Jump to content

From the TurfNet NewsDesk

  • John Reitman
    The Aquatrols Co. is a result of the merger of Aquatrols and the turf division of Precision Laboratories. Aquatrols and the turf division of Precision Laboratories have merged to form The Aquatrols Co. This merger brings together the respective portfolios of soil surfactant and adjuvant products. 
    The Aquatrols Co. will continue to offer the full line of Aquatrols and Precision Laboratories soil surfactants, as well as Precision Laboratories tank mix adjuvants, colorants and additives. VerdeLNX, a line of advanced nutrient products, will be added to the portfolio this year. 
    "We're excited about the opportunities this presents for our customers," said Erick Koskinen, director of sales for The Aquatrols Co.
    "We have a unique opportunity to expand these industry-leading brands with our significant investment in marketing and R&D" says Casey McDonald, director of marketing and portfolio management.
    The Aquatrols Co., owned by Lamberti SpA, will benefit from new state-of-the-art manufacturing and vertically integrated technology sourcing. The headquarters of the turf business will remain in Paulsboro, New Jersey, while manufacturing and warehousing will move to Kenosha, Wisconsin, home of Precision.
    Precision Laboratories LLC will continue to operate independently with a focus on servicing the global agriculture market.  
  • The Birds and Bees Protection Act, which prohibits the use of neonicotinoids on turf in New York, will go into effect in 2027. Utah State University photo Superintendents in New York are losing a valuable tool in the fight against insect pests in golf course turf.
    Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday, Dec. 22 signed into law legislation A.7640/S.1856-A, known as the Birds and Bees Protection Act. The legislation is intended to protect pollinators by restricting the use of neonicotinoids containing clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran or acetamiprid on turf; coated corn, soybean and wheat seeds in agriculture; and outdoor ornamental plants. The law will go into effect Jan. 1, 2027. The three-year delay allows for "sufficient time for innovative research on alternatives and the development of more cost-effective products that are less harmful to the environment. After this period, the use of neonicotinoids will be subject to science-based evaluations and waiver provisions to assist farm and agriculture operations in the transition to this new program," according to Hochul's office.
    In October, Tom Kaplun, superintendent at North Hempstead Country Club in Port Washington, as well as vice president of the New York State Turfgrass Association and government affairs chair for the Long Island GCSA, told TurfNet that he had hoped science would prevail and the measure would be amended to grant an exemption for use on golf turf.
    "Golf courses in New York State were very disappointed to see the governor sign the Birds and the Bees which will take away imidacloprid from us at the end of 2026," Kaplun said. "Superintendents associations around the state in conjunction with GCSAA, the New York State Turfgrass Association and the New York Green Industry Council have worked tirelessly over the last few years to demonstrate the integral role imidacloprid plays in battling white grubs and the ways in which we use it while minimizing any potential risks. We applauded the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for making imidacloprid restricted use in 2023. The same was signed into law in California this past year and applauded by the Natural Resource Defense Council. But in NY, the steps taken by the NYS DEC, the governing body of pesticides in NYS, were not enough for environmental groups like the NRDC."
    Kaplun explained how hard he and his colleagues throughout New York have worked to develop and follow science-based best management practices for use of neonicotinoids and other pesticides and fertilizers in the quest to be responsible environmental stewards.
    "While we are all united in our efforts to protect pollinators and keep the environment as safe and clean as possible there are many misconceptions surrounding neonictonoid use that are just not true," Kaplun said. "It is disappointing that sound science was not used in this decision making for continued use on golf courses and that legislators continue to drive decision making and policies that should be left to the NYS DEC. Golf course superintendents and industry professionals in NYS will continue to work with legislators and the governor's office to demonstrate that protecting NYS's natural resources and environmental stewardship is at the forefront of our decision making while managing the vast green space and outdoor activity that golf allows for so many in NYS."
    Neither the New York legislature nor the governor shared that view.
    "By signing the Birds and Bees Protection Act, New York is taking a significant stride in protecting our kids, environment and essential pollinators," Hochul said in a news release from her office. "This law underscores our commitment to fostering a thriving ecosystem while we prioritize sustainable farming and agricultural practices."
    Legislation A.7640/S.1856-A was sponsored by Assemblymember Deborah Glick and State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal.
    "Limiting toxins that pose adverse effects and health risks is an essential step forward to stop poisoning the environment and create a healthier New York," Glick said in a news release. "I applaud Governor Hochul for recognizing the importance of our pollinators and our environment and signing the Birds and Bees Protection Act."
  • This year's Super Scratch Invitational raised $30,000 to help fund scholarships for turfgrass students. Photo by Tim Kelly via X Anyone who has spent any length of time in the golf business has heard it said over and over: "I didn't know you could grow grass for a living."
    Since 2020, a group of superintendents have been busy trying to close that gap by introducing the profession to kids and raising money to help those interested in a turf career offset the cost of their college education through the Super Scratch Foundation.
    "We're in an industry where nobody knows what we do unless we tell them," said Scott Bordner, Director of Agronomy of the Union League of Philadelphia. "It's about going to high schools and telling them what we do. Then, with the cost of education, we have to try to help these kids and make it as easy as possible for them. When you see that Augusta National has to post an ad for internships, that's a sign that something has to be done."
