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From the TurfNet NewsDesk


  • John Reitman
    Left Hand Robotics introduced the new and improved version of its robotic mower that doubles in winter as a snow-removal device.
    The 2020 model of the RT-1000 can be used to mow common and out-of-play areas helping free up labor for other tasks. 
    Powered by a two-cylinder, 37hp Vanguard engine, the RT-1000 operates over a GPS-mapped route that is accurate within a centimeter, the company says. It is equipped with lights, cameras and lidar and radar sensors so others can see it and that allow it to come to a complete stop when someone or something blocks its path. When the path is clear, the unit automatically starts moving again. Two emergency stop buttons allow a human operator to manually halt the unit if necessary.
    The unit has a width of 34 inches, and at 1,250 pounds, rides on four 20-inch-by-10-inch turf-friendly all terrain tires. 
    With a 5-inch ground clearance, an attachable broom can remove snow up 3 inches in depth over large areas.
  • Golf courses adhering to the guidelines established by We Are Golf will allow seniors to play in the final stages of a phased-in approach to reopening golf. Almost since that moment two months ago when the COVID-19 virus became the only thing all of us talked about, we've been told over and over that golf should be immune to any lockdown restrictions. 
    It's a healthy form of exercise - for everyone.
    It's an outdoor activity that naturally promotes social distancing.
    What could be safer than golf?
    Public health officials in a few states agreed and left golf courses open. Many did not, and ordered their doors closed and the first tee off limits. Now, as restrictions ease and states and local municipalities begin to reopen segments of the economy, including golf courses, a group of industry associations developed a set of guidelines to help ease the process of reopening golf.
    The three-step, phased-in approach by We Are Golf called Back2Golf is endorsed by the PGA Tour, PGA of America, LPGA, NGCOA, CMAA and GCSAA and "outlines operational guidelines for golf's 16,000-plus facilities that adhere to nationally established protocols and best practices."
    Back2Golf's principles are based on general safety guidelines established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including steps for social distancing and sanitizing in high-contact areas. Each phase gradually eases restrictions as state and local governments begin gradually reopening the economy. You can read about all the protocols set for by We Are Golf right here.
    As well-intentioned as this gesture is, some are going to struggle implementing it.

