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From the TurfNet NewsDesk

  • John Reitman
    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.
  • For golf course superintendents who want to get the most from their spray applications and eliminate overlapping and waste, Lesco and SiteOne have introduced the Lesco Smart Guided precision spray system.
    With an easy-to-install GPS tracker, the Smart Guided system can be fitted to most common spray units used in the golf industry, including many Cushman, Hahn, John Deere, SDI, Smithco and Toro models, at a fraction of the cost of other built-in units. 
    The system's TerraStar GPS satellite technology allows it to spray within a 2-inch level of accuracy so there are no missed areas, overspray or overlap. If the operator maneuvers a vehicle such that a nozzle is outside the defined application boundary, the affected nozzles will turn off automatically.
    Each unit comes with an Android tablet, GPS antenna, electronic controller, wiring harness, mounting hardware, nozzle solenoids and sun shade.
    The Smart Guided system also tracks spray applications to make documentation and record-keeping easier. This feature also allows the system to remember and repeat boundaries after they have been driven once and saved.
    The Lesco Smart Guided system is available through SiteOne locations.
  • The Turf Prophit online maintenance tracking system for golf course superintendents includes a built-in weather component. As a former golf course superintendent, John Bladon knows how difficult it can be to justify a budget to a committee. Now, as an entrepreneur, he wants to do something to make it easier for superintendents to track what they do on the golf course and how much they spend doing it so they and other stakeholders can make smarter and more informed decisions.
    Bladon is part of an entrepreneurial team that recently launched Turf Prophit, an online turf management system designed to simplify assigning tasks, tracking labor and inputs. 
    The system also can spit out reports detailing how much time and money is spent on various maintenance tasks.
    "Being able to document everything we do and have it readily available for our members has made my life easier," said Matt Gourlay, CGCA at Colbert Hills in Manhattan, Kansas, an early adopter of the system. "It takes away from members the feeling that I am not doing my job. I can easily show them data on what, why and how we do jobs and spend money."
    With a built-in digital job board, the system allows users to schedule, edit and monitor tasks from any mobile device or computer. An online weather component also lets everyone on the staff follow weather conditions within the system in real time.
    Users can customize featured content to fit their specific needs and operational requirements, monitor staffing and expenditure efficiencies on a computer, tablet or smartphone; analyze data in Turf Prophit's GreenZone, forecast future budgets and expenses; and create reports in PDF or Excel format.
    The secure, cloud-based system, which comes from the same Canada-based team that helped bring to market the TarpDevil system for deploying and removing greens covers, has been tested on more than 100 facilities around the world. 
    "Our mission is to find a simple, effective way to collect key information that is going to make a powerful impression on those who superintendents report to," Bladon said. "Providing a return to them and the end user, that is our impression of a win."
    Set-up is easy and can be completed with a few simple step-by-step instructions sent to customers via email.
    Users also can place orders with vendor partners through the system.
    "This makes the office mobile and makes everything easier without making it painful," Bladon said. "The purchasing module lets users build and email P.O.s and track purchases. If you're tired of not knowing where you are budget-wise because accounting is way behind, this allows you to stay on point. 
    "The reporting function makes life easier throughout the season and budget-defensible items is why it came into existence."
    Gourlay is still in his first week of using Turf Prophit, but says to track inputs and expenditures and turn that information into usable data should help him in the day-to-day operation of Colbert Hills.
    "We've had it for two weeks, and have been using it for four or five days. Our equipment manager maintains all maintenance information on this program, my assistant runs the nine-hole course, and he runs everything on it, and our superintendent runs everything else on it," Gourlay said.
    "The data that is available is incredible. Communication is key for me. I have to be able to communicate effectively to members, the board and our president. For example, with equipment maintenance, if they ask why we are spending more this year than last year, I can pull up a spreadsheet and show them what we are spending to maintain greensmowers, and that maybe it's worthwhile to replace them as part of our capital expenditures. If they want to know why the bunkers are raked or the pins changed, well, here's our data about where our labor is going, and we either have to increase what we spend on labor to get some things done, or cut back in other areas. We're not hiding anything. We can share this with members who are used to doing business based on data and let them decide."
  • Through years of research and sharing their results with others, Thom Nikolai, Ph.D., and Michael Morris, CGCS, have changed the way golf course superintendents manage putting greens.
