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From the TurfNet NewsDesk

  • John Reitman
    John Steiner, left, accepts the Minnesota GCSA Distinguished Service Award from chapter president Scott Thayer. Photo by Jack MacKenzie via Twitter Customer service, continuing education, staying up to date with current practices and methods, a strong code of ethics and displaying a passion for science. Those are just a handful of the traits that have helped John Steiner, CGCS, accomplish what few in this business have - on-the-job security at the same location for parts of seven decades.
    Steiner, 69, has worked at White Bear Golf Course in Dellwood, Minnesota every year but once since 1967, including as a caddie, member of the crew, assistant superintendent and finally as head superintendent for the past 42 years. The only interruption in his service at White Bear came when he spent the summer of 1969 working for his uncle Jimmy Hines on the crew at the former Desert Air Golf Course in Palm Desert, California.
    "I've just always tried to give golfers what they want, and that is the best possible product that I can produce. I try to be receptive to the things they want," Steiner said. "I've also always tried to be trustworthy. That has gone a long way. I've always had a good rapport with a lot of the members. When you love what you do, it's pretty easy."
    Steiner recently was the recipient of the Minnesota GCSA Chapter's Distinguished Service Award. 
    During Steiner's 54 years at White Bear, a 1915 Donald Ross design, much has changed in the turf business, namely the ever-changing demands of golfers, the problems that arise as mowing heights go down and the equipment and products they use to manage the turf.
    "It has become a lot harder as the years go on," Steiner said. "And it seems to keep getting harder as golfer demands go up."
    In the 1970s, Steiner was mowing roughs with a five-gang unit and fairways with a seven-gang Toro Parkmaster.
    "The changes in equipment and irrigation have been the biggest changes," Steiner said. "I've seen a lot of change over the years."
    Being a successful superintendent . . . for more than 40 years . . . at the same place . . . requires relying on science. In Steiner's case, it means much more.
    Steiner keeps up with current technology and management practices through continuing education, networking, seminars and even trusted sales reps.
    When faced with an unknown disease that threatens to wipe out wide areas of turf, most golf course superintendents are pretty content to carve out a sample and send it off to an expert for analysis.
    The key word is "most."

    Since Steiner graduated from Minnesota in 1976 and became superintendent at White Bear in 1979, he has spent a significant amount of time peering at slides through a microscope, attempting to diagnose one of those diseases that nag at greenkeepers.
    "I did it simply because I wanted to," Steiner said. "I wanted to be good at it, and I didn't want to be dependent on someone else for the information."
    To many of his colleagues, he is known as Dr. Steiner.
    Many of those same colleagues have used him as their turfgrass pathologist - helping to diagnose diseases on the golf course.
    "I've chatted with a number of people about things over the years," Steiner said. "There are people who called and bring things over, turf samples with disease on them."
    He places the samples in a plastic bag to hold in moisture then stores them overnight in the service bay at the golf course to keep them out of air-conditioning. He usually has plenty of material for the microscope by the following day.
    "I think one of the most outstanding attributes that makes John deserving of this (MGCSA Distinguished Service) award is the respect he has among his peers," former White Bear Yacht Club general manager Linda Carroll said recently in Hole Notes, the publication of the MGCSA. 
    Steiner credits Carroll and current White Bear GM Chris Nathlich for supporting him throughout his career and late University of Minnesota turfgrass science professor Don White, Ph.D., for mentoring him early in his career and helping grow his love for science. 
    Although looking at living organisms that attack and kill turf might seem like work, it is a labor of love for Steiner.
    "The thing with pathology is I just always loved it. I studied forestry pathology and plant pathology, and I love looking through a microscope at disease," Steiner said. "I've learned a lot about mushrooms, and mycology is a major passion of mine. Fungi and bacteria are the causes of most plant diseases. I've spent a lot of time grabbing everything I could find and looking at it through a microscope."
  • Yale Golf Course, routinely ranked among the country's top campus layouts, will get a facelift, courtesy of golf course architect Gil Hanse. The intent is to restore the course to its original design that was created by Seth Raynor and Charles Blair Macdonald.
    Yale would not comment on the cost or timetable with the project, but it is believed to carry a price tag of about $25 million, according to The New Haven Register. That includes $15 million for the renovation and $10 million for maintenance endowment, according to the newspaper.
    The past year-and-a-half-plus has been tough at Yale Golf Course. The No. 1 campus golf course in the Golfweek's Best list, Yale was closed in March 2020, but a small crew was kept on to maintain the course and complete projects. 
    The course opened briefly in the fall of 2020 the finally reopened this year in April.
    The Register said Yale settled on Hanse because of his experience restoring Macdonald and Raynor layouts.
    Although the timeline for the project has not been made public, Yale is poised to host an NCAA Division I regional next May.
    When Yale reopens, it will do so as a daily fee.
  • Target Specialty Products recently launched Turf Fuel Infinite, a low use rate soil surfactant that includes multiple ingredients formulated to provide consistent soil moisture throughout the profile, promote better stress management and faster recovery. 
    Turf Fuel Infinite, which contains two chemistries called DiuTuron and Templar, is safe for use on cool- and warm-season turf from tee to green.
    DiuTuron is a patent-pending polymer technology that Target says improves the residual effectiveness of the product in the soil. Templar reduces heat and drought stress by enhancing the plant's natural defense mechanisms, the company says. 
  • As scientists travel along the path toward discovery, often there is no telling where that journey  will end.
    Enter Arthur Nonomura, Ph.D. 
    Senior vice president and chief science officer for Brandt iHammer, Nonomura has devoted his career to helping others through science and, to that end, has developed innovations that promote healthy plants and healthy people who grow them.
    Nonomura, who along with golf course superintendent Mike McBride, is the man behind Brandt's iHammer line of plant nutrients, also holds patents on products that he says help people feel better.