    The Super Scratch Invitational pairs golfing superintendents with top level amateur players in a tournament format played at Huntingdon Valley Country Club, the club in suburban Philadelphia where Tim Kelly is superintendent. Huntingdon Valley was the home of The Lynnewood Hall Cup, an amateur event played at the Philly-area club from 1901 to 2010. The tournament was the second-oldest amateur event in the country behind only the U.S. Amateur when it was retired 13 years ago.
    "A bunch of better players had a desire to bring an amateur tour to Huntingdon Valley," said Tim Zurybida, a longtime member at Huntingdon Valley who is a former Philadelphia superintendent and currently director of agronomy for the National Links Trust in Washington, D.C. "There are scores of pro-ams across the country, but to our knowledge no one had a superintendent paired with a top-rated amateur."
    The Super Scratch Invitational raised $1,500 for turfgrass scholarships in its first year in 2020. Today, the event has raised more than $50,000 in scholarship funds for turfgrass students attending Penn State, Rutgers and Delaware Valley University. This year's event in November raised $30,000 for scholarships for turf students.
    "As the tournament took off after that first year, we were able to raise a lot more money," Zurybida said.
    The foundation will start a new scholarship this year that honors the memory of Grady Breuer, the son of Michael and Jenna Breuer who died in April at age 2 from the effects of a rare birth defect.
    The invitational includes a tournament for amateurs only and a best-ball event for amateur-superintendent teams. The top teams get to pick which schools receive the funds. Entry fees cover all tournament expenses, so all funds donated by the more than two dozen vendor sponsors go toward scholarship funds.

    Huntingdon Valley Country Club has a long history with amateur golf. Photo by Tim Kelly via X "The funds go to the administration at the schools, and they decide which students they think need it," Bordner said. "We give it to the schools to use at their discretion, because they know the students and know their needs better than we do."
    Soon, the invitational expanded beyond the Philly area and attracted teams from Chicago, Wisconsin, Rhode Island and Florida, Bordner said. Future plans include possible regional qualifiers with the final events played at Huntingdon Valley.
    "As more funds come in, we can have more dedicated scholarships," Bordner said.
    That includes the scholarship that will be named for Grady Breuer, who suffered from hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a birth defect that affects blood flow through the heart and resulted in impaired brain function due to oxygen deprivation. Grady died on April 30, five months short of his third birthday.
    Through social media posts by Grady's father Michael, the assistant superintendent at Bandon Dunes Resort in Oregon, the turf world was able to follow along through the many struggles in Grady's short life, including numerous surgical procedures. Throughout the ordeal, Breuer's family received an outpouring of support from followers across the country, most of whom he has never met, including those involved with the Super Scratch Foundation on the other side of the country.
    "With how his life impacted me and so many others, we thought it was a great way to try to help people who had a tougher road to get into this industry," Bordner said. "We thought this was a natural fit. We can help his legacy carry on and help others get their education at the same time."
    The Breuer family was surprised at how the foundation chose to honor and remember their son.
    "This came from out of the blue," Michael Breuer said. 
    "I don't have a lot of words for it. It's difficult; he's gone, but his legacy will live on and impact others. That's incredible. We're humbled by the outpouring of support and blessed by this industry for the gestures of so many."
  • H. James "Jim" Loke, CGCS, Montreal-born career superintendent who pushed the agronomic envelope at upper-echelon clubs in northern Ohio and central Pennsylvania, passed away December 12 after a 23 year battle with Parkinson’s Disease. He was 77.
    After graduation from Ohio State in 1970 with a degree in turfgrass science, Loke worked at Scioto Country Club, Oakwood GC and The Ohio State University GC before taking the assistant position at Firestone Country Club in Akron. He worked his way up to the superintendent position at Firestone and went on to host seven televised PGA events, including the 1975 PGA Championship and the World Series of Golf.
    From Firestone he went to Quail Hollow Resort in Painesville, OH, where he hosted several other PGA Tour events and US Open qualifiers. After Quail Hollow, Loke moved to the Lancaster, PA area to build and grow in Bent Creek Country Club, where he pioneered the use of fertigation and also maintained Poa-free putting surfaces.
    He served as president of the Northern Ohio GCSA and the Central Pennsylvania GCSA chapters and on seven different GCSAA committees and two Ohio Turfgrass Foundation committees over the years. He received the Distinguished Service Award from GCSAA in 2008.
    A life-long hockey player and youth/high school hockey coach, Jim was also an early and active TurfNet member who played on the first TurfNet team in the Golf Course Hockey Challenge in 1999.
    "I met Jim soon after I started TurfNet in 1994," recalls Peter McCormick. "He was an early adopter in every way. Jim was serious about his craft but also friendly and approachable. He was one of the most inquisitive and studious superintendents I’ve ever met."
    Loke was noted for his intensive Poa eradication processes, pioneering the use of the glyphosate dabber and incorporating periodic "staff crawls" of shoulder-to-shoulder, on the knees hand-weeding of any rogue Poa plants that might have taken root in the greens at Bent Creek.
