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From the TurfNet NewsDesk

  • John Reitman
    Lisa Goatley has made a living helping couples and families piece their lives back together. Mike and Lisa Goatley are not on the Nike payroll, but they might as well be. After all, they carry a similar message.
    Lisa, a licensed therapist with The Cascade Group specializing in couples and family therapy, has three decades of experience helping couples pick up the pieces from broken marriages. Her husband, Mike, is a licensed turfgrass professor at Virginia Tech who admittedly works too many hours and travels too much. Together, they speak about creating work-life balance to turfgrass professionals across the country who might be guilty of putting job before family.
    "This is a talk of hers that I sit it on because I have made all these mistakes," said Mike Goatley, Ph.D. during the recent Ohio Turfgrass Foundation Conference. "And I continue to make mistakes, but I try to be better."
    When it comes down to making relationships work, their first message is to remember that no one is going to put the work in for you. 
    "You have to put the work into it. You just have to do it," he said. "It's just like when you have to do something at the golf course. You have to make it happen. You have to decide where it is going to fit into your schedule."
    According to Psychology Today, there are 10 habits that can help couples improve their marriage:
    > Go to bed at the same time,
    > Cultivate common interests,
    > Walk hand in hand or side by side,
    > Make trust and forgiveness your default mode,
    > Focus on what your partner does right, not what they do wrong,
    > Hug when you see each other after work,
    > Say "I love you" and "have a good day" every morning,
    > Say "good night" every night, regardless of how you feel,
    > Check on each other during the day to see how your partner is doing,
    > Be proud to be seen with your partner.
    Like yesteryear's version of Virginia Tech's Goatley, there are many in the turf business who work too many hours and focus too little of their time at home. Divorce and wounded relationships are common and we've all heard one too many stories about superintendents who missed out on their children growing up because they were at the golf course six or seven days a week throughout the summer.
    "If your wife is unhappy and wants to see a marriage counselor, listen," Lisa said. "Women do their work on the front end of a relationship. By the time the female says 'I want a separation,' she's done. She wants a divorce. At that point the man says 'wait, I didn't know it was that serious.'
    "You have to nurture a relationship like a plant. If it is neglected too long, it starts to die. It can grow back from the root, but that is a long, slow process. Often the root is dead, and the plant is not coming back."
    Studies show, Lisa said, that couples are most happy before they have children and after the children have left the home. By the time children reach age 5, stress starts to creep in. And the effects of those teen years on marriages - don't even mention them. 
    The peak years for divorce are after seven years of marriage, but new data suggest a spike in the divorce rate at the 20-25-year mark.
    "Kids are leaving home and couples are so disconnected. They were staying together only for the kids," Lisa said. "Now, they don't know each other, and they might not like each other any more, either."
    There are some guidelines the Goatleys have identified that have helped keep their own marriage on track through the years.
    One of the most important goals is to be present - even when away from home.
    Taking part in everyday life at home can be difficult for a turf professor on the go, or a superintendent who goes through the annual rigors of 100 days of hell, but it can be done, the Goatleys insist. 
    It can be as simple as establishing rituals such as sitting at the table together at meal time.
    It does not matter, Lisa said, whether it is a bag of burgers or a pizza for parents on the go, as long as parents and kids are together at meal time. Research shows, she says, that eating together leads to lower rates of substance abuse and truancy, higher rates of academic achievement and stronger levels of emotional adjustment.
    For those who travel often, like Mike, calling home or even texting a photo of a restaurant meal still helps create a connection.
    "He knew we were eating at that time," Lisa said. "And that was his way of checking in. We still do that."
    Other tips for work-life balance and bringing harmony to relationships include remembering all important dates, always making a conscious effort "to do the right thing", never keeping score about who does what and bringing your best you when you are at home.
    "So many times, somebody else gets our best, either when we are at work or somewhere else," Lisa said. "Then when we come home, our family gets what is left, and that's backwards. Always bring your best to your relationship."
  • "Prof. Frank Rossi is always a great listen. He talks Golf Course Superintendent language." - @dhump5150 on Twitter Since as far back as February, weather was the dominant story in golf in 2018, with Mother Nature bringing unseasonably warm conditions in winter, cool conditions in early spring and mid-summer conditions by Memorial Day. It was enough to make even the most devoted superintendent consider a career change.
    Whether it is a look back at the many challenges wrought by nature in 2018 or a look ahead to getting your career off to a fast start in 2019, TurfNet University webinars, presented by Grigg is a one-stop shop for professional development for the turf industry.
    Frank S. Rossi, Ph.D., of Cornell University will take a look back at the current year and its many challenges in “2018 - the year in review” which has been rescheduled for Dec. 19. That presentation will be followed in the new year by “Jump start your career in 2019” by Anthony Williams, CGCS.
    Rossi, professor of turfgrass science at Cornell for the past 22 years, will delve into the various (and many) biotic and abiotic stresses that were prevalent throughout the year and will discuss how current popular agronomic and cultural practices might actually working against turf managers during difficult weather conditions. A regular on the TurfNet University series, Rossi's presentations are always energetic, fun and informative.
    This presentation will address climate and pest management issues around the U.S. and Canada, and will also will include advice on alternative strategies to alleviate the effects of these stress factors moving forward. Particular emphasis will be placed on the latest research and thinking on playing surface performance and sustainability.
    Wiliams has more than three decades of experience as a superintendent. He helped establish statewide BMPs in Georgia and was integral in starting the Georgia GCSA Hall of Fame, to which he was recently inducted. 
