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From the TurfNet NewsDesk

  • John Reitman
    Lawmakers in Oregon are proposing converting golf courses like Pumpkin Ridge (above) for industrial use. Pumpkin Ridge photo Pumpkin Ridge has been the site of several championship events. If some lawmakers in Oregon have their way, the 36-hole club outside Portland might never see another one.
    A host site of the U.S. Junior Amateur, U.S. Amateur, and a stop on the Korn Ferry, LPGA and LIV tours, 350-acre Pumpkin Ridge has been tossed around in Salem as a potential site of semiconductor factory. The same fate has been discussed for the Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club in nearby Aloha.
    Both locations are near the town of Hillsboro, which is the home of numerous semiconductor manufacturers and suppliers.
    The proposal is in response to Senate Bill 4, which gives Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek authority to designate farmland for industrial development.
    "Farmland has inadequate protections in the bill," legislators wrote. "Large, open fields in the Willamette Valley are not purposeless. These fields are feeding our families, Oregonians, and the world. A member-only golf course does not."
    Both golf courses are privately owned, and neither owner has expressed any interest in selling, according to the Oregonian, a Portland-based newspaper.
    SB 4 provides $190 million in grants and loans for chipmakers and their suppliers, $10 million for academic research and another $10 million for industrial development. It also gives the governor power through next year to designate hundreds of acres of rural land for industrial development.
  • Superintendents managing cool-season grasses have a new tool in their arsenal for post-emergent weed control.
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has expanded the label for Syngenta's Manuscript herbicide to include use on cool-season turf.
    Previously labeled for use on Bermudagrass and zoysiagrass and golf courses, sports fields and sod farms since it hit the market in 2018, Manuscript now is also approved for control of post-emergent weeds on fine fescue and Poa annua.
    With the active ingredient pinoxaden and formulated with a surfactant to maximize efficacy, Manuscript is labeled for control of a host of post-emergent weeds, including bahiagrass, dallisgrass, coastal sandbur, large crabgrass, smooth crabgrass, tropical signalgrass, tropical carpetgrass, kikuyugrass, paspalum, ryegrass and torpedograss.
    Manuscript can be used anytime weeds are actively growing, including in the heat of the summer when desired turfgrass is actively growing and fills in more rapidly.
    Manuscript is formulated with a built-in safener that speeds the metabolism of pinoxaden in desirable turf to help improve turf safety without sacrificing control of mature, difficult-to-control weeds. This allows for effective spot treatments, further improving selectivity against tough weeds.
    Manuscript is packaged with Adigor surfactant from Syngenta, which is custom-built for use with the herbicide and maximizes the quantity and rate of absorption of pinoxaden, as well as the degree of translocation once pinoxaden is in the plant.
    Manuscript should not be tank mixed with phenoxy herbicides, such as 2,4-D, which can compromise its efficacy, but is a safe tank mix partner with sulfonylurea herbicides.
  • Mention the phrase golf course dog, and Toto of Wizard of Oz fame is hardly the first mutt that comes to mind.
    Dorothy's pup might not roam the fairways of Foxfire Golf and Country Club in Jackson Springs, North Carolina, but his bleached lookalike, Chloe, does.
    Chloe is a 5-year-old Cairn terrier (the same breed as Toto) that Foxfire superintendent Mario Copeland inherited when his neighbor, and the dog's previous owner, Maria Lyle-purdy, passed away a little more than two years ago.
    Ever since, Chloe has not left Copeland's side - literally. Despite her diminutive stature, Chloe rides with Copeland everywhere - on a mower or spray rig, and in his utility vehicle. And when Chloe isn't riding, she's usually on the course somewhere greeting golfers.
    "If I don't bring her with me, she gives me that look," Copeland said. 
    "If members don't see her for a couple of days, they think something is wrong and ask me where she is."
    Chloe came to Foxfire five years ago, when Lyle-purdy, an elderly woman who lived next door to Copeland in a condo in the golf community, wanted a companion.
    Copeland, 49, has worked at Foxfire for 27 years, including four as superintendent, 10 as assistant and 13 seasons on the crew. In that time, Copeland, who also lives at the golf course, befriended his elderly neighbor. When the time came to go to Charleston, South Carolina to pick out a pup from a litter of Toto wannabes, Copeland accompanied his neighbor and friend. 
    "She was lonely. She didn't have anyone," Copeland said.
    "When she fell and broke her hip, I took care of her."
