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From the TurfNet NewsDesk

  • John Reitman

    An elusive enemy

    By John Reitman, in News,

    Although zoysiagrasses have been around for more than 100 years, they still encounter, comparatively speaking, some rather new world problems.   Chief among those challenges associated with managing Zoysia japonica and Zoysia matrella for use on golf course fairways is large patch.    "Everything takes place when the turf is dormant or only actively growing enough that we don't see the symptoms right away, so it's difficult to know what is going on and how to get a good handle on it," said Brandon Horvath, Ph.D., turfgrass pathologist at the University of Tennessee. "A lot of work still needs to be done on it. Here at Tennessee we've been interested in conducting efficacy trials on fungicides. The challenge we've had is getting repeatable, reliable disease events and treatment intervals."   A disease of the pathogen Rhizoctonia solani, large patch is a blight of warm-season grasses and is especially troublesome in zoysiagrasses. Symptoms manifest as light green patches that can become yellow and then brown. It typically strikes in fall and spring as the growing season winds down and again begins to heat up. It also affects Bermudagrasses, which typically can recover rather quickly. Zoysiagrasses, however, can be adversely affected for several weeks.   One of the problems associated with large patch is that few things with it are black and white. There are a lot of gray areas when dealing with this disease.   Typically associated with cooler conditions in fall and spring when turf is dormant or just hanging onto active growth, large patch has been detected well into the heart of the growing season.   "There has not been enough research conducted on this pathogen or the disease cycle," Horvath said.    What researchers do know is that outbreaks in fall and spring are two different animals. It is possible, when dealing with infestations in spring, that the grass can naturally grow out of large patch. Outbreaks in the fall, as the turf heads into dormancy, can be devastating if left untreated.   "They are separate. Now, with that said, if you make applications in the fall you lower the probability of a significant outbreak in the spring," Horvath said. "The fall epidemic is in my mind the critical one to control."   Although more research on the topic is needed, the typical treatment includes two preventive fungicide applications. In the fall, the first application should be made when temperatures in early autumn first reach about 70 degrees, with the second coming 28 days later, and ideally when temperatures are still in the low 60s.    The first spring application should be made when temperatures are in the low 60s, with the follow-up coming four weeks later when temperatures, again ideally are at about the 70-degree mark.   DMI fungicides, along with QOI's have been shown to elicit very high rates of success. Still, nothing with large patch is ever absolute.   Megan Kennelly, Ph.D., turfgrass pathologist at Kansas State, told TurfNet last year that disease outbursts even after spraying are not uncommon.   "You can still get some breakthroughs even when you spray," Kennelly said. "Even if you spray multiple times in the fall."   Large patch has been a problem on Meyer zoysia just about since its inception in 1941. Micah Woods, Ph.D., of the Asian Turfgrass Center has written about his observations that show Zoysia japonica to be more susceptible than Zoysia matrella to the disease-causing pathogen. But when outbreaks on the latter do occur in this country it causes more of a stir because of the use of Zoysia matrella as fairway cover on high-end courses throughout the southern end of the transition zone.   "The real challenge for superintendents is a cost issue," Horvath said. "Fungicide applications on fairways in the North, that's just another day in the life. They have to do that if they are a high-end facility. In the transition zone the mindset is that you have to make two applications in the fall and two in the spring, but you don't want to be spraying all the time."   It is important that superintendents and their committees communicate proactively to determine acceptable levels of disease outbreak in fairways and base programs on those expectations and cost factors.   "We have to balance what we can recommend on data that we have with the understanding that the information is imperfect," Horvath said. "We can get good control, but we have to educate golfers and the front office that rarely are there things that are a sure bet.   "That's what we strive to push with our students. You have to communicate what it is that you are doing; what your successes are and what the failures are. The problem isn't disease, the problem is when you hide in your office and pretend there isn't a problem."  
  • Ken Venturi, winner of the 1964 U.S. Open and the voice of golf for CBS Sports for 35 years, died May 17.

    Venturi's son, Matt, broke the news of the death to the San Francisco Chronicle, Venturi's hometown newspaper.

    Venturi, who turned 82 on Wednesday, had been hospitalized for several months in Southern California. His son said he had developed an infection and pneumonia. Venturi had been unable to travel across country to attend his induction ceremony into the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla., on May 6.

    Venturi's U.S. Open victory at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., has long been celebrated for the odds he overcame. On a day when temperatures soared above 100, Venturi survived a 36-hole pressure-cooker and limped home as the champion of the tournament he dreamed of winning all his life.

    Venturi led one of golfs most fascinating lives: tutored by Byron Nelson, a regular golf companion of Ben Hogan, pals with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, and the man whom Gene Sarazen asked to deliver his eulogy.

