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From the TurfNet NewsDesk


  • John Reitman
    Fred Gehrisch, CGCS at Highland Falls Country Club in North Carolina, is working with state and local officials to identify potential new employees. Fred Gehrisch has always been more about finding solutions than stewing over problems.
     
    When others began to find it difficult to attract assistants, interns and seasonal help, Gehrisch took a different approach, focusing on his recruiting efforts to ensure new hires got the most out of their time at Highland Falls Country Club in Highlands, North Carolina. He tailored job listings to communicate what applicants would get from the experience, rather than what was expected of them.
    "A lot of the ads I read all sound the same," Gehrisch told TurfNet in 2016. "They're cookie-cutter: 'Here is the job, here is the course. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.' Hiring an assistant is a sales job in two directions. They have to sell themselves to you, but by God, you better be selling what you have to them. You have to prove that you are just as worthy of their investment in your club. Tell them what you are going to do for them. Tell them that you are going to teach them to be a golf course manager, that you are going to teach them to be a leader. Tell them you are going to take them to trade shows and teach them the business of golf course management. Tell them the club is going to invest in them and their future."
    In the post-pandemic golf economy, in which most courses have a surplus of players on the golf course and a shortage of workers managing it, Gehrisch again is seeking new and better ways to find employees. 
    Highland Falls is in the early stages of working with state and local officials on ways to find and attract potential employees who might be seeking to learn a trade but have no idea work on a golf course is even a career option.
    Those efforts include working with the North Carolina State Board of Education on implementing a registered apprenticeship program, and a Workforce Development Board program designed to retrain people who have fallen out of the labor force for a variety of reasons.
    He also is working with local schools to offer field days in hopes of making kids aware that there are careers in golf.
    "Most people don't even know they can do this for a living," Gehrisch said. 
    The apprenticeship program, run in cooperation with the state's public schools system, is targeted toward those who will not attend college, but still need to learn a trade. It offers a mix of on-the-job training and classroom curriculum. 
    The state's Workforce Development Board, which falls under the North Carolina Department of Commerce umbrella, seeks to train those dropouts, veterans, those with addiction problems or have had any other employment issues.
    "When it comes to finding employees, I can't look my board in the eye and say I've tried everything I could to solve this problem if I didn't really try everything," Gehrisch said. "So, we're going to try it."
    Highland Falls is not immune to many of the labor issues that plague other golf courses. Located in a remote area of North Carolina, the city of Highlands is an isolated upscale community, and most employees at the club cannot afford to live there, so they have to commute from a long way away. With one K-12 school in the local community, there is not a large local pool of potential workers from which to draw.
    To solve the housing challenges that so many clubs encounter, Highland Falls offers on-site housing for up to 15 employees and has secured apartments in town for another 10 workers. A renovation project will increase the number of beds for on-site housing.
    "The problem for superintendents is we are used to seeing inputs into a problem and seeing an immediate result," Gehrisch said. "(Finding workers) is not like that. We have to be patient.
    "We have to be proactive in letting kids know we are here and you can do this for a living."
  • When Californians faced mandated water-use restrictions during a six-year drought, groundwater, which was immune from the cutbacks, slipped through the cracks, literally.
    A bill introduced by California Assembly member Steve Bennett of Ventura would permit new well-drilling projects only after proof is provided that they will not harm drinking water or otherwise obstruct sustainable groundwater management.
    AB 2201, known as the "Community Drinking Water Protection Act," is moving through the state Senate, where it faces opposition from some agricultural organizations and water districts.
    Permits for new wells are determined by county governments, which are not required to consider groundwater sustainability when granting them. This is why more than 6,200 new agricultural wells have been drilled throughout California since 2014.
    The bill is aimed at counties in California's Central Valley and Central Coast, which are among the world's most fertile agricultural regions and where new wells have been permitted in high-priority basins, the law would also apply to the sinking of new wells in medium priority basins as well. There is a chance the bill can be amended to apply only to the higher priority groundwater basins, leaving those basins currently in a state of replenishment, such as the golf-centric Coachella Valley, outside the confines of the additional regulatory hurdles.
    Introduced in February, AB 2201 passed the full Assembly by a vote of 44-24 (10 abstentions) on May 23, and was referred to the Senate.
  • For nearly a century, the German company Kress has been a leader in the manufacturing of electric batteries and now professional turf care equipment. 
    A staple in the European market for decades, Kress is expanding its line of professional equipment for the turf industry into the North American market.