    Currently director of golf course and landscape operations at TPC Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club Dallas at Las Colinas in Irving, Texas, and the 2009 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year, Williams is a multiple winner of the Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards, and last year became the first superintendent to win the award in all three domestic categories, public, private and resort.
    A survivor of open heart surgery, Williams speaks regularly on inspiration, motivation and career development, and his career and life advice for superintendents has been a regular kick off to the new year for several seasons.
  • Nearly two years to the day after the opening of its new headquarters in Augusta, Georgia, Textron's specialized vehicles division will lay off 400 employees just in time for the holidays, according to a company filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
    The news comes about a week after a superintendent posted a question on Gary Grigg's Golf Course Maintenance page on Facebook asking whether anyone could confirm rumors that Jacobsen had closed. Soon after the initial post, dozens of replies poured in with comments ranging from anecdotes of distributors closing their doors to jokes about the company being purchased by a competitor.
    The post, and the subsequent replies made for a textbook crisis-management moment. Although only a smattering of people replied to the post, it appeared on a social media site with more than 12,000 members.
    When a request for clarification was made later that day, it was a full week before a statement came down from the specialized vehicles division of Textron stating:
    "Our Textron Golf portfolio has grown significantly in recent years, with the addition of Jacobsen and Textron Fleet Management to our business. As we have completed the integration of those brands and product lines into our company, we have implemented newly improved processes related to the daily operations of those businesses and serving our customers. As a result, we are reorganizing our Golf & Turf business in North America, to eliminate internal redundancies and streamline our operations.
    These changes will have no effect on availability of our products, or our ability to service our customers. We continue to offer E-Z-GO golf cars, Jacobsen turf equipment, Cushman utility vehicles and Textron Fleet Management systems, and to invest in the development of exciting new products and product improvements across all of our brands. And we will support all of our brands and products through our nationwide network of factory-direct sales operations and trusted distributors."
    Other than the statement above, Textron Specialized Vehicles, which includes Jacobsen, E-Z-GO, Cushman, Arctic Cat and Dixie Chopper, did not elaborate how many layoffs would come from the Augusta plant, which employs about 1,200 people, or how it would affect sales, parts and service for its golf segments. 
    It has been one setback after another for Textron since it announced nearly two years ago that it was buying Arctic Cat, a maker of out outdoor powersports equipment. In November, the company announced plans to close its Coatesville, Indiana plant where it manufacturers the Dixie Chopper brand lawn maintenance equipment.
    The layoffs, which will be the second round of cutbacks this year, are expected to be completed by the end of the year. The company laid off 60 employees in January, a month after opening its new Augusta headquarters in a plant once used by Procter & Gamble to manufacture Tide laundry detergent.
    Lower-than-expected corporate quarterly earnings announced in October were blamed on the Arctic Cat acquisition.
    Said Textron CEO Scott Donnelly after the October earnings report: "When you have something like that going on in the business, it creates enough chaos that it drives down the operating performance in total. Most of that -- I think we have a very good team in place. They've done a great job in the past and I think they'll recover, and the performance and profitability of most of those subsegments - if you will - will do just fine. The area that is going to require the most work and the most focus going forward is around that acquired piece of the business."
  • After a decade of discussing the benefits of plant growth regulators and how best to apply them to finely cut turf, Bill Kreuser, Ph.D., was concerned he might be on the verge of boring his audience.
    Imagine his shock when only two hands shot up after he asked a room of more than 100 people at the recent Ohio Turfgrass Foundation Conference how many had heard him speak previously on PGRs and growing degree days.
    "I couldn't believe it," Kreuser said afterward as he choked down lunch before rushing off to the airport so he could deliver a similar talk the following day at the New Jersey Turfgrass Association Green Expo Conference the following day. "I thought everybody had heard that by now."
    PGRs are a key element in the superintendent's toolbox, but not a lot is known about them, other than that they suppress growth and help superintendents save money and produce the fast and firm conditions that golfers crave, said Kreuser, shown at right measuring clipping yield with a graduate student.
    A decade of research that includes many of Kreuser's colleagues around the country, is helping shed light on how best to utilize these products.
    "There are many misconceptions about PGRs," Kreuser said. "The biggest challenge is knowing when to work them. The fluctuations in clipping yield, especially in bentgrass greens, is so much greater day to day than what the PGR is actually doing."
    Kreuser's research, which started in 2008 as a master's project at the University of Wisconsin,  resulted in a growing degree day model that helps superintendents determine the best time to apply PGRs. The model, which now is incorporated into the university's Greenkeeper app pinpoints application intervals for 10 plant growth regulators at variable rates depending on the desired level of growth suppression.
    "If you test a new product and something happens and the grass grows absolutely crazy for the next two weeks, you'd think that product was the worst ever and you'd never buy it again," he said. "Then if you put it down when the grass was growing crazy and suddenly you had two-and-a-half weeks of suppression, you'd say it was the greatest PGR ever, you'd tell all your friends and you'd buy a two-year supply of the stuff. The truth is day-to-day fluctuation is great, and it's hard to visualize if a PGR is having an effect or not."
    PGRs, Kreuser said, are affected by heat. He gave the example of Primo at the label rate on a creeping bentgrass green when average air temperatures are 60, 70 or 80 degrees.
    When the average temperature is 60 days, the PGR offers up to 21 days of suppression. That drops to 14 days at about 70 degrees and just seven days at 80 degrees.
