability and provide consistent conditions.
    GPS-guided spraying has been used in agriculture for several years, but is new to golf, which requires more precision due to unique challenges, such as multiple fairways with unique contours and irregularly occurring obstacles like bunkers and cart paths that vary in location and shape from one hole to the next.
    Either the Pro Gator 2020A (34 hp gas engine) or Pro Gator 2030A (21 hp diesel) can be outfitted with the HD200 or HD300 spray systems. 
    Deere also used the demo day to introduce the latest additions to its triplex mower lineup. The all new 2700 and 2750 and 2700E and 2750E put more control in the hands of the superintendent and helps provide consistent quality of cut regardless of operator.
    The programmable and password-protected TechControl system, superintendents can control frequency of clip, turn speed, clean up pass speed, and how fast the cutting units raise and lower.
    The superintendent also can select Eco Mode, which electronically controls the engine speed to conserve fuel. With Eco Mode, the engine RPM automatically adjusts based on the load, saving as much as 30 percent on fuel and reducing operating sound levels for early morning mowing. 
    "Because of the consistency you can achieve," said Deere product manager Brad Aldridge, "you can take a rookie on your crew and make them look like a 20-year veteran."
    During the demo on July 9, Deere also announced that it had acquired OnLink's cloud-based data-management platform. 
    OnLink is a cloud-based golf course management platform that helps superintendent collect data and manage equipment, labor, water, chemicals, nutrients and playing conditions. The acquisition includes the platform and all existing OnLink service contracts.  During the transition, current OnLink customers will experience uninterrupted service, Deere officials said. 
    The OnLink system cloud-based, automated-reporting software provides critical course conditions, economic reports and equipment insights, helping superintendents make more informed management decisions. The system also offers precise and accurate weather forecasting service through a partnership with IBM's The Weather Company.
    Likewise, the system allows superintendents and equipment managers to integrate their equipment fleet and manage and gather data, including maintenance scheduling and parts management. It also generates reports and can be used with all equipment manufacturers and vendor suppliers.
    Critical to the success of so many new projects is Deere's Integrated Solutions sector that allows various segments of the company to utilize technology between business units.
    "That allows us to leverage the research and development in other areas of the company," said Manny Gan, Deere's director of global sales and marketing. "We can take those elements and apply them to golf where they make sense."
  • Superintendent Alex Stuedemann is five years into his second stint at TPC at Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois. The TPC at Deere Run facing golfers this week during the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic is a much different course than it was when Michael Clark outlasted Kirk Triplett in the first event held at the course in 2000.
    Superintendent Alex Stuedemann was not at Deere Run for that first event in 2000, but he was an assistant there from 2002-2007 before moving on to help grow-in the TPC of San Antonio. Stuedemann, who has been head superintendent at Deere Run since 2014, admits the course has changed a lot since those early days.
    "When I was here as an assistant, I don't think we understood the agronomics of the property," Stuedemann said. "We had a reverence for the land, and we still do, but simple things like light, air, water, nutrition, we were ignoring them to a degree. We saw this beautiful piece of land, and we thought any change to the golf course would change the beauty and history of this property."
    The Deere started in 1971 as the Quad Cities Open at Crow Valley Country Club and was first played across the Mississippi River at Crow Valley Country Club in Davenport, Iowa. In almost a half-century, it has undergone several name changes. It has operated as the John Deere Classic since 1999 and moved to its current home in Silvis the following year.
    TPC at Deere Run is built on the site of a horse farm donated by the Hewitt family, who are descended from John Deere, the company's founder and namesake. 
    "We still have a reverence for this property and what it means to John Deere and the Hewitt family," Stuedemann said.
    A perpetual tree-management program started by former superintendent Paul Grogan, who was Stuedemann's mentor at TPC Twin Cities in Minnesota, has been ongoing since 2013.
    "It started with Paul opening up air movement, pruning and removing trees," Stuedemann said. "That gave us a good foundation and we've gotten more aggressive with it since then. Definitely if you go down the corridor of the golf course, conditions have improved since those early days. But we realized that if you took a step 30 feet off that corridor in either direction, the golf course could be improved even more."
    That tree-management plan also includes removing invasive species and promoting the native plants to so the property remains consistent with that which the Hewitt family donated to the PGA Tour two decades ago, Stuedemann said.
    "We have a lot of good hardwood trees here - basswood, elm, ash, Linden, oak - and they're all being swallowed by sumac and locust saplings and all of these other invasive species that have been destroying this geography," he said. "We've gone through and taken all these species out to highlight the native trees while also making the golf course more playable. That has benefited our guests and their golf experience, and the added benefit is better turf conditions."
    The Quad Cities area of western Illinois and eastern Iowa is surrounded by some of the world's most fertile farmland. The golf course, however, is built atop an old coal mine and the native soils are dominated by thick, silty clay that Stuedemann compared to Play-Doh.
    "We were a little surprised by the soils here," Stuedemann said. "It's challenging growing grass into it. You have to be very responsive when it gets hot and humid.
    "It's almost like playing with artists clay. It's moldable, but it doesn't percolate anything. When I came back, we had an old Verti-Drain in the barn that hadn't moved since I was an assistant. We fired that up, and pounded with it and almost drove it to its grave. We've since bought a new one and it has become part of our annual practices."
    TPC at Deere Run was built at a time when several new turf varieties were coming onto the market, and the aggressive growth properties of some of them - and how to manage them - were not fully understood, Stuedemann said. 
