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From the TurfNet NewsDesk

  • John Reitman
    With winter weather patterns returning to more historic norms throughout much of the country this year, it was only a matter of time before those conditions cut into the gains made in rounds played a year ago.   In fact, year-over-year rounds played in January were down in every state but two in Golf Datatech's National Golf Rounds Played Report. January play was up by 2.6 percent in Florida and 1.8 percent in South Carolina compared with the same month last year. Losses compared with last year's record warm winter ranged from less than 1 percent in Washington to 88 percent in Connecticut, North Dakota and South Dakota.   The report measures self-reported rounds played at 3,035 private and daily fee facilities in 49 states (excluding Alaska).    Regionally, rounds played were down 66 percent in New England (where Connecticut saw the greatest dropoff), 48 percent in the plains states, 51 percent in the Midwest, 21 percent in the south central U.S., 18 percent in the Mountain west, 9 percent in the Mid-Atlantic and Pacific Northwest and less than 1 percent in the Southeast.    For a bit of perspective, rounds played in January 2012 were up by 2,400 percent in Iowa, 1,500 percent in the Dakotas, 1,200 percent in Nebraska, 740 percent in Michigan and 419 percent in Ohio compared with the same month in 2011.   In those same locations this year rounds were down in January by 77 percent in Iowa, 88 percent in the Dakotas, 63 percent in Nebraska, 70 percent in Michigan and 33 percent in Ohio. That means although losses were significant in many parts of the country in January, many of those areas still are ahead of 2011.   According to last month's report, rounds played were up 5.7 percent throughout 2012. Those numbers are similar to those found in the most recent National Golf Foundation study that reported a 6.1 percent increase in rounds played last year.  
  • In its effort to support turfgrass education, Jacobsen recently donated new walking greens mowers to 13 university turfgrass programs.
    The donations will help students complete research trials as well allow them an opportunity to learn on some of the most up to date equipment in the turfgrass industry. Eclipse walking greens mowers recently were delivered to turf programs at Clemson University, Texas A&M University, Auburn University, Penn State, University of Florida, Ohio State University, Mississippi State University, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, Cornell University, Delaware Valley College, Gateway Community College and North Georgia Technical College.
    "At The Ohio State University's turfgrass science program, our classes revolve around what professionals say you'll need to succeed as a turfgrass manager," said Karl Danneberger, Ph.D., professor of horticulture and crop science. "Giving our students access to professional Jacobsen equipment really shortens the learning curve by giving them a real-life taste of what they'll be doing in the field."
    The Jacobsen Eclipse features variable frequency-of-clip, onboard backlapping and a choice of either hybrid or battery drive.
  • Bob Brame does not claim to carry a crystal ball. But as director of the USGA Green Section's North Central Region, he's been around the game enough to know that he doesn't need one to predict issues that will affect golf course superintendents from year to year. Taking a look at the past often provides enough clues to get a glimpse into the future.
      "Looking at the past is the key to previewing the future," Brame said at the recent Ohio Turf Foundation Spring Tee Off held at Ohio State University. "Where you've bumped your head on an issue in the past, you want to avoid that in the future."   Recent challenges to plague golf courses and superintendents, such as extreme heat, too much rain, too little rain and disease outbreaks associated with mowing too low during times of stress, Brame said, reaffirm the need for an established set of golf course maintenance standards. Such a guide, he said, can provide superintendents with a template for how to react to a host of issues, from establishing acceptable levels of disease outbreak to dealing with prolonged drought conditions, as well as work proactively day to day to avoid them as much as possible in the first place.   In other words, it is easier to respond to golfers' rants about dormant fairways in 100-degree heat in September when a superintendent has published maintenance standards that spell out a drought-response plan - that does not include a new irrigation system.   "Control what you can and create the best foundation possible and realize that things are going to get through even when you're doing everything right," Brame said. "But when you're doing things right and you have a good foundation, those incidents are going to be reduced."