    Today, Kress makes a full line of battery-operated outdoor power equipment and small-area autonomous mowers.
    Leveraging the brand’s German engineering and design heritage, Kress will introduce commercial-grade turf management and other outdoor power equipment for turfgrass management professionals in the U.S. and Canada interested in transitioning from gas-powered equipment.
    Founded in 1928, Kress launched to the European market clean, quiet, professional- grade tools. Today, with the brand’s introduction to North America, Kress's proprietary technologies will now be available to turf management professionals in the U.S. and Canada.
    "For decades, Kress has demonstrated its quality, durability and innovation in the European markets," said Don Gao, CEO of Positec Group, the parent company of Kress.
    Kress will make its entry into the North American market at the Equip Exposition (formerly the GIE+Expo) in October in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • With water-use restrictions and fertilizer and pesticide bans making headlines on a regular basis, it is difficult to argue against the benefits of a BMP program.
    Golf course superintendents do not have to adopt or become certified in a BMP to be a good steward of the environment. So, anyone who raises the question of "what's in it for me?" when it comes to BMP certification need only look at Florida for an answer.
    The BMP program developed by faculty from the University of Florida for the state's golf course superintendents officially became law there on July 1. House Bill 967, known as the Golf Course Best Management Practices Certification was introduced Dec. 17, 2021. It was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis on June 20 and became law July 1. The bill passed through the Florida House of Representatives 112-1 on March 2 and the Senate 38-0.
    "When it was introduced, I was a little surprised it made it," said Bryan Unruh, Ph.D., professor at the University of Florida and associate center director of the West Florida Research and Education Center in Jay, Florida. "I was really surprised it passed both chambers with one no vote."
    The bill provides some level of relief for superintendents who are certified in the UF BMP program that has been adopted by the state's GCSA chapter. Certified superintendents are exempt for some restrictive ordinances, such as fertilizer bans and rules regulating water use.
    There are more than 100 fertilizer bans on the books in Florida.
    "Golf was getting really close to being included in those," Unruh said. "Most prohibit fertilizer applications from May through October. "I'm not sure how you manage a golf course in Florida if you can't apply fertilizer from May through October."
    The law does not provide blanket immunity, however.
    The bill does not provide relief in areas adjacent to Basin Management Action Plan areas, sensitive watersheds that fall under the Clean Water Act of 1972.
    "This is an important step," Unruh said. "It is important to remember this does not give superintendents carte blanche in every situation."
    The inaugural version of Florida's BMP program, which Unruh helped write, was developed 15 years ago. It served as the bones for a national BMP program that Unruh and his colleagues at UF were charged with writing. The program was brought online during the pandemic and is currently in the process of being updated.
    Participation in the BMP program has been on the uptick since the bill was signed into law by the governor.
    "This is a huge win. It recognizes the hard work of golf course superintendents, but it's not a carte blanche exemption," Unruh said. 
    "Superintendents have to be part of the solution. Just because you have a book on the shelf, it doesn't make you part of the solution."
  • After more than a year as a golf course owner and superintendent, Matthew Woodcock has learned a lot. 
    With two seasons of ideal putting conditions under extreme weather conditions and record play, Woodcock, 32, has learned that many of the decisions he has made as owner-operator (along with wife Jill) of Old Erie Golf Club in Durhamville, New York, have been spot on. 
    "We just had the first measurable rain in three weeks, and the greens have never looked better," Woodcock said.
    "Last July, we had 13 inches of rain. It was the wettest since they've been keeping records, and the hottest, and the greens were as good as they've ever been. From one extreme to the other, and the place looks great."
    He also has learned that the jury is still out on some of the other decisions he has made.
    Woodcock, 32, spent almost every waking hour in 2021 at the golf course. He knew it was time to make a change for the sake of work-life balance when he missed his son's baseball season and his daughter Ellis informed him in a not-so-direct way that he was spending too much time at the golf course.
    "I brought her to the golf course and she asked where my bed was," Woodcock said. 
    "I was never home when she went to bed at night, and I wasn't there when she got up in the morning. She thought I was spending nights at the golf course. I'm living the dream. Well, I'm living someone's dream."
    The time focused on the golf course can take its toll.
    About the time this story was published, Woodcock spent the night in the hospital when it was thought he might have had a heart attack. Fortunately, those concerns were unfounded and he was home again the following day.
