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From the TurfNet NewsDesk

  • John Reitman
    Don't look now, but your industry is under siege. The attack is coming from those who question the value of dedicating so much acreage for use by so few. 
    For years, it has been the same usual suspects casting aspersions on golf for all the same reasons — they use too much water and poison the land. But there is a new naysayer in this story; one who simply is hungry for the land, even if it means total disregard for the truth to get it.
    Despite the efforts of so many who work to educate the masses about the many benefits of golf and golf courses, getting the word out to those who do not want to hear it is, to say the least, challenging.
    During the past 20 years, we have seen so many superintendents and those in academia host field days and work to develop BMP programs to educate lawmakers and non-golfers about the environmental benefits of golf courses and the positive attributes of the game as physical activity.
    Still, to this day, press clippings that besmirch the game and the ground on which it is played abound. A quick Internet search of "golf" and "fertilizer" yields headlines such as "Six ways golf courses hurt the environment," "Golf is embracing the dark sky movement" and "Does nitrate in our water come from golf courses or farms?"
    There appears to be a new player in this game of blame golf – those who just want the land and are willing to say anything to get it.
    In recent years, the golf industry in Southern California, specifically municipal golf, has come under fire by those who believe the land might be better used for multi-family residential purposes in an effort to solve the area's housing crisis.
    It appeared that threat was nullified last year when Assembly Bill 1910, known by some as The Public Golf Endangerment Act, died in Sacramento. The bill proposed providing public relief in the form of developer subsidies and grants to local agencies to redevelop California's municipal golf courses into low-incoming housing and green space.

    Roosevelt Golf Course is one of the many municipal golf courses run by the City of Los Angeles. A recent editorial entitled "Why not turn golf courses into homes?" appeared in at least a half-dozen Southern California daily newspapers throughout Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties.
    The editorial states: "Golf courses are great for golfers but aren't accessible to families for hiking and picnics. As Reason Foundation noted on these pages last year, 24 of the 27 local California government-owned golf courses it identified through city budgets lost a total of $20 million operating them. Governments aren't good at operating anything in an efficient manner. They should not be operating facilities that cater to a few wealthier residents. Taxpayers shouldn't be forced to subsidize them."
    While we acknowledge a shortage of affordable housing in Southern California, there are several holes in this editorial.
    Do the anti-golf groups covet public land for parks and greenspace or housing? Municipal golf may accomplish many things, but "cater to a few wealthier residents" is not among them. According to the Southern California Golf Association, the average muni green fee in that area is $38 for 18 holes. That's less than a tank of gas in SoCal.
    The editorial also states that municipal golf in California loses $20 million annually. Were that the case, municipal golf in the country's largest state would have been out of business long ago.
    Such claims have not gone unnoticed by the SCGA.
    According to the SCGA, the municipal golf courses within the area where the editorial appeared clear a combined $40 million a year "after all expenses associated with operations, maintenance and long-term capital spending."
    In an email to members and partners, the SCGA wrote: "Whatever the reason, whatever the motivation, we'll do our best in combination with our allied organizations in the California Alliance for Golf to figure out the who, what, and why of this. Something prompted this. Someone prompted this. Whatever the motivation or reason, one thing is certain. Today's editorial breathed life back into the notion of singling golf and only golf out among all the various park and open space activities to help mitigate what golf agrees is an acute housing shortage in this state."
    The plight of public golf in Southern California reaffirms the need for education and outreach aimed at public policy makers and non-golfers, because now you know what you're up against and now you know the truth sometimes is not enough.
  • Fred Yelverton, Ph.D., has been named the recipient of the Carolinas GCSA Distinguished Service Award. A professor of crop and soil sciences and an extension specialist at North Carolina State University for the past 39 years, Yelverton has educated future superintendents in the classroom and working superintendents at regional and national conferences since 1984. 
    The award is the highest honor bestowed by the 1,800-member association.
    "Fred is arguably the best turfgrass weed scientist ever," NC State colleague, Dr. Jim Kerns wrote in a letter supporting Yelverton's nomination. "His contributions in research laid the groundwork for current and future weed scientists and will serve as the backbone for literature searches in research for a very long time."
    The award follows a long list of honors and recognition that Yelverton has earned over the years.
    Earlier this year, Yelverton received the Outstanding Contribution Award from the GCSAA. In 2021, he was named a Fellow of the Crop Science Society of America. His expertise is sought not only throughout the U.S., but internationally, as well. To that end, he is helping with preparations for the Ryder Cup in Rome in September.
    "Fred's long list of accomplishments illustrates how incredibly busy his schedule has been over the years," said a nomination letter from the Triangle Turfgass Association. "However, when he is called on by a golf course superintendent or any other turf professional in the Carolinas, he makes you feel as though your turfgrass issue is his highest priority. That is the definition of Distinguished Service."