    "Control what you can and create the best foundation possible and realize that things are going to get through even when you're doing everything right..."
    Recent playing seasons throughout the Midwest, Northeast and transition zone have been highlighted by extremely hot summers that are too wet one year and too dry the next. Throw in a virtually non-existent winter a year ago and that meant no offseason for a lot of golf courses that desperately needed one. Golf courses throughout many parts of the country ran critically short of water last summer thanks to an extended playing season coupled with droughtlike conditions. Many of those same courses in the Midwest and even into the Southeast haven't seen their irrigation ponds recharge to acceptable levels heading into this golf season.   Brame said he has visited many clubs in the past year that had to spend a portion of their 2012 seasonal labor budget before the season ever was expected to begin thanks to abnormally warm conditions that kept golf courses across the Midwest open almost year-round. For some, that tapped budget meant compromising on agronomic practices late in the season. Maintenance standards can spell out where such concessions, if any, can be made or how to pay for surprise expenses like seasonal labor in the offseason.   "Last winter forced guys to do maintenance in March that they weren't planning on doing and bringing in help they weren't planning on bringing in," Brame said. "That has quite and impact on the budget. If we start early and end early, then you can catch up, but the last few years we've been running pretty long into the fall. All of a sudden, you're faced with how you're going to balance that out. Do you just stop spending, or are less things going to get done?"   Maintenance standards also can help guide a superintendent through more of the day-to-day tasks of managing a golf course.   Among the most important aspects of the game to core golfers are firm, fast greens. What most of them don't know is that there are ways to coax speed out of greens during the summer that do not include dangerously low mowing heights that can make cool-season turf more susceptible to summer stress.    Brame noted how a program of light, frequent topdressing coupled with a slight increase in height of cut can, over time, result in green speeds consistent with a lower height of cut. Several research studies also show that a program of lightweight rolling, reduced mowing frequency and higher height of cut can produce firm and fast greens and a healthier plant even in July and August.   Brame acknowledges that it can be difficult to get buy-in for maintenance standards from club stakeholders. The key to starting the process and ultimately getting standards approved is education, he said. That's where Brame and his colleagues, or university extension specialists can help. The Green Section is adding a service, due to be implemented this year, that will include helping clubs established maintenance guidelines.
    "It can be difficult to get buy-in for maintenance standards from club stakeholders. The key to starting the process and ultimately getting standards approved is education..."
    Any set of maintenance standards also should include an aerification schedule and information about why it is a critical tool in maintaining long-term turf health.   "That's one of those practices that golfers are never going to like, but it's never going to go away," said Brame.   He's heard golfers ask during a site visit: "You did it three times last year, why do you need to do it this year?" he said.   "As soon as you are done (aerifying), you start losing the value of it."    Maintenance standards can help in other ways as well, he said.   Throughout his many site visits, Brame often is vexed by how many courses have inferior or outdated irrigation system, lack a full-time (or maybe even part-time) irrigation tech but have members who become irritated when they see club employees hand-watering in August and September.   Demonstrating the benefits of an irrigation tech, up-to-date irrigation system and the need for hand-watering can help get all included into a set of maintenance standards, he said.    "The politics and economics are always going to be there," Brame said. "But in my mind that further illustrates the importance (of maintenance standards)."
  • Bird's eye view

