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From the TurfNet NewsDesk

  • John Reitman
    During the past three decades, entomologist Dave Shetlar, Ph.D., has made a living by knowing what makes bugs tick. Heck, he even carved a nickname out of it. Since he retired three years ago from Ohio State, Shetlar, aka, The Bug Doc, admits there are times when the insects know best.
    When someone asked him recently whether a mild winter followed by a wet spring would have an adverse effect on white grubs this summer, Shetlar laughed before answering: "I always tell people my money is with the insects. They've been around since the last ice age. They've seen it all, and they've lived through it all."
    The reality, says Shetlar, who in retirement still conducts entomology extension work for Ohio State, is grubs are marvels of evolution and as such there is no real accurate predictor of of grub populations from year to year.
    "We always lose some grubs whether it is a warm winter or a cold winter," Shetlar said. "In fact, a warm winter can be more deadly. When it's cold, the grubs go into winter dormancy and they are not metabolizing their fat storage. When it's a warm winter, if it is warm enough, the grubs can begin to metabolize and use fat storage. They're also more susceptible to fungal diseases and bacterial conditions."
    Shetlar's colleague at the University of Kentucky, Dan Potter, Ph.D., agreed that there often are more questions than answers when it comes to white grubs.
    "I gave up a long time ago trying to predict grub populations," said Potter, the recipient of the 2010 USGA Green Section Award. "If I could do that, I would've made a fortune."
    Through June 3, nearly 25 inches of rain have fallen so far in 2020 in Lexington, Kentucky, where Potter lives. That's about 6 inches more than the historic average. It is even more dramatic in Shetlar's hometown of Columbus, Ohio, where 26 inches of precipitation have fallen to date this year, which is 10 inches more than the norm, according to the NWS.
    Many adult beetles that overwintered as larva and pupa, will emerge any day now. And they will have to make their way through a saturated profile to take flight. A little water at the surface is not likely to impede their progress, Potter said. 
    "I haven't seen any Japanese beetles yet. I think the flight is going to be late because it has been so cool," Potter said. "We're behind about a week or two in growing-degree-days. 
    "The grub population can withstand soil saturation. It takes a lot to drown a white grub."
    White grub/beetle eggs need moisture to remain viable. How wet or dry it is in July, when female beetles lay those eggs won't much affect the grub population, but it could affect where those populations are concentrated.
    "If the soil is saturated, they're likely to be more spread out," Potter said. "If it's dry, they will be primarily concentrated in irrigated turf."
    Some beetles will lay eggs in higher areas during wet periods and in low-lying areas when it is dry, hoping to take advantage of any available surface water. There also is evidence that female Japanese beetles can see at least some color and thus will never enter brown turf when seeking a place to lay their eggs. They also can sense soil moisture, Shetlar said. 
    "If it's not moist enough," Shetlar said, "they'll leave and go to another area."
    Because the eggs require a moist host, Bug Doc also noted evidence of masked chafer adults waiting for just the right conditions for egg laying before emerging from the underground lair.
    "When the rain stops in June, there is not much emergence until there is a rainfall event," he said. "It doesn't have to be much, but once there is rain then all hell breaks loose the next three nights. There is no reason for them to come out if it doesn't rain."

    To say 2020 has been a challenging year would be an understatement of epic magnitude, and the turfgrass management world has not been immune.
    Some golf courses have been open, otherS closed and some used as public parks while they have been closed. As the economy and the golf industry begin to reopen, sports field managers still are in a unique position. They have to keep fields in shape and ready for play, but when play will resume still is a mystery.
    What does this mean for sports turf managers as they navigate through uncharted territory, keeping fields ready for play during a time when the first action on the field probably still is weeks or even months away? 
    John Sorochan, Ph.D., professor of turfgrass science at the University of Tennessee will address this topic in a free TurfNet webinar - Managing sports turf … when there is no play - on June 17. The event is sponsored by Brandt.
    The NFL has not solidified plans for play this season. Likewise, there is no solid timetable yet for college football, though we learned that several players have tested positive for Covid-19 as they began returning to campus this week.
    Major League Baseball owners and players have not been able to reach an agreement on a shortened season, and some owners have said they would be OK if the season was canceled entirely, a fate that likely awaits the minor league system this summer as well. While there might not be baseball, some facilities are doing what they can to generate some revenue, including renting out stadiums for private functions.
    In this free webinar, Sorochan will address expectations during a hiatus, how this uncertainty affects cultural practices not getting so aggressive that there is insufficient time for recovery before that first event.
    Click here to register.
  • Bayer has reached a deal to settle most of the thousands of cases alleging that its weedkiller Roundup is responsible for causing cancer among its users.

    Bayer has set aside $8 billion to settle an estimated 50,000 to 85,000 existing cases, according to published reports by Bloomberg and Fortune. The company has earmarked another $2 billion to cover future claims, the reports say. In exchange, Roundup will remain on the market and attorneys involved say they will stop advertising for and accepting new claims against Bayer, which bought Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, in 2018. 
    As many as 125,000 suits have been filed against Monsanto alleging that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is responsible for the plaintiffs' non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
    Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer continues to appeal some of the early verdicts, just three of which resulted in jury awards of more than $2 billion damages, which were later reduced by a judge to $191 million. 
    The first trial in the ongoing Roundup saga, which resulted in a $289 million verdict for the plaintiff in August 2018, went before a California appeals court this week. Bayer asked the court to set aside the verdict or at least order a new trial, according to Reuters. The results of that case could affect the payout each party receives in the settlement, said an arbiter working between attorneys on both sides. Awards will range from a few thousand dollars per claim to a few million, Fortune said.
    Bloomberg suggests Bayer has a strong chance to win its appeal in California, but adds that if the court upholds the earlier ruling it could result in Bayer paying more in its settlement and in future cases.
    At the center of the glyphosate debate are conflicting reports by the World Health Organization and the EPA. In 2015, the WHO concluded that glyphosate was a "probable" carcinogen. The EPA, on the other hand, has said that there is no evidence indicating that glyphosate causes cancer based on the results of more than 800 tests and studies.
    Bayer's stock value has taken a hit since 2018, dropping by as much as 62 percent. Stock prices currently are down about percent since the acquisition in 2018.
  • Golf course superintendents growing warm-season grass and those who manage cool-season turf do not typically have much in common. This year, however, many of them have at least one thing in common - their golf courses are very wet, and in many cases have been completely under water.
    It is 2020, after all.
    From Iowa to Michigan to Florida and just about everywhere in between, golf courses have been inundated with spring rains, and social media is packed with photos and videos of golf courses under water.