    Born in San Francisco on May 15, 1931, Venturi learned the game at Harding Park, where his father worked in the pro shop. Venturi became an amateur sensation with a swing to die for and an ego to match his talent. When he bragged of winning a junior tournament, his father shot back, "When youre as good as you are, you can tell everybody. When youre really good, son, theyll tell you."

    Labeled the next "Cant-Miss Kid," Venturi suffered three heartbreaking losses at the Masters, in 1956, 58 and 60. Then, injuries sustained in a car accident in 1961 started a three-year slide, which had him on the brink of giving up. Venturi might have quit, if not for his fathers tough love: "Son, thats the easiest thing in the world to do. Anybody can give up. It takes no talent."

    When Venturi's final putt fell at Congressional, he dropped his putter, raised his arms, removed his trademark white linen cap, and said, "My God, Ive won the U.S. Open."

    It was his finest hour as a golfer.

    "If I could choose to be anyone in the world, Id choose to be me," he said in an interview in 2012. "Ive been very fortunate. The only thing I think about is, I wonder what I couldve done if I hadnt lost the use of my hands."

    Venturi won 14 times, but his playing career was cut short when he was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists. A year after winning the Open in '64, Venturi had an operation on his left hand. In his final trip to the winner's circle, in 1966, he won on the same golf course, Harding Park, where he had learned the game. In 1970, he had surgery on his right hand. The surgery was risky, he explained to his father. "The doctor told me I may lose three fingers," Venturi said. "My father said to me, It doesnt make any difference if you ever play golf again. "

    Venturi asked, "How can you say that?"

    "Because you were the best I ever saw," father told son.

    At last, Venturi had received the parental approval he so deeply desired.

    After the surgery, Venturi asked the doctor if he would ever be able to play golf again.

    "Yes, but never to your standard," he said.

    Even in retirement, Venturi continued to make an impact on the game. He overcame a childhood stammer to broadcast the game for 35 years as a television commentator and analyst for CBS Sports. To a younger generation, Venturi is better remembered as the CBS analyst who sympathized with Greg Normans collapse at the 1996 Masters and delivered an endless array of "Strokesaver" lessons.

    "He became the voice of golf in America's living room," said his broadcast partner, Jim Nantz.
    Venturi also served as the captain of the 2000 U.S. Presidents Cup team, and could hardly restrain his joy when he was finally selected for the World Golf Hall of Fame, in the veterans category.