    "We were pulling quarter-inch to three-eighths-inch cores. It was a new course. We were trying to build organic matter, and that was when a lot of new bentgrasses were coming out and nobody quite understood their aggressive nature," Stuedemann said. "It was 'three-eighths, drag it in, blow off the fluff and here we go,' and it was the same every year. Looking back, we were just creating a layer beneath the surface that wasn't allowing us to grow very deep roots. The organic matter was building up with those new, aggressive bents that didn't require a lot of nutrative inputs. Recognizing that, we got aggressive and are getting some of that organic matter out. We went in that first fall with some five-eighths-inch hollow tines and pulled it all out and shovelled it all out."
    The next year, he added deep tine aerification to the program. As aggressive as the management program was, the process of feeding the turf became equally conservative.
    "We went down 7 inches to give the roots a path. We've had to get more aggressive with our cultural practices because the accumulation of organic matter was impacting the health of the turf," he said. "We're pulling larger cores and using lots and lots of sand. My nickname is "The Sandman. 
    "We started weekly topdressing to keep up with the growth, and we started giving the turf what it needs when it needs it so as not to repeat the problems we had. We were very aggressive and we still are, but we were backing it up with results. We had a firmer surface, we had better performance after storms. Yes, there was a cost to it in the way of some impediment to golf, but we were giving golfers better season-long performance out of the golf course."
  • BASF has launched two new fungicides for the turf market. 
    Maxtima fungicide and Navicon Intrinsic brand fungicide feature the new Revysol active ingredient and provide broad-spectrum control on diseases such as dollar spot, anthracnose and spring dead spot. This chemistry is the only in its class to be designated Reduced Risk candidate by the Environmental Protection Agency, the company says. 
    Navicon Intrinsic brand fungicide also delivers plant health benefits supporting turf to handle the toughest pressures. Maxtima fungicide and Navicon Intrinsic brand fungicide are the first isopropanolazoles, and provide control even on plant pathogen strains that are insensitive to DMIs.
    Maxtima fungicide and Navicon Intrinsic brand fungicides have improved rainfastness and help provide effective and longer-lasting control of turfgrass diseases, like anthracnose, fairy ring, spring dead spot and dollar spot. 
    With a unique mode of action, they deliver season-long control regardless of temperature at application.
    Jim Kerns, Ph.D., associate professor and extension specialist of turfgrass pathology at North Carolina State University, has been working with both products for more than five years, applying them to research trials throughout North Carolina. 
    "We applied Maxtima fungicide to creeping bentgrass and ultradwarf Bermudagrass greens during periods of the year where other DMIs are usually phytotoxic," Kerns said, "but we had not observed any phyto damage."
    Revysol made a big splash in the BASF booth at this year's Golf Industry Show in San Diego. On June 26, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted label registration to the new fungicide. 
    The active ingredient mefentrifluconazole is trademarked as Revysol.
    Revysol fungicide, which was OK’d for use in Europe in March,  has a unique isopropanol link that can flex to control a broad spectrum of fungal diseases and DMI-resistant strains. 
  • Mathieu LeCompte has led the revival of Royal New Kent Country Club in Virginia. No one can accuse Mathieu LeCompte of not being a risk-taker.
    When LeCompte was approached last year by the new owners of Royal New Kent in Providence Forge, Virginia about becoming superintendent, the course already had been closed for about six months and was in severe disrepair.
    "Some bridges were gone. Parts of the cart path had collapsed, and there were trees across the cart paths," LeCompte said. "It was in rough shape."

    The Royal New Kent course (above and below) had fallen into disrepair, to say the least. Photo credit @ML_Turf
    Until then, LeCompte had been superintendent at Two Rivers Country Club and Ford's Colony Country Club, both in Williamsburg and both under a director of agronomy. Anxious for his first gig as a head superintendent, LeCompte figured the task of reclaiming Royal New Kent could go one of two ways - only one of which was good. At just 33 years old, he also figured he was young enough that his career would recover if the project went south.
    "I thought if it worked, it would be good for my career," he said. "If it didn't, it would force me into doing something else.
    "I thought it was time to take a risk. Even if it didn't go well, I thought this was a good age to try something like this. I'm not sure how comfortable I would have been taking a risk like this if I was older."

    Mathieu Lecompte. @ML_Turf on Twitter. Those concerns are now water under the bridge - a new-and-improved bridge at that.
    The course reopened in May after a nearly a $2 million restoration that included rebuilding greens and bunkers and making much-needed repairs to the irrigation and drainage systems. It is a success story that could not have been possible without help from many of LeCompte's colleagues from Richmond to Williamsburg.
    Designed by the late Mike Strantz, Royal New Kent opened to much acclaim in 1996 and was heralded by golf publications as one of the country's best new designs. Previously owned by Traditional Golf Properties, Royal New Kent closed under the previous ownership at the end of 2017 and sat dormant for about six months. The course soon looked like thousands of others that have closed in the past 10-12 years and had become defined by knee-high fairway turf and putting greens that had become dried and cracked. The new ownership group, a consortium that includes some partners with ties to Wingfield Golf Management, bought the property last year for $1.1 million.
    Still, bringing the course back from the dead would be no small feat.