    The worst of it appeared to be in Midland, Michigan, where the Currie Golf Courses, a 27-hole municipal operation that also includes a par-3 layout, were flooded by the Tittabawassee River when two dams, one each on Wixom and Sanford lakes, failed on May 18 and sent water rushing downstream leaving both lakes drained.
    Midland is the global operations hub for Dow Chemical, and 10,000 of its residents were ordered to evacuate.
    Before the disaster, rainfall in central Michigan in May was double the monthly average by May 27, prompting Michigan State's Kevin Frank, Ph.D., to publish a primer on the Michigan State Turf Extension website on water damage ranging from just a few inches to several feet.
    Just how bad turf damage is after a flood depends on temperature, silt and mud in the water and turf type.
    When temperatures are in the 50s and 60s, like they have been throughout much of the eastern U.S. until the last week or so, cool-season turf often is better equipped to be submerged for a period of time.
    "At this time of year, except now that it has been smoking hot the last couple days, you can see (water) on there a week and no damage with submersion," Frank said. "The  problem is siltation. Creeks and rivers carry a tremendous amount of soil.
    "On soccer, football and baseball fields, I see people go in with a Koro and skim that off the surface. I've also seen places where water was there a week and there was no soil along with it and it's just a matter of letting it dry out. I've also seen where it floods, and, like today, if it happens to be 90 degrees, the turf doesn't last nearly as long, and it gets so bad so fast you can't stand the smell of it."
    Some cool-season grasses are more susceptible to damage than others. 
    Frank wrote that submersion-tolerance ratings were excellent for bentgrass, medium for Kentucky bluegrass and merely fair for annual bluegrass and perennial ryegrass.
    "Turfgrass species differ in their ability to survive flooding," Frank wrote. "Unfortunately, there are no hard fast numbers such as Kentucky bluegrass will survive five days and creeping bentgrass 15 days under water."
    As temperatures rise, the amount of time the turf spends submerged is directly related to damage.
    "Flooding may cause the turf to turn yellow or brown," Frank wrote. "The discoloration is related to the turf losing its ability to take up nutrients. It doesn't take long once turf is submerged for soil oxygen levels to decline and root hairs to begin to die. As the root system becomes impaired, nutrient extraction and water uptake will be limited. Keep this in mind once the water has receded as the turf may benefit from a light fertilizer application."
    Thinning areas might require reseeding with perennial ryegrass, or regrassing entirely. 
    If floodwaters bring silt, and they often do, it is important to get the sediment off the turf as quickly as possible. That can mean moving it off with a hose or, if it has dried out, breaking it up first with an aerifier and then removing it.
    Frank wrote there is an easy do-it-yourself method for determining damage level, if there is any at all, in the turf.
    To assess if submersion has caused injury, Michigan State University Extension advises extracting several plants from the flooded site and cutting a horizontal cross section through the crown. If the crown is white and firm, it has survived. If the crown is brown and mushy, it's dead.
    Would your equipment manager appreciate some ongoing education at the John Deere factory, or an opportunity to gain additional hands-on experience working at a high-profile tournament? Would your operation benefit if your tech had such an opportunity?
    If you answered "yes" then nominate your golf course equipment manager for the golf industry's first award for mechanics - the TurfNet Technician of the Year Award, presented by John Deere. The deadline for nominations is May 31.
    Nominees will be judged on a variety of criteria: crisis management; effective budgeting; environmental awareness; helping to further and promote the careers of colleagues and employees; interpersonal communications; inventory management and cost control; overall condition and dependability of rolling stock; shop safety; and work ethic. 
    The winner will receive the Golden Wrench Award (a real gold-plated wrench) from TurfNet and admittance to either a training session at the John Deere factory training center in Morrisville, North Carolina, or the opportunity to work at the 2021 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
    CLICK HERE to nominate your tech.

    2015 Golden Wrench winner Robert Smith of Merion Golf Club. Previous winners include (2019) Dan Dommer, Ozaukee Country Club, Mequon, WI; (2018) Terry Libbert, Old Marsh Golf Club, Palm Beach Gardens, FL; (2017) Tony Nunes, Chicago Golf Club, Wheaton, IL; (2016) Kris Bryan, Pikewood National Golf Club, Morgantown, WV; (2015) Robert Smith, Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, PA; (2014) Lee Medeiros, Timber Creek and Sierra Pines Golf Courses, Roseville, CA; (2013) Brian Sjögren, Corral de Tierra Country Club, Corral de Tierra, CA; (2012) Kevin Bauer, Prairie Bluff Golf Club, Crest Hill, IL; (2011) Jim Kilgallon, The Connecticut Golf Club, Easton, CT; (2010) Herb Berg, Oakmont (PA) Country Club; (2009) Doug Johnson, TPC at Las Colinas, Irving, TX; (2007) Jim Stuart, Stone Mountain (GA) Golf Club; (2006) Fred Peck, Fox Hollow and The Homestead, Lakewood, CO; (2005) Jesus Olivas, Heritage Highlands at Dove Mountain, Marana, AZ; (2004) Henry Heinz, Kalamazoo (MI) Country Club; (2003) Eric Kulaas, Marriott Vinoy Renaissance Resort, Sarasota, FL.
  • For superintendents seeking extended control of some of golf's most common and troublesome diseases, Posterity fungicide from Syngenta is now registered for use in California.
    With the active ingredient pydiflumetofen, Posterity is an SDHI fungicide that has exhibited 28-day control of a variety of diseases including dollar spot, Microdochium patch, spring dead spot and fairy ring in managed turfgrass, according to research trials at Penn State, Rutgers, Clemson and Connecticut. 
    According to research, the active ingredient in Posterity binds tightly to target pathogens for maximum disease control.
    Posterity, which was launched by Syngenta in 2018, is now registered in all states, except Alaska and Hawaii, and also has been OK'd for use in Washington, D.C.
    "As superintendents in California prepare for the season ahead, they now have access to an innovative fungicide that can help keep their turf free of dollar spot and spring dead spot," said Stephanie Schwenke, turf market manager at Syngenta. "With the registration of Posterity, we are excited to provide a solution that offers the exceptional disease control they need."  
    Preventive applications of Posterity are recommended beginning in the spring, prior to the expression of fairy rings, as soil temperature exceed 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Posterity also features curative properties and can be used for extended preventive applications for continued protection. Fall applications for spring dead spot should begin as soil temperatures hit 70 degrees followed by a repeat application 28 days later.
  • This was supposed to be a year like so many others in the colorful history of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It has been anything but thanks to, well, you know.
    In the shadows of Los Angeles skyscrapers for nearly 100 years, the L.A. Coliseum has a history like no other venue in sports.