    "I visited Jim at Bent Creek one October afternoon many years ago, and we took a drive around the course late on that stunning, bluebird-sky day," McCormick said. "The golf course absolutely glowed, with the precision of the stepcuts and the uniformity of the playing surfaces almost jumping off the turf. I remember thinking at the time that it can't get much better than this."
    For many years Loke hosted a small-group afternoon "think-tank" session at the fall Penn State turf conference. "During a break in the conference schedule, when others might be heading for the bar, Jim's invited group would meet in a private room to review the current state of the industry and brainstorm what might be coming next," McCormick recalled. "He invited me to sit in one year. I remember Frank Dobie (Sharon Golf Club) and Todd Voss (Double Eagle Club) being there. It struck me as unusual at the time, but was an indication of Jim's inquisitive nature and desire to share his thoughts and learn from others."
    John Colo, an Ohio native now at Frenchman’s Reserve Country Club in Florida, first worked for Loke at Quail Hollow and followed him to Pennsylvania for two stints at Bent Creek in the mid-late '90s.
    "I am the man I am and the superintendent I am today in part due to having worked for Jim Loke," Colo said. "He was demanding and a taskmaster, but working for him was a great experience for me."
    McCormick laments having lost contact with Loke about ten years ago. "Jim had significant health issues and had retired from Bent Creek," he said. "For some reason we drifted apart and lost contact. I regret that now. Our mutual friend Gordon Witteveen used to say that if you don't work at relationships they soon go away. He was right."
    Jim is survived by his wife Karen, daughters Julie and Kristin and granddaughters Margo & Layla.
  • News and people briefs

    By John Reitman, in News,

    Mack named Georgia Superintendent of the Year
    Lydell Mack, CGCS (right) at Big Canoe Golf Club in Jasper, has been named Superintendent of the Year by the Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association. Mack's award, presented in partnership with Corbin Turf & Ornamental Supply, was announced at the association's annual awards banquet during a three-day event at The King & Prince Beach and Golf Resort on St. Simons Island, earlier this month.
    Alabama names Superintendent, Assistant of the Year
    Hunter Salts, director of agronomy at Vestavia Country Club in Birmingham, (above at right) was named the recipient of the Alabama GCSA Superintendent of the Year award.
    Russell Wallace of Greystone Country Club in Hoover (right below) was named the association's Assistant Superintendent of the Year.
    Both awards were presented at the association's annual meeting Dec. 1 at Pine Tree Country Club in Birmingham.
    Sipcam Agro expands with acquisition of Odom
    Sipcam Agro is expanding its capabilities in North America with the recent acquisition of the Odom Industriesis, a Waynesboro, Mississippi-based chemical formulating, packaging and warehousing company.
    The acquisition includes Odom's two operating facilities and a large storage warehouse with 320,000 square feet of combined production and warehousing space on 40 total acres in Waynesboro, Pachuta and Shubuta, Mississippi. The company was founded in 1989 by Donald Odom, Sr. and W.R. Odom, Sr., and will be operated by Sipcam Agro Solutions, a susidiary of Sipcam Agro USA.
    Based in Durham, North Carolina, Sipcam Agro is a manufacturer of fungicides, herbicides, plant growth regulators, bio stimulants and plant nutrition products and is an affiliate of Sipcam Oxon in Milan, Italy.
  • PBI Gordon recently named Phil Brandt as national business coordinator and added Eric Steffense and Jamie Zakary to its staff as sales representatives.
    Steffensen is PBI-Gordon's new North Carolina sales representative. He is responsible for leading sales initiatives and providing technical expertise for the company's golf, landscape, professional lawn care and agricultural customers in North Carolina.
    Prior to joining PBI-Gordon, Steffensen worked with SiteOne Landscape Supply Co. in Charlotte. A graduate of the Penn State turfgrass program, Steffensen previously held sales positions with Arborjet/Ecologel and Sigma Organics.
    Zakary is PBI-Gordon's new sales representative for Alabama and Georgia. He is responsible for managing all sales functions, developing new customers and business opportunities, and providing technical knowledge to PBI-Gordon's golf, professional lawn care and agricultural customers in that region.
    Zakary brings more than 25 years of professional turf industry experience to PBI-Gordon. Zakary, who graduated with a degree in agronomy and soils from Auburn University, most recently served as a territory manager for JRM, and before that held sales positions with Simplot and Harrell's, and served as the director of agronomy for Troon Golf.
    Brandt joined PBI-Gordon in 2020 as a warehouse manager. In his new role as national business coordinator, his responsibilities include:
    > Development and leadership in the field forecasting process.
    > Partnering with the legal department to oversee contract compliance and systems management.
    > Managing PBI-Gordon's sales data platform for the sales team.
    > Leading the fulfillment process to ensure accurate agreements and deliveries.
    With more than 20 years of experience in operations and warehouse management, Brandt previously worked for Mid America Merchandising, Alphabroder and Pacific Sunwear of California before joining PBI-Gordon. 
  • Perhaps nothing so far off in the future has been met with so much emotion than the recent joint announcement by the USGA and R&A on pending regulations on the golf ball.
    The rollback of golf ball technology designed to reduce distance has been met with furor by many recreational golfers and embraced by many of the game's best players, most notably Rory McIlroy.
    The plan for the rollback that will go into effect in 2028 is to reduce hitting distance for what the announcement called the "long-term stability of the game." 