    "In the middle of summer, people tell me 'Bill, they don't work.' They work; trust me," Kreuser said. "What happens when the soil is warm and wet is microbes are breaking down organic matter and they are mineralizing nitrogen, so what we see in the middle of the growing season is that the grass grows very fast. The PGR is having an effect. If you didn't have it, the grass would be growing even faster."
    Growing degree days are an aggregate of heat measured in Celsius, and Kreuser's GDD model for determining PGR application intervals has been proven at places like the University of Wisconsin, Rutgers University, NC State, Arkansas and Texas Tech.
    He recommends collecting and measuring clipping yield when measuring the amount of growth suppression against turf quality.
    "If you don't have enough clippings, turf performance goes down." he said. "If the yield is too high, we're going to get puffy and thatchy.If you get the yield where you want it, then you can get the grass where you want it, and then you can manipulate the PGR and nitrogen rates to get to where you want to be."
  • Anthony Williams, CGCS, (right) here with Robert Trent Jones Jr., was recently inducted into the Georgia GCSA Hall of Fame. Longtime superintendent Anthony Williams, CGCS, who helped establish statewide BMPs and smart water-use protocols in Georgia and has earned a serpentine list of environmental awards during was inducted this week into the Georgia GCSA Hall of Fame, a group he helped found seven years ago.
    A native of Indian Creek, Georgia, Williams has been a superintendent for parts of the past four decades in Georgia and for the past two years has been director of golf course and landscape operations at TPC Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club Dallas at Las Colinas in Irving, Texas.
    A year ago, Williams became a winner of one of golf's triple crowns when he was named the Overall and National Private course winner of the Environmental Leaders in Golf Award. Williams also was the winner in the resort division in 2005 at Pine Isle Resort and the public course division a year later at Stone Mountain Golf Club, both in Georgia. He is the first superintendent to win the award in all three domestic categories.
    It was the second time Williams, who worked 30 years for Marriott before taking over at the TPC facility in Texas early in 2017. The 2009 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year, Williams has a long list of awards to his credit including: Georgia GCSA Superintendent of the Year (2014), GCSAA Excellence in Government Relations Award (2014), Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association Environmental Communicator of the Year (2011), GCSAA President's Award for Stewardship (2010) and the J.W. Marriott Award of Excellence (2008).
    Induction into the Georgia GCSA Hall of Fame, which he helped start, was especially meaningful. 
    "What is so special is being recognized by the people who voted for me," Williams said. "I wanted to start this to recognize people who are a whole lot smarter than I am. To be part of that group is quite an honor."
    Williams was recognized during the recent Georgia GCSA annual meeting in Adairsville, Georgia.
    Also recognized was Kyle Marshall, from Capital City Club in Atlanta who was named the association's Superintendent of the Year. The son of a superintendent, Marshall is director of golf course management with oversight of Capital City Club's Brookhaven and Crabapple courses.
    Marshall joined the Georgia GCSA in 1897 and arrived at Capital City Club in 2000. Since then he has helped the club host World Golf Championship events, the NCAA Division I Championships, numerous state championships and the 2017 USGA Mid-Amateur. As much as he is respected for his golf course maintenance standards, Marshall is also widely-recognized for his abilities during golf course and facility construction.
    "You could take any five superintendents in this room," said Georgia GCSA president Scott Griffith from the University of Georgia Golf Course. "And there's still a good chance Kyle Marshall would have more construction experience than any of them combined."
    For the past six years, Marshall has served as a trustee with the Georgia Golf Environmental Foundation and is current secretary-treasurer. The Superintendent of the Year Award is presented in partnership with Corbin Turf and Ornamental Supply.
    The association also honored longtime executive director Tenia Workman with its President's Award for her passion for making a positive difference in the lives of others and her tenacity in dealing with breast cancer over the past year. 
    In other news, Mike Brown from The Standard Club in Johns Creek received the distinguished service award, Chip Thompson from Cateechee Golf Club in Hartwell was named assistant superintendent of the year and Gary Hawkins, Ph.D., of the University of Georgia received the Environmental Leaders in Golf award.
  • News and people briefs

    By John Reitman, in News,

    Rain Bird sod cup kit helps protect turf
    Rain Bird has introduced a new Sod Cup Kit that reduces the risk of rotors negatively impacting play on closely mowed approaches. The kit helps reduce the time it takes to trim around rotors, freeing greenkeepers to work on other tasks.
    Installing the kit on Rain Bird 551 and 700/751 Series rotors is a simple process that can be done by hand with no tools required. Because the sod cup is the same size as a standard golf-hole cutter, it's easy to quickly cut sod that's just the right size and shape to fit firmly and securely within the cup. 
    After installation, when the rotor is popping up or retracting, its self-flushing action sends a burst of water through the case. This flushing action simultaneously protects the rotor's internal components from debris and irrigates the turf now growing in the sod cup. 
    SiteOne launches new web site
    SiteOne Landscape Supply launched a mobile-friendly e-commerce web site that allows customers to place orders from anywhere at any time. 
    After users establish an online account they will be able to place orders, manage their account and access all of new features. Customers can search product availability, get access to specific pricing and place orders for pickup or delivery for products such as fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation supplies and tools and equipment.
    In addition to the site's enhanced e-commerce abilities, SiteOne.com provides resources such as video tutorials, business tips, category-specific articles, green industry event information and more.
    PBI Gordon moves into new digs
    PBI-Gordon Corp., which manufactures consumer and professional turf and landscape products, has moved into its new corporate headquarters in Shawnee, Kansas.
    PBI-Gordon bought the building in March. Since then, the 95,000-square-foot office building has been renovated to accommodate approximately 100 of the company's employee owners. The company employs more than 400 in facilities in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Florida.