    When he accepted the job, LeCompte had no staff and most of the Royal Kent's assets had been liquidated by Traditional Golf. The only piece of working equipment he had was a rough mower that had been neglected to the extent that sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. But, it was all he had. Likewise, many vendor accounts had gone unpaid, so establishing much-needed relationships with some critical suppliers was a challenge.
    "Establishing relationships with some of these companies has been hard," LeCompte said.
    Fortunately, many of LeCompte's colleagues around the Williamsburg-Richmond areas were more understanding and offered the use of equipment and advice until he could acquire the equipment he needed and hire a staff.
    "There was no power in the maintenance shop. The mower kind of worked," he said. "I was able to borrow some things from local superintendents. There weren't even any carts. I drove my truck around the golf course."
    Strantz was named by Golfweek as one of golf's top 10 architects when he died of cancer in 2005. LeCompte hired some of the shapers used by Strantz during construction nearly 25 years ago. He also was able to draw upon photography and imagery provided by Strantz's widow, Heidi.
    Work included rebuilding the greens and replacing the bentgrass putting surfaces with Champion Bermudagrass. All 100-plus bunkers were rebuilt and more than 100 drains that had failed had to be dug out and repaired.

    Post-renovation/reclamation... whatever one wants to call it. Since 2006, about 2,000 golf courses have closed nationwide. Although it is not common for them to reopen, like Royal New Kent has done, it is not entirely unheard of either, according to Golf Advisor.
    "So far, all of the golfers have been very complimentary," he said. "There are still some scars, but we are recovering."
  • Dogs, like Raynor here of Whitinsville Golf Club in Massachusetts, play a critical role in the day-to-day operations of many golf courses around the country. Accused by some on social media as being a waste of time, golf course dogs chase geese and keep nuisance critters on the go. They run interference on golfers for the superintendent and generally serve as a calming influence in a world that often is anything but calm. And that is why TurfNet has been recognizing golf course dogs around the world since 2002 in the Superintendent's Best Friend Calendar, presented by Syngenta.
    There have been several facsimiles, but for almost 20 years, the Superintendent's Best Friend Calendar has been the original golf course dog calendar. If you have a dog that earns its keep at the golf course, enter a photo for consideration for next year's calendar.
    A panel of judges will select the 14 dogs for the calendar, including the cover and December 2019. Images should be taken horizontally at your camera's highest resolution setting. Also, try not to center your dog in the frame, as left or right orientation often can result in a more dramatic photograph. Nomination deadline is July 31. 
    Click here to submit a photo of your dog for consideration. Be sure to include the dog's name, age and breed; photographer's name; owner's name, phone number, email address; and the name of the golf course where the owner and dog both work. 
    For more information, email John Reitman. Submission deadline is July 31.
  • For years, the question for superintendents has been how to increase awareness of the job and elevate the profession to a level at least equal to that of other positions throughout the industry.
    It might not seem like it, but progress is being made on this front, even if it is coming in dribs and drabs. Elected officials are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental stewardship efforts of superintendents and acknowledging the significance of BMP programs.
    Just in time.
    For longer than anyone in the business cares to remember, golf courses have had the reputation of being environmentally unsound. They use too much water, and pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers pollute the environment.
    That’s been the historic reputation, anyway. Although a reversal of fortune, as slow as it is, is in the works, there still is much work to be done.
    After a quick Google search of the phrase “golf courses are …” the top four results were “closing”, “a waste of space”, “a waste of land” and “bad for the environment”. 
    A glance into the social media frenzy waged against Bayer over the Roundup controversy is proof of the importance of education of the misinformed. 
    The reality is, superintendents are mindful users of water and protectors of the environment and employ practices that maximize the efficacy improved fertilizers low use-rate pesticides.
    As 16th-century English playwright John Heywood said, “Rome was not built in a day,” but finally the work of golf course superintendents is being recognized outsized the turf industry. Just look at Iowa and North Carolina for proof with Rick Tegtmeier, CGCS at Des Moines Golf and Country Club, and Bob Farren, CGCS at Pinehurst Resort recently were inducted into the Golf Hall of Fame in their respective states.
    The Georgia chapter has been a leader in environmental stewardship for more than a decade. It has an equally long history of working with state lawmakers and water officials as well as being able to get the word out on its accomplishments.
    In June, the Georgia state senate passed a resolution endorsing the Georgia GCSA for publishing its Best Management Practices for Georgia Golf Courses in 2018.
    According to the resolution, Georgia’s golf industry employs 57,000 people and has an economic impact of $2.4 billion.
    The resolution also stated:
    today’s superintendents draw on more environmental science than any generation before them; their training included biological sciences, chemistry, horticulture, soils, environmental sciences, and many related disciplines, uniquely qualifying them for their duties; and
      carefully adopted best management practices can potentially improve the financial sustainability of golf courses, as well as environmental sustainability; these methods and techniques are found to be the most effective and practical means of achieving an objective, such as preventing water quality impacts or reducing pesticide usage; and
      pesticide best management practices provide the necessary guidance for the proper transport, storing, mixing, and application of pesticides to address target pests and minimize impacts to non-target species; design and construction best management practices and storm-water best management practices address the potential for erosion and sedimentation and ways to mitigate that potential; and
      the design and maintenance of irrigation systems, as well as proper irrigation scheduling, careful selection of turfgrass cultivars, and incorporation of cultural practices that increase the water-holding capacity of soil are addressed through these best management practices. The Georgia chapter’s history with state lawmakers and agencies is a long one.
