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From the TurfNet NewsDesk

  • John Reitman
    The influx of new chemistries in the turf and ornamental market that has occurred during the past two decades has provided turf managers with an invaluable arsenal of products to help keep insects, weeds and disease in check. Those same chemistries also have made it more difficult to keep the sprayers used to deliver them clean and free of clogs and obstructions.

    Until now.
    Precision Laboratories recently launched its Erase spray system cleaner designed for use in commercial turf spraying units.

    Developed using a proprietary blend of emulsifiers, alkalinity builders and surfactants, Erase emulsifies residue that can become trapped in spray lines and can be incompatible with other products used in the same tank.

    Incompatibility can degrade other products or even cause cross contamination and ultimately can cause phytotoxicity in the turfgrass plant. Erase virtually eliminates the threat of contamination and phytotoxicity.
  • When it comes to educating tomorrow's superintendents today, Jacobsen is all business.

    Each year, the Charlotte, N.C.-based arm of Textron awards more than a dozen scholarships to college students and through its Future Turf Managers program provides valuable education in the field for assistant superintendents.

    In keeping with its focus on supporting aspiring superintendents, Jacobsen is supporting a blog written by recent Ohio State University graduate Peter Braun during his internship at Mount Juliet Golf Club in Kilkenny, Ireland, under superintendent Aidan O'Hara.

    "In addition to the hosting our long-standing Future Turf Manager's program in the U.S. and the UK, and the cross-sharing of students and knowledge it offers, we provide numerous scholarships to college and university turf programs around the world," said Glenn King, marketing communications manager for Jacobsen. "So when we heard about this cross-continental educational opportunity offered by TurfNet, offering our sponsorship was the natural thing to do."

    Braun and O'Hara two had a chance to meet in person at this year's Golf Industry Show in Orlando, which paved the way for the Ohio State senior to secure a position at Mount Juliet.

    "He clearly demonstrated a determination and ambition to both learn and succeed in the golf course management profession," O'Hara said. "We have no doubt that he will be a great asset to our team, similar to previous high-caliber interns sent over to us from TurfNet."

    A native of Cambridge, New York, Braun graduated from Ohio State on May 4. He already has held summer internships at Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York, and Vineyard Golf Club on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. Braun says he plans to work in New Zealand when his commitment at Mount Juliet expires in October.

    Braun is the third intern to be placed at Mount Juliet through TurfNet.

    "I am excited to be interning at Mount Juliet and blogging for TurfNet," Braun said. "As I intern in Ireland I am looking forward to seeing different management approaches to golf course maintenance and meeting many new people."
  • It's safe to say the University of Georgia has recovered the investment it has made into its plant breeding facilities in Tifton. It is there that Brian Schwartz, Ph.D., still works in the same south Georgia greenhouse in which Glenn Burton developed Tifway 419 Bermudagrass in the 1950s.
      That soon will change.   The Georgia state legislature recently approved a bond sale that will fund an $11.5 million upgrade of the university's turfgrass research and teaching facilities in Tifton as well as the university's extension station in Griffin and at the main campus in Athens.   "This will help bring our facilities well into the 21st century," said professor and extension specialist Clint Waltz, Ph.D., who, along with most of the university's turf faculty and staff, works out of the Griffin campus.   "This will really be a game-changer."   The Griffin extension station will receive about $9.5 million of the allotment and will help fund construction of a new 24,000-square-foot turf research and education center with labs, classrooms, offices and meeting facilities for turf researchers to help instruct students as well as golf course superintendents, sports turf managers and lawn care professionals from around the state. It also will fund construction of a greenhouse for breeding and a headhouse.   The Tifton breeding facility at the university's Coastal Plain Research Center will get a new greenhouse as well as a two-story facility with a state-of-the-art headhouse, critical for greenhouse prep work, conference facilities and offices.   In Athens, a portion of the money will help build an 8-acre research plot area for work conducted by professor Gerald Henry, Ph.D., and his students, as well as a new classroom facility and laboratory.   Contract work will begin once the bonds have sold. Although there is no official timetable for the project until the money becomes available, sale of the bonds could come as early as this fall, with groundbreaking taking place in 2015, Waltz said.   "Realistically, we hope we are ready to move in some time in the next two or three years," he said.   The need for updated facilities started about a year ago when university officials sought input from industry partners about the program's future, Waltz said. Industry leaders, including those from the Georgia Urban Ag Council, toured the facilities and agreed. They also helped take the message to legislators, who also showed how they felt about the state of the facilities by voting to make the necessary funds available.   "We want to continue to be a resource for the turf industry in Georgia," Waltz said. "It would be difficult to do this, as well as attract students and faculty without an infusion of investment into our resources."
  • For years, Florida Gateway College has had a reputation for turning out highly skilled golf course superintendents, turf managers and equipment technicians.