    Since it was built in 1923 in the waning days of President Warren Harding's administration, the coliseum has been a venue for the 1932 and 1984 Olympics, was home to the NFL's Raiders and Rams and was the site of the Pro Bowl for more than two decades. Super Bowl I was played at the coliseum in 1967 and it is where the Miami Dolphins won Super Bowl VII to complete the NFL's only undefeated season. 
    The Dodgers, yes the Dodgers, played in the coliseum for four seasons, and UCLA played its home football games there for nearly a half-century. Located next door to the University of Southern California, it has had a bit part in more than a dozen movies and TV shows and several commercials have been shot at the coliseum and countless concerts have been played behind its trademark peristyle. USC, which has fielded 11 national championship teams and seven Heisman Trophy winners, has played its home games at the coliseum since it was built 97 years ago.
    Clearly, a lot has happened at the coliseum throughout its history, but for the past three months it has been as dormant as Bermudagrass in February.
    Every day for almost four years, coliseum grounds manager Scott Lupold  (right) has known exactly what event was coming next, and when it was coming. 
    With college football's future for the 2020 season uncertain, concerts canceled or postponed, corporate events on hold and a ban on film crews, Lupold knows he still has to keep the coliseum field ready. Ready for what and when? That's a different matter entirely.
    "I'm still busy," Lupold said. "I just don't know what we're getting ready for." 
    The year started off like any other. New sod, Bandera Bermudagrass overseeded with ryegrass grown on plastic from West Coast Turf, was laid in February over a new sand-based field system that replaced the hardpan native soil medium that had existed pretty much since Day 1. 
    USC spring football and a music festival were first on the schedule. Another Bermuda sod field without the rye was to be put down in July in advance of USC's football season. 
    That was the plan, anyway.

    The iconic peristyle of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is symbolic of one of the great venues in all of sports. All photos by John Reitman "That field was only supposed to be here from February through June," Lupold said. "It's overseeded Bermuda that is heavy with rye, and that's what we wanted at the time.
    "Now, we have to shift gears from promoting the ryegrass to getting this Bermudagrass going, because we might have to play on it. I was anticipating a new sod field in July, but it doesn't look like that is going to happen."
    If there was one advantage golf course superintendents had over sports turf managers this spring was the near certainty that golf would bounce back just about everywhere long before other sports.
    At the coliseum, as he naturally transitions from ryegrass to Bermuda, Lupold is breaking his schedule into three-week increments so he can have the field ready as quickly as possible when Los Angeles County reopens, which, according to public health officials, could be as soon as July 4. 
    "We're trying to do it naturally because we just don't know when we will be expected to have it right," Lupold said. "If I spray out the ryegrass and the Bermudagrass isn't coming in the way it should, and then I get a call that things are opening up and someone wants to get in here, then we could be in real trouble.
    "We've been able to verticut once and lowered height of cut from 8 hundredths to .250 and now at about three-eighths, and we've gone from about 95 percent ryegrass to 60-40 ryegrass, and now we're in a decent spot. We can do any of our cultural practices and be back in three weeks, then reassess and go back at it. We are working in two-week to three-week increments. We're making strides, but we can't go too far."
    At the University of Florida, sports turf manager Jason Smith thought he probably would be preparing the field at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium for the NCAA College Softball Tournament Super Regionals. Instead, he and his team of seven have been busy getting ahead of schedule on about 17 acres of football, baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse and track fields.
    He remembers well the day of March 12, when the sports world came to a crashing halt.
    Smith and his team were in the midst of baseball and softball season and were just getting ready to lay sod on the university's new baseball stadium.
    "We had a baseball and a softball series that weekend, and we were just getting ready to sod the following Monday and Tuesday," Smith said. "We were kind of freaking out because we thought they were going to shut down the construction site, and I wanted to get that sod down. Our sod came from Pike Creek in Adel, Georgia and the contractor was from Georgia. We were afraid they might shut the roads down or limit travel. We kept plugging along, and nothing halted. It all worked out well for us getting the new field established."
    In the early stages of the quarantine, each department in the university athletic association was asked to identify the bare minimum practices necessary to keep running.
    "I told them I have to be able to mow Monday, Wednesday and Friday," he said.

    Skipping overseeding last fall at The Swamp at the University of Florida has helped sports turf manager Jason Smith get a jump on getting the field ready for this year. "Then I started coming in at 4 (a.m.) and jumping on the aerifier, and I'd knock out 2 to 3 acres before the rest of the guys got in a 6. I made it around the fields aerifying and they came up behind me cleaning up. Then I rolled straight into verticutting. It was fun for me to come in early, throw in the ear buds and get some equipment time and not worry about meetings or phone calls."
    At Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, the university's football facility known infamously as The Swamp, Smith typically would overseed the Celebration Bermudagrass in the fall for the last couple of games of the season. With only two home games in the last seven weeks of the 2019 schedule and a new stand of TifTuf, Smith skipped overseeding last year.
    "I had a chance for the field to recover for the Vanderbilt game and another window of opportunity to get ready for Florida State in the last game of the season," Smith said. 
    "We're trying to set ourselves up for this season because we don't have to transition out of ryegrass."
    If there is football. Schools have been cleared to bring players back to campus beginning June 1. Whether that occurs is up to each school and conference individually, but whether Florida or the Southeastern Conference will do so is likely, but has not yet been decided.
    Although Smith is ahead of where he normally would be, the pace makes him feel like something is off.
    "The way we're doing things takes longer, and it feels like we are behind, but we're not. We're doing things a lot earlier than usual," Smith said. 
    "Right now, we should be preparing for the softball super regionals. This should be the last weekend of postseason stuff at home, but we're already transitioned out, already had a round of aerification and verticutting. Look at where we'd normally be; we're way ahead of the game."
  • Qualifier events have been canceled for this year's U.S. Open at Winged Foot, which has been rescheduled for September. More than any other game, golf is one built on a foundation of tradition. 
    One of golf's most enduring institutions - non-exempt players competing for a spot in American golf's national championship - has gone by the wayside, for a year anyway.
    Citing difficulties associated with the virus, the USGA announced this week that it has canceled all local and final qualifying for this year's tournament at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, New York, which has been rescheduled from its traditional place in June to September as governing bodies in sports struggle to find ways to hold competition this year.
    The news makes the U.S. Open simply another in a long line of sporting events that will be contested this year with an asterisk next to it in the record books.
    Losing out on a chance to compete in the U.S. Open is unfortunate for many amateurs. But in what hopefully is a one-off year, it is the right call, and probably the only real solution the USGA had. And after all, Bobby Jones, the game's most successful amateur player, is not walking through that door.
