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From the TurfNet NewsDesk

  • John Reitman
    Brian Conn's decision two years ago to part with a vital organ was as much about his own salvation as it was about helping to save the life of someone else.
    Conn, superintendent at Transit Valley Country Club in East Amherst, New York, still had been struggling personally with his father's suicide in 2015 when he read an email early in 2017 from the Western New York GCSA informing recipients that one of their colleagues, Scott Dodson of Park Country Club of Buffalo, was suffering from kidney failure and was in need of a transplant. Conn (left) and Dodson are shown together in the picture at right from The Buffalo News. 
    Conn's decision to open the email and ultimately donate a kidney to help his colleague was instrumental in him being named a finalist for the 2018 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award, presented by Syngenta.
    At that moment he read the email detailing Dodson's condition, a feeling came over Conn, then 48, that he should do what he could to help his fellow man. He bounced the idea off his wife then decided to call the number in the email to put his name on a potential donor list.
    "Don't tell me I'm crazy, but God told me to do it. I didn't hear voices or anything like that, but I was in emotional recovery after my father," Conn said. "It's something I can't explain.
    "I was reconnecting with my faith and trying to get myself through this and get my family through this. My wife was all in. If she had had reservations, it would have been all over. I made the call without even telling my kids."
    Only 5 miles separate Transit Valley and Park Country Club, but until the kidney transplant saga connected these two men forever, they knew each other only professionally, and even then they did not know each other well.
    "The amazing thing is that Brian and I had not really been close friends," Dodson wrote in nominating Conn for Superintendent of the Year. We had chatted at various meetings and had served on the WNYGCSA board together. . . . We were little more than casual acquaintances."
    Recently, Dodson celebrated his one-year anniversary with one of Conn's kidneys. Since the operation in January 2018, the two have become like family.
    "There isn't a day that goes by that I do not think of what Brian has done for me and my family," Dodson wrote. 
    "Brian is now like a brother to me. We see each other quite often and our families get together socially. The Conn and Dodson families are forever linked."
    Had he not been dealing with his own demons at the time, Conn said this he probably wouldn't have a role in this drama.
    "I don't know if I would have done this had I been in the same place in my life; probably not," Conn said. "I would probably have thought 'that's too bad', said a quick prayer for him and moved on to the next email. The road for this to happen was paved by tragedy."
    Agreeing to be a potential donor was one thing; going through the tests and ultimately the surgery was another matter entirely.
    Tests revealed Conn's blood type to be O-negative, making him a universal donor and moving him to the front of the line for transplant donors.
    The procedure was delayed by a summer renovation project at Park Country Club, a busy season at Transit Valley and the need to put Dodson on dialysis for a few months to get him healthy enough for such an invasive procedure.
    It wasn't until late in the summer of 2017 that Conn approached Dodson to tell him he was the donor. He waited because, he had learned, some donors refuse donations from family or friends, because they don't want to put a loved one in harm's way. 
    "I didn't know if he'd take it," Conn said. 
    "Of course, I was on my own journey here, and it was as much in my interest that he do this for me, and I did for him."
    Both are husbands and fathers of grown children and know how important it is to be around for loved ones, even if their relationship to that point had been only business casual.
    "A rush of feelings overcame me the moment he told me of his intentions," Dodson said. "At first, I was skeptical and almost in denial that this really could be happening. After an awkward moment of silence, the floodgate of tears opened.
    "Brian risked his own health so I could have a chance to enjoy a normal life again. This is an act of incredible generosity, selflessness and courage. 
    The day Brian informed me of his decision to donate, I asked him 'Why me?' and he his answer was very simple. He stated 'because it is the Christian thing to do.' I will be forever grateful and in his debt."
  • Staging a major championship can have a profound impact on more than just players, club members and the respective associations. They also can be a source of immense civic pride, as was the case at the 2017 Solheim Cup in Iowa, or more recently, last year's PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.
    After the tournament, Tiger Woods called the crowds that packed Bellerive "unbelievable", and Justin Thomas said he had never played before as many people as he did last August in St. Louis.
    "I wish we could play in front of crowds like this every single week, because this is a true pleasure," Woods told the media afterward.
    The way in which people from the Show Me State showed up to support the PGA Championship was a source of pride for Carlos Arraya, director of grounds and agronomy at Bellerive, a finalist for the 2018 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award, presented by Syngenta.