    Now, the two-year college in Lake City, Florida is taking the next step in turf education by offering an online horticulture certificate program.

    The 18-credit program includes six three-credit courses designed specifically for working turfgrass professionals.

    Online courses at the school formerly called Lake City Community College, include: principles of plant growth, soils and fertilizers, agricultural chemistry, landscape plants, golf and landscape irrigation, turfgrass for golf and landscape.

    To register, a student must apply through www.fgc.edu and send an application to the school?s admission office. All applicants must be a high school graduate or have earned a GED. Transcripts also must be sent to the college.

    The program is offered at the beginning of the fall, spring and summer terms.

    For more information, email John Piersol or call him at 386-754-4225, or email the admissions office.
  • The USGA takes pride in having its finger on the pulse of golfers. Its representatives are very good at creating conditions that can confound even the world's best players, and they also believe they know what the rest of us want in a golf course. And by the looks of things, they don't believe enough people are providing what the majority of golfers, or potential golfers are seeking.   According to USGA research, the median handicap for men is about 15 and for women, that number is 27. Only 13 percent of men with a USGA handicap sport an index of below 7, and only 11 percent of women play below a 16. Clearly, the conditions that the USGA creates for its many national championships do not apply for most of the rest of us, and it's why the USGA is not coming to a course near you to offer advice on how to set up for the next scramble or member-guest event.   "Eighty-seven percent of men have a handicap greater than 7. They're not going to playing in the U.S. Open, folks. They're not," USGA Green Section agronomist Chris Hartwiger said of the average golfer during the during this year's Green Section Education Conference during the Golf Industry Show in Orlando, Florida. "I'm right on the border of that group, and I'm not going to be playing in the U.S. Open any time soon, so we need to be thinking more about who your best customers are, and not preparation for the 13 percent that are single digits or plus handicaps."   If an industry that is shedding about 1 million players per year, according to National Golf Foundation research, is interested in stopping the bleeding, individual facilities, especially at the daily fee level, must do something to attract new players and reinvigorate those who have left the game.   But what?   Part of that solution, Hartwiger says, is improving pace of play and presenting a golf course and teeing options that promote faster play.    Hartwiger cites USGA research that says the average male player drives the ball about 200 yards, and the maximum length of a par 4 reachable in two shots for that average player is 370 yards. For women, the average drive is 150 yards with a maximum par 4 reachable in two shots being about 280 yards.    The USGA has a portion of its Web site dedicated to improving pace of play, including tips to help both players and employees of the golf facility to identify ways to move golfers around the course faster.   "The golf experience needs to be enjoyable. Fast and friendly equals fun," Hartwiger said. "How are we going to provide a fun experience for a diversity of players we would like to attract to our golf facility and want to come back again?   "If we can provide a fast pace of play plus a friendly experience, we have a good chance that is going to equal a very fun day at the golf course."   For the superintendent, factors to consider include ensuring proper signage is located throughout the course, and other factors such as rough height of cut, green speed and fairway width all line up with customer skill level.   "All these things added together can really make a difference on how quickly people move through the golf course," USGA executive director Mike Davis says on an association video aimed at tackling pace of play issues.   For daily fee courses hoping to attract high-handicap players, women and juniors, creating a fun and inviting atmosphere begins with proper tee placement, course set-up and the attitude of the employees in the golf shop and on the course. Hartwiger cites National Golf Foundation research that indicates women, overall, are intimidated by men and an unwelcoming golf course staff.   Research indicates that although women still earn about 20 percent less than male counterparts, they earn more than men in many large metropolitan areas. And those women also are, on average, attracted to golf more for its social opportunities rather than as an avenue to unleash their competitiveness. So, if a woman, a newcomer or infrequent player, or anyone other than a scratch player, does not feel welcome as they are plunking down their money, they struggle on a difficult course set-up and spend five hours doing it, chances are they won't come back.   "Eighty-nine percent of the women who play your golf course, on average, are going to have an index greater than 16," Hartwiger said. "There are lots of things we can draw from that, but I want you to think who your best female customers are and are you addressing what a friendly and good golf course is for them.   "There are tremendous strides that can be made here at every facility to make it more friendly to this group," Hartwiger said. "The data is out there. They are telling you ?help me out here. I'm interested in this game, but there are some things that make it unfriendly.' "   The NGF released a report this week that shows that 40 percent of new golfers each year are women, yet only a fraction of them stick with it, as evidenced by the fact that women comprise only about 20 percent of the U.S. golfer population. That percentage has been stagnant since 1991, according NGF. In other countries such as Germany, South Korea and Switzerland, women make up almost 40 percent of the golfer population because governing bodies and the industry overall cater to women and their needs.   "Remember, fast plus friendly equals fun," Hartwiger said. "And if we aren't doing a good job on the friendly part, the equation isn't going to add up."