    Managing the qualifier system under perfect conditions must be a logistical challenge. During the virus, the USGA said, it was simply impossible. Saying it does not have enough tests or the procedures in place to ensure the safety of all players, caddies and other personnel associated with each event, the USGA canceled 120 local and final qualifiers for non-exempt players at sites in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Japan. Contributing to the USGA's decision is the severity of the Covid-19 virus in New Jersey, where the association's headquarters is located. The virus has hit New Jersey especially hard, and the USGA said it would be impossible to staff its qualifiers this summer due to safety restrictions. 
    Even if there was a way to make qualifying work, the USGA was caught between a rock and a hard place. Conduct qualifying events, and run the risk of exposing dozens if not hundreds of people to the virus; cancel them and face criticism for crashing one of golf's great traditions.
    After automatic qualifiers and special exemptions, the U.S. Open typically gets about half of its traditional 156-player field through qualifier events. The field has been reduced to 144 players this year, and all non-exempt slots will be filled by invitation. 
    Last year, 74 players earned their way into the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, including just 19 amateurs. That list of qualifiers also included names like Aaron Baddely, Luke Donald, Jason Dufner, Rory Sabbatini, Sam Saunders and Zac Blair.
    Despite the USGA's long relationship with amateur golf, only one, John Goodman in 1933, has won the U.S. Open since Bobby Jones won the last of his four titles as an amateur in 1930, The last amateur to finish as runner-up was Jack Nicklaus in 1960 when he finished second to Arnold Palmer at Cherry Hills. The last Open champion to go through 36-hole qualifying was Lucas Glover in 2009.
    Sure, the USGA possibly could have come up with some sort of contingency that would allow for at least some of its qualifiers to be held this year with on-site personnel running each event and at least taking temperatures of players, caddies and other personnel on a daily basis. But given the circumstances, USGA officials probably made the right call to cancel qualifying in a sports year that will be dominated by special circumstances.
    Major League Baseball, the NFL and college football all are working on contingency plans so there is at least some level of competition this year. Golf's major associations are doing the same.
    No matter what it did, the USGA was in a no-win situation. 
    Although canceling qualifier events is not a perfect situation for amateur players who hold a significant place in the history of the U.S. Open, it is worth remembering the USGA is like a lot of other bodies governing sports. All are doing what they believe is right to restore some order to their respective games - even if it is not perfect - and to do so in a way that maximizes safety for everyone involved.
    After all, Bobby Jones is not walking through that door.
  • The coronavirus might have silenced summer concerts, but it has not stifled a husband-and-wife team from St. Louis who take their show on the road every night via social media, not to make money, but to lighten the spirits of others during the lockdown.
    Paul Hurst is a former superintendent and one of five co-owners of Greenspro, the Missouri-based distributor of products to the turf industry. Together, he and wife Kristie are known on the local club scene as "Midlife", and they have been playing local establishments for years. 
    "We knew some guys who were playing bars and restaurants," Paul said. "And we'd play for them during their breaks."
    "And we shouldn't have," Kristie interjected. "Because we were terrible. We were embarrassingly bad."
    They must have gotten better, because their side hustle grew to about 200 performances in 2019, including a long-term booking at the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis. That job came to a halt after Missouri Gov. Mike Parson implemented the state's shelter-in-place order on April 3 in response to the Covid-19 virus.
    It was after urging by Jeff Baxter, one of the partners in the Greenspro operation, that the Hursts post their work online. Since April 5, the couple has been recording what they call daily Covid Sessions in the kitchen of their home and posting them online. They began April 5 with "Believe" by Cher and just posted session No. 40 on Thursday - "East Bound and Down" by Jerry Reed, a tune better known as the theme song from Smokey and the Bandit.
    In their kitchen "studio" often can be seen a beer or glass of wine that is never full.
    "Our escape is music," Kristie said. "We just try to turn off everything that is happening and go into our music."
    Their covers include other groups like 38 Special, The Band, Fleetwood Mac, Steve Miller, Tracy Chapman and many more. Much of why they share their music online is to provide a brief moment of escape for others. 
    Most of their daily sessions get several dozen "likes", but their inaugural video has been viewed nearly 700 times. Another, Kristie said, has been watched more than 3,500 times.
    "Not bad for a couple of nobodies," she said.
    "Music can be a very emotional subject," Kristie continued. "I hate to use the word escapism, but it is an avenue for us to escape, and we hope others, even if they are laughing at us over how out of tune we are, we are hoping it triggers something in them that leads to joy, happiness or laughter. That is our intention.
    "Music has been a welcome respite for us, and for those who have had the pleasure of listening to us, or have suffered through our videos."
    Putting the exclamation point on how informal these sessions are have been the occasional beer or glass of wine visible on the counter. That has morphed into vendors sending can holders, caps and other swag. Their unofficial sponsors have included the likes of Brandt, Nufarm and Syngenta, and they are scheduled to play at this year's Carolinas GCSA Show - if there is one.
    The Hursts met while both were attending the University of Missouri. Kristie began singing in church choirs when she was about 6 years old. Paul picked up a guitar a dozen years ago, but wasn't in much shape to remember a lot about the experience.
    He was visiting a friend when he picked up a guitar and the two played "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd. He had been drinking, but he enjoyed playing enough to want more.
    "I was drunk," he said. "And as I walked home I swore I was going to teach myself to play guitar."
    He taught himself to play through a series of online instructional videos by Marty Schwartz.
    Their group, Midlife, was formed as Paul asked Christie to sing along as he tried to learn songs.
    "I'm no Eddie Van Halen," he said.
    Maybe not, but thankfully Kristie sounds a lot more like Natalie Merchant than she does David Lee Roth.
    Were in not for all those years of paying their dues in St. Louis clubs, Midlife probably never makes it onto Twitter.
    "We didn't develop talent, we developed courage," Kristie said. "Those first two years, I was terrified every time we performed. Then two years into it, I figured they're not throwing food at us, or kicking us out. Maybe we're not that bad after all."
  • It seems like it has been a year or more since a virus about which we knew little brought life as we knew it to a virtual standstill.
    The golf season was just heating up in mid-March with only about a month to go until the Masters Tournament when governors across the country began implementing shelter-in-place orders. 
    In a world suddenly filled with unknowns, there are some things of which we are certain. We know the virus is serious and deadly and that people are sick and dying. We know the economy is in the tank. And we know that experts in each field are telling us the worst for both is yet to come. We know our educational system - with some exceptions - is struggling to adequately prepare children for the future in an online environment. We know we do not control our lives and the world around us quite like we thought we did. And we know the psychological toll has been devastating and that its effects will be felt for years.