    "Jack Whitaker was introducing me once at the Waldorf Astoria," Venturi said. "And he said the most beautiful thing: Fate has a way of bending a twig and fashioning a man to his better instincts. I wouldnt trade my life for anything in the world. I know they make a lot today, but Id never trade my era."
    - Adam Schupak, Golfweek
  • TurfNet picked up seven awards, including four first-place entries, at this year's Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association annual Communication Awards contest.
    Jon Kiger won two first-place awards for video work and Peter McCormick took first place in the Writing for Media Kit category.
    Kiger's winning entries were in the categories of Best Short Video/DVD (Superintendent's Best Friend Calendar) and Best CD/Audiovisual Presentation (Rossi on Location in Las Vegas).
    Hector Velazquez, equipment manager at Walnut Creek Country Club in South Lyon, Mich., won first place in the Best Instructional Video/DVD category (Daily Setting of Jacobsen Trueset).
    TurfNet also took second-place or Merit awards in three categories.
    Kiger claimed a Merit award for Best CD/Audiovisual Presentation (2012 TurfNet Outtakes), and John Reitman won a Merit in the New Media category for Water Week 2012.
    Kevin Ross, CGCS, also won second place in the Best Instructional Video/DVD category (Return of the Rock Sled).
    "It's nice to have the efforts of our staff recognized by TOCA with these awards," said Peter McCormick, founder of TurfNet. "But what is really impressive is that the video work of two TurfNet members -- Kevin Ross, CGCS, a golf course superintendent, and Hector Velazquez, an equipment technician -- was honored with awards after being held up against the work of media professionals."
    In its 24th year, the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association is a 200-plus member association comprising editorial, advertising and marketing professionals working in various segments of the green industry.
  • The University of Tennessee turf and ornamental weed science team has developed a new Web site and free mobile app called Mobile Weed Manual for turfgrass managers who need help identifying weeds and finding just the right product to control them.   An online resource for golf course superintendents, athletic field managers, lawn care professionals and homeowners, the Mobile Weed Manual is designed to help users choose herbicides for use in warm- and cool-season turfgrasses and a variety of ornamentals.   End users can search for specific weed pests and the searchable app provides advice on herbicides that are most effective at controlling them.    The site was designed to replace hard copy extension manuals with a Web interface optimized for use on Apple and Android mobile devices.    "The Mobile Weed Manual contains not only weed control efficacy ratings for problematic weeds of turf and ornamentals, but tolerance information for over 2,300 different species, and labels for nearly 100 different herbicides," said Jim Brosnan, Ph.D., assistant professor of turf and ornamental weed science at Tennessee. "This powerful resources places all of this research based information in the palm of your hand."
  • Turf managers and irrigation professionals can hone their irrigation skills at one of several training seminars provided by Rain Bird Services.   Rain Bird Services will conduct more than 20 irrigation-related workshops around the country during the next several months.    Training will follow two tracks: the Rain Bird Factory Trained program will train users on Rain Bird equipment only while the Rain Bird Academy will provide general irrigation training skills that are not manufacturer-specific. Both programs focus on professional level, non-commercial irrigation training and the latter is a boot camp-style program that in a matter of days teaches attendees to design and install their own irrigation systems.   Rain Bird Services also is offering five new Rain Bird Factory Trained courses aimed at light commercial irrigation users. This program includes the following educational tracks: Water Efficient Product Expert, Low Volume Technician, Drainage Technician, Decoder Installer and Residential Installer.   Rain Bird also offers customized training on location for those who are unable to travel to any of the sites listed.   Rain Bird Factory Trained dates and locations are: May 13-17, Apopka, Fla.; May 20-23, Tucson, Ariz.; May 28-30, Denver; June 10-14, Hollywood, Fla., and Apopka; June 17-21, Irvine, Calif.; June 24-28, San Diego; July 8-12, Sacramento, Calif.; July 15-19, Apopka; July 22-26, Santa Maria, Calif.; July 23-26, Tucson; July 29-Aug. 3, San Antonio; Aug. 5-8, Tucson; Aug. 5-9, North Carolina; Aug. 12-14, Tucson; Aug. 12-16, Dublin, Calif.; Aug. 19-23, Seattle; Aug. 26-30, Atlanta; Sept. 16-20, Tucson; Sept. 30-Oct. 3, Tucson.   Rain Bird Academy dates and locations are: May 13-17, Naples, Fla.; June 10-14, Los Angeles; June 10-14, Jacksonville, Fla.; June 17-21, South Carolina and Irvine, Calif.; June 24-28, San Diego and Gainesville, Fla.; July 8-12, Sacramento; July 15-19, Apopka; July 22-26, Columbus, Ohio; Aug. 5-9, Huntsville, Ala., and North Carolina; Aug. 12-16, Riverside and Dublin, Calif.; Aug. 19-23, Seattle; Aug. 26-30, Atlanta; Sept. 16-20, Tucson.
  • Necessity is the mother of invention, at least on some of the golf courses around Chicago.
    When a series of spring showers dumped 8 inches of rain around the city in mid-April, including 3 inches in a 24-hour period, crews at some of the courses relied on the power of teamwork to alleviate flooding. Others waited for engineering and design features to move water off the fairways. And still others, reminded of last summer's lack of rainfall that left courses throughout the Midwest parched, were thankful the back of that drought appeared to officially be broken.
    "This spring was unlike any other I've gone through in recent times. It was cool, wet and constantly raining," said Matt Kregel, superintendent at The Club at Strawberry Creek in Kenosha, Wis., about one hour north of Chicago. "It was constantly raining and we couldn't get out to do much of anything, or not do it well, I should say."
    Nearly 3 inches of rain fell on an already soaked Chicago area on April 17-18, leaving many courses under water, including many of the facilities operated by Billy Casper Golf.
    The Vienna, Va.-based management company manages more than 20 courses throughout Illinois, including a combined 16 for the Chicago Park District and Cook County Forest Preserve. High water is nothing new at the Chicago Park District facilities that hug the shores of Lake Michigan, or the Forest Preserve facilities located in flood plains near the Des Plaines River. And the superintendents there don't wait for the water to rise before springing into action.
    "Our superintendents are used to this, so they don't sit around and wait for it, they prepare for this a couple of days in advance," said Bryan Stromme, regional director of agronomy for Billy Casper Golf.
    "We own a lot of pumps. But when we get rain like that we still rent them. Our superintendents are calling two days ahead of time, because if you wait you'll never get one."