    Keeping Old Erie playable is not without its challenges on and off the golf course. Whether it is too much rain or not enough, pumping water from any of seven surface water ponds, learning the ins and outs of being a business owner on the fly, making agronomic decisions under severe conditions or doing all of the above with barely enough people to keep a putt-putt course in top shape.
    That laundry list is a big reason why Woodcock spends so much time at the course. Woodcock does everything from change cups to mow to tending bar and cooking hot dogs.
    "It's not hard work, but it's a lot of work," Woodcock said. "I have to get up at 4 or 5 or whenever it takes to get it done.
    "I have four kids and a wife who are depending on me to get this done."
    Woodcock does not have a lot of help, but in this business it is more about quality than quantity.
    Woodcock's team consists of one regular employee and two seasonal high school students, who came on last year just weeks before the start of the school year.

    Sasquatch is the unofficial mascot of Old Erie. Photos by Matthew Woodcock "Everything took a turn here the day they showed up," Woodcock said of his high school help. "They treat everything like it's theirs. This year, they showed up at the beginning of the season, and we were able to hit the ground running.
    Quality help allows Woodcock to take care of some of the cultural practices that help keep Old Erie playable, rain or shine, like aerifying twice a year and verticutting monthly.
    Good help also helps him reclaim some of his personal life.
    This year, he coached his son's baseball team.
    "In the last year-and-a-half, I've learned a lot more about agronomy than business. I've also learned that I have to let some things go," Woodcock said. 
    "Last year, I wasn't able to attend my son's baseball practice. This year, I was able to step away and coach my son's baseball team."
    Not only was he the coach, but the course was the team's sponsor, and the team name was a play off Old Erie's unofficial mascot - Sasquatch. 
    Every team huddle ended with a "1-2-3-Sasquatch!"

    Jill and Matthew Woodcock, 4th of July 2022. Baseball aside, Woodcock is still logging a lot of time at the golf course where his focus is on growing the business further. Rounds and revenue were up by 10 percent in 2021. So far in 2022, play and revenue are up by 45 percent over last year's numbers.
    "As much as I'd like to get up at 3 a.m. and have everything finished by 9 a.m., that's not possible," he said. 
    He still tends bar for tournaments, wants to add more tournaments and events, is working to boost Old Erie's budding junior program and more. Much more.
    "When I say this, I know my wife is probably going to kill me," Woodcock said. "In five to 10 years, I think I want to buy another golf course."
  • H. Burton Musser, left, and Joe Duich in the early days of bentgrass development. Nearly a decade ago, Pat Duich had an idea to start a scholarship fund that would honor her late husband's name and legacy of training the next generation of golf course superintendents. To fulfill that goal, she turned to her husband's good friend; someone with a track record of managing a non-profit entity.
    Today, Frank Dobie oversees the Joseph M. Duich Scholarship Fund, that for seven years has been helping students at Penn State pay for their education. The award, which started at $1,000 in 2016, has grown by $500 each year. This year's award recipient, Ryan Trudeau, the assistant superintendent at the Maidstone Club, received $3,500 to help complete his education at Penn State.
    "The Duich Scholarship is awarded to the top graduating student in the Golf Course Turfgrass Management Program. The award is given to a student that exemplifies the values that Dr. Duich instilled in his students from the start of the program at Penn State," said John Kaminski, Ph.D., Director, Golf Course Turfgrass Management Program. "The large monetary portion of the award is also a great way to help the recent graduate as they start their careers.
    Recipients are chosen based largely on their achievements in the classroom, said Dobie, himself a 1960 graduate of the two-year program at Penn State.
    "My goal was for the award to be based on merit," Dobie said. "So, it usually comes in the student's second year of the program."
    Duich was a professor and world-renown plant breeder at Penn State from 1955 until his retirement in 1991. He also developed the university's two-year program and the royalties off the turfgrasses he developed helped fund and build the turfgrass program at Penn State into what it is today. Throughout his career, he taught more than 6,000 students, including Dobie. He died in 2013, but his legacy lives on today.
    Although the two became friends, Dobie said Duich was an intimidating presence in the classroom.
    "Joe could scare the piss out of you," Dobie said.
    That classroom demeanor was meant to prepare students to be successful in life as grass growers and as people.
    "I remember walking the floor with him at the GCSAA show, and he would be stopped every five feet by someone, and he always remembered their names," Dobie said. "He told me never to pass by someone and not take time to acknowledge them."