    The USGA and R&A predict a loss of 10-15 yards per club for professionals, low-handicappers and long hitters, and 1-5 yards per club for everyone else. 

    Making it harder to get the ball on the green for the average golfer might not be the best thing for growing the game. Photo by John Reitman Some say that is a big deal, while others dismiss it. The truth depends on who you ask and who you’re talking about — tour pros who bomb it off the tee, or amateur players seeking ways to squeeze every possible yard out of every shot.
    According to one golf industry professional with an eye for golf course design and hosting play at the highest amateur level, the rollback goes too far for some golfers and not far enough for others.
    "I don't like it. It doesn't do enough to decrease distance for professional golfers, and anything that hurts the average golfer is not good," said golf journalist, architecture expert and founder of the Golfweek's Best raters system Brad Klein, Ph.D. "This isn't like the anchored putter where it affects only professional golfers. This affects everybody."
    At age 69, Klein says Mother Nature already is taking distance from his game faster than the USGA can. Losing additional yardage could change the game dramatically for older players who historically prop up the game's numbers from a participation standpoint. 
    "I used to be comfortable playing from about 6,800 yards. Now, I'm comfortable at about 5,800," he said. 
    "I figure with the changes to the golf ball a golf course will play 125 yards longer for me. The cat's already out of the bag, because so many courses are not relevant for the elite tour player."
    Klein, who was instrumental in starting the old Golfweek's SuperNEWS magazine, said he doesn't anticipate the rollback having much of an effect on superintendents, but said the rollback could have varied effects on course design.
    "New golf courses are designed to play at 7,500 to 7,800 yards," he said. "That's not going to change, but I think there will be a little less pressure to lengthen golf courses for anyone doing a renovation in the next three to four years."
    Taking distance away from the casual golfer is not good for a game that is trying to attract new players of different ages and cultural backgrounds as Baby Boomers gradually cycle out. 
    "I worry about that, but that's down the road," Klein said.
    Klein believes more should be done to change how the ball performs for the game's best players.
    "They're not changing ball performance at high speeds, and they're not changing equipment or physicality,” he said. “It doesn't go far enough."

    While casual golfers struggle with lost distance, elite tour players likely will be able to overcome such losses.
    "The reality is (USGA and R&A) don't know what the effect will be, because they don't have the ball yet," Klein said. "If the distance deteriorates for tour pros, I think what will happen is they'll just learn to swing harder. If it were up to me, I would have encouraged the ball manufacturers to develop a ball whose performance deteriorates at a certain ball speed, maybe 170 miles an hour. That would force tour players to gear back their swing."
    Some professional tour players were outspoken about the rollback, while others had a different view, including McIlroy, who spoke out on social media saying: "I don’t understand the anger about the golf ball roll back. It will make no difference whatsoever to the average golfer and puts golf back on a path of sustainability. It will also help bring back certain skills in the pro game that have been eradicated over the past 2 decades."
    With the growth and stability of the game paramount and much more reliant on daily play at the grassroots level than tour golf, some see opinions like McIlroy's as a bit out of touch.
    "Of course distance is a factor," Klein said. "To be so dismissive is a bit flip.
    "There's nothing wrong with collaborating to change the game. The USGA and R&A have been doing it for 120 years. But if you do it, you have to get it right. What they've done here is like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute."
  • The goal of the Syngenta-Spiio partnership will help turf managers make data-driven agronomic decisions. Spiio photo Syngenta and Spiio have entered into an agreement that pairs the latter's cellular, wireless soil-sensing technology with the former's portfolio of solutions for turfgrass managers, irrigation experts, parks and rec managers, tree-care companies and landscaping professionals.
    The partnership will help professional turf managers "evolve toward a future of precision agronomy and data-driven decision-making that complements the existing range of tools and services from Syngenta," according to a news release.
    Spiio's cellular, wireless sensors continuously monitor soil moisture, temperature and salinity and streams data to a cloud platform, allowing turf managers to create more precise agronomic programs across the course. It also simplifies hyperlocal data collection and analysis without time-consuming, manual measurements. It also complements existing Syngenta tools including precision weather forecasts, disease and insect models, as well as turf growth models. 
    "Our combined strengths in technology and agronomy will enable turf managers to make smart agronomic decisions for a better golfing experience for their players, while providing hyperlocal soil data to complement existing weather and modelling services provided by Syngenta," said Mike Parkin, global head of Syngenta Professional Solutions. "This solution aligns with our vision of creating a more sustainable future for golf."
    The cellular, wireless Spiio sensors continuously monitor the soil moisture, temperature and salinity and stream data to a cloud platform, allowing turf managers to create more precise agronomic programs across the course. The Spiio technology simplifies hyperlocal data collection and analysis without time-consuming, manual measurements. It also complements existing Syngenta tools including precision weather forecasts, disease and insect models, as well as turf growth models, according to the release. 
    "Once customers can access Spiio sensor data from their phone across the entire property, they can quickly identify areas of concern and receive notifications and agronomic alerts before conditions become critical," said Henrik Rosendahl, CEO of Spiio. "They can also track specific data trends over time and provide greater efficiency with better reporting and strategic planning. By collaborating with the Syngenta agronomic and research teams, we’ll be poised to create even more robust agronomic algorithms and recommendations in the future."