    While the iHammer line has been helping golf course superintendents grow healthy turf for nearly two decades, Nonomura's latest discovery is the Defense line of healthy hydration products sold under the hellowater (sic) label, a line of wellness water products. Twenty years in the making, Defense beverages had been in research and development, and just finally made it to market in June. Nonomura says his product is designed to boost the body's natural self-defense mechanism, the cytochrome P450 enzyme complex.
    Nonomura and McBride met more than a decade ago, some time after the former served as a Fellow at the University of California-San Francisco and the latter was superintendent at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.
    Together they eventually formed iHammer in 2004, and the company came under the Brandt umbrella in 2014. Philosophically speaking, there is not much difference between creating a plant nutrient or healthy shot of water.
    "Brandt is very entrepreneurial and is always looking for new technologies, from the functional beverage to the agriculture industry," McBride said. "These are life-changing to a lot of people, and we're involved because of our innovative technology and ability to move the ball down the court."

    Brandt iHammer founders Mike McBride (left) and Arthur Nonomura, Ph.D. Nonomura also has developed a line of healthy water that he says boosts the body's natural defense system. Photo courtesy of Mike McBride In an era where we tend to put "me" first and the bottom line seems to dictate just about any conversation, Nonomura's work on developing what now is the Defense line of hellowater has been nothing but benevolent in nature. As a matter of fact, he began research on a healthy hydration product with California's farm field workers in mind.
    "I'm all for making people feel better," Nonomura said. "That includes making plants that are healthy and increasing people's quality of life. It's hard to sell products based on altruism, but that is what I am being here – seeking the greatest benefits to humankind. I wish to help people feel better."
    It was through years of research looking for ways to maximize health based on natural products that Nonomura, who earned a doctorate from the University of California, first thought he could do the same for people by creating a beverage that hydrates the body and helps it eliminate toxins.
    "Stress inhibits the health of the turf plant, and stress affects the health of people, too," Nonomura said. "We have this natural chemical defense system that can be inhibited by exogenous chemicals. When you inhibit the cytochrome P450 complex, your body has reduced its natural defenses. You must maintain a robust defense system, such that your cell's sentinel, P450, can identify these exogenous chemicals and get rid of them."
    Nonomura's research has been wide-ranging. During the Middle East Oil Embargo of the 1970s, when he was a doctoral student at Cal, Nonomura worked in collaboration with the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Melvin Calvin to find and cultivate a plant for growing gasoline—sustainable biofuels. After graduating from Berkeley, he undertook scientific investigations at UCSF, which is dedicated entirely to health sciences. It was while Nonomura was delving into how and why viruses infect animals and people, that he began working with cytochrome P450, the natural defense mechanism in every living thing. While his work eventually led to the advent of iHammer, it also paved the way for his Defense line of healthy water.
    "I have been investigating cytochrome P450 since I graduated from the Cal," Nonomura said.
    "When looking for an antiviral, you try to draw on everything in the life sciences to figure out how a virus infects people and the mechanisms response to an infection. You take into consideration all things. In biology, you have to get involved with all aspects of life to figure out what approach to take, and the answer often comes from putting concepts from a multiplicity of seemingly unrelated fields together.
    "And with a system wide instrument of discovery like the University of California, you have the resources to investigate the science of all things."
  • During a recent TurfNet University Webinar on weed management, Jim Brosnan, Ph.D., professor and head of the turfgrass weed science research and extension program at the University of Tennessee, also discussed the importance of accurate weed identification. 
    The University of Tennessee Mobile Weed Manual can be a useful tool in identifying weeds and how to control them. Designed to help users select the proper herbicide for use in turf and in ornamentals, the free guide is available on the App Store and Google Play for use on phones and tablets. There also is a desktop version also is available.
    Users can find herbicide solutions either by referencing a list of specific weeds, turfgrass or herbicides. Digital images also help users with identification of more than 130 types of grassy and broadleaf weeds. Complete with a new user interface, the guide includes labels and safety data sheet information for more than 100 pre- and post-emergent herbicides.
    The guide also offers efficacy and tolerance data for herbicides on 20 varieties of turfgrasses and more than 2,000 ornamental species.
  • Assembly Bill 672 targets publicly owned golf courses in California, such as Balboa Park in San Diego (above), for conversion to affordable housing and open public space. The bill, which died in committee in April, will resurface in January with new language that could make conversion of many golf courses much more attractive to the public. Municipal golf in California survived a frontal attack last spring from those who would rather see public courses converted to affordable housing. Rather than surrender after such a resounding defeat, however, detractors of public golf in the nation's most populous state have deftly planned a flanking move that might be difficult for the golf industry to repel.
    Assembly Bill 672, introduced in February by Cristina Garcia, who represents California's 58th district in Los Angeles County, targets municipal golf courses as potential sites for affordable housing units and open space, died in committee in April. However, the bill has been amended as of September 1 with changes, including an influx of public assistance and the elimination of certain zoning requirements. In a state starved for affordable housing, these changes likely will have mass appeal in California when the proposed legislation reappears in session in January as a two-year bill.
    Initially, the bill proposed removing the state's municipal golf courses from the protections provided by the Park Preservation Act, Surplus Land Act, California Environmental Quality Control Act, and local zoning prerogatives – all for the purpose of redeveloping them into housing tracts.
    The newest version of AB 672 makes available $50 million from the state's general fund "to provide grants to cities, counties, and cities and counties to incentivize making publicly owned golf courses in densely populated areas available for housing and publicly accessible open space," the bill states. The most recent iteration of the bill also removed zoning requirements and the need for an environmental impact statement in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act.