    By John Reitman, in News,

    Monitoring the happenings high atop the trees in Tennessee's Harrison Bay State Park has resulted in some recent highs and lows and the constant reminder that nothing in life, even tomorrow, is guaranteed.
      Two years ago, a pair of bald eagles first were spotted near The Bear Trace golf course within the park. They gained worldwide acclaim when park ranger Angelo Giasante, a former Army ranger, shimmied up the tree and installed a Web cam so people everywhere could get a birds-eye view of how a nesting pair of bald eagles really live thanks to the efforts of a group known as the Friends of Harrison Bay .   Named Elliott and Eloise by Hannah Carter, daughter of Bear Trace superintendent Paul Carter, CGCS, the eagles have had mixed results in their attempts to successfully hatch eaglets. In 2011, a pair of eaglets hatched and eventually flew the coop, so to speak. Last year, however, the results were not as positive.   Two eggs, laid February 11 and 14, hatched March 16, but neither eaglet survived the process. This year, the Web cam is back in place and the couple is again keeping vigil over the nest after Eloise laid another pair of eggs.   The eggs, which were laid Feb. 10 and 13, are expected to hatch about March 17.   Last year, the golf course received a Governor's Environmental Stewardship Award from Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam for Carter's work in the pursuit of sustainability. The award specifically mentioned the Eagle Cam project as a factor in the course winning the award.   In its 26th year, the Governor's Environmental Stewardship Awards program recognizes exceptional voluntary actions that improve or protect Tennessee's environment and natural resources with projects or initiatives not required by law or regulation.     According to the Web site www.baldeagleinfo.com and the American Bald Eagle Foundation [http://baldeagles.org/home], both the male and female share time guarding and incubating the nest for an average of 35 days before the eggs hatch. Once an endangered species, bald eagles are on the rebound thanks to conservation efforts that have resulted in an estimated 7,000-plus pairs now nesting in every state except Hawaii.    The Friends of Harrison Bay Eagle Project is a cooperative effort of The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay, Harrison Bay State Park and the USGA.
  • For a couple of years now Larry Stowell, Ph.D., and Wendy Gelernter, Ph.D., the founders of Pace Turf, have been treating golf course superintendents to their series of video tips that focus on common season turf management advice.
      For even longer, they have been teaching these same principals in the annual Pace Turf Research Seminar. The 12th annual event is scheduled for April 1 at the Catamaran Resort and Hotel in San Diego.    Keynote speaker will be psychologist Dr. Rich Hycner, who will speak on managing the emotional stress under which professional turf managers operate.   Other speakers will include John Kaminski, Ph.D., of Pennsylvania State University, Craig Kessler of the Southern California Golf Association, Tyler Mock of the University of California, Riverside, Jeff Jensen of the GCSAA, and Bruce Williams, CGCS, of the California Turfgrass and Landscape Foundation. Topics will include objective advice relating to current research on disease, weed and insect control, and soil and water management.   Registration is $165 in advance and $195 at the door. The event typically attracts about 125 professional turfgrass managers.   Founded in 1993, Pace is a research service that provides education and science-based solutions and expert advice to professional turfgrass managers.   For more information, or to register, email Wendy Gelernter or call her at 858-272-9897.  
  • Quali-Pro launches Negate herbicide

    Quali-Pro, a division of Control Solutions Inc., launched Negate 37WG herbicide.
    With the active ingredients metsulfuron-methyl and rimsulfuron, Negate 37WG is a wettable granular formulation labeled for control of more than 35 grassy and broadleaf weeds in warm-season grasses.
    Negate works by inhibiting the growth enzyme acetolactate synthase and moves systemically through the plant by absorption through the foliage and the roots.
    For more information, visit www.quali-pro.com/negate.

    Netafim adds dripline-building app

    Netafim USA has released a free mobile application for use with iPhone and Android devices. The Techline Calculator app is an irrigation system design program that calculates and displays project specifications and recommends products for an efficient dripline plan.
    The user enters the square footage of the area that needs to be irrigated (whether a garden or turf grass), along with the soil type, and the program does the rest. This includes calculating dripline length, placement, flow requirements, application rates and run times.
    The Techline Calculator additionally provides a list of components required for the installation, indicating which filter or pressure regulator is needed, even the quantity of staples.
    For more information, visit www.netafimusa.com.