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

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

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

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

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

    The hypocrisy is that the environmentally enlightened anti-golf public has been enjoying the golf course because of how superintendent Brian Nettz and his team maintain it. Social media posts throughout the weekend showed people enjoying the Presidio's beauty, with many saying it should never again reopen as a golf course. They don't like golf courses when golfers are playing them, calling them dangers to the environment, but love them for an afternoon family picnic with the family.
    While picnickers and dog-walkers enjoy the course for free, green fees for city resident golfers range from $47 to $87. And the golfers turn out in droves to support this course that has some of the city's best vistas. According to the park's annual report, 59,000 rounds were played at the Presidio in 2019, making it the city's busiest golf course, Harris said.  Those rounds helped generate a whopping $8.7 million in revenue. But it takes $2 million annually for Nettz and his crew to maintain the course to its current standards. While the walkers pay nothing to use the property, maintenance is severely affected if paying golfers go away.
    "Golfers pay to use that land, the dog-walkers don't pay anything," Harris said. "If you charged people a use fee to use that park, guess what? You won't have as many dog-walkers."
    Syngenta Ariba SLP Project Notofication Letter Standard.pdf
  • Pam Sherratt of Ohio State and Pioneer Athletics are working to help keep kids engaged in STEM activities during self-isolation. Teaching hundreds of college students online as well as two kids studying at home sounds like enough to keep anyone busy.
    Pam Sherratt, the sports turf specialist at Ohio State University is doing both and then some. Aside from teaching nearly 1,000 college students online, as well as a fifth-grader and an eighth-grader stuck at home due to the coronavirus lockdown, Sherratt also is working with Pioneer Athletics to teach kids about lawn care through a series of videos posted to social media. Pioneer Athletics is a supplier in the turf paint business for the sports turf market,
    "The purpose is to try to help parents give kids something they can do at home. An activity to keep them busy and engaged," Sherratt said. "Being a parent home with two kids, helping teach them and do schoolwork while teaching online, it's been a nightmare. I think we're all looking forward to it being over."
    Sherratt often preaches the rule of thirds when mowing golf courses and athletic fields, and the inaugural video in the series is all about proper mowing height, which she says is 3 inches for a home lawn. The second video teaches kids (and their parents) how to measure their lawn, which is important when applying seed, fertilizer, herbicides or any other product. A third video is due to drop any day now.
    Pioneer's James Hlavaty came up with the idea for the video series as a way to keep kids engaged with something related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) while at home under a virus-induced shelter-in-place order. He and Sherratt have known each other since Hlavaty's days with the Cincinnati Bengals, where he was assistant groundskeeper from 2000-2016.
    "He reached out to me because he wanted to do something STEM-related that we could aim at middle school-aged students and their parents," she said. "We've been having fun with it, and it's something that can be fun for kids, too. It also helps me stay relevant to our administrators, so that they can see I'm working from home, and it helps Pioneer Athletics engage with their customers."
    Many of Sherratt's friends, family members and even neighbors have found the videos and have provided feedback that usually includes "I did not know that!"
    Staying relevant with university administrators shouldn't be much of a challenge for Sherratt, who is teaching a total 947 students during the spring semester. She has a combined 597 students in her Sports Turf Management and World of Plants courses. She also has an additional 350 students in Karl Danneberger's popular History of Golf course. Danneberger, as many of you know, was hospitalized at Ohio State from mid-March until April 16 after he was diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus in March. He is scheduled to return to teaching during the summer.
    "All of the content was already created by Karl. Literally, I was posting grades and answering questions," Sherratt said. "Thank God I didn't have to create content. I would have been struggling."
  • As a human resources professional with nearly a quarter-of-a-century of experience, Jodie Cunningham knows a thing or two about managing workforces through a disaster.
    Now the owner of Optimus Talent Partners, Cunningham recently was part of a four-person roundtable of industry professionals addressing stressors caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and the ensuing lockdown that has the entire world living on pins and needles.
    As restrictions begin to ease on playing golf in many parts of the country, Cunningham wants to remind golf course superintendents previously working under self-isolation orders that limited labor resources that there is much to consider while filling out your team, and she created a video and a checklist to help superintendents while they rebuild their teams. Click here to watch the video, and click on the link below or on the thumbnail at right to download the checklist. COVID-19 Back to Work Checklist.pdf
    "There is a tangled web of guidance between CDC, FMLA, emergency paid sick leave, unemployment, ADA, confidentiality with HIPPA, OSHA," Cunningham said in a recent video. There is so much guidance and requirements and responsibilities on your part as the employer, you gotta make sure you get it right."
    Indeed, there are many things to consider: What if an employee exhibits symptoms of the virus, or if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive? What if someone is afraid to return to work? What do you do? What is the right thing to do?
    The checklist can help answer some of those questions.
    "Use the checklist as a guide for things to consider, and it's really important that you're creating some policies and some procedures," Cunningham said.
    "Employees want to feel safe coming back to work. They want to know what you're doing to make sure that the workplace is a safe place for them to be."
  • STEC Equipment sent a team of 10 employees and 10 volunteers to Seneca, South Carolina to help with clean-up efforts after the area was ravaged by tornadoes on April 13. Photos courtesy of David Taylor With much of the country still mired in the coronavirus blues, STEC Equipment will cease to operate as a business and will assume the more important role of being a good neighbor. For a couple of days anyway.
    Today, and maybe again tomorrow, 10 employees from the Anderson, South Carolina company and as many volunteers will take five truckloads of heavy equipment to provide much-need tornado relief to the town of Seneca. When 20 or so tornadoes swept across South Carolina on April 13, Seneca was hit as hard as anyplace. An EF-3 event with 160 mph winds killed one person and damaged or destroyed more than 200 homes, which is a lot in this neck of the woods. 
    With people still under shelter-in-place orders, one-fourth of the town's 8,000 residents still don't have power 10 days after the storm.
    The STEC team is bringing trackhoes, skidsteers, dump trucks, chainsaws, anything they can use to cut up and haul away trees and debris so people there can begin the log road of picking up their lives under unbelievably trying circumstances. 
    "Communities are just devastated," said David Taylor, president of STEC Equipment. "People have to stay home because of Covid. They have no power, their homes are shredded. Nobody has heavy equipment except DOT, and they're busy. Nobody is helping these people. I can't imagine going through this and not being able to find anyone to help you. It's a desperate situation."

