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From the TurfNet NewsDesk


  • John Reitman
    Removing accessories from the golf course has helped improve efficiency at The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge near Seattle. Photo by Ryan Gordon via Twitter At one time, 36-hole Kenton County Golf Course had a reputation as one of the finest public facilities in the Cincinnati area. Indigo Golf Partners, formerly Billy Casper Golf, wants to restore the two courses that were built a decade apart, to their former status among the best daily fee properties in a great public golf town.
    In January, the one-two punch of general manager David Peru and superintendent Ron Freking, made the move from Devou Park, another municipal course in nearby Covington, to help make that goal a reality.
    "Kenton County has certainly been challenging, but also rewarding," Freking said. 
    "Indigo Golf Partners has a goal of making Kenton County Golf Courses the premier public golf facility in Northern Kentucky. This will be a long-term partnership with the county. Much has been done already, but there is still much to do. We know that over time, we can provide a golf facility that everyone will be proud of."
    Trying to tackle a laundry list of projects like irrigation and water-management issues, cart paths in need of repair, labor challenges, tree management and greens longing for some TLC has been a challenge in the face of a pandemic that has brought golfers onto the property in droves.
    "Early on, we were closed twice, but for only a couple of days each time,"Freking said. "We were not allowed to rent golf carts for quite some time and were open to walkers only. But even then, we were approaching 400 rounds of golf on nice days."
    Freking's story, or at least something similar to it, is one that has been told across the country, including at The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge in Snoqualmie, Washington.
    The club near Seattle is home to the Champions Tour's Boeing Classic, and getting everyone accustomed to new rules during the Covid era has been no easy task for superintendent Ryan Gordon.
    "I'd say that the single biggest challenge has been in regards to unifying our membership and employee base on how we operate within the framework of the new rules imposed on us by the state in an attempt to contain the virus," Gordon wrote via email. "Plus, there were other things that we as employers had to change to make our workplaces as safe as we could for our employees to ensure that we could continue to operate in a worst-case scenario. Most people in this country have never faced a pandemic, so there is definitely a broad spectrum of opinions on how we ought to do things."
    The impact on staff has included moving morning meetings from the break room to the parking lot, stowing away the coffee maker and eating lunch either off in a utility vehicle or in their cars.
    "Removing amenities that make life more comfortable for the sake of safety was a hard thing for some of our staff members to swallow while others were very appreciative of the extra measures that we took" Gordon wrote.
    Moving the meeting location made Gordon's crew a little more efficient.
    "By having our meetings outside, our guys were already out the door and on the golf course," Gordon wrote. "Because they were already outside, there was less grabbing that last cup of coffee or changing shoes."
    There have not been any outings at Snoqualmie Ridge, but there have been plenty of golfers.
    Gordon has removed most if not all touchpoints on the golf course, including accessories like rakes and benches and reducing the depth of each cup.

    The Pioneer Course at Kenton County Golf Courses in Independence, Kentucky. "All of this was very different for everyone," Gordon wrote. "And while it did create some challenges, we also found a lot of efficiencies that will be useful even in a post-pandemic world. 
    "Without shotguns, we were able to gain extra time on the golf course prepping ahead of the first tee time rather than having to be off the entire course at a much earlier time. No bunkers rakes was also a victory for us. It made mowing around our 114 bunkers much faster, and our sand depths remained more consistent due to our members not having a rake to pull the sand away toward the exit points."
      After 31 years at Devou Park, changing jobs was a big move for Freking. And with a new job comes a new staff, and Covid arrived just in time to greet him and his new team.
    "Covid hit just about the same time as I had planned extensive training for my team, and we were ramping up for a full and busy season," Freking said. "Because of Covid, we staggered our start times to create social distancing. We stopped using our time clock and went to paper time sheets to eliminate a common touch point.
    "I did have a few at-risk individuals who chose to stay away, either on their own or following their doctors' advice, and of course, we encouraged everyone to protect themselves as they saw fit."
    With a calm and easygoing demeanor, Freking is as patient as any superintendent can be. While at Devou Park, he regressed the fairways using squares of sod from a small nursery on the golf course. The nursery was so small, the fairway conversion project, completed at basically no cost, took eight years to finish. He's called upon that patience again this year.
    "Covid did prevent me from conducting some of the large training sessions I had planned where we could gather everyone together and have group discussions regarding course conditions, maintenance practices, etc." Freking said. 
    "Leaving Devou after so many years was not easy, but I am honored that Kenton County's care has been placed in my hands."
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    In January, it was impossible to foresee what the rest of 2020 would look like. Covid 19 was just coming into the public forefront, but no one knew much if anything about it. Even when the virus began to take hold in March, it was unfathomable to think then that almost nine months later the virus would not only be a thing, but quite literally dictate just about every aspect of our personal and professional lives.
    In response, TurfNet University sponsored by Brandt presented in the spring a 90-minute roundtable discussion presented by Paul MacCormack (Fox Meadow GC, Prince Edward Island), Jodie Cunningham (Optimus Talent Partners), Carlos Arraya (Bellerive GC, St. Louis) and Anthony Williams (TPC Four Seasons, Las Colinas, Irving, Texas). Our panel discussed personal and professional challenges, safety concerns and more. With much of the country in some version of Lockdown: The Sequel, our panel will reconvene Wednesday, December 9, for Covid-related stress and anxiety: Part II. The event is free for everyone. Click here to register.
    When Covid became the headline in March, no one was prepared for what was to come. Two weeks to flatten the curve, etc., led us to believe it was something we could escape in a matter of weeks. But little was known of this invisible foe.
    Instead, we entered into a surreal experience that has caught everyone off guard, and by April, many began grousing about how badly 2020 sucks. The Masters was postponed, the start of the Major League Baseball season was delayed until whenever, March Madness was simply canceled. Summer brought a glimmer of hope and with it, golfers, a lot of golfers.
    Fresh off an ugly and contentious presidential election that still is not over, Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, hundreds of thousands of Americans sick, dying or dead, and the promise of an effective vaccine still in the future, there are quite literally no words to describe the level of "suckage" associated with 2020.
    Despite the increase in play coast to coast, still it has been an odd year for golf. Play is up, budgets are down, outings and other revenue-generating events have been as hard to find on a golf course as a ball washer.
    This time around, our panel will discuss mental health issues, labor concerns, worn out golf courses, financial challenges associated with F&B and outings losses and more.
    Our panel also will look at where we’ve been and offer some ideas on where we are headed as an industry and some advice on how to manage your mental health as well as you do your operation.