    PBI-Gordon has been based in the Kansas City area since its founding in 1947. The company recently moved from its former headquarters in Kansas City, where it had been since 1981.
    All local research or manufacturing will continue to be be conducted at the company's locations in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri facilities.
  • Michael Stachowicz traded greens, tees and fairways for a job with the National Park Service. Photo by National Parks Conservation Association
    Megan Van Arsdale knows all about pressure. As a former golf course superintendent, she was all about pressure - pressure she placed upon herself and that heaped on her by golfers.
    Although she's been gone from the golf business for four years now as grounds director for Boyle County Schools in Danville, Kentucky, Van Arsdale (pictured below) still is no stranger to pressure.
    "I have high expectations for my fields because of the pressure I put on myself," Van Arsdale said. 
    Pressure of a different nature forced Van Arsdale away from golf after a career that included prepping as an assistant under Mark Wilson at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, followed by seven years as superintendent at Danville Country Club. And although golf is her first love, she's right at home managing the school district's ball fields and grounds.
    "I love golf, but I was burned out. The long hours and constantly battling weather, it just wears on you after a while, plus you have no social life from March to November," Van Arsdale said.
    "People joke with me 'What took so long for you to get smart?' "
    The pressure to produce is still there, but now most of it is self-imposed.
    "I have higher expectations of my fields than my bosses do," she said. "I'm the first person they've had, beside mowing, to take care of their fields."
    Six years ago, a different sort of pressure - namely club politics - eventually led Mike Stachowicz away from golf, after a 15-year career as superintendent in Massachusetts, and into the arms of the federal government in Washington where he works as a turfgrass specialist for the U.S. National Park Service.
    "I saw the writing on the wall," said Stachowicz. "Politics can be difficult to navigate."
    He recalls the challenges associated with trying to convince members of the damage inflicted by nematodes or the benefits of topdressing.
    "Arguing science is hard in a political climate," he said. 
    "If people can't see it, they think it's an excuse."
    Now, rather than maintaining greens, tees and fairways, Stachowicz works on areas around D.C.'s monuments, including the National Mall, a 309-acre parcel between the Washington Monument and the Capitol that sees 35 million visitors annually and is the site of presidential inaugurations as well as regular concerts and celebrations in conjunction with many federal holidays. The change in venue has allowed Stachowicz to spend more time at home and keep the rigors of daily turf maintenance in their proper context.
    "I'm more present in daily life with my family and I've been better at taking vacations," he said. 
    The park system also happens to be one of the few places in Washington that is not politically charged.
    "There's not that sense of personal failing that there is in golf," Stachowicz said. "Things can go wrong and it's not personal.
    "The cool thing is I have an agency around me and they listen to me. The most controversial thing I do is close down areas to give them time to recover.
    "People I work with believe me and see that I have expertise. That's a huge difference from golf. I'm not beating myself up constantly."
    Back in Kentucky, Van Arsdale also welcomes the change from the life-or-death mentality on the golf course over day-to-day conditions.
    "This job is the perfect combination," she said. "I do what I love, and I love growing grass. And I love growing athletic turf. I wish I had gotten into this earlier. I work some weekends, but I'm not married to the job. I have a job, I do it and I walk away from it. They understand I have a life."
    When Van Arsdale arrived at Boyle County, there was nowhere to go but up for the district's athletic fields, which had never had a professional turf manager before Van Arsdale.
    "I can only do so much, I don't spray fungicides at all. I do spray foliar fertilizers and PGRs, and I spray for grubs," she said. 
    'When I first got here, to improve the turf I aerified a lot and added a ton of seed to get a good stand of grass so they were not playing on a weed patch. It took a couple of years. I can see now just how much of my work ethic and background I learned from Mark while at Valhalla. I enjoy the sports turf community. Would I return to golf? Probably not.  
    "I feel appreciated and I like what I am doing for student athletes. It's nice to have a high school baseball team that is proud of their home field."
  • Bluemuda trials are under way at the University of Kentucky (above), the University of Missouri and Virginia Tech. When Brian Winka was managing soccer fields for the city of Chesterfield, Missouri, he thought there had to be a better way to manage Bermuda playing surfaces in the transition zone than the lather, rinse, repeat method of overseeding and transition that never really produced the results he was looking for anyway.
    Rather than pushing Bermuda aside for rapidly establishing ryegrass and then trying to nurse it back to health, he thought there had to be a way for warm-season and cool-season grasses to coexist.
    "The big thing was we had a lot of play at our facility. We were parks and rec. There were no away games," said Winka, now a St. Louis-based rep with Advanced Turf Solutions of Fishers, Indiana. "Teams practice here and play all their games here. There's no rest. I was overseeding 30 acres of Bermudagrass every year with ryegrass. The areas where I needed coverage the most, the ryegrass never had a chance to establish, and then the Bermuda suffered because of the ryegrass. I thought it didn't make sense spending all that money and not getting quality results. And by going through overseed and transition I was creating a weaker plant. I wanted to try a different method. I thought if I could get warm- and cool-season grass to coexist and change the fertility to feed the plant slowly and create a stronger plant and increase its traffic tolerance then that made sense."
    He devised a method of interseeding Kentucky bluegrass into an existing stand of Bermuda that has become known as Bluemuda.
    "It is a solution for turf managers in the transition zone," Winka said. "It's an alternative to overseeding with ryegrass and transitioning back to Bermuda in the spring. It's a system of growing bluegrass and Bermuda together year-round."