    The team from STEC Equipment brought five truckloads of equipment to help clear debris from the recent tornadoes that affected much of South Carolina. From April 11-13, 137 tornadoes touched down from Texas to Maryland, according to the National Weather Service, and killed 32 people. 
    The tornadoes that tore through parts of the Southeast, including much of South Carolina, have left about 300,000 people without electricity. Local utility companies in Seneca and Oconee County estimate some areas will start to come online early next week.
    Taylor hopes the efforts of the STEC crew will help expedite that. Local charities have been busy helping people, but lack the heavy equipment that STEC has.
    "You have people with chainsaws, but they can't remove trees laying across houses and across roads," he said. "They can't get vehicles in and out. We're going to go in, cut them up and move them out so people can start to fix their lives.
    "We're going to go there Friday and go as long as we can or until we run out of gas, and if we have to go back Saturday, we'll do that."
    A couple of people will stay behind to operate the switchboard in Anderson, so STEC customers will still be able to reach the company's offices by phone. Otherwise, everyone will be in Seneca helping people in desperate need of assistance. The financial cost to the company is significant, though Taylor, who also is bringing enough food to feed about 100 locals in Seneca, was quick to deflect any talk about money.
    "I'm a businessman, so I know what that number is, but this isn't about money," Taylor said. "To me that number is irrelevant. We have been fortunate at STEC to be open and working. These people need help. We can help them, and we want to help them. There is no number we can place on being able to help others."
  • To help keep superintendents and others up to date with what the COVID-19 threat means as it relates to some of your partners, we will compile a list of updates from some of your partners. We will update as we receive more information.
    If you find anything to add to this ongoing list, please email jreitman@turfnet.com.
    Jerry Pate Turf and Irrigation
    IVI-Golf
    National Golf Foundation
    Seed Research of Oregon
    Florida Gateway College
    Delta Q Technologies
    Toro
    Global Turf Equipment
    Nufarm
    Par Aide
    Buffalo Turbine
    Club Car
    Corteva
    EarthWorks
    Lasco Fittings
    Otterbine Barebo
    Arborjet
    R&R Products
    Pursell Agri-Tech
    Seago International
    Toro
    ADS
    Hunter Industries
    Bernhard
    Cub Cadet
    FMC
    Site One
    John Deere
    Brandt
    USGA
    BASF
    Barenbrug
    Standard Golf
    DLF Pickseed
    Kubota
    Syngenta
    Occupational Safety and Health Administration
    New York State Turfgrass Association
    Ohio Turfgrass Foundation
    Tennessee Turfgrass Association
    Pure Seed
    Bayer
    Foley United
  • Change scares people. But change that closes one door often results in opportunity when another opens. Just ask the people closest to Tim Glorioso.
    A year ago no one would have accused Glorioso of wearing his emotions on his sleeve. Friendly and polite, but quiet and reserved, Glorioso could be, at times, a tough nut to crack.
    That was, in Glorioso's own terms, the "Old Tim." The one who has been superintendent at Toledo Country Club in Ohio for the past 20 years. The "New Tim", the one we ran into at TurfNet's Beer & Pretzels event in Orlando during the Golf Industry Show, is more outgoing and more emotional. As is often the case, the difference was a life-changing event that affected his health.
    What initially was diagnosed by doctors as a brain tumor turned out to be life-threatening encephalitis that caused severe swelling in his brain.
    "When the neurologist looked at my MRI he told me he thought I'd have two or three days to live," the New Tim said. "He told me 'Tim, you shouldn't be standing here today.' "
    That was last June.
    Thanks to his doctors at St. Luke Hospital in Toledo as well as the Cleveland Clinic, Glorioso is standing today - and still managing the turf at TCC. His rehabilitation is a story of support from his wife, family, club members and colleagues from around northwestern Ohio.
    "This really is an unbelievable story," said Lynette Glorioso, Tim's wife and sweetheart from their days long ago at nearby Willard High School. "Don't get me wrong. It's been a very tough road. 
    "We were told it would be a very tough road, and he still has some trouble remembering some things."
    One of the first red flags that something was wrong occurred one Monday morning last June when Glorioso got lost on the 15-minute drive from his home in Perrysburg to the golf course.
    "It's the exact same drive I've been making every day for the last 18 years," he said. 'I missed the turn and went past the golf course."
    He ended up in a construction zone where he ran over a cone before bringing his car to a stop. A construction worker at the site rapped on the driver's door window and asked him if he had been drinking.
    "I'm not drunk," Glorioso replied. "I'm disoriented. I think I'm sick."
    He had to use his phone's GPS system to find his way to work that morning and again in the afternoon just to get home.
    Just the day before, Lynette had cut short a trip with 30-year-old daughter Carestin when Tim became similarly disoriented during a trip to the pharmacy.
    "I think they were at Walloon Lake in Michigan," Tim said.
    "We were in New York on a wine-tasting trip," Lynette said, illustrating her husband's still-lingering difficulty in remembering small details because of the pressure against his brain caused by encephalitis, which literally translates to inflammation of the brain.
    After becoming lost twice in two days, it was time to see a doctor. The physician at the nearby urgent care clinic took one look at Tim and told the couple he needed to go to a hospital - and soon.
    Tests revealed what Tim and Lynette feared most.
    "The ER doctor told us they had found something in his brain," Lynette said. 'An hour later, they came back and told us it was a tumor.
    "We've been together for 35 years since high school. I went to the bathroom in the ER and just crumbled on the floor."
    Life-saving surgery would be mandatory in a matter of days if Glorioso would ever mow another green.
    "I was thinking I'm done; I'm out," Glorioso said. "You don't hear a lot of positive stories from someone who has a brain tumor. There are some, but they are few and far between."
    The following day, as Glorioso contemplated his fate and his wife solicited prayers from family members and friends, his nurse said the neurosurgeon ordered another test, a spinal tap.
    When he received the results, Dr. Lawrence Spetka, Glorioso's neurosurgeon, entered the room and said "I don't always love my job, but today I love my job," before telling the couple that the diagnosis of a tumor was a mistake.
    Spetka went on to tell them that a diagnosis that shifts from a tumor requiring surgery to a virus that can be treated with medication is indeed quite rare. A second opinion conducted across the state at the Cleveland Clinic confirmed Spetka's findings.
    "This just doesn't happen," Glorioso said. "You don't go from a brain tumor to a virus they can medicate your way out of."
    Not often, anyway.