    Three of six letters supporting his nomination for the award came from previous recipients. One of them, Bruce Martin, Ph.D., now retired from Clemson University, wrote that Yelverton's accomplishments would be "considered 'upper echelon' when compared with other scientists' lifetime career achievements.…it is so obvious that he is more than worthy of the honor. Actually, I think this award is overdue…"

    Fred Yelverton, Ph.D., has been at North Carolina State University for nearly 40 years. NCSU photo Yelverton and his three older brothers grew up on a tobacco farm near Black Creek, North Carolina. 
    "Yeah, I knew what work was at a young age," Yelverton said. "We literally worked from 5 a.m. to probably 9 p.m. My father was a World War Two veteran, kind of a no-nonsense guy. He'd say, 'Alright boys, let's get this done.' And you didn't question it. You'd just go do it."
    He was similarly matter of fact in his approach to being diagnosed with a highly aggressive form of prostate cancer in 2009. Doctors gave him a 20 percent chance of survival.
    "It was tough. It was tough, you know, because I had a 10-year-old at the time," he said. "But they removed it, and I had chemotherapy and radiation. They threw the book at me. But there was only one way to go, so you do what you've got to do, man. Just like a project on the golf course. You do what you've got to do.
    "You know that old saying, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I think that's true because all of a sudden, I had a totally different perspective on life. We're not here forever so you better enjoy it while you are. That thinking permeates everything I do now."
    Such health challenges are why Yelverton made the decision to enter phased retirement. His current half-time duties will wrap up entirely next summer.
    "I love what I do. I don't feel like this is work," he said. "I've loved every minute of it. But you know that John Lennon quote from just before he was shot? 'Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans.' It's time to start doing some other things I want to do."
    Yelverton will receive the award in November during this year's Carolinas GCSA Conference and Trade Show in Myrtle Beach.
  • For equipment managers looking to simplify the ever-important task of reel grinding, Bernhard and Co. recently launched its Express Dual 4300.
    The 4300 introduces advanced automation to deliver rapid, safe and accurate reel grinding. 
    The fully automated system comes with new advanced controls and a touchscreen interface that make it easier for operators to produce reel blades necessary to deliver the perfect grass cut and healthy turf conditions.
    "With all-new automation and improved controls, it is an incredibly advanced and versatile product that will benefit turf equipment professionals, said Steven Nixon, managing director for Bernhard and Co. "With increased speed and ease of use, getting mowers back into day-to-day action has never been quicker or simpler," he added.

    The Express Dual 4300 reel grinder incorporates new automated features to make reel sharpening easier. Key features of the new Express Dual 4300 reel grinder include:
    > backlit LCD touchscreen operator interface with automated grind programmes
    > reel drive auto-locking drive rod and drive adaptors
    > fully automated feed system with configurable grind cycles
    > high-definition graphic controls
    > Bernhard patented lift table for operator safety
    > tabletop design for rapid loading of mowers
    > 15-minute turnaround, floor-to-floor
    Sharp mower blades allow for clean shearing of the grass blade, and a cleaner cut produces fewer tears to the grass plant. This lowers the risk of disease, and in turn reduces the amount of corrective maintenance required later. Healthier plants result in improved playability and visual quality.
    The new Express Dual 4300 reel grinder is now available directly from Bernhard, or through the company's distributor network.
    Bernhard's high-performance reel grinder collection also includes Express Dual 5500, Express Dual 4100, Express Dual 300MC, Express Dual 2000 and Dual Master 3000iR.
  • The FB3 Fairway Brush from STEC serves many purposes. STEC photo For superintendents seeking to improve turf health and playing conditions in golf course fairways, STEC has introduced the FB3 Fairway Brush.
    A tow-behind unit, the FB3 can groom turf to with the purpose of:
    > blade orientation
    > propping up plants for pre-cut preparation 
    > dethatching grass
    > reducing worm casts
    > removing dew
    > brushing in top-dressing materials
    > helping control turf disease.
    The FB3 is compatible with several types of tow vehicles, and it utilizes a ground-driven rotary, contour-hugging brushing method and a stationary drag brush.
    The FB3 brush system offers 41 degrees of side-to-side wing contouring, and the hitch separates the towing vehicle from the brush allowing for independent floating and constant surface contact with 30 degrees of fore-aft contouring. 
    Two working modes — precut and topdress — are available with the brush, and the direction and speed can be adjusted. With a brushing width of 182 inches, the FB3 has a maximum working depth of 1 inch.
    Ground driven, the machine uses a 12-volt electrical supply to lift and lower, making virtually any tow vehicle operable without the need of hydraulics.
  • Atticus provides a host of branded generic products for the turf industry. Atticus, a provider of generic pesticide solutions for a variety of agricultural and T&O markets, recently named Rob Golembiewski, Ph.D., as director of technical services.
    With more than 30 years in the turf industry, Golembiewski, right, will be responsible for providing technical support and product education as Atticus expands its professional non-crop division, known as EcoCore.
    Golembiewski, who earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Michigan State and a doctorate from Ohio State, most recently spent nearly 12 years with Bayer and then Envu in a similar capacity.