  • Anuew EZ is the byproduct of more than 15 years of research and 350-plus real-world field trials. Nufarm photo Anuew EZ plant growth regulator from Nufarm Americas is now registered for use in 47 states and Washington, D.C. 
    With the active ingredient prohexadione calcium, Anuew EZ is a liquid formulation labeled for use on warm- and cool-season turf, including common and hybrid Bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, St. Augustine, paspalum, and kikuyugrass as well as creeping bentgrass, annual and perennial bluegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and tall and fine fescues on golf courses, sports fields, parks and cemeteries, residential and commercial lawns and sod farms.
    Anuew EZ is a late-stage GA inhibitor that delivers long-lasting growth regulation allowing turf managers to spend less time mowing while also improving turf density and visual quality, which translates into cost and labor savings without compromising playability.
    "Golf course superintendents are consistently asked to do more with less," said Jeff Eldridge, Nufarm's US golf segment lead. "Tight budgets, environmental pressures and a lack of available labor continue to make course maintenance very challenging. With Anuew EZ, Nufarm is providing superintendents with innovative, flexible, easy-to-apply technology that can help them overcome those challenges while still delivering high-quality turfgrass that contributes to a more attractive, playable golf course."
    Anuew EZ has more than 15 years of research and field experience since 2016, on-site trials with cooperators and university and more than 350 real-world field trials throughout North America.
    In cool-season grasses, Anuew shifts carbohydrates to the plant's roots for improved visual quality and density. Anuew regulates turf growth leading to improved plant health and stress tolerance. It is long-lasting in cool-season turf and even more effective in warm-season varieties, according to research. Other benefits include even regulation of Poa in mixed stands and suppresses seedhead production in Poa annua as well as in zoysiagrass. By favoring Bermudagrass, Anuew also helps in promoting quicker spring green up.
    Aneuw EZ is registered in all 50 states except, Alaska, California and Maine.
  • Grass Clippings at Rolling Hills in Tempe is the first golf course in Arizona lit for night play. All photos by Grass Clippings via X Growing the game and promoting the role of the superintendent are two of the biggest challenges facing the golf industry. Well, that's the case at most places, anyway, except at Grass Clippings at Rolling Hills golf course in Arizona.
    Grass Clippings is an 18-hole executive course in Tempe that is a living, breathing testament to the work of golf greenkeepers, and since Dec. 1 has been lighted and open for nighttime play.
    "'Stay grassy and thank your greenskeeper.' That's our mantra, and it's on the front of every golf cart here," said Grass Clippings superintendent Scott Hebert. "We want to let people know that what we do is an art form."
    Opened in 1955, Rolling Hills began the transformation from humble 9-hole muni to Grass Clippings, an 18-hole executive course focused on the turf and those who maintain it, in 2018. The company entered into a 30-year lease with the city early this year, opened in November and last week became Arizona's only fully lit golf course open for night play.The course is played as an 18-hole executive course during the day and a par-3 course from dark until midnight when the lights are turned off.
    In just a week, golfers have been showing up in droves to play morning, noon and night at Grass Clippings.
    "In a full day, we can get 320-plus tee times," Hebert said.
    "Right now, this is like drinking from a fire hose."
    In the midst of a $15 million makeover, Grass Clippings is due for an updated clubhouse, outdoor bar area and an open space for events and live music, all designed to appeal to a new clientele.
    "I grew up in the East and learned all about golf etiquette," Hebert said. "It's a different culture here in the West. People want to listen to music when they play, they want to play barefoot, they want to have fun. We want to be what everyone wants out of golf. We are welcoming to all people."
    When Hebert made the move to Grass Clippings from TPC Scottsdale last year, he immediately set about the task of assembling his team that includes five salaried employees and eight hourly workers.
    "Initially, I was budgeted for 14 hourly staff, but I was able to tweak my budget and get more salaried workers," Hebert said. "I wanted to pay them and pay them well, because we had a lot of work to do."
    By the time Hebert came aboard, the course had fallen into disrepair and was defined by weeds and rock-hard ground. Grass Clippings sits on 95 acres in an urban area that is adjacent to the Phoenix Zoo and within minutes of Sky Harbor International Airport and Arizona State University. Hebert has reduced the amount of maintained turf from 45 to 32 acres. With a week of intense play in the books at Grass Clippings, the staff has already worked into a routine despite the amount of play and shorter windows for maintenance. 

    Grass Clippings at Rolling Hills is located in the shadows of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (shown here) and Arizona State University, where Sun Devil Stadium can be seen from the golf course in the nighttime photo above. "There were no cultural practices being done, and they don't have a proper irrigation," he said. 
    The course also did not have the best in equipment, and Hebert had to borrow what he needed to get started from other Phoenix-area courses with help from Troon.
    "We put down a lot of sand and seed. We spend a lot of time hand watering and fixing divots. We've had a good overseed. We didn't overseed the roughs so we can attack weeds over the winter. Agronomically we're in pretty good shape now."
    Hebert says it would be impossible to keep up with this pace of play without his staff that is labeled on the Grass Clippings Web site as "one of the best grounds crew in Arizona."