    Copeland was out of town when Lyle-purdy died at home two-and-a-half years ago, and the dog was alone in her unit for a week until her body was discovered. Chloe was taken to the pound by authorities, and Copeland hurried to get the dog before someone else did in an effort to make good on a vow he had made to his neighbor.
    "I always promised her that I would take the dog if something happened to her," Copeland said. 
    "When I found out she was at the pound, I rushed right over there."
    Although Copeland has known Chloe since the beginning, the two are now inseparable.
    "Mario lives alone and then this dog comes into his life. Now, he's like a doting father," said Foxfire project manager Rick Tufts. "He was never like that before.
    "They're a perfect match. They feed off each other."
    Copeland describes Chloe as a friendly and fearless beast.
    "The golfers love her and bring her treats," he said. 
    "When a hurricane came through here, I'd been on a backhoe and got on the golf cart to look for her. I found her swimming in the pond. That dog is scared of nothing."
  • Tourney EZ liquid fungicide is labeled for control of several diseases. Nufarm photo For turfgrass managers who want the control of a granular fungicide in a liquid formulation, Nufarm recently launched Tourney EZ.
    With the active ingredient metconazole, Tourney EZ is a liquid formulation of Nufarm's granular fungicide. Ready for sale this spring, the new liquid Tourney EZ is a broad-spectrum DMI fungicide lasting up to 28 days for effective preventative applications on more than 16 tough turf and ornamental diseases, including dollar spot, brown patch and fairy ring; ornamental diseases apple scab, anthracnose, leaf spots, powdery mildew and conifer blights.
    Tourney EZ was developed, based on customer feedback, as an alternative to the granular version of Tourney.
    "Our partners and applicators communicated this was a need, and we delivered," said Blaine Pinkerton, Vice President, Turf and Ornamental Sales in the US for Nufarm.
    The new liquid Tourney EZ is a broad-spectrum DMI fungicide lasting up to 28 days for effective preventative applications on more than 16 tough turf and ornamental diseases − including turf diseases dollar spot, brown patch and fairy ring; ornamental diseases apple scab, anthracnose, leaf spots, powdery mildew and conifer blights.
    Preventive and early curative applications of Tourney Fungicide are effective at controlling three tough turf diseases - anthracnose, brown patch and Fairy Ring - when applied as directed.
    It is safe for use by golf course superintendents, sports turf managers, lawncare operators, on sod farms and in greenhouses.
    The liquid formulation has the same low use rate as the water-dispersible granule for both foliar and drench applications, allowing Tourney EZ users to do more with less.
  • Golf course superintendents seeking to enhance their business acumen can now apply for this year's Syngenta Business Institute.
    In its 15th year, SBI is an intensive four-day program designed to grow the professional knowledge of golf course superintendents and assist them with managing their courses. Through a partnership with the Wake Forest University School of Business, the program provides graduate school-level instruction in financial management, human resource management, negotiating, managing across generations and cultural divides, impact hiring and other leadership- and professional-development skills.
    The four-day event is scheduled for Dec. 5-8 at the Graylyn International Conference Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Deadline to apply is Aug. 21.

    Wake Forest's Bill Davis, Ph.D., (left) teaches a session in negotiating at a previous Syngenta Business Institute. "We know superintendents are responsible for not only managing course agronomics, but also being exceptional leaders, which is why Syngenta has been committed to this program for 15 years," said Stephanie Schwenke, turf market manager for Syngenta. "The education by Wake Forest University MBA professors is truly elite. It is refreshing to see the superintendents who complete the program eager to implement the strategies they have learned."
    The 2023 SBI curriculum will feature educational courses designed to teach superintendents critical business leadership skills. Superintendents will also be given the opportunity to build valuable connections with industry professionals throughout the week. Topics to be covered include:
    > Work/life balance
    > Negotiations
    > Leadership/decision-making
    > Tools for managing employees
    > Leading across cultures and generations
    "It's a lot of work, but work that will come back to you tenfold," said Jill Seymour, CGCS, golf course superintendent at Charleston Springs Golf Course in Millstone, New Jersey. "I met three fellow superintendents all within an hour of me who I have stayed in contact with since."
    Class size for SBI is limited to maximize participation. Attendees must be employed as a superintendent, director of agronomy or at an equivalent level in the U.S. golf course industry to be eligible. 
    "2023 will mark the 15th year of the Syngenta Business Institute, yet each year we continue to make curricular changes to better reflect the needs of the participants," said Kerry Shronts, executive director of executive education at Wake Forest University. "For that reason, we worked extensively with Syngenta to integrate additional leadership content into the curriculum to better prepare SBI participants for enhanced leadership roles."