    And it's not just for athletic fields. Managed correctly, Bluemuda allows golf courses superintendents to get the best attributes out of cool-season and warm-season turf in fine cut fairway turf.
    Fine tuning the program, which includes a lean fertilization program, has been tweaked in the field at the University of Missouri, University of Kentucky and Virginia Tech. Each is a perfect location for research into Bluemuda since each experiences extreme hot and humid conditions in the summer and very cold winters.
    "Missouri is one of the hardest places to grow grass," Winka said. "I know Kentucky is not far off."
    The system was perfected adopting some of the cultural practices being used by Jerad Minnick when he was a managing multiple fields at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
    "We adopted a lot of the things Jerad was doing in Maryland, aggressive cultivation, topdressing, it's all part of the solution," Winka said. "You can't just throw it out there and think you're good to go."
    The benefit for golf course superintendents is fairway turf that together stands up to stress factors like cold, heat and traffic better than either stand could do alone, Winka said. It also provides an aesthetically pleasing surface.
    "People have been growing both together for years by accident, but I think I'm the first one to do it intentionally," he said. "Traffic tolerance is better and it has better recovery. Because of the bluegrass, you also get a darker green color and the ability to stripe the fairway very nicely."
    To date, Winka has helped convert turf managers as far north as central Ohio, as far south as Oklahoma, as far east as Maryland and as far west as California.
    "It seems like every year we are trying to push the limits of how far we can go," he said. "I think we can south farther than we can go north. You can only go so far north before winterkill becomes an issue. With heat-tolerant bluegrasses we can go farther south."
    Winka has developed his program using Barenbrug's HGT Kentucky bluegrass seeded into almost any variety of Bermuda.
    The program works best with a bluegrass that is heat and wear tolerant, germinates quickly and is disease tolerant.
    "I'm not saying others won't work," he said. "I looked at the NTEP trials and HGT hits the marks I'm looking for."
    The process has proven successful with several varieties of Bermuda, from old cultivars like Quickstand to newer varieties like Northbridge, Latitude 36 and Riviera. Throughout the summer, the mixed stand can withstand mowing heights of three-fourths to one-half inch. The typical objections come from those who believe a mixed stand will not work.
    "It goes against what we learn in school," said Winka. "But genetics and things change, and that is what allows it to work. 
    "If you can't manage it correctly, it's not going to work. It will fail if you don't follow the program or fertilize it improperly. If you have patience and follow the program, it will work."
  • For golf course superintendents looking for more flexibility in rough mowing tasks, Toro has launched the Groundsmaster 1200 pull-behind rotary mower. 
    The Groundsmaster 1200 can leverage the equipment you already without sacrificing quality of cut or efficiency. It is compatible with Toro's Outcross 9060 and other tractors with at least 35 hp.
    Three independent contour-following cutting decks offer a 12-foot width of cut, allowing operators to cut more grass in less time than it would take with a smaller mower. In addition, the Groundsmaster 1200 is designed to make turnarounds quick and easy. There's no need to turn off the PTO in order to turn around and continue mowing in the opposite direction; simply raise the decks a few inches to prevent scuffing.
    For added convenience, the wing decks fold up for faster transport. This reduces the machine width to a narrow 88 inches and also allows easy access to the underside of the deck for cleaning and blade replacement. During transport, the torsion axle also cushions the load of the attachment, minimizing bumps and jarring for a smoother ride.
    Cutting decks are equipped with the same spindles with heavy-duty shafts and dual-tapered roller bearings as other models in the line. These rugged components are designed to last and built to handle the toughest mowing conditions.
    Like the Groundsmaster 4000 and 5900, the Groundsmaster 1200 features bidirectional impact absorption technology that protects the wing decks against damage from inadvertent contact with obstacles. If an operator accidentally hits an obstacle with a wing deck, the deck pivots out of the way.
    The Groundsmaster 1200 is designed to provide a consistent, even cut across the entire width of the mower while distributing clippings evenly — especially important in areas with taller grass that is mowed less frequently.
    The height of cut can be infinitely adjusted from one-half inch to 4 inches, allowing operators to dial in the exact height of cut needed for the application. Cutting decks also follow undulations in the terrain for a consistent cut from start to finish. Two full-width rollers are positioned on the front and rear of each deck to reduce scalping on undulating terrain and to provide turf striping.
  • To help golf course superintendents better manage dollar spot all season long, Syngenta has launched a new solutions-based website that includes a dollar spot prediction tool, trial data, videos and more. These new resources allow superintendents to actively monitor their courses for dollar spot development and stay up to date on the latest dollar spot solutions, research trials and agronomic program recommendations.   
    "Research has shown that 43 percent of surveyed superintendents want more solutions to control dollar spot, more than any other disease," said Stephanie Schwenke, turf market manager for Syngenta. "To help meet those needs, we developed these online resources and delivered two innovative new fungicides, Posterity and Secure Action, to help control dollar spot."
    The dollar spot prediction tool is based on the model developed by Damon Smith, Ph.D., and Jim Kerns, Ph.D., et al. It helps predict the likelihood of disease development by using local, real-time weather data and disease thresholds. Superintendents can use that data to plan their fungicide applications accordingly.
    Through Syngenta, superintendents also can register to receive email alerts when their area reaches a recommended 20 percent risk threshold, and weather conditions are conducive for dollar spot.
    The web site includes an interactive map that highlights extensive dollar spot trials and includes interviews with researchers and other experts. Superintendents also can learn about best practices for resistance management and earn CEUs by watching a dollar spot webinar.