    The Des Plaines River features a series of locks designed to control high water in Chicago's western suburbs. Once locks open sending water downstream, the pumps go into action to clear water from the golf courses.
    Billy Casper Golf also manages the Bridges of Poplar Creek Country Club, a real estate golf course in Hoffman Estates. A recent restoration project there keeps in-play areas on the golf course drier during times of excess rain while also helping to maximize flood control of Poplar Creek, which runs through the property.
    Completed in accord with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other local and state agencies, the restoration included raising fairways to help keep the golf course dry while also expanding the water-holding capacity of catch basins on the property. That allows the golf course to retain large amounts of water for longer periods, then releasing the water back into the creek in manageable levels to prevent flooding in the surrounding neighborhoods.
    Sopped ground has been a concern at Strawberry Creek in Wisconsin as well. Cold, wet weather that included snow late into the spring left turf soaked and brown well past historic green-up time, and April's constant deluge resulted in parts of four holes under water in mid-month.
    "We had all this moisture, the soil temperatures were cold, there was no sunlight. We were dormant for the longest time," Kregel said. "We were playing the waiting game for a while.
    "I know the calendar says May 1, but it's more like March 1."
    Kregel can't do much to change the temperature, but he is able to manage water movement off the course thanks to features installed during course construction in 2004-05.
    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, state department of natural resources and civil engineers designed a three-phase flood control system at Strawberry Creek. That system includes several water-retention areas on the course that capture vast amounts of water during rain events to prevent flooding of nearby residential neighborhoods. A controlled-release system that includes drainage pipes of varying sizes automatically removes water from those areas as water levels in the creek that runs through the property subside. During phase 3, which was realized in April, the system automatically pulls huge amounts of water off the course after water levels in the stream have gone down and stabilized.
    That means fairways that are flooded one day, often are cleared the next, leaving nothing behind but a thin layer of silt, Kregel said.
    "We were flooded one day, and the next day it was gone," Kregel said. "We're lucky. Everything that backs up onto the golf course is released pretty quickly."
    Sam MacKenzie, CGCS at Olympia Fields Country Club also counts himself lucky this spring.
    This time last year, MacKenzie and just about every other superintendent in the Chicago area was on the brink of one of the worst droughts the Midwest has ever seen.
    A little excess water when temperatures are still cool is a minor setback compared to no water and triple-digit heat, he said.
    "Since February, we are at or above normal rainfall levels, and April has been double the normal amount," MacKenzie said. "That's been a good thing here. It's broken the back of the drought.
    "Excessive rain is more of a positive than a negative in light of how dry we've been."
  • Milt Engelke, Ph.D., knows a thing or two about plant genetics. A professor emeritus and plant geneticist at Texas A&M, Engelke is the Godfather of zoysiagrass research, having developed several species, including Diamond and Palisades.
    Through his career researching turfgrasses that help turf managers reduce inputs, Engelke also has developed a passion for sustainability.
    "Water shortages and salinity are things that we are facing in our industry that are going to be absolutely devastating," Engelke said during a presentation the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association annual meeting in Portland, Ore.
    "We're starting to see it, and we're going to see a whole lot more of it."
    Two years ago, Engelke relocated from Dallas to Oregon. Although parts of the state's western corridor receive 60 inches or more of rain per year, rainfall in the Portland area is 8 inches below the historic average, according to the National Weather Service. And some areas of the state, Engelke said, rainfall is off by as much as 14 inches.
    "We're in the middle of the rainy season, and we're 14 inches off ourselves, and the snow pack is way off," Engelke said.
    "We're going to find ourselves in a drought that the Midwest had last year. And we're not so sure that the Midwest is not going to have that drought again."
    Such conditions, Engelke said, are why it is more important than ever to select turfgrass varieties that are best adapted for a specific environment.
    In other words, if shade is an issue, choose turf that is bred for shade tolerance. If drought and water restrictions are a concern, choose a variety developed for drought tolerance.
    When considering factors such as temperature, moisture and light exposure, Engelke said it is equally important to weigh the extremes of these factors and the duration of these extremes, many of which are affected by shifting climate patterns.
    Engelke noted that early in his career the fad in Texas was to install creeping bentgrass putting greens. During the past several years, most of those surfaces have been replaced by one of several warm-season grasses. And that demarcation line is moving farther northward.
    "Being green isn't a St. Patrick's Day event," Engelke said. "It's something that is very, very important."
    More than 5,000 turfgrass varieties have been developed since the Plant Variety Protection Act was enacted on Dec. 24, 1970 to protect crop species, including turfgrass as intellectual property. With so many varieties bred for specific conditions, Engelke recommends that turf managers examine the most recent NTEP trial results for turfgrass varieties for geographic and environmental adaptability.
    "There are a lot of grasses out there that are marketed with a lot of BS," Engelke said.
    "BBS is what I support, and BBS is backed by science.' And that's what we want, to make sure we're not promoting varieties based on BS. We want to make sure we have good science behind them."
  • Golf course superintendents interested in going back to school are invited to apply for one of a dozen slots in the inaugural Healthy Turf, Healthy Tomorrow Plant Health Academy by Bayer Environmental Science.
    Healthy Turf, Healthy Tomorrow is a two-part educational initiative that combines field and classroom instruction all centering around a plant health curriculum designed to provide practical knowledge superintendents can implement on their golf courses.
    Attendees will receive instruction on a wide range of topics related to plant health, including how to measure plant health and its benefits, available treatments and preventive products, and issues such as nutrient, water and pest management.
    The first phase of the program will include field instruction scheduled for Sept. 25-27 at the Bayer Training and Development Center in Clayton, N.C., followed by two days of classroom training set for March 3-5 at GCSAA headquarters in Lawrence, Kan.