    When he was asked to set up the Duich scholarship fund, Dobie already had been president of the Musser Foundation since 1988. Named for the late H. Burton Musser, professor emeritus of agronomy at Penn State, The Musser International Turfgrass Foundation was organized as a 501(c)(3) organization to promote turfgrass as a profession, recognize the contributions of its namesake and promote learning at all levels in the turfgrass industry.
    The Duich Scholarship Fund operates under the Musser Foundation umbrella.
    "That way, we didn't have to set up a separate 501(c)(3)," Dobie said.
    Also serving on the committee are Duich's widow Pat, son Michael, daughter Kathy Brennan, and superintendents Jeff Markow, Marsh Benson, Mark Kuhns, Matt Schaffer and Jerred Golden.
    The fund, which generates income through donations and fundraisers has grown to more than $172,000 since it was established in 2014. 
    "We've raised quite a bit through donations and fundraisers," Dobie said. "We spend only the interest and the dividends, not the principal." 
  • Kip Tyler was a trend-setter throughout his career as a golf course superintendent.
    The longest-tenured superintendent on Massachusetts' North Shore (1982-2019) in golf's modern era, he retired as one of just two New England superintendents to have hosted three USGA championships spanning the last 40 years (1984 U.S. Women's Open, 2001 and 2017 U.S. Senior Opens), joining Bill Spence, who hosted three events at The Country Club (1988 U.S. Open, 1995 U.S. Women's Amateur, 2013 U.S. Men's Amateur). Only Skip Wogan, who was at Essex County Club from 1914 to 1957, was a superintendent longer.
    He also was the winner of the second TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award, in 2001.
    A native of Columbus, Ohio, Tyler died July 24 at his home in Newburyport, Massachusetts after battling brain cancer. He was 68.
    Tyler graduated from the Ohio State turf program and was an avid Buckeyes football fan. After graduating from Ohio State, his career in turf began in 1979 at Medinah Country Club, where he was the superintendent of the No. 2 and No. 3 courses.
    Eventually, he moved on to Salem to prep the Donald Ross classic for the 1984 U.S. Women's Open.
    "All of us in the business will never forget how he turned an apparently impossible situation in 2001 into a wonderfully conditioned golf course for a Senior Open," Don Hearn, executive director of the GCSANE, told the Salem News. "Because of that achievement, he was a much sought-after speaker at a variety of conferences in the U.S. and Canada. He was considered among the very best in the business."
    Tyler had been retired only about a year when he was diagnosed with brain cancer.
    "I've admired Kip all these years for so many reasons," Hearn told the News. "The way he handled his illness magnified my admiration for him. He lived life with a smile and pleasant disposition no matter what the situation at Salem or at home.
    Peter Hasak at Tedesco Country Club in Marblehead for the past 35 years, told the Salem News that Tyler was on speed dial for many of his colleagues.
    "When I came to Tedesco in 1988 Kip was the first of the local superintendents to reach out. I've never forgotten that. Work-wise, he was the ‘go-to' guy for any issues we had," Hasak told the News. "He'd always have the right answer to put us back on the right path. He always was happy to help any way he could. I called him ‘Top Gun' around here. He always made sure the new super in the area fit in with all his neighbors. I never met one, with such great accomplishments in his field, who was so humble."
    Survivors include his wife, Mary Lou; sons, Christopher Tyler (Molly) and Ben Tyler (Jeanmarie); and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his brother, Richard Tyler.
  • The Pete Dye Course at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Photo by John Reitman Audubon International has released an updated version of "A Guide to Environmental Stewardship on the Golf Course." 
    This revised third edition is available to all Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses members as part of the organization’s 35th anniversary celebration. It is the first update to the guide since the second edition was released in 2013. The new guide incorporates knowledge gained through Audubon International’s decades of experience helping golf courses serve as ecologically valuable green spaces, while reducing potential environmental impacts associated with golf course operations. 
    "The third edition closely reflects the expertise and experiences of the thousands of golf course superintendents, golf industry professionals, environmental organizations, researchers, and others, who have participated in the ASCP since 1991," said Audubon International chief executive officer Christine Kane. "We hope our members will refer to this new document frequently and allow it to guide them with sustainable practices already in place, as well as help introduce new ones at their courses, leading to tangible environmental results."