    Georgia DNR recognizes superintendent's efforts

    Billy Rousey from Arrowhead Pointe State Park Golf Course near Elberton, Ga. was named Golf Course Superintendent of the Year by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
    He received the award during a recent conference held by the Georgia State Park system and the Friends of Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites.
    According to state park golf course operations manager Arnie Page, Rousey was chosen for his "hard work and dedication" in maintaining the golf courses at Highland Walk and then Arrowhead Pointe after being named acting superintendent.
  • Throughout his travels, USGA Green Section agronomist Brian Whitlark says he tells superintendents "you can't manage what you can't measure."
      Superintendents often hear members grouse that areas on greens are too fast, or too slow. But the slope in those areas of question often is so great that there isn't enough flat space to get an accurate reading of speed using a traditional Stimpmeter. Although the superintendent manages that area like the rest of the green, the actual reading is merely a guess.   To that end, the USGA recently released an updated version of the Stimpmeter designed to help superintendents take accurate readings in areas they previously couldn't before.   A traditional Stimpmeter requires a minimum of 10 to 15 feet of flat surface in two directions to get an accurate reading, but the 2X allows superintendents to determine accurate green speeds in half the distance simply by multiplying the reading by 2, according to the USGA. Tested in closed settings and in the field, the 2X results in readings that are extremely accurate, the USGA says.   The USGA made the 2X available in January. At first glance superintendents might not notice much of a difference between the new version of the Stimpmeter and their old one. Both are 36 inches long, and both have a notch 30 inches from the end that releases a golf ball when the bar is raised to an angle of 22 degrees.    It's on the flip side where superintendents will notice what's new. The other side also has a notch, but this one is located halfway down the chute. It also releases the golf ball when raised to an angle of 22 degrees, but since the ball gets a shorter head start it does not roll as far. Instead of measuring green speed over 10 to 15 feet, the 2X can do so in as little as 7 or 8 feet.   "If one green is not rolling the same as the others, you'll now have the information to determine if you need an extra mow or roll if it's too slow, or to put down water if it's too fast," Whitlark said. "Before, you wouldn't have the information to make those decisions."   Steve Quintavalla, Ph.D., of the USGA Research and Test Center developed the 2X in cooperation with the Green Section. A prototype was tested in a controlled environment in New Jersey before being tested in the field in 2012.    One such test site was The Olympic Club in San Francisco, where Whitlark used it daily during preparation for last year's U.S. Open. To test the accuracy of the 2X, Whitlark said he used it on Olympic's 10th green, among the flattest on the Lake Course. The 2X readings were virtually identical to those derived by using the 1X or traditional Stimpmeter on long, flat runs.   The new tool, the USGA says, finally gives superintendents the ability to accurately determine green speed in areas they could not do so before.    "With the 1X (traditional Stimpmeter) you have to have a good-size area to roll in both directions," said the Green Section's Bob Brame. "With the 2X the area you need is half. It's going to allow you to check speeds on some greens you couldn't check in the past, and that's a good thing."   As with the traditional Stimpmeter, the 2X was designed not to maximize green speed but to achieve consistent conditions over the entire putting surface, and using it should enable superintendents to achieve consistent conditions to within 8 inches throughout all 18 greens, Whitlark said.   "When a member comes to you and asks why No. 5 is faster, you'll have that number and you can answer that it is faster, or that it's just slope," Whitlark said. "Without that number, you're just guessing just like they are."   Whitlark says that superintendents still should use the longer side when measuring green speed when there is sufficient flat surface available.   "If you can get a speed using the 1X, then you should still use that," Whitlark said. "You always want the ball to roll on as much green as possible."   The 2X Stimpmeter is available through the USGA for $110, or for $75 for those who trade in their traditional Stimpmeter (regardless of its manufacturer).
  • The R&A might be steeped in hundreds of years of golf tradition, but one doesn't stay relevant for that long by doing the same thing over and over.
      To help courses meet the economic and environmental challenges of the 21st century, the game's ruling body (outside the U.S. and Mexico) has developed an online tool that helps superintendents, owners, operators and other managers track facility revenue and expenses related to course management.   CourseTracker is a free tool that the R&A says securely helps managers track relevant course data and generate charts and reports suitable for use in meetings. The system was developed, according to the R&A, in response to growing environmental and economic challenges facing golf facilities around the world.    After establishing a free account, users are asked to enter data such as revenue and revenue type; rounds played; expenses related to items such as salary of green staff, fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, seed and sod, equipment, fuel and electricity; and depreciation.   Once a course profile is complete, CourseTracker can produce executive summary, income and expenditure reports. Information is stored for easy updating in the future. All information is submitted subjectively, so the accuracy of reports and charts depends on the accuracy of the information entered into the system.   CourseTracker also can compare a property's performance against other facilities with a similar profile.   All information, according to the R&A, is kept confidential and anonymous.    The system can be utilized by managers of multi-course operations and can be customized for access by more than one user.
  • Sudden impact

    By John Reitman, in News,

    It hasn't taken Tom Tokarski long to make an impact at Butler's Golf Course.   Even though he has been at the Pittsburgh-area course for less than two years, Tokarski was named the Billy Casper Golf 2012 superintendent of the year at the company's annual conference held recently in Tampa, Fla.   Billy Casper Golf is the country's largest multi-course owner operator, with a portfolio of more than 140 golf course, country club and resort properties. Casper took over management of Butler's Golf Course in Elizabeth Township in April 2011, and at that time brought Tokarski over to manage the course built in 1928 by John Butler.    Billy Casper Golf recognized six other individuals from its agronomic team: Assistant Superintendent of the Year, Jake Valentine, Lincoln Hills Golf Club, Lincoln, Calif.; Most Improved Course, RedGate Golf Course, Rockville, Md., Agronomic Rookie of the Year, Jim Prucnal, Lake Monticello Golf Course, Palmyra, Va.; Environmental Stewardship Award, Mark Murphy, General's Ridge Golf Course, Manassas Park, Va.; Bang for the Buck Award, Bryan Kreger, Hilltop Golf Course, Plymouth Township, Mich.; Team Player of the Year, Jon Lanier, Desert Rose Golf Course, Las Vegas.   Awards were given in several other categories, including the company's highest honor Facility of the Year. That award, presented by former golfing great Billy Casper, went to Royce Brook Golf Club in Hillsborough, N.J.    Royce Brook GM Dan Guinle also was named the company's top general manager.   Sanctuary Lake and Sylvan Glen, both of Troy, Mich., were named Top Performer of the Year, and St. Johns Golf and Country Club in St. Augustine, Fla., won Casper's ACE the Guest Experience Award, which signifies superior customer service. Awards also were presented to those in business office and golf shop operations.
  • News and people briefs