    GCSAA Class A and superintendent members who are enrolled in the Bayer Accolades program can apply for one of the 12 slots through June 5 by visiting the Plant Health Academy Web page. Applicants must complete an application and respond to two short-answer essay questions, which will be evaluated by a selection committee of GCSAA and Bayer representatives.
    For more information, visit www.backedbybayer.com.
  • You won't find an Angry Birds app on John Kaminski's iPhone, but that doesn't mean he's not a believer in the power of mobile technology and information sharing. In fact, Kaminski believes that mobile technology could help anyone who with an interest in growing turf with an outlet for identifying turf pests, developing preventive and curative control plans.   Kaminski, who oversees Penn State's two-year turf management program, has been working for the past two-plus years with mobile app creator Mobile Roadie to develop the Turfpath app.   In its first iteration, Turfpath offers users a library of photographic images of common turfgrass diseases as well as weed and insect pests as well as information on each a variety of chemical control options for each pest issue. The app also includes geographic-specific information on outbreaks.   While reference material constitutes the bulk of the information available on Turfpath, its real potential will come in the place of social interaction in future iterations, said Kaminski.   Currently, users can post photographs of weeds or insect pests and interact with others on the site to help identify them or find a cure. Future upgrades will pin those photos to a map via the GPS tracker located in smart phones, Kaminski said. That will allow users to seek geographic-specific information on pest problems. Eventually, said Kaminski, that same capability also will allow him to proactively push geographic updates and warnings about disease and pest outbreaks to users as well.   "The reference material is the meat and potatoes," Kaminski said. "The real power is going to be in sharing information and uploading images.   "I can see where it's going to go when we take it to the next step. That's in iterations 3, 4, 5 and 6. Right now, we're just in iteration 1. What we've done so far has just scratched the surface."   Turfpath is a concept that has been almost three years in the making, said Kaminski, who also has developed the Turfdiseases Web site and blog that includes updates from pathologists located throughout the country. Where Turfpath and the Turfdiseases platforms differ is in the source of the information provided to end users. 
    "The biggest thing is going to be the mapping system and tracking geographic-specific pest problems..." -- John Kaminski
    "The biggest thing is going to be the mapping system and tracking geographic-specific pest problems," he said. "That will allow us to crowd source and harness the power of the end user.   "We will be able to give them what they want and where they want it."   Developed privately by Kaminski, the app (which is not associated with Penn State) is available for the iPhone and Android markets. A version for iPad is due out later this year. It is intended for professional turfgrass managers, such as golf course superintendents, sports field managers, landscape professionals as well as homeowners.   "So many people have answers to these problems," Kaminski said. "You don't have to be a university professor to know these answers. Our power is in crowd sourcing our end users."
  • In an interview prior to the 2002 U.S. Women's Open, former Tim Moraghan, then director of championship agronomy for the USGA, called Prairie Dunes Country Club one of the 10 best golf courses in the world. It's also ranked No. 13 on Golfweek's list of the 100 best classic era (pre 1960) layouts. Much of the credit for such high praise no doubt belongs to architect Perry Maxwell, who designed the course in 1937. Some of that credit also goes to golf course superintendent Stan George.
    George, who was superintendent at the course in Hutchinson, Kan., since 1991, died April 27. He was 57.
    A native of Pittsburg, Kan., George developed a reputation for practicing sustainable golf course management long before it became a catch phrase. Prairie Dunes was as much a wildlife-friendly habitat as it was a destination for scratch golfers. 
    During his time at Prairie Dunes, George was the host superintendent of at least three national championships, including the 1995 U.S. Senior Amateur, '02 Women's Open and the 2006 U.S. Senior Open. He also was a mentor and teacher to dozens of aspiring golf course superintendents.
    A skilled golfer, he was being considered for induction into the Kansas Golf Association Hall of Fame at the time of his death.
    For all of his accomplishments on the course, George also was a giving member of Grace Bible Church and his community, including serving as a volunteer for the Boys and Girls Club, Toys for Tots annual Christmas toy drive and Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
    Survivors include wife Debbie, sons David (Birdie) and Chance and six siblings.
    Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to the Stan George Children's Education Fund, in care of Elliott Mortuary, 1219 North Main, Hutchinson, KS 67501.
  • Repair work to some of the greens at the home of the PGA Tour's Wells Fargo Championship might appear patchy on TV during this year's tournament, but that look should be nothing more than a cosmetic distraction to viewers at home, according to a turfgrass researcher who has spent years monitoring conditions at Quail Hollow Club.   Two of the aging Penn G-2 bentgrass greens at the course in Charlotte, N.C., have been sodded twice in the past three weeks to replace patches of thinned turf. The most recent repair work was performed on April 22, just nine days before the first round of the tournament scheduled for May 1-5.   Since then stories have circulated about the quality of the greens at Quail Hollow, with accounts of club members blaming PGA Tour agronomists for conditions, and a Tour official discounting those accusations. Andy Pazder, the PGA Tour's chief of operations, admitted in published reports that conditions on Nos. 8 and 10 were not up to snuff, necessitating new sod, but went on to say the damage was not the fault of Tour agronomists.   While members take shots at the Tour, Fred Yelverton, Ph.D., professor of crop science at North Carolina State University, said that blame is misguided. The culprit, he said, is a turfgrass variety ill suited for conditions at Quail Hollow.   Yelverton has been working with Quail Hollow superintendents since 1995. He said the two greens in question, as well as the 16 others, should be just fine for the tournament. He and fellow NC State professor Grady Miller, Ph.D., are working with Quail Hollow superintendent Chris Deariso and Tour agronomists to ensure playing conditions worthy of a PGA Tour event.   "All these problems are overstated," Yelverton said. "The greens are going to be just fine."   Although G-2 is a proven performer on many courses around the country for its improved shoot density, overall turf quality and disease resistance, it has been an awkward fit at Quail Hollow, where heat stress prevails for much of the year.    