    To apply, visit GreenCastOnline.com/SBI. Superintendents can also contact their local Syngenta territory manager for more information. To be considered, candidates must fill out an application, which includes a short essay on why they should be chosen to attend. 
    Applications must be submitted online by midnight PDT on Aug. 21. Selected participants will be notified in October.
  • Editor's note: This is not a fishing expedition for sympathy - rather just one person's story that hopefully might help others.
    My wife was a woman of deep faith. She always told me "God never gives you more than you can handle." 
    I never gave that much thought before. That is, not until Susan, my wife of 29 years, was stricken with an incurable brain disease, signaling the start of a five-year battle she lost on March 14 at the age of 62.
    Let me start by saying that I am an intensely private person, and sharing this story, while therapeutic, is also difficult.
    Throughout all the unknowns of this journey that began in the spring of 2018, as we went from doctor to doctor and hospital to hospital for two-and-a-half years seeking a diagnosis, to the past 27 months of horror as her disease slowly sapped her of her ability to move, my wife fought every day with bravery and dignity even as she lie dying in a hospital bed in our home in Kentucky. Although this rare disease, known as Multiple System Atrophy, took her life, it never took her faith.
    For those who, like me, have never heard of this disease, it is a rare form of Parkinson's disease that affects the brain's ability to control motor skills. For Susan, those symptoms first manifested in difficulty walking, then speaking, then using her hands. By spring of 2018, at age 57, the first signs that something was wrong were changes to her gait as she walked. By 2019, she was unable to write legibly and her speech was slurred. A year later, she had fallen in the house a half-dozen times. All the while, specialists at Ohio State and Cleveland Clinic were stumped. Covid restrictions resulted in canceled or postponed appointments all while this invisible foe continued its work.
    Finally, a fall that ended with a broken hip in November 2020 sent her to a Lexington, Kentucky hospital for a month for surgery and rehabilitation. Although she would never walk on her own again, it was during that stay that another specialist assigned to her case was able to diagnose her condition — an incurable brain disease that would eventually result in death from some other condition, such as a stroke or pneumonia, caused by a weakened immune system.
    There were many unknowns, mainly how long would it take for this disease to run its course. Although the typical duration was about seven or eight years, there were reports of people living 15 years with MSA, so there was room for cautious optimism. 
    Susan's neurologist labeled her case "the most aggressive I've ever seen" so optimism soon gave way to a heavy dose of reality.

    Happier times with Susan and our daughter, Lauren, during our last trip together as a family - a quick jaunt to Pittsburgh in 2021. Throughout the duration of this ordeal, Susan fought every day with unwavering optimism, convinced she would beat her affliction. She proved, beyond a doubt, that even in the face of death there was nothing she could not handle.
    For me, it was a different story entirely.
    There is not a more difficult job than being a caregiver. The ordeal left me drained emotionally and physically, and each night after my wife fell asleep and I finally had "me time" I sought refuge in a bottle. I thought drinking every night would provide an escape, but every morning, after the alcohol had worn off, the same problems were there — a partner who could not get out of bed, who eventually was unable to eat solid food or swallow medication and, without going into too much detail, could not do any of the basic things the rest of us take for granted.
    Almost overnight, I had gone from just being a provider to taking on every task around the house on top of being a caregiver.
    For a year-and-a-half every day I lifted her out of bed, bathed her, got her dressed, fed her three meals a day, and lifted her back into bed in the evening. After 18 months, finally at my wit's end, I bit the bullet and hired a private aide to help out a few days each week. Still, there were nights and weekends and carrying two houses and putting a kid through college. Suffice to say, the stress was off the chart.
    I kept remembering that advice Susan had offered so many times before. "God never gives you more than you can handle." Then I would turn to the bottle.
    She continued to fight each day with courage while I crumbled under far less weight. She never played the victim or felt sorry for herself, although she had earned every right to do so. When she no longer could eat solid food (which occurred the day after Thanksgiving), she was forced onto a liquid-only diet of smoothies, shakes and broth. Hardly enough to sustain any weight. When she no longer had the strength to tilt her head back to drink from a cup, she drank through a straw. When she no longer had the muscle control to draw liquid through a straw, we had to spoon feed her food and drink. Throughout it all, she never showed fear of what we knew was coming. Each day she said, through an assistive communication device, that she was waiting for a sign and was not ready to die. While she kept her faith, I found salvation in bourbon.