    "Our mechanics will jump on a mower when we need them to. Everyone knows this is a team game, we can't do it solo," Hebert said. "We have a lot of pride in what we have put together."
    Besides amenities like the patio bar and live music, future plans include updates to the golf course, including new teeing areas and moving a green, future plans also include hosting high-profile amateur events and a party atmosphere that hopefully will be reminiscent of another golf event in Arizona, all with the idea of making the game and the property more appealing to golfers of all skill levels, ages and backgrounds.
    "We want to make it fun like the Tucson Open," Hebert said. 
    "We think this place drives that home in a way that can't help but get people involved in golf."
  • With support from DryJect, the TurfNet Emerald Challenge will resume in Phoenix on Tuesday January 30th. The event is ideal for those looking for a casual, one-day, low key, friendly and affordable round of golf during their stay in Phoenix. The host course is the Legacy Golf Resort, just a short drive from the conference center.
    A long-standing feature of the event is a friendly competition between a group of Irish greenkeepers and their American counterparts.

    The Irish greenkeepers can always be counted on for laughs and good "craic". The first Emerald Challenge dates back to the first TurfNet members trip to Ireland in 2009. The event expanded in 2014 to include stateside venues during show week. In 2017 “The Byrne Cup” was added to the name of the competition to honor Jim Byrne, who is considered the father of professional greenkeeping in Ireland.
    "The exposure to colleagues from another country is outstanding," said Matthew Crowther, CGCS, of Cape Cod Country Club, a frequent participant in the event. "The friendships and camaraderie are instantaneous and seamless. It’s great to see this event happening again. It’s a highlight of the conference."     The 8:00 AM shotgun start on Tuesday of conference week will accommodate early risers and those with other plans that afternoon. The fee to participate is just $165 all in and may be billed directly or through yourTurfNet member account. Registration and event details are here. “We appreciate DryJect’s support of the event, which is always a fun day out for all participants," said Jon Kiger, TurfNet Director of Media and Membership and organizer of the event.
  • Sami Strutt has been a fixture at BIGGA, helping promote education for greenkeepers since 1993. Sami Strutt will resign as chief operating of the British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association to accept the role of education director at the Bernhard Academy.
    The change will become effective in February.
    Strutt has been with BIGGA for 30 years, starting in 1993 as an administration assistant. She rose through the ranks eventually being named COO in 2022. 
    "I have loved working for BIGGA, and I anticipated spending my entire career with the association," Strutt said in a news release. "Being able to have so much input into a business that I joined when I was so young was amazing, but I'm certain that this move is the right decision. This opportunity with the Bernhard Academy is one that I never imagined would be made available to me, so it is one that I couldn't turn down. My certainty that this is the right decision is testament to what I have achieved with BIGGA, as the association has given me the experience and ability to take this next step."

    During Strutt's time with BIGGA, the association developed the Continue to Learn education program, Continuing Professional Development system and the Future Turf Managers' Initiative. She was instrumental in the development of the Master Greenkeeper Certificate and the Toro Student Greenkeeper of the Year Awards. 
    During that time BIGGA also expanded its footprint with superintendents in North America, many of whom achieved Master Greenkeeper statusa, and through the BIGGA Delegation to the GCSAA Conference and Trade Show with Bernhard and Co.
    "I first met Sami in San Antonio in 2015, and while there she encouraged me to apply to speak at BIGGA's Continue to Learn. All I had were a couple of ideas of non-technical, marketing-related topics that might be of interest," said Jon Kiger of TurfNet. "Between the members voting on what presentations they would attend and Sami's guidance I was chosen to create and present three topics at Continue to Learn in 2016 - all from scratch. This included the Turf Managers Conference where I found myself on stage with several of the Ph.D.s we've had present for TurfNet University. That started a small, but meaningful stretch of presenting similar topics in Canada, Scotland, and around the US and even writing for BIGGA's Greenkeeper International magazine. That experience helped me grow as a professional and give back to our industry. I will be forever grateful to Sami for encouraging me to start that aspect of my career." 
    In recent years, Strutt assisted BIGGA Chief Executive Jim Croxton as the association navigated the Covid-19 pandemic, hosting webinars to give BIGGA members ongoing access to digital learning despite the enforced cancellation of BTME in 2021.

    "When many people think of BIGGA, they think of Sami Strutt," Croxton said in a release. "She's been a fundamental part of our team for over 30 years and has been at the heart of many of the things that are good about our association. She's a hugely popular and important member of the BIGGA family and we're disappointed to lose her, but thrilled that she's got an opportunity to make her mark on the wider industry and one that will hopefully align with BIGGA's strategic ambitions going forwards.
    "I'm sad to lose a valued colleague but glad that we'll still be in regular contact. She's had a wonderful journey with BIGGA and I'm proud that the Bernhard Academy has chosen her to take on this key role."
    Strutt is a graduate of The R&A's Women in Golf Leadership Program and has since progressed to become a coach for the program.
    Although she is changing positions, Strutt emphasized she has no intentions of leaving the golf scene.
    "I'm not leaving the industry, and I will continue to attend BTME every year as long as I am working in this industry, which I intend to be until I retire," Strutt said. "It's where I live. It's where I belong. It's where I grew up."