    In response to one of the worst droughts in the state’s history, superintendents in Georgia drafted a water BMP manual in 2007 that convinced state officials, lawmakers and environmental agencies that golf course turf managers are capable of drafting their own water-use programs, even in the face of an emergency of epic proportions.
    Although getting the word out to the consumer public about what you do will always be a challenge, it makes sense to foster and maintain positive relationships with agencies at the state level that will control access to water and pesticides now and in the future.
  • Todd Hicks, talks dollar spot control at Ohio State. When tallying infection centers in dollar spot trial plots, Todd Hicks and Joe Rimelspach rarely count all of them.
    Hicks, program coordinator for Ohio State University's turfgrass pathology department, had some advice for about 30 attendees at this year's Disease Day workshop in Columbus.
    "Once you get past 25, who cares? The fungicide doesn't work," Hicks said.
    Disease Day is a half-day workshop at the at the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation Research Center that helps superintendents, athletic field managers, lawn care operators and sod growers identify common diseases in turfgrass and the best options to manage them.
    "A lot of the things we do in the turf industry we know are not promoting maximum health, i.e., the mowing height of the turf we are standing on right here," Rimelspach, program specialist in OSU's turf pathology department, said while standing on a brown patch test plot maintained at fairway height.  
    "It is a two-step process to manage disease: stop the fungus and grow the host. These leaves, even with holy water, are not going to be normal again. They're going to die. The goal is not to let new leaf tissue get infected."
    The workshop included information on diseases like brown patch, red thread, rust and more, much of the focus was on dollar spot, which has been making show-stopping appearances across Ohio in recent years.
    Historically, dollar spot makes a brief appearance in spring, goes away then returns in mid- to late June or early July. That has not been the case recently.
    "The last two years, it comes early, stays and doesn't fade away," Hicks said. "Then it seems to go to sleep for a little bit, then comes right back where it left off."
    That can be a problem for superintendents, sports field managers and lately even lawn care operators. Hicks and Rimelspach provided an update on some ongoing trials, including some experimental products. Download their fungicide chart for more information on specific fungicides.
    "That's kind of what we're dealing with right now, dollar spot in fairways," said Dan Smith, second assistant at Double Eagle Golf Club in nearby Galena. "This was valuable information that we learned her today."
    For a disease that first was diagnosed nearly 100 years, dollar spot still is a problem with a lot of unknowns. 

    Joe Rimelspach discusses the relationship between weather, disease pressure and root length in summer in cool-season turf. Dollar spot in turfgrass was identified in 1937 as being caused by the pathogen Sclerotinia homeocarpa. Ever since, scientists have been trying to learn even more about the disease and what causes it. Research conducted by scientists at Ohio State, Rutgers and North Carolina State and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has identified a new genus and four species - not just one - that cause dollar spot in turfgrass.  
    The new genus, Clarireedia, is named for former Rutgers turf breeder C. Reed Funk, Ph.D. Among the four species identified, two occur primarily in North America and two in Europe, according to the research.
    Like so many problems facing turfgrass managers, the dollar spot pathogen can lie undetected, awaiting waiting for just the right time to appear, which makes application timing critical to success.
    "The key with dollar spot is to go out with early season control and get the inoculum level knocked down," Hicks said. "Remember, dollar spot goes through a whole series of events before you see it. It's right there before you can see it, just waiting. Then you go out with your application and three days later you have spot and you're making a call saying, 'hey, the crap you sold me doesn't work.' You have to look at the weather patterns, and you probably were late, you just didn't see the damage yet. It's like having cancer and not knowing it until someone tells you at the doctor's office that you're dying."
    So, what is the magic number of acceptable infection centers on those test plots?
    "It's probably one," Hicks said. "These are 3-foot-by-5-foot plots, and if every plot across a green had just one, that would be unacceptable for you."
  • A plea to a federal agency to place the herbicide glyphosate on a watchlist and a class-action lawsuit against the maker of the world's most popular weed killer mark the next phase of the challenges facing Bayer.
    Law firms in St. Louis and Kansas City on June 20 filed a class-action suit against Bayer for misleading advertising. The action seeks a refund for all Roundup purchases by Missouri residents, damages and court costs. 
    Bayer attorneys told the St. Louis Business Journal: “This complaint has no merit as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has considered and approved the labels for our glyphosate-based herbicides based on their expert assessment of the extensive body of research and their conclusions that these herbicides can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic.”
    In another development, the Environmental Working Group, an activist group that “specializes in research and advocacy in the areas of agricultural subsidies, toxic chemicals, drinking water pollutants and corporate accountability,” has requested the Centers for Disease Control add glyphosate to its list of toxic chemicals, the group said.
    Used on golf courses for renovations, rebuilds and restoration projects, glyphosate is the most popular weed killer used in agriculture, the group cited as evidence trace amounts of glyphosate found in many food crops and their by-products.
    Some scientists have said, however, that the amounts are in such small amounts that they present no threat.
    At the center of the glyphosate debate are conflicting reports by the World Health Organization and the EPA. In 2015, the WHO concluded that glyphosate was a "probable" carcinogen. The EPA, on the other hand, has said that there is no evidence indicating that glyphosate causes cancer based on the results of more than 800 tests and studies. 
    In the past year, juries have sided 3-0 with the WHO findings and ignored the scientific findings of the EPA, which has a specific scientific review process to determine labeling for every chemistry on the U.S. market. 