    Initially, AB 672 was referred to the Assembly's Housing and Community Development Committee and Local Government Committee, but did not meet the April 30 deadline to pass through both, and thus died an instant death.
    In its current form, AB 672 likely will get much more attention than it did the first time around. Although the bill would make it easier for communities to keep their publicly owned golf courses if they so choose, it also paves the way plow up many others.
    The Southern California Golf Association, which has been proactive in tracking the progress of and changes associated with AB 672, says that the state's golf industry should, in response, align itself with other public recreational outlets, including parks and athletic fields, rather than an elitist recreational pursuit, which so often is perceived as synonymous with golf.
    To be eligible for state grant money to convert land currently utilized by public golf into affordable housing, municipalities must meet a host of requirements, including:
    > The agreement ensures that at least 25 percent of all new dwelling units developed on the former golf course are affordable to, and occupied by, low-income households.
    > At least 15 percent of the development is publicly accessible open space.
    > No more than one-third of the square footage of the development, excluding the portion reserved for open space, is dedicated to nonresidential uses.
  • With elevation changes approaching triple digits, LedgeRock Golf Club has an abundance of breathtaking views. Getting any kind of equipment, especially a spray rig, on those same high, steep slopes can be a challenge. Throw in the requisite labor shortages facing just about every golf course from coast to coast, and it does not take long for weeds to take over the most hard-to-reach places on the 2006 Rees Jones design near Reading, Pennsylvania.
    In the past, FitzGerald has had members of his crew spray those steep slopes by hand, but the recent labor crunch has forced him to divert that manpower elsewhere on the golf course. As a result, it did not take long for summer weeds to overtake many of those areas that comprise as much as 15 acres.
    "Everything I can put a boom sprayer on is great, but the places I can't get a boom sprayer on are not," said LedgeRock superintendent Alan FitzGerald. "There has to be a better way."
    A conversation with a friend in the agriculture industry yielded a potential solution - using a drone to spray those areas where traditional rigs cannot go. Drones have been used to dust crops since 1987, according to Agronomix.com, a web site dedicated to the science of plant breeding, but it is new technology in golf. FitzGerald believes LedgeRock might be the first and only golf course to dabble in drones for anything other than photography and videography.
    While golf courses around the country have struggled to find enough help since the pandemic began, LedgeRock has done a decent job at avoiding a labor crisis by tactics that include increasing pay incrementally. Still, FitzGerald's staff is down by more than 20 percent this year, which is enough of a shortage that he cannot send people into those slopes to spray by hand.
    "For me, the labor is the big thing. This is more efficient," FitzGerald said. "If I can get to these awkward areas and save labor, that's a win-win. If it takes work off my plate, if these drones get bigger and can carry more, I see more of a future for flying. As I like to say, laziness is the mother of invention."
    A drone pilot from Rantizo, an Iowa-based firm licensed to spray herbicides in several states, including Pennsylvania, has conducted two test flights over LedgeRock. And FitzGerald has seen enough that he already plans to bring them in next year for preventive herbicide applications. The drone operator maps out the coordinates, and the spray perimeter is controlled by GPS.
    Rantizo's drone utilizes Real Time Kinetic positioning to ensure accuracy of application.
    "We do deal with a bunch of terrain," said Juan Cantu of Rantizo. "We overcome that by a radar system on our drones to follow the terrain. This drone application is perfect for site-specific application. It reduces chemicals being put out and knows exactly where it should go. Our drones are equipped with RTK accuracy, so we are within sub-inch accuracy." 
    In the first test run, the drone operator sprayed turf paint into the bunkers as a demonstration. FitzGerald was intrigued enough to bring them back to test herbicide on some of the awkward weedy areas on steep fescue-covered slopes.
    During the second visit, the operator sprayed two acres of slope covered with fescue and all manner of summer weeds. It takes longer to spray areas of equal size on a golf course compared with a farm field because the spray rates are greater for golf, requiring more frequent fill-ups. The operator flies the drone 5 feet above the surface. At 5 gallons per acre, the operator covered the entire 2-acre area in two flights, and tree cover makes reaching some areas - even by air - impossible. Still, the allure of spraying areas where hand applications are difficult if not impossible is enough to warrant the procedure.
    "It was more cost effective than I expected. Once it is mapped and the preliminary work is done it is pretty efficient," FitzGerald said. " He can spray three to five acres an hour. The next time he comes, that area is already mapped out. What took an hour-and-a-half last time to set up now takes five minutes. Down the road, when everything is mapped out, the production cost will go down a lot.
    "It is a luxury, but it also is a labor savings, which is everything these days. If I had two guys out there, they could be out there for a month to get everything right. The speed and convenience will save labor, and I can get them to other things that they normally couldn't get to."
    The genesis behind the idea for drone spraying came earlier this year when FitzGerald took a long, hard look at one of those difficult-to-reach areas by the 18th tee.
    "We had not been able to spray there in years," he said. "And it looked like crap."
    The sheer size of acreage of fairways and roughs makes spraying those areas unrealistic, but the technology can be used to spray bunker edges and other tight spots, FitzGerald said.
    "Bunker banks are a headache for us, too," he said. "The sprayer skips, and it's hard to get to everything.
    Drone spraying is not necessarily for everything on the golf course, and it's not for everyone. It's a little slow for the rates we have to spray, but it is going to save me a lot of labor in the long run, because we can shift labor around to where we need it. We'll see what the herbicide does in the next day or two, but I'll definitely bring them back next year to do more."
  • Damage caused by Hurricane Ida forced moving the PGA Forme Tour Championship from The Ridge at Back Brook in New Jersey (above) to Huntsville Golf Club in Pennsylvania (below) with less than a week's notice. Photos courtesy of Mark McCormick Many golf courses boast of being tournament ready all the time. Mark McCormick, superintendent at Huntsville Golf Club in Dallas, Pennsylvania, is proving it.