In the 16 years that Quail Hollow superintendents have been growing G-2, segregation has been a consistent problem, resulting in stressed turf, occasional turf loss in random patterns and an overall weakened stand that Yelverton said has become nearly unmanageable. The segregation of G-2 has resulted in contamination from Poa annua, other bentgrass varieties and even some Bermudagrass, and its response to even the most basic management practices has been erratic.   And while some headlines give the illusion the tournament might be decided upon patches of barren soil, Yelverton said conditions could have been far worse if not for the expertise of Deariso and those same PGA Tour agronomists with whom others cast blame.   "They've done an outstanding job," Yelverton said.    "I've been looking at these greens for years, and I've never seen turf segregate like G-2 has at Quail Hollow. And this is key to what everyone with a non-agronomic background is talking about. Because of that segregation, the (G-2's) response to any normal agronomic practice has been unpredictable. I've seen little patches 6 to 8 inches wide turn yellow and die from heat stress while the other 99 percent of the green is fine. And I've never seen that before, and I've never seen it anywhere other than (at Quail Hollow)."   Enough was left from the 42-inch-by-60-foot rolls of sod that some cosmetic work was performed on roll-off areas on Nos. 12 and 13.   Any problems associated with managing G-2 at Quail Hollow, however, soon will be a thing of the past.    Talk of a restoration has swirled for years at Quail Hollow, which last year was named the site of the 2017 PGA Championship. That much-needed restoration will begin later this year and will include regrassing the putting surfaces with an ultradwarf Bermudagrass, probably Champion or MiniVerde, that is better suited for August conditions in North Carolina.    "Everybody involved realized that needed to be done. It was a matter of when it was going to be put on the calendar," Yelverton said. "It wasn't a matter of if, it was a matter of when."   In the meantime, work will focus on rolling the newly sodded greens to ensure a smooth playing surface and minimal sod seams for this year's tournament. Yelverton said Stimpmeter readings for the tournament should be in the range of 10-11 feet, which is plenty of speed for Quail Hollow's undulating greens.   "Everyone needs to move on and enjoy the tournament because it's going to be a good one," Yelverton said. "I'm sure whoever wins on Sunday will think the greens putted just fine."
  • At Grigg Brothers Foliar Fertilizers, they know it takes a community to manage a golf course. Gone are the days when a superintendent could exist on an island. The successful superintendent of today has a vast network of resources to help him get through challenging times. That network includes colleagues at nearby courses or across the country, chapter and association contacts, university extension personnel and online education.   For the past four years, the folks at Grigg Brothers Foliar Fertilizers have recognized the value of distance education for golf course superintendents by sponsoring the TurfNet University Webinar series as well as teaching some of the Webinars.   The Grigg Brothers series of Webinars, all of which are free to TurfNet members and non-members, begins May 30 with Matt Nelson of Grigg Brothers presenting "Managing Soil Chemical Challenges".    In this Webinar, Nelson will discuss the options available to superintendents for managing turf with soil chemical concerns, such as suboptimal pH, high salt content, sodicity, hydrophobicity and nutrient deficiency. His presentation will include solutions for overcoming these issues to produce high quality golf course turf.   Other free Webinars produced by Grigg Brothers this year will include Gary Grigg, CGCS, presenting "Phosphorus Fertilization Strategies and Environmental Fate" and a seminar by Gordon Kauffman III, Ph.D., entitled "Pigmented Produce Use and Current Research" (both TBA, so check back soon for dates).   TurfNet members can click here to register for other members-only Webinars. Or click here to check out our archive page that includes recorded versions of Webinars from 2011-13, including previous presentations from Gary Grigg, Nelson, Kauffman and others from Grigg Brothers.
  • For the fifth year, Syngenta is inviting a select group of U.S. golf course superintendents to attend the Syngenta Business Institute, a four-day professional business development program that provides attendees with graduate school-level business education in a compressed and interactive format.
    Developed in conjunction with the Wake Forest University Schools of Business, the program supplements superintendents' management skills with a curriculum that includes financial management, personnel management, effective communications and negotiating skills delivered in an interactive series of seminars and workshops conducted by members of Wake's MBA faculty.   The Syngenta Business Institute is scheduled for Dec. 6-9 at Graylyn International Conference Center on the Wake Forest campus in Winston-Salem, N.C.   To apply, superintendents must complete an application that includes an essay on why they believe they should be selected to attend. Syngenta will select 25 attendees from its pool of applicants to attend the event. All expenses, including airfare, hotel and meals will be covered by Syngenta. Application deadline is Aug. 20.   Click here for more information or to apply.
  • Matt Shaffer is not a Washington man, but he and nearly two-dozen other superintendents assumed the role for a day on behalf of colleagues everywhere.
      Shaffer, director of golf course operations at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., was one of many superintendents and other representatives from throughout the golf industry to travel to Capitol Hill on April 16 for National Golf Day. The sixth annual event that includes representatives from the GCSAA, PGA of America, USGA, National Golf Course Owners Association, Club Managers Association and the World Golf Foundation, gives golf stakeholders a forum in which they can discuss with legislators and their staffs issues concerning the game and its future.   That laundry list of topics included educating legislators and others on Capitol Hill about the economic benefits of golf as well as promoting the environmental stewardship efforts and sustainable management practices of golf course superintendents.   "At first, I didn't want to go, but then I thought 'how selfish of me,' " Shaffer said.    "My job is to communicate the premise that the golf course superintendent is responsible for the success of golf."   Shaffer recalled firing back to one lawmaker who asked him to define sustainability.    "I told him to pick up the phone and call a guy who has $400,000 to run a golf course," Shaffer said. "He'll tell you all about it, because he has nothing and still makes it all happen."   Many people, including some in Washington, have shaped their opinions about the relationship between golf course management and environmental sustainability by what they read and hear in the mainstream media. But those perceptions are slowly changing, at least inside the halls and offices of the Capitol, said Darren Davis, CGCS at Olde Florida Golf Club in Naples, who was in Washington for his second National Golf Day.   "From last year to this year, it's improving," Davis said. "Many of them are beginning to get it that we are a business, and they're not lumping us as an elitist activity.   "We don't want special treatment. We just want to be treated like any other industry."   Changing the way some view the golf industry has required a constant drum beat of the game's economic data, including 2 million golf-related jobs and a total economic impact of $176 billion annually, according to We Are Golf.   GCSAA president Pat Finlen, CGCS at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, was in Washington for his fourth visit on National Golf Day. During this year's visit he met with, among others, staffers' from the office of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Cal.), who in the past has spoken unfavorably of golf courses and use of pesticides and water.  
