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From the TurfNet NewsDesk

  • John Reitman
    Hexagon- and circular-shaped earthen mounds are visible at Mound Builders Country Club in Newark, Ohio. Mound Builders CC photo Time could be running out for a golf course that has operated for more than a century on the site of an ancient earthworks complex.
    Since 1910, Mound Builders Country Club, a Thomas Bendelow design in Newark, Ohio, has operated on the site of the ancient Octagon Earthworks, part of the Hopewell Earthworks complex on several locations throughout central and southern Ohio. 
    Unlike the other earthwork compounds in Ohio that are believed to be ancient tribal burial sites, the Octagon and Great Circle complex at Mound Builders was erected more than 2,000 years ago by the Hopewell tribe to align with the moon during certain lunar phases. It is thought to be the oldest manmade earthworks complex in the world.
    The land where the club is located is owned by the Ohio History Connection, a state-funded entity that leases the property to the club. The lease agreement was to run through 2078, but the Ohio Supreme Court voted 6-1 last year to clear the way for the OHC to end the lease early. OHC wants to acquire the property through eminent domain and make the Octagon complex accessible to the public, like the other mounds throughout Ohio.
    Steps to make the area around the Hexagon mound complex accessible to the public intensified this week after the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization decided to recognize the entire Hopewell earthworks, which includes eight total sites, to be included on the World Heritage List.
    UNESCO's World Heritage List is a collection of 1,200 locations around the world, including 25 in the United States, deemed to be of outstanding universal value that includes places like the Great Wall, the Grand Canyon, the Pyramids of Giza, Babylon, Pompeii and Jerusalem.
    A sticking point between the club and the OHC has been compensation for the club so it could relocate elsewhere. According to reports, the OHC has on more than one occasion offered the club between $1 million and $2 million as a buyout of sorts. Club administrators have been on record saying it would cost as much as $25 million for the club to relocate.
    According to reports, a jury will decide the amount of the buyout.
    The Hopewell earthworks, including the Octagon and Great Circle at Mound Builders CC, were nominated by the U.S. Department of the Interior for inclusion on the UNESCO list last year.
  • After trying hopelessly to provide consistently great putting conditions year over year, the owner of a nine-hole golf course in Florida finally threw in the towel.
    Ben Best, owner of Suncoast Golf Center, installed artificial turf on all nine greens and the practice green at the nine-holer in Sarasota that he has owned for eight years. Installation began last October and was completed in January.
    Although he says it is cheaper to maintain synthetic greens, Best, who also is Suncoast's superintendent, said cost was not the driving force behind the decision to convert to carpet.
    "The biggest reason was consistency," Best said. "I got tired of looking people in the eye and telling them 'Yes, I know the greens are not good right now.' I got tired of saying it."
    Suncoast opened in 1997. When Best bought it nine years ago, he said there was as much bare dirt on the putting surfaces as there was grass. 
    "I took it from a diamond in the rough and turned the greens into something that were as good as any in the area," Best said. 
    "To call it a diamond in the rough when I bought it is giving it more credit than it deserves. The greens were 50 percent dirt and the practice range was all sand. The golf balls had no dimples left. They were that old. They were not one type, one brand or even one color. They had everything out there."
    Each year since he bought the course, Best babied the greens throughout the year, but it never seemed to be enough. To replicate the same conditions he produced during the summer offseason, Best eventually turned to overseeding in the fall. That was great during the winter, but often caused problems throughout the late spring and summer.
    "These are just old pop-up greens where the (native) soil was pushed up and boom, there's a green," he said. "The overseed looked good in winter, but the transition killed the greens. We had black mold, the overseed wouldn't die, we had nematodes."
    Even after Best stopped overseeding, his challenges of replicating winter conditions throughout the summer continued.
    "For four years, the overseed would come back on its own every winter," he said. "We'd bring the greens back every year, and every year they'd die.
    "It was hard to get our greens where we wanted them to be, and it was impossible to keep them there."

    Suncoast Golf Center has artificial turf on all of its greens. Suncoast Golf Center photo Best hired a nearby superintendent to consult on a best course of action, before finally settling on synthetic greens.
    "We were aerifying a green a week, verticutting," Best said.
    "I was spending $9,000 every month just on maintaining greens. That's a lot of money. I looked at digging them up and putting in USGA greens. Artificial turf costs less. It's not cheap either, and there is still maintenance involved, but I don't have to worry about consistency."
    Through his 40-year career in construction, Best already had installed many synthetic backyard putting greens, so the concept was one with which he already was familiar.