    When damage by Hurricane Ida at The Ridge at Back Brook in Ringoes, New Jersey threatened to cancel the PGA Forme Tour Championship this week, PGA Tour officials moved the tournament to Huntsville GC 100 miles away. 
    Golfers have Brandon Matthews, a Forme Tour player, to thank for saving the tournament. Matthews, a native of nearby Pittston, Pennsylvania, grew up playing Huntsville and suggested to Tour officials that it would be a capable replacement for The Ridge at Back Brook. 
    Tour officials visited the property Sept. 4 and gave it the thumbs-up for the tournament with just five days' notice.
    "It was nice when the officials from the Tour came up and told us that Huntsville already was good enough to host their event," McCormick said. "It makes you proud when your hard work is noticed."
    The Ridge sustained serious damage in the wake of Hurricane Ida, which made landfall Aug. 29 in Louisiana then tracked northeast dumping as much as 10 inches of rain in its path. Rainfall amounts in the Ringoes area ranged from 7-10 inches in a 24-hour period on Sept. 1-2.
    With only a few short days to prepare for the PGA Forme Tour event, McCormick could not change much at Huntsville. Turns out, he didn't have to.
    "We discussed green speeds and where the Tour wanted them, and that was very doable," McCormick said. "We cut the rough Sunday, then just let it go through the tournament."
    The compressed 72-hole event began Sept. 8 and will conclude Sept. 10.
    Like most golf course operations nationwide, Huntsville has felt the sting of a labor crunch. McCormick usually has 20-25 employees through the summer that includes his full-time staff of eight. This year, he had only about 15 people on staff, including his full-time crew. His part-time help, which comprises mainly high school students, is gone with the start of a new school year.
    "It has been a tough year overall for labor," McCormick said. "When school starts, all our guys leave.
    "My full-time guys came through and worked over the weekend and through the Labor Day holiday."
    He also has recruited about 10 volunteers to help out, including some area superintendents and his former boss and mentor, Scott Schukraft.
    A former superintendent, Schukraft is the owner of Elite Sports Turf and Landscape Management. He also was the superintendent at Huntsville and served as the club's general manager for 20 years. Schukraft hired McCormick straight out of Penn State as his second assistant at Huntsville in 1992, and promoted him to superintendent in 1999.
    Schukraft's first client when he started Elite was Misericordia University, where he maintains the baseball field. He has recruited a few players off the roster to help throughout the tournament.
    "They're just going to be doing manual labor for the golf tournament; filling divots and raking bunker edges," Schukraft said. "There was no time to train them on anything else. If there is an emergency, then they will do whatever is needed. In an emergency on a golf course, you can never have enough resources in your back pocket, and I just now got a flash flood warning on my phone, so who knows?"
    As a former GM and grow-in superintendent at Huntsville, Schukraft still has an emotional attachment to the property and is happy McCormick has a chance to show it off.
    "Mark is one of the finest superintendents in the country. I've never met a harder worker. He has dedicated himself to that club and his profession," Schukraft said. "The conditioning of that golf course considering the resources he has is unbelievable, and he has done it consistently. This year has been difficult with weather, staffing, Covid, yet the conditions are impeccable.
    "Mark is not looking for any recognition. He has busted his butt to make that golf course what it is. Then with no staff when you have a Tour event thrown at you, you know you've done OK."
  • Spotted lanternfly, an invasive species native to Asia, is a threat to several kinds of trees throughout the U.S. Photo by Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture It is basic military strategy to call for air support when fending off the advances of an invading force. The U.S. Department of Agriculture did just that in its fight against the spotted lanternfly, an invasive insect species from Asia that threatens to cause havoc to native trees and crops.
    The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine division is partnering with the U.S. Air Force to find ways to mitigate the spread of spotted lanternfly on military aircraft and other large container vessels. The Air Force picked the 436th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management section out of Dover Air Force Base in Delaware as the lead test hub for future Spotted Lanternfly mitigation practices.
    Native to China, the spotted lanternfly was first detected in the United States in 2014 in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Like other invasive species, it is believed to have entered the country aboard shipping containers. Adult females lay egg masses on a variety of objects - boxes, crates, cars, anything it can land on - which allows it to spread throughout the world. Left unchecked, spotted lanternfly can cause damage to crops, ornamental trees, vineyards and forests. Its preferred host is the tree of heaven, itself an invasive species.
    Three chemicals were tested, including 10 percent d-Phenothrin, Callington Aircraft Insecticide and Callington 1-Shot.

    First detected in the U.S. in Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014, the spotted lanternfly is now found in at least 10 states. Photo by Cornell University Three 1,200 cubic foot shipping containers were used to simulate an aircraft cargo area where six modified plastic food containers, each containing spotted lanternflies, were placed in each shipping container, then exposed to a specific insecticide prior to closing the door and left for 15 minutes. Mortality counts were taken at predetermined time intervals. According to the Air Force, the 1-Shot, a mixture of d-Phenothrin and Permethrin, was most effective.
    Spotted lanternfly has been detected in Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia and is a threat to the following tree varieties besides tree of heaven: almond, apple, apricot, cherry, maple, nectarine, oak, peach, pine, plum, poplar, sycamore, walnut, willow and grapevines.
    Here are some tips for helping mitigate the spread of the invasive spotted lanternfly.
    > Check Your Vehicle: Before leaving a parking lot or work site, inspect vehicles for spotted lanternfly egg or insects. Check doors, sides, bumpers, wheel wells, grills, and roofs.  If found, destroy any eggs or insects you find.
    > Inspect Items Being Moved: Check shipping containers, propane tanks, pallets and other items being stored outdoors before they are moved off-site. Inspect incoming goods for egg masses and insects. 
