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From the TurfNet NewsDesk

  • John Reitman
    The well-chronicled story of Bayer, Roundup and hundreds of thousands of litigants claiming the weedkiller caused their cancer is entering new territory that should be a wake-up call not only to other companies in the agri-chemical sector, but in other industries as well.
    As the case against Bayer wears on - with more than 100,000 already decided and half that amount still awaiting litigation - the U.S. legal system is shifting its focus on the company's CEO.
    On Aug. 22, a state judge in Arkansas ordered the deposition of Bayer AG CEO Werner Baumann, who resides in Leverkusen, Germany, and he is willing to send court officials across the world to do it.
    According to documents, circuit judge Robert Gibson said "that as the head of Bayer, no one knows better about what the company is doing than Baumann and it would be shocking if he didn't have any unique or specialized knowledge." 
    It doesn't matter that the company's CEO is an economist by trade, not a chemist. It doesn't matter that he was CEO for only four months when Bayer acquired Monsanto (and all the headaches that were to follow) for $66 billion. It didn't matter that Hugh Grant, the former CEO of Monsanto, who for 15 years led the company that invented Roundup, already testified three years ago. It doesn't matter that there are many people who know much more about Roundup - and its active ingredient glyphosate - than the company CEO. 
    After all, this is the same case in which the defense has not been permitted in court to present some evidence on Bayer's behalf.
    "Numerous company officials with relevant knowledge of scientific and regulatory issues already have testified in the nationwide Roundup litigation," the Bayer spokesperson told Law360. "Mr. Baumann is not an expert in science, government regulation or the U.S. legal system and does not possess unique knowledge relevant to this case."
    Former Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant, who for 15 years led the company that invented Roundup, already has testified in court as have many other researchers and scientists, all of whom know more than Baumann, but since when have facts or truth mattered in anything lately?
    To date, Bayer has spent more than $11 billion settling more than 100,000 claims that glyphosate caused their non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Another 30,000-plus cases are pending, including an instant suit by an Arkansas man whose conditions warrants an expeditious approach.
    In the Arkansas case, the plaintiff says he had worked in agricultural and maintenance landscaping for more than two decades in various positions and used Roundup regularly around his own yard.
    The rub in the Roundup saga has always been conflicting information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization.
    The latter has said glyphosate is likely a carcinogen. The EPA has consisted disputed those findings.
  • With golf course maintenance equipment more reliant than ever on technology, hacking into onboard computer systems is a source of concern.
    John Deere recently invited 20 college students from around the country to try to do just that. 
    The week-long event called the Cyber Tractor Challenge was part of the company’s efforts to proactively find and address vulnerabilities within its operating systems while also attracting some of the best talent in the world.
    "We have a room full of bright engineers who are aspiring embedded software engineers as well as security hackers," said John Kubalsky, business information security officer for tech stack and cloud.
    The students, whose experience ranged from undergraduates to PhD candidates specializing in the fields of computer engineering, electrical engineering, industrial technology and cyber security, were excited by the opportunity to work with us.
    "I have some experience in the ag-tech industry, so it's relevant to what I already know," said University of Illinois student Josh Park. "And it would just be fun hacking tractors. That's fun."
    Kubalsky said the first-year event is a great way for Deere to find people with the skills the company needs.
    "There is a real need for people that have the talents that they have to come and help us find where there might be some holes or opportunities in our products," Kubalsky said, "so we can button those up, continue to be that premiere ag equipment and technology producer, and keep our customers safe in the field."
  • John Spodnik, who mentored dozens of would-be superintendents and was an industry leader at the national, state and regional association level, died Aug. 26. He was 93.
    His entire 35-year career as a superintendent that began in 1959 was spent at Westfield Country Club in suburban Cleveland. 
    Among those influenced by Spodnik is Mark Jordan, his protege at Westfield and now the club's natural resource manager.
    "He was a very influential leader in the industry, community & to Westfield Insurance," Jordan wrote on social media. "Those of us fortunate enough to know John are better people today."