    Golembiewski spent nearly eight years in academia at Montana State, Minnesota-Crookston and Oregon State, where he directed the turf program for more than 3.5 years.
    "I love helping people do their job better and this is ultimately what led me to Atticus," Golembiewski. "Their culture and value proposition of being Relevant, Simple and Reliable are built around a customer-first approach."
    Based in Cary, North Carolina, Atticus, is an American-owned company that provides branded-generic pesticides for its Agriculture and EcoCore markets, the latter of which includes finely managed turf. EcoCure's philosophy is to fight pests in a sustainable manner.
  • A First Green field day brought 64 elementary school students to Cinnabar Hills Golf Club in San Jose. All photos courtesy of Brian Boyer When kids begin pondering career possibilities, it is hard to tell what might click.
    For Brian Boyer, superintendent at Cinnabar Hills Golf Club in San Jose, California, that revelation came during a field trip to a water treatment plant back in Michigan when he was in college. That field trip and a job working at Cattails Golf Club in the Detroit suburb of South Lyon, carved a career for Boyer.
    In his nearly 18 years at Cinnabar Hills, Boyer has become an expert on the subject of water treatment. He manages the property's own treatment facility that supplies irrigation water for the golf course and drinking water for the clubhouse.
    "It got me interested in the environment and science," Boyer said. 
    "I was missing some direction, and that field trip along with working at Cattails Golf Club for Doug Palm gave me some direction."
    So it only seemed natural for him to host his own field trip as part of the First Green program.
    The field trip included 64 students from Barrett Elementary in nearby Morgan Hill. 
    "It was a blast," Boyer said. "Only five of the kids had ever played golf before."
    With help from 10 volunteers, six fellow superintendents, including GCSAA president Kevin Breen, CGCS, of nearby La Rinconada Country Club in nearby Los Gatos, and two teachers from Barrett, Boyer shuttled students through eight different stations to educate them about the environmental stewardship efforts that occur on golf courses and the job opportunities that can be found there.
    "The goal of the program was to highlight the benefits of golf in the community and the environment," Boyer said. "My personal goal was to show them that there is another career opportunity out there. Morgan Hill is a heavy ag community, and this is another avenue. I also happened to get into golf because of a field trip, so if it helps one kid … ."
    The 64 students were split into eight groups of eight who rotated through eight stations:
    Cool tools Water Soils Plant jar Putting green Wildlife and animal rescue Weather  Irrigation
    Kevin Breen, CGCS at La Rinconada Country Club in Los Gatos, teaches at a station at Cinnabar Hills. The First Green is a program that uses golf and golf course maintenance to introduce science, technology, engineering and math education to children.
    "I just want the kids to have fun and mix in some education," Boyer said. 
    The event was a hit with the students, as well as parents, teachers and volunteers, he said.
    "The excitement from the volunteers was cool to see," Boyer said. 
    "The kids were blown away. We taught them how we grow grass and save water. For many of them, it was the first time they'd been on a golf course. The grass was so perfect and so green, a lot of them thought it was fake."
  • Chris Wilson, holding the E.J. Marshall Platter, and his team celebrate after the U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club. USGA photo More than a century ago, a plea for help in advance of the 1920 U.S. Open resulted in the eventual creation later that year of the USGA Green Section.
    That was when E.J. Marshall, then the green committee chairman at Inverness Club, asked the USGA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for help to solve whatever was killing turf on the greens at the Donald Ross design. 
    The Open was saved and Englishman Ted Ray went on to win the second of his two career majors, the other being the 1912 Open Championship at Murifield. In recognition of Marshall's contributions that helped launch the Green Section as well as salvaging the U.S. Open, the USGA last year started an award in his name. 
    On Sunday, at the conclusion of this year's U.S. Open, the USGA presented Chris Wilson, director of golf courses and grounds at Los Angeles Country Club, with the E.J. Marshall Platter in recognition of his contributions and those of his team on preparing for this year's event.
    Created in 2022, the silver platter recognizes "leaders in golf course management who demonstrate commitment, expertise and outstanding collaboration with the USGA to present a well-maintained course, worthy of hosting a national championship and the world's best players."
    In his eighth year at LACC, Wilson is in his second tour of the club. He was an assistant to Russ Myers in his first go-round on Wilshire Boulevard.
    The condition of the course was never a question.
    Bryson DeChambeau called LACC "diabolical" and "a completely different test of golf than a normal U.S. Open."
    Jon Rahm told Golfweek "it is a great golf course, great design, has the potential to be one of the best U.S. Opens we've seen. . . . There is a certain flow to the golf course in a U.S. Open that we haven't seen before. That I haven't. Yeah, I think it's a bit different, and it's fun."
  • Presented by Envu, John Deere and Rain Bird, Green Start Academy will be held in December at Pinehurst Resort. John Deere photo For nearly two decades, the annual Green Start Academy has helped prepare the next generation of superintendents by pairing them with some of golf's most accomplished and successful turf management professionals.