    The event is free for everyone and an archived recording also will be available on TurfNet.
  • It has been a busy year for superintendent Scott LesChander at recently renovated Terrace Park Country Club in Milford, Ohio. Photo by Scott LesChander via Twitter When it comes to top-of-mind issues for superintendents, employee safety always seems to be the first item on the list. For so many, the past eight months have heightened concerns about the health and well being of members of the team.
    Since the advent of the pandemic, Matthew Wharton, CGCS, and his team have been crazy busy at Carolina Golf Club in Charlotte. And although they have their hands full with trying to maintain a golf course while under the pressure of record rounds played, that's nothing compared with the stress of trying to keep members of his crew healthy.
    "Being responsible for people's livelihood is one thing," Wharton said. "Being responsible for their life is a different animal."
    Golf has been different on many levels for Wharton and just about every superintendent across the country. Among the biggest challenges has been managing turf under stress caused by what for many has been record rounds played.
    Through September, Carolina Golf Club was just 500 rounds shy of its total for all of 2019, and that is with no outings and guest play suspended.
    "Golf never closed in North Carolina, so we have been smashing records since April," Wharton said. "We managed to do this with what at times felt like more than one hand tied behind our backs, because we were constantly short-staffed despite making seven new hires - all of whom quit within weeks, or a few months. Also, in the earliest stages of the pandemic, member expectations were still high. They did not temper their expectations until some time passed and they began to realize they were fortunate to be playing when many people in other parts of the country and around the world were not permitted to do so."
    Wharton is, by no means, alone in battling through a host of issues through the pandemic, not the least of which is the recent news of his wife, Darless, being diagnosed with breast cancer, a personal test that dwarfs anything related to hitting a ball with a stick and tending the grass on which it is done.
    Chase Best faced his own health issues during the early stages of the pandemic, undergoing a kidney transplant in April. His body and the new kidney are getting along fine and Best was quickly on the mend, just in time to return to a packed golf course at Lucas Oil Golf Course in English, Indiana. To squeeze in luxuries - like fungicide sprays - he has had to adjust his crew's schedule to work around play.
    "Tee sheets have been booked solid," Best said. "Management has wanted to get in every golfer possible, so we've actually lost production time with that. Adjusting our spray schedule, not having the amount of time we normally would to get our sprays out due to a decrease of blocked times has made us adjust. We've had to come in earlier to get our products applied so that we can still comply with re-entry rules. Another big change and challenge we had to figure out was mowing scheduling. With more play on the course, we've had to learn to avoid golfers if we can, but also be more informative at the pro shop, so they could let golfers know we have machinery on the course and avoiding them might not be like it used to be."

    With downtown Charlotte in the background, Carolina Golf Club has seen almost as many rounds through September as were played there in all of 2019. Photo by Matthew Wharton via Twitter The crowded tee shirt hasn't meant just moving start times of some practices, it has meant canceling some, at least temporarily.
    "A big challenge for me personally has been cultural practices such as top dressing, verticutting and monthly venting of greens," Best said. "We had to forego our weekly topdressing in favor of trying to get one in monthly. Same goes for verticutting. These were practices that we just had to fit in where we could. Same for the monthly venting. To offset this, we raised the height of cut of our putting greens and found a good medium of alternating rolling and mowing to provide consistency to the greens and keeping stress scattered."
    It is a similar situation at Terrace Park Country Club in Milford, Ohio, where superintendent Scott LesChander can barely get on the golf course that was recently renovated by architect Andy Staples.
    "Quite honestly, our biggest challenge has been trying to make sure we get everything done that needs to be done around the increased play," LesChander said. "It has been a blessing and a curse. Keeping up with cultural practices has been difficult as normally we can get out ahead of the rounds, or squeeze in between, but lately there has been very little room to work."
    The pandemic has been tough on Best's crew, and he has tried to make the golf course more than just a work. He's tried to make it a place of escape during what is a difficult time for everyone.
    "One thing that I really wanted to do for my staff was to make the workplace a release from what was going on in the world," Best said. "I wanted them to know that the focus was here on the course, wanted it family oriented and really let them know how lucky we are to have jobs that are outside that golf as a sport and maintenance wise was pretty good at already socially distancing. The company I work for, Lucas Oil Golf Course and Lucas Oil Products, is already a family oriented environment. They do anything they can to make.sure our employees continue to work so they can receive benefits and pay for their families."
    Wharton echoed similar sentiments about his team at Carolina and how they have met and overcome countless challenges since March.
    "I am amazed at the resilience of my team," Wharton said, "and am immensely proud of their perseverance and achievement this year as I believe the golf course to be in fine condition, albeit the stress of increased traffic is noticeable to the trained eye."
  • For the golf business, 2020 has been defined by record rounds played, labor challenges and crazy weather.
    Combined, those factors have resulted in golf course turf that is worn out, tired and more susceptible than ever to biotic and abiotic stress.
    Syngenta has a turf disease identification guide to help superintendents diagnose problems faster so they can get back on the road to recovery sooner.

    The guide provides detailed information on more than two dozen common turfgrass diseases that affect warm- and cool-season grasses, and cross references them including susceptible varieties, geographic region and conditions that favor disease, giving superintendents quick and easy access to management tips and control options.
  • In a discussion of the game's best players, Lloyd Mangrum's name is not likely to come up very often. He is not as well known as Nicklaus, Palmer, Woods, Hogan, Nelson or Player. James Murray, the late Pulitzer-winning columnist for the Los Angeles Times, once dubbed him golf's "forgotten man."
    Mangrum turned professional in 1929 at age 15 and joined the PGA Tour eight years later. He died a young man at age 59 in 1973. As Murray's nickname indicates, Mangrum and his career in golf have a footnote in history.
    That's too bad. What Mangrum accomplished on the golf course is unmatched by some of the game's greats. What he did off the course in the U.S. Army was even greater.
    Throughout his career, which was interrupted by active duty during World War II, this steely Texan amassed 36 PGA Tour wins. That's more than Vijay Singh, Horton Smith, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Gary Player, Raymond Floyd, Davis Love III, Hale Irwin, Greg Norman, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite and Julius Boros. 
    Only a dozen players - Sam Snead, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Byron Nelson, Billy Casper, Walter Hagen, Phil Mickelson, Cary Middlecoff, Tom Watson and Gene Sarazen - won more Tour events than Mangrum.
    We are reminded on Veteran's Day, during a November, Masters week that despite Mangrum's accomplishments with a club in his hands, some of his most important contributions were made while toting a rifle.