  • During the past decade, much ado has been made about folks fleeing golf for a variety of reasons.    Cost, difficulty and time constraints all are among the barriers to the game people most often cite as to why they no longer play, or no longer play as much. Other family commitments, namely the infiltration of youth sports leagues that never seem to take time off, also have helped curb participation in golf. Instead of playing golf on Saturday morning, dad now is helping shuttle kids to soccer, softball, baseball and football games.   A massive new sports complex north of Atlanta might have an answer for golf: if you can?t beat the youth sports craze, then join it.   Located a half-hour north of Atlanta in Emerson, Georgia, the LakePointe Sporting Community is a 1,300-acre mixed-used site that will combine sports fields and venues for a variety of indoor and outdoor activities with retail shopping and a residential community. The park, which is opening in piecemeal fashion throughout the spring and is scheduled to be fully operational by early June, also will include the Greg Norman Champions Golf Academy. The 30-acre learning center will include a nine-hole, par-3 course, practice center, and professional instruction for golfers of all ages and coaching for those who are more than weekend hackers.   Although the learning center, as well as a sister property in Myrtle Beach, likely will be a home away from home for the Norman-coached Chinese national golf team in the run up to the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, the new facility in the north Georgia mountains is not just aimed at aspiring professionals.   Like its South Carolina cousin, the new facility will target instruction to players ranging from beginners to professionals, with an emphasis on helping to grow the game, Norman says.   "I have seen first-hand how the game of golf can change a person's life, and I want to be able to give back experiences and advice to help grow the game," Norman said in a news release.   The training center also will include indoor hitting bays, classrooms for in-depth instruction and online education, a lighted range and the roomy Norman-designed par-3 layout are being designed to accommodate high-handicap players.   As it continues to open throughout the year,  LakePointe eventually will include 16 regulation-size baseball fields; a dozen softball and junior baseball fields; another field to accommodate baseball players with special needs; 14 multipurpose fields for soccer and lacrosse built by Shaw Sports Turf; wake park; regulation track and field complex; sand and grass outdoor volleyball facilities;  and indoor multi-purpose facilities for activities such as basketball, cheering and volleyball.   Norman?s West Palm Beach, Florida-based company did not return calls on when the project will open, but if the facility in Georgia is anything like the company?s first academy property in South Carolina, it too will be tailored to help grow the game as well as meet the needs of accomplished players.   The Myrtle Beach academy opened in 2012 and includes junior camps, an adult golf school, full-time golf academy (including accommodations), instruction for tour-level players and a program designed specifically for players making the transition from high school to competitive collegiate golf. It also offers 52,000 square feet of bunkers and practice greens, 100,000 square feet of practice tees.
  • In the 30-plus years he has been a golf course superintendent, Ken Mangum, CGCS, has given back to his industry as a speaker, mentor, consultant and pioneer. Now, that same industry is giving back to Mangum.
    Director of golf courses and grounds at Atlanta Athletic Club where he has worked since 1988, Mangum recently was elected into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. He is the third golf course superintendent to receive the honor, and will join Palmer Maples Jr. and Mark Esoda when he is inducted in January.
    Mangum is a regular speaker national and regional conferences and industry events, serves on industry committees and has mentored several assistants who have gone on to become head superintendents.
    Other inductees in the class of 2015 are Ray Cutright, director of golf at Idle Hour Club in Macon; Gene McClure, a lifelong contributor to the game and volunteer who worked closely with the Georgia State Golf Association and the USGA; and Carter Mize, an accomplished amateur player.
    The group will be inducted Jan. 17 at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek.
    A native of Anniston, Ala., Mangum graduated in 1975 from the Lake City (Florida) Community College School of Golf Course Operations. He served as assistant superintendent at Mystery Valley Golf Course in Atlanta from 1976 to 1978 when he returned to Alabama to become superintendent at Lagoon Park in Montgomery.
    Mangum then served as golf course superintendent at Idle Hour Club in Macon, Ga., from 1981 to 1988. It was during that At Idle Hour that Mangum was credited with installing the first computerized irrigation system east of the Mississippi River.
    In 1988, Mangum moved on to the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek. There he has been the host superintendent of several national championships, including the 1990 U.S. Women's Open Championship, 2001 PGA Championship, 2002 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, 2011 PGA Championship, and the 2014 U.S. Amateur Championship later this summer. He was project manager for six major golf course renovations and designed and built the par 3 course in 1993. He also developed a management program that has produced many successful superintendents around the country.
    Mangum served on the GCSAA board of directors from 1996 to 2001 and was president of the Georgia chapter in 1987. He is a current member of the Rain Bird Irrigation Select Superintendent Advisory Board and the USGA Green Section Committee. In 2004, Mangum was appointed by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue to the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame board of directors where he served until 2009. Mangum has served as an instructor at the John Deere/Bayer Green Start Academy since it began in 2006.
    Mangum was inducted into the Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association Hall of Fame in 2013, and was the recipient of the USGA's Fred Grainger Award and the GCSAA Col. John Morley Distinguished Service Award that same year. He was named Georgia Superintendent of the Year in 2002 and the Georgia Turf Professional of the Year in 1996.
  • Eye on the future