    "I can't say all (on Capitol Hill) are getting it, but some are," Finlen said.   "We're making a lot of headway in helping them understand golf is a business."   As a business, the golf industry has needs, and National Golf Day also gives the We Are Golf contingent an opportunity to lobby for other needs.   Shaffer said he and other superintendents in Washington lobbied for relief funding on behalf of East Coast golf courses affected by Hurricane Sandy. Davis noted how certain tax-relief measures now in place for golf courses likely are a direct result of regular attendance by GCSAA members and others on National Golf Day.   GCSAA members also lobbied for a special use exemption for methyl bromide and for changes to pending legislation that would require a state-by-state interpretation of the need to file paperwork when applying pesticides in proximity to water bodies. Like everything in Washington, decisions on legislation and exemptions come slowly, but you can't get what you don't ask for, Davis said.   "The world is run by people who show up," Davis said. Representatives and senators and their staffs are bombarded by people all day who are asking for something. When they go home, they have to defend their position on things relating to golf. They need answers, and we are there for that. We want to be a resource for them in answering questions, and before National Golf Day, they didn't have that. Before, we were talking about it to each other, but that's preaching to the choir.    "Now, I preach that if we want to keep our jobs in an industry that I love we have to talk about its benefits. We have to go forward with a unified voice and mission, because undoubtedly there is strength in numbers."
  • Long before a bomb attack rocked this year's Boston Marathon, the USGA had a comprehensive security plan in place to help ensure a smooth and safe 112th U.S. Open this summer.
      "I am very confident in our security measures and protocols," said USGA spokesman Joe Goode. "Some of them I cannot discuss, because then our security protocols no longer would be secure."   When spectators arrive at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. For this year's U.S. Open scheduled for June 13-16 they can expect to be subjected to strict security measures that are the result of a template the USGA uses to ensure a safe environment at all of its many national championships.   Typically, the USGA works with local, state and federal law-enforcement agencies on safety protocols. In the case of this year's U.S. Open, that list includes the Haverford Township Police Dept., Pennsylvania State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security, Goode said.   "The safety and security of spectators, 200,000 of them expected over the course of the week, the players and their families, the 5,000 volunteers that come out and help stage the event on our behalf, and our staff we take that very seriously."   Large, walk-through magnetrometers, the same devices that scan passengers at airport security checkpoints, will await U.S. Open patrons at Merion's main entrance, and handheld wands will be used at secondary entrances around the perimeter of the property, Goode said. Items forbidden on the Merion grounds during tournament week will include cell phones, smart phones, personal data assistants, mp3 players, tablets, backpacks, coolers and large bags.   Still, the ease with which something like the Boston bombings - in which three people were killed and 176 others were wounded - can be carried out is a reminder that safety protocols for large-scale events must be continually examined and modified to ensure a reasonable amount of safety.   "In our planning we do take into account many contingencies, including the type of threat and the type of incident that unfortunately occurred in Boston," Goode said. "It's always prudent to continuously review these plans to determine if additional measures are necessary, and we're doing that right now. We do that because we have to consider that we a major championship is being conducted in the outdoors in a largely open environment.   "In light of the events at the Boston Marathon we are reviewing our security measures and partnerships with those state, local and federal authorities. And we'd be remiss if we didn't."   Matt Shaffer, director of golf course operations at Merion said tournament director Hank Thompson and his staff have been busy since long before the Boston Marathon ensuring a safe and secure venue for the Open.   "I'm sure what's happened in Boston doesn't give them any extra level of comfort, but the security already is unbelievable," Shaffer said. "Fifty-seven days out (before the Open) and everyone who is working out here is wearing credentials, the property is fenced off in advance, and every law-enforcement agency is in here. If you're not wearing credentials, you get checked and you have to put it on."   One of the first areas of concern for USGA officials, Shaffer said, was the maintenance facility, namely the fertilizer storage area.   Shaffer's crew moved into their new 26,000-square-foot facility in late 2010. It includes a separate storage unit with locked, explosion-proof cabinets specifically for fertilizer.   "We've explained to them that the types of fertilizers we have constitute minimal volatility," Shaffer said. "And, by then our inventory will be low just because we need the space for other things for the Open.   The maintenance facility also is fenced off from the rest of the golf course for the tournament and armed police will guard two entrances to the building during the Open, Shaffer said.   "This site is already secure," he said. "This is truly a secure compound."   Interns also live in housing units in the maintenance facility and an overnight custodian offers an additional layer of security.   Lefty Fleck, who cleans the maintenance facility from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. daily is not your average clean-up crew. A former gunnery sergeant and boxer in the U.S. Marines during the Vietnam War, Fleck also serves as, according to Shaff, a sort of a den mother to Merion's interns.   "If my mother was like that, I'd have been scared to death of her," Shaffer said.    "If I'd known when we built the place that we were going to hire Lefty, we could've save money on gates, because I dare anyone to come in here overnight when he's here."
  • Recognize your tech