    He hired golf course builder Justin Carlton, who also has experience in synthetic turf installation including construction of an artificial turf putting green at Old Palm in Palm Beach Gardens, to do the shaping.
    The carpet is stretched and tucked and tacked so it holds contours like real grass. Unlike athletic fields that are packed with crumb rubber, Suncoast's greens are dressed with real sand.
    The trueness that superintendents achieve with natural grass is not there with the synthetic surface, but the consistency is.
    "There is some bounce and it plays like a new green that is only 25 percent broken in," Best said. "If you hit the ball with some spin, you can really do some things. If you hit it low, it's going to take off the back of the green.
    "My advice to people is hit it high and you'll be fine."
    And what do Suncoast's customers think, most like it, but Best knows that with synthetic turf, just like natural grass, you can't please all the people all the time.
    "Ninety percent love it. They love the consistency," Best said. "They know that today it will play the same as it did yesterday, and tomorrow it will play the same as it did today."
  • The newest mulcher attachment from Diamond Mowers can handle rough jobs. For turfgrass managers who have to clear difficult-to-reach places out of play, Diamond Mowers offers its line of disc mulchers and brush cutters, including its newest addition, the Disc Mulcher Belt Drive Pro X.
    The Disc Mulcher Belt Drive Pro X is available in two widths - 48 inches and 60 inches and will cut down nearly anything in its path without slowing down.
    The BD Pro has multiple hydraulic motor options. The 48-inch model is available with a gear motor, while the 60-inch version is available with a gear motor, piston motor and a belt drive.
    It can handle brush and trees up to 14 inches in diameter.
    The attachment offers 50 percent more low-end torque than Diamond's previous models. As a result, the belt drive accelerates quicker, recovers quicker and cuts through vegetation faster, resulting in improved efficiency of at least 20 percent compared with previous offerings.
    The deck includes improvements like tie-downs to make transporting the unit easier and an on-board tool box for commonly used tools.
  • Grief affects people in different ways. There are different levels, and, of course, different stages ranging from anger to recovery and everywhere in between. All reveal something about us.
    The death of a parent might hit differently than that of a child, spouse or even sibling. Although the loss of a parent is no doubt a source of sadness, parents preceding their children in death is the natural order of things. It is what is supposed to happen. Parents are not built to bury their children, and similarly, it is not natural when a spouse or partner passes too young or unexpectedly.
    Sept. 14 marked six months since Susan, my wife of 29 years, died after a five-year battle with a rare disease known as multiple system atrophy. Anyone interested in reading more on that disease or her experience can click here. 
    I am normally a private person. The only personal public ramblings I can recall in the past several years are the notice about my wife's passing referenced above, and when our daughter, Lauren, graduated from college last December. 
    Both were life-changing events: one good, one not so good.
    When a spouse dies, you become awash in regret and guilt, over words said — and unsaid. Or at least I was. Things that you wanted to do together now will never happen. Shared goals now will go unfilled. You yearn for one more day, one more chance to touch, hold or hug that person. One more chance to express your feelings for them, to right a wrong, say you're sorry, hear their voice or laughter, or simply say "I love you." Suffice to say, I never thought it was possible to miss someone so much.
    The weight can be crushing, and falling into a hole of depression after a death is very easy. Some days it feels impossible to go on. Some days it feels like you do not want to. It's hard to get to sleep at night and even harder to awaken the next day
    Climbing back out of this hole is not easy. It is not impossible, but you have to work at it, and you will probably need help.

    Happier times: Sipping on oversized daiquiris during Mardi Gras in New Orleans in 2000. Most are familiar with some version of the seven stages of grief that includes a variation of shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, reconstruction and acceptance. The path from beginning to end is not always so linear, making it possible to reside in multiple stages simultaneously.
    For six months, I have been bogged down mostly in the anger stage. I wanted answers to tough questions; questions about how something like this could happen to someone who, at 62, still had so much more life left to live. How could this happen to someone who was always the first to answer the call when others were in need? 
    It has taken this long to realize that I have been asking questions for which there are no answers. 
    I could say I came to that realization on my own, but that would be untrue. I could not have made this journey without my daughter and my closest friends.
    When it comes to friends, I feel that I have been blessed more than most. I have many good friends, but a small circle of very close friends, most of whom I have known for more than 40 years, and all of whom have listened to me rant or whine more in the past six months than anyone should have to. Their level of interaction has run the course from just listening, to consoling to telling me to remove my head from my ass.
    All points of view have been necessary and welcomed during this journey, and all have helped play a role in my own recovery.
    I am hardly qualified to offer advice to anyone on anything. In fact, the past 61 years have shown I'm not very good at taking it, either. But I have learned a thing or two in the past six months. 