    If you are feeling undue stress related to the coronavirus, you're not alone. 
    Human Resources Executive, a publication dedicated to the HR industry, reported last month that 69 percent of workers in the U.S. admit that the coronavirus has caused the most stressful time they've known. This from a workforce that mostly includes those who lived through 9/11. 
    For the nearly 37 million Americans who are currently unemployed, stress levels no doubt are much higher. For the 31 percent in the HRE poll who gave the coronavirus era a collective "meh", I want some of what they're drinking.
    The virus will actually infect few of us, which does nothing to lessen how dangerous it is. Just ask Karl Danneberger at Ohio State. It's effect on our psyche will be far more reaching. 
    As humans we are social beings. We are not wired to be locked away from each other for weeks. Families have been separated. Nursing home residents and hospital patients are denied visitors. We have no idea when this will end, or if it ever will. We don't know what the world will look like on the other side of this, but we know it won't be the same. 
    Although our interactions with others outside our immediate families have been put largely on hold, it does not absolve us of our responsibility to be kind to others. Our chances to do so are fewer these days, but they are still there for those who look. We all are going through a lot; be kind to others and to yourself. 
    The reasons for increased stress levels are real, and pretty much all of them center entirely around financial and health issues, both physical and psychological. After that, what else matters? Right now, not much.
    After flirting with record lows for much of 2019 and early 2020, nationwide unemployment reached nearly 14.7 percent in April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It's the highest mark on record since the Fed began tracking such data in 1948. 
    We face a barrage of data every day from multiple sources, all of whom admit they don't fully have their arms around what makes this virus tick, and more importantly, what stops it from ticking. And with no end to virus protocols in sight, most of us are armed with more questions than answers about the future. 
    Even as sectors of the economy begin to open around the country, the virus will get worse before it gets better - and so will the economy.
    The Wall Street Journal reported last month that the projected unemployment rate this summer will peak at 16 percent in the third quarter. We're pretty close to that already. Economists from Goldman Sachs have said that number could go as high as 25 percent, while a Federal Reserve economist said 32 percent is not out of the question. Sixteen percent unemployment is scary, 25 percent would match that of the Great Depression, while 32 percent could cause irreparable damage to the economy, according to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.
    The economics of the situation bring into play a host of questions. Will I have a job tomorrow, next week or next month? Will I be able to retire - ever? How do I send my kids to college?
    For those already on the wrong side of the labor statistics, many of whom are still struggling with the unemployment systems in their respective states, the questions become much more grassroots: Will I be able to feed my family or keep my home?
    Stages of reopening the economy vary by state. Some industries are open, some are not, and when they will be able to reopen is, in many cases, a mystery. What we know is that many businesses, sadly, will never reopen, including some golf courses. Those that do reopen will do so under a new set of guidelines that some elected officials and public health professionals suggest remain in place until a vaccine is developed as some areas of the country have transitioned from a goal of "until we flatten the curve" to "until we find a cure." Many of the world's best minds are racing to be the first to develop a cure, but given nature's ability to outwit medical science (the common cold, flu, HIV and cancer), there is no guarantee a vaccine is coming.
    To date, nearly 90,000 U.S. deaths have been blamed on the coronavirus, and that number is expected to approach 150,000 the summer.
    Schools nationwide from kindergarten through college have been shut down since March. Some universities already have announced that they will offer only online studies in the fall semester. Others are working on plans and contingencies to reopen in the fall, but there is no concrete plan in any state that guarantees students will be seated at a desk in a classroom come fall. A lot of what-ifs.
    Some teachers unions are threatening to no-show for in-person school without enough tests for faculty, staff and students. Some states have announced hybrid plans that include a mix of in-person and online education.
    Although some schools and universities have thrived in an online environment since Al Turgeon and Penn State introduced distance learning in 1998, online-only instruction caught most schools with their pants down this year and most have a lot of catching up to do if a virtual classroom exists again in the 2020-21 school year.
    The toll this experience will take on all of us, whether from a physical or mental health perspective will be immense, so be kind to others. You never know what someone else is going through at this time, but you know they have a lot on their minds. We all do.
  • Left Hand Robotics introduced the new and improved version of its robotic mower that doubles in winter as a snow-removal device.
    The 2020 model of the RT-1000 can be used to mow common and out-of-play areas helping free up labor for other tasks. 
    Powered by a two-cylinder, 37hp Vanguard engine, the RT-1000 operates over a GPS-mapped route that is accurate within a centimeter, the company says. It is equipped with lights, cameras and lidar and radar sensors so others can see it and that allow it to come to a complete stop when someone or something blocks its path. When the path is clear, the unit automatically starts moving again. Two emergency stop buttons allow a human operator to manually halt the unit if necessary.
    The unit has a width of 34 inches, and at 1,250 pounds, rides on four 20-inch-by-10-inch turf-friendly all terrain tires. 
    With a 5-inch ground clearance, an attachable broom can remove snow up 3 inches in depth over large areas.
  • Golf courses adhering to the guidelines established by We Are Golf will allow seniors to play in the final stages of a phased-in approach to reopening golf. Almost since that moment two months ago when the COVID-19 virus became the only thing all of us talked about, we've been told over and over that golf should be immune to any lockdown restrictions. 
    It's a healthy form of exercise - for everyone.
    It's an outdoor activity that naturally promotes social distancing.
    What could be safer than golf?
    Public health officials in a few states agreed and left golf courses open. Many did not, and ordered their doors closed and the first tee off limits. Now, as restrictions ease and states and local municipalities begin to reopen segments of the economy, including golf courses, a group of industry associations developed a set of guidelines to help ease the process of reopening golf.
    The three-step, phased-in approach by We Are Golf called Back2Golf is endorsed by the PGA Tour, PGA of America, LPGA, NGCOA, CMAA and GCSAA and "outlines operational guidelines for golf's 16,000-plus facilities that adhere to nationally established protocols and best practices."
    Back2Golf's principles are based on general safety guidelines established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including steps for social distancing and sanitizing in high-contact areas. Each phase gradually eases restrictions as state and local governments begin gradually reopening the economy. You can read about all the protocols set for by We Are Golf right here.
    As well-intentioned as this gesture is, some are going to struggle implementing it.

    Of course, there are common sense guidelines for all to follow. Maintain adequate social distance, no large groups and don't touch things like flagsticks. Superintendents have done marvelous jobs at coming up with ways to help golfers avoid those touch points you once took for granted.
    The first phase of Back2Golf allows for socializing in groups of 10 or less, the second for groups up to 50, all while maintaining appropriate social distancing. At many places, this will mean single rider carts or walking only.
    Again, no problem there.