    Doctors weren't the only ones who rallied to help Glorioso.
    His treatment included three weeks of intravenous treatments three times a day. Each resulted in incredible bouts of fatigue and nausea that left him weak and sick.
    Throughout the ordeal, Glorioso's friends from throughout the industry, including Don Lawrence of Advanced Turf Solutions, Mike Rupp of Harrell's, Greg Pattinson, superintendent at Highland Meadows Golf Club in nearby Sylvania, and Shawn Golz of Baker Equipment, mowed his lawn when he couldn't.
    Eventually, he was able to go back to work, but his struggles were not over.
    Under financial straits in 2018, Toledo Country Club was forced to cut back on benefits last year, including eliminating employee health insurance. Although they were over 50, the Gloriosos didn't give much thought to that. Both are active and fit and bought their own plan on the open market.
    "I'm in the best shape of my life," he said. "I bought a cheap plan. It wasn't very good and it had a high deductible, because it was cheap."
    The plan failed to cover most of the bills associated with his care and ongoing visits to his neurologist.
    When the Northwest Ohio GCSA chapter scheduled its October fundraiser golf tournament, the proceeds were to go to the Wee One Foundation. They ended up splitting the proceeds, donating half to Wee One and half to New Tim. Even club members stopped in the shop to donate money to help with his medical expenses.
    The entire ordeal, including the support he received from so many, finally washed over him when, of all things, he was exercising in a hotel fitness center during last year's Ohio Turfgrass Foundation conference and show.
    "It's overwhelming, this is such a caring industry," Glorioso said. "I have a hard time focusing now, but it really gets my blood flowing. As I was on the elliptical I got worked up. Thank God no one else was in the room, because I started crying.
    "I really am blessed to be part of such a caring industry."
    Although he appreciates what so many have done for him, the New Tim would prefer to have is Old Tim demeanor back.
    "I'm more emotional now. I was never very emotional before," he said. "I don't want to be emotional. I want to be the Old Tim."
    Like Old Tim, Lynette never considered herself to be overly emotional. But she knows some of the things she has seen in New Tim never would have happened before his life-changing experience.
    "Before all this, I'd seen him cry only two times: when his mother died and when his father had open-heart surgery," she said. "I've been with him 35 years, and this is now the new normal. He's told family and friends he loves them, not just an 'I love ya, man,' but sincere. If he had not been through this those words never would have been said. This has taken him places emotionally and he has built deeper relationships because of it. He doesn't like the tears, but it's made a difference in his relationships."
  • I was standing in the lunch buffet line at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, MD (great crab cakes as I recall), during a USGA seminar back in 1995. In only the second year of TurfNet's existence and knowing very few people in the room, I was surprised when a tall, distinguished-looking fellow about my age approached me and stuck out his hand. "Hello, Peter, I'm Walter Montross," he said in his characteristic deep voice. "I just wanted to tell you that I  enjoy TurfNet very much."
    So began a professional relationship and personal friendship that lasted 25 years until yesterday — Easter Sunday and in any normal year, Masters Sunday — when Walter passed away after an almost four-year battle with a rare form of melanoma. He leaves his wife of 38 years, Linda (a retired high school Latin teacher), daughter Tracy (an executive with American Airlines in Charlotte, NC), son Geoff (head golf professional at TPC Potomac at Avenel), and two grandchildren.
    Walter and Geoff attended the TurfNet trip to Bandon Dunes in 2012, as Walter noted in a subsequent email,  "Very much enjoyed our trip. The hospitality was special, the golf was magnificent and time spent with my son was priceless."
    A Maryland native who graduated from the University of Maryland in 1975, Walter was a golf course superintendent in the Mid-Atlantic area for 40+ years. He started under Lee Dieter, CGCS. at Washington Golf & Country Club (Arlington, VA), then went to Springfield (VA) G&CC for eleven years, and in 1990 moved to Westwood Country Club in Vienna, VA until he retired in 2011.

    Linda and Walter Montross Lee Dieter recalled, "Walter supervised the building a state of the art maintenance building at Westwood, and was put in charge of supervising the construction of a new clubhouse. While doing all this supervision he still maintained a spotless and well maintained course. He was a true credit to our profession."
    Also during his tenure at Westwood Country Club, Walter hired an innovative equipment technician with a large personality and a penchant for videography. He subsequently introduced us to Hector Velazquez and the rest, as they say, is history. Hector went on to film almost 100 video segments for TurfNetTV under the Hector's Shop banner.

    Walter filmed an introductory segment for the first tips & tricks videos with Hector Velazquez. Active in industry associations, Walter earned his CGCS status in 1984, was one of the first Americans to earn Master Greenkeeper (MG) status from BIGGA in 2000, and was also a member of the Canadian GSA. He served on the Mid-Atlantic chapter board for 12 years (including president in 1989 and 1999), and received the Virginia chapter's President's Lifetime Service Award in 2006.
    Only six months older than I am, Walter and I compared notes over the years via email or an annual phone call on subjects ranging from retirement strategies to mental health to building a home. We also made sure to connect at Beer & Pretzels every year. Walter always made a point to ask about my family.