  • Revysol made quite a splash in the BASF booth at this year's Golf Industry Show in San Diego. On June 26, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted label registration to the new fungicide. 
    This new active ingredient is the first and only isopropanol azole of its kind in the market. The active ingredient provides fast-acting and long-lasting disease control for a broad range of disease combinations, including anthracnose, brown patch and dollar spot.
    Unlike older DMIs on the market, Revysol fungicide is the first isopropanolazole, a unique chemistry with binding properties that make it 100 times more powerful than conventional triazole fungicides. It is the only triazole to be designated a Reduced Risk candidate by the EPA.
    The active ingredient mefentrifluconazole is trademarked as Revysol and eventually will be available in two formulations, alone marketed as Maxtima or in combination with Intrinsic that will be called Navicon.
    Revysol fungicide, which was OK'd for use in Europe in March,  has a unique isopropanol link that can flex to control a broad spectrum of fungal diseases and DMI-resistant strains. 
  • While reinventing yourself past age 50 is becoming more common, 59-year-old David Payne is not the traditional college student. David Payne is not your traditional college student studying turfgrass management.
    A student at Ohio State ATI, Payne is one of a couple of college students blogging this summer from Europe where he is serving a brief internship while working toward an associate's degree in turf studies.
    He also happens to be 59 years old, on his second marriage and is busy trying to reinvent himself.
    In hindsight, in today's economy that has forced many past age 50 to reinvent themselves, that all probably makes him more typical than one might think.
    A Texas native, Payne earned a bachelor's degree from Texas Tech and a master's from Emporia State and was a teacher and coach for more than 20 years in Texas and Kansas. He moved to Wooster in 2016 when his wife, Kris Boone, Ph.D., was named ATI's director.
    Since then, he's had a hard time finding work as a teacher and coach and figured there was no better time to take that next step in redefining himself and his career path.
    "I have always been interested in turf," he said.
    "Moving to Ohio gave me the opportunity to go to ATI and learn turfgrass management from one of the best programs in the nation."
    He's not just saying that because his wife is the boss there.
    Through the connections of ATI assistant professor Ed Nangle, Ph.D., Payne is spending the summer abroad interning for the Irish Institute of Sports Surfaces and blogging about the experience for TurfNet. That experience, which continues until August, gives Payne the opportunity to work with machinery, equipment and people he never would encounter in the U.S., like a vintage Lamborghini tractor and his new best friends, the bartenders at the many local pubs.
    Although he is not the typical intern, Payne's age and experience have been a benefit in some ways.
    "Study abroad programs require a certain level of flexibility and a willingness to pursue what is a difficult opportunity by opting to be away from family," Nangle said. "The systems are very different from country to country, customs and thought processes are also very different and so it requires a student who is very focused on going abroad to succeed. Further to that, international internships can be difficult to setup and having patience is a virtue as issues arise and changes have to be made, David showed that in spades."
    When Payne decided on a new career path in turf management, naturally his concerns centered around age - not only as a student at ATI, but after he graduates, as well.
    "My fears were the typical ones: being old and starting over, fitting in. Most of the students are golf oriented . . . probably my weakest area," he said. "The only concern I have would be being able to take my knowledge and work/teach down the road. I fear some would shy away from someone like me without giving me a chance."
    His time interning in Ireland, where he has the chance to learn about different cultures, different processes for maintaining turf and different tools with which to do it can only help increase his marketability when he matriculates through ATI, Nangle said.
    "For me, when I completed an international internship, it made me realize reality – an internship where you are handed clothes, schedule, bills paid is great but that's not life. Having to juggle the responsibility of managing money, bills, banking, healthcare in another country is a scary, but character-building opportunity," Nangle said. "It is not for everyone, but it does provide a resume a very unique finish compared to a vast majority of people competing for jobs, and there are many people who will say that without the experience they would not have ended up where they are today. David's experience is more unique than most – getting research exposure at ISTI in this way is certainly beneficial for him, but he can now truly compare what different disease pressure look like in the midwestern United States and an island in the Atlantic Ocean that has constant air movement and low relative humidity levels."
  • N.Y. OKs Syngenta's Posterity fungicide
    Posterity fungicide from Syngenta is now registered for use in New York.
    With the active ingredient pydiflumetofen, Posterity is an SDHI fungicide labeled for preventive and curative control - up to 28 days - of dollar spot, fairy ring, Microdochium patch and spring dead spot.
    Preventive applications of Posterity are recommended beginning in the spring, prior to the development of dollar spot. Posterity also has curative properties and can be used for extended preventive applications for continued protection until winter.
     
    To help with timing applications, superintendents can sign up for dollar spot alerts from Syngenta that are based on the Smith-Kerns prediction model. For resistance management and broader-spectrum control, Syngenta also offers agronomic programs that strategically rotate Posterity with Secure Action, Daconil Action and other products to properly condition turf so it will perform at its best during the season and recover quickly from stress.

    The weekly OTF/OSU Turf Team Talks feature the likes of (clockwise from top left) Dave Shetlar, Ph.D., Ed Nangle, Ph.D., Karl Danneberger, Ph.D., David Gardner, Ph.D., Pam Sherratt and Zane Raudenbush, Ph.D. OTF/OSU launch weekly turf talks
    The Ohio Turfgrass Foundation recently launched its Turf Team Talks series designed to help turf managers tackle some of their most common and recurrent problems.