    By John Reitman, in News,

    As head of the University of Tennessee turfgrass weed science research and extension program, Jim Brosnan, Ph.D., visits his fair share of golf courses, and he's continually inspired by the examples of innovation he sees on them. But it's always "what's next" that intrigues him when he visits The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay.   "To me, what's most impressive is that they are continually looking for ways to improve and ways to advance," Brosnan said during an Earth Day celebration at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay on April 22.   The course near Chattanooga is one of nine state park golf facilities that comprise the Tennessee Golf Trail, and the facility and its superintendent, Paul Carter, CGCS, have developed a reputation for being a leader in environmental stewardship.   The Earth Day festivities marked (roughly) the one-year anniversary of when the golf course, thanks to a $400,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, began using a new Jacobsen equipment fleet comprised almost exclusively of electric and hybrid technology.   One year later, Carter is able to quantify the impact of electric technology on his budget and the environment, which at Harrison Bay go hand-in-hand.   "Getting the equipment here, and this might sound selfish, was all about what can we accomplish here," Carter said. "Up to that point, all we had were estimates of what we could accomplish. Now, we can take these numbers to other courses. We hope people will look at us as a blueprint of what they can and should do."   Using the fleet of 18 pieces of electric equipment that includes seven Jacobsen mowers, five Toro MDE Workman vehicles, two TruTurf greensrollers, a pair of Smithco Super Star bunker rakes and two Club Car Carryall II vehicles, has led to a savings of more than 9,000 gallons in fuel (at about $2.35-$2.45 per gallon) and a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of more than 180,000 pounds, according to Carter.   Converting to electric power is about more than saving money, it also is about taking that next step toward sustainability, which is important to Carter and his supervisor, Harrison Bay head pro Robin Boyer.   "One of the things with electric equipment is that it is more expensive, and you have to ask yourself why you are doing it. Is it for return on investment, or is it for the environment?" Carter said. "That's one of the reasons we were successful in getting the grant and the equipment here is because so much of what we do is based on how we are impacting the environment."   The new equipment also has helped Carter reduce equipment maintenance expenses by more than $30,000, virtually eliminate the threat of hydraulic and oil leaks, and reduce the noise associated with maintaining a golf course that doubles as a wildlife sanctuary.   That such accomplishments were achieved at a state-owned golf course rather than a private club has provided the rest of the industry with a blueprint for success."   "Robin and Paul have teamed together to set the benchmark for what we think can be a unique experience in a golf course environment," said park district deputy commissioner Brock Hill.   UT's Brosnan agreed.   "What the group here has done is an example to the whole industry," Brosnan said. "From electric mowing equipment with Jacobsen to the eagle project to taking areas out of play and out of mowed turf and what that is like in terms of water savings and savings of total resources, it's a great example of how to maximize resource savings on a golf course while also providing optimal playing conditions for the end user. It's important to communicate this as an example to other golf courses, not only in Tennessee, but beyond Tennessee."   TurfNet's 2011 Superintendent of the Year, Carter also was named the public and overall winner of the Environmental Leaders in Golf Award from Golf Digest and the GCSAA for his efforts at promoting wildlife and sustainability at Harrison Bay. Those efforts include installation of 45 nesting boxes used by bluebirds and wrens, nesting boxes for wood ducks, reduced managed acreage on the golf course and overseeing the Harrison Bay Eagle Cam project that has brought the parenting skills of bald eagles to viewers around the world since 2011.   While he has packed a lifetime of stewardship into a 22-year career, Carter always has an eye cast on the future.   Through Carter's efforts, Harrison Bay in April became certified by the Golf Environment Organization. Based in Scotland, GEO is dedicated to providing a credible and accessible system of sustainability standards, support programs, recognition and capacity building for the golf industry.   He currently is working toward converting gas-powered fairway and rough units to propane or bio-diesel and eventually wants to install solar panels to harness electric power.   Carter's vision is what makes Harrison Bay and Jacobsen such good partners for sustainability projects, said the latter's president, David Withers.   "We have a company mantra that says ?my performance today is not good enough for tomorrow,' " Withers said.    "I think it is really important that golf lives up to its environmental credentials. It's good that we are as good as we are, but I think we should always be striving to improve."   And, Brosnan said, tell others outside the industry what is taking place.   "I think it's great that we have a conversation about environmental sustainability and turf management in the golf industry," he said. "We need to have more of these conversations beyond Earth Day, and to continue to communicate as an industry about what we do to manage turfgrass for golf courses when it comes to preserving the environment."
  • And the survey says