    Mangrum served in the Army during World War II, eventually attaining the rank of staff sergeant. While troops were training early in 1944 for Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy, Mangrum was offered the position of golf pro at the Army's golf course at Fort Meade in Maryland. 
    Spending the duration of the war playing golf or serving in active combat duty seems like an easy choice. And for Mangrum, it was. He believed helping rid the world of fascism was more important than remaining stateside and playing the game he loved. Mangrum was but one of many professional golfers to serve during wartime, but few walked where he did. 
    He was among the hundreds of thousands of troops who stormed the beaches of Normandy in 1944 when the Allied forces launched the invasion of the European mainland that turned the tide of the war. Within a month, more than 1 million troops came ashore on those French beaches in a barrage of manpower that eventually repelled Hitler's Third Reich.
    By Christmas, Mangrum and the rest of Gen. George Patton's Third Army had advanced to the Ardennes Forest in Belgium for what has become known as the Battle of the Bulge, a conflict called the most violent campaign in modern warfare.
    By war's end, Mangrum was a highly decorated soldier and two-time recipient of the Purple Heart.
    Mangrum found his greatest playing success after returning home from Europe. He won 31 of his 36 PGA Tour titles after the war, including the 1946 U.S. Open at Canterbury. In 1951, he was the Tour's leading money winner and won the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average, a feat he accomplished again in 1953, the same year he captained the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Despite his accomplishments, his career was largely overshadowed by his contemporaries that included Snead, Hogan and Nelson.
    Mangrum was indeed a different golfer after the war. Other Tour pros reached the conclusion that it was those life-or-death moments in foxholes that changed him, leading Mangrum to once say: "I don't suppose that any of the pro or amateur golfers who were combat soldiers, Marines or sailors will soon be able to think of a three-putt green as one of the really bad troubles in life."
  • Tree and brush work is under way at Ware Shoals Golf Course. Photos from Mike Pitts via Twitter Industry initiatives do not help grow the game of golf, people do. People like the Pitts family.
    The Pitts have a long history with junior golf in South Carolina's Piedmont region, and they know that helping to promote it is critical to growing the game at least in their corner of the world. Mike and brother David, owners of Environmental Landscaping, grew up playing junior golf and excelled on the Ware Shoals High School team. Their father, Don, was a fixture in junior golf for more than a decade.
    From junior golf, through high school and beyond, one common thread for so many in this area south of Greenville has been Ware Shoals Golf Course. A fixture in the community for more than 75 years, the course is a modest nine-hole daily fee that has fallen on hard times. The Pitts want to bring it back to its former glory and utilize it as a resource to promote junior golf and help grow the game in the local community.
    The Pitts' Environmental Landscaping Inc., a golf course and sports field construction company, took over management of the course on Nov. 2. Their plan is to gradually improve playing conditions over the next few years of their three-year lease with the Ware Shoals Community Foundation, which owns the course.
    "The course has been open, but in a capacity in which it is in dire need of life support," said Mike Pitts, owner of Environmental Landscaping. 
    "We approached the foundation in April with a plan to restore and renovate the golf course and make it a place for junior golf in the community."
    The greens, which have a modest footprint of just 30,000 total square feet, never have been renovated are mostly mutated versions of 328 Bermudagrass, and are in surprisingly good condition, as are the tees that are mostly common Bermuda and 419. The fairways, though, will need some work, Mike Pitts said. 
    "We overseeded the greens with Poa Trvialis this year, and they are in pretty good shape, as are most of the tees," he said. 
    "One goal I've set for fairways, and it may be overly ambitious, is to get on them in December with herbicide applications and push them in the spring and get a fairway unit on them for some grooming by July. They are a hodgepodge of every southeastern turf weed imaginable. There is a lot of Bermuda there, but it is covered up."
    The nine-hole course was built in 1943 by the Riegel Textile Corporation, which once was one of the area's largest employers. The thousands of people who worked at the mill were automatically made members. Everything for Ware Shoals - the town and the golf course - changed in 1984 when the textile mill closed. According to local legend, a fire in the mill expedited the closing.
    Ownership of the golf course was transferred to the Ware Shoals Community Foundation with the agreement that it always remain a golf course. A host of operators have come and gone since then. The latest, Johnny Magaha, has managed the entire operation - golf course and golf shop - as a one-man show since 2012.
    "He's done a good job," Pitts said. "He just needs more help. One thing we bring is that we have full-time jobs. We're not living out of the cash register."

    Magaha will stay on to help in the golf shop and foster the many relationships with locals he has built in his time as Ware Shoals' operator.
    The Pitts brothers and their father will serve as superintendent by committee. 
    "It's going to be a collaboration of myself, my dad and my brother," Pitts said. "We are using our renovation company as a main resource, and my dad will be there every day. He's recently retired and looking for something to do. I've built relationships with about 25 superintendents in the Southeast, and I'm sure we'll be leaning on those friends to help with some problems."
    Ware Shoals will never be confused with Kiawah Island or Sea Island. It's a humble course, with a humble background. And its comeback is on a similarly humble schedule, and it will remain open throughout the improvement work.
    The plan is to work on the course throughout the fall, winter and spring and be ready for a popular two-person invitational tournament at the course.
    "We've committed to the foundation and the community that we would improve the fairways, tees and greens by next spring," Pitts said. "We're going to do bunker work over the winter and plan a grand opening for late summer. It won't be where we want it by then, but we will be on our way."
    The foundation owns a limited amount of equipment, including a triplex mower, bunker rake, tractor and a few other pieces, some of which date back to the 1980s.
    "I've done some horsetrading with superintendents over the years on equipment that is coming off lease or is just parked out back, and through that we've acquired a couple mowers, greens mowers, tee mowers, blowers and Gators," Pitts said. "I have three triplexes, so we can mow greens, tees and collars. I also have a couple of sprayers. A dedicated fairway unit is a real need."
    Ware Shoals has a history with junior golf, and that is a connection the Pitts will continue. 
    "We have some architects who have agreed to help us," Pitts said. "They're going to help us tweak things and make the course fun and more entertaining. We have a lot of good people lined up to help us make it a playground for junior golf, get more tournaments and get the membership built back up."
  • For nearly a century, Foley Co. has been manufacturing grinding equipment to help superintendents maintain turf above ground. After a recent acquisition, the Wisconsin-based company will help them tend to problems beneath the surface, as well.