    The application period for the annual Green Start Academy is open to new applicants from the U.S. and Canada who would like to participate in this year's event that is scheduled for Dec. 6-8 at Pinehurst Resort.
    Online applications for the 18th annual event are being accepted through Aug. 1. About 50 working assistant superintendents will be selected for this year's GSA. Previous attendees are not eligible.
    Presented by John Deere, Envu and Rain Bird, Green Start includes educational sessions, workshops, roundtable discussions and networking opportunities and is developed specifically for assistant superintendents looking to advance their professional skills and includes educational sessions, workshops, roundtable discussions and networking opportunities for about 50 assistants from the United States and Canada. 
    "The importance of networking and camaraderie is everything in this business," Todd Bohn, director of agronomy at Desert Mountain Club said in a news release.
    Green Start is committed to empowering every attendee with the tools and insights they need to excel in their careers.
    "Since 2006," said Mark Ford, Envu's customer marketing manager, "hundreds of assistant superintendents have benefited from the leadership and professional training available through the Green Start Academy."
    Assistant superintendents interested in attending should complete the online application by Aug. 1.
  • The more things change at Highlands Falls Country Club, the more they stay the same.
    After nearly a quarter of a century as superintendent at the club in Highlands, North Carolina, Fred Gehrisch, CGCS, was named general manager earlier this year. And Josh Cantrell, Gehrisch's assistant for 15 years, was named as his successor.
    "The first person I hired was Josh. He knows everyone, and he knows the culture. That was the easiest hire I ever made," Gehrisch said of promoting Cantrell to superintendent. "I have complete confidence in him."
    After 24 years as superintendent, Gehrisch, 53, had been contemplating a career move to general manager, either at Highlands Falls or elsewhere. The time had come, he decided, to move up, or move on.
    "I got bored and thought I was capable of doing more," said Gehrisch. "I spent a lot of time in the clubhouse helping out whatever department needed help. I spent time with the GM on club strategy. I got to know the ins and outs of the executive position, and I liked it."

    Fred Gehrisch, CGCS, (left) and Josh Cantrell of Highlands Falls Country Club in North Carolina. Photo courtesy of Fred Gehrisch Things, however, are not always as they appear. Then again, sometimes they are, and it just takes some time to realize it.
    When Gehrisch decided a change in career might be in his future, he called upon an old friend of more than 20 years, Saeed Assadzandi, CGCS. A former superintendent, Assadzandi has been a general manager for 24 years, including the last two at the Thornblade Club in Greer, South Carolina, where he also is chief operating officer.
    "I called him and told him what my plan is," Gehrisch said. "He told me the first three months will be a killer and you'll be asking yourself if you made the right decision, but then it gets better after that. He was exactly right. The first few months, I had that deer-in-the-headlights look. I didn't know what to tackle first. It's gotten better since then.
    "Saeed knew my background and told me I can move up and do this. He was my biggest cheerleader."
    In much the same way, Gehrisch has been a cheerleader for Cantrell.
    Cantrell, 45, never thought it would take so long to become a head superintendent.
    "(The economy of) 2007 and 2008 changed things, and changed my perspective," Cantrell said. "I wanted to be a superintendent, but I'm from this area, and I wanted to stay near it.
    "I've had chances to move on, but this place is different.
    "I was beginning to think this might not happen. If I was going to become a superintendent, I might have to leave, and my family wasn't willing to do that."
    His decade-and-a-half working under Gehrisch was time well spent.
    "I've learned so much, especially on the administrative side," Cantrell said. "I already handled the day to day on the golf course. He showed me how to do everything else."
    Still, Cantrell had to go through the official interview process, and that was no walk in the park.
    He spent three hours with Gehrisch and three more with the club's green committee chairman.
    "I never considered anybody else, but he had to go through the process," Gehrisch said. "He had earned the right to be the first to be considered, but the interview couldn't be a gimme."
    Cantrell had the knowledge to grow grass at a high level, but what he had to prove was if he had the chops for the rest of the job.
    "When you're the superintendent, everything is on your shoulders now. Are you ready for that?" Gehrisch said. "When they have social events at the club, you have to stay late, shake hands and say hi. Are you ready for that? Is your family ready for that?"
    "They wanted to make sure I was up to the challenge of everything off the golf course; emails and all the criticism that is going to come," Cantrell said. "I had to convince them I was ready for that."
    Gehrisch, too, was held to the same level of scrutiny during his interview. In fact, the GM position initially was offered to another candidate, he said, because of his lack of F&B experience.
    "I interviewed for it, then I was notified I wasn't getting the job," Gehrisch said. "I figured it was time to move on. I was probably two weeks from accepting another job when the president called me and said it didn't work out with the first guy and was I still interested in the job. My ego was bruised, and I had to think about was this something I still wanted to do, and it was, but I thought about it a lot.