    By John Reitman, in News,

    Turf managers who missed out on an opportunity to participate in last year's Global Soil Survey still have a chance to take part in the program and receive customized information about site-specific fertility needs.   A cooperative effort between PACE Turf and the Asian Turfgrass Center, the Global Soil Survey provides researchers with a database of soil conditions around the world and turf managers with detailed information about fertility needs, including deficits and excesses, on their respective properties. The end result is a program that has helped many turf managers reduce fertility rates by more than 50 percent without compromising turf quality.   Those registering to participate in the survey will receive all materials needed to pack and ship three soil samples to Brookside Laboratories in New Bremen, Ohio, sample analysis, and a customized report by Larry Stowell, Ph.D., of PACE Turf and Micah Woods, Ph.D., of the Asian Turfgrass Center that includes information on soil nutritional conditions, including nutrient deficits and excesses, and customized fertility guidelines. Results typically are received within a week after the lab receives samples.   The Global Soil Survey is a response to the many versions of fertility guidelines available for turf managers today.   "Our findings challenge the soil nutritional guidelines that most of us have been using for years," Stowell said. "While these older guidelines all produced good quality turf, they frequently resulted in unnecessary applications of fertilizer. Today, when everyone is concerned about budgets and environmental impact, anything we can do to reduce inputs is going to be incredibly beneficial."   The benefits of participating in the survey, according to PACE, include knowledge of local soil conditions, recommendations for maximizing turf quality while minimizing fertility inputs, the ability to document progress toward sustainability, having the tools need for doing what is right and assuming a position of leadership within the industry.   "The Global Soil Survey is an exciting citizen science project that helps each participant determine just the right amount of each nutrient for their turf, at their location," Woods said. "When turf is fed with just the amount it needs, we see that fertilizer rates usually go down quite significantly."
  • Bernhard and Co. has made mid-season changes to its Anglemaster, Express Dual and Dual Master line of grinders.   The Anglemaster 4000 and 4000DXi now offer a choice of configuration allowing the manufacturer's datum point to be used to achieve recommended bedknife angles.   Other updates include two side-by-side drawers at the front of the machine for organizing tools and accessories. This user-friendly arrangement shifted the coolant reservoir and main electronics to the left and right legs, respectively. These redesigned legs also allow machines to be moved with a pallet jack rather than a forklift.   All Express Dual and Dual Master models now feature improved lift tables that do not require platform extensions and can be especially useful for machines mounted on wheel kits. In addition the Express Dual 4000, like the Anglemaster 4000 and 4000DXi, has an hours-run meter that displays when the machine is in operation. A loose reel kit for the Dual Master is also new.
  • Wanted: New golfers