    The Bernhard Academy is an educational program to further train leaders in the golf industry and promote the profession.
    The academy features a list of management and technical courses that have been developed over the past year-plus and offer valuable opportunities for attendees to take away real-world skills and solutions that can enhance the performance of their turf maintenance facility on a day-to-day basis.
    Courses include cutting unit setup and sharpening; the power of understanding others; using data and information for solid decision-making; principles of innovation and how to generate great ideas in the workplace; managing finance, preparing and controlling budgets; stakeholder communication and engagement techniques that work; effective project management skills; and change – how to prepare and manage effectively; performance management and unlocking maximum productivity.
    Each course will be delivered in a world-class learning environment at either Moortown Golf Club or Royal Norwich Golf Club in England, Gleneagles in Scotland and the Bernhard Academy headquarters in Haverhill, England.There will also be an interactive online Webinar series.
  • Hubbard Golf Course in Utah is located at Hill Air Force Base. Hubbard GC photo For 30 years, the PGA Utah Section has been recognizing the work of golf course superintendents with its annual superintendent of the year award.
    This year's winners are Eric Gifford (private club category) and Jason Moon (public course category).
    Gifford (right) is superintendent at The Country Club in Salt Lake City. Moon is superintendent at Hubbard Golf Course at Hill Air Force Base located between Salt Lake City and Ogden.
    Gifford is an Oklahoma State University graduate. He was the recipient of the Utah GCSA Superintendent of the Year Award in 2018 when he was at Riverside Country Club. 
    A product of the horticulture science department at Utah State University, Moon (left) has been the superintendent at Hubbard since 2018. 
    He has 39 years of experience in the golf industry, including greenkeeping, irrigation sales and course construction.
    He was the assistant superintendent at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington, Utah, from 1993 to 2007 before being promoted to superintendent in 2003. In total, he spent 17 years at Hubbard before moving on to Turf Equipment and Irrigation Inc., where he spent six years in irrigation equipment sales.
    The PGA's Utah chapter has been presenting the superintendent of the year awards annually since 1993.
  • An irrigation audit under way at the Bear Trace at Harrison Bay in Harrison, Tennessee. Photo by Paul Carter There are countless stories that are a mouse click away that slam golf and everything it is about, from how they allegedly waste water to poisoning the soil with pesticides and fertilizers to handling animals that root in the soil. The reality is few if any of those stories perpetrated by mainstream media are based in fact, and superintendents are far ahead of the curve when it comes to environmental stewardship. To that end, when it comes to communicating the sustainability efforts of a golf, the best choice to convey the message is in the mirror.
    "For me, it's vitally important to show the world and our community that we are stewards of the land," said Paul Carter, CGCS at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay in Harrison, Tennessee (at right). "We sit on 660 acres and we maintain 125 of that. Three-quarters of the property is the residence for the wildlife here. It's their home, we just come out here to play.
    "We have to be conscious of what we do on the property and the only way to let people know what we're doing is to tell our story."
    Stewardship is something Carter wears on his sleeve at Harrison Bay. The property has been certified in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf since 2008, and the course became known around the globe 12 years ago when a video camera perched atop a tree showed the parenting skills of bald eagles to viewers around the world.
    Since then, visitors, many of them non-golfers, descend on Harrison Bay each winter to get a close-up view of the eagles in their natural habitat as well as the golf operation at work. The eagle cam will return next year after taking a year off to update the set up with new equipment. 
    "We have the Friends of Harrison Bay State Park who monitor our bluebird boxes, and every Tuesday after the eagles hatch we open the 11th hole for people to photograph and view the eagles," Carter said. "We do that for about three months, those are people who never play golf. They get to see us maintaining the golf course, and we stop and talk to them because we're spokesmen for the golf course. We try our best to put that out there by inviting the community on the golf course and see what we're doing.
    "Being in front of people and telling our story is vitally important."
    In Greenwich, Connecticut, Jim Pavonetti, CGCS, is a mouthpiece for Fairview Country Club as well as a handful of other private clubs in the town.
    Earlier this year, Pavonetti was named a winner of the GCSAA Environmental Leaders in Golf Award at Fairview, which has been a certified Audubon property for 13 years. This year was the ninth time Pavonetti has been an ELGA winner since 2006. He submitted his work at Fairview for a sustainability award given by the Greenwich Sustainability.

    Fairview Country Club in Greenwich, Connecticut. Photo by Jim Pavonetti Although he did not win the award, Pavonetti did not walk away empty handed.
    "I didn't get it, but I got invited to be on the committee," Pavonetti said. "Now, I get to represent golf and the interests of eight private clubs in one town."
    The committee includes a diverse cross section of Greenwich residents, including engineers, local leaders and concerned citizens.
    "It's nice to have a voice," Pavonetti (at right) said. "And if they're going to pass an ordinance that would affect golf, I can try to change that or at least talk to them about it."
    Pavonetti sees his place on the committee as an avenue to communicate what he and other superintendents in Connecticut do for the environment.
    "This is me getting out of my comfort zone," he said. "This is the opposite of me, but I'm doing it, and when I speak, everyone stops talking and they listen to every word."