    Their work, which focused on maximizing putting conditions based on a combination of agronomics, budget limitations and (course-specific) customer satisfaction was the basis for a seminar entitled Taking Control of Green Speed.
    During the past four weeks, Nikolai, a professor of turfgrass science at Michigan State University, and Morris, superintendent at Crystal Downs Country Club in Frankfort, Michigan, have resurrected their research in a four-part webinar series sponsored by Grigg entitled the ABCs of putting green management.
    Although the live broadcasts have concluded, recordings of all four, along with archives of hundreds of other webinars, are available only through TurfNet University.
    In Part I - Speed does not kill, ignorance does - the presenters set the table for the subsequent three sessions by discussing the role of customer satisfaction in achieving consistent playing conditions, rather than a target green speed.
    This presentation challenges the notion that fast greens and compromised turf health go hand in hand. Specifically, Morris and Nikolai review how consistency and customer satisfaction were achieved at Crystal Downs Country Club through a four-part process that includes: measuring daily green speeds, surveying golfers to determine their target range, evaluating maintenance practices to manage those speeds and communicating results to stakeholders.
    Part II - Putting green management and the law of diminishing returns: cultural practices - focuses on achieving customer satisfaction through sound cultural practices, including irrigation, fertility, plant growth regulators and topdressing.
    Part III - Putting green management and the law of diminishing returns: mechanical practices - explores how processes, such as mowing, brushing and rolling, can help superintendents maximize customer satisfaction.
    The series concluded with Part IV - You cannot manage what you cannot measure - which ties together information from the previous three webcasts and focuses on how any golf course superintendent can develop a program that includes rolling, brushing,mowing and PGR applications to maximize playability, customer satisfaction and turf health.
    All TurfNet University webinars, including the live broadcasts and recorded archives, are free for everyone.
  • From the earliest stages of life, children are taught to respect their elders. The same philosophy, apparently does not apply to professional golf.
    Glen Abbey Golf Club, the historic site of the RBC Canadian Open, appears to be destined for real estate development, sending one of the oldest events on the PGA Tour schedule packing and in search of a new home.
    Clublink, which owns and operates more than 50 golf facilities in Canada and Florida, including Glen Abbey, wants to build 3,222 residential units and offices on the property, including nine high-rises ranging from nine to 12 stories each.
    The city is trying to block that plan, but Clublink's proposal received a boost recently when a judge said the owner can take its demolition plan to the local planning appeal tribunal.
    Clublink first expressed its plan to redevelop Glen Abbey in 2015. Since then, the property was designated by the city as a historic site, protecting it under the Ontario Heritage Act. City leaders, including Mayor Rob Burton, say that designation precludes Clublink's plan to redevelop the property. Earlier this year, Oakville's town council passed amendments to its zoning by-laws and a conservation plan and in February voted to reject Clublink's redevelopment plan.
    Clublink made its appeal to Canada's Superior Court of Justice in July. Justice Edward Morgan issued an opinion on Oct. 25 allowing Clublink to appeal its case.
    Morgan wrote in his opinion: "The evidence is that the golf course was constructed in accordance with Jack Nicklaus' professional design. It is not raw land, and it is substantially more than a landscaped garden. As ClubLink points out, portions of the course have been renovated and rebuilt over time, and like all such constructions these features have a limited life.
    "Counsel for ClubLink emphasizes the evidence in the record of substantial irrigation infrastructure, subsurface drainage construction, earthwork spectator mounds or berms, artificial reservoir ponds, complex designed greens constructed in accordance with specific United States Golf Association standards, engineered bunkers, paved cart paths, etc. All of these features require installation, physical maintenance, periodic renovation, and elaborate construction. ClubLink submits that features that need to be constructed are structures that can be demolished."
    The status of the golf course became a topic of debate in the recent Oakville mayoral race that concluded with Burton winning a fourth term on Oct. 22. His opponent Julia Hanna favored a plan that included converting the entire property to a green space for public use. 
    Under Clublink's current proposal, at least 12 acres of the current Glen Abbey site would be designated as a park.
    John McLaughlin, the third candidate in the mayoral campaign, said town officials were only waiting until after the election to get behind Clublink's plan, claiming that a clause in a 2006 planning report says the golf course can be redesignated for real estate development for "no valid reason."
    To that end, Burton has said that Clublink's development application could still be approved as long as the heritage elements of the land are preserved in the plans.