    "Dollar spot is one of the most prevalent turfgrass diseases in the world," said Lane Tredway, Ph.D., technical services manager for turf at Syngenta. "By using tools like this prediction model and following a strategically planned agronomic program featuring the latest control options, superintendents can plan a preventive, more effective approach to dollar spot management."
  • Golf course superintendents in California now can manage plant-parasitic nematodes such as lance, root knot and sting with Divanem nematicide from Syngenta. With the nematicide active ingredient abamectin, Divanem helps improve root growth resulting in enhanced turf quality through broad-spectrum control of nematodes on golf course tees, greens and fairways.
    "By offering Divanem to superintendents in California, we are meeting their needs for reliable nematode control and improved aesthetics and playability for their courses," said Stephanie Schwenke, turf market manager at Syngenta. "Since being introduced in other states in 2016, Divanem has become an integral part of agronomic programs to help control these elusive, but very damaging pests."
    When used as part of an agronomic program, superintendents can simultaneously manage nematodes while preventing additional stresses turf can encounter when weakened. When turf roots are damaged by nematodes, the plant is unable to effectively absorb water and nutrients from the soil. A damaged root system also weakens the plant and decreases its ability to defend itself against biotic and abiotic stress like heat, drought and disease, which can impact turf quality.
    "Damaged and stressed turf is more susceptible to infection, so using Divanem with Heritage Action provides nematode control against species like root-knot while boosting turf's defenses against disease pathogens," said Dean Mosdell, Ph.D., technical services manager for turf at Syngenta. "Heritage Action fungicide delivers proven control of soil-borne disease with a boost of acibenzolar-S-methyl (ASM) for enhanced biotic and abiotic stress management."
    Divanem is available in a package containing two half-gallon jugs and qualifies for yearlong savings as part of the GreenTrust 365 program, which runs until Dec. 7. It also is available as part of a Multipak with one half-gallon of Divanem and five 1-pound bottles of Heritage Action in a convenient combination to treat 5 acres.
  • Helping the sick and providing a well-paying career to the members of his team make Trey Anderson feel good about his career choice at Ieso Illinois. Fear of the unknown can make changing careers daunting and stressful. Under the right circumstances, such a life-altering event also can be rewarding.
    A former golf course superintendent for 20 years, Trey Anderson has experienced all of these sensations in the past four years as director of production at Ieso Illinois, a medical cannabis grower in Carbondale, Illinois.
    "I didn't know anything about this business four years ago," said Anderson, 49. "We were rolling the dice, especially at my age."
    What he has learned since has been an eye- and mind-opening experience that dispels what many probably think about the cannabis-growing industry.
    "Seeing people's opinions change is interesting, but we're not all the way there yet," he said. "I've brought a lot of politicians through here, and you can tell they think it's going to be a bunch of people in dreadlocks, wearing Dead Head T-shirts, playing Hacky Sack and smoking on their breaks. From the time they pull up and see how manicured the grounds are, the biosecurity measures we have in place, they are amazed at how professional it is, and, since they are politicians, how many jobs there are here."
    All of those factors helped sway Anderson's opinion four years ago.
    He had spent two decades as a golf course superintendent, including seven years at Nashville Municipal Golf Course in Nashville, Illinois and another 13 at Hickory Ridge Golf Course in Carbondale. He wasn't necessarily looking for another job when a golfer at Hickory Ridge, who happened to be the contractor building the IESO facility, approached him about a possible career change. But no one who has worked in the golf industry during the past 15 years would dismiss the idea of a career change out of hand.
    "He found me on the golf course and told me 'they're looking for someone to do something like what you're doing on the golf course.' I didn't know anything about the cannabis business," Anderson said. "Golf at the time was pretty flat, and I was willing to talk to someone."
    Anderson decided to try growing cannabis on a part-time basis before deciding whether he liked it - and whether it liked him. After a couple of months, the cannabis business was taking off. California was the first state to legalize cannabis for medical use in 1996, and Colorado and Washington were the first to legalize it for recreational use in 2012. Many others have since followed. Golf, on the other hand, was still headed in a different director. 
    "They wanted someone full time," Anderson said. "My wife was the deciding factor. She was supportive and said we should take the chance. 
    "I had to do some soul-searching. We looked at what was happening out West and it seemed to be trending that way here, and we thought more states would go that way."
    Although nearly half the states in the country had legalized medical cannabis by the time Illinois had in 2013, public opinion often swayed in those early days, Anderson said.
    "I remember when I would call to order supplies, and when some companies found out you were in the cannabis industry, they wouldn't do business with you," he said. "Now, it's big money, and everyone wants to do business with you."
    Indeed, the legal cannabis industry has come along way.
    Instead of questioning his career change, Anderson's friends now ask how they can invest in his industry.
    It is a highly regulated and professional industry with an intense level of biosecurity measures in place in an effort to minimize contamination from the outside world since spraying synthetic pesticides on plants grown for medicinal use is prohibited. It's a lot more big business than it is Cheech and Chong.
    "There are 108 high-definition cameras here. Every room has at least one," Anderson said. "We have our own security team, and the Illinois State Police and Department of Agriculture have live feeds, and they can look in whenever they want."
    Workers have to shower before entering the facility and after which are required to change into surgical scrubs that are laundered daily on site and a pair of Crocs that never leave the facility.
    "The biggest similarity between this industry and golf is leading a group of people toward a common goal," Anderson said. "We work inside in a greenhouse, so Mother Nature is not as brutal as it is on the golf course, but we still get pests."