    By John Reitman, in News,

    Echo introduces quiet, powerful backpack blower

    Echo Inc. recently released its most powerful, low-noise backpack blower, the PB-760LN.
    Outfitted with a larger muffler packed with more sound-deadening insulation and a mid-pipe baffle, the PB-760LN has a sound output of 65 dB(A). The design also virtually eliminates the whining sound generated by the main impeller fan.
    The PB-760LN also features air volume of 535 cubic feet per minute at 214 mph.
    For more information, visit www.echo-usa.com.


    Miltona vexes bare spots with hex plugger

    Miltona has developed its Hex-Plugger turf-repair tool to help professional turf managers restore areas of damaged turf without creating bare spots.
    The Hex-Plugger cuts standard, 7-inch hexagonal plugs that weave together like pieces of a puzzle, eliminating bare spots caused from using round plug cutters.
    The design helps turf establish more rapidly in areas under and reduces the threat of weed pressure in bare spots.
    For more information, visit www.miltona.com.


    GCSAA taking applications for chapter outreach

    Applications are being accepted for the GCSAAs Chapter Outreach Grant program.
    The program was established to help chapters engage in activities that complement its efforts to communicate the value of membership to golfers and employers.
    Applications, which are reviewed by members of the GCSAA Strategic Communications Committee and GCSAA staff, are due by April 15.
    Criteria on which applications are judged include: the chapter must start its outreach activities within 12 months of receiving the grant funds; outreach activities should address the key messages and be directed to employers and avid golfers; funds must be directed to future programs only; chapters must provide matching or support funding and a follow-up report of the program to be included in a GCSAA database; o that GCSAA can create a database of case studies and best management practices (failure to complete follow-up report will render a chapter ineligible for future grants).
    Applications must be signed by the chapter president or one other officer or staff member. GCSAA reserves the right to request return of funds if not used according to means as detailed on application. 
    For more information, visit www.gcsaa.org.
  • Another year of drought?

    By John Reitman, in News,

    The drought that overwhelmed much of the central United States the past two summers might be making an encore. That's bad news for golf courses that have yet to rebound from the dry conditions they faced in 2011 and 2012.
      "For a lot of guys, their wells are not back up yet, and their holding ponds are not back to full capacity," said Andy Morris, superintendent at the Country Club of Peoria in central Illinois.    "If we're struggling before we even hit the stress period, well, if you just sneeze out there on the golf course you're going to open it up to all kinds of disease pressure."   The bad news for turf managers came on Valentine's Day from a panel of experts speaking to the U.S. Senate committee on agriculture, nutrition and forestry.   "The continuing conditions really look like they're setting up for a very similar level of drought in the Midwest and West," Roger Pulwarty of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told the committee.   Drought of historic levels the past two years has decimated agricultural output throughout the Midwest and was equally damaging to golf courses throughout the nation's heartland. The NOAA called it the worst drought since the 1930s Dust Bowl.   Water-use restrictions for golf courses were common throughout the Midwest last summer, and some courses in parts of Illinois had their water turned off completely with predictable results.   Morris is fortunate that he is able to buy potable water from the city of Peoria Heights, but even he is waiting for the day that his supply is turned off. He had to cut usage last year by 25 percent because the city couldn't pump water from wells to holding tanks quickly enough to meet demand during the driest part of the summer. He had blown his water budget for the year by June. Typically, he has enough money in the coffer to buy water through September, and sometimes into October. Last year, the club had to spend more to get the course through the summer with live turf.   "If you have to do that one year, the club looks at it as just one of those things," Morris said. "But if you have to do it a second year, or maybe a third, it puts a lot of pressure on the club and the superintendent.   "I tell people I love my job, but the past two years I haven't liked it very much. The stress of getting through the summer has been exhausting."   Farther north in the Chicago area, some superintendents already are preparing for another hot, dry summer. Billy Casper Golf, which manages dozens of courses throughout the country, including more than 20 in the Chicago area, regularly conducts educational seminars for its superintendents. One scheduled next month for the country's Midwestern superintendents will focus on helping attendees get the most from existing irrigation systems so they can manage water more efficiently.   Rationing water to keep turf alive in September was common throughout the Chicago area, said Bryan Stromme, Midwest regional director of agronomy with Billy Casper Golf.   "You'd water to keep it alive, not lush green," Stromme said. "It was dormant turf, but it was alive."   Many of the courses in the Chicago Park District have older irrigation systems, including single-row designs. That meant dragging hoses throughout the summer, Stromme said.   Like their cousins downstate, many courses in Chicago are beginning the season at a disadvantage. Water levels in ponds and wells still are down, and weakened turf throughout much of 2012 means many facilities will have little margin for error this year. Getting off to a strong start will mean tweaking agronomic practices before the season begins, which last year in Chicago came six weeks earlier than the historic average.   "We're going to make sure everyone (in the Chicago Park District) has the right fertility, and we'll be using a lot of wetting agents," Stromme said. "I'm fortunate to have a solid team of superintendents who all have worked hard to build solid agronomic programs."
  • Meet New Norm