    One will never be whole again after going through something like this. There will always be a void, and no sense will come of it. That leaves two options — get stuck in the quicksand and never escape, or learn to live with the uncertainties of life and move on. Focus on what you had. You learn quickly that there were many more than you'd ever realized. Just as important, you learn the bad times no longer are of significance.
    One of these paths you can travel alone. The other requires you to enlist the help of family and friends. Surround yourself with them, especially the ones who tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.
  • For turf managers struggling with many common yet hard-to-control turf diseases, Corteva Agriscience is set to launch its Floxcor fungicide.
    With the active ingredient fluoxastrobin, Floxcor is a FRAC 11 strobilurin fungicide approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to control 28 foliar, stem and root diseases, including anthracnose, brown patch, fairy ring, leaf spot, pythium blight and snow mold. It also is approved for control of dollar spot in light to moderate pressure conditions.
    An effective tank mix partner, Floxcor is labeled for use on golf course turf, in greenhouses and nurseries, on residential lawns and landscapes.
    "Floxcor specialty fungicide is a great addition to our growing portfolio of disease management solutions that will serve as the base for our future products for the Turf & Ornamental market," said Jay Young, Corteva Agriscience Turf & Ornamental Category Lead. "Corteva is committed to providing a comprehensive portfolio of solutions to our customers and has been focusing its energy and resources into research and development to expand its Turf & Ornamental offerings in the coming years.""
    Floxcor works by inhibiting spore germination and mycelial growth by interfering with the respiration process of the plant-pathogenic fungi. It moves quickly into the plant interior and spreads through the plant’s vascular system, including the xylem, becoming rain-fast 15 minutes after an application. The plant roots absorb the active ingredient, which is then transported via the xylem, to impede fungal growth and prevent new infections. 
    Floxcor specialty fungicide will be available in the United States late this year.
  • Previously only available online, the line of Spray Caddie Golf Cup Covers is now available through Mattison Turf Works, a Hillsboro, Oregon-based distributor of golf course turf management solutions.
    Constructed of recycled plastic, the Spray Caddie Golf Cup Covers keep cups clean, help protect golfers from direct contact with chemicals, help prevent cup staining and prevent topdressing sand from infiltrating cups. 
    Developed by Rob Roberts, an assistant superintendent and spray tech in Washington, Spray Caddie Golf Cup Cover is a flat, round cover that, when placed over the golf hole, shields the inside of the cup from liquid overspray. Metal tabs on the cup cover attract a magnetic wand that allows for no-touch use of the cup cover and prevent transfer of chemicals to gloves, hands, spray rig steering wheels or cell phones. The covers can be used with any spray application, including colorants, fertilizers, plant growth regulators, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and sand topdressing.
    "Spray Caddie provides a great contact-free cup cover while spraying. It's easy to use and can be stored on the roll bar of the sprayer," said Andrew Mattison, president of Mattison Turf Works and a former superintendent. "I wish I had Spray Caddie when I was a superintendent." 
    The Spray Caddie Golf Cup Coveris manufactured by Back Nine Boys LLC.
  • Imagine a fugitive attempting to flee police in a stolen golf course utility vehicle with a trail of squad cars — and a helicopter — in pursuit. 
    This isn't a script for an upcoming Randy Wilson video on TurfNet, but it was the scene Aug. 28 in Lincoln, Nebraska, when a fugitive allegedly crashed multiple vehicles while attempting to flee police after breaking parole. The suspect, Nick Roberts, was spotted by police parked in an alley in a stolen late model Chevrolet pickup, which he eventually crashed into a tree when a chase ensued.
    Members of Lincoln's Parole Task Force attempted to pin the vehicle in the alley, but Roberts managed to escape. The truck eventually was found near Jim Ager Golf Course, where police say Roberts crashed into a tree, then went onto the golf course where he made off on a Toro Workman, complete with a retrofit GPS spray rig courtesy of Frost Inc.
    As the chase continued, a police helicopter joined in before the suspect allegedly drove the rig into a Nebraska State Police vehicle 2 miles from Ager, a nine-hole municipal facility on Lincoln's southeast side.
    Ager superintendent Bill Kreuser, Ph.D., was away from the golf course when the excitement happened, but knew something was amiss when he received back-to-back phone calls from a member of his crew and Lincoln County parks employee.

    A utility vehicle laden with a spray tank and boom is not a good getaway vehicle. All photos by Dustin Horton "We're next to a public road and a park and there is no fence, so (non-golfers) come onto the property all the time," Kreuser said.