    In her final days, after shedding about 50 pounds and her body racked with pain, she found comfort in the same pain-management medication that she had refused for so long. It takes guts to die with dignity.
    Like flipping a switch, my own reliance on liquid salvation ended with her death, for which I am thankful, and today, I realize there is nothing so great that I cannot handle it. The proof was always right in front of me. I just never recognized it.
    Special thanks to my daughter, Lauren; my colleagues at TurfNet - Peter, Jon, Dom and Steve; and my many cherished friends for their continued support through this life-defining journey.
  • A project that goes by the name Trout National and involves Tiger Woods sounds like an Idaho resort that combines a golf course with a scenic, fish-filled stream.
    Instead, it describes a golf course under construction in southern New Jersey that includes not just Woods, but Major League star and Garden State native and resident Mike Trout.
    Trout National-The Reserve, is being built (at right) in the three-time American League MVP’s hometown of Vineland 40 miles south of Philadelphia. Designed by Woods' TGR Design golf course architecture firm, the course is scheduled to open in 2025.
    Trout says he took up golf while in high school in New Jersey. He and wife Jessica, also a south Jersey native, have considered owning a course since just before the Covid pandemic. 
    "I could put down roots anywhere in the country, but Jessica and I make south Jersey our off-season home and always cherish the time we get to spend there," Trout said in a news release. "I love south Jersey and I love golf, so creating Trout National-The Reserve is a dream come true. And then to add to that we'll have a golf course designed by Tiger? It's just incredible to think that this project has grown to where we're going to be working with someone many consider the greatest and most influential golfer of all time."
    When Trout and partners on the project John and Lorie Ruga settled on a location, which happens to be the site of a former sand mine, the Los Angeles Angels star had only one designer in mind.
    "I've always enjoyed watching Mike on the diamond so when the opportunity arose to work with him on Trout National-The Reserve, I couldn't pass it up," Woods said in a statement. "It's a great site for golf and our team's looking forward to creating a special course for Mike, Jessica, John and Lorie."
  • What started for Jason Podris as a one year trial of living in Ireland has evolved into an extended career and family track with a focus on work/life balance. A 2000 Rutgers graduate originally from the Poughkeepsie, NY area, Podris married a woman from Ireland and in 2005 the couple embarked on their trial run living in her home country. After several intermediate stops in the Republic of Ireland — including The K Club and Galway Bay Golf Resort — Podris in 2012 accepted the position of course manager at Fortwilliam Golf Club in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he and his family relocated.
    As his wife Catherine is an Irish citizen, living and working legally in Ireland was not an issue for Podris. His visa applications were easy and straightforward until he applied for permanent residency in Northern Ireland. That application involved a test that included much of the history of Great Britain. After intense study he was approved for long term residency.
    Fortwilliam Golf Club was established in 1891 and moved to its present-day site in 1903. The club has approximately 1100 members, 500 of whom are golf members. Podris manages the property with a year-round staff of only five people, which expands to seven during the summer months — paltry by American standards.

    When comparing expectations of his membership to golfers in the States Podris explained, “Both groups want fast, true greens, but the membership here understands the limitations of having a small staff as it relates to the other areas of the course. Slight imperfections and an occasional trouble area are accepted without complaint."
    At his previous two positions (The K Club and Galway Bay), Podris brought the intense American superintendent work ethic and thought nothing of being on the job 60-70 hours per week.  Since his move to Belfast, his work week is typically in the 37-39 hour range. The only exceptions are a few weeks with major club events when he might work 45-50 hours. 
    Podris and members of his team routinely take their vacations in season, when children are out of school and families can get away together. With coordination of duties and tasks, the course is still maintained to the same standard. Weekends are also rotated so that staff can have that time to be with their families.  

    Flanking Jason Podris (c) are Fred Turkington (30+ years at the club) and Owen Eggelston (3 yrs). One adjustment Podris had to make was the limited availability of products from suppliers in Ireland compared to the United States. There are fewer chemicals available to golf courses there but thankfully there are fewer pests overall. 
    While there are dealer and distributor networks in Ireland, they tend to be much smaller and farther afield than in the States. It’s not unusual for Podris to wait a week or more for a part that would arrive the same day or overnight in the States. “Growing up in an environment where everything is needed ‘now’ it took a long time – easily years – to get over that expectation,” Podris said. He keeps internal communications open and his management team in the loop.
    The maintenance budget at Fortwilliam Golf Club is small by US standards. His entire budget is £225,000 ($271,000). Of that, £60,000 ($72,000) is budgeted for supplies and materials. The rest is allocated to labor. 
    To say the irrigation system there is antiquated is an understatement. The club only needs to irrigate for three or four weeks a year. A system of pipes and hoses delivers the water where it is needed and an upgrade to the system isn’t in the cards for the future. 

    The irrigation system is rudimentary at best but only required 3-4 weeks of the year. Another challenge for Podris is course drainage. The course is built on a heavy clay soil which doesn’t drain well, especially in the winter months. The club’s solution is to take a few of the worst holes out of play for much of the winter to preserve the turf there.
    As for limiting the incidence of turf disease, Podris explained, “It all goes back to the basics, about making sure your soils are healthy. Aerify and use fertility products that promote plant health. The goal is just to keep your plant healthy throughout the year.”
    Podris encountered several practices in Ireland that he didn’t see as often in the States – scarifying and fairway topdressing. He explained that even the smallest clubs topdress fairways and have for twenty or more years. Each year Podris applies over 300 tons of sand to the Fortwilliam fairways. The club employs an outside contractor who completes the job in one day. 

    Some golf holes at Fortwilliam Golf Club look across the Lough of Belfast to the east. As for professional development, Podris can rarely get to the industry conferences so instead opts for keeping up with current information from TurfNet and other online media. “Between running the golf course and having two teenagers and an eight-year-old the time for offsite professional development has been kind of taken away. I’m not saying it’s not important, it’s just not a top priority for me at this time.”

    To the northwest, Fortwilliam GC is surrounded by views of the Cavehill, a rocky hill overlooking the city of Belfast. Note the wet fairway conditions in the foreground, a chronic issue at Fortwilliam. Asked what he would tell other industry professionals who are considering an international career move, Podris replied, “Over in the States you’re always encouraged to move around and work at as many golf courses as you can to get that experience. Why not try to do that in another country? The time pressure here is much less and that translates to more time that you can spend with your family. That has been a great benefit of working over here. If you can figure out that balance and get it someplace else, it’s a great thing to do.”
    — Jon Kiger
    Jason can be reached at jpodris@hotmail.com.
  • With winter all but an afterthought this year in much of the country, one might think such conditions might make a fertile environment for a bumper crop of white grubs. According to former University of Kentucky entomologist Dan Potter, Ph.D., golf course superintendents have little to fear this summer — at least where grubs are concerned.
    According to Potter, unseasonably warm weather throughout January, February and March has nothing to do with how many grubs will emerge to plague golf courses this summer.
    "When they go into winter dormancy, they go down pretty deep," said Potter, recipient of the 2010 USGA Green Section Award. "They might come out a little early, but there is no evidence to suggest we will get a second generation this summer."
    Grubs operate on a biological clock.
    They have what Potter described as a "natural antifreeze" that allows them to survive in frozen soil.
    "They are not going to freeze in cold weather either," Potter said. "They don't freeze at the same temperature as water. You can put them in the freezer and open it later and they will still be alive."
    The average daily temperature in Lexington, Kentucky where Potter is located is 37 degrees Fahrenheit. This winter has been anything but average. The daily high in Lexington exceeded 50 degrees on 22 of 28 days in February and topped 60 degrees on 12 of those day.
    Then what happens in a year like this when temperatures are above normal? 
    "If it's never been cold, how do they know it's time to come out?" Potter asked rhetorically. "That's a really good question. But a mild winter never seems to change their lifecycle."

    Potter, who has been one of the country's leading voices on white grubs, said not much has changed in understanding grubs in the past 40 years.
    "I still follow the 1980s timetables for egg development," he said.
    One thing grubs need for survival is moisture in the soil to ensure the viability of the eggs. If there is not enough moisture in the oil, the eggs might not hatch.
    Soil moisture levels of at least 10 percent in summer when adult beetles lay their eggs will go much farther than unseasonably warm conditions at ensuring a successful hatch.
    Beetles also are adept at seeking out fertile territory for depositing their eggs.
    "They will seek out a moist place to lay their eggs," Potter said. 
    In times of drought, moist soil can be found on irrigated grounds, like a golf course. 
    "I don't make predictions about whether it is going to be a good year for grubs, because you never really know," Potter said. "I might have said that before at a field day in front of a lot of people because I wanted to sound wise.