    By John Reitman, in News,

    Meet New Norm. No, he's not a guy planted at the end of the bar who swigs beer all day. New Norm is the slimmed down version of the Golf Industry Show, and it looks like he's here to stay for a while, so you might want to get acquainted. In fact, New Norm is forcing just about everyone in the golf industry  to find new and better ways of doing business, or risk going the way of New Orleans' chances of regaining a slot on the Golf Industry Show rotation.
      A few years ago, 2009 to be exact, declining GIS attendance was blamed in part on an environment of apathy created by the pros and cons of spending a week in New Orleans vs. a week on the job at the golf course. For many superintendents, staying at work won out. At first glance, that was bad news for a show one year removed from record attendance. In reality, it was no more than a sign of the times that now pervades just about every industry, not just golf.    Detractors of GIS New Orleans fell into two camps: the city was too dirty and too dangerous for such a trade show, causing many to take a pass on the Big Easy; and too many of those who did attend couldn't seem to find their way from the French Quarter to the Morial Convention Center. Either way, many show vendors and GCSAA members decided it was time for a change, and New Orleans' slot on the GIS rotation was officially up for grabs.   The early prognosis was simply to move the show from New Orleans and hope that New Norm might disappear before anyone had a chance to meet him. No one told New Norm.   What so many failed to recognize then was that a dragging economy created largely by the real estate boom and bust - which was closely tied to golf course construction - was creating before our very eyes a long-term demand for a smaller version of the Golf Industry Show. Golf courses began closing, taking jobs with them. Clubs quit paying for travel and more vendors than you might realize began finding it difficult to justify the expense of exhibiting at a national trade show, all conspiring to give New Norm an invitation for an extended stay. Although New Norm might have been born in New Orleans, he has become a seasoned traveler since 2009.    According to the GCSAA, attendance at this year's Golf Industry Show in San Diego was 13,192 with 6,018 qualified buyers, and 517 vendors occupying 172,900 square feet in the San Diego Convention Center. That's 1,514 fewer attendees than attended last year's show in Las Vegas. It's also 1,050 fewer qualified buyers and 24 fewer vendors occupying 4,400 less square feet of exhibit space.   Did we mention New Norm loves Vegas?   Three years ago, the last time the show was in San Diego, attendance was 16,156 with 7,029 qualified buyers - defined as those who possess a checkbook and the authority to use it for on-the-spot purchases on the trade show floor. A total of 665 vendors rented 204,300 square feet of exhibit space at that edition of GIS. That means 3,264 fewer people, and 1011 fewer qualified buyers, attended the 2013 show in San Diego compared with the 2010 version. A total of 148 fewer vendors showed up this year as well. And they rented booth space that was 31,400 square feet smaller than in 2010.   New Norm is so SoCal.    Although he should have been long gone by now, New Norm likely will be looking forward to a mid-winter trip to Orlando next year and San Antonio in 2015. He's hard to miss, so you'll recognize him when you see him.   The reality of the Golf Industry Show is that while the trade show pays the bills, the education is the draw for superintendents. But you can't have one without the other. This complex dilemma is why floor traffic typically is brisk in the morning and lags in the afternoon. It was that way in the days of New Norm's predecessor, Old Norm. You remember him. He was bloated and inefficient and was easy to spot with what seemed at the time to be an endless supply of cash spilling out of the pockets of his ill-fitting trousers. But at least the compressed two-day schedule ensures some decent morning floor traffic before attendees check out to play golf. Anyone who laments afternoon traffic, or lack of it, hasn't been paying attention or is suffering from memory loss. Remember Saturdays during Old Norm's three-day format? No one wants that again, especially New Norm.   New Norm was a phrase GCSAA chief executive officer Rhett Evans used during a GIS news conference to describe the status of the show, noting that the trimmed down version allows the association to consider venues it never could have with the older, fatter, bloated version of Norm. In fact, there was a time when taking Old Norm anywhere outside Orlando, where record attendance in 2008 topped 25,000, was like trying to stuff a watermelon into a banana peel. No matter how much you tried, he just didn't fit in anywhere else.   Although attendance has dropped by nearly 50 percent since the days of Old Norm, the presence of New Norm is a reminder that success in business requires changing with the times, and the times most definitely are changing.That means casting off the mindset of doing things a certain way "because that's the way we've always done it." New Norm means everyone in the business must find new revenue streams and seek out new ways to be competitive. That includes private clubs, daily fee facilities, industry vendors and those of us who report on all of the above.    When you meet New Norm, you might want to introduce yourself. After all, he's going to be here for a while.
  • Brown might be the new green, but not all golfers necessarily feel that way.
    Becker Underwood has produced two informational videos posted to YouTube that can help superintendents impart the benefits of turf colorants to golfing members, committees and supervisors.