    The RBC Canadian Open is one of the oldest tournaments on the PGA Tour schedule. The tournament has been played at Glen Abbey, a 1976 Jack Nicklaus design, 30 times since 1977, including the past four years. 
    Co-organized by Golf Canada and the PGA Tour, the Canadian Open has been played annually since 1904, except for 1915-18 and 1943-44, when it was interrupted by World War I and World War II, respectively. Among current professional tournaments, only the Open Championship and the U.S. Open have a longer history.
    The 2019 RBC Canadian Open will be played 30 miles away at Hamilton Golf and Country Club.
  • Architectural renovation projects are supposed to be transformative for golf courses and those who play them, not for the superintendent who oversees these properties.
    Restoration work by architects Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner, first at historic Los Angeles Country Club and now at Southern Hills, have helped rejuvenate and reinvigorate Russ Myers, who is three years into his second tour at the 1936 Perry Maxwell masterpiece in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
    "There's this line of how good can conditioning be, and how perfect can perfect be. I've been spending 24 years now continuing to teach people how to rake bunkers. That can get pretty mind-numbing after a while," said Myers. "What working with Gil and Jim did with me, it took me to a different level of what I was maintaining. It wasn't about creating perfect turfgrass, it was about creating an experience in golf."
    Hanse and Wagner completed a restoration of LA's North Course before Myers left there at the end of 2009 for his second turn at Southern Hills. That work signaled the first major restoration project there since architect George Thomas built the course in 1897. That same duo have since restored LA's South Course and recently embarked on a renovation of Southern Hills. Their work on Wilshire Boulevard, Myers says, has transformed the golf scene in Los Angeles and helped him reach for something higher than only providing great turf.
    "That was as good a six years as I could have wanted," Myers said of his time at LACC. "I had a blast and I love that style of golf. There is a lot of walking golf there, and it's more about playability than anything else. 
    "Golf has never been that good in LA as it is now. Gil and Jim have been a guiding force for the game's betterment. I want to identify with that."
    Myers recalls his discussions with Southern Hills GM Nick Sidorakis about making a return to Tulsa. 
    When Sidorakis asked him what he wanted out of a return to Southern Hills, Myers said he wanted to do something transformative and leave a lasting legacy on golf in Oklahoma.
    "I didn't know what that was at the time, but I want to be part of big things and do big things," Myers said. "Whatever we decide to do, let's do them great and not do things halfway."
    Imagine his continued exuberance when Hanse and Wagner were picked for the current renovation at Southern Hills, architect Perry Maxwell's 1936 masterpiece that last underwent a complete restoration by Keith Foster in 2004. 

    Russ Myers' son, R.J., left, and Gil Hanse, right, move some dirt at Southern Hills. The current Southern Hills project includes tweaking some bunker work, a new No. 7 green to reflect Maxwell's original intent and restoring some fairway features lost over time, including a split No. 2 fairway, and new tees. The other 17 greens were restored by Foster 14 years ago. Those are being rebuilt (no architectural changes) and regrassed only with Pure Distinction creeping bentgrass.
    "The bunkers are a continued restoration," Myers said. "From everything I could tell, Keith used Maxwell's original as a guiding principle when he redid them.
    "He put back in a lot of stuff that Maxwell had in there originally, and I think he would like to have done more."
    The project also includes the Precision Hydronics system that regulates soil temperature by water flowing through a series of underground pipes. It's a transformative system that Myers first became familiar when he worked at Augusta National.
    "If you are going to grow bentgrass in the South, you have to be fully committed to it," Myers said. "June and September are ideal months for growing bentgrass, but July and August are the worst. If you can make the grass think it is June and September, that is what drove us to put it in."
    The project intersects with work on the club's player performance center, cart barn, security entrance and tennis center. Work on the project began Aug. 1 and is scheduled to be finished in January, with a reopening set for June.
    "Originally, it was supposed to be a tee and bunker project. When you consider the lifespan of the greens and the Hydronics, it made sense to do it all in one chunk instead of some now and some later," Myers said. 
    "They didn't want to affect members now and hit them again with another closure in seven or eight years. That was the driving force."
    This infusion of passion that started in Los Angeles might have prevented job burnout that is so common among superintendents. It also has helped him make more time for his family.