    Passers-by up to no good routinely help themselves to all kinds of things, and often vandalize the course, but this was the first time Kreuser remembered anyone making off with a mechanized vehicle.
    "We've had people steal wallets. A student working here had a backpack stolen," Kreuser said. "They've taken flags and tee markets, and blown up cups that peeled back like an Acme explosive from a Looney-Tunes cartoon.
    "It's public golf at a public park. Nothing surprises me anymore. We have dog walkers on the golf course, and M-80s on the greens on the Fourth of July. We also have some great neighbors who keep an eye out and call me when they see something is wrong." 
    Police informed Kreuser that they thought the vehicle might be totaled, but after scrounging for parts and making some adjustments to the Workman's suspension, the vehicle was right as rain in no time.
    "We thought it was totaled," Kreuser said. "Some of the wheels were destroyed, the boom was bent and the suspension was damaged. But with some new wheels and tweaking the suspension, it's as good as new.
    "The damage could have been much worse. Fortunately a head-on collision with state police squad car doesn't do much damage to a vehicle that can only go 19 miles an hour with a spray tank on the back and no suspension."
    The Workman wasn't just any spray vehicle, however. It had been used to test data in Kreuser's next data release for his revolutionary Greenkeeper app that helps golf course superintendents manage spray schedules.
    He had just completed rounding up integrated GPS spray data and had passed it along to superintendents in the field for further real-world Beta testing when the vehicle was stolen.
    "It figures it was stolen the last day we were using it for testing," Kreuser said. "We've been writing software for six months and testing it. Had we not finished, this could have been much more damaging.
    "In the end, it was just another problem we had to find a solution for."
    Roberts was charged with multiple offenses, including theft, fleeing police, resisting arrest, assault on an officer, driving on a suspended license and criminal mischief.
  • The roller coaster ride that has defined the golf business for nearly two decades appears to give Pinehurst Resort a miss.
    The golf resort in the North Carolina Sandhills, where the famed No. 2 course is preparing to host its fourth U.S. Open next year, will open its 10 layout in just more than six months.
    Pinehurst No. 10 will open next April 3, the resort recently announced. Construction on the Tom Doak-designed No. 10 course began in January. It will be the first new design to open at Pinehurst since the Tom Fazio-designed No. 8 course opened in 1996. Pinehurst No. 9, designed by Jack Nicklaus, opened in 1988 as the National Golf Club and was bought by Pinehurst and rebranded No. 9 in 2014.
    "(W)e're grateful for all of the major championships and historic moments that have come before," said Pinehurst Resort chief executive officer Bob Dedman Jr. in a news release from Pinehurst. "We're delighted to have a date to begin presenting this incredible design by Tom Doak to our guests. April 3 will not only be another great day in Pinehurst's history, but for our future as well."

    Pinehurst No. 10 is scheduled to open next April. Pinehurst Resort photo In No. 10, Doak sought to take advantage of the natural landscape and native plantings including wiregrass, extensive sandscape, longleaf pines and, of course, the naturally rolling terrain. Midway through the course, though, Doak takes advantage of rugged dunes carved out by mining operations more than 100 years ago. The result is more than 75 feet of elevation change throughout the course.
    "No. 10 starts out fairly gentle, then it starts going into the old quarry works where it gets downright crazy for a little bit, then the course gets up on the hill and there's a beautiful, sweeping view," Doak said in the Pinehurst release. "All of the holes coming in are challenging, even when you move down into the gentler terrain. It's a dramatic golf course; more than I originally thought."
    Pinehurst was founded on 5,500 acres by James Walker Tufts of Boston in 1895 and opened the Holly Inn on the property later that year. The Inn still stands today. Pinehurst No. 1 opened in 1897. The famed No. 2 course that was designed by Donald Ross, opened in 1907. No. 2 has been the host course to the U.S. Open in 1999, 2005 and 2014 and is scheduled to host the tournament next year. It also was the site of the PGA Championship in 1936 and the 1951 Ryder Cup Matches.
    "We're excited to show off Tom Doak's masterful interpretation of Pinehurst golf," said Pinehurst President Tom Pashley said in the release. "From the initial routing of Pinehurst No. 10 to the shaping and design process, Doak and his associates excelled in all regards. Our very high expectations were exceeded, and we can't wait for everyone to see it."
  • More than 100 weeds are covered in the new edition of Turfgrass Weed Control for Professionals from Purdue University. Photo by Aaron Patton, Ph.D. For those looking for a comprehensive guide to controlling common and difficult-to-control weeds in turf, Purdue University has your solution. 