    explains how colorants can help keep cool-season turf green later into the fall as well as provide consistent color during spring green-up. In that video, Becker Underwoods Mark Howieson, Ph.D., also explains how colorants can help superintendents produce green turf all year in the South without overseeding. 
    In the second video, entitled
    , Howieson explains to viewers the importance of proper timing when applying colorants. 
    Applying colorants after turf growth has slowed but is still actively growing, the natural hue of the grass promotes a base color that off-color, dormant turf cannot provide.
    Each of the videos is less than 2 minutes in length, and both can be linked from a superintendent blog or club Web site, and can be viewed during committee meetings.
  • News and people briefs

    By John Reitman, in News,

    Hunter Industries BOD names new president
      Hunter Industries' board of directors has named Greg Hunter as the company's new president.   He replaces Richard Hunter, who is retiring after 19 years in that role.   With his father, Edwin, and siblings Paul and Ann, Richard Hunter in the 1980s helped start the company that manufactures irrigation equipment and landscape lighting accessories.   Greg Hunter has served in the company's marketing, information systems, product management and engineering departments.   For more information, visit www.hunterindustries.com.   Grigg Bros. offer improved Ultraplex formulation
      Grigg Brothers recently introduced an improved formulation of its foliar fertilizer Ultraplex 4-0-3 + 2% Fe and Micros.   This reformulated version of Ultraplex includes additional biostimulants, amino acids, organic acids and the sea plant extract ascophyllum nodosum.    It also includes a water buffering agent, macro nutrients and a micronutrient package consisting of iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper and boron, as well as a non-ionic, organic surfactant for improved leaf coverage and absorption.   Ultraplex utilizes Grigg Brothers' elicitor technology and can be used in all seasons.   For more information, visit www.griggbros.com.   Valent's Clipper aquatic herbicide now available
      One of the highlights at the Valent Professional Products booth at this year's Golf Industry Show was the announcement that its Clipper aquatic herbicide soon would be introduced to the golf market for use in ponds.   Just two weeks after GIS, Clipper now is available to superintendents who need another tool to control aquatic plants in water bodies on golf courses.   With the active ingredient flumioxazin, Clipper is a fast-working herbicide that is labeled for control of troublesome aquatic plants such as duckweed and watermeal.    Clipper is available in a water-dispersible formulation, does not require perfect application coverage for maximum results. Results normally are observed within three to five days of application.   For more information, visit www.valentpro.com.
  • Year of ups and downs