    By John Reitman, in News,

    The idea is so simple in its design it is ingenious. 
      The folks at Monarch Dunes Golf Club in Nipomo, Calif., devised a great plan in an attempt to grow the game: simply remove the most common barriers people cite when they say they don't play, or don't play more.   "We wanted to attract more golfers," said Holly McGinty, the club's director of marketing. "We have an 18-hole course and a par-3 course, and they weren't getting enough play."   Last year, the club's 12-hole, par-3 Challenge Course received a bit of a makeover with new forward tees, less-punishing bunkers and optional 8-inch cups on each hole. Oh, and Monarch Dunes also will provide newcomers with a handful of clubs, balls, tees, as well as some personalized instruction, all for $10.   "We wanted to take away every excuse," McGinty said "People told us that it took too long to play, was too intimidating and it cost too much. We took all that away."   And people are coming.    McGinty couldn't pinpoint an exact figure, but said the program has resulted in "hundreds" of new players and more-than-passing interest from other courses in the area who like what they see enough to consider implementing a similar program.  
    The program has meant some changes for the golf course, a 6-year-old Pate/Pascuzzo design that measures 1,377 yards from the forward tees and 1,858 yards from the back. Bunker lips have been removed to make it possible to put from greenside hazards, each green now has a regulation cup as well as an easier-to-hit 8-inch hole. Green surrounds are mowed at seven-sixteenths of an inch, and greens are kept at 0.140, and walking paths mowed into the turf point the way toward a round that course superintendent Tom Elliott says can be completed, even by newcomers, in about 90 minutes.   "We're trying to simplify the game of golf," Elliott said. "We want new people to come out and play."   The club also maintains the Old Course, a 6,800-yard 18-hole layout, which also was designed by the Sacramento-based team of Pate/Pascuzzo.   With four tees and two cups (and two flags) on every hole, each ranging from 65 to 205 yards in length, the course is not only friendly for beginners, but continues to offer a challenge to more advanced players. The idea, Elliott said, first is just to get people to come to the course and play and eventually convert them into a serious golfer. So far, the plan appears to be working among those who've given the Challenge Course a try.   "The 8-inch cup is a novelty," Elliott said. "What we're seeing is that people will try that one or two times, then start playing to the regulation cup."   McGinty admits that the decision to rework an existing golf course and alter a business model made for some nervous moments. But it was a decision that had to be made.   "Sure it did, but we're glad we did it," she said. "We still have the integrity of the golf course, but have made it easier for beginners.    "This is not just about us and growing rounds here. This is about growing the industry, too."
  • A glass half full