    At 96 pages, the 2023 edition of Purdue University's Turfgrass Weed Control for Professionals provides weed identification and control information that turfgrass professionals can use to develop effective weed control programs for golf courses, athletic fields, sod farms, lawns, and other turfgrass systems. 
    Updated annually since its inaugural printing in 2012, the guide identifies a total of 105 weeds and contains hundreds of color images of common and not-so-common weeds. It is available in hard copy for $20 or as a download for $12.
    Authored by Purdue's Aaron Patton, Ph.D., the guide also includes input from scientists in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin.
    For each weed, the guide includes the scientific name and characteristics such as growth type, detailed physical description, habitat and favorable growth conditions, control options and similar weed types.
  • There is a lot of good news/bad news in golf as the industry continues to self-correct its way to rounds played supply-demand equilibrium.
    Earlier this year, TurfNet reported that demand has outpaced supply since the Covid pandemic. To that end, course closings that have defined the industry for nearly two decades, have slowed, while new course construction continues at a snail's pace.
    Since 2006, more than 2,800 courses have closed while only about 600 have opened, according to most industry reports.
    Pellucid's Jim Koppenhaver has defined equilibrium as one golf course for every 35,000 golfers. During this year's annual state of the industry address that he presents at the PGA Merchandise Show with Edgehill Golf Advisors principal Stuart Lindsay, Koppenhaver says that ratio is now 1:37,000 thanks to increased golfer demand and a continuance of supply shrinkage.
    So, if equilibrium has been achieved, if not surpassed, why are courses continuing to close? There are many reasons, but toward the top of the list are market-specific changing demographics.
    Many markets that once were historically white are today much more diverse. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. population has grown by 10 million in the past 10 years and by 40 million since the golf bust began in 2006. In that time, the Latino population in the U.S. has grown by 78% from 35 million to 62 million, according to census data. Research shows that demographic plays golf at a clip that is one-third that of white America.
    "Golf courses that were once thriving in some of those neighborhoods now are wondering where their rounds have gone," Lindsay said.
    Until the industry figures out how to attract more participation across cultural lines, those courses will continue to struggle or close entirely.
    "A number of locations have changed significantly in demographics along the lines of diversity and income which reduce the golfer pool and make the course untenable," Koppenhaver wrote in an email. "(It) doesn't matter what type of course was originally planted there; it's not going to survive when the demographic profile makes that type of shift over a 10-15-year period of time."
    Still, despite the math, new course construction has been held in check (which is a good thing for existing properties) due largely to exorbitant construction costs (which is not a good thing).
    When it comes to golf course construction costs, Lindsay considers himself to be somewhat of an expert. And the skyrocketing cost of building a new golf course today, said Lindsay, is good news for existing properties still riding a post-pandemic high.
    "I am the construction police. I have files and files on construction costs," said Lindsay. "The cost of building a new golf course today is astronomical."

    Golf courses are still busy, but shifting demographics hold unknown change. The average cost, Lindsay says, of planting an 18-hole layout is about $10 million. That figure, he says, is about twice what it was in 2006, when golf course construction slowed to a crawl and closures began to escalate.
    "That's just the golf course," he said. "That doesn't include a parking lot, or clubhouse. Just the golf course."
    The economics of the current golf market mean fewer golf courses likely will be built. That is especially true when talking about affordable golf.
    "You can't build an affordable new golf course anymore. The costs are too high," Lindsay said. "Everything is high-end resort or private." 
    Although the high (and still rising) cost of new course construction is not necessarily good news for anyone except those who move the dirt, it could be a blessing in disguise for those already in operation.
    Since the Covid pandemic, golf has enjoyed a resurgence during which it reclaimed in two years the 80 million rounds played lost from 2000-2019. Because cost will likely keep new construction in check, there is significant demand for tee times in the current course supply.
    "This is good news for existing golf courses as long as demand doesn't fall through the floor," Lindsay said. "You can take half what it costs to build a golf course and spend that on a renovation and be very competitive."
    About 81 percent of those closings have been privately owned clubs, but that number could be as high as 88 percent, Lindsay said. 
    "Figuring out the private sector is a little different," Lindsay said. "Figuring out that number is not an exact science."
    Although baby boomers still account for about 68 percent of all rounds played, there are now more millennials playing the game, Lindsay said. It was not that long ago that golfers scoured the Internet for discounted fees. Today, younger golfers are stacked in line to get to the first tee, and they're paying full rate.
    "The $100,000 household income bracket is growing," Lindsay said. "It might only be the top 10 percent, but people have money, and they're willing to pay to play golf.
    "Golf is going to continue to be a game for the affluent. And it is so difficult now to build a golf course, so that existing ones should do fine, unless the bottom drops out of demand again."