    "When there is plenty of rain in July and August there is always good egg survival. When there's drought, there is not good survival except on places like irrigated fairways and roughs. The most damage is always going to be in an irrigated rough."
  • Amanda Folck is the new turfgrass extension specialist for the University of Nebraska in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture. Her appointment, which began Jan. 1, is 90 percent extension and 10 percent teaching.
    Her appointment at Nebraska will be a new challenge in Folck's career.
    "I am intrigued by the geographical differences between the various environments in Nebraska," Folck said in a news release. "Based on my experience with warm- and cool-season turfgrass and, in extension, it felt like a good fit to come here."
    A native of Wisconsin, Folck grew up on her family's farm in Mechanicsburg, Ohio, where she was immersed in 4-H.
    Even with her background in livestock, Folck grew up with an interest in flora.
    "I have always been interested in plants because of my experience on the farm," she said. "My family planted and grew various fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, watermelons, peas and pumpkins."
    Folck earned a bachelor's degree in sustainable plant systems in turfgrass science with a minor in plant pathology from Ohio State in 2017 and a master's in horticulture from Purdue in 2022.
    Her experience also includes five years as an assistant sports turf manager at Texas A&M and at Purdue.
    At Texas A&M, Folck worked on Ellis Field, the school's soccer field, and assisted with other Aggie athletic fields.
    "I chose turfgrass because there are different types of grasses and cultivars that can work in different environments," she said. "Another benefit is the versatility of using turfgrass for athletic events on television, from soccer games to golf tournaments in the PGA."
    Now, Folck says, she's excited to be part of the turfgrass team at Nebraska and give back, based on her experiences in the turfgrass industry, and help provide outreach to assist turfgrass stakeholders in the state. In addition to her extension role, she will also be teaching the Plant and Landscape Systems 427 Turfgrass System Management capstone course to turfgrass science and management undergraduates.
  • Someone should remind Frank Dobie that he is retired.
    Dobie, 82, spent 60 years as a golf course superintendent, including an incredible 56 years as head greenkeeper and general manager at the same place before he retired (supposedly) in 2020.
    That would be enough work for most superintendents. Dobie definitely is not most superintendents.
    Although Dobie no longer actively works as an agronomist, he stays busy actively promoting the industry he loves. 
    Since 1988, he has been president of the Musser Foundation, which recognizes excellence in turfgrass research, and his next undertaking is to record a biographical history of golf course superintendents - sort of a Baseball Almanac, but for golf greenkeepers.
    "Athletes all have their history recorded by the media," Dobie said. "Nobody is doing that for superintendents."
    Until now, anyway.

    Retirement is not enough to keep Frank Dobie away from promoting the role of golf course superintendents. GCSAA TV image Dobie has developed a fill-in-the-blank form that superintendents can populate with their professional history, similar to a really in-depth LinkedIn account. It is a project he started in the early 2000s and is focused on today more than ever.
    To date, he has received more than 80 submissions from other superintendents. Recently, he sent a letter to the alumni club at Penn State, his alma mater. So far, 54 Penn Staters have requested the form.
    Dobie's goal is one day to help form a hall of fame for superintendents. The concept has been shot down at the national level, including in Lawrence, Kansas as well as at the World Golf Hall of Fame. Original plans at the World Golf Hall of Fame included a place for superintendents. Today, there is not a single superintendent in the WGHOF.
    Dobie first became a superintendent in 1961. By 1964, he was superintendent and GM at Sharon Golf Club in Sharon Center, Ohio. Fifty-six years later, 2020, Dobie finally retired from Sharon. Today splits time between Ohio and Naples, Florida
    He was instrumental in developing a hall of fame for superintendents at the chapter level in Northern Ohio, and believes that is the model for widespread acceptance. And the biographical histories he collects could play a pivotal role in helping expedite that process.
    "How can we have a superintendent hall of fame if we don't know their history?" said Dobie.
    Quite an undertaking for someone who is retired, or at least is supposed to be.
    "Oh, I'm living my retirement," Dobie said. "But I still like putting together the piece of the puzzle."
    Want a form? Email Frank Dobie and he will be happy to send you one.
  • For those who have been waiting for another level for certifying environmental stewardship efforts on golf course properties, your wish has come true.
    Audubon International, which recognizes environmentalism in golf, has added a fourth level to its Signature Sanctuary Certification program.
    The Signature Sanctuary Certification program was created at the Bronze, Silver and Gold level for golf properties under renovation or new developments committed to sustainable practices.