    > Park with Windows Closed: The spotted lanternfly and its nymphs can enter vehicles unsuspectedly. When parked, make sure to keep windows closed. If possible, try to park 15 feet away from trees if in a quarantine zone.
    > Remove and Destroy Pests: Crush nymphs and adult insects. Scrape egg masses into a plastic bag containing hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol to kill them. Treatment information can be found through PennState Extension or your local cooperative extension service
    > Remove Host Trees: Spotted lanternflies prefer the ailanthus tree, also known as “Tree of Heaven.” Try to remove trees from the business property to avoid attracting spotted lanternfly.
    > Report Sightings: Report sightings to your state's agriculture extension service.
  • By now, everyone has seen the widespread damage being caused this summer by fall armyworms, either in person or in a photo posted to social media by some other unlucky soul. Wide swaths of brown turf attributed to the voracious appetite of this inch-and-a-half-long pest are common from Texas and Florida, northward to Canada and almost everywhere in between.
    The far-reaching damage has left many turf managers with a couple of questions: How do I get rid of them? Will they return in similar numbers next year?
    University entomologists have plenty of advice on how to kill the pests, but are not so confident when discussing future activity. In fact, when it comes to predicting fall armyworm activity for the following year, Rick Brandenburg, Ph.D., admits there are many more questions than answers. 
    "I've thought about why armyworms are so numerous this year, and I've been asked about that a lot," said Brandenburg, professor of entomology at North Carolina State University. "When you look back at spring and summer, it was different everywhere, so conditions were not consistent. It was a perfect storm for armyworm damage, but what does that perfect storm look like? 
    "We don't know a lot about their migration patterns. We might see them in May and June, or June and July. It just varies. The earlier we see them, the more serious the damage. But then, that's not always the case. There are a lot of factors, and things are so sporadic. We don't get a chance to study them year-over-year in the same location, and that's why we have a lot of questions. I'm glad I don't know more about them than I do, or my phone would never stop ringing."
    What Brandenburg and his colleagues do know is that damage from fall armyworms is rarely permanent and likely is not a sign of things to come in subsequent years.
    Fall armyworms cannot overwinter in freezing temperatures. They are native to southern Texas and Florida, but the adult moths catch a wind to migrate hundreds of miles to other areas each year. Once the moths land, they lay egg masses, each containing 300-500 eggs (as shown on the photo above by Rick Brandenburg), typically on overhangs and objects over turf. When the eggs hatch, thousands of caterpillars will drop onto the turf surface and begin feeding.
    "We see them here in North Carolina every year. It's rare when someone in North Carolina doesn't get hit with them," Brandenburg said. 
    "They really love hybrid Bermuda. We see them every year, but I haven't seen them like I am this year. I haven't seen them like this in 30 years."
    Armyworms do not just pop out of the egg on an eating binge. They have to grow into the role, said Dave Shetlar, Ph.D., professor emeritus at Ohio State. Armworms have been wiping out large areas on lawns, sports fields and golf courses for several weeks.
    Shetlar said in a recent OSU Turf Team video that he has been inundated with emails from people saying their lawns, athletic fields and putting greens have "suddenly disappeared."
    "No, they didn't suddenly disappear," Shetlar said as he pointed to a photograph of an armyworm that has been dining outside the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation Research Center at Ohio State. 
    "This caterpillar looks like a fifth instar. That caterpillar has probably been there for three weeks. And the problem is when they are in the first, second and third instar, they're little tiny caterpillars, and you don't see very much from them. When they get into that fourth, fifth and sixth instar, they're big, fat and sassy. A sixth instar caterpillar can eat probably 100 times more food per day than that little first and second instar."

    Although fall armyworms regularly migrate out of their native area, massive outbreaks like the one on display this year occur only every five to seven years in areas in a northern climate. The moths can hitch a ride on upper-level winds and can even get swept up from the Gulf rim in a hurricane or tropical storm, like Hurricane Elsa, which made landfall in North Florida on July 6 then spawned nearly 20 tornadoes during the next three days through the Southeast then up the East Coast before re-entering the Atlantic off Newfoundland. The timing of the aligns perfectly with this year's armyworm outbreak, Shetlar said.
    "In high-speed winds, they can be blown 500 miles in 24 hours," Shetlar said. 
    Although armyworms and cutworms look rather similar, the former are much harder to kill - when they get fat and sassy.
    Shetlar suggests several chemistries for effective control of fall armyworms. Pyrethroids offer a quick curative solution. Diamides are effective preventive options. Some also can be used for curative control, but also can be expensive.
    Thanks to slightly cooler temperatures north of the transition zone, many courses in the Midwest and Northeast already are reporting recovery just days after experiencing near devastation.
    "Turf will recover from fall armyworm damage," Brandenburg said. "If you have good fertility, good temperatures and good moisture, it will recover."
    One of the questions Brandenburg often faces is whether outbreaks like this year are an indicator of what is to come in the future. 
    "I don't think it does," he said. "I think it's a new start every year.
    "But, if warm-season turf doesn't have time to recover heading into winter, it is going to struggle. For example, if warm-season turf gets hammered in September, then it gets cool in October, it is going to have a hard time recovering, and if it hasn't recovered before the first frost, then it is going to struggle coming out of spring."
  • Since it was registered in 1965, chlorpyrifos has been reviewed several times by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for tolerance reassessment, reregistration and most recently, as part of its ongoing registration review.
    Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide used for a large variety of agricultural uses, including soybeans, fruit and nut trees, broccoli, cauliflower, and other row crops, as well as non-food uses. It also has been used on golf courses to control some insect pests. It has been found to inhibit an enzyme, which leads to neurotoxicity, and also has been associated with potential neurological effects in children, according to the EPA.