    Phases 1 and 2 also advise that vulnerable individuals continue to shelter-in-place until it is deemed safe to come out - whenever that might be. Vulnerable individuals are those most at risk for contracting the virus and include all golfers age 65 and older, according to the CDC.
    Uh oh.
    The Back2Golf guidelines advise that seniors not return to the course until Phase 3, which the We Are Golf collaboration has dubbed “The New Normal” and is described as a period when golf operations can "resume as normal" as state and local government restrictions dictate based on changing CDC guidelines.
    As golf courses reopen, keeping seniors off the tee during any phase is going to be, at best, difficult.
    Seniors represent the life blood of many golf course operations, including just about every facility in Florida, and they carry a lot of clout in the industry. In the words of one superintendent we talked to: “they've worked hard all their lives to make money to play golf, and we're not going to tell them they can't.”
    Another said golf courses will do what their local government agencies, not a collaboration of golf industry associations, tell them to do. 
    Some will follow the guidelines, some probably won't. Some will be able to enforce it fully or at least partially through walking-only policies.
    Do we really need this industry group to tell us who can play golf and when, and who cannot?

    Are you prepared to demand identification from older customers like teenagers trying to buy beer? Are you prepared to tell them to go home simply because of some arbitrarily determined phase? If you are not, then why are associations that represent you establishing guidelines on your behalf telling you that you should?
    Frankly, I'm leery of these industry collaborations that are launched in good faith, but all too often result in nothing. Why don't they concentrate on things they can control? Fix pace of play, fix the ball, fix customer service at the point of sale. But don't tell those who often carry the water for an entire industry that they can or cannot play. If you do, they'll likely find another place that will let them play. And you might never see them, or their money, again. 
    There is no question that older people are more at-risk for contracting the virus than younger generations and many should continue to stay home due to the virus. But, should a person in their 60s who is fit and is able to walk nine or 18 holes, or who can ride alone if you are allowing carts, be turned away? That seems like a recipe for failure in an already-struggling industry that needs every player it can get.
    Why go down that shelter-in-place road if you don't have to? Leave that to government agencies who already have pissed off half the country for waiting too long to reopen the country and half for doing it too soon. Many already have developed their own protocols for maintaining safe practices on the golf course anyway.
    If golf wants to know why people are fleeing the game in droves, it needs only to look in the mirror as it closes the door on its most important demographic while continuing to ignore larger issues within its control.
  • Bayou Oaks at City Park Golf Course in New Orleans is a key to helping rebuild parts of the city. Below right, superintendent Ryan McCavitt cuts a cup on the South Course. As America's most European city, New Orleans has a past that is checkered, tragic and colorful. It also is a city that has known a great deal of hardship. For three centuries, the city has endured fires, wars, voodoo princesses and hurricanes, but no matter the challenge, New Orleans and its people always manage to come back.
    For all of its glorious and spectacular past, New Orleans is not now, nor has it ever been known as a golf destination. It is not uttered in the same breath with places like Pebble Beach, Bandon Dunes, Kohler or the entire state of Florida.
    What New Orleans has that other places do not is a golf operation that is helping fuel urban renewal in an area that was in need of help before Hurricane Katrina arrived here 15 years ago and was downright desperate after she left. And the template for that plan came from another golf course that has been helping its surrounding neighborhood for the past quarter century.
    Other than one week a year when an 80-year-old PGA Tour event comes through town, the New Orleans golf scene does not make many headlines. It was a blip on the radar screen for a millisecond in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina smashed ashore on the Gulf Coast, leaving much of the city under water, including a few of its old, historic golf courses. What has happened since has gone, for the most part, uncovered and is largely unknown. It is entirely likely that the efforts that are taking place there would be far better known were they occurring in New York, North Carolina or Florida. But this is Louisiana, where nothing moves very quickly thanks to the oppressive heat and humidity and where not much seems to matter on a national level unless it's bad news. And with all the bad dominating the headlines nowadays, it's nice to hear about something positive - especially when it involves golf.
    Fortunately for the people of New Orleans, a group of the city's movers and shakers don't seem to care too much what people elsewhere think. They're in a position to help the city's most at-risk residents, and that's exactly what they've been doing for more than a decade.
    New Orleans has a history that is anything but boring.
    A Good Friday fire in 1788, burned much of the original section of New Orleans. Since the city had been ceded to Spain 25 years earlier, much of the architecture in the French Quarter today is - little-known fact - actually of Spanish influence. 

    Twenty-seven years after the fire, in 1815, Gen. Andrew Jackson and his band of volunteers, that included militia from Tennessee and a band of privateers led by Jean Laffite the pirate, whipped the British along a turn in the Mississippi River in The Battle of New Orleans. That skirmish is widely recognized as the final conflict of the War of 1812.
    More recently, New Orleans' history has been forever molded by Hurricane Katrina. In the early morning hours of April 29, 2005, Katrina made landfall in Buras, Louisiana, south of New Orleans near the Mississippi River Delta before laying waste to the Crescent City over the next several hours. Levees protecting the city - much of which is below sea level - from the Mississippi that flows through downtown, were breached in dozens of locations.
    Katrina left New Orleans looking like a war zone: residents stranded on rooftops, dead bodies floating in the water, windows blown out of downtown buildings and evacuees fleeing the city by the thousands. By the time floodwaters receded weeks later, the storm was blamed for more than 1,800 deaths in Louisiana and Mississippi.
    A year after the hurricane, a group of the city's public and business leaders decided something had to be done to save their city. Together, they formed the Bayou District Foundation to help revitalize the city's Gentilly neighborhood. 
    East of the city's more famous French Quarter and Uptown neighborhoods, historic Gentilly was hit especially hard by Katrina. Surrounded by water on three sides - it borders Lake Pontchartrain to the north, Bayou St. John on the west and Inner Harbor Navigation Canal on the east - Gentilly was an easy target. 
    Bringing the area back has been a slow and steady process that continues today. 
    At the center of that project is the Bayou Oaks at City Park Golf Club. A Rees Jones design that opened in 2017, the golf course was funded through donations from the foundation, FEMA and the State of Louisiana helps put money back into the foundation, which helped construction of 600-plus housing units, an urgent care facility, pre-school and K-8 school, helping turn one of New Orleans' most crime-crippled neighborhoods into one of its safest.
    The blueprint for this plan to rebuild the Gentilly area is East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, where philanthropist Tom Cousins who founded the East Lake Foundation that is the cornerstone of redevelopment efforts in the surrounding neighborhood. Cousins, former owner of the NBA's Atlanta Hawks, even helped civic leaders in New Orleans establish the Bayou Oaks District Foundation.