    By John Reitman, in News,

    A nearly 6 percent increase in rounds played in 2012 is not quite a sign that golf is out of the economic woods, but given the industry's wave of uncertainty the past five years, the news of increased demand certainly is cause for some tempered optimism.   According to Golf Datatech's Monthly Rounds Played Report for December, there was a 5.7 percent increase in year-over-year rounds played in 2012. That statistic is derived from a monthly self-reported survey of 3,285 private clubs and daily fee facilities nationwide.    While Golf Datatech and the National Golf Foundation use many of the same statistics in calculating the health of the industry, NGF's industry report is not expected until March. However, Datatech's projections would mean there were almost 490 million rounds played last year, bringing participation back to 2008 levels.   While demand finally is perking up, NGF's report will all but confirm that the contraction of supply has run on for a seventh straight year.   In their annual State of the Golf Industry report given last month at the PGA Merchandise Show, industry analyst Jim Koppenhaver and Stuart Lindsay estimate that 13.5 new 18-hole equivalents were built in 2012, while 154.5 closed their doors, meaning a projected net loss of 141 18-hole equivalents.   If those numbers hold true it would mean a net loss of about 516 18-hole equivalents since 2006,when the trend of negative growth began. That number is one-half to one-third of the number of golf facilities that industry analysts say must go away before supply-demand equilibrium is achieved.   Koppenhaver says the game faces three challenges to remain a vibrant industry: how to attract women, minorities, juniors and those aged 25-44; how to retain golfers in the game; and how to convince everyone who is not a retiree to play more than just a couple of rounds per year (2.5 million golfers play just one round per year).   Much of the increase in demand could be attributed to the mild winter that dominated much of the country in 2011-12. Koppenhaver tracks what he calls Golf Playable Hours, essentially an inventory of all the daylight hours in which one could play golf factored against climatic influences, such as wind, rain, snow and severe cold, in 45 geographic regions throughout the country. There was a 7.9 percent increase in golf playable hours in 2012 compared with 2011, with 36 of 45 geographic regions showing gains throughout the year. Eight other regions were neutral and only one, Hawaii, showed a reduction in golf playable hours. However, according to Koppenhaver and Lindsay, if every golfer played just one additional round per year it would result in a 5 percent increase in rounds played.   One troubling statistic is that although there was an increase in rounds played in 2012, the industry continues to lose golfers. NGF predicts that about 1 percent of golfers left the game in 2012, but Koppenhaver paints a different picture, projecting that the game shed 2 million players last year a loss of 7 percent. And the population of golfers is becoming older. Men over age 50 constitute 60 percent of all rounds played, and those in the 25-44 age group, once one of the industry's strengths, are leaving the game at an alarming rate.   According to Lindsay of Edgehill Golf Advisors, 45 percent of all golfers fell into that 25-44 age group in 1992. By 2001, that number had fallen to 41 percent and today it is down to just 31 percent. In 2001, there were 11 million golfers in that age group. Today, that number is trending at 6.4 million.   Lindsay noted that many people were introduced to the game as caddies, but that the lack of demand for that service has eliminated exposure to that age group.   Equally disturbing is that play among blacks and Hispanics dropped by 67 percent last year.   Retailers, however, hardly are noticing golfers leaving the game. In fact, according to Koppenhaver, retail sales of equipment have returned to 2009 levels as consumers continue to take advantage of the technological advances of new balls and sticks.
  • For professional turf managers who want to dial in on water use in tight areas, Toro has introduced its Thinwall Dripline Ideal system.
    The Thinwall system is designed for use as a subsurface drip irrigation source for those who prefer a flat, molded emitter inside an extruded, thin-walled tube.
    Initially designed for use in the agricultural market, dripline irrigation has morphed into a popular application for use in bunker faces and other tight areas in golf course turf.
    Features include: flat, molded emitter that is resistant to plugging even when used with poor-quality irrigation water; requires 120-mesh filtration to minimize clogging; is available in 10-, 13- and 15-mil wall thicknesses, and 5/8- and 7/8-inch internal diameters; is available in five emitter flow rates, including 0.16, 0.25, 0.30, 0.47 and 0.75 GPH, to accommodate various soil conditions and system flow requirements; an extruded tube constructed from ultra-high-strength materials; is compatible with all Toro Pro-Loc tape fittings.
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