    Foley announced that it recently acquired the assets of GT Airinject, maker of the Air2G2 air-injection/soil-decompaction system. Founded 10 years ago by Glen Black, Air2G2 is the manufacturer of the Air2G2 336, Air2HP, Air2GO and Air2G2 436R. The transaction has been nearly two years in the making, and the wholly owned subsidiary of Foley, known as Foley Air, and the bulk of its operations will remain in Jacksonville, Florida.
    Foley has been manufacturing grinders since 1926. The addition of a subsurface soil-decompaction system is the start of a well-rounded portfolio that provides superintendents with solutions above and below ground.
    "It lines up with our strategy to expand into the turf and rec market more than we are today and gives us a whole new addition to the portfolio," said Paul Rauker, Foley's president and chief executive officer. "The way the product is produced here in the U.S., and our capabilities matched up really well.
    "Our philosophy is going to be Foley is all about above and below the ground."
    The Air2G2-336 uses an air-injection process that relieves soil compaction and increases porosity and respiration by fracturing the soil to enable airflow and promote better drainage, all while creating minimal disruption to the surface and without damaging roots below the surface.
    The Air2G2-336 was the winner of the 2015 Innovation Award from the Sports Turf Managers Association.
    Air2G2's staff of nine will remain on after the acquisition. Black, who first drew up plans for a soil air-injection system in 2010 on the back of a napkin at an Outback Steakhouse, also will stay on for about a year or so to train Foley's sales staff. 
    Selling his invention to a company with a similar corporate philosophy toward employees was important to Black.
    "That is a very important part of our lives, the people who work here, their families," Black said. "We have been so blessed to watch employees buy new homes, new cars and improve their lives."
    Although the operation will remain in Florida, the transaction coincides with construction of new headquarters in Prescott, Wisconsin, about 10 miles south of Foley's original headquarters in River Falls. Located on 12 acres, the 67,000-square-foot facility includes 55,000 square feet of manufacturing space and 12,000 square feet of offices. The city donated the land along with some funding for the construction of the building.
    The new building replaces an 85,000-square-foot structure in River Falls. Foley utilized 60,000 square feet and rented the remaining 25,000 square feet to a tenant that has since bought the complex. Although the building is large enough, it now longer met Foley's needs.
    "Even though it was going to be more space, we wanted it to be set up in an easier fashion," Rauker said. 
    "We had adopted lean manufacturing a few years ago, so as we move forward, we wanted to ensure that the overall design was compatible with that effort."
  • The new learning center at Horry-Georgetown Technical College will provide a real world learning experience for students. Photos courtesy of HGTC
    Horry-Georgetown is taking hands-on learning to another level for students in its golf and sports turf management program.
    This week, the school celebrated the grand opening of its new 27,000-square-foot learning center at its Conway, South Carolina campus. The learning center, which has been open since August, includes a variety of warm-season and cool-season turf plots grown into a 65-yard par-3 hole with a TifEagle putting green that students can utilize for real world experience they can't get from a textbook.
    The facility was built by Craig Schreiner of Schreiner Golf in Myrtle Beach. At a cost of $75,000, the project was completed with help from many other industry suppliers who either donated products or services or made them available at a deep discount.
    It will be used by students in the turf program and will provide a place for first-year students to learn tasks such as walk mowing and second-year students to master spraying herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers.
    "Somewhere along the way, instruction even at the technical level, became more collegial and less hands-on," said HGTC professor Ashley Wilkinson. "We are lucky to have gotten this done. This allows us to get back more to our roots, at least here we are.
    "We have plots, but we are not a research school, but, if we want to take the students out and look at weeds, or 'hey, let's go damage some turf' then we can do that."
    The center includes Bermuda, paspalum, zoysiagrass and a couple of creeping bentgrass plots, as well. It will serve as a place where students can develop spray programs, experiment with BMPs and height of cut. A soon-to-be-built 1,200-square-foot laboratory building will serve as a location where students can pull samples and study various diseases under a microscope.
    Students have been using the center as a learning lab since the start of the current school year, and also help maintain it on a daily basis.
    "We weren't sure how they were going to take that, or if they thought they were just being used as free labor," Wilkinson said. "We've found that kids today don't know what they need to know to succeed when they get here. This is good experience for them."
    Although it started at a time when many things were shutting down, the project plodded through the pandemic uninterrupted.
    "As others were hunkering down, the school told us they'd earmarked the money for it and to go ahead," Wilkinson said. 
    "It has helped that Craig is local and that we are near the golf tourism capital of the country and there are so many partners here willing to help us.."
    Partners in the project include: Schreiner Golf, Smith Turf and Irrigation, New Life Turf, Bill Nelson Irrigation, American Materials Corp., Pike Creek Turf Farms, Revels Turf and Tractor, Coastal Floratine, Helena, S & R Turf & Irrigation Equipment, Quail Hollow Club, SiteOne, Hackler Golf Course Founders Group International Prestwick Golf Club, Legends Resort, Vereen's Turf Center, Simplot, Barenbrug and Tee2Green.
  • Tell a golf course superintendent there is something they can't do, and chances are pretty good they are going to find a way to get it done.
    Jeff Sexton, CGCS at Evansville Country Club in Indiana had read enough about dead bees and pesticides and attempts by many to link the two to golf courses, that he decided he would do something about it. One story in particular that bothered him.
    When a landscape company in 2013 sprayed several linden trees at an Oregon shopping center with an insecticide to control aphids, they also eliminated an estimated 50,000 bumble bees, and in the process implicated virtually all professional pesticide applicators as playing a key role in the demise of bee populations across the country.
    Five years into raising bees, Sexton is one of many superintendents who are helping show others that there are many misconceptions about golf courses and their contributions to their respective environment.
    "The biggest reason I started doing this was with the bee deaths in Oregon," Sexton said. "People have been criticizing golf course superintendents, and quite frankly it pissed me off. I wanted to prove a point. We use all these products, and we've never hurt a single honey bee. I think I've lost one hive here in seven years. We started with two hives, and now we're up to six."
    What started as a hobby and a way to make s statement has turned into a wildly popular endeavor where members appreciate the environmental message the bees send and the honey they produce.
    "It has turned into a good thing for us, and now there is a level of expectation from the members," Sexton said. "No one else around that I know of is doing it, and the members take pride in being a step ahead."
    Evansville's hives produce about 75 pounds of honey a year that Sexton sells to members for $22 per pound. A second harvest this fall has helped yield about $3,600 in sales, which goes into the turf operation. Sexton has used the honey revenue to buy things like uniforms, rain suits, work gloves, etc., for his team.