    Every chapter has been updated to provide current information, resources, and links. Highlights of the many other modifications include: 
    Dividing the former Chapter 3, titled "Chemical Use Reduction and Safety," into two separate chapters: "Chemical Use Reduction and Chemical Safety" and "Maintenance Operations," which emphasizes the importance of both topics while providing greater detail
    Referencing current "Best Management Practices," that have been adopted in all 50 U.S. states, and other operational trends 
    Providing comprehensive details regarding the planning process and implementation of water quality monitoring programs that meet certification guidelines
    Updating and enhancing the References and Appendix sections in order to provide more extensive information
    David H. Robinson, CGCS, CGIA, senior director for Marriott Golf, was one of the many industry professionals to provide input and counsel on the third edition and called it a "must-have for every professional library."
    "Managing and enhancing the natural habitat of golf courses is a key goal for all industry leaders," said Robinson. "The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf provides a framework that strengthens a facility’s sustainability efforts. The benefits of completing the program are always immeasurable."
    Audubon International began its 35th anniversary on July 1 with the announcement that it would waive the enrollment fee for the first 35 new members of the ACSP, by using the code "35Years" during the application process.
  • Use of the existing landforms can make for compelling golf course design with minimal use of bunkers. Photo by Staples Golf Design Just because bunkers can be maintained at a high level, does that mean they should be?
    Historically, only putting greens require more time and labor to maintain than bunkers. Since the pandemic and the resulting volume of play and shortage of labor, superintendents and architects have been rethinking bunkers.
    Some prefer a hairier look for the sake of classic architecture, while others are increasingly focused on playability and ease of maintenance.
    In a recent post on his design firm's web site, golf course architect Kevin Norby wrote: "I'm still a fan of designing bunkers that fit the maintenance budget, the weather and the soil conditions of a particular course."
    That makes sense. After all, you can't have bunkers maintained like they are at a place like Augusta without Augusta-like resources. 
    Architect Andy Staples has been beating the drum for fewer bunkers. Less space dedicated to bunkers serves many purposes: They are easier and cheaper to maintain and can help grow the game by making the game more inviting to newcomers to golf. He told TurfNet two years ago, in the early stages of the pandemic, that his career goal was to design a bunker-free golf course. He mentioned one project in which he reduced the amount of square footage dedicated to bunkers by one-third. That also reduces the amount of time spent maintaining them. Another project was completed with just seven bunkers.
    More than two years later, he is still sounding the same message.
    "Overall, I have seen a drop in overall size and number of bunkers over years past, based on long term maintenance," Staples said. "(A total of) 50,000 to 60,000 total square footage, and less than 65 total bunkers seems to be normal."
    The biggest objection Staples has received in his quest for less bunker sand on golf courses has been from players who equate fewer hazards with boring, challenge-free golf.
    But that's not necessarily true. Fewer, well-designed bunkers cane still make golf challenging.
    "My personal preference is for less-maintained sand bunkers," said golf course architect Jason Straka. "After all, they are supposed to be a hazard. I prefer rougher outer edges with more maintenance as you get closer to the centerline of a hole."
    Challenging golf also can be achieved through fewer bunkers and compelling hole design. 
    "Due to the reduction of sand bunkers, I’m also now offsetting the strategy of the golf hole through the use of shortgrass swales, grass bunkers and other landforms like drainage ditches, much like to old days," Staples said. "The gap between the better player, and the bogey golfer has never been wider, so there is still a need to present different questions to the different classes of players, so just because we’re doing less sand bunkers, doesn’t mean we aren’t challenging the players in different ways. We have to be careful that our reduction of maintenance costs doesn’t wash out good, thoughtful design."
    Many superintendents chucked bunker maintenance during the pandemic, even going as far as removing bunker rakes to minimize touchpoints. Many have since brought back rakes, but still have not changed how they feel about bunker maintenance.
    Brian Boyer at Cinnabar Hills in San Jose removed bunker rakes during Covid. Rakes are back, but he told TurfNet in December that golfers are on their own to maintain bunkers throughout the day.
    "If I have a rake out there, I don't feel guilty about us not (raking bunkers)," he said.
    Staples has not completely dismissed bunkers, and believes they can add to the aesthetic appeal of a golf cours.
    "Sand is still one of the best ways, other than just pure, natural golf land, to create beauty on a golf course. Sand contrasted against turf, with a variety of tones and textures is still a major focus of mine, so if we are going to build bunkers, I want them to creative works of art. I might just do less of them."
  • Graduate student Bernadette Mach, right, listens as Dan Potter, Ph.D., talks about butterflies during a 2016 University of Kentucky turfgrass field day. Below, Potter established the first Operation Pollinator site on an American golf course at the Griffin Gate Marriott just a few miles from the UK research farm in Lexington. Photos by John Reitman After spending parts of six decades studying the kinds of organisms that others dismiss and simply want dead at all costs, University of Kentucky entomologist Dan Potter, Ph.D., is calling it quits.