    As a result, many states have banned the use of chlorpyrifos, and the EPA banned its use in the consumer market. On Aug. 18, the EPA announced it will stop the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on all food products.
    In a final rule, the EPA is revoking all tolerances for chlorpyrifos, which establish an amount of a pesticide that is allowed on food. In addition, the agency will issue a Notice of Intent to Cancel under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act to cancel registered food uses of chlorpyrifos associated with the revoked tolerances.
    The steps taken by the EPA are in response to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' order directing the EPA to issue a final rule in response to the 2007 petition filed by Pesticide Action Network North America and Natural Resources Defense Council. The petition requested that EPA revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances, or the maximum allowed residue levels in food, because those tolerances were not safe, in part due to the potential for neurodevelopmental effects in children.
    While farmers have historically relied on chlorpyrifos, its use has been in decline due to restrictions at the state level and reduced production. Additionally, some alternatives have been registered in recent years for most crops. There are also other chemistries and insect growth regulators available for certain target pests.
    This action will also be incorporated into the ongoing registration review for chlorpyrifos. After considering public comments, the agency will proceed with registration review for the remaining non-food uses of chlorpyrifos.
  • Rick Latin, Ph.D., might be retired from academia after a long career as a turfgrass pathologist at Purdue University, but he is not finished sharing his knowledge.
    The award-winning professor emeritus at Purdue and a consultant in his adopted home of Pinehurst, North Carolina, Latin penned his book on turf management, "A Practical Guide to Turfgrass Fungicides" in 2011. The second edition of the "Guide" recently was published by the Amer Phytopathological Society.
    Since publication of the first edition of the Guide in 2011, much more has been learned about how fungicides work and how best to use them. Turf pathologists have examined how fungicides work in concert with other factors, including where they remain in the soil and their residual activity to optimize use of these tools. New products have changed the day-to-day practice of turf disease management.
    "The book contains about 30 percent more research-based content and a complete up-to-date revision of most chapters," Latin said.
    "My motivation for writing the book is that, given the mystery and misinformation surrounding turf diseases and fungicides applied for disease control, I believe that superintendents should have a research-based resource to explain how and why fungicides work and why sometimes they don’t work."
    The first edition of Latin's "Guide" has been a go-to resource for golf course superintendents and other turf managers for the past decade, "A Practical Guide to Turfgrass Fungicides" has been a go-to resource for professional turfgrass managers. 
    The second edition includes 80 more illustrations, profiles of 11 new compounds and up-to-date discussions of 27 turf diseases. 
    During his 37-year career at Purdue, Latin was named the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Service Award from the Miidwest Regional Turf Foundation. He also was named a Scientific Fellow in 2018 by The American Phytopathological Society and also received the GCSAA's John Morley Distinguished Career Award for contributions to the benefit of the turfgrass industry.
  • Inverness Club superintendent John Zimmers (center) is flanked by assistants Carlton Henry (left) and Ryan Kaczor. Some things are so obvious they defy discussion: Coke beats Pepsi, bacon makes everything better and Toledo, Ohio, is the perfect location for the Solheim Cup. 
    Home to one of the LPGA's longest-running events, the Toledo area has a history of promoting women's golf that few other locations can match. That commitment to furthering the game among women will be on display for all to see Aug. 31-Sept. 6 when historic Inverness Club plays host to the Solheim Cup. 
    The connection to women's golf in the Toledo area is so strong, it is kind of a surprise that it has taken the LPGA so long to bring its premier event here.
    With a fresh coat of paint thanks to a 2018 restoration by architect Andrew Green and a bold and aggressive membership that went and plucked superintendent John Zimmers away from storied Oakmont where he had successfully navigated through two U.S. Open championships, Inverness is ready to show its stuff. And so is Toledo. 
    "John and his team have provided a canvas for the Solheim Cup that is second to none," Green said. "The tireless efforts of the team at Inverness have allowed the design elements to shine through."
    The Solheim Cup is a big deal here. More than 100,000 advance tickets have been sold, including about 60,000 to patrons from outside Ohio, and a new highway interchange completed just a month ago has made access to the club from Interstate 475 and U.S. 23, which previously required extensive local knowledge, a breeze.
    "The support for the Marathon Classic all the way back to the Jamie Far has made Toledo an appealing site," said Carlton Henry, an assistant superintendent at Inverness who came with Zimmers from Oakmont. "The LPGA knew this was a market that supports women's golf. They know people are going to buy tickets and support the event."
    The membership who hired Green and Zimmers and bought in to a reinvention of their golf course are ready to show off the 1916 Donald Ross design.
    "I play golf with people who have played this course for 50 years, and they all say it has never looked this good," said Mike McCullough, the club's historian. "We are spoiled at just how good it is. Many of our members are members at national clubs, and they tell me they have never experienced anything like the conditions we have here."

    Inverness Club underwent a restoration by architect Andrew Green in 2018. Like so many northern cities going through post-industrial decline, Toledo has had a hard time of it in recent years. The city lost about 20 percent of its population over a 30-year span beginning in 1980. Some moved to the suburbs, others moved away altogether. As a result, Toledo has been a regular visitor to the FBI's list of the country's most dangerous cities. For all its warts and blemishes, Toledo's role of promoting women's golf fits the city like a glove. 
    "It is not a stretch to say this is easily the most important moment in Inverness Club history in the past 30 years," McCullough said. "From the announcement of the club getting the Solheim Cup, then bringing in Andrew Green for the most significant renovation since 1977 that turned out better than anyone expected, this is going to showcase really well, not just for Inverness, but also for Toledo which has a history of supporting women's golf.
    "They even built a new exit off 475 and 23 that now dumps off on Dorr Street a mile from the club. A lot of work has taken place to end up where we are right now."