    By John Reitman, in News,

    Combine shrinking budgets and diminishing resources with factors such as increased golfer expectations and a contracting industry and it's easy to understand why some superintendents might view the current state of their profession as a glass half empty. Still, there are those who embrace the opportunities that come with challenges, and they believe success hinges on looking at the state of the industry with a more optimistic view.   Doing more with less is not a philosophy confined only to the golf turf maintenance industry. It is a reality driven by competition and economics that faces virtually every industry, and it's one superintendents must learn to embrace, says Bryan Stromme, regional agronomist for Billy Casper Golf.   "I don't understand why so many people in the industry complain about that," Stromme said. "We can't look at it as doing more with less. We have to look at it as being better at what we do. Everything is changing, and I don't think it is for the worse."   For those who find themselves wearing loafers and a tie more often than jeans and boots, Stromme says get used to it.   "If you look at people at Motorola or Apple, do you think they're not looking at how to make their products better? My next iPhone better be faster, better, stronger and lighter," he said. "Those are my expectations. We as an industry have to do the same thing."   Stromme says his employer is always seeking new ways to help its employees succeed.   Those efforts include an internal career development program that allows employees to take college level course work toward a company-sponsored certificate. BCG's focus on helping employees focus on career development has resulted in many hourly workers stepping forward in search of a career.   "We are finding a lot of people on our staffs who want a career," he said. "Careers don't come from making people mow. Careers come from giving people a purpose. If they have purpose, then it all makes sense to them. Then it becomes a career, not just a job."   Gone are the days of superintendents who try to fly under the radar. Standards for turf conditions and competition for golfers simply are too high for superintendents not to play an active and visible role in the overall management of the golf facility.   "This industry always has been one of being out-of-sight, out-of-mind, but that is a slippery slope today," said Chad Mark of The Kirtland Country Club near Cleveland. "Now, it is vital to have that face-to-face interaction with golfers. By the time they see a problem on the golf course, you've already told them about it. You can put out a lot of fires if you are a good communicator."   Matt Shaffer agrees.   Shaffer has seen a lot of changes in his 40-plus years in the business.   When he started as an assistant superintendent 43 years ago, seven-gang pull-behind units with ground-driven reels were the norm and greens were topdressed by hand with a shovel.   Nowadays, says Shaffer, top-shelf communications skills and business acumen must be as common as state-of-the-art five-plex mowers. To be successful today, superintendents have to be visible to golfers and accessible to members.   "During my career (as a superintendent), I was at various times an electrician, mechanic, hydraulic engineer, plumber, carpenter, heavy- and light-equipment operator, landscaper, councilor, accountant, teacher, author, researcher, arborist, agronomist and finally just a plain laborer. When I would try to explain this to someone, their eyes would roll. It is just what we did."
    - Jon Scott, Nicklaus Design
      He recalled a quote by former GCSAA chief executive officer Steve Mona, now with the World Golf Foundation, that went something like this: "Superintendents need to change their image. They do not need someone else telling the members what they accomplished. If you want to make more, then you need to have a different persona."   "That really resonated with me," said Shaffer, who went on to say if he were a younger superintendent he would develop the skills to become a general manager and would have a better golf game that the in-house PGA professional so he could play with and have an audience with members.   "I would make every single member know that I was the man to run it all," he said.    Like Shaffer, Jon Scott has been in the business for more than 40 years, including a total of 16 years with Nicklaus Design, 15 as a superintendent and almost 10 years with the PGA Tour's agronomy division.   The golf boom brought with it, he said, a tiered employment structure that included the advent of the second assistant. With the boom officially over several years ago, Scott says he sees two emerging trends: fewer second assistants and tenured superintendents being pushed out the door and replaced by the first assistant for the sake of cutting costs.   "Today, the median age of the superintendent keeps going down and so are wages and benefits," Scott said. "Fewer people are looking to enter the profession, and those that do are finding a return to the single assistant model. We have come full circle and perhaps settled into a more sustainable model for what being a superintendent is all about. The superintendent profession may have hit its high water mark some years ago."   Given that reality, success in today's leaner economy, Scott says, will superintendents to do their jobs better than ever.   "The new survival skills are going to be a willingness to be more personally hands-on with an emphasis on cross-training and multi-tasking," he said. "At all but the high-end courses, the days of the 20-person staff for 18 holes are coming to an end. Likewise, having the luxury of two assistants, two mechanics, a spray/fertilizer technician, a project foreman and even an administrative assistant is disappearing at many courses. Those jobs still exist, but they are done with fewer people having more diversified abilities. During my career (as a superintendent), I was at various times an electrician, mechanic, hydraulic engineer, plumber, carpenter, heavy- and light-equipment operator, landscaper, councilor, accountant, teacher, author, researcher, arborist, agronomist and finally just a plain laborer. When I would try to explain this to someone, their eyes would roll. It is just what we did. I am seeing a return to this philosophy in my consulting work today. I'm not sure whether to lament or embrace this regression, but it is the reality of the marketplace."   Scott's observations reinforce the philosophy that the superintendent should work to develop the reputation of being the most valued person at any golf course. That means improving business and communications skills and being accepting of change.   "If we're not moving forward that way we are stale. We have to continue to learn," Stromme said.   "You have to develop these skills to thrive. It's about getting back to viewing challenges as opportunity, developing your business side and understanding that everything you do every day is about how you utilize your resources to maximize the experience for your guest."  
  • One of the keys to winning any battle is to know your enemy.
    FMC Professional Solutions has launched a new mobile tool that helps turf managers in the ongoing battle against broadleaf and grassy weeds and sedges.
    The mobile tool, which can be accessed through a smartphone at www.fmcturfadvisor.com, includes a weed-identification tool, chemical solutions finder, contact information for FMC technical specialists and a distributor locator tool.
