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From the TurfNet NewsDesk


  • John Reitman
    An incident at a northeastern Ohio golf course last summer and the ensuing fallout nearly a year later underscore the need for an emphasis on safety at the golf course.

    Fox Meadow Country Club near Medina and Fore Golf Management which oversees the property have been named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the widow of an assistant superintendent killed in an on-course accident last year.

    According to Montville Township Police records, Michael Krebs, 33, died July 10, 2013 when he was electrocuted while working in a trench on a damaged irrigation pipe near the club's No. 5 hole.

    His widow, Megan Krebs, filed a lawsuit June 13 in Medina County Common Pleas Court that claims her husband's death was preventable and that he had "no experience with excavation equipment or repair of irrigation lines, was given no safety training to this type of work, was given no electrical testing equipment to determine if there was electrical power to the excavation site and he was required to work in close proximity to electrical lines without any safety precautions." Krebs was a father of three.

    The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, claiming that "the defendants' actions or inactions constituted willful, wanton, intentional, deliberate and malicious conduct and a conscious, reckless or flagrant disregard" for Krebs' safety.
     
    Krebs had been operating a backhoe on July 10 when he climbed off the machine and stepped into a 9-foot hole to repair a ruptured irrigation line, according to police records. Co-workers later found his body, police said, in the water-filled trench entangled in electrical wires.
     
  • Some superintendents end up in the business by chance. And there are others for whom the profession is a calling. Ian McQueen, superintendent of Islington Golf Club in Toronto, is the latter.   "I fell in love with this industry at 14 years of age," McQueen said. "It's all I've ever done and all I ever wanted to do."   After receiving a turfgrass degree from Penn State and completing an internship in the Baltimore area, McQueen became superintendent at a private club with a single owner. Fast forward to now, McQueen answers to 500 members at Islington ? a job that can be just as challenging as managing bentgrass in tundra-like conditions.   "Working for a board was a learning curve for me because you have so many different opinions," McQueen said. "Sharing information with our board and members has been a great way for them to really understand what we do and our unique needs."   McQueen says social media has been instrumental in fostering a great relationship between the members and turf staff. He frequently posts on his turf blog and Twitter (@IanMcQueenIGC) to keep members aware of course updates.    "We had a flood in early July of last year and then an incredibly challenging winter," McQueen said. "We lost a green to the flood and the rest were decimated by an ice storm in December. But our members knew about it from our constant flow of communications. They could see with their own eyes from the pictures just how bad things were. Because they were well informed on what we were facing, the board voted to completely rebuild our 90-year-old push-up greens at a $1.1 million price tag."   Renovations are under way at Islington, which is getting all-new USGA greens. It will be an important upgrade for the course as it competes for members with other Toronto-area courses.   Islington's membership of 550 play about 30,000 rounds of golf during its six-month playing season. That number is down from 36,000 a few years ago.   "We're changing some of the sloping of the greens to keep up certain green speeds," says McQueen. "Now that the height-of-cut is much lower than twenty years ago, the slopes that are about six degrees need to be changed to two or three while maintaining the general shape of the green as a whole."   McQueen uses a fleet of Jacobsen Eclipse2 122F greens mowers to maintain his greens.   "I've had Jacobsen walkers for about a decade because I think they're the best on the market," McQueen said. "I love that you can control the frequency-of-clip. During peak season, we set the FOC and HOC the same, about .110. This gets us a pretty consistent roll of 10-10.5 feet, which is ideal for members.   "We use the Jacobsen SLF-1880 fairway units to mow the traditional half-moon style. I really like the light weight of the SLF-1880. They can mow right up to the approaches without a problem. I have three but plan to get two more.   "I think the keys to success here at Islington are consistency and communication. If you can present consistently good conditions and communicate everything you're doing to your members, you create a winning environment."   - Courtesy of Jacobsen  
  • Green Start application deadline approaching
      Assistant superintendents interested in furthering their education have just a few days remaining to apply for one of 50 slots in the eighth annual Green Start Academy.   A professional development initiative presented by John Deere Golf and Bayer Environmental Science, Green Start Academy includes educational sessions, workshops and roundtable discussions for assistant superintendents from the United States and Canada.    This year's Green Start Academy is scheduled for Oct. 15-17 at the Bayer Development and Training Center in Clayton, N.C., and John Deere's Turf Care facility in Fuquay-Varina, N.C. Attendees will have the opportunity to network with peers, absorb best practices from industry leaders to propel their careers and gain insights into trending topics and key issues they can take back to their courses.   Application deadline is June 29.   Those interested in attending must submit a resume and complete the online application process here.   Applications will be judged by a panel that includes Chris Condon of Tetherow Golf Club, Jeff Corcoran of Oak Hill Country Club, Paul Cushing of the City of San Diego, Chris Dew of The National Golf Club of Canada, Bob Farren of Pinehurst Resort, Ken Mangum of Atlanta Athletic Club and Bryan Stromme of Billy Casper Golf and Billy Weeks of Duke University Golf Club.   9 receive Georgia GCSA scholarships
      The Georgia GCSA chapter recently awarded scholarships to nine students through its Legacy Scholarship program.   Eligible recipients must have a parent or grandparent who is a Georgia GCSA member in the A, SM, C, Retired A, Retired SM or AA Life category. The awards are funded by the Georgia GCSA in partnership with Jerry Pate Turf and Irrigation.   Recipients were: Karli Durden, Courtney Cunningham, Ben Ketelsen, Joseph Barton, Ryan Cunningham, Ann Drinkard, Morgan Kepple, Ben Murray and Haley Womac.   GCSAA awards Garske grants
      Five students recently received scholarship awards from the GCSAA through the Joseph S. Garske Collegiate Grants which is funded by Par Aide.   Recipients are:  Grant Wood Nair, Ohio State University, $2,500; Parker Esoda, University of South Carolina, $2,000; Jacob Schaller, University of Wisconsin, $1,500; Abigail Gullicks, University of St. Thomas, $1,000; Colby Tarsitano, New York University, $500.   The Garske Grant was established in honor of Par Aide company founder Joseph S. Garske. It is funded by Par Aide and administered by the GCSAA?s Environmental Institute for Golf. The program assists children and stepchildren of GCSAA members to fund their educations at an accredited college or trade school with one-time, one-year grants awarded to five winners without renewals. Grants are based on community service, leadership, academic performance and a written essay.  
  • Finding a good golf course equipment manager isn't always an easy task. Finding a great one is even more difficult.
     