  • An Arizona golf course maintenance worker who was hospitalized in mid-July after being stung more than 2,000 times by bees is expected to recover.
    After 10 days on life support, the worker from Pebblebrook Golf Club in Sun City no longer is intubated, and is expected to recover, according to Arizona Fire and Medical Authority, the emergency agency that responded to the scene.
    The worker, who has not been identified due to HIPPA regulations, was hospitalized Aug. 19 after he and a colleague disrupted a hive on the golf course.
    Emergency officials were unsure how the colony had been disturbed, but hospital officials put the number of stings at more than 2,000, according to Ashley Losch of the Arizona Fire and Medical Authority.

    Normally docile honeybees can become aggressive when disturbed or threatened. According to emergency officials, there were two workers in the area when the bees emerged. The second worker managed to flee the area and call for help. Upon arrival, emergency officials said they were able to gain control of the situation by applying a foam retardant. They also closed the course until the situation was under control.
    When emergency officials approached the victim, his face was covered by bees, Losch said.
    Honeybees typically are not very aggressive, but can become so when their habitat is disrupted or threatened, if food stores are threatened or in response to predators, according to a search of many beekeeping websites.
    Just days after the Pebblebrook incident, a landscaper in the Phoenix area was swarmed after driving a mower over an underground hive.
  • Team Fish Head Farms is ready to roll. Fish Heads Farms photo  You might not have heard of Fish Head Farms before, but chances are you will soon.
    Fish Head Farms, a privately owned business that focuses on using aquaculture, organic processes and eco-friendly technologies to bring solutions to the golf course maintenance, agricultural, cannabis and plant industries, has reached a sales, marketing and distribution agreement with Atlantic Golf and Turf for its organic FISH SH!T, soil addictive. 
    The agreement between the companies affects the golf and turf markets in the New England and Upstate New York territory. Fish Head Farms manufactures, markets and distributes FISH SH!T, an organic product with more than 4,000 species of microbials.
    Said Scott Mackintosh, co-owner of Atlantic Golf and Turf: "We are very excited to add FISH SH!T to our product offering, as we are confident that this unique product aligns with Atlantic Golf and Turf's mission of providing sound agronomic advice focusing on sustainability, quality products and superior service to maximize our clients' budgets and needs."
    The microbes in FISH SH!T are designed to break down complex organic and synthetic matter and release essential nutrients into the soil. FISH SH!T aids grass growth and development by increasing; root growth, root diameter, soil water holding capacity, microbial activity and nutrient availability.
  • It has been a busy week or so at Harrell's.
    The producer and distributor of solutions for the golf industry, as well as other markets, has recently introduced a new fertilizer and is expanding operations with a new distribution center in the Pacific Northwest.

    Harrell's Protect Max Fluoxastrobin SC guards against many turf diseases, like fairy ring. Based in Lakeland, Florida, Harrell's recently launched the newest addition to its Protect Max line up with Protect Max Fluoxastrobin SC. A broad-spectrum fungicide with contact and systemic modes of action, PMF has xylem and translaminar movement to control a host of foliar and soil-borne diseases, such as anthracnose, brown patch, brown ring patch, damping off, dollar spot, fairy ring, gray leaf spot, gray snow mold, large patch, leaf spot, melting out, microdochium patch, necrotic ring spot, pink patch, pink snow mold, powdery mildew, Pythium blight, Pythium root dysfunction, Pythium root rot, red thread, rust, southern blight, spring dead spot, summer patch, take-all patch, yellow patch and zoysia patch.
    It also can be used on ornamentals in greenhouses, nurseries and fields; athletic fields; sod farms; parks; commercial and residential landscapes; residential lawns; and institutional and commercial turfscapes.
    In other company news, Harrell's opened a new warehouse in Oregon in August. The opening brings Harrell's total number of locations to 30. 
    Located in Tualatin, Oregon, the warehouse serves customers in the Portland area, as well as throughout Oregon and Washington.
    The Oregon opening comes on the heels of the opening of four other Harrell's warehouses last year in the Columbus, Ohio; Richmond, Virginia; Syracuse, New York; and Lubbock, Texas areas.
  • The golf business has been a tumultuous one for many during the past two decades. There was the Tiger Woods-infused boom followed by a downturn fueled by a burst in the real estate market that brought with it a crushing recession that was defined by steady contraction of the golf course supply that has lasted nearly two decades. The pandemic era brought with it renewed popularity followed by a slight leveling off. 
    What's next? No one knows.
    Nowhere has the golf business been affected more by these ups and downs than northeastern Ohio, where at least a half-dozen courses in the Canton area have closed in recent years.