    Indeed, others on the committee recognize Pavonetti's expertise. A woman on the committee who is committed to keeping natural grass fields throughout the town comes to him for advice as a turfgrass expert.
    Among Pavonetti's goals while on the committee is to promote smart water use among non-golf constituencies.
    "My focus is protecting water quality and water conservation," he said. "You can drive through my town or your town and see sprinklers running in every office park when it's raining. Golf courses aren't doing that. It's residents of the town are doing that."
    Pavonetti says not to discount the importance of government outreach efforts.
    "Some of the most important things in my New York and Connecticut days were to go lobby and sit with legislators, explain some of the bills that were coming up and how they were going to affect golf, and how those bills may or may not be based in science. Legislators are pressured by the public, or the media. If they approve a new pesticide, there are those who will turn it around with no education even though new products are 10 times safer than the old ones that are less desirable.
    "Politicians promise voters, especially on Long Island, that they won't allow any more pesticides. That sounds great to a homeowner, but those decisions are not educated decisions."
    That's why, as Harrison Bay's Carter says, it's best to look within to communicate what you do.
    "Nobody tells your story better than you," Carter said. "So, don't let anyone else tell it for you."
  • The work of the John Deere Foundation could not be accomplished without the efforts of the company's employees. John Deere photo John Deere has a history of supporting charitable endeavors that spans decades. Giving to worthy causes occurs both in the many communities in which Deere operates and elsewhere around the world through its foundation.
    Reportedly one of the earliest corporate foundations established for community support efforts, the John Deere Foundation started with an $18,000 commitment to the Moline Community Chest in the company’s hometown in western Illinois. 
    As it celebrates its 75th anniversary, the John Deere Foundation has grown in lockstep with its parent company, giving out more than $400 million since its founding in 1948.
    "Whenever we give freely to nonprofit organizations and provide them with the resources they can use to better serve others, they have a greater impact. . . . (T)he Foundation strives to earn the trust of the nonprofits and communities we serve," said Nate Clark, Global Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and President of the John Deere Foundation. "This is our legacy and our future."
    Two years ago, the foundation announced a commitment to award a minimum of $200 million during the next decade. In those two years, the foundation has exceeded $68 million in total giving, provided 42 million meals to those in need, supported 6,000 non-profit organizations and served 290,000 marginalized youth through its educational programs.
    None of this work would be possible without the sweat and hard work of Deere’s employees, who in the past two years have contributed more than 550,000 volunteer hours (including 260,000 this year) and $10 million in personal donations.
    "When John Deere employees volunteer for or give to causes that mean something to them, they create a ripple effect that has an immediate impact on individuals and families within our home communities," said John May, CEO of John Deere and Chairman of the John Deere Foundation. "The John Deere Foundation has been a powerful catalyst for change since 1948, and we will continue to invest generously in organizations that help relieve and uplift our neighbors. It's about treating people with honesty, integrity, and respect—plain and simple."
  • On the back of golf's resurgent popularity, the Carolinas GCSA enjoyed one of its most successful conferences.
    According to the 1,800-member Carolinas chapter, its 2023 conference and show in Myrtle Beach attracted 1,995 attendees from 30 states and Canada, the most since 2,006 attended the 2013 show. The show, held Nov. 13-14, grossed a record $830,000-plus, which is more than a 15 percent increase from last year's record-setting show.
    "There are all sorts of metrics people use to gauge how the industry is doing – rounds, memberships, renovation and construction activity – but at the end of the day, the big tell is how much industry players are spending. And there might be no better snapshot of that in this region than our Conference and Show," said Tim Kreger, Carolinas GCSA executive director.

    The 2023 Carolinas GCSA Conference and Show set record highs for gross revenue and education seats sold. Photo courtesy of Trent Bouts "This is where golf course superintendents come for education and to meet face to face with manufacturers, suppliers and service providers. When all those groups turn up and spend like they did this year, you know the game is in a great place."
    The show also set a new record with 1,511 education seminar seats sold, eclipsing the previous high of 1,366 in 2019.
    In other conference highlights:
    Pete Gerdon, from Grandfather Golf and Country Club in Linville, North Carolina, was elected the association's 50th president; Three new members to the board of directors were elected — Eric Dusa, CGCS from Marlboro County Golf and Recreational Complex in Bennettsville, South Carolina; Matt Jones, CGCS from Forsyth Country Club in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; and Todd Lawrence, CGCS from The Country Club at Wakefield Plantation in Raleigh, North Carolina; Fred Yelverton, Ph.D., of North Carolina State University, received the Distinguished Service Award; Steve Agazzi, from Charleston Municipal Golf Course in Charleston, South Carolina, won the golf championship presented in partnership with Toro and Smith Turf & Irrigation; Adam Cribbet, from Old Tabby Links at Spring Island in Okatie, South Carolina, won the sporting clays championship; Ron Kelly, CGCS from the Country Club of North Carolina in Pinehurst, North Carolina, won a fishing trip for two to Panama in the 27-Hole Challenge; Eric Church, from Hound Ears Club in Blowing Rock, North Carolina was named Turf Equipment Technician of the Year by the Turf Equipment Technicians Association of the Carolinas; Clemson University's No. 1 team and Horry-Georgetown Technical College recorded the first tie in the history of the Turf Bowl.
  • Create New...