    Since 1979, Potter, 70, has been a leading voice in the study of all things creepy, crawly, and his work has helped make golf course superintendents, sports field managers, lawn care professionals and others better at their jobs. He will officially retire from his position at UK on Sept. 2.
    "It's time to step aside and allow my department to move forward with a new faculty hire who hopefully will continue to serve the turf and landscape industries through entomological research," Potter said. "Also looking forward to having more freedom and time for family, travel, fishing and other interests."
    Potter earned a bachelor's degree in entomology at Rutgers and went on to earn a doctorate at Ohio State. Ever since, Potter has produced seminal work in entomology. His research has appeared in more than 200 publications and he is a leader in work to protect pollinators, including bees and butterflies. 
    Potter was part of a renowned faculty that once included the late A.J. Powell, Ph.D., and Paul Vincelli, Ph.D., who has since turned his focus toward climate change research.
    The 2010 recipient of the USGA Green Section Award, Potter's work is known throughout the industry. He established the first Operation Pollinator zone on a golf course at Marriott Griffin Gate Golf Club, which is just 3 miles from the UK research farm. Today, there are more than 60 Operation Pollinator zones on U.S. golf courses across the country.
    His work has commanded respect from colleagues around the industry. Throughout his career, Potter has mentored 48 graduate students who have gone on to careers in academia as well as with companies such as Syngenta, BASF, Bayer, FMC, Valent, PBI Gordon and others.
    "Dan has been a rock-solid applied scientist," Vincelli said. "If Dan did the work, you could trust it as high-quality and relevant to the real world."
    Even in retirement, Potter plans to continue his work through volunteer outreach activities, and also will continue to do invited talks and workshops at Green Industry conferences and field days and webinars.
    A grandfather of five, Potter plans on spending his retirement with family, traveling with Terri, his wife of 43 years, and fishing.
    I'll fish for anything that swims but especially like fly-fishing in cold moving waters," he said. "New Zealand, when we lived there, was my favorite for fly fishing, but I have also enjoyed fishing the White River in Arkansas, Holston River in Tennessee, and Provo and Snake Rivers out west."
  • The University of Florida turfgrass program turns 100 this year, and will throw a party of sorts in October to mark the occasion.
    To celebrate the centennial event, UF will hold an alumni golf tournament and evening reception marking 100 years of the turfgrass program. 
    The golf tournament, a four-person scramble, is scheduled for noon on Oct. 4 at UF's Mark Bostick Golf Course in Gainesville, which is ranked No. 24 on Golfweek's list of best campus golf courses. Golf will include lunch as well as prizes for the top three teams, closest to the pin and long drive.
    An evening reception will follow at the Straughn Center in Gainesville.
    The two-day bash will conclude on Oct. 5 with a turfgrass field dauy at the UF research center in Citra, 20 miles south of campus, where the university's faculty will provide updates on the latest research.
    Click here for more information.
  • Chris Sheehan, Jim Fitzgibbons, Rick Tegtmeier and Ronnie Myles form a lasting friendship at the Open Championship. All photos courtesy of Rick Tegtmeier Tiger Woods wowed the golf world when he completed the career grand slam in four straight championships spanning two seasons. The feat, which included winning the U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship in 2000, followed by the 2001 Masters and made Woods the first player in the modern era to hold all four major titles at the same time. became known as the Tiger Slam.
    The Tegtmeier Slam might not be as well known around golf, but it is no less impressive.
    Iowa Golf Association Hall of Famer Rick Tegtmeier, CGCS at Des Moines Golf and Country Club, completed his own career grand slam of sorts in July when he was selected to work the 150th Open Championship at The Old Course at St. Andrews as part of the BIGGA Volunteer Open Support Team. 
    "I've worked a Ryder Cup. I've worked a Solheim Cup. I've been to PGA Championships. I've been to U.S. Opens, and I've been to the Masters," Tegtmeier said. "The only thing I hadn't been to is the Open Championship.
    "Now I have. I don't think a lot of superintendents can say that."
    Tegtmeier is no stranger to golf in Europe. He earned BIGGA's Master Greenkeeper designation nearly a decade ago and has maintained relationships with those he meets overseas because he says the level of camaraderie is different there.
    "There were many of us in our 60s who will never rake bunkers together again, but we will be friends forever now," Tegtmeier said. "And we're from all over: Denmark, Scotland, England, Sweden, Iowa. It's pretty cool."