    When new owners purchased the 36-hole Bob-O-Link club in North Canton 22 years ago, they thought they had a business plan built for success. Instead, the golf course that was renamed The Sanctuary by its new owners, will close at the end of this golf season amid a host of economic problems.
    Bob-O-Link was built in 1965 and for years was a popular layout with local golfers. McKinley Development Co., a residential and commercial real estate development company in Canton, bought Bob-O-Link at the height of the golf boom in 2001 with a blueprint company executives believed was built for success.
    The plan called for restoring 18 holes while closing the other 18 and repurposing it for commercial real estate development. Two years later, Bob-O-Link reopened as The Sanctuary and continued to operate for two decades as a popular daily fee destination. 
    It appeared on paper to be the perfect plan: Keep a popular golf course on one hand while generating revenue by developing the rest of the property. But things aren't always what they seem.

    Known first as Bob-O-Link Golf Club, The Sanctuary in North Canton, Ohio will close this year after serving golfers for nearly 60 years. The ownership group, which is a joint venture of DeHoff Development and Lemmon Development companies, recently announced The Sanctuary would close after failing to generate a profit since it reopened 20 years ago. 
    In a news release announcing the closing, Bill Lemmon of Lemmon Development, said losing money year over year coupled with escalating costs of maintaining the property led to the decision to close The Sanctuary. 
    An aging equipment inventory and no stomach for making any more large capital expenditures coupled with the constant struggle to recruit and retain employees finally prompted owners to pull the plug on the operation. The course will close at the end of the season in October.
    "The economics of running a golf course has changed dramatically over these last several years," Lemmon said in a prepared statement. "Although we tried our best to make it work, it was no longer sustainable."
    More than 2,000 golf courses have closed in the past two decades. The Sanctuary becomes the latest in a list of courses in the area to close in recent years, or could close in the near future.
    According to Golfweek, that list includes 50-year-old Seven Hills, which went up for sale in March; Skyland Pines, which closed in 2021 and is now the site of an Amazon facility; 36-hole Tam O'Shanter, which closed five years ago to make way for residential housing and greenspace; Edgewood, which shrank from 18 to nine holes 20 years ago before finally closing altogether in 2013; Rolling Green and Lake View, which closed in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
    According to the news release announcing The Sanctuary's closing, owners have not announced plans for the property.
  • One of the recent trends in golf has been establishing naturalized areas to promote pollinators. The benefits are numerous. They can help pollinate food sources, honey they produce can be monetized and along with naturalized areas, they quickly make any golf course more aesthetically pleasing.
    Insects also can be unpredictable and dangerous, especially those loaded with stingers.

    Emergency officials respond to a call of a golf course maintenance worker stung multiple times by bees. Photo by Arizona Fire and Medical Authority  
    That became painfully obvious recently when a man in Arizona was hospitalized after being stung numerous times at a Phoenix-area golf course.
    According to Ashley Losch of the Arizona Fire and Medical Authority, the emergency agency that responded to the scene, a maintenance worker at Pebblebrook Golf Club in Sun City was hospitalized Saturday in critical condition after being stung multiple times by bees.
    Losch said it was unknown how the hive, which was located in cavity in a tree, had been disturbed. 
    "We couldn't tell how many times he'd been stung," she said. "We later found out it was more than 2,000 times. We found that out from the hospital."
    Losch did confirm Thursday that the man, whose identity was withheld in accordance with HIPPA regulations, was still intubated and in critical condition at a Sun City area hospital.
    Sun City was established in 1960 northwest of Phoenix. One of eight courses in the Sun City development, Pebblebrook was built in 1979.
    According to Losch, there were two workers in the area when the bees emerged. The second worker managed to flee the area and call for help. Upon arrival, emergency officials said they were able to gain control of the situation by applying a foam retardant. They also closed the course until the situation was under control.
    When co-workers approached the victim, they thought because he worked on a golf course that his face was covered with mower clippings. When they got closer they realized his face was carpeted with bees.
    Losch said officials were unsure what kind of stinging insects attacked the man. The golf course had hired a beekeeper to identify the insects, but a call to the golf course Thursday by TurfNet revealed the course had not yet heard back from the beekeeper. Losch was able to confirm, however, that Africanized bees, which are much more aggressive than other types of bees, are found throughout Arizona.
    "We just described them as bees because we were not sure what kind of insects they were," Losch said. "We have not heard back from the beekeeper."
    To avoid being stung, the University of California Davis Department of Entomology suggests the following:
    > Don't walk in front of a hive as you're in the bees' flight pattern.
    > Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.
    > Wear light-colored clothing - bees are attracted to and more likely to sting black or red objects.
    > Don't wear perfume, cologne or scented soaps.
    > Remain calm if you're stung. Don't flail your arms at the bee; movement attracts more stings.
  • The recent video and images on social media of hail-damaged Oakdale Golf Club. located 80 miles west of Minneapolis, will not long be forgotten.
    The results were predictable when a relentless barrage of up to baseball-sized hail rained from the sky onto an already-wet golf course like some sort of artillery assault from a war movie. Images and videos showed a minefield of countless pock marks from tee to green. 
    Those images were met with thoughts and prayers, good luck wishes, comments of "better you than me" and even some advice for repair from those who say they have been through a similar situation in the past.
    One such greenkeeper with a similar experience is former Merion director of course operations Matt Shaffer, who says a method he used to recover from such damage some 40 years ago would still work today.
    "It's unbelievable those pictures," Shaffer said. "That's going to be tough."
    Throughout his career as a superintendent, Shaffer developed a reputation for innovation. Often, innovation on Shaffer's part was born out of necessity, sometimes it was the result of a curious mind, or often it was both. 
    When the U.S. Open came to Merion in 2013, there were many doubters. The concern was that, at 6,700 yards, the par-70 East Course was too short for an Open. Several inches of rain in the weeks leading up to the tournament fueled skeptics and prognosticators predicting record-high Open scores.
    What many did not know was that Shaffer had set booby-traps of sorts throughout the course.
    "I got creative. I got really creative," Shaffer told TurfNet after the Open. "I spent months looking for the worst grasses to play out of, then I found those grasses and planted them in the landing zones and in the rough. I planted some of them together in different combinations in the same area, so if you landed in a 4-foot square four days in a row you could have four different lies."
    The results astonished doomsayers and only reinforced Shaffer's reputation for outside-the-box solutions to many turf problems. Only 18 players broke par in an individual round throughout the tournament that Justin Rose eventually won with a very U.S. Open-like score of 1-over-par.
    In those early days of his career, Shaffer learned a lesson in innovation while attending the Penn State Turf Conference when former Augusta superintendent and Better Billy Bunker founder Billy Fuller spoke on expediting recovery from aerification. 

    Former Merion superintendent Matt Shaffer learned about repairing hail damage at a Penn State Turf Conference The practice Fuller was using to speed up recovery at Augusta, where he worked from 1981 to 1986, involved flooding the greens with water, covering them with tightly fitting plywood planks and running over them with a 1-ton roller.
    "He's such a great speaker, and he is so smart," Shaffer said. "You have to keep the plywood tight so the turf doesn't squish up between the planks, and after you take them off, the turf was perfect. You have to let it dry, but the recovery was amazing. It was perfect."
    Shaffer was the superintendent at Scotch Valley Country Club in rural central Pennsylvania from 1978 to 1986, and when the course was the target of a damaging hail storm, he figured if Fuller's flooding idea worked for the greens at Augusta, it would work on hail damage in central Pennsylvania.
    He aerified with hollow tines, flooded the greens, covered them with plywood and rolled them with a borrowed 1-ton diesel packer.
    The aerifier was set to kick and break up the soil, which was not normal practice at the time.
    "Just aerifying was not good enough," Shaffer said. "We set the Coremaster to kick up the soil, which was actually the wrong setting then. Kicking up the turf tore the roots loose, but I figured I didn't have anything to lose, because the damage was so bad. Then we flooded the greens, and I mean we flooded them. Then we put down the plywood and rolled in two directions. You have to constantly hose down the plywood so the roller slides over it and doesn't grab and shoot the wood out the back.
    "When we were finished, we let the greens dry for three days and they were perfect. I'd never seen anything like it."
    Apparently, neither had golfers at Scotch Valley.
    "Some of the members came to me and said 'Shaffer, that worked out so well we should do that more often,' " he said. "It was no fun doing the entire golf course with just eight guys."
    The practice doubtlessly would have worked across the rest of Scotch Valley, but 200-plus acres is a lot of time for a team of eight and a lot of water. Not to mention who even has that much plywood?
    Once, again, it was time for Shaffer to get innovative.
    "We double-sliced (fairways) and cut them. As I remember, they played lift, clean and place," Shaffer said. "I didn't have much money back then, and so we spent what we had to on greens (and) did what we could on fairways, and tees didn't matter because you tee it up."
    Fairway recovery did not end there.
    "In the fall, we aerated the fairways, and seeded them with Colonial bents. Then a freeze-thaw over the winter and everything was good again.
    "Poverty makes you innovative."
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