    Nicknamed the Sodfather because of his leadership in the industry he loved, Spodnik was a major association influencer at all levels. He was the secretary treasurer of the Northern Ohio GCSA chapter throughout the entirety of his career and was named honorary president in 1994. He was among a group of superintendents who together helped found the Ohio Turfgrass Association and spent seven years as its inaugural director. He also was active at the national level, and was GCSAA president in 1969. He was active in the Musser Foundation and was the recipient of the GCSAA Col. John Morley Award that is presented annually to "an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the golf course superintendent's profession."

    John Spodnik, left, with protege Mark Jordan, was a leader at all levels of the green industry. Mark Jordan Twitter photo "I'm proud of what OTF has done not only for golf course superintendents, but for everybody in the green industry," Spodnik said in an OTF video in 2016. 
    A Coast Guard veteran in the period between World War II and the Korean War, Spodnik eventually earned a degree in industrial engineering from what is now Cleveland State University. During his college days, he worked at some of the historic and legendary Cleveland-area clubs, including Canterbury and Shaker Heights before being named superintendent in 1959 at Westfield, where he remained until his retirement in 1994.
    Although he probably never spent much time updating a resume, Spodnik was focused on his own career as well as those of other superintendents. He was a pioneer in the Northern Ohio chapter that grew into one of the country's most active and well-organized regional superintendent organizations. He and others helped start the OTF as q way for superintendents to get access to education and networking opportunities without the cost of attending a national show.
    "One of the pillars of the turfgrass industry in Ohio," Ryan DeMay, principal of Field Source Ohio, a sports field consulting firm and the current president of OTF, wrote on Twitter. "Without John Spodnik's reverence for our industry, and those in it, we would not have the integrity, respect, or education we all take for granted today."
    Survivors include his wife, Mary, and their children Jennifer, Jeff (Lee) and Jason (Lisa) as well many grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
    Services are scheduled from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Aug. 31 at Waite & Son Funeral Home in Medina, Ohio, with interment to follow at Westfield Cemetery in Westfield Center.
  • There are many reasons golf course operations might want to implement a recycling program.
    It eliminates the amount of waste deposited into landfills, conserves resources and reduces pollution. It also can be monetized and the PR value can be important for an industry that struggles to communicate its work in environmental stewardship.
    For all the reasons people believe they should recycle, using the pieces to build a utility vehicle likely is not among them. But that is exactly what Deere and Ford are doing.
    Plastic bottles pulled from the Mississippi and coconut filler are just two of the materials used to construct the new Sustainable Concept Gator utility vehicle (right) in a collaborative effort between John Deere and the Sustainable Materials division of Ford Motor Co. The vehicle came about largely due to the latter's desire to find ways of turning waste into viable machine components.
    “When the idea of the Sustainable Concept Gator project came about, the goal was to explore a variety of materials to be used for possible adoption across product lines to support our goals around increasing use of sustainable materials,” said Andy Greenlee, senior staff engineer for sustainable solutions at John Deere.
    Ford was an ideal partner, Greenlee said.
    “Ford is a long-time leader in sustainable materials and has been integrating sustainable parts into their vehicles for decades – even back to Henry Ford experimenting with soybean oil in the 1930s,” he said.
    "Getting the opportunity to look at things that are out in the future and focus on what we need to develop to add value to our customers while reducing our environmental footprint was a great experience."
    The project was a complex collaboration with both Deere and Ford’s supplier networks, many going above and beyond to support the project, to build a prototype created with renewable, recycled and recyclable materials such as soybeans, flax fiber, sugar cane, hemp fiber, bottles, and even fishing nets.
    “It was difficult because we had to work within our current framework of production tooling, we weren’t going to invest in new tooling for a product that won’t go to market, but we did everything we could to find sustainable materials that were suitable replacements,” said Keith Shanter, senior materials engineer for Deere.
    Despite the uniqueness of the sustainable Gator, which has been in the works since 2018 , the vehicle is not for sale, nor will it go into mass production anytime soon. Instead, the vehicle is a symbol of the future of sustainability.
    “The Sustainable Concept Gator has provided us key learnings,” SAID Jill Sanchez, Deere's director of sustainability. “It shows how innovative thinking and innovative partnerships provide invaluable insight into how we can apply sustainable material use in the future.”
    Though many components used in the Sustainable Concept Gator are not a short-term production solution, the materials pave the way for sustainable solutions, including one that is in production now.
    “One component from this project that’s in Gators produced today," Shanter said, "is a defrost louver made out of recycled tires.”