    Inverness has a rich tradition of championship golf. Designed by Donald Ross from 1916-1918, Inverness has been the host of four U.S. Open Championships (1920, '31, '57, '79), a pair of PGA Championships (1986, '93), two U.S. Senior Open Championships (2003, '11), the 1973 U.S. Amateur and most recently the 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur. 
    What has evolved into the USGA Green Section was founded there more than a century ago.
    The club also has answered the call for promoting women's golf, which has a rich history in northwestern Ohio.
    The LPGA's Marathon Classic, played a few miles up 475 at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, is the second-oldest continuous event on the women's tour. Affiliated with Jamie Farr of MASH fame from its inception through 2012, the tournament originated at Glengarry Country Club (now Stone Oak CC) in nearby Holland in 1984. The tournament, which has gone through a host of name changes, moved to Highland Meadows in 1989 and has been played there ever since.
    Only the Cambia Portland Classic, which has been played since 1972, is older. The Marathon Classic moved up two spots from No. 4 to No. 2 when the CP Women's Classic and the Toto Japan Classic, both founded in 1973, were canceled in 2020 due to Covid.
    As the LPGA scrambled last year with cancellations and other challenges associated with the pandemic, it found a solution in Toledo. 

    Inverness Club in Toledo boasts being the first golf club to admit a woman as a full member when the club opened in 1903. When the LPGA needed a second event in the Toledo area last year to bookend with the Marathon Classic and help limit player travel during the pandemic, the association asked the membership at Inverness about the chances of Zimmers and his team getting the place tournament ready on short notice. With five weeks to get ready, Inverness wowed LPGA players during the Drive On Championship. 
    "Like, even the way they cut the grass here, it gives you such a major championship feel when you're out there," LPGA player Nelly Korda said during last year's Drive On Championship. "It's super nice."
    Providing championship conditions on a daily basis is page 1 out of the Zimmers playbook, said Ryan Kaczor, an assistant superintendent at Inverness.
    "The feedback from the players was all very positive," Kaczor said. "We can have a championship course ready for an event like that at a moment's notice. The golf course was a good test for them, and it gave them an opportunity to become familiar with the course moving into the Solheim Cup this year."
    Danielle Kang was dutifully impressed, as well. Kang, who won the Drive On and followed up with a win at Highland Meadows the following week, bequeathed her putter to Zimmers, who offered her some advice on how to handle green speeds at Inverness.
    The LPGA's first foray into the Toledo area came years before the Marathon Classic. With interest in women's golf waning, the LPGA wanted to drum up enthusiasm by hosting a pro-am event at a yet-to-be-identified high-brow club. Eventually, the LPGA turned to Inverness. The club, where Byron Nelson was the pro from 1940-44, already was entrenched in men's championship golf. By the 1950s, the club, which opened in 1903, already had a half-century of experience in an area that few other clubs could match - promoting membership to women.
    "Clara Millard was the country's first female member of a golf club," McCullough said . "She is on the club's original scrolls from 1903 as a certificate member."
    The event was a hit, and several of the players competing in it eventually went on to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, including Mickey Wright, Patty Berg, Betsy Rawls and Babe Didrikson Zaharias.
    Those who have not seen much of Inverness since the 1986 PGA Championship when Bob Tway broke Greg Norman's heart on No. 18, should be prepared for a walk back through time.
    The 1979 U.S. Open and '86 PGA followed a George and Tom Fazio renovation that left many Ross devotees unimpressed. The current edition of Inverness, with its gentle, rolling slopes and unique land features, looks more like what Ross intended than at any time in recent memory.
    "I think the beauty of the course is the way Donald Ross used the subtle highs and lows with the dramatic glaciated landforms to create a wealth of shots," said Green, the architect who unwound much of what the Fazio renovation put into place. "I anticipate the match-play format to take advantage of these challenges and options throughout the course. I believe people will be able to feel the history and charm of the place, even through the TV screen. A primary goal of our work was the connection of the golf course to its roots and the classic features that made up the original course. The fit and flow of the property are one of a kind and I can't wait to see the teams use their skills to find success."
  • The company that tried to bring robotic mowing technology to the golf industry soon will be owned outright by one of the country's largest manufacturers of consumer power and hand tools.
    After acquiring 20 percent in MTD in 2019, Stanley Black & Decker will acquire the remaining 80 percent of the company that owns turf maintenance brands such as Cub Cadet. The deal, which is contingent upon regulatory review, is for a reported $1.6 billion in cash and is expected to close before the end of the year.
    Cub Cadet, which makes the Infinicut line of reel mowers popular in sports turf management, once manufactured the RGX robotic greens mower, a project that was abandoned last year. Originally named the RG3, the robotic mower was launched in 2009 by Precision Path Robotics. Cub Cadet bought the technology in 2015 before throwing in the towel early in 2020.
    Besides the Infinicut line of reel mowers and pull-behind blowers for the professional turf market, MTD designs, manufactures and distributes lawn tractors, zero-turn mowers, walk-behind mowers, snow blowers, residential robotic mowers, handheld outdoor power equipment and garden tools for residential and professional consumers. Other consumer brands under the MTD umbrella are Troy-Bilt, Rover, Wolf Garten and Robomow.
    The RG3 debuted at the 2009 Golf Industry Show in New Orleans, and reappeared six years later in San Antonio under the Cub Cadet brand. 
  • Talk about uninvited guests.
    Two men were arrested after the car one of them was driving was captured on video driving on the golf course at NCR Country Club in Kettering, Ohio.
    Kent Peters of Washington Township, Ohio (located about 15 miles south of Dayton) was charged with operating a vehicle while impaired, reckless operation of a vehicle off the street, failure to stop and a lane violation after, police said, he caused multiple crashes August 21 before being stopped on the golf course in suburban Dayton.