    "It's not about creating perfect turfgrass. It's about creating an experience in golf," Myers said. "It's about firmness and the way the ball is bounding up to the green, the vista in the background, what the tee markers look like, what the benches look like, the atmosphere of the club. It's all-encompassing. My experience working with Gil and Jim embraced all of that. It's not just about what our turfgrass looks like. Admittedly, that might be down on my list of priorities. It's about who's playing today and what I can do to set up the course for that group to make it an interesting day for them.
    "It has reinvigorated my passion for the game of golf and made me feel like I was playing each day like I did when I first loved (the game), while still doing the nuts and bolts maintenance stuff. You could make the argument that I might have tried something different by now had I not come across Jim and Gil, because they really gave me a new love for the game."
  • Scientists from 15 universities in 14 states are set to embark on a study to learn more about annual bluegrass biology and provide turf managers with better options to manage it. Photo by Jim Brosnan, Ph.D., University of Tennessee. Researchers from more than a dozen universities are preparing to embark on what promises to be the most important and comprehensive study of annual bluegrass ever conceived.
    During the next four years, scientists from 15 universities in 14 states will collect data with the goal of providing a better understanding of annual bluegrass biology, factors affecting herbicide resistance in annual bluegrass and the mechanisms of resistance all in hopes of helping turf managers and researchers diagnose incidences of resistance quicker and identify potential management alternatives.
    The project, which will begin in early 2019, is being funded through a $3.2 million U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Research Initiative grant.
    "I'm just one of many people involved in this, but to me, it's just about how to provide turf managers with more information about how to manage resistance," said University of Tennessee weed scientist Jim Brosnan, Ph.D., one of the researchers involved in the study. "That is going to be scientifically validated information that is both chemical and cultural, and it's exciting to finally have the resources now to do the cultural work and better understand this weed and how it performs and how it adapts in turfgrass systems, because that is what is needed to build a true integrated program. We can do a better job of managing resistance if we learn more about the biology of annual bluegrass. That's just going to help every turfgrass manager; golf, sports fields, lawns, sod farms, you name it.
    "To do something as thorough as this on the cultural side is really neat and much needed."
    The project is the idea of Muthu Bagavathiannan, Ph.D., assistant professor at Texas A&M whose focus is on weed science and agronomy, primarily in row crops.
    For Bagavathiannan, herbicide resistance in annual bluegrass became an issue when former colleagues Casey Reynolds, Ph.D., and Matt Elmore, Ph.D., now with Turfgrass Producers International and Rutgers University, respectively, shared with him concerns of golf course superintendents in Texas struggling to control it in warm-season turf.
    "We tested populations from different golf courses against commonly used herbicides, and we found widespread resistance," Bagavathiannan said. "It was incredible the level of resistance we noted. This is an area where not much research has been done. A lot of work has been done with herbicide pest management, but when you have resistance, we don't fully understand the nature of resistance, how it's spreading, if there are any non-chemical methods of control and the socio-economic constraints that prevent folks from using better management programs."
    The data this project will yield could make it the most important annual bluegrass study. It certainly makes it one of the most collaborative.
    Universities taking part in the group effort include Texas A&M, Arizona, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Oregon State, Mississippi State, North Carolina State, Penn State, Portland State, Purdue, Rutgers, Tennessee and Virginia Tech. The study will focus on data relevant for golf course superintendents, sports field managers, sod growers and lawn care operators.
    Bagavathiannan's first grant application was turned down by a review panel because then the study focused only on herbicide resistance of annual bluegrass in warm-season turf. That's when he expanded the scope of the study by adding researchers at Rutgers, Purdue, Virginia Tech, Penn State and Oregon State to the trial. 
    "For a grant like that," Brosnan said, "you have to have some geographic reach."
    The different universities involved in the study have been assigned different tasks to expand the scope of the research, including non-target resistance, new and alternative methods of control, the role of fertilizers in resistance, socio-economic factors that influence selection and data analysis.
    "I've written many grant proposals, and this is one of the best I've written," Bagavathiannan said. "Even though this is a big team of scientists, they all come together and we have different aspects of the problem. There are different elements, and by addressing all these different elements, we can eliminate redundancy in research and make this study national in scope."
    Trials will compare similar data from different geographic locations, under different conditions.
    "The research panel felt strongly that this needed to be a national project. This was a good thing," Brosnan said. "For example, herbicides are used in cool-season grass seed production, and there is the potential for herbicide-resistant seed to be selected and moved into production, but we wouldn't know about it.