    The weed-identification tool includes photographs and information on nearly 50 sedges and broadleaf and grassy weeds, including growth habits, detailed physical descriptions and ideal growing conditions for each.
    The chemical solutions finder can be cross referenced by pest type, turf type and weed type and includes in-depth information on nearly 20 herbicides, insecticides, including information on specific pests, tank mixing and downloadable labels and material safety data sheets.
    The tool also allows users to locate specific weed information from FMC technical staff located in their home state.
    Users also can find local vendors by clicking on the ?Find and FMC Distributor? tab.
  • A superintendent working in South Florida once said that good equipment managers once were in such high demand there that superintendents almost made a game out of trying to hire the good ones away from one another. If you have an equipment manager that your colleagues would like to steal away, take that first step toward keeping him by nominating him for the TurfNet Technician of the Year Award, presented by The Toro Co. 
      Criteria on which nominees are judged include: 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.    Previous winners include Brian Sjögren of Corral de Tierra Country Club, Monterey, Calif. (2013); Kevin Bauer, Prairie Bluff Golf Club, Crest Hill, Ill. (2012); Jim Kilgallon, The Connecticut Golf Club, Easton, Conn. (2011); Herb Berg, Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club (2010); Doug Johnson, TPC at Las Colinas, Irving, Texas (2009); Jim Stuart, Stone Mountain (Ga.) Golf Club (2007); Fred Peck, Fox Hollow and The Homestead, Lakewood, Colo. (2006); Jesus Olivas, Heritage Highlands at Dove Mountain, Marana, Ariz. (2005); Henry Heinz, Kalamazoo (Mich.) Country Club (2004); Eric Kulaas, Marriott Vinoy Renaissance Resort, St. Petersburg, Fla. (2003). No award was given in 2008.    Three finalists and a winner will be chosen from a panel of judges and all will be profiled on TurfNet. The winner receives the Golden Wrench Award and an all-expense paid trip to Toro's headquarters in Bloomington, Minn. for a weeklong session at the Toro University Service Training Center.   Click here to nominate your technician, and please provide specific examples of his or her achievements. The nomination deadline is April 30.     
  • If you've been around TurfNet.com at all during the past many years, no doubt you've read about Anthony Williams CGCS a time or two or 10.
    We like Williams, director of grounds at Stone Mountain Golf Club near Atlanta, not just because he's an innovator, because let's face it, all superintendents have to be innovators today to remain employed as greenkeepers. It's not because he's a good manager of people, or makes the most of modest resources. Those traits, too, are required of contemporary superintendents. It's not because of his emphasis on education, or his habits of setting and working to achieve goals. We like Anthony Williams for all of those reasons above and because of his willingness to share what he knows with others.
    A masterful story-teller, Williams is a published author (Environmental Stewardship Toolkit: Wiley, 2012), speaks regularly at national and regional educational conferences, speaks on behalf of his profession to legislators, is a black belt in karate and, most importantly, might have missed his true calling as a motivational speaker.
    Williams' latest project came on the heels of his 50th birthday, and includes setting 50 goals he would like to accomplish before he blows out 51 candles on his next cake. He's called the self-imposed challenge 50@50.
    Williams has written each goal on an index card and keeps the lot in a box on his desk, or as he calls it "a bucket list with a deadline." In true form, it's not enough for Williams simply to attain these goals for his benefit; he wants to share it with others.
    "It took some time and searching for the right mix of things and a system with a catchy title. I knew that I wanted to make some course adjustments at 50 and wanted to build off of some things that I had learned along the way. This seemed perfect and the box keeps the symbol of hope in my face several times a day."
    So, why does he feel the need to share something that, like a New Year's resolution, could easily go unfulfilled?
    Part of the answer is to inspire others to action. It's just what he does. It's a philosophy that Gandhi summed up by saying "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
    "The most obvious answer is that it is harder to give up when others know your true aspirations and walking in truth and transparency is a bit liberating (and sometimes terrifying). There is also the knowledge that others have inspired me to reach for new ground all of my life so in payment of those who taught me the way I tend to try and leave a trail for the next ones who rise up and fly. I look at it as a three-step process: 1. sow good seeds, 2. nurture your networks and 3. launch your legacy.
    The goals are diverse and include both personal and professional objectives, such as donate a day's pay to someone who "needs it more than I do", lose 50 pounds, win another karate tournament, donate to PBS, walk on the beach with his wife and complete Stone Mountain's $585,000 pump station project.
    TurfNet will provide periodic updates to ensure Williams fail in his task, although anyone who knows him realizes there is little chance of that.
  • As course manager at The Mere Golf Resort and Spa near Manchester, England, Gwynn Davies knows a thing or two about managing Poa annua. He also knows how its seedheads can make it difficult to maintain consistent putting conditions across a single green not to mention throughout an entire golf course.   The Parry Meter, a new device manufactured by the British firm iGreenKeeper, could be the next tool for superintendents looking for a way to measure putting surface smoothness and trueness. Developed by greenkeeper and inventor Karl Parry, the Parry Meter is a self-contained, maintenance-free, mobile app-driven device that can record as many as 148 surface readings per second, or more than 18,000 per green.   The iPhone-only app allows the operator to customize settings based on the green that is being measured, local rainfall amounts, current surface conditions, green speed, maintenance levels of each green and height of cut. The phone then plugs directly into a receptacle on the four-wheeled unit. The unit then utilizes the smart-phones internal gyroscope and accelerometer to measure surface smoothness and trueness, with data fed through the app and displayed on the phone?s screen.   "The Parry Meter allows me to make management decisions based on real-time activity on the surfaces like the impact of Poa seed heads, seeing a decline in performance and then acting on my verticutting or brushing," Davies said on the Parry Meter Web site.   While serving as the course manager at Denbigh Golf Club in England, Davies conducted a study in 2012 to quantify how frequency of clip affects surface smoothness and putting conditions utilizing a Jacobsen Eclipse 322 outfitted with 11-blade reels. By using the Parry Meter he was able to show in research conducted on three greens at Denbigh that increasing frequency of clip could improve surface smoothness by up to 8.5 percent.   The iGreenKeeper firm is planning to launch the Parry Meter next month at 10 locations throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. Final pricing is still in the works, and availability here could come later this year.
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