    For those who think raking bunkers is the same anywhere, thing again. A head superintendent for more than 40 years, Tegtmeier and the rest of the Open Support Team went through training to learn the Old Course way of raking sand according to Old Course manager Gordon McKie.
    "We had a lesson with Gordon on Wednesday before the tournament," Tegtmeier said. "He jumped in a bunker, messed it up and had one of his guys fix it.
    "I don't know if there is much different about the way they do it, but we were going to do it they way they wanted it done. We wanted it done right for TV and right for the players."
    During his four days on bunker duty, Tegtmeier was on the rake for some of the game's biggest names, like Justin Thomas, Shane Lowry and Hideki Matsuyama, but one in particular made a sizable impression.
    "Bryson DeChambeau came up to us before the round, and introduced himself to all of us," Tegtmeier said. "He even interacted with us during his round. I was very impressed with him."

    Tegtmeier has immersed himself in Euro golf culture since he learned Des Moines G&CC would be the host site of the 2017 Solheim Cup. Two years prior to the tournament, he earned BIGGA's Master Greenkeeper designation. When he was inducted into the Iowa Golf Association Hall of Fame, Tegtmeier was one of only 80 people worldwide to have earned certification from the GCSAA and Master Greenkeeper  designation from BIGGA.
    Although the Solheim Cup, which is a distant memory in the rearview mirror, was the impetus for Tegtmeier getting involved with golf on the other side of the ocean, he continues to embrace the connections he has made through BIGGA.
    During his stay, he and other volunteers were boarded at Parker House in Dundee. The facility, 15 miles north of St. Andrews, is housing for students at Abertay and Dundee universities. Before he arrived in Scotland, Tegtmeier was contacted by retired Loch Lomond superintendent Ronnie Miles. The two had never met before, but Miles reached out with an offer to play tour guide for Tegtmeier and wife Sherry.
    "He took us to dinner and gave us a driving tour. He showed us the William Wallace monument," Tegtmeier said. "He contacted me out of the blue. I'd never met him before and he got me everywhere I needed to be. Who does that?
    "What he did made the stay that much more enjoyable, and it taught me a valuable lesson, which is how to treat people - to treat them the way you would want to be treated."
  • Emerald ash borer, an invasive pest from Asia with no natural predators here, has spread to the West Coast. Photo by USDA APHIS When New York Congressman Horace Greeley famously urged Americans to go west in 1865, somewhere the emerald ash borer must have been listening.
    Although the emerald ash borer has only been in the U.S. for 20 years, it has been on a westward - and eastward - migration faster than anyone in a covered wagon traversing the continent in the 19th century ever did.
    Since arriving in Detroit in 2002 aboard a Chinese shipping freighter, the ash borer has now been spotted in at least 41 states, and most recently was found in South Dakota and Oregon. And scientists in some locations finally are looking for ways to fight back.
    The only states where EAB has not yet been found are Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Washington, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Washington.
    Native to eastern Asia, the EAB borer burrows into ash trees as an adult where it lays its eggs. The larvae feed on the layer beneath the bark, disrupting the tree's vascular system and its ability to take up water and nutrients and eventually kill the tree.
    EAB entered the United States in 2002 aboard a Chinese cargo ship. Since then, it has spread to 35 U.S. states and five provinces in Canada and caused billions in damage, killing trees on golf courses, in parks and forest land. 
    Eventually, say scientists with the U.S. Forest Service, the bug will expand throughout the entire range where all 16 North American ash tree species grow.
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed EAB in Oregon on July 15 and believe it probably has been in the state for as many as five years. The Oregon ash, the state’s only native species, plays a critical role in bank stabilization in streams and rivers. The trickle down caused if those trees are lost could be widespread.
    As they have watched EAB spread across the country the past two decades, forestry officials there have harvested and stored close to a million Oregon ash seeds to try to preserve the species’ genetic diversity for replanting.
    Researchers with the Oregon Department of Forestry will test the seeds to see if any have resistance to ash borers and if so, they may be able to breed resistance into local strains and replant them.
  • The largest university in Ohio and the state's only private historically black college college reached an agreement recently to promote careers in turf management.
    The first-of-its kind agreement between Ohio State University and Wilberforce University will create an advanced golf course management degree program for students from the latter.
    The agreement that officials from Wilberforce described as "groundbreaking" was finalized in late June and will begin in the fall. That's when students at Wilberforce will be able to enroll in online classes through Ohio State and begin earning credits toward a certificate.