    Tracy, Linda, Walter and Geoff Montross, 2012. In the years leading up to his retirement, Walter and Linda built their dream to-be-retirement home in Heathsville, VA, on the Chesapeake Bay, where Walter could pursue his love of fishing, boating, crabbing and an occasional Silver Bullet. He joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary and rose to the rank of Flotilla Commander.
    Shortly after moving to the Northern Neck, Walter sent me the following email and photo:
    "I recently had a bunch of 'old' superintendents down to visit and spend a day on a charter fishing trip. The back story is that around 50 years ago these gentlemen were the first college graduates from turf schools to move into the Washington, DC area. There was even an old Washington Post article announcing them as the 'Young Lions' of the industry. In the mid 1960s they would get together every Tuesday and go charter fishing out of Chesapeake Beach, MD. This continued until the late 1980s when some moved away and others retired. I worked for Mike and Lee and joined the group in 1979 when I became a superintendent. I polled each one about the length of their careers and you are looking at 357 years of service to the golf industry."

    Left to right, pictured are Jack McClenahan, Walter Montross,  Sam Kessel, Dave Fairbank, Mike McKenzie, Tom Haske, George Thompson & Lee Dieter. Early in 2019 Walter shared with me some of the details of his cancer affliction, and retirement.
    "I developed acral melanoma cancer in my left foot  2-1/2 years ago. Surgeries and treatments had been holding things at bay until this past November when additional tumors occurred. I am now in a clinical trial at Duke University Cancer Center. The good news is the new advancements of immunotherapy, especially with regards to melanoma. The other positive is my health has been excellent, except for the cancer.   "Acral melanoma is not usually caused by sun/skin exposure. More often it is genetic or environmental in nature. No family history of this and the genetic markers do not support this. This leaves environmental causes as a possibility. Working on golf courses in the 1960s, the stuff we handled without adequate protection was nasty. There is no way to determine what if anything is the cause but it does make me wonder. By the way Bob Marley died from the same disease, at the age of 38.   "Retirement has been great. We still enjoy our life on the Chesapeake Bay, and fortunately my wife and I did a lot of traveling — including two weeks of cruising the Mediterranean followed by two weeks of driving through Italy and France — and completed a lot of bucket list items right after I retired. Lucky for us we did this prior to the diagnoses and treatments which have kept us fairly close to doctors and hospitals the past two years. Lastly, outside of the first month when I found out about the cancer my outlook has been great. I am determined to win the battle." The Easter morning sunrise over Chesapeake Bay (from Linda's Facebook page).
  • Photo by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat For too many people, sports is a way of life. 
    Happiness hinges on things outside our control - the success, or lack thereof, of our favorite football, hockey, baseball or basketball team, or for others our favorite golfer. We have forgotten that sports are supposed to be fun. When we are children, sports teach values that we can control, like sportsmanship and the value of working together as a team to achieve a common goal. As we get older, they become too much about winning. For others, sports are all about money.
    Need an example? Go to just about any major college campus on a fall Saturday. Go to an Eagles-Cowboys game, Yankees-Red Sox or Blackhawks-Red Wings. Or, follow Tiger around Augusta National on a Sunday afternoon. For that matter, go to a Little League baseball game, or high school football game and listen to the adults and how they chastise umpires, officials and other people's children.
    As we tune in every day to listen as our respective governors and state public health officials provide updates on the COVID-19 threat, they discuss real-world problems such as overrun hospitals, temporary morgues and that many among us won't be here tomorrow. All serve as a reminder that sports are supposed to be a diversion and a source of entertainment, not life-and-death.
    Before coronavirus became part of the current vernacular, who could have imagined a spring without March Madness? Since then, the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball seasons have been suspended until further notice. College football lost its spring practice season, all spring college sports have been canceled and the start of football - both college and the NFL - are up in the air. Golf tournaments are postponed or canceled almost daily leaving us looking longingly at the pro tour schedules like John Kaminski and Bruce Williams monitoring flight delays at the airport as they fall off the board.
    There are other things that are much more important than sports - especially now - like keeping a roof over your head, putting food on the table and worrying about who is going to be around to share the meal.
    Indeed, we are navigating through uncharted territory. We know the destination, but we have no idea how or when we will arrive, or what it will look like when we get there.
    When putting into perspective the threat of a global pandemic that has most of the world on lockdown, it helps to look at the history of championship golf.
    In the 160-year history of the Open Championship, only three things have stood in its way - the Kaiser, Hitler and now COVID-19. Earlier this week, the Royal & Ancient officially canceled this year's Open Championship, marking the first time the tournament has not been contested since World War II (there was no tournament from 1940-45) and only the third time since 1860. 
    The only other time the tournament was stopped was from 1915 to 1919 for another real life-or-death situation - World War I.
    Canceling this year's Open had to be a difficult decision for the R&A, but it was the right one, according to chief executive officer Martin Slumbers when considering everything involved in staging a major championship.
    "Our absolute priority is to protect the health and safety of the fans, players, officials, volunteers and staff involved in The Open," Slumbers said in a news release. "We care deeply about this historic Championship and have made this decision with a heavy heart. We appreciate that this will be disappointing for a great many people around the world but this pandemic is severely affecting the UK and we have to act responsibly. It is the right thing to do.
    "I can assure everyone that we have explored every option for playing The Open this year but it is not going to be possible."
    With every day that passes, the COVID-19 pandemic is teaching us a lot about people, what they believe is important and what is not.