    Fred Gehrisch, CGCS, had a two-fold motive when he started keeping bees six years ago at Highland Falls Country Club in Highlands, North Carolina. 
    He thought it would be a fun hobby, but, like Sexton, Gehrisch, too, had grown weary of those who thought he and his contemporaries were guilty of killing everything on a golf course except the grass.
    "Same," Gehrisch said. "I got tired of hearing it all."
    It was so bad, Gehrisch said, people working for the company that initially sold him two hives in 2014 were upset when they learned they were headed to a golf course.
    "She said ‘you guys spray all those pesticides that kill all the bees,' " Gehrisch said.
    "They told us we wouldn't get any honey that first year, but we did. We were more successful than many of the experienced greenkeepers around here."
    Gehrisch started with just a couple of hives and has eight now, many of which are native wild colonies he has captured.
    "It looked like a fun hobby," he said. "Now, members expect it and want it. They like that we are doing something positive for the environment and they can't wait for the honey."
    He is able to capture wild bee colonies by setting one of his own hives in proximity to them and baiting the contraption with a solution that contains lemongrass oil, or an alcohol wash derived from pheromones of expired queens.
    His years of success, he said, speaks not only for the programs in place at Highland Falls but the work of other superintendents, as well.
    "I look at them as the canary in a coal mine," he said. "If we were doing something to harm them, they wouldn't be thriving here. And they're thriving."
  • Oh, to be a bee.
    They live in massive colonies that rival populations of medium-sized cities. They've never heard of Covid-19, and after a hard day's work, hang out with their friends with no concern for physical distancing or the current pitfalls of small family gatherings. Except for the fact that, other than their queen, they live only for about a month-and-a-half or so, it's a lifestyle that for the most part sounds pretty good about now.
    Why not take a queue from bees and, with Covid probably still in the forefront when next year's golf season begins, and do something positive for the environment and the golf property in 2021 either by keeping bees or establishing areas to attract wild colonies with much-needed pollen-producing flora?
    Although raising bees is a popular hobby, about 200,000 Americans do it according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it hardly is a turnkey operation.
    University of Kentucky entomologist Dan Potter, Ph.D., who established the first Operation Pollinator zone in the U.S., said 50 percent hive loss every year is common from issues such as invasive parasitic pests like varroa mites and hive beetles.
    "You can't just go do it without being committed to doing it right," Potter said. "They're not high maintenance, but a lot things can go wrong if you don't do it right."
    Reed Johnson, Ph.D., entomologist at Ohio State University, says there are plenty of options to learn beekeeping.
    "Get involved with a local beekeeper club. Every place has local bee clubs that understand conditions specific to your site," Johnson said. "They're very welcoming to new beekeepers. I'd also suggest finding a mentor who can give one-on-one advice. It is important to get hands-on training about what works and what doesn't in operating a colony."
    That was the path superintendent Jeff Sexton followed at Evansville (Indiana) Country Club.
    "I had a mentor who was the director of a nature preserve and a beekeeper," Sexton said. "He taught me what I needed to know."
    Bee club meetings never fit into Fred Gehrisch's schedule at Highland Falls Country Club in Highlands, North Carolina, where he has been keeping bees since 2014.
    "I watched Youtube videos," Gehrisch said. "There are a ton of them out there."
    He's learned how to manage his hives, capture wild bee hives and how to deal with mites and beetles.
    Hive beetles are an invasive species originally from Africa. Females lay their eggs in cracks in the hive. The beetle larvae eat the honey that is the bees' food source. In the pupa state, the beetles drop into the soil beneath the hive. When the newly formed adults emerge from the soil, the cycle begins anew.
    Gehrisch treats the soil with a pyrethroid that kills the pupa and doesn't affect the bees. He controls the adults near the hives with traps that include a toxic boric acid solution. The bees stay on the boards and never come into contact with the traps. Next year, he plans to install a gravel bed underneath the hives, preventing the beetle larvae from reaching the soil.
    All thanks to Youtube.
    Mites are much more problematic. Native to Asia, these parasites feed on the bees' fat stores. Affected bees are weakened, have a shorter life cycle and have a harder time finding the hive, thus are less productive.
    Several control options are available, some more effective than others, and none completely eliminate the problem.
    These same issues affect wild bee colonies, however, ongoing studies are focused on learning whether wild colonies have a greater natural resistance to mites. One of the biggest threats facing bees that includes a pest of another sort entirely is loss of habitat, primarily to urban and suburban growth. Golf courses are ideal places to provide habitat including pollen-producing flowers to help bees produce honey they need for food. And those areas serve as an opportunity to educate the public about the positive environmental efforts of the golf course.
    "We have limited opportunities to restore habitat to support wildlife," Potter said. "Golf courses are a fantastic pallet. They are big and there is a lot of land that is not in play. And this sort of activity reflects positively on the industry."
    Native areas established with pollinators in mind should be just that - native.
    "Native bees benefit more from native flowers. They need flowers that are indigenous to that area," Johnson said. 
    "Those native areas are the focal point of what the golf course is doing to support pollinators. The key on a golf course is the intentionality of it," Johnson said. "You have to tell people there is a reason for this spot, and it's not just some place you are letting go."
  • Golf remained on its record-setting pace of popularity in September as people who have been stuck inside and at home continued to seek opportunities to get outside.
    As summer came to an end, year-to-year rounds-played increased by nearly 26 percent in September, a figure that equates to some 12 million rounds, marking the largest monthly gains of the year compared to 2019. 
    September also marked the fifth consecutive month of increased rounds play and the third in which play was up in all 48 contiguous states, according to a monthly report from Golf Datatech. In fact, every state in the lower 48 experienced double-digit gains.
    The year got off to a quick start with gains of 11 percent in January and 19 percent in February, then dropped in the early days of the pandemic with monthly losses year-to-year of 8 percent in March and 42 percent in April. That was followed by five consecutive months of gains peaking in September with increases of 25.5 percent.
    With play up in seven of nine months so far in 2020, year-to-date rounds played were up by 8.7 percent.
    Last month, Jim Koppenhaver tempered the good news about golf’s newfound popularity in 2020 with some realism, raising the question of whether the increase in rounds play will be enough to offset losses elsewhere throughout the operation - namely food and beverage and outings. 
    He suggested gains of 11 percent might help offset those losses, and with gains of nearly 9 percent in the books through September and favorable weather throughout much of the country already through October, picking up another couple of percentage points isn’t unreasonable, especially since September doubled industry projections.
    Monthly gains in play ranged from 10 percent in Alabama to 46 percent in Minnesota. The only state where play was down was Hawaii (40 percent), which is under strict Covid travel restrictions. The report does not measure play in Alaska.