    Pre-Katrina, City Park in New Orleans was home to four golf courses, all of which were devastated by the storm. The original layout, built in 1902, was home to the city's PGA Tour event, now known as the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, from 1936 through 1962 when the tournament moved to Lakewood Country Club and later English Turn Golf and Country (named for the bend in the River where Jackson et al beat the British in 1815) and finally to its current home at the TPC of Louisiana in nearby Avondale.
    The new 7,300-yard Jones design was built on the site of City Park's former East and West courses. The original North Course, which was renovated about a decade ago remains, and plans for the site of the former South Course have yet to be decided, but it will be used to further benefit the residents of Gentilly.
    After Katrina, City Park golfers scattered. Many left town and those who came back found other places to play. Since completion of the Rees Jones-designed course they've been coming back in true New Orleans fashion.
    Profits from the golf course go back into the foundation, which has helped build the Columbia Parc apartment complex, a collection of 685 housing units, the Educare New Orleans early learning center, the KIPP Believe K-8 charter school and the St. Thomas Community Health Center. And there are plans for a 25,000-square-foot grocery store and pharmacy.
    The plan has drawn support from throughout the community. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees contributed $250,000 last year to help build the KIPP school. 
    Golf courses are open in Louisiana, but the city has been a hot spot for the COVID-19 virus. And once again, Gentilly and eastern Orleans Parish, like many densely populated urban areas, have been hit especially hard. But they'll be back. It's the New Oreans way.
  • There are giants in the turf business, and then there was Ken Melrose.
    Kendrick B. Melrose, the former chairman and chief executive officer of The Toro Co., and a generous philanthropist who positively impacted the lives of others through a foundation created in his name, died May 3. He was 79.
    A native of Orlando, Melrose graduated from Princeton University in 1962, where he earned bachelor's degrees in mathematics and electrical engineering. He earned master's degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago.
    He joined The Toro Co. in 1970 and retired from the company in 2005. During that time and in the years following his retirement he lived a philosophy called Servant Leadership that was realized through his philanthropic efforts. It was in retirement that he founded Leading by Serving, which promotes the principles of Servant Leadership in public and private organizations. 
    The Melrose Family Foundation that he founded has made generous donations to local and national charities, including a gift of nearly $19 million last year to the Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital in Minneapolis.
    "We owe much to Ken's principled leadership, and his legacy cannot be overstated" said Rick Olson, current chairman and chief executive officer of The Toro Company. "He was a rare transformational leader who saw the best in people and knew how to inspire them to work together and exceed their own expectations in order to achieve great things."
    After leading the company for 24 years, Melrose retired as CEO in March of 2005. He was a strong advocate in the company's philanthropic and industry support, and played an instrumental role in forming the company's partnership with The First Tee in 1998. Committed to giving back to employees, he established The Kendrick B. Melrose Family Foundation Scholarship Program in 2002 for dependents of company employees, which has supported 189 students with scholarships. He also helped establish the Melrose/Hoffman Employee Critical Need Fund in 2005 to assist employees experiencing economic hardship.
    A published author, his business philosophy that helped the company rebound from financial difficulties in the early 1980s when he was named president, were outlined in his book "Making the Grass Greener on Your Side: A CEO's Journey to Leading by Serving."
    During his tenure, he oversaw a number of acquisitions including Wheel Horse, Exmark, Lawn-Boy and Hayter, and company sales grew from $247 million to $1.7 billion.
    Survivors include his partner, Kaye O'Leary; children Rob Melrose (Paige Rogers), Lia Melrose (Jeff Thorpe), Kendra Melrose (Roshan Bharwaney); and grandchildren Charlotte Melrose and Sebastian Melrose.
  • Since golf courses in San Francisco were closed in March, the Presidio Golf Course has been utilized as a park for those seeking outdoor recreation during the lockdown. While golfers have been banned from the course, signs banning dogs have gone largely ignored. Those who have visited the Presidio Golf Course for the past month have not been permitted to play golf there. Since March, the threat of groups of two, three or even four violating the construct of social distancing during a virus-induced shelter-in-place order apparently has been far too great a risk.
    Although golfers cannot play at this 100-year-old classic located in a national park of the same name, the Presidio's non-golfing visitors recently have been congregating by the dozen on its fairways, greens, tees and even in the bunkers as San Franciscans supposedly constrained by the same shelter-in-place orders imposed on golfers seek outdoor recreational activities on the city's busiest golf course.
    Lush green turf, perfectly manicured fairways and greens: Who knew that golfers and non-golfers in America's most socially aware city would have so much in common?
    "People clearly don't understand what goes into maintaining a course and when they do get a chance to walk around one, then think it's "magical" and can't understand why they can't be places for picnics, soccer games, throwing their frisbees, etc.," Don Chelemedos, PGA managing director at the Presidio, said via email. "Without the offsetting revenue they produce, golf courses would not be an area that could be maintained like a park. Rather, those 125+ acres would be fields of tall grass and noxious weeds."
    Fortunately for golfers banned from playing the Presidio for the past month, golf courses in San Francisco will be permitted to reopen next week, and the picnickers, dog-walkers and all the others utilizing its 150 acres of meticulously manicured turf will have to recreate elsewhere. The Presidio web site says the golf course will reopen May 4.
    Although the course will welcome back golfers on Monday, the push to repurpose the property won't stop there. In fact, it's part of a long struggle between golf's haves and have-nots in San Francisco.
    When public health officials in Northern California announced shelter-in-place orders last month, golf courses were ordered closed on March 31. 
    According to a joint order issued April 29 by public health officials in six bay-area counties, golf courses in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties will be permitted to reopen with limitations on May 4.
    According to the order, "To engage in outdoor recreation activity, including, by way of example and without limitation, walking, hiking, bicycling, and running, in compliance with Social Distancing Requirements and with the following limitations: Use of shared outdoor facilities for recreational activities that may occur outside of residences . . . including, but not limited to, golf courses, skate parks, and athletic fields, must, before they may begin, comply with social distancing and health/safety protocols posted at the site and any other restrictions, including prohibitions, on access and use established by the Health Officer, government, or other entity that manages such area to reduce crowding and risk of transmission of COVID-19."
    The order applies to all public and private courses in San Francisco County, including city-owned TPC Harding Park, site of this year's PGA Championship, and the Presidio, where officials expect to reopen on Monday. For golf course operators, the easing of restrictions is like Christmas in, well, May.
    "We have developed a protocol and very strict procedures that will allow us to open the golf course, driving range and the cafe to a limited extent" Chelemedos said.
    "We have also been inundated by hundreds of our golfers that are chomping (sic) at the bit to get back on the golf course; far more in quantity than people who have been in favor of making the golf course a park."
    Richard Harris, president of the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance, that advocates for public golf  on the San Francisco peninsula, sent a letter on April 22 to the San Francisco Department of Health and the Department of Parks and Recreation advocating for the reopening of golf courses. In the letter, Harris noted the health benefits of golf as well as its natural propensity for social distancing, a key component for anything hoping to reopen during the virus shutdown. 

    For the past month, golfers have been banned from golf courses in San Francisco, including the Presidio Golf Course, above. But the course has been open to the general public as people struggle for recreational activities while sheltering-in-place. Tom Hsieh, who operates city-owned Gleneagles, said he too will reopen Monday. 
    "We are scrambling to open," Hsieh said. "More later."
    The decision to reopen the golf course at the Presidio is up to the Presidio Trust, which manages all the lands in the 1,480-acre park. Many non-golfers utilizing the course during the lockdown have been vocal in their wish that it would remain closed throughout the duration of the shelter-in-place order - if not longer. 

    Non-golfers have a history of infatuation with San Francisco's golf courses. That obsession is in large part due to the city's population density and a corresponding need for public open space as well as a political, economic, environmental and social construct unique to San Francisco. 
    "There has been an anti-golf sentiment since the game was invented in the 1500s," Harris said.
    "If you hold land, somebody else always wants it. When it's public land, you have to be able to defend your use of it. Everybody gets to make their argument, and someone then has to make a decision about what to do with it. We've been making that argument here in San Francisco."
    The city has an estimated population of 880,000 people who are crammed into 46.87 square miles, which is claustrophobic compared with nearby San Jose where 1 million residents are comfortably spread across 180 square miles. In 2019, San Francisco ranked 13th in U.S. population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but was second only to New York in population density with 18,868 people per square mile.
    San Franciscans obsessed with the city's golf courses have for years advocated for converting fairways into public green space, public housing or temporary housing for the city's homeless population. Other courses in the crosshairs have included Sharp Park and Lincoln Park golf courses. More than a decade ago, there was a push among non-golfers in the city to turn Lincoln Park's rolling layout into a soccer complex, event center and amphitheater.
    "That was ridiculous," Harris said. "That's the hilliest course in the city and the least likely to use for soccer. There aren't 50 flat acres out there."
    The non-golfer argument has been that public land should be available for all to use, not just golfers. Some hoped that movement had received a boost during the virus lockdown as stir-crazy residents converged on the course armed not with golf clubs, but with picnic blankets, but those dreams were quelled Thursday. They also contend that golf is an elitist game that leaves non-golfers behind, but Chelemedos disarms that claim while looking at the Presidio's surrounding neighborhood which features some of the country's most expensive real estate.
    "It's interesting. In the case of Presidio, we are located adjacent to some of the most expensive properties in the world. Every house in Pacific Heights, Presidio Terrace, Lake Ave, etc. costs well over $4 million and range up to $70 million," Chelemedos said. "The public that is currently walking around the course are some of the most wealthy in San Francisco. Yet, our average golfer is blue-collar and has to drive to get to our course. Ironic."

    The hypocrisy is that the environmentally enlightened anti-golf public has been enjoying the golf course because of how superintendent Brian Nettz and his team maintain it. Social media posts throughout the weekend showed people enjoying the Presidio's beauty, with many saying it should never again reopen as a golf course. They don't like golf courses when golfers are playing them, calling them dangers to the environment, but love them for an afternoon family picnic with the family.
    While picnickers and dog-walkers enjoy the course for free, green fees for city resident golfers range from $47 to $87. And the golfers turn out in droves to support this course that has some of the city's best vistas. According to the park's annual report, 59,000 rounds were played at the Presidio in 2019, making it the city's busiest golf course, Harris said.  Those rounds helped generate a whopping $8.7 million in revenue. But it takes $2 million annually for Nettz and his crew to maintain the course to its current standards. While the walkers pay nothing to use the property, maintenance is severely affected if paying golfers go away.
    "Golfers pay to use that land, the dog-walkers don't pay anything," Harris said. "If you charged people a use fee to use that park, guess what? You won't have as many dog-walkers."
    Syngenta Ariba SLP Project Notofication Letter Standard.pdf
  • Pam Sherratt of Ohio State and Pioneer Athletics are working to help keep kids engaged in STEM activities during self-isolation. Teaching hundreds of college students online as well as two kids studying at home sounds like enough to keep anyone busy.
    Pam Sherratt, the sports turf specialist at Ohio State University is doing both and then some. Aside from teaching nearly 1,000 college students online, as well as a fifth-grader and an eighth-grader stuck at home due to the coronavirus lockdown, Sherratt also is working with Pioneer Athletics to teach kids about lawn care through a series of videos posted to social media. Pioneer Athletics is a supplier in the turf paint business for the sports turf market,
    "The purpose is to try to help parents give kids something they can do at home. An activity to keep them busy and engaged," Sherratt said. "Being a parent home with two kids, helping teach them and do schoolwork while teaching online, it's been a nightmare. I think we're all looking forward to it being over."
    Sherratt often preaches the rule of thirds when mowing golf courses and athletic fields, and the inaugural video in the series is all about proper mowing height, which she says is 3 inches for a home lawn. The second video teaches kids (and their parents) how to measure their lawn, which is important when applying seed, fertilizer, herbicides or any other product. A third video is due to drop any day now.
    Pioneer's James Hlavaty came up with the idea for the video series as a way to keep kids engaged with something related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) while at home under a virus-induced shelter-in-place order. He and Sherratt have known each other since Hlavaty's days with the Cincinnati Bengals, where he was assistant groundskeeper from 2000-2016.
    "He reached out to me because he wanted to do something STEM-related that we could aim at middle school-aged students and their parents," she said. "We've been having fun with it, and it's something that can be fun for kids, too. It also helps me stay relevant to our administrators, so that they can see I'm working from home, and it helps Pioneer Athletics engage with their customers."
    Many of Sherratt's friends, family members and even neighbors have found the videos and have provided feedback that usually includes "I did not know that!"
    Staying relevant with university administrators shouldn't be much of a challenge for Sherratt, who is teaching a total 947 students during the spring semester. She has a combined 597 students in her Sports Turf Management and World of Plants courses. She also has an additional 350 students in Karl Danneberger's popular History of Golf course. Danneberger, as many of you know, was hospitalized at Ohio State from mid-March until April 16 after he was diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus in March. He is scheduled to return to teaching during the summer.
    "All of the content was already created by Karl. Literally, I was posting grades and answering questions," Sherratt said. "Thank God I didn't have to create content. I would have been struggling."
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