    Police said Peters hit another car at an intersection around 2:45 p.m. on the day in question. Police said he then left the scene and caused another crash near Community Golf Club, a municipal operation owned by the City of Dayton, a mile-and-a-half away. The joyride finally came to an end another 2.5 miles away on the course at NCR, a Dick Wilson design in Kettering.
    In a video that circulated on social media (warning, the video contains graphic language), what appears to be an NCR employee can be seen chasing the car on the golf course. The black Toyota Camry that Peters was driving was pretty beat up by the time police brought the adventure to an end. A voice on the video can be heard remarking at the numerous beer bottles found in the vehicle.
    "The man in the driver’s seat did not react normally," one of the drivers involved in the crash told police. "His front bumper was dragging and was then scraped off as he hit another car while leaving the parking lot."
    Police also charged Wesley Peters, 43, of Centerville, who was a passenger in the vehicle, with intoxication.
  • LedgeRock Golf Club in Mohnton, Pennsylvania is flush with wide, sweeping views. Photos by John Reitman As a kid in Ireland, Alan FitzGerald discovered more than 25 years ago that the best route to becoming a golf course superintendent would include going to the United States - at least for formal education. What he did not know at the time was that what was supposed to be a two-year stop at Penn State would turn into something much more permanent.
    FitzGerald, a native of Castlecomer, a small town in the southeast of Ireland near Kilkenny, came to the U.S. in 1996 to attend Penn State. After a stint as assistant working for Rick Christian at historic Pine Valley in New Jersey, FitzGerald has spent the past 18 years as superintendent at vista-rich LedgeRock Golf Club in Mohnton, Pennsylvania, a remote area near Reading. Two years ago, he made his extended stay permanent when he became a U.S. citizen.
    "It isn't an easy process. At first, I just wanted to get it done, but when I did it, it was very emotional. It was a big moment," said FitzGerald. "I don't get excited much, but that was something that was very exciting."
    It was Aidan O'Hara who convinced FitzGerald of the importance of learning the turf management trade at an American turf school. O'Hara, the superintendent at Mount Juliet Golf in Kilkenny, learned the Jack Nicklaus way of greenkeeping under Mike McBride at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin . . . Ohio.
    Something O'Hara said stuck with FitzGerald, who got the assistant's job at Pine Valley in 1998 on the recommendation of Dick Bator, before graduating to LedgeRock in 2004. 
    "I did my two years of basic greenkeeping at Mount Juliet, then I got into the two-year program at Penn State," said FitzGerald. 
    "I'm supposed to say I met my wife at Penn State, and that's why I stayed in the States. But I got the assistant's job at Pine Valley, and that made me stay. And here I am 25 years later."
    Bator, a consultant and former superintendent at Pine Valley, had recently returned from Ireland when he met FitzGerald in 1998 and recommended him to Christian.
    "He's from Ireland, so I felt sorry for him," Bator joked. "Seriously, what impressed me about him was his ability at a young age to think outside the box to get things accomplished."
    Nothing FitzGerald learned at Penn State or Pine Valley could prepare him for some of the challenges he has faced for two decades as the construction and grow-in superintendent at LedgeRock. The Rees Jones design has top-to-bottom elevation changes of some 80 feet and severe slopes at every turn that make mowing a real-life adventure.
    "Most superintendents, when they come here, ask 'how do you do that?' " FitzGerald said. "I just shake my head and say 'Don't ask. It just gets done.' Everything here is four-wheel drive."
    Slopes are so severe that one hillside is named in honor of the Toro mowers used to keep it clipped.
    "When they saw it, their engineers panicked," FitzGerald said. "They told me when they designed their machines they never would run on a hill like this. Even though it is within tolerance, they never thought they would be used to mow anything like this."
    FitzGerald, 45, was seemingly destined for life as a golf course superintendent. He's been on one almost for as long as he can remember and pretty much grew up on the golf course named for his hometown.

    "My dad was always involved in Castlecomer Golf Club in Ireland," he said. "Dad was always there. He was on committees, greens committees, whatever. He was that guy."
    He finally considered greenkeeping as a career when at age 16 he got a job at Mount Juliet when his mother was named human resources manager there. By 1996, he was off to Penn State.
    "The first year there was miserable, but then it became fun. That's when I decided I wanted to do this as a career. Aidan told me 'if you want to do this, you need to go to the States.' "
    The transition to life in the United States was difficult at first, mostly due to cultural differences between the U.S. and Ireland, where no one much cares how old you are when ordering a beer.
    "Coming to New York City from Kilkenny was a culture shock," he said. "Then coming to Penn State was a culture shock because I was 20, and I couldn't get into bars. It was awkward the first few months, but then I settled in."
    Because of his rough transition to life in the U.S. his first year in State College, FitzGerald said the late George Hamilton, Ph.D., then director of Penn State's two-year program, wanted him to intern over the summer for a PSU alumnus. Loch Lomond in Scotland where Penn State grad Ken Siems was superintendent, was deemed the perfect fit.
    "He was a Penn State grad, I had friends there and my dad's family was from around there. I was going to my spiritual home," FitzGerald said.
    "I spent the summer there, then went back to Penn State. I had a much better year. I was of age and able to enjoy college life more."
    Crossing paths with Bator changed the trajectory of his career.
    "He called me, and told me to expect a phone call from Rick. He called and told me I was hired," FitzGerald said. 
    "In hindsight, meeting Dick Bator was huge for me. At the time, I was young, and I had no idea how huge it was."
    Bator remembered hearing about the tough transition in FitzGerald's early days at Penn State, and was impressed by his willingness to see it through to graduation.
    "He had a lot of staying power," Bator said. "I had just returned from Ireland when I met him. I have a soft spot for foreign guys who can stick it out."
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