    "The hard part is convincing people I am more than a superintendent. I know what I don't know, but I am spending time learning that."
    In just six months on the job, Gehrisch has proven himself many times over. He already has hired a new superintendent, food and beverage director and a fitness director, and the club is undergoing major projects, like a pool project and pickleball court construction.
    So much is happening so soon into his new job that someone recently told him "I wouldn't want to be in your shoes."
    Gehrisch, who as superintendent is accustomed to tackling big projects, shrugged it off.
    "I'm used to managing risk," he said. "What I am more concerned about is making sure the member experience is excellent all the time."
    The more things change, the more they stay the same.
  • In the past two years, dozens of women have volunteered to work the two most recent U.S. Women's Open championships. 
    The goal was a multi-pronged effort that included: helping prepare course conditions for a national championship; shining a light on the abilities of women in turf; providing them with education and networking opportunities; and promoting careers in the turf industry to other women.
    One key observation that came out of each event, first in 2021 at Olympic Club in San Francisco, and last year at Pine Needles Resort and Golf Club in Southern Pines was that raising awareness of careers in golf could only benefit by more women playing the game.
    To help achieve the latter, Women's Golf Day was started seven years ago as a way to "unite women's golf across the globe" with an overall goal of growing the game both here and abroad.
    Founded in 2016 by Elisa Gaudet, president of the consulting firm Executive Golf International, Women's Golf Day has been so popular that a day no longer is enough. This year, Women's Golf Day, which is a collective effort that includes allied golf organizations, individual facilities, management companies and retailers, was extended to an entire week that took place May 30-June 6 at golf courses around the world.

    Lisa Vlooswyck (center) and some of her students during Women's Golf Day at Brudenell River Resort on Prince Edward Island. Photo courtesy of Lisa Vlooswyck "Growing demand for additional days from host locations prompted us to expand to a weeklong format, resulting in impactful and significant activation on each day this week," Gaudet said in a news release.
    Through this year's event, more than 1,300 sites in 84 countries, including more than 130 first-time courses in Japan just this year, have hosted Women's Golf Day events. On site activities include fitness tips, instruction, social activities, lunch and guest speakers. 
    "Golf is not a one-size-fits-all sport anymore," Gaudet said after the 2021 event. 
    "Women who have never played golf are beginning to see that in the 21st century it is a sport for everyone."
    One such event was a day of instruction at Brudenell River Resort on Prince Edward Island conducted by Lisa Vlooswyk, speaker, golf journalist and multiple long-drive champion from Calgary, Alberta.
    Vlooswyck has been involved in WGD since its inception as a Canadian ambassador. Promoting the game to other women is her passion, and her WGD golf school attracted other women from places such as Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, California, New Jersey Washington, D.C. Some of her students are repeat customers from past WGD events.
    "I've been doing this since 2016," Vlooswyck said. "Because I want to help grow the game by bringing more women into golf.
    "I participate in long-drive championships, outings and corporate events, and I noticed that 75 to 80 percent of all the people there were men, and I thought 'Oh, gosh, where are all the women?' I'd talk to them and they'd tell me they weren't good enough, or they didn't feel comfortable."
    As a result, Vlooswyck started a golf school in Canada and the U.S. just for women.
    "Women's Golf Day is a perfect fit for something like this, because golf is hard and it can be intimidating" she said. "I want to send the message to all women that 'hey, we belong.'"
    Vlooswyck believes growing the game also could help promote careers in golf to women, including working as a superintendent.
    "The more women we bring into golf, they more they might see it as a career, whether that is as a superintendent, in the golf shop or teaching," she said. "If you see it, you can be it."
    WGD events included:
    > WGD Palooza - a specially curated USGA Museum Tour, Instruction from Callaway and Titleist players, an interview with founding members of Project Ukraine and giveaways from WGD partners, including The USGA, PGA, R&A, Callaway, Titleist, FootJoy, PGA TOUR Superstore (PGATSS), Imperial, Marco Simone and Make Golf Your Thing. 
    > NYSE Opening - WGD founder, Elisa Gaudet, was joined by a delegation including representatives from Acushnet. and LPGA player Danielle Kang as Gaudet rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.
    > New Countries - Gambia, Greece, Peru, and Zambia joined the WGD community for the first time in 2023 taking the total number of participating countries to 84.
    > Japan Growth - after running three events in 2022, WGD and The Japanese Golf Federation worked in collaboration to grow the number of host locations in Japan from three to 139 in under 12 months.
    > Championship Venues - More than 1,300 locations have hosted the event since 2016, including Marco Simone, host of the 2023 Ryder Cup; Pinehurst; TPC Sawgrass; Firestone Country Club; TPC Scottsdale; Evian Resort; Taiheiyo Club Minori Course in Japan; and Aphrodite Hills Golf & Country Club in Cyprus.
    > PGA TOUR Superstore - Official Retailer of Women's Golf Day held in-store activation events. PGATSS held events at most of its stores across the country. There were driving contests in the simulators and basic instruction for new golfers as well as putting contests and the chance to win a WGD-branded Callaway Golf Bag. 