    "It was awesome to see people from St. Louis enjoy the game, to see a city come together, to see all those people come together," Arraya said.
    If Arraya needed any affirmation of the impact the tournament had on the community, it came during a recent trip through St. Louis Lambert International Airport.
    A TSA agent looked at Arraya's ID and told him he recognized him, but couldn't remember from where. After passing through security and collecting his belongings, Arraya was again confronted by the same agent, who told him: "Now I remember, you're the guy from Bellerive. I saw you on TV."
    "The tournament is a story about the people here," Arraya said. "It's not just the golf course."
    Arraya always has had an ability to connect with people and make them feel important, but his true inspiration, his sense for parceling out what is truly important in life stemmed from the most horrific tragedy any parent could imagine - when his 19-year-old son, Isaih, was killed in a car crash in 2016, just six months after he started at Bellerive.
    "Losing my son gave me a new perspective," Arraya said. "Even though I was working, I was struggling to find out what I was going to become. I realized I had to make a lifestyle out of what I do. When I made that decision and became vulnerable through loving people no matter what, then there is no rigidity in structure. I wanted to invest in people, and to do that you have to take the blinders off."
    While growing in his career, Arraya could have learned how to grow grass anywhere, but it was working under the likes of John Cunningham, first as an assistant at Black Diamond Ranch in Florida, and later at Bellerive as golf course superintendent, that Arraya was exposed to a different management style that focused on people first and putting greens second. Cunningham, who eventually became assistant general manager at Bellerive, has since left the St. Louis area in 2017 to become general manager and chief operating officer at Aronimink Golf Club in Philadelphia.
    "John made you get out of your comfort zone," Arraya said.
    "To work for someone who focused on people and leadership and business as well as agronomic expertise was a unique experience for me. John was focused on the business side before it became an industry standard. He helped me define a 360-degree view of management.
    "I'm one of two people to have worked for John more than once. . . . I don't know if I'd work for him a third time. That might be pushing it."
    According to Arraya, "producing the best people, produces the best playing conditions on the golf course."
    "What motivates people? Everyone manages a certain way," he said. "I want to bring passion to the job. I want people to be invested in leadership. You can produce an excellent product by producing excellent people. Don't focus on the product."
    That investment in people includes what Arraya calls pillar management, a philosophy in which employees tackle a finite set of tasks within a given pillar each day until they have it mastered. Only when they excel at that can they move on to something else. That philosophy fosters employee ownership in the process, an atmosphere of teamwork and competition and a true understanding of one's place in the overall process.
    "Each person has six items as part of their routine and they have to take ownership of those six items," Arraya said. 
    "The pillar is the key to each team's success. This way, they know exactly what they are doing every day, they know our plan and how what they do impacts others."
    The result has been an invigorated group of interns, AITs and assistants.
    "Professional excellence comes from remembering life is more important than work," he said. "I've lost 14 guys since the championship. I can't keep people here, that is the hard part. People are recruiting them."
  • Eagles have been nesting above the golf course at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay for most of the past decade. Which came first, the eagle or the egg?
    At The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay, the big question is, which came first, environmental stewardship efforts at this state-owned course along the Tennessee River near Chattanooga, or the bald eagles that have made the property famous on a global scale?
    "The environmental practices on the golf course came first," said Paul Carter, CGCS at Harrison Bay since 2001. "We were doing everything before the eagles came along,"
    Since Carter (pictured at right) became superintendent in 2001 at Harrison Bay, one of nine state park golf courses in Tennessee, he and his team have implemented a host of environmental programs to promote the abundant wildlife that call the Tennessee Valley home.
    Those efforts include converting about 75 acres of once-managed turf to native areas and installing 42 bluebird houses, 11 wood duck boxes, nine turkey feeders, seven mallard nesting tubes and raising and releasing two coveys of quail. It was about 2010 when a pair of mature eagles first appeared and built a nest along the golf course near the river.
    The course was certified by the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses and the Groundwater Foundation in 2008 for its stewardship efforts. It also has been recognized by the Golf Environment Organization Foundation, a European entity dedicated to inspiring, supporting and sharing golf's commitment to nature, resources and community. In 2011, Carter was named the TurfNet Superintendent of the Year, presented by Syngenta.