    Audubon International's new certification level goes off the golf course. The Signature Sanctuary Platinum Certification was created to cover entire resort properties, including golf course and maintenance structures and systems as well as sustainable lodging and sustainable hospitality in the clubhouse.
    "The Signature Sanctuary Platinum Certification level provides an opportunity to have an all-encompassing certification for a property," said Kat Welch, Audubon's Signature Sanctuary Certification director, in a news release. "The nice part about Signature Platinum level is that it is a single title, encompassing multiple certifications, which is easier for the public or the client to understand and appreciate."
    The Green Lodging and Green Hospitality programs currently have 130 full-service certified resort members with sustainability goals that include but are not limited to the golf course.
    "If a resort is established and operating, but undergoing a renovation to only the golf course, it can still be a candidate for Platinum, because the Green Lodging and Green Hospitality Certifications were designed for existing properties," Welch said. "If it's a totally new construction, we look for the criteria to be built into the architectural plan."
    For golf course grounds and structures including cart barns and maintenance buildings, Platinum Certification adds a new level of requirements to the process. For example, native plantings must occupy 90% of out-of-play acreage, compared with 75% on the Gold Level.
  • Smithco recently recognized its dealers across the globe at this year’s GCSAA Conference and Trade Show in Orlando.
    Winners were:
    Dealer of the Year: Ladd's, Memphis, Tennessee (above)
    International Dealer of the Year: Trieu Giang, Vietnam (right)
    North American Salesperson of the Year: Jason D'Andrea, G.C. Duke, Ontario, Canada (below in the pink shirt)

  • A pre-packaged test kit developed by researchers at the University of Florida is designed to make taking, submitting and getting results on soil samples easy for homeowners, lawn and landscape operators and maybe even sports turf managers. One day, such a kit might also help make life easier for golf course superintendents.
    The UF/IFAS Soil Test Kit Powered by SoilKit was developed in cooperation with AgriTech Corp. of Foley, Alabama. For $29.95 per kit, users get everything they need to properly take and submit a soil test, including a prepaid shipping label, soil bag and a QR code to an instruction video. The cost also includes results and recommendations from a lab in Alabama.
    Within one or two days of receipt, users will receive an email with a link to results. Kits are available at extension offices in Florida or online.
    What seems like a simple concept actually was five years in the making.
    "We started working on this in 2017," said Bryan Unruh, Ph.D, associate professor with the University of Florida.
    "We are in the crawl, walk, run stage."
    The test was developed primarily with the residential lawn market in mind. Although it also can be used on sports fields, the kit is probably not a realistic fit for the golf market. At least not yet.
    Athletic fields that are pretty much a single stand of turf vs. golf courses that could require multiple tests from many locations two or three times a year could get costly. Today, many superintendents get soil tests conducted free of charge with the assistance of a fertilizer rep.
    "Three acres of homogenous turf vs. 30 acres of greens, tees and fairways," Unruh said. "At that price point, one test (in sports turf) vs. multiple tests (in golf) make it cost prohibitive for golf."
    Unruh and colleagues at UF have spent the past several years developing BMPs for golf courses, so a simplified test kit for superintendents seems like a natural extension to those efforts. 
    "Definitely," he said. "We're not there yet."
  • In what might come as a shock to his colleagues, Scott Griffith, CGCS, has never really known what it is like to struggle to find labor in nearly two decades at the University of Georgia Golf Course. 
    Every year for 16 years, Griffith gets anywhere from 20 to 30 UGA students who join his team as part-time employees on the crew. Most years at least a couple are turf students, but the overwhelming number are students studying for a life outside of turf.
    "I know a lot of superintendents struggle with labor. I've been blessed with it," Griffith said. "I just have to deal with the challenges of hiring student employees."
    Those challenges have everything to do with training and scheduling a team of part-timers who have to manage changing cups and mowing fairways with attending Calculus and chemistry classes.
    Most of his part-time team works about half a shift and is back on central campus by 11 a.m.
    "We might have 25 or 30 people, but because they are part time, it's like having half that many," Griffith said.
    Just because Griffith's student staff must prioritize their time in the classroom, it does not mean they are limited to edging and blowing.
    "We train them to do most everything on the golf course," Griffith said.
    "The acceptance rate here is low, so the kids here are smart, they're intelligent and they're motivated."
    Griffith can't take credit for this business model. Someone else put it into place, but he has maintained it.
    "I've been here 16 years, and it's been like this since Day 1," he said. "It was put into practice before I got here."