    "If everything goes as planned, it will be the best annual bluegrass data set ever, its really thorough."
  • The Cushman Hauler 4x4 has a 2,000-pound towing capacity. Textron Specialized Vehicles Inc. recently launched its new Cushman Hauler 4x4 to handle tough jobs at golf courses and parks. 
    With a 2,000-pound towing capacity, 1,500-pound payload and 1,000-pound cargo box, the Hauler 4x4 series is perfect for heavy lifting. A redesigned dash includes a multi-function display that communicates vehicle performance and diagnostics. Hauler 4x4 models offer several storage locations, including behind and under the seat, and a glove box ideal for transporting everyday gear such as gloves, goggles and tools. 
    The Hauler 4x4 is available as a three-person vehicle, and the Hauler 4x4 Crew accommodates up to six people. Both models are available in either a whisper-quiet 50hp gas engine, or a robust 25hp diesel engine. Electronic power steering is standard on Crew models, and available as an option on three-passenger models. 
    With standard safety features such as seat belts, doors and a rollover protection system, the Hauler 4x4 was developed to protect your crew. Other standard features include high/low-beam headlights, LED brake lights and taillights and a locking rear differential. 
    Hauler 4x4 series vehicles can be equipped with a wide selection of options and accessories, including a glass windshield, canopy, center seat console, under seat storage, rear-view mirror and more. 
  • A thriving bee population at PGA GC in Port St. Lucie, Florida is further proof that bees and golf courses can coexist. When it comes to lifelong learning, Dick Gray can get pretty philosophical in a down-home manner that mixes his Midwestern, Indiana upbringing and an Old Florida style that has defined him for the past 50 years.
    "If you're done learning, you're done," Gray said flatly.
    At age 75, Gray appear far from done when it comes to greenkeeping, learning, making the world a better place through golf and telling people about it.
    This summer, he had a pair of beehives installed on the ninth hole of the Dye Course at the 36-hole PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida, where Gray has been director of agronomy for the past six years. There are plans to put in a third hive with wild bees caught on the golf course.
    The project included planting a patch of wildflowers, courtesy of Syngenta, to help give the bees, which have a pollen-hunting range of about 2 miles, a headstart on their mission. The end result has been the ability to harvest a local source of honey, promote environmental stewardship and share the results with others.
    "We are an Audubon Signature course, and you can't just get that plaque and go about your business. You have to keep adding to it, and that is a good thing," he said. "This is a learning process. I had to put my ego aside, and that is awfully hard to do. Learning is the most important thing we can do, and the other part of that responsibility is to pass it on. Not that I'm the guru or mentor on this. I'm just one of the guys out there. But, we are stewards of the environment, and Mother Nature, she is on a fixed income, and so we have to do something about that; we can't just squander what's in the cupboard."
    Both hives are painted red to honor Gray's alma mater Wabash College in his native Indiana, and Texas Tech University, where he earned a master's degree in restaurant, hotel and institutional management.
    The project started when Roger Welker, a former superintendent at Vero Beach Country Club now with Independent Turf Partners, approached Gray about installing his hives at PGA. Gray, who didn't know much on the topic, finally agreed, but only after he studied a similar project at Broken Sound Club in Boca Raton. Gray knew Easter from the latter's days as superintendent at Piper's Landing in Stuart.
    "Not to follow the herd, but I was happy someone was out ahead of us on this," Gray said. 
    "Florida is a little different. A lot of golfers come here from their clubs up north, and they compare us to what they do up there. No matter what we do, it's questioned.
    "What makes it so incredible is he did it in Boca, if it was someplace else, that's one thing, but Boca? How'd he do that? Those people are fussy, and when you introduce bees on a golf course, someone is going to get sued, and there will be an attorney for every bee."

    PGA GC director of agronomy Dick Gray, left, here talking with assistant superintendent Jesus Romero, says locally sourced honey off the golf course has been a hit in the club's restaurant. The hives are part of a larger get-back-to-nature effort that Gray is putting into place across the 350-acre PGA campus that includes natural areas that have created habitat for birds and insects.
    Both components of the program can help show others that bees, wildlife and golf courses can coexist, Gray said.
    "I've studied pollinator decline for several years, and I've wondered ‘Am I part of that? Am I contributing to that?" he asked. 
    "We've taken about 35 acres, about 10 percent, that we used to mow every week and we now mow eight times a year. We've reduced our carbon footprint by mowing 90 percent of what we did weekly, and created habitat for birds. You can't believe the diversity of birds that now feed there, and that area helps define the golf course. It works in well with what we're trying to do, and the bees fit right into that. It's the cherry on the whole thing. If we can keep these pollinators healthy, that takes the check mark off the golf course as being part of the problem."
    The honey off the golf course is now offered inside the club's grill under the name Dye's Reserve #9, and that has been a hit with golfers, especially women, Gray said.
    Welker first installed a hive at Sailfish Point Golf Club near Stuart, where Gray once worked, because that club, too, wanted to show that golf courses and bees can coexist in harmony. When Gray learned about that, he contacted Welker to get some hives at PGA.
    "He told me 'We should put those out here. The PGA needs to be doing that,' " Welker said. 
    Welker has since installed hives at The Floridian and Lost Lake as well as at the Miami Dolphins sod facility. 
    "I thought I'd have three hives in this year. I know have 26," Welker said. "It will be close to 60 in a couple of months because we split the hives every year. What started out as a hobby is now looking like a secondary business."
    A new colony of bees were found at PGA swarming around their queen on a tree near the No. 10 tee of the Ryder Course. Welker collected them and is going to install a third hive.
    "We have the prettiest patch of wildflowers you ever did see," he said. 
    "I'm not trying to landscape the whole place in flowers, don't get me wrong, but it works well with pollinators, and it's a movement that I like to be part of. We have mulie grass and burgundy grass and white fountain grass. The only thing we're missing is the aroma from the orange blossoms we used to get. We're here to help Mother Nature. This is a strong message, and it's one that has legs."
  • Covers can help protect ultradwarf Bermudagrass greens even under extreme winter conditions are much less costly to a superintendent's budget and career goals than replacing dead turf. Photo by The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay If it seems like just yesterday when superintendents managing warm-season turf were feeling the effects of lingering winter damage, it is because it was yesterday. Literally.
    How to manage Bermudagrass damaged last winter was fodder for university research updates, fact sheets, webinars and field days. Although the effects of last winter are still fresh in the minds of many, like it or not, suddenly it is time to start thinking ahead to winter.
    The USGA Green Section has a some tips to consider for superintendents growing Bermudagrass to consider before winter arrives and it is time to drag out those greens covers.
    > Apply wetting agents before it gets really cold to maintain proper soil moisture levels. It is important to maintain adequate soil moisture in the upper rootzone of putting greens to prevent desiccation during extremely cold weather. According to University of Arkansas research, using wetting agents can help ensure adequate and uniform moisture levels that will reduce the risk of turf injury during severe winter conditions.
    > Temporarily remove covers after four to five days to irrigate putting surfaces during prolonged cold weather events. High winds and low humidity often accompany extremely cold weather and can dry out the upper rootzone. Taking covers off for two to three hours and irrigating putting greens will restore rootzone moisture.
    > Create an air gap under turf covers at the coldest putting green sites. Turf covers alone may not provide enough protection when temperatures drop below 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Putting greens on north-facing slopes and those with winter shade issues are prone to lower soil temperatures than other putting greens. Placing pine straw on a putting green before installing a turf cover creates an air gap between the turf and the cover that helps keep soil temperatures several degrees warmer than a cover alone. This increase in soil temperature might prevent turf injury.
    > Manage winter shade. Shade will reduce soil temperatures, increasing the risk of cold temperature injury. Shaded greens are particularly susceptible to winter injury if they are not protected by a cover with an insulating air gap.
    > Remember, covers are expensive, but they work. Even if covers are seldom necessary, they work. There are the cost and the hassle of deploying and removing them, but that cost is much cheaper than rebuilding greens and using them results in far less down time in spring and summer than what it takes to replace dead turf.
    Recent research conducted at the University of Arkansas looked into the effects of covers on Champion, TifEagle and MiniVerde greens at 25 degrees, 22 degrees, 18 degrees and 15 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the study, TifEagle and MiniVerde were more cold tolerant than Champion.
    According to the study, Bermudagrass greens covered when temperatures reached 15 degrees survived throughout the winter with improved spring green up. Covered greens even survived two days of extreme cold temperatures where overnight lows dropped to 0 degrees on consecutive nights.