    The facility is smack in the middle of Illinois corn country, so despite these efforts, some insect pests, like aphids and thrips, find their way in. In those instances, the most volatile tool Anderson might introduce are beneficial parasites, like ladybugs.
    There are a lot of similarities between growing grass for golfers and cannabis for the sick. 
    Watering is done by hand, and there never seems to be enough help, but unlike golf, the cannabis industry needs help because it is growing at warp speed. To date, 46 states have enacted some combination of medical and/or recreational cannabis programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Only Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota have no public marijuana access program. Illinois legalized medical cannabis in 2013 and governor-elect J.B. Pritzker, who just defeated republican incumbent Bruce Rauner in November, has said throughout his campaign that he will work to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
    Rauner, who assumed office two years after medical cannabis was legalized in Illinois, had stated throughout the campaign that he did not support the legalization of recreational marijuana.
    "I have a tremendous amount of respect for what superintendents do every day," Anderson said. 
    "We're short-handed right now, so that's a lot like golf. There were four people here when I started, now we have 47. I love to be able to reward people who work hard with a living wage that can support a family, instead of paying minimum wage for seasonal work.
    "We've talked about adding a second shift, and that might be just three or four months away based on the election."
    The pace at IESO is hectic by nature so the facility can keep up with demand.
    Some 10,000 plants are an staggered growth schedules so there is a harvest occurring almost about 50 weeks a year. Plants are grown vegetatively and by seed, with the former being the preferred method, said Anderson, who propagates countless plants in search of the perfect "mother" plant. 
    "If we plant 40 seeds, nature says half will be male. We don't want males, because that means pollen, which is bad for the flower. Once pollinated, the plant will spend its energy producing seeds, instead of the flower, which is where the medicine is, so we'll get rid of half of those," he said. "We'll grow out the females, and when they are big enough we'll take cuttings off those. Of those 20, you pick your best one or two for mother plants and get rid of the rest. 
    "Seeds are like offspring; each one is a little different. But when you take a cutting off a plant, you are getting an exact copy of the mother plant."
    When Anderson first entered the cannabis industry, there was little scientific research on the topic, but he read dozens of books on the topic to get up to speed.
    "It's now more science-based," he said. "It's a crop, and there is an art to growing it. I love the art and the science. The next great thing will be when the super scientists get involved, and they already are, and what they're going to be able to do with cannabinoids in the plant to be able to help people. It's not just a liberal agenda anymore."
  • Former USGA president Jim Hand was an early supporter of turfgrass research. Jim Hand was a devout supporter of the golf turf management industry long before many ever were aware of what superintendents did on the golf course.
    A former banking executive in the New York area and past president of the U.S. Golf Association, Hand died Nov. 13 in Manchester, Vermont. He was 101.
    A native of Chutchogue, New York, Hand served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War era and upon his discharge, joined the National Bank of Westchester in 1954 and retired as the company's chairman in 1980. A scratch golfer, Hand was a member of several high-profile golf clubs, including The Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews, Pine Valley, Seminole, Winged Foot, Ekwanok and Sleepy Hollow.
    Hand was a member of the executive committee of the Metropolitan Golf Association, and received the association's Distinguished Service Award in 1986. In 1975, he was appointed to the USGA executive committee, and chaired the association's championship committee before being named president in 1984. During that time, he initiated a fundraising campaign for turfgrass research and other USGA projects and was instrumental in bringing the 1989 U.S. Open to Oak Hill in Rochester, New York.
    He was a benefactor to many charitable causes in New York and Vermont. 
    He was preceded in death by his wife, Betty, in 2005.
    Survivors include sons Jim (Marilyn) and John (Kimet), as well as several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
    A memorial service will be held in the spring at Ekwanok Country Club in Manchester, Vermont.
  • Syngenta recently launched Provaunt WDG insecticide for long-lasting control of some of turf’s most troublesome insects.
    With the active ingredient indoxacarb, Provaunt WDG is an enhanced formulation of Provaunt insecticide in a water-dispersible granular formulation that targets common pests like European crane fly, annual bluegrass weevil, armyworms, cutworms, sod webworms and mole crickets (above).
    "The improved water-dispersible granule goes into a solution more readily, making the mixing process more efficient for controlling key insect pests," said Stephanie Schwenke, turf market manager for Syngenta. "In addition to enhanced mixing, we have also seen improved compatibility with other products."
    Provaunt WDG is rainfast within two hours of application and can stop feeding within minutes, rapidly reducing feeding damage. Once introduced, mortality of targeted pests typically occurs within 24-48 hours.
    "Provaunt WDG provides 90 days of mole cricket control and is supported through the Mole Cricket Assurance Program from Syngenta," said Lane Tredway, Ph.D., technical services manager at Syngenta. "Research has also proved Provaunt WDG is an integral part of the WeevilTrak Optimum Control Strategy for season-long control of ABW and resistance management."
    Provaunt WDG is available within the ABW Solution Pallet and will be available for individual sale through the GreenTrust 365 program.
  • From one coast to the other, and everywhere in between, difficulty finding enough help is one thing many golf course superintendents have in common.
    Scott White, superintendent of Urbana Country Club in Illinois, told TurfNet in March that as he continues to struggle to find employees, the market is hungry for labor-saving alternatives.
    "It seems I'm working four or five times harder to find the right employees who even want to be here," White told TurfNet. "Eventually, robotic mowers will be a necessity because of labor."
    In fact, the technology has been around for a decade on greensmowers, but a small Canadian start-up company has developed technology capable of converting larger pieces of machinery, including fairway mowers, to robotic operation. Whether that company ever introduces its technology to the golf business has not be decided.