    "We used to mow tree line to tree line, and we're now maintaining fewer acres than ever," Carter said. "We're saving fuel and resources.
    "What we've done in the environmental aspect helped bring the eagles in and allowed them to feel like this was a safe haven and a place to raise a family. The eagles are the cherry on top."
    That's all well and good, but why should such programs matter to golfers or those who manage the courses on which they play?

    This year, stewardship efforts at Harrison Bay included raising and releasing two broods of quail. "I've always felt the golf course is a living, breathing thing. And we treat it as such," Carter said. "You get out of it what you put into it. You can overwater, put down too much fertilizer and cut everything down, and it will look good and it will play good, but you haven't done anything for the environment. That's a 50-50 relationship. Every superintendent has a responsibility to take care of the natural environment. Of course, golfers have to have a place to play and that pays our salaries, but we leave at the end of the day, and what are we leaving behind for the animals who call this home? If we don't manage this with that in mind then we are failing. I wouldn't want to be at a golf course that wouldn't take that into account."
    Eagles first showed up in 2010 at Harrison Bay, and those environmental programs came to the forefront a year later, thanks to fundraising efforts through The Friends of Harrison Bay, when park officials first installed a camera that peered into a nest. That technical set up has been updated several times, and has brought the nesting habits of bald eagles into millions of homes, schools and offices all around the world, including viewers from 36 countries last year alone.
    Although the same male has occupied the nest each year, four females have nested at Harrison Bay in nearly a decade.
    The eagles typically lay eggs at the Harrison Bay nest in mid-February. It's about another 35 days before the eggs hatch and then eight weeks before the chicks leave the nest. Hundreds of people come through the property each year for tours and a chance to see the eagles in person.
    "It started out just as a way for us to see them," Carter said. "It's amazing how many people are watching it online. Now, here we are. It's an untold number of people who have found out about this and have come to the course who never would have before."
  • Jorge Croda, CGCS, (second from right) and his team recently at Southern Oaks. The Southern Oaks team, below right, during English language class. Editor's note: Jorge Croda, CGCS, was superintendent at Southern Oaks Golf Club in Burleson, Texas. Owners recently closed the course to prepare it for sale. Croda also is a three-time finalist for the TurfNet Superintendent of the Year and won the award in 2017.
    By Jorge Croda, CGCS
    What can we learn from other generations and cultures? How can this learning and experience lead to increased success? My team is privileged to have a diverse mix of employees, we range in ages from 23 to 70 and have a variety of cultural and experiential backgrounds.
    Just like golf, life has an innate set of rules and etiquette that we all follow. There can be nuances within these rules and etiquette depending on our cultural and generational influences; however, fundamentally the basics remain the same. 
    Understanding and acknowledging that our employees have much to offer our team is a fundamental necessity and hallmark of a successful organization. Research indicates that millennials will be 75 percent of our workforce by 2025, and focus needs to be on engaging top talent across generations. The Pew Research Center outlines generations by birth year range as follows: Generation Z: 1996 and later, Generation Y (millennials): 1981-1995, Generation X: 1965 to 1980, Baby Boomers: 1946 to 1964. The diversity of our workforce has been gradually changing over the last 50 years, as well. 
    This diversity reflects a future workforce that will be even more diverse than today's — by gender, by ethnicity, by culture, by religion and most likely by other characteristics we haven't even identified yet. Acknowledging these diverse shifts in the workplace can sometimes seem daunting, but when we ensure that our mindset looks at diversity as an asset, it becomes clear that there is abundant opportunity to be had. What can we, as leaders, do to leverage the background, knowledge and skills of such a rich workforce to enhance our organizations?
    As a leader, continually ask yourself, "What can I learn from other generations and cultures, and how can this learning and experience lead to increased success?" My team is privileged to have a diverse mix of employees; we range in ages from 23 to 70 and have a variety of cultural and experiential backgrounds. 
    Earlier this year, I watched as one of our younger team members took the time after his shift to teach one of our oldest team member the beginning fundamentals of golf. A shared responsibility led to shared interests and the beginnings of a mutually beneficial relationship. This instance demonstrates the human connection that can so often be lacking in today's society. It is these shared experiences that make us who we are and create opportunities to flourish.