  • Golfers have not been lining up to play in record numbers in 2022, but data shows they might be if not for the weather. The number of rounds of golf played are down through the first half of the year, but that is not necessarily a sign of bad news.
    Thanks largely to Covid, a lot of people discovered the benefits of golf during the past three seasons. Golf courses everywhere bragged of record play, claims that were backed up by rounds played data provided each month by entities like Golf Datatech and the National Golf Foundation. 
    Rounds increased by nearly 20 percent during Covid, reaching 518 million rounds played last year, a figure that matched an all-time high set in 2000. So, when rounds played are off, like they are in the first half of 2022, does it mean people are once again leaving the game, or are they impeded by factors - such as weather - that limit access to the game?
    Rounds played in June were up slightly - 2.7 percent - compared with the same month a year ago, but overall were down by 5.7 percent through the first half of the year.
    For once, it appears that we really can blame the weather. According to Jim Koppenhaver's Golf Datatech, the number of golf playable hours (a function of outside factors that directly influence the number of possible golf-playing hours) were down by 19 percent in the first quarter of 2022 and 9 percent in the second. So, it appears golfers are actually outperforming the weather, which is a sign that despite the hot, rainy patterns that have dominated weather east of the Mississippi River, inflation and high gas prices, golfers were still hitting the golf course whenever possible in the first half of the year.
    "We’ve just passed the half-mile post for the ’22 calendar year," Koppenhaver wrote in his monthly email report. "And things aren’t looking that bad considering the obstacles we’ve had to navigate between the economy, non-cooperating weather and the still fluid work-from-home situation that has been beneficial to golf."
    Despite the weather and other influences, rounds played were up in June in 32 states. The biggest winners were Alabama and North and South Dakota, where play was up 18 percent. Other double-digit increases were in Indiana and Michigan, both up 14 percent, and Kentucky and Tennessee (up 11 percent). The biggest losses were in Hawaii (down 10 percent).
  • For golf course superintendents who want to monitor, manage and track all aspects of their operation in one place, Toro recently introduced the IntelliDash Irrigation and Fleet Management Platform. IntelliDash lets superintendents view real-time data, such as agronomic conditions, labor, asset location and equipment health to help them improve operational efficiency.
    "By bringing together key course elements, the IntelliDash platform provides course managers and superintendents greater visibility to course health and unique access to equipment fleet and irrigation data," said Norma Frotton, product marketing manager for the Toro golf irrigation business.
    IntelliDash can easily integrate Toro equipment and irrigation systems to generate information that users can access from a mobile device or computer to monitor systems in real time. Users also can customize the dashboard to display the information that is most important to them. Data sets can easily be turned on and off to ensure only what's most important to the user appears on the dashboard.
    The dashboard offers information on course and fleet data so superintendents can make informed decisions with information from multiple sources, including weather and radar streams and evapotranspiration forecasts so users can make real-time decisions about course maintenance without leaving the office or home.
    For agronomic conditions, IntelliDash connects Toro Irrigation systems to help users manage water use while maximizing course playability and visual quality while also helping manage labor, track expenses and operational inputs.
    Integration of Toro's myTurf Pro Fleet Management tool helps superintendents track usage, including hours and fuel consumption, schedule maintenance and manage and order parts.
    "With vital course information easily accessible in one location," said Janel Hinde, product marketing manager for Toro commercial equipment, "superintendents and course managers can make confident, data-driven decisions."
  • There are several weed-identification guides available for consumers and turf management professionals alike. There is one that superintendents can carry around in their pockets that can help identify thousands of plants and weeds quickly and accurately.
    The PictureThis mobile app can precisely identify more than 10,000 weeds and plants in a matter of seconds. Developed by the Chinese artificial intelligence firm Glority, PictureThis was named the most accurate plant-identification mobile app by a Michigan State University study.
    The app, which is available on the App Store and Google Play, is free for a seven-day trial, then is $30 per year.
    Users can save plants into their own personal library. The app then provides plant-specific information such as optimal growing conditions, water needs, geographic areas where the plant thrives, when and how to plant and when to harvest, when to water and when to fertilize.
    Another section provides benefits (if any), how does a plant spread and tips on how to eradicate it.
  • 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."
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