    > Golf Town - Canadian retailer hosted WGD on June 6 at all 47 locations across Canada.
  • Cinnabar Hills Golf Club in San Jose, California. One of the most admirable traits about the golf turf profession is the willingness of superintendents to share information to help a colleague solve a problem.
    Sometimes, however, the best answers to some of those difficult questions might come from within.
    One of those questions that might have a more obvious answer, according to some superintendents, is whether to pull or core or vent.
    When asked whether he prefers to pull or core or not, Rick Tegtmeier, CGCS at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in Iowa, said that is an answer unique to each property.
    "Younger superintendents, they're afraid to fail and want to mimic what others are doing," Tegtmeier said. "Every course is different. Just do what is right for you. Who gives two hoots what the guy down the street is doing."
    In the case of 36-hole Des Moines G&CC, coring makes sense, Tegtmeier said. 
    "We have A4, and it's very aggressive, so we pull a core on all 36 holes," he said. 
    "I've always been a coring guy. For my golf course in Iowa, it's the right thing."
    At Cinnabar Hills Golf Club south of San Jose, California, superintendent Brian Boyer uses solid tines throughout the year, not because he is averse to pulling a core, but because he does not have to. At least not now.
    "We've gotten to the point where (coring) is not necessary based on our soil tests" Boyer said. "We're not producing much organic matter. We did a lot of aggressive coring and topdressing in the past. This didn't happen overnight. I've been here for 18 years, and it's taken 15 years to get to this point."
    Recovery time is faster, and golfers are happier, Boyer says.
    "It got on my radar five years ago that we might be able to get there," Boyer said. "Do we need to? Our results show we don't.
    "The biggest result is we were able to get rid of those cores, but we can go back to it if we ever have to."
    Back in Iowa, Tegtmeier's program historically has included needle tining in March, and once per month throughout the season until September when it was time to pull a core.
    "We have high salts," Tegtmeier said. "We have to flush the salts below the root system."
    To minimize disruption to golfers, Tegtmeier has flipped his program on one course.
    He has changed to pulling a core in spring on one course and solid tining in September, while keeping to his original schedule on the other. He also recently began using the GS3 ball from the USGA.
    Early results from the GS3 reveal there is no difference in green speed at Des Moines on greens that were cored and those that were vented with solid tines. The difference is smoothness and trueness, Tegtmeier says.
    "Golfers are happier now," Tegtmeier said. "They always have one 18 that is great to play on.
    "Don't do what works here. Find what works for you."
  • For hundreds of years, golf has been a game defined by tradition and honor.
    The professional tour, built on a cornerstone of honest self governance and sportsmanship, has stood as the de facto face of the game and has proven, as a whole, to be a mostly noble ambassador.
    Until this week.
    For the past year-and-a-half, we have listened to soon to be ex-PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan preach moral superiority from the pulpit and cast judgment on players who defected from his league and cashed in, taking $100s of millions from upstart Saudi-backed LIV Golf.
    This week, the PGA Tour announced a merger with LIV Golf that cedes a lot of power and influence to the Saudis.
    Follow the money.
    When players like Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau defected to LIV, the PGA Tour banned those players from competing in its events. 
    LIV Golf, run by World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman, is funded by billions from the Saudi Arabia Public Investment fund, which is controlled by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
    The Saudi government has what definitely is a stained reputation regarding its record on human rights. The country regularly ranks among the worst violators of human rights, targeting migrants, women, non-Muslims, gays and lesbians, the working class and just about anyone who exercises freedom of expression. As the U.S. recognizes June as Pride Month, same-sex relations are a crime in Saudi Arabia, punishable by imprisonment — or worse.
    Don't forget, 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals, and that is a rub for many, especially survivors and family members of victims of those attacks.
    The Saudi government is deeply involved in many sports, including soccer, auto racing, boxing and horse racing to name a few. It is all part of the country's efforts to clean up, or whitewash, its public image.
    Since the advent of LIV Golf, Monahan has been exposed as nothing more than a hypocrite and, like so many politicians, a shill for Saudi money.
    We have since learned that Monahan, who is paid $15 million annually with use of a private jet as Tour commissioner, has been working behind the scenes for nearly two months with Saudi officials on the merger while at the same time promoting the Tour and decrying LIV Golf.

    Some of the game's biggest names, like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, declined offers from LIV Golf and stumped on the PGA Tour's behalf.
    They risked $100s of millions by standing up for the Tour. In exchange for their loyalty, they learned of the merger the way everyone did — on Twitter. That is shameful.
    During last year's RBC Canadian Open, Monahan said on CBS that players should have considered events like 9/11 and the Saudi record on human rights when deciding to make the leap to LIV Golf. He went so far as to pose a hypothetical question to players considering the move: “Have you ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour?”
    Not until today. It is hard to imagine how Monahan survives this, but we've also learned that almost anything is possible where golf is concerned.
    McIlroy, who stood in defense of the Tour for so long, says he doesn't agree with the merger, but understands it. We can't blame him or Woods, or those who turned down LIV Golf money before but will have to take it now. This is their profession and their only options are to take the money, or leave the Tour. Not much of a choice.
    The new deal, which still must be approved by the Tour and federal oversight in the U.S., would combine the PGA Tour, DB World Tour (former European Tour) and LIV Golf. The new name of the conglomerate has not yet been determined, but this much we know.
    The Saudi's will control all financial aspects of the new for-profit entity, including final say in all sponsorships, but the PGA Tour will control all board operations. That said, Yasir bin al Rumayyan, Saudi banker, businessman and advisor to the Saudi prince will be the entity's new chairman, and Tour officials have shown little mettle for standing up to Saudi money.
    The Tour, now backed by Saudi money pending approval, will retain its tax-exempt status.
    Follow the money.
    In an interview this week on CNN, DeChambeau was asked what he would tell 9/11 survivors or family members of victims. He answered that it is time to move on and that the merger would prove to be the best thing for golf moving forward.
    Considering that those affected by 9/11 stand to gain nothing from this merger, what DeChambeau should have said is it will be the best thing for him.
    After all, just follow the money.
  • Ewing's new branding will reflect the changing times and needs of the company's customers. Ewing photo Effective July 1, Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Supply will officially be known as Ewing Outdoor Supply.
    The company says the name change will better reflect the solutions the century-old company offers to customers in a variety of markets.
    Founded in 1922 in San Francisco as Atlas Lawn Sprinkler Co., Ewing is a supplier of landscape and irrigation products, including irrigation supplies, sustainable and water-efficient products, landscape and turf products, supplies for agronomics, outdoor-living supplies, landscape lighting, water features and erosion control products.
    The name change reflects much of Ewing's early history.
    The company changed its name from Atlas to Ewing Turf Products in 1948 shortly after King Ewing acquired it. Ewing eventually moved its headquarters from California to Phoenix in 1994.
    The name change reflects the changing needs of customers throughout the green industry and Ewing's focus on meeting those needs, the company says. 
    "To be a stronger, better partner for you, we've committed to evolving our own business to match your needs and the needs of your different jobs and projects with a wider offering of products," Ewing president and CEO Douglas York said in a news release.
    "Ewing Outdoor Supply also speaks to the broader green industry we serve."
    Beginning in July, customers will begin to see Ewing Outdoor Supply marketing materials at Ewing locations, on invoices, the company's web site and in email correspondence.
    "As our industry evolves," York said in the release, "Ewing Outdoor Supply will continue to change and evolve with it, just as we have for the past 100 years, and we will continue to be your trusted supplier."
  • The last time Anthony Williams spent a Memorial Day at home rather than on a golf course, Ronald Reagan was in the White House, the average cost for a gallon of gas was $1.12 and "Out of Africa" won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1985.
    Williams, who has been a superintendent at golf courses in Texas and Georgia since 1986, recently was named senior agronomist for Invited Clubs, the company formerly known as Club Corp. Williams will oversee agronomics at several of Invited's premier properties. That list is still a work in progress, said Williams.
    Williams, who will remain in the Dallas area, began his new position on May 30.
    A graduate of the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia, Williams spent the first 30 years of his career on Marriott Golf properties in Georgia and the past six at TPC Las Colinas in Irving, Texas.
    "With my experience, they want me to connect GMs to the agronomy side to the golf professionals," Williams said. 

    Williams holds more certifications than a Wall Street trader. Certified as a superintendent, master greenkeeper and arborist, Williams also is a black belt in karate as well as a certified life coach, and he has dedicated much of his career to mentoring assistants, groundskeepers, colleagues and friends, and for several years has been presenting career- and life-development webinars on TurfNet.
    In many of his presentations, Williams has urged others to think big and take a chance. When it came time to making a late life stage career change, he decided it was time to follow his own advice.
    "To achieve the legacy I want to leave in this industry, this is the logical next step," Williams said. "I didn't think something like this was possible. All the years I spent mentoring others — I have to do it."
    Williams' awards include the TurfNet Superintendent of the Year in 2009; Georgia GCSA Superintendent of the Year (2015); North Texas GCSA Superintendent of the Year (2021); a multiple-year winner of the Environmental Leaders in Golf Award; Professional Grounds Management Society Green Star Award; Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association Environmental Communicator of the Year (2011); J.W. Marriott Award of Excellence; and in 2018 was inducted into the Georgia GCSA Hall of Fame.
    Despite those accolades, Williams said he was surprised when Invited Clubs came calling.
    "I'm approaching 60, and we all know how different it gets for superintendents at 60," Williams said.
    "You have to be prepared to make that next career change, and I've spent my whole career to get to this moment."
  • For the past three years, golf has enjoyed an almost-unprecedented surge in popularity. Since the outbreak of Covid, the number of players in the game reached an all-time high and rounds played reached a level not seen in more than 20 years.