    Understanding your team
    Defining and aligning the vision and cultural values of your team and/or organization to be consistent with generational and cultural expectations is the key to building a successful team. 
    What makes each generation tick is different. If you have a diverse workforce then your responsibility as a leader is to take the time to get to know and understand your team members and identify their strengths and expectations. Identify the team members who have more multicultural experience and lead them to act as a bridge between their teammates with less cultural diversity. These identifications allow employees to draw from their cultural backgrounds in regards to the needs of the team and organization and use that expertise to be creative and innovative. 
    As a team leader, it is important to remember that you have to elicit input from all cultures represented in the team. Learning to adjust your style as a leader according to the nuances of your team makes a difference. Leverage the strengths of your team to grow each other professionally and accomplish the goals and objectives of your organization with creativity and innovation. 
    When your team is in alignment with the vision, everyone feels that their voices are heard and they will invest more effort into the time and quality of work. To create lasting positive change for generational diversity, it is critical that the vision and cultural values are consistent with current employees' expectations. 
    As expectations, beliefs, and behaviors change in organizations, so should the cultural values. As a leader, your responsibility is to ensure that your team understands the vision and cultural values and the role they play in the pursuit of these. They must also see you being a model of the expected behavior. If you are authentically living it, you can expect your team to be living it as well. Take opportunities to honor your employee's diversity. It could be something small like birthday recognitions or a larger scale cultural celebration. Do you have employees that have military experience? Is there a way that you can recognize and honor that contribution? Absolutely. If you are stuck when trying to come up with easy, no-hassle ways to show recognition, first just do it verbally. A simple "thank you" goes a long way. It shows that you are aware of that person and appreciate them. If you want to do more but don't have any ideas, try a simple google search. The internet is a wealth of ideas! No gesture is too big or too small. 
    Actions that demonstrates acknowledgment and appreciation are never wasted.

    The Southern Oaks team meets with Octavio Tripp (right), then Mexico's Dallas-based consul to the U.S. and now the Mexican ambassador to Egypt. Communication, contribution, and curiosity
    Keep communication honest, open, and frequent. Look for the positives in all of your team members and do not hesitate to point out what they are doing well, even the smallest of things. A little bit of recognition and praise goes a long way. If your team sees you doing it, they will do the same. Allow your employees to take ownership of their responsibilities and become leaders. Adopt a "Teach to Teach" mentality. Can they contribute to the training of other employees? Do they have insight in how to accomplish tasks in a more productive way? Do they have ideas on how to tackle challenges? Encourage curiosity and the pursuit of learning. Ensure that the environment and workplace culture you create is conducive to learning. 
    We should all have the mindset of being lifelong learners, no matter how big or small the learning is. This curiosity leads to opportunity and opportunity leads to success. Build a team of individuals that have the desire to be learners. There is a saying, "When one teaches, two learn." Let your employees be active, participating, appreciated members of the team. This will increase their emotional and physical investment in their job and positive results will follow. As a leader, you must create the conditions that allow cultural and generational appreciation and positive outcomes to occur.
    Identify and foster leadership
    You cannot just build a team of diverse employees and then expect immediate positive outcomes. You have to identify leaders and foster the skills that you want celebrated. 
    Different cultures and different generations expect different things; a diverse workforce requires leaders with a unique set of skills. Do not despair, if you don't feel that you have these skills, you can acquire them by utilizing the background, knowledge and experience of your workforce to learn and grow in your role as a leader! In order to find success you must be willing to be flexible, teachable, and approachable. 
    An effective leader helps their employees find common goals and must inspire and engage across all cultures and generations. Having a clearly defined vision, along with stated goals and expectations is critical to an organization's success. Likewise, we must know our employees, understand what their strengths are and use those strengths to improve upon their weaknesses and teach fellow employees, all while working towards organizational and/or departmental goals.
    Just like the golf course, when we are proactive in our approach and take the time to nurture our employees, beautiful growth happens.
  • Josh Taylor takes the gunner's seat during a morale flight in Kuwait earlier this year (above) and stands with one of the Apache aircraft he was charged with maintaining during a tour in Iraq in 2012 (below). Serving in the military runs in Josh Taylor's family, but a career as a golf course superintendent runs in his veins.