    Hosted by a rotating cast of Ohio State's professors and instructors from the fields of weed science, sports turf management, agronomy and entomology as well as the faculty from OSU ATI, the weekly segments address issues like insect updates, disease pressure, weed control and how accute weather patterns affect cultural practices as well as day-to-day operations.
    Viewers also can send the team specific questions for use on future episodes.
    Target's Kraken holds water in tough conditions
    Target Specialty Products recently introduced Turf Fuel The Kraken, advanced wetting agent designed for turf surfaces that require the highest level of consistency and firmness.
    Tested extensively in trials at the University of Arkansas, Kraken has the ability to hold water consistently deep in the profile, while keeping the soil near the surface dry.
    A multiple component proprietary surfactant, Kraken offers a safe, no burn formulation that provides uniform and consistent hydration throughout the root zone that improves water use efficiency.
    Formulated from a blend of alkoxylated polyols and polyglycol ether ester, Kraken can be used at any time during the season and it can be used with other Turf Fuel products, such as Cleanse, Abyss and Vanquish for best results depending on the season.
  • In the 1975 cult classic film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, King Arthur and his knights become chafed when, in their quest to find the chalice used by Jesus and his apostles during the Last Supper, a sorcerer tells them that what appears to be a harmless rabbit is instead the blood-thirsty beast guarding the cave where the vessel supposedly is located.
    Only when the bunny goes on a killing spree, wiping out many of his men, is Arthur convinced of its destructive and murderous ways.
    No doubt, many felt the same way the first time they learned the tiny and seemingly harmless emerald ash borer made its way into North America almost 20 years ago. Just like the knights in scene 19 of the Holy Grail underestimated the ferocity of what they thought was a benign and innocent rodent, those who doubted the dangers presented by the tiny emerald ash borer are likely having second thoughts. Unfortunately for those dealing with EAB, the pests reproduce like rabbits and there exists no divine hand grenade that can impede them. Just ask folks in Morris County, New Jersey, where the teensy ash borer is threatening what is believed to be the nation’s oldest and largest ash tree that predates the signing of the Declaration of Independence. A tree that has survived since before the American Revolution might not be able to withstand the onslaught of a bug about an inch in length.
    Since it came into the port of Detroit as a stowaway in packing materials on a Chinese cargo vessel in 2002, EAB has spread to 35 U.S. states and five provinces in Canada.
     
    Scientists believe that the pest eventually will reach the entire ash tree range in North America, an area that covers parts of at least 42 U.S. states and six Canadian provinces. Each ash borer, however, only flies a few miles throughout its lifecycle, so moving firewood, or not, is critical to controlling its spread.
    A series of webinars conducted by scientists and other experts from several states is available on the web site emeraldashborer.info. Webinars cover a range of topics, including how to prevent infestation and what to do after one has occurred. The EAB web site is a news and information portal that is a cooperative effort between Michigan State, Purdue and Ohio State universities, the Michigan and Ohio departments of Agriculture; the Michigan, Indiana and Ohio departments of Natural Resources; the USDA Forest Service; the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS); and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
    Native to parts of eastern Asia, the EAB borer burrows into ash trees as an adult where it lays its eggs. The larvae feed on the layer beneath the bark, disrupting the tree's vascular system and its ability to take up water and nutrients and eventually kill the tree.
      
    EAB kills ash trees by disrupting the uptake of water and nutrients through the trunk and into the upper reaches of the tree.
     
    Adult females, which grow to about a half-inch in length, create a hole in the bark into which they deposit their eggs. After hatching, the larvae feed on and chew galleries through the tissue beneath the bark layer. In the spring, new adults chew through the bark and emerge leaving behind a D-shaped exit hole before flying into the canopy to feast on ash leaves and begin the reproductive process all over again.
     
    Symptoms of infestation include thinning of the canopy and sprouts growing from holes in the trunk that were created by the pests. Woodpeckers like the larvae, and woodpecker damage might also be a sign of EAB infestation. According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, canopies of mature ash tree typically are decimated within two years of infestation and the trees dead within five years.
     
    Tree canopies can be wiped out within two years, and mature, healthy trees typically are dead within three to four years. All native North American ash species are susceptible to damage.
  • Dan Dommer of Ozaukee Country Club in Mequon, Wisconsin is the recipient of the 2019 TurfNet Technician of the Year Award, presented by Toro. The TurfNet Technician of the Year Award, presented by Toro is given annually to a golf course mechanic who excels at a variety of tasks associated with maintaining the golf course. The criteria on which the recipient is determined might need updating after Dan Dommer of Ozaukee Country Club in Mequon, Wisconsin, won this year's award.
    Besides excelling as a mechanic in a 100-plus-year-old shop at this historic 1922 William Langford-Theodore Moreau design, Dommer, 41, mows and topdresses fairways and is in charge of maintenance at Ozaukee's clubhouse.
    Since 2008, Dommer has been the equipment manager at Ozaukee, which was the home course to legendary superintendent Wayne Otto for more than 40 years. He was chosen from a field of three finalists that includes Jaime Bojorquez of Westbrook Village Golf Club in Peoria, Arizona, and Sean Brownson of Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, New York.
    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. 
    As the winner, Dommer receives the Golden Wrench Award and a spot in Toro Service Training University at the company's headquarters in Bloomington, Minnesota. Given all of Dommer's duties at Ozaukee, when he will find time to attend the Toro program is anyone's guess.