    As outlets for recreation and entertainment were taken away throughout the 2020 and 2021, many turned to golf for diversion and fun.
    Many newcomers came into the game in that time frame, and committed golfers played more often.
    The question on the lips of many has been “how long will it last?”
    After all, apparel and equipment sales are down this year, according to many reports, so it only seems to follow that rounds played and the number of golfers would be on the decline, as well.
    For those waiting to learn whether the bottom is falling out of the golf industry, the most recent reports on rounds played suggest we will have to wait.

    The number of rounds played to date in 2023 is up by 3 percent compared with last year. Photo by John Reitman According to Golf Datatech's Monthly Rounds Played Report for April, play was up 7.8 percent compared with the same month a year ago. Likewise, year-to-date rounds played was up 3.1 percent compared with the first four months of 2022. According to Pellucid Corp., the game is still riding the high that was realized during the Covid pandemic.
    According to the report, rounds played were up in 31 states, thanks in part to an unseasonably warm winter in much of the country and a cool spring. Conversely, play was down in only 18 other states, Alaska notwithstanding. The largest year-over-year gains in April were made in Illinois, where play was up by 72 percent. 
    Other states enjoying double-digit growth were Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
    The steepest losses were in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, where play was down by 61 percent.
    The only other state that experienced double-digit losses in April was Hawaii.
    According to Pellucid Corp., 4 million people came to the game during Covid. Many of those newcomers were juniors and women, both critical to long-term growth of the game. About 1 million of those players, according to Pellucid reporting, have stayed in the game, and most of them reflect the commonly held stereotypes surrounding the game — that it is supported by older men.
    The good news is there are things about the game that are appealing enough to attract new players. The bad news is other factors are at work that prevent most of those new players from staying with the game.
  • Two years ago, officials at the Ohio State Agricultural Technical Institute developed a master plan to bring the campus in Wooster into the 21st century. That plan includes replacing aging, outdated and damaged buildings, including classrooms and dormitories, as well as developing new outdoor learning opportunities. Developing a costly master plan and implementing one are two entirely different things.
    Located 100 miles from Ohio State's main campus in Columbus, OSU-ATI has a long history of training students for careers in turf and agriculture. Officials insist that much of the infrastructure at the Wooster campus is outdated and in disrepair and must be renovated or even replaced. Finding funds to make those necessary has been a challenge.
    Until now.
    To help fund implementation of its master plan over the next decade, ATI is liquidating some of its real estate holdings that officials say no longer suit the school's needs, including its golf course.
    Hawk's Nest closed in December and was sold earlier this year for $2.5 million to Gasser Brothers LLC, which owns agricultural operations in eastern Ohio. 
    A 1993 Steve Burns design, Hawks Nest was gifted to ATI 15 years ago by its previous owners, Earl and Betty Hawkins. Since then, the public course was utilized by ATI students as an outdoor classroom and lab. 
    "It's 20 minutes away from campus, and there are only 15 minutes between classes," said Ed Nangle, Ph.D., who runs ATI's turf program. "We had to end classes early and students were always late to their next class if they went back to campus. Classes never started on time. There were so many logistical issues."
    More real-world learning opportunities will be added on campus as part of the renovation project.
    In the plans are a new athletic field where, Nangle said, "We're going to try to stretch the cold tolerance of Bermudagrass farther north."
    The athletic field also will be used for student recreation.
    About 22 acres have been set aside as the future site for a three- or four-hole short course as part of the new-look ATI. Students will be tasked with managing both surfaces as well as maintenance equipment for real on-the-job training. 
    "Since it's only a three- or four-hole course, students will learn how to screw up, but it won't be critical like it would be on an 18-hole course," Nangle said. "What they'll be able to learn is 'I better not do that again.' Making mistakes is a critical part of learning."
    The future of the golf course is uncertain, and ATI officials said they will establish turf plots on the Wooster campus that boasts a research putting green built by John Street, Ph.D., 50 years ago.
    A new research green will feature 10 different cultivars that students can maintain while observing the unique characteristics of each variety.
    "Students will be able to see differences in establishment and management," Nangle said. "It's a win-win."
    Other updates are occurring indoors. 
    The Equipment Manager program has been popular at ATI, and more offerings there will hopefully attract even more students, Nangle said. 
    "Most of our turf students get the equipment manager certificate while they are here, but not a lot come here just for that," Nangle said. "That part of the business is going bananas now."
    ATI plans to add an eight-week EM summer program and expand equipment available to students. ATI has historically been a Bernhard shop, but Nangle recently added a SIP grinder and is working to bring in a Foley unit, as well.
    "This way, they'll get to learn all types of grinding on all kinds of equipment," he said.
    The athletic field should be completed in a year and all aspects of the improvement project are expected to be completed in two years.
    ATI's Grosjean East farm recently sold for $750,000 to another buyer, and a host of other properties are being liquidated for about $300,000.
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