    University of Georgia students make up the bulk of workers at the school's golf course. Griffith does have a few full-time employees, including a golf course superintendent, an assistant, an equipment manager and an assistant, spray tech, irrigation tech and one longtime member of the crew.
    Griffith takes pride in the conditions he and his small but mighty team of six full-time employees and about two dozen half-timers. But golf at the University of Georgia is about so much more than duplicating the private club experience.
    "We're not a huge money-maker for the university; we're a place of recreation," Griffith said. "
    "We are about providing faculty, staff and students with a place to recreate, a place to work and a place to conduct research. Anything we can do to reach that goal, we're going to do it.
    "With that said, we do get about 40,000 rounds a year."
    The Covid pandemic threatened to derail Georgia's longstanding employment model, but the disruption was only temporary.
    Given what typically is a 12-month golf season in Georgia, Griffith sometimes has to get creative, and that means offering incentives at certain times of the year.
    "We've started increasing pay at certain times," he said. "I'll offer them an increase of $4 or $5 an hour during aerification, holidays or to get some employees to stay over the summer. 
    "This system works. I don't have to advertise; 80 percent to 90 percent of the people we get come by word of mouth. 
    "It's a neat experience to be part of their lives in this way."
  • Erik McDonald (left) and his brother, John (right) are officially taking over day-to-day operations from their father, Chip (center) at McDonald & Sons. It is difficult to imagine a company that has had a larger footprint in golf course construction and renovation during the past four decades than McDonald & Sons.
    During the past 38 years, the Jessup, Maryland-based construction company founded by Chip McDonald has been involved in nearly 2,000 golf course projects, including new construction and restorations.
    The "sons" part of the family business is now taking over with John McDonald II recently being named president and chief executive officer and Erik McDonald named vice president and chief operating officer. Chip's wife, Betty, will continue in her role as the company's secretary and treasurer.
    "The time was right," John McDonald II said in a release announcing the change. "Dad has been wintering in Florida for the past few years, so Erik and I had already been running the business side while Dad managed our equipment fleet. The construction business has become more complex and it's a lot to handle. He was ready to get out from underneath that."
    Chip McDonald began working in golf course maintenance in the 1950s and built his first course, Hobbit's Glen GC, for the City of Columbia, Maryland, in 1967. He stayed on there as superintendent for more than 15 years before starting his own company.
    Since the company was founded, McDonald & Sons has completed construction or restoration projects ranging from bunker renovations to full restorations to new course construction. Its client list reads like a who's who of golf, including names like Winged Foot, Oakmont, Oakland Hills, Congressional, Pine Valley, Olympia Fields, Card Sound, Inverness and Butler National to name just a few.
    "We were in the right place at the right time," Chip McDonald said. "Golf had its ups and downs along the way, but we did good work and built great relationships with clubs over the years and that made all the difference."  

    Oakmont Country Club is one of many clubs restored by McDonald & Sons. Photo by John Reitman McDonald's background as a superintendent gave him a unique perspective on construction and restoration projects and helped him build relationships with other superintendents from coast to coast, his son said.
    "Because dad was a superintendent, we always tried to leave the course's superintendent with something that was maintainable," said John II. "Yes, the club is the client, but we always try to keep the needs of the super in mind. And we think our finished work is second to none. When we leave a project, we want the new features to be the most noticed aspect, not our presence."
    That reputation has made McDonald & Sons a favorite among choosy clubs doing important renovations, preparing for big events, or simply tuning up to keep fresh. The firm's Design Group was launched in 2002 and since then their in-house work and collaborations with many notable architects and designers have yielded spectacular results. At one point their clientele included 25 of Golf Digest's Top 100 U.S. courses and they've done 54 projects at Congressional CC alone. "We've had an amazing run," says John. "We did 90 projects in 2022 and things continue to look very good moving forward."
    In addition to being known for the quality of their finished work, they also strive to give clients open bookkeeping and good communications along the way. "They always know where they stand," says John. "We try to minimize surprises. We don't typically have to do change orders."
    Erik says he is eager to carry on his father's legacy.
    "We're going to continue to provide the kind of high-quality, professional work the company has been known for since he got started in 1984," Erik McDonald said. "My dad's values – quality, trust and professionalism – are why I think we'll continue to prosper. Everything we do goes toward bettering the game of golf and the land it's played on."
    Although Chip is stepping away from McDonald & Sons, his other business, Chesapeake Specialty Equipment, still keeps him busy. The company provides dumpers, forklifts and telehandlers to construction firms.
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