    The partnership includes courses in turf grass management, history of golf courses and golf management. The classes will be offered through OSU’s College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.
    Established in 1856, Wilberforce is the alma mater of William Powell, the founder of Clearview Golf Club in Canton.
  • The Lion's Paw at Pioneer Point. Photo via Facebook Hawks Landing and Pioneer Pointe golf courses might be separated by just a few miles, but they are otherwise worlds apart in just about every way.
    Designed by the late John Harbottle, Hawks Landing Golf Club in Verona, Wisconsin, has been attracting some of the most discerning golfers in the Madison area for more than 20 years. Conversely, Pioneer Pointe has been open only a year and is where many newcomers to the game learn to play.
    Designed by Todd Quitno and Jerry Kelly, PGA Tour player and Madison native, Pioneer Pointe is a 13-hole short course with holes ranging from about 100 to 300 yards in length with multiple teeing options that open a world of playing possibilities.
    "There are no tee markers at Pioneer Pointe. You just play where you want, and there are a lot of different angles. You choose your own path," said Neil Radatz, superintendent at both courses.
    "The traditional member at Hawks Landing likes the structure that course offers. People playing at Pioneer Pointe really are embracing this concept. The No. 1 thing I hear is how much fun people are having when they play there."
    Radatz has been at Hawks Landing from the beginning when bulldozers began moving dirt 22 years ago. He also is the construction and grow-in superintendent at Pioneer Pointe. Admittedly, he was a bit skeptical of the plan to build a 13-hole short course that golfers could play in 2 hours. Now that he has seen the finished product and the way it has been embraced, he is a believer.
    "I was a little hesitant," he said. "I'm excited about what I see happening now."
    Pioneer Pointe was inspired by some of the great holes in golf, including No. 7 at Riviera Country Club, the Road Hole at St. Andrews and several by Seth Raynor, including a Redan (No. 3), Lion's Mouth (6), Biarritz (7) and Thumb Print (8). 
    "The Madison market is strong with a lot of great golf courses. Our goal was to have some of the best par 3 holes that you could pick from any great golf course and make them playable for the average person," Radatz said. "I think we hit it out of the park with that."
    The clientele at Pioneer Pointe is a mix of newcomers to the game and those looking to get in a quick round. Walking rates range from $20 for juniors to $29 for everyone else. That's a lot of golf for a little amount of money, and that has been attractive for golfers of all levels.
    "You can play in about two hours and 15 minutes," Radatz said. "We are seeing a lot of play in the late afternoon, including guys getting off work who can get out and have a good time.
    "We wanted to go with no rough at all. From the tee to around the green, grass is cut at the same height, so there is not a lot of maintenance involved, but we still have features around the green that make people say 'wow, this is cool.' We didn't make it too difficult. And we thought it would be a hit when people found out there would be no tee markers, no rough. It is really starting to take off."
  • It is back into the grinder of the legal system for Roundup.
    Weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Bayer's appeal to halt thousands of lawsuits claiming the herbicide is responsible for causing cancer, a federal appeals court on July 12 revived a lawsuit by a Georgia man claiming Roundup  caused his cancer.
    The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Montgomery, Alabama, rejected Bayer's argument that federal law shielded it from state law claims like the one brought by John Carson, who claims he was diagnosed with a form of cancer known as fibrous histiocytoma in 2016 after using Roundup for 30 years
    Carson's attorneys argued there should be a cancer warning on the product label. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said there is not sufficient proof that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is a carcinogen.
    According to a report by Reuters, Bayer had hoped that a victory in Carson's case would create a conflict between appeals courts that would make the U.S. Supreme Court more likely to take up the issue, potentially limiting its liability in thousands of lawsuits.
    The Supreme Court rejected Bayer's pleas to hear the case on June 21.
    Bayer faces more than 30,000 outstanding claims that glyphosate causes cancer. Bayer, which acquired Monsanto and its popular glyphosate-based weedkiller in 2018, set aside $15 billion to settle current and future cases. So far, the company has settled approximately 107,000 cases, with about 30,000 still outstanding.
    Claims against Monsanto and now Bayer stem from a 2015 ruling by the World Health Organization that glyphosate is likely carcinogenic, a claim the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has rejected.
    Bayer announced last year that it would discontinue sales of Roundup in the consumer marketplace by next year, when it will be replaced by products with a different active ingredient. Roundup will remain available in the professional segment.
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