    By John Reitman, in News,

    We hear it all the time: Golf course equipment managers are under-appreciated.
      If that's the norm, Kevin Bauer at Prairie Bluff Golf Course near Chicago is the exception.   There was a time when the Lockport Township Park District, where Bauer is the equipment manager, spent tens of thousands of dollars on outside repair work. Today, that budget line item has been reduced to almost nothing, not because of cutbacks, but because of Bauer who oversees equipment maintenance for the park district and all its disparate parts, including Prairie Bluff Golf Course, 40 square miles of parkland and athletic fields, and a park police department.    Although golf course equipment managers might have a reputation for being underappreciated, that is not the case for Bauer, last year's recipient of the TurfNet Technician of the Year Award, presented by Toro.   Upon learning that Bauer had been named the winner of the Golden Wrench Award, parks director Sue Micklevitz threw an awards luncheon that was attended by the entire park district staff, many of who took to the microphone to express their gratitude to their head mechanic.   If your equipment manager is as valuable to your operation as Bauer is to his, then give your mechanic his due and nominate him (or her) for this year's Golden Wrench Award.    The winner receives not only the Golden Wrench, but also a weeklong training session at Toro University at the company's headquarters in Bloomington, Minn., making your highly skilled equipment manager an even more valuable employee.   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.   Three finalists and a winner will be chosen from a panel of judges that include the sitting Tech of the Year winner; Peter McCormick, Jon Kiger, John Reitman and Randy Wilson of TurfNet; Richard McGuinness of Horry-Georgetown University; John Piersol of Florida Gateway College; and former TurfNet contributor and inaugural Golden Wrench winner Eric Kulaas.   Click here to nominate your technician (or someone else's) in 500 words or less. Please provide specific examples of his or her achievements. The nomination deadline is May 1.    Previous winners include 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.
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