    Since 2003, TurfNet has been helping superintendents honor their equipment managers with the Technician of the Year Award presented by Toro.
     
    Recently, three finalists for the award were chosen by a panel of judges from a list of a dozen nominees. 
     
    Finalists for this year's award are Chris Adler of Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; Brian Aiken of Kings Point Golf Course in Delray Beach, Florida; and Lee Medeiros of Timber Creek and Sierra Pines Golf Courses in Roseville, California. Click on each finalist's name to read more.
     
    The winner of the TurfNet Technician of the Year Award will be named this summer, and will receive the Golden Wrench Award and a spot in the Toro Service Training Academy at the company's headquarters in Bloomington, Minn.
     
    Other nominees were: Brad Bartlett, Applebrook GC, Malvern, Pennsylvania; Steve Bryant, Laconia (New Hampshire) CC; Ernest Daniels, Plandome (New York) CC; Glenn Eckert, Shackamaxon CC, Scotch Plains, New Jersey; Jori Hughes, The Wilderness at Fortune Bay, Tower, Minnesota; Todd Robinson, Spring Creek GC, Louisa, Virginia; Rex Schad, Jimmie Austin GC at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma; Rob Studyvin, Horseshoe Bay GC; Egg Harbor, Wisconsin; Rob Unglesbee, Glenstone GC, Potomac, Maryland; 
     
    Criteria on which the nominees are judged include crisis management, effective budgeting, environmental awareness, helping to further the careers of colleagues and employees, interpersonal communications, inventory management and cost control, overall condition and dependability of rolling stock, shop safety and work ethic. 
     
    Previous winners include Brian Sjögren, Corral de Tierra (California) Country Club (2013); Kevin Bauer, Prairie Bluff (Illinois) Public Golf Club (2012); Jim Kilgallon, Connecticut Golf Club (2011); Herb Berg, Oakmont (Pennsylvania) Country Club (2010); Doug Johnson, TPC at Las Colinas, Irving, Texas (2009); Jim Stuart, Stone Mountain (Georgia) Golf Club (2007); Fred Peck, Fox Hollow and The Homestead, Lakewood, Colorado. (2006); Jesus Olivas, Heritage Highlands at Dove Mountain, Marana, Arizona (2005); Henry Heinz, Kalamazoo (Michigan) Country Club (2004); Eric Kulaas, Marriott Vinoy Renaissance Resort, St. Petersburg, Florida (2003). No award was given in 2008.
  • Century Golf Partners has taken over American Golf in a deal that allows the former to expand its presence in California, according to a story in Golf Inc.
     
    Started by former Club Corp executive Jim Hinckley in 2005, Century Golf Partners is the country's ninth largest management firm, according to Golf Inc., while American Golf is slightly larger at No. 8.

    According to its Web site, Century Golf, which does business as Arnold Palmer Golf Management manages 54 courses in 16 states, including just three in California. The company has the greatest foothold in Texas and Florida, where a combined 31 of its courses are located.

    American Golf, according to its site, owns and/or operates a portfolio of 99 courses across the country, including 52 in California.
  • When it comes to thoughts on sustainable golf, Jason Goss is right, and Johnny Miller is wrong.   Goss, superintendent at Sonoma Golf Club in California's wine country, lobbed a tweet over the bow during the third round of the U.S. Open calling out those who might not understand why Pinehurst No. 2 was so brown, and went so far as to call them part of the problem facing golf.    Goss was right.   At the conclusion of a televised segment on Pinehurst's appearance and playability, Miller, NBC's resident mouthpiece who's never at a loss for words or opinions (until Fox Sports silenced him by outbidding the network for broadcast rights to the U.S. Open for the next dozen years), called the look into question when he asked USGA executive director Mike Davis if Chambers Bay will have a similar look during next year's Open.    Miller was wrong.   NBC play-by-play man Dan Hicks seemingly sensed the cynical tone of the question and cut off the segment just as Davis was able to say the course in Washington will be "different" next year.   The USGA as well as NBC deserve much credit for bringing the conversation about sustainable golf and the challenges it presents out of the friendly confines of the turf maintenance community and into the open where the general public can hear it. And they did so on the biggest of stages - the U.S. Open.   During the third round, