As the founders of PACE Turf eyed retirement, there was really only one name that made sense as Drs. Larry Stowell and Wendy Gelernter looked for a successor to take over their business.
Micah Woods, Ph.D., founder of the Asian Turfgrass Center, has acquired the science-based turfgrass management information service and took over July 1 as its director and president.
"Anyone who has worked with MIcah is impressed by his creativity, integrity, honesty and experience," Stowell said. "But what makes him uniquely qualified to continue PACE Turf’s mission is an ability to blend his comprehensive and sophisticated research expertise with his very practical experience as a golf course superintendent. He embodies all of the qualities that Wendy and I have been looking for to lead PACE Turf into the future."
Gelernter and Stowell launched PACE Turf in 1992 as a fax-based subscription information service that delivers science-based solutions to turf managers using site-specific climate, weather and pest-forecasting systems, peer-reviewed research and expert advice.
Woods founded the Asian Turfgrass Center in 2006 to develop and provide turfgrass information for the golf and sports turf industry in Asia. He, Gelernter and Stowell have collaborated on several projects over the years, including the Minimum Levels for Sustainable Nutrition guidelines that have been adopted by turf managers around the world.
"Micah searches for real answer and solutions that benefit the client and the industry as a whole," Stowell said.
A former golf course superintendent in China and Japan, Woods plans to run both operations concurrently from his home in Thailand.
"My motivation for taking over PACE Turf is to make sure the valuable information resources continue to be available," Woods said. "PACE Turf provides information that translates science-based results into practical advice for turfgrass managers. There is a substantial and valuable archive of material on the PACE Turf website, and I intend to make sure that material continues to be available, and to add to it and expand it as more information becomes available."
Since Woods completed work toward his doctorate at Cornell University, his research and educational activities have led to the international recognition of ATC.
Woods' work as a consultant, researcher and speaker has taken him to more than 30 countries on five continents. Through the ATC, he provides turfgrass advisory and soil testing services to clients around the world. Since 2009, he has also been an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Tennessee.
He plans to expand PACE Turf's offerings to meet the needs of today's turf-management community that includes golf course superintendents, sports turf managers, commercial and residential landscape managers worldwide.
The PACE Turf subscription information service also houses an extensive collection of turf management tools and guides, including the free Climate Appraisal form.
"Larry and Wendy created a company that is renowned for both the volume and the quality of the material available," Woods said. "Their temperature-based turfgrass growth potential, which is known around the world as GP, has been used for fertilizer scheduling, overseed timing, sand topdressing rate calculations, and stress indices, among many others. They've had information on the web since 1997 - 25 years now. I remember when I was a golf course superintendent in China in the late '90s, I used the TurfNet forum for information, and I got as much information as I could from the old PACE Turf website. Larry and Wendy have been providing these essential decision-support tools for turfgrass managers for my entire career. I used that information at the start of my career, have subsequently collaborated with Larry and Wendy on projects such as MLSN, and to now be responsible for PACE Turf myself, I feel it's exciting, it's a challenge, and it's an honor."
Woods has worked with Stowell and Gelernter on many projects in the past. Together, they developed the Minimum Levels for Sustainable Nutrition guidelines that have been adopted worldwide and helped turf managers reduce inputs without compromising conditions.
"Aside from being a talented scientist, writer and speaker, Micah thinks broadly when searching for solutions and does not get trapped by out-of-date paradigms," Stowell said. "He demonstrated this early on in his career with his Ph.D. research on potassium. It was that “out-of-the-box” thinking that first caught our eyes, and we have been conversing and working together since then."
That past collaboration made Woods a natural fit to take over PACE, Gelernter said.
"We can't imagine anyone better suited than Micah to take on PACE Turf's mission," she said.
While there are similarities between the services offered by PACE and the ATC, they are vastly different entities in their approach, Woods said.
"There's definitely overlap between ATC and PACE Turf, because we have such similar missions," Woods said. "The PACE Turf information service delivers science-based solutions to turf management problems with breaking research news, information and expert advice that is customized for your location. PACE Turf offers this through detailed climate analyses, and through translation of relevant turfgrass research into practical advice that turfgrass managers can use, resulting in a plethora of decision-support tools for turfgrass management.
"What ATC does is a bit more eclectic. There's a lot of research, advisory work for select clients around the world, speculative and philosophical musings about turfgrass management, that sort of thing. What ATC offers is not nearly as structured or as actionable as the PACE Turf information service is. While we have almost identical objectives in providing fact-based information that turfgrass managers can use to make the best decisions for the site they are at, given the current turf and weather and soil conditions, Larry and Wendy created PACE Turf to provide these tools in a structured way. ATC is more like thinking about things, and PACE Turf is doing them."