    "He has a whatever-it-takes attitude. He mows fairways, is in charge of our fairway topdressing program and fixes what needs to be fixed," said Ozaukee superintendent Brett Hosler. "He also is in charge of daily operations at the clubhouse, including everything in the kitchen, all mechanical needs, HVAC, everything.
    "Nominating him for this award was a no-brainer. He's one of the best in the business."

    The maintenance shop at Ozaukee CC is a 100-plus-year-old barn left over from when the site was a working dairy farm. Between operating equipment and checking on playing conditions around the property, Dommer spends about four hours a day on the golf course. With a topdressing program that includes applications on greens every two weeks and fairways and tees every three, he spends a lot of time on the grinder. Throw in his duties in the clubhouse and it's a wonder Dommer doesn't just keep a cot in Ozaukee's shop
    "I do spend a lot of time out there," he said. "I like to see how things are going out there."
    The demands on his time mean he has to be fast and efficient when he is in the shop.
    "I'm getting pretty good at grinding," he said. "I can do grinding for six greensmowers in about three hours."
    Ozaukee was built on the site of an old dairy farm, and the barn from that farming operation serves as the club's shop.
    "When that became the maintenance facility, they retrofitted it to what they needed in 1922, and they have not changed it in almost 100 years," Dommer said. "We have been able to update it a little, but it is most definitely a barn."
    Low ceiling heights prevented the installation of any kind of lift, so the only way to get underneath a piece of equipment is with a lot of jacks and a mechanic's creeper. Like a lot of people in this area, Dommer grew up on the family dairy farm, and if he absolutely needs a lift, he transports equipment to his father's shop.
    "It would be nice to have a lift here," he said. "But the ceiling heights make that impossible."
    Previous winners include (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.
    As the winner, Dommer receives the Golden Wrench Award and a spot in Toro Service Training University at the company's headquarters in Bloomington, Minnesota.
    Previous winners include (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.
  • What drew us to become golf course superintendents?  For me, it was those quiet magical mornings caddying on “the ponderosa” which drew me into course maintenance.  Then off to UMass/Stockbridge, and my first “greenkeeper” position, a 9-hole muni course. This was in the 1960’s.
    We were blessed, being at the right place, at the right time.  Golf was exploding and for anyone graduating from a turf school, that was your ticket. 
    The work was fulfilling.  Working with nature, growing things.  Problem solving.  Working with people.  Great colleagues in my local chapter, the MetGCSA. Trade shows.  Every Spring hiring seasonal workers, and opportunities for mentoring and ministry.       
    The 80’s were when things began to go south, at least for the relaxed, carefree times of the superintendent career.  The solid and steady "founding fathers” on the club boards were replaced with the new generation of “instant gratification” types for whom a little knowledge was dangerous. They wanted it and they wanted it then. As another veteran superintendent put it, "The sons are not the fathers."
    Investments in infrastructure or equipment were supposed to alleviate all future ills.  “We gave you the new irrigation system you wanted, so why do we have some brown spots on number 6?”  
    Member-Guest tournaments and multi-club membership invited comparisons with nearby clubs and courses.
    The Augusta Syndrome.
    Then along came the Stimpmeter.  
    With a few exceptions (like Arnold Palmer, whose dad was a superintendent), professional golfers didn’t help much.  I remember hearing a disgruntled pro leaving a press tent quip: “There is no excuse for poor greens!”   
    There were voices of reason trying to educate golfers that we are dealing with nature, and as such there are limits to what humans can do.  We had the fine agronomists in USGA Green Section, always trying to get some rational thinking into the minds of the green committees and club boards.
    My good friend, the late Stanley Zontek, wrote an article for the Green Section Record using the baseball analogy; that superintendents cannot be expected to bat in the 300s all the time.  Another USGA agronomist coined the phrase: “Slow greens are better than fast dirt.”  A wise superintendent wrote an article decrying the stampede to perfect turf, entitled “Perfection is only marginally acceptable.”  
    Here is where we are today:
    Golf play is down. We've all heard it: cost, time and difficulty. That is not going to change. White collar recessions are hitting club memberships hard. Golf courses are being sold for housing. The "country club lifestyle" doesn't jibe with Saturday morning soccer and other obligations of harried parents.  As club revenues decline, superintendents are expected to more with less. Longer hours translate to burnout and less family time. Our families often become another casualty. The few superintendent positions that do open up get a ton of applicants. Poor club leadership due to the revolving doors in the boardrooms. Club GMs only ready and willing to sacrifice a superintendent to appease the grill/locker room crowds looking for blood.  Little, if any, job security.  So where do we go from here?  Let’s start with three facts and principles in our new Paradigm:
    We need to adapt to the rapid pace of change.  Superintendents are some of the most talented, innovative, skilled, creative, motivated and dedicated individuals in any industry.  With few exceptions, we do not receive the acknowledgement we rightly deserve at the courses and clubs we serve. We need to continually brainstorm new possibilities and Plan Bs for our individual futures.  Not just thinking “outside the box”, forgetting about the box!   Years ago, while chatting on the course one day with a CEO member, the subject of change came up.  I recited the cliché: “You have to keep up with change,” to which he calmly replied: “No Pat, you have to already be there waiting for it when it comes.”  To me, that statement sums up the new lens we must look through to see accurately where we are today, to remain financially solvent and to improve the quality of life for ourselves and our families. 
    Below are some thoughts and ideas from someone who had been through the mill, using the old principle of “finding a need and filling it.”  