    After eight years in the South Carolina National Guard as an Apache helicopter mechanic crew chief that included two tours overseas, Taylor is taking aim at the stretch run of completing work toward an associate's degree in turfgrass management at Horry-Georgetown Technical College in Myrtle Beach. 
    "All the males in my family have been in the service one way or another," Taylor said. "My father, grandfathers, uncles. It's in the family."
    Next spring, he will complete his education at Horry-Georgetown and will move one step closer to becoming a golf course superintendent.
    "He has set himself up with the military and school to do whatever he wants to do," said Charles Granger, department chair and professor of the golf and sports turf management program at Horry-Georgetown. "Everyone wants options, and he is going to have those options. He is what every superintendent wants in a job candidate."
    A native of Hilton Head, Taylor is not a typical college student in any sense of the word. At age 31, Sgt. Taylor is leaving the South Carolina guard at year's end. He was in charge of a maintenance crew of 11 that services 10 aircraft for the 59th Aviation Troop Command, 1-151st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion. His crew was deployed twice, in 2012 to Iraq and again from September 2017 to July 2018 to Afghanistan. 
    First manufactured by Hughes Helicopters, then McDonnell-Douglas and now Boeing, the two-seat Apache has been in service by the U.S. Army as an attack weapon and ground-troop support since the mid-1980s.
    "It's a war zone over there, so it's intense," Taylor said of his time overseas. "We're there to make sure the guys on the ground have something over their heads when they are on the battlefield."
    Even serving his country while stationed on the other side of the world couldn't completely separate Taylor from his goal of being a superintendent.
    Each student in the H-G program is required to give a presentation detailing their internship experiences to the rest of the class. When it was Taylor's turn, he gave his presentation on his internship at the Dunes Golf and Beach Club in Myrtle Beach live from Afghanistan.
    "His leadership skills, critical-thinking skills and problem-solving skills are unbelievable," Granger said. "He doesn't get flustered. Whatever he does, it is all about completing his mission."
    Taylor's connection to golf runs as deep as his family's military ties.
    "Eventually, I want to be a superintendent," he said. "I fell in love with the industry and the camaraderie."
    He's been around the game since his youth, thanks to his father, Barry Taylor, and grandfather, Jimmy Taylor, since his youth. His mother, Angie Taylor, worked for the Heritage Classic Foundation, the nonprofit sponsor of the PGA Tour's RBC Heritage Classic, and to that end he's been hanging around the tournament played annually at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head since he was 10. His life changed when, after his second year as a student at the University of South Carolina, he took a summer job at Spanish Wells Club in Hilton Head.
    "Everything about him resonates success," Granger said. "His future is whatever he wants it to be."
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army have proposed a clear, understandable and implementable definition of "waters of the United States" that clarifies federal authority under the Clean Water Act.
    The new rule, proposed Dec. 12, would replace an Obama administration regulation, known as the "Waters of the United States" rule that expanded federal protections to smaller rivers and streams.
    The EPA says unlike the "Waters of the United States," the recent proposal contains a straightforward definition that would result in significant cost savings, protect the nation’s navigable waters, help sustain economic growth and reduce barriers to business development.
    Opponents of the Obama-era WOTUS rule say it unduly prevents property owners from being able to fully use their land because the rule's overly broad definition regulates ditches that temporarily flood as federally protected waterways.
    The agencies’ proposal gives states and tribes more flexibility in determining how best to manage their land and water resources while protecting the nation’s navigable waters as intended by Congress when it enacted the Clean Water Act three years ago, the EPA said.  
    Environmental advocates are concerned the proposed rule could remove pollution and development protections from many U.S. waterways and pose far-reaching effects on the safety of the nation's tap water for more than 100 million Americans.
    The proposed rule, says the EPA, would provide clarity, predictability and consistency so that the regulated community can easily understand where the Clean Water Act applies - and where it does not.
    Under the agencies’ proposal, traditional navigable waters, tributaries to those waters, certain ditches, certain lakes and ponds, impoundments of jurisdictional waters, and wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters would be federally regulated. It also details what are not "waters of the United States," such as features that only contain water during or in response to rainfall (e.g., ephemeral features); groundwater; many ditches, including most roadside or farm ditches; prior converted cropland; stormwater control features; and waste treatment systems.