    Mike Gundy, the mullet-wearing football coach at Oklahoma State, says college football players should be able to "fight off" the coronavirus in the name of running money through the state of Oklahoma. Photo via Twitter Professional golf tournaments here and abroad are being postponed or canceled with regularity. The Open Championship will resume (hopefully) in 2021, the U.S. Open at Winged Foot has been moved to September, the PGA Championship has been postponed until August and just this week Augusta National announced that The Masters has been rescheduled for November.
    When Golf Digest recently reported that The Memorial would go on in June at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, without spectators, the tournament director quickly refuted that story. When the tournament will be played and in front of whom has not yet been decided.
    While golf (at least it appears) is taking the high road in coming back from COVID-19, the same cannot be said in some other sports.
    As some of the world's leading scientists and medical experts tell us it is prudent to stay home to stop the spread of this invisible killer, there are voices in other sports that are saying "play ball".
    Details were released this week of a plan by Major League Baseball to play an abbreviated schedule with all games played in Arizona without fans. According to published reports, the plan includes isolation of players and their families. During games, players would sit in the stands and not in a crowded dugout. But, since sports are about money first (or why else play a game with no fans?), what about the people in the TV truck and others needed for a professional game to be played. What about the minor league system that feeds MLB throughout the season when players are injured? How will all of these people be protected?
    It's even worse in college football.
    Clemson coach Dabo Swinney makes a lot of money to win football games. And he wins a lot. Since 2008, Swinney has led his team to 130 wins and taken the Tigers to the College Football Playoff in five of the six years of its existence, winning the national championship in 2017 and 2019 and runner-up finishes in 2016 and 2020.
    When asked how he thought the COVID-19 virus might affect the 2020-21 college football season, he said: "My preference is, let's get to work and let's go play. That's the best-case scenario and I think that's what's going to happen. I don't have any doubt. . . . I mean I have zero doubt that we're going to be playing. The stands are going to be packed and (Clemson's Death) Valley is going to be rocking. Zero doubt. That's the only thought I have, right there. All that rest of the stuff, I don't think about any of that."
    While golf tournaments talk about safety of fans, players, officials, volunteers and staff, the guy at Clemson who earns $9 million a year says it's time for everyone else to toughen up.
    Good thing he's not holding daily briefings on TV.
    Swinney should be thanking Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State's mulletted head coach, who recently voiced his own opinion of the relationship between college football and the coronavirus and made the Clemson coach's comments seem benign by comparison.
    "In my opinion, we need to bring our players back," Gundy said in a recent teleconference. "They are 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 year olds, and they are healthy and they have the ability to fight this virus off. If that is true, then we sequester them and continue, because we need to run money through the state of Oklahoma."
    Even if you don't care about other people, at least pretend that you do during a global health crisis. That will make it easier for Gundy to convince parents he has their sons' best interests at heart during the recruiting season. Otherwise, he is going to have a tough sell.
    Gundy's comments make it clear that he views football players as commodities and not as people. They also show that he has little regard for all the others who make college football what it is today.
    It takes more than 20-something-year-old world-class athletes to stage a televised football game or golf tournament for that matter. It takes media personnel, coaches, assistant coaches, officials, field crew and other support staff, few of whom are 20-something-year-old world-class athletes, and all of whom could be at risk.
    Sports are an important part of the fabric of American culture. Whenever this is over, and none of us know when that will be, sports will be back. Everything might not be exactly the way it was before, but they will be back, and I for one will welcome that day. Until then, they are not worth dying over.
  • John Deere is stepping up to help healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Deere, along with the United Auto Workers, the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, is producing protective face shields at Deere's Seeding Group facility in Moline, Illinois. Deere employees will produce 25,000 face shields to meet the immediate needs of healthcare workers in several of its U.S. manufacturing communities.
    Materials and supplies are on order to produce an additional 200,000 face shields. The company is using an open-source design from the University of Wisconsin for the project and leveraging expertise, skills and innovation of its employee base.   
     
    "Our manufacturing and supply management teams, along with our production and maintenance employees, the UAW, and our partners have worked tirelessly to ensure we could lend our support and protect our health-care workers during this crisis," said John May, chief executive officer of Deere and Co. "By working closely with the communities where our employees live and work, we can help support the needs we've identified close to home and, as the project expands, address additional, urgent needs across the country."
    John Deere Seeding Group employees are supporting the special project and are utilizing extensive and robust safety measures adopted across the company to safeguard employees.
     