    "We're still debating whether we want to or not. We have to understand the (golf) market a bit better," said Shawn Schaerer, chief executive officer of Northstar Robotics of Headingley, Manitoba. "I know there is a market and a need out there. Costing and what the market can bear and where the most needs are, that is what we need to know more about. We live in Central Canada, and there's only, it seems like two months a year where you can play golf. We don't understand the California or Florida markets where there is year-round golf."
    Schaerer worked for 20 years in the field of surgical robotics before he started Northstar Robotics to address some of the major issues facing his native Manitoba, which is at the center of Canada's agricultural prairie region.
    "The idea for the start-up was based on the challenges we face in Manitoba," Schaerer said. "Those center mostly around efficiency and labor, and we saw a need to automate large tractors."
    The company developed prototypes last year that were tested in agriculture, airport snow removal and the golf industry.
    For golf, Northstar retrofitted its technology onto a Toro 5410 Reelmaster fairway mower that was tested at Minnewasta Golf and Country Club in Morden, Manitoba. The system, which controls the transmission and speed and also can raise and lower cutting units, runs through a kit installed onto the mower that operates through a mobile app and is controlled using a tablet. Users can tap in mowing heights and draw in a mowing perimeter using Google or Bing mapping technology that also includes the capability to block out no-go areas like bunkers and greens. With the press of a button, the system automatically generates mowing patterns based on the user's inputs. The GPS tracker provides live feedback on the machine's location.
    A 3-dimensional camera and laser-guided safety system detects anything in the mower's path, including golfers, carts or dogs, and gradually slows the vehicle from as far away as 30 meters. The system will stop the mower if the obstacle hasn't moved by the time the unit creeps to within 5 meters of it, and will automatically restart it when the obstacle eventually moves.
    "The technology is at a point that it is good enough that we can actually take it to market," Schaerer said. "The next step is to figure out which market to take it to first."
    That first step likely will be in the airport snow-removal industry, which is of major importance in Manitoba and throughout Canada. The small company employs only a handful of people, and is hoping to expand into other markets next year.
    "Because of labor issues, we thought golf might be a good fit for autonomous technology," Schaerer said.
    When interviewed for a recent story on labor issues, Brian Benedict of the Seawane Club in Nassau County, New York, said he believes golf is ready to adopt robotic technology for mowing large areas.
    "Thirty acres of fairways vs. 3 acres of greens?" Benedict told TurfNet. "Put a pair of robotic fairway mowers out there to cut 30 acres and I'll cut those 3 acres of greens myself."
    Schaerer says his company must connect with superintendents if it decides to branch out into golf, but has no plans to exhibit at next year's Golf Industry Show in San Diego.
    "Right now, we're not, but at some point we probably should" he said. 
    "Right now, we're probably going to go into snow removal first. And it will probably be another year before we decide if we are going to get into golf, or reach out to a potential partner who wants to take that technology into golf."
  • When Mark Semm and his family considered moving halfway across the country from Texas to North Carolina in response to a family emergency, he didn't turn to the superintendent down the street or his college buddies for advice. He went to someone else; someone he'd known only for a short time and who lived hundreds of miles away.
    He turned to Steve Wright.
    "My father-in-law had a stroke, and I reached out to Steve about what we were thinking of doing," Semm said. 
    "I'm a 'ducks in a row' kind of guy, thinking we'll move to Charlotte when the time is right. I told him that we were thinking of doing this for our family, but I was nervous about leaving an established job. My wife had a career and our kids were in school. He told me if we were doing it for the right reason, everything would work out. I owe a lot to him."
    Wright, who had been superintendent at Pine Tree Golf Club in Boynton Beach, Florida, died unexpectedly Nov. 5. He was 61.
    In a profession often defined by placing job before family, Wright had a way of striking a balance between the two that others admired.
    "He was the best at balancing the demands of high-end turf and family life," said Tony Nysse of Old Marsh Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens and Wright's predecessor at Pine Tree. "You could always find him on the boat on weekends. We all desire to have that balance. He had it."
    It was that balance that led Semm to seek out Wright's advice. Semm, the former superintendent at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch outside San Antonio, eventually landed in North Carolina with BASF as the strategic account manager for the Pinehurst Experience.
    "We first met on social media then met when I was at Cordillera Ranch and hosted the golf tournament at the national in 2015, and we just kept in touch throughout the years," Semm said. 
    "I always knew him as such a balanced guy in the industry. He had that work-life balance, and I know I always struggled with that. I don't think he knew it, but he was more of a mentor to me than he realized."
    Wright had been superintendent at several courses in Florida and South Carolina, including Long Cove in Hilton Head, Boca West Country Club in Boca Raton.
    He was a past president of the Carolinas GCSA and has a history of taking the lead in support of superintendents everywhere through his work with chapters in the Carolinas and Florida.
    "He has been very involved in strategic planning with the FGCSA, and would come to me with researchable ideas," said Bryan Unruh, Ph.D., of the University of Florida. "He was an ardent supporter of research. He was focused on what do we need to do to make the FGCSA better in the future. He was very professional."
    That included making things better for everyone, including established superintendents and those who want to be one.
    "It didn't matter if you were a six-figure superintendent at a country club or an assistant making $35,000 a year, he wanted to talk to you and get to know you and help you," Nysse said. "He was a titan in this area. He was larger than life, and a lot of people around here will be hurting."
    He is survived by wife Sheree and children Bayley, Casey and Pierce. A memorial service will be held Nov. 11 at Advent Lutheran Church in Boca Raton.