    The agencies believe this proposed definition appropriately identifies waters that should be subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act while respecting the role of states and tribes in managing their own land and water resources. States and many tribes have existing regulations that apply to waters within their borders, whether or not they are considered "waters of the United States." 
    The joint proposal from the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers is the second step in a two-step process to review and revise the definition of "waters of the United States" consistent with President Trump's February 2017 executive order entitled "Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the 'Waters of the United States’ Rule." The order states that it is in the national interest to ensure that the nation's navigable waters are kept free from pollution, while at the same time promoting economic growth, minimizing regulatory uncertainty, and showing due regard for the roles of Congress and the states under the Constitution.
  • Todd Hicks, right, and Joe Rimelspach, Ph.D., of the plant pathology department at Ohio State (shown here during a recent field day) said 2018 is a year most in the golf business in Ohio would like to forget. Photo by John Reitman There were many reasons for golf course superintendents to panic in 2018. Two of the most prominent reasons were things called February and May.
    In Ohio, and elsewhere throughout the Midwest, Mid Atlantic and Northeast, in 2018, it was cold then unseasonably warm in early winter, followed by another round of cold, wet weather, followed by hot and humid conditions that last virtually uninterrupted for almost six months, providing a toxic cocktail of conditions for cool-season grass and major headaches for those managing it.
    Although 2018 was a nightmarish growing season for many superintendents, there's no reason to think these challenges are the new norm, said Todd Hicks, program manager for the turf pathology department at Ohio State University.
    "Superintendents were calling say their products didn't work. 'What am I going to do? Spray chlorothalonil all year?' " Hicks said during the recent Ohio Turfgrass Foundation Conference. "No, this was an oddball year. The things that worked for you in the past are going to continue to work for you. You just couldn't get out early enough this year. Stick with your plan."
    According to data compiled by Ohio State turf pathologist Joe Rimelspach, Ph.D., January in Ohio was, on average, a little colder than normal, while temperatures in February averaged 8.5 degrees warmer than the historic norm.
    "That's a crapload," said Hicks as he looked across what he described as the largest afternoon OTF seminar he and Rimelspach have seen in many years.
    "This is the largest crowd we've seen in 15 years. Usually, it's Joe and myself and five of our closest friends. You must be hard up for points, or you thought this was going to be really good, or we're talking over someone else's time."
    Turns out it was none of the above. Instead it was a reflection of the severity of the challenges encountered this year by superintendents in the Midwest.
    After a warm February, March and April were 3.5 degrees cooler than average, before temperatures in May skyrocketed to an average level that was 10 degrees warmer than usual, bringing summer-like conditions that lasted until mid-October. Then almost overnight, conditions spiraled, bringing winter temperatures to the Buckeye State two months earlier than usual.
    "We're now into winter, and we didn't have a fall," Hicks said. "And we wonder why nothing worked this year."
    Those wacky conditions, especially warm temperatures in February and heat and humidity that lasted well into autumn resulted in significant disease pressure, including early onset of dollar spot and the first reported case in Ohio of gray leaf spot on tall fescue.
    "Tall fescue doesn't get gray leaf spot like ryegrass gets it," Hicks said. "In ryegrass, it can look good one day and the next morning, the grass is gone. In fescue, it looks more like common leaf spot. It gets weak and thins out a little, but it doesn't die out.
    "This was the worst year ever in Ohio for gray leaf spot. It was a special year, and we probably won't see another one like it for a while."
    Dollar spot was more problematic.
    Warm temperatures in winter were enough to trigger dollar spot and cool, wet conditions prevented many from applying pre-emergent fungicide applications in a timely manner.
    "Diseases woke up earlier than usual, and I'm talking February for dollar spot," Hicks said. "Pre-emerge sprays were either late or missed entirely, and when you did get out it was compromised because it was so wet."
    Humid conditions provided an environment that promoted disease pressure until fall. Fungicide programs that typically are effective for up to 21 days were only lasting about a week, or less.
    "We had dollar spot early, and we had it forever," Hicks said. 
    "We had periods of five to seven days of heat and humidity and two days of cool down, then we were right back into the heat of the battle. The reprieve was never enough to knock down the disease. Under these conditions, dollar spot is going to flourish, and that's a battle you're never going to win."
  • 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.