    "This is a very proud day for the UAW and our UAW members," said Rory L. Gamble, UAW president. "I want to recognize the hard work that Secretary-Treasurer and Agriculture Implement Department Director Ray Curry and Region 4 Director Ron McInroy contributed to this effort. This included working to put the necessary health and safety provisions in place for our members to begin manufacturing critically-needed face shields for the health-care workers who are on the front lines of this crisis saving lives. We are especially proud of the courageous UAW members who are stepping up to do this critical work."
    The production of protective face shields is one of many initiatives the company and its employees have executed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Efforts in the U.S. have included the following:  
    PPE donations to health care facilities 2:1 employee match program encouraging donations to local food banks and the American Red Cross. Production of approximately 18,000 protective face shields for use by factory employees. Employee volunteerism efforts to sew cloth masks for community members along with a match from the John Deere Foundation for the time invested in this volunteer activity. Launch of a COVID-19 innovations site to share open-source specifications for related projects, including 3D-printed clips to affix face shields to protective bump caps. For more information, visit Deere's Coronavirus Update Center.

  • As the manager of international sales for Brandt's line of turf fertilizer products, Bruce Williams, CGCS, is on the road - a lot. At least he used to be.
    With virtually all of the country on lockdown in response to the COVID-19 threat, Williams, like everyone else, is hunkered down in his home, which in his case is near Barrington, Illinois, a northwest suburb of Chicago. Few people likely have had their schedule affected quite the way he has. He has gone from traveling some 200,000 air miles over at least 125 nights per year to staying home seven days a week.
    "It's been good to be home and get some home cooking," Williams said. "There's been no hoarding that you hear about in the larger cities. It's been pretty calm. There's no shortage of paper towels or toilet paper."
    Just because he's off the road and off an airplane, Williams has plenty to keep him busy at home as he attempts to keep up with Brandt's customers across the world - including Asia, where he spends much of his time.
    "I have about six months of work staring at me to keep me busy," Williams said. 
    His time at home hasn't been all play. He and wife Roxane have been spending time, weather permitting, at open places such as Cook County Forest Preserve parks and taking advantage of their newfound time at home.
    "We're pretty boring, doing jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles," he said.
    While being frugal until the current global health threat is a memory, the Williams have been supporting the local economy by supporting their favorite local dining establishments.
    "Drive-through, carry-out; we want to support local restaurants that we want to be around when this is over," he said. "We've found some new places, and it's fun to try something new."
    Steven Neuliep, director of golf operations at Etowah Valley Golf and Resort in Etowah, North Carolina, is taking advantage of some of his mandated time at home to pursue his goal of attaining Master Greenkeeper designation through the British and International Greenkeepers Association.
    "I am studying and preparing for both the site visit and eventually the examination portions," Neuliep said. "I have already completed compiling all of the information to complete Stage 1, which is the documentation of educational and work experience and plan to send in all of that documentation next week at the latest."
    And when Neuliep isn't preparing for MG status, he is spending some of his time looking for a replacement for the TRX workout he used to do at the local YMCA . . . before it closed in deference to social distancing.
    So far, he's taken up walking more with wife Tammy and he's rediscovered his bicycle.
    The two also have rediscovered the art of discussion.
    "(We are) taking an hour each evening and actually talking to each (other) and turn the TV off," he said "Many times in the past, and not that we were really watching the TV, but it was almost on as a background. While we want to be informed, we are not addicted to watching it every minute in the evening."
    Not everything has been fun and games as people spend more time at home.
    Joe Wachter, superintendent at Glen Echo Country Club in St. Louis is still working 50 hours per week at the golf course. When he's home, he's catching up on household chores.
    "I've delayed painting my foyer and living room over the winter, but will now embark upon getting this done since my wife and I have stopped our trips out to relax and enjoy our local establishments."
    He's grilling out more for himself and wife Beth, but when they do eat out during the stay-home order it's take-out tacos on Friday nights.
    "And," he said, "margaritas at home."
  • Happier days: Gleneagles Golf Course during a disc golf event in 2018. The golf industry is not immune to the ills of the COVID-19 virus, and no place is feeling its effects more than Gleneagles Golf Course.
    Owned by the city of San Francisco, but independently operated for the past 16 years by local businessman Tom Hsieh, Gleneagles is teetering on the brink of closure after California Gov. Gavin Newsom shuttered all non-essential businesses, including golf courses, on March 15. And Hsieh, who has dumped a lot of his own money into maintaining the 1962 Jack Fleming design, is asking for help to make sure the course still is around whenever the coronavirus quarantine is lifted.
    Hsieh has established a gofundme page where he is asking for donations to help keep the property running until he can open for business. So far, he has raised a little more than $1,000 of his $75,000 goal.
    "I am requesting financial assistance from the golf community to help me make it through this crisis. I have paused for two weeks in hopes that we could open again, doing my part in solidarity with small business owners who face certain closure due to this crisis," Hsieh wrote on the gofundme page.  