  • Equipment was idle a little more than usual during the early days of the pandemic at Lochnivar Golf Club in Houston. Photo from Kevin Cooper via Twitter No one can ever accuse Ross Miller of not being prepared.
    With a global health crisis generating more questions than answers about the future, Miller and his team at the Country Club of Detroit have been ready since the early days of the pandemic.
    He has structured the make-up of his crew and the times they work to minimize the spread and ensure the chain of command remains intact by keeping managers apart from each other physically. All while they are able to provide members with the conditions they expect at a 1912 Harry S. Colt design in Grosse Pointe Farms.
    "Our biggest challenge has been maximizing employee safety, while also optimizing productivity and still focusing on maintaining a championship venue," Miller said. "The Country Club of Detroit is focused on these items through a multi-pronged attack."
    That plan included developing contingencies in the event anyone on Miller's management team contracts the virus. 
    Managing labor issues during the virus has been a challenge for many turf managers.
    "Our biggest challenge over the past seven months has mainly been labor fluctuations," said Kevin Cooper, superintendent at Lochnivar Golf Club in Houston. "In the beginning of Covid, we adjusted our working crews and crew communication. Our morning meetings became a rolling start with minimizing large-group contact versus the break room meeting with 20-plus individuals all gathered inside. We now have a crew meeting on Monday outside, or inside the barn area dependent upon weather, to discuss the week ahead, issues, or basic reminders."
    Through the first two months of the pandemic, minimal maintenance was being performed at Lochnivar, and Cooper and his team still playing a bit of catch-up. Managing conditions on the course while working to keep his team safe, Cooper segregated his crew into teams on staggering shifts to minimize unnecessary contact between employees.
    "In the first few months we had minimal labor daily - seven to nine employees - on a rotating basis to make sure if anyone was sick we could quarantine a group, but not impacting maintaining the course," Cooper said. "By May we had brought everyone back on a daily basis, but were designating carts and assignments with restrictions in regards to interactions. Lunch breaks were broken down into groups with designated time allowing minimal individuals in the lunchroom, between groups the area is sanitized."

    Segregating the crew into teams helped minimize the impact of the pandemic at LedgeRock Golf Club in Pennsylvania. Photo from Alan FitzGerald via Twitter At the Country Club of Detroit, Miller's plan includes developing a chain of command in the event Miller, one of his assistants or his equipment manager contract the virus, a work schedule that breaks the crew into teams so as to mitigate the spread of the virus, staggered lunch times, equipping all members of the team with sanitizer spray and daily cleaning and sanitizing of the break room and locker room in the shop.
    Specifically, Miller has created his own bubble of sorts with his crew, splitting them into two teams, with each working 10 hours a day four days a week. One works Sunday through Wednesday and another that works Wednesday through Saturday. 
    As we've learned the past seven months, stopping an invisible foe is easier said than done.
    "We have had one team member test positive, we were able to contact trace within 24 hours, have any possible team members that came in contact with him get tested, and those two were negative," Miller said. "I would say we have been fortunate, but also vigilant. We have not only our team/department to worry about, but also other teams here, as well as our membership's safety as well."
    Alan FitzGerald has had some labor challenges to overcome as well at LedgeRock Golf Club in Mohnton, Pennsylvania.
    "I know this is an issue for everyone. We've done a lot over the last few years to build up our team and have been pretty successful," said Alan FitzGerald, superintendent at LedgeRock Golf Club in Mohnton, Pennsylvania. "I was extremely lucky to get three interns this year, but I had some guys not travel back due to Covid, so we ran four to five people short all year, once we ramped back up to normal."
    Reduced labor, a cool spring that delayed green-up, reduced maintenance and fuel costs have FitzGerald way under budget for the year. How that number might affect next year's budget is a concern.
    "This is more of a possible upcoming challenge. I am currently something like $150,000 under budget year-to-date. They were looking for me to get to that number for the budget this year but it wasn't possible," FitzGerald said. 
    "I have worked out it's indirectly due to Covid. We had a cool spring, so the turf didn't wake up until late, so we didn't need to mow etc., i.e., regular maintenance wasn't needed. Normally with a cool spring we would have the staff back anyway to complete projects, get a bunch of detail work etc. done so with Covid those jobs were not done and we ran with minimal staff for five to six weeks longer than normal. The effect was we weren't using equipment, so fuel costs were down, equipment repair and maintenance was down etc., so when I ran the numbers year-on-year and job-on-job this is where the savings came from. It just might be difficult to explain this come budget time for 2021."
    Cooper has faced similar challenges at Lochnivar after falling behind early in the pandemic season, which coincided with the peak of the Houston golf season.
    "Managing the expectations of the golf course for our clientele has and is still challenging as we did minimal maintenance at the beginning, while reducing most of our routine annual agronomics to minimize financial impact to the club," Cooper said. "We typically do not have Monday closures, but due to the staff issues and reducing our typical agronomic closures we lobbied for closed Mondays through September. We were granted the closure which allowed us to maintain the playing areas at our high standard. However, the extra outlying areas did get reduced maintenance, which we are now spending extra labor on getting those areas into acceptable form now that the turf is slowing down."
    The key to getting through the past several months, Miller said, has been being as prepared (as much as possible, anyway), having a plan and sticking to it.
    "I truly feel bullish on this, how we have delineated things here has been a key part in our success thus far during this challenging season," Miller said. "One of the inherent challenges with this schedule that becomes even more important than normal is communication. Establishing strong standard operating procedures for communication front-to-back and back-to-front have been key in our success."
  • CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A NOMINATION FOR TURFNET SUPERINTENDENT OF THE YEAR

    Syngenta Turf Market Manager Stephanie Schwenke presents Matt DiMase with the Superintendent of the Year Award.
    The winner will receive an indoor/outdoor surround sound system by Sonos, courtesy of Syngenta.
    With all the challenges facing golf course superintendents this year, Covid, labor issues, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and golfers, lots and lots of golfers, we fully expect to bursting with nominations for this year's TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award, presented by Syngenta.
    After all, superintendents always are called on to do things that to others might seem impossible. Take last year's winner, Matt DiMase, for example.
    With Hurricane Dorian bearing down on The Bahamas just last summer, DiMase didn't give much thought to leaving. 
    The superintendent at The Abaco Club on Winding Bay, DiMase could have ridden out the storm with his wife and kids in the safety of the family home in Ocala, Florida.
    But he didn't.