    TRANSITION TO A SIMILAR BUSINESS REQUIRING OUR SKILL SETS
    Parks & Recreation, sports turf, schools, corporate campuses, airports, theme parks, estates, athletic stadiums, condominiums developments, just to name a few.  Often better benefits outweigh a reduced salary. I know of a superintendent who took a college groundskeeper position and got tuition breaks for his kids. 
    START YOUR OWN BUSINESS
    Take inventory of yourself. We have skills like arboriculture, horticulture, excavation, carpentry, plumbing, site development, running greenhouses, masonry, drainage, IT, equipment maintenance, second languages, coaching, public speaking, writing...  Begin investing some time and energy into your own R&D account, laying the groundwork for your own venture, while still gainfully employed and not burned out.
    I once had a green chairman who wanted my head on his den wall and was actively lobbying to make that happen.  With a wife and five boys, living in club-provided housing, and with no savings, I was sick to my stomach. It was  the same old story of giving 150% to the job and putting 0% into my own R&D account.  Through the grace of God, I was able to get financing to buy some equipment and begin a contract deep aerification business on the side. My sons ran the business, which gave them invaluable skills and helped put them through school.  The “Outlier Phenomenon” (see Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers: The Story of Success) was in place  again, with deep aerification services just beginning to take off.     
    GET MORE SPECIALIZED EDUCATION
    Have an Associates degree?  Get a Bachelor’s.  Have a Bachelors?  Get an MBA.  Take public speaking and human relations courses like Dale Carnegie, Toastmasters, etc.  Advanced computer courses.  Specialized training in any area you are interested it.
    MOVE UP THE CLUB LADDER 
    In my opinion, out of the three club professionals, superintendents are the most capable of running a club.  We understand how things work.  Most of the skills of the club pro end with hitting a golf ball.  Most of the GMs I’ve met are mostly show, with a gift of gab and able to sell a bill of goods. This is not virgin territory; other superintendents have done it, so can you if you really want to.      
    Obviously, these thoughts don't offer any conclusion, just a tipping off point for further thought and discussion.  Everyone has stories and experiences to share, and TurfNet has always led the way in that regard. Encourage and challenge each other to continually improve not only our craft as superintendents but our lives and futures off the golf course.
    Pat Lucas is a 50-year career superintendent and a charter TurfNet member. He lives in Danbury, Connecticut.
  • Dollar spot fungal growth on bluegrass. Photo courtesy of Ohio State University Extension. The phrase "cool and wet" is an understatement of profound proportions when describing late spring conditions throughout much of the Midwest.
    Those same conditions have provided a favorable environment for dollar spot and was the focus of a recent Turf Tips video by the Ohio State University turf pathology department.
    "It's all over the state," said Todd Hicks, program coordinator for the OSU turf pathology department. "It's not a super powerful threat, but it is a threat, and it will build as the month goes along with the weather pattern we're in."
    Dollar spot also was the subject of a recent TurfNet webinar by Rick Latin, Ph.D., who recently retired from Purdue University. Latin, who now operates as an independent consultant under the RL Turf badge, explored genetic, cultural, biological and chemical options for controlling dollar spot. Non-chemical options can be utilized under some circumstances or as part of a multi-pronged program. For example, practices such as removing dew or low applications of nitrogen can help minimize disease outbreaks, and advancements in turfgrass breeding have resulted in varieties that are more disease resistant than older standbys. But it is rare that any of these non-chemical options alone can be provide reliable dollar spot control.
    "We're almost always going to rely on fungicide to achieve turf quality we want," Latin said in the webinar.
    Consult the Ohio State fungicide chart for more information.
    Latin's top recommendation for control is something from the SDHI class of fungicides. Contact fungicides are good at preventing outbreaks, but curative control requires a fungicide that penetrates the plant, and, as pointed out by Hicks in the OSU video, there are plenty of available options.
    "If (dollar spot) does become super bad, remember, you've got to shorten those intervals," Hicks said. 
    "There are a lot of good 21-day products out there. I just don't trust anything for 21 days when I get super hammered with dollar spot."
    There are several factors that affect disease pressure and lead folks like Hicks and Latin to suggest tightening up application intervals, including degradation of the product, disease pressure, water quality and fungicide resistance.
  • Randy Wilson once said in a TurfNetTV video that dogs have "the No. 1 job in golf." 
    We could not agree more. Dogs chase geese and keep nuisance critters on the go. They run interference on golfers for the superintendent and generally serve as a calming influence in a world that often is anything but calm. And that is why TurfNet has been recognizing golf course dogs around the world since 2002 in the Superintendent's Best Friend Calendar, presented by Syngenta.
    There have been several facsimiles, but for almost 20 years, the Superintendent's Best Friend Calendar has been the original golf course dog calendar. If you have a dog that earns its keep at the golf course, enter a photo for consideration for next year's calendar.
    A panel of judges will select the 14 dogs for the calendar, including the cover and December 2019. Images should be taken horizontally at your camera's highest resolution setting. Also, try not to center your dog in the frame, as left or right orientation often can result in a more dramatic photograph. Nomination deadline is July 31. 
    Click here to submit a photo of your dog for consideration. Be sure to include the dog's name, age and breed; photographer's name; owner's name, phone number, email address; and the name of the golf course where the owner and dog both work. 
    For more information, email John Reitman. Submission deadline is July 31.
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