    "It appears that without financial assistance, I will not be able to continue operating Gleneagles nor will I be able to maintain (it), even minimally in the coming weeks."
    Since the course was forced to close for business, he has had to lay off five of his seven employees, with two people staying on to maintain the golf course. With no money coming in the door, he is not sure how long he can keep it up.
    The city owns six golf properties, including well known Sharp Park and Harding Park facilities, but Gleneagles is the only one that does not receive municipal support. Even in the best of times, making a go of it at Gleneagles has been a struggle for Hsieh, while other municipal properties across town prosper with city support. Since he took over management of the course, Hsieh has invested nearly a half-million dollars in the property located a 3-wood from the former site of Candlestick Park in one of San Francisco’s most impoverished neighborhoods. Hsieh, who has been active in local politics for years, has given back to a community and a neighborhood that needs a lot of help.
    Besides making numerous improvements to the property with help from other Bay-area superintendents, he has worked with a local union to devise a training program that helped at-risk residents learn a trade while simultaneously providing him with low-cost labor.
    He says without help from the local community and the golf industry, he will be unable to keep up his dream of continuing to operate the course for his local community.
    All funds raised, he says, "will be used to keep a small crew working on the grounds, watering the property properly through May and helping us meet other fixed financial obligations. I cannot guarantee that even with your support we will make it to the end but it will give us a fighting chance."
  • Editor's note: Rather than talk about what golf course superintendents and their teams are doing in response to the threat of COVID-19, TurfNet recently talked to a few people throughout the industry for an ongoing series about what they are doing in their newfound time at home.
    For more than 10 years, Sundays at the Tegtmeier house in Des Moines, Iowa, have been reserved for family dinners, but the introduction of the term "social distancing" to everyday vernacular has put those group meals on hold - at least for the time being.
    As people isolate themselves in their homes to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, life hasn't come to a halt, but it sure has changed it quite a bit. Those changes have not been all bad. For many, newfound time at home has helped bring families together in other ways.
    Des Moines Golf and Country Club remains open for play, so Rick Tegtmeier and his team are working every day while still practicing social distancing. The only other place he frequents is the grocery store. Otherwise, he and wife, Sherry, have been staying close to home.
    "This past Sunday we canceled our weekly family dinner. That one hurt," he said. "We are playing cribbage against each other again. We haven't done that for a long time."
    Some activities have required a bit more innovation, like building a new table for the deck, watching on Facetime as a friend hit golf balls into a pasture, and sitting in the driveway celebrating Happy Hour, while shouting to their neighbor across the street.
    "He had gone on spring break and was keeping his distance from everyone," Tegtmeier said.
    More than 600 miles away in Dublin, Ohio, Chad Mark, like Tegtmeier, has been busy at the golf course. When he is not at work at Muirfield Village Golf Club, he is polishing up his athletic skills.
    A longtime high school basketball coach, Mark and his sons, Drew, Ryan and Brett, stay busy playing hoops in the driveway. With gyms in Ohio closed, he's boxing using the Title Boxing system to get in his workouts.
    "My wife, April, has done a great job structuring their day. Get school work done and get outside to work on sports," Mark said. "April and I have gone for more walks in the neighborhood, and we notice more people are outside."
    University of Tennessee turfgrass pathologist Brandon Horvath and his family have spent much more time together during the past couple of weeks. Dinner time has been better - home-cooked meals and no fast food, as well as conversation at the table - because everyone isn't rushing off to soccer practice or games.
    Instead of racing off to the soccer fields, he and 15-year-old son, Alex, (pictured at right) have spent more time together, beating up on each other playing Rocket League, a soccer video game. The games tend to get a little intense, but all in the spirit of good sportsmanship.
    He's also started reading more and time home with family has helped him appreciate things all of us tend to take for granted from time to time.
    "Everything is just a little slower right now," Horvath said. "I've gotten back to reading. It's been a while since I've read a book cover to cover. I pick up books, skim through them and read a few chapters, then I get bored or I don't have time to finish them. Now, I have time.
    "I've realized during this how much we take for granted and how quickly it can be taken away. I'm more appreciative of the little pleasures."
    Ryan Gordon, superintendent at The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge near Seattle, says he hasn't really discovered any new activities, but has embraced the lost art of quality family time at home.
    That has included he and wife Liz helping their 10-year-old son, Knox, plan his distance learning, doing puzzles and baking cookies. 
    "I don't remember the last time I baked anything," Gordon said via email. "I've also enjoyed having Knox teach me to play some of his video games and sitting across from my wife in a comfortable chair chatting while she works on jigsaw puzzles. Our family meals are much more elaborate, delicious and the conversation at the dinner table has been better because we are not all rushing off to the next thing - baseball practice, email or picking up that thing at the big-box store somewhere."
    Their video game of choice so far has been Fortnite.
    "Overall, it's been a bigger emphasis on quality over quantity," he said. "People are figuring out what's essential and what's not. All the white noise is slowly fading away."
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