    DiMase rode out the storm, brought the devastated golf course back from the dead and played a key role in a humanitarian effort to help members of the club, his employees and members of his Bahamian community. His selflessness earned him the honor of being named the recipient of the 20th annual TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award, presented by Syngenta. 
    "For us, this is a job, but for our members, this club is their investment," DiMase said when he received the award at the last Golf Industry Show from Syngenta turf market manager Stephanie Schwenke. "I told my team we can stay and protect their property, or we can abandon ship and who knows what will happen. . . . I didn't want to leave. I wanted to stay because of the people."
    Nominations for DiMase's successor are now being accepted. Although it's hard to imagine anyone going through a more trying experience than what DiMase faced in 2019, there has been much about 2020 that has been hard to believe.
    A panel of judges will select five finalists and ultimately the winner from the list of nominees. In a year that will be defined by a global crisis and one in which people starved for outdoor recreation have flocked to courses around the country, the nominations should be plentiful.
    Criteria on which nominees are judged include: labor management, maximizing budget limitations, educating and advancing the careers of colleagues and assistants, negotiating with government agencies, preparing for tournaments under unusual circumstances, service to golf clientele, upgrading or renovating the course and dealing with extreme or emergency conditions.
    CLICK HERE to submit a nomination. Deadline for nominations is Dec. 1. Typically, the winner receives two slots on the annual TurfNet members golf trip, but with the trip on hold due to the pandemic, this year's winner will receive a Sonos Cinematic Surround Sound Audio System and Weatherproof Outdoor Sound System courtesy of Syngenta.
    You can nominate a colleague, supervisor, employee or heck, even nominate yourself.
    Previous winners include: Matt DiMase, The Abaco Club on Winding Bay, Great Abaco, Bahamas (2019); Carlos Arraya, Bellerive Country Club, St. Louis, MO (2018); Jorge Croda, Southern Oaks Golf Club, Burleson, TX, and Rick Tegtmeier, Des Moines Golf and Country Club, West Des Moines, IA (2017); Dick Gray, PGA Golf Club, Port St. Lucie, FL (2016); Matt Gourlay, Colbert Hills, Manhattan, KS (2015); Fred Gehrisch, Highlands Falls Country Club, Highlands, NC (2014); Chad Mark, Kirtland Country Club, Willoughby, OH (2013), Dan Meersman, Philadelphia Cricket Club (2012), Flourtown, PA; Paul Carter, The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay, Harrison, TN (2011); Thomas Bastis, The California Golf Club of San Francisco, South San Francisco, CA (2010); Anthony Williams, Stone Mountain (GA) Golf Club (2009); Sam MacKenzie, Olympia Fields (IL) Country Club (2008); John Zimmers, Oakmont (PA) Country Club (2007); Scott Ramsay, Golf Course at Yale University, New Haven, CT (2006); Mark Burchfield, Victoria Club, Riverside, CA (2005); Stuart Leventhal, Interlachen Country Club, Winter Park, FL (2004); Paul Voykin, Briarwood Country Club, Deerfield, IL (2003); Jeff Burgess, Seven Lakes Golf Course, Windsor, Ontario (2002); Kip Tyler, Salem Country Club, Peabody, MA (2001); Kent McCutcheon, Las Vegas (NV) Paiute Golf Resort (2000).
  • No one will ever mistake LSU Golf Course for the Country Club of Louisiana. The latter, a Jack Nicklaus design, is one of the most exclusive private golf clubs in Baton Rouge. The former has been without a superintendent for more than a year and is so common, it can be a challenge to find someone at the university who knows the identity of the architects who designed it.
    Located on the south side of campus, LSU's golf course lies on a flat parcel smack between two of Baton Rouge's largest attractions, 102,000-seat Tiger Stadium and the Mississippi River. It is the handiwork of Al Michael and Phil Thompson, who designed it 60 years ago.
    The course offers just what one might think, low-cost golf with low expectations. It also offers a group of the university's turf students a lot of hands-on experience that they might not get elsewhere.
    Since February, the university has leaned heavily on Jeff Beasley, Ph.D., an associate professor in the College of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences, to develop a plan and find bodies to implement it in the absence of superintendent Mitch Fontenot, who retired in 2019.
    "There is one full-time guy over there and we sprinkle in some students and try to put together a golf course with that is a tough thing," Beasley said. "It's hard to guide a ship when you don't have a superintendent. Especially one as talented as Mitch."
    The golf course also provides about a half-dozen students with work and internship opportunities that, during the past seven months, might not have been so easy to come by.
    "Students were losing internship opportunities, so we created an internship program for five students," Beasley said.
    Matt Lambert is a senior at LSU, and he said there are pros and cons to the current set at the golf course.
    "We have a lot of freedom, and I am getting a lot of good work experience to put on my resume," Lambert said. 
    "Jeff is in charge where the greens are concerned and we get to work directly with him, but there is no superintendent out there, so sometimes we have to look outside for sources to bounce ideas off of."
    A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Lambert worked with Texas Rangers grounds crew in 2019 and 
    "In the last 10 years, we've experienced budget cuts, and we're in an age where we can't go to the well to get more money," Beasley said. 
    "The students are learning on the job. They help aerify, apply fertilizer and bring the golf course back. It's not perfect, but doesn't have a full-time superintendent and it's relying on student labor, so it's beginning to improve."
    An ongoing Air2G2 study at the golf course helps students get real-world experience on some of the industry's latest technology while also improving conditions.
    The course is managed directly by Emily Smith a director in LSU's facility and property oversight office. 
    "Mitch had been gone about a year when they called me in February," Beasley said. "The greens looked like they were about to die, and the irrigation system was down. It's getting better.
    "I'm just one of the cogs. Emily oversees the course, and she has been very supportive. The reality is it is always better when you have a superintendent. My goal is to support them as long as they need. I'm happy with what we've done."
  • Play has been up across the country since the onset of the pandemic. Photos by John Reitman That unfamiliar noise emanating from golf shops nationwide has been the sound of cash registers ringing. Golf courses from coast to coast are enjoying a boon thanks to a global health crisis that has all but eliminated many other recreational activities.
    That rise in play has helped create stress for superintendents, many of whom are eagerly anticipating an end to the golf season.
    How the golf business was impacted at the onset of the pandemic varied state-by-state, county-by-county and city-by-city. Some remained open and unrestricted while others were closed for a short time, and others shuttered for a month or longer. For superintendents at golf courses that were closed then suddenly opened, the experience was like walking through a desert then forced to drink from a hose.
    Three superintendents in three different areas shared some of what they have dealt with since March, and all three share one thing in common - looking forward to a break from a hectic pace.
    The Club at Ruby Hill in Pleasanton, California, is about 40 miles east of Oakland. Traffic usually is a nightmare, but in the early days of the pandemic the scene was surreal and gave no hint at what soon would be headed in Ruby Hill's direction, said superintendent Steve Agin.
    "The (Interstate) 580 and 680 are usually packed 24 hours a day," Agin said. "In the early days of the pandemic you had to look hard to see a car.
    "We were lucky, it was late winter and we didn't have a lot going on. In April, we furloughed 10 people and kept five, which was a lot compared to some places around here. All capital improvements were put on hold. What we thought would be a great year, everything just stopped."
    Except the golfers.
    Whether it was on the West Coast or the East Coast, or somewhere in between, once golfers started coming, it was like the cavalry coming over the hill.
    "After being completely closed for 45 days, we were busier than we have been in decades - usually over 200 rounds every day of the week," said Matt Crowther, CGCS at Cape Cod Country Club in East Falmouth, Massachusetts. "During the closure on a reduced staff we hunkered down taking a minimalist approach - no fertilizer, etc. We focused on making any improvements in areas worn out near tees and greens. Some of this was done over the fall and winter also. The place was scary good when we opened."
    With that much pressure, the turf at Cape Cod is worn out, and so were Crowther and his team and some of his equipment.
    "We were hit with gray leaf spot over Labor Day, so (we) have been busying trying to get that grass back," he said. 
    "We tried to keep up on the daily disinfecting of the equipment and touch points. Our aging equipment somehow knew it was a bad year and joined in. I don't think we went one week without something breaking. All in all, it was a challenge but we managed. Golfers were and remain happy."
    Because it is on a peninsula that juts into the ocean, Cape Cod winters can be milder than on the mainland. The seemingly never-ending parade of golfers has left Crowther hoping for something a little more seasonal this winter.
    "(It) feels like Groundhog Day," he said, "and I am hoping it snows a lot this winter, otherwise we will not get a break."
    Exhaustion and fatigue also are settling in at Bayou Oaks at City Park, a 36-hole municipal operation in New Orleans. Rounds played this year during the pandemic climbed to as much as 9,000 per month. Even the hot, sultry summers of Louisiana and a parade of hurricanes going through the Gulf of Mexico were not enough to keep golfers away.

    Keep staff safe and focused has been a challenge for many superintendents. "Weather has been very kind to us. Although we shut down for a few days a couple of times as a precaution for hurricanes, we were able to get right back into the swing of things with minor cleanup," superintendent Ryan McCavitt said. 
    "Although rounds are up 35 percent, tournaments were all canceled which gave my crew a chance to just stay ahead of daily fee golf which is a lot more simple than setting up for two 7:30 a.m. full-course shotguns," McCavitt said. "(We) never felt under the gun.
    "All of our chemical, fertilizer and equipment sales representatives have been fantastic, and we were able to keep all of the agronomical practices basically on schedule. All in all it's been a crazy year, and I feel lucky and blessed that it has worked out as it has. Great year for golf, but I look forward to 2021."
    Agin also is looking forward to a break at Ruby Hill, where play is up about 60 percent since May. 
    "We are so tired of golfers right now," Agin said. "Since late May, we've seen about 200 rounds a day, four carts a round. Normally, we do 32,000 to 36,000 rounds. At this pace, we'd crack the 55,000 mark if this kept up year-round. The impact is ballmarks, fairway edges, ins and outs on fairways and bunkers. We don't have any rakes out, ball washers or benches. Today, we didn't rake bunkers because we had to fly mow instead. I can't put 24 manhours into raking bunkers in the morning when no one is going to rake them the rest of the day anyway."
    For a recent member event, Agin experimented with rakes by place one on each golf car. By the end of the day, there were dozens of them scattered around the course, proving that old habits do indeed die hard.
    "We did it just to see how it would go," he said. "People just dropped them out of habit. There were 40 to 50 rakes out on the golf course. You can't blame them, that's what they're used to."
    Managing such extremes in play and protecting employees during a pandemic all without compromising playing conditions have made for a long summer.
    "The biggest challenges have been (convincing) staff to stay instead of receiving unemployment, making them feel safe and keeping them motivated," McCavitt said. "The uncharted territory that Covid has brought would definitely be Challenge Number One."
    To do that, McCavitt came up with a plan in which gloves and masks were mandatory for all staff; all equipment was disinfected before and after use; all meetings were held outside; breakroom was closed; lunch was canceled with staff working straight through the day (7 hours, paid for 8).
    "Motivation has been a challenge," he said. 
    Part of the challenge for Agin has been educating his team throughout the pandemic. 
    A member of his team tested positive in May. That shook up the rest of the crew, and suddenly his challenge included keeping the team focused on maintaining the golf course in the face of increased play, budget reductions and golfer demands.
    "I think we did a good job at keeping the standard up as high as we did," Agin said. "We tried hard not to let standards slip. It could have been better, but all things considered, we did a very good job.
    "The worst part has just been not knowing what is coming next. Mentally, it's so tiresome. You want to get away, but there is nowhere to go. It feels like we've been doing this for 10 years, but it's only been since March. Anybody who weathers this and is around in the spring is a champ."
    Part I in a series
  • A GoFundMe account has been established for the family of a golf course equipment manager who died recently in a non-work accident.
    Sam Holysz, equipment manager at Gull Lake Country Club in Richland, Michigan, died Oct. 10 when a tree limb fell on him while working on his family’s winter home, according to a GoFundMe account established by superintendent Jesse Shaver.
    Holysz was 41 and is survived by wife Meredith and his children, Nathaniel, Luke and Christopher Holysz, Tanner and Kiera Callahan. The account has a fundraising goal of $125,000.
    "Everyone who knew Sam was touched by his zest for life, contagious smile, and the way he genuinely cared for others around him. Sam made a profound impact on the lives of so many," according to the GoFundMe page. "He was a devoted husband and father for his family, a consummate fisherman and lifelong outdoorsman, and an extremely skilled professional for his colleagues and friends of 10 years at Gull Lake Country Club. Whether you found Sam working, fishing, relaxing on the boat, or enjoying one of his many adventures, you could always be certain that he would welcome you enthusiastically with open arms and a firm handshake."
    A native of Kalamazoo, Holysz was a U.S. Coast Guard veteran who also loved the outdoors. A memorial service will be held in his honor on Oct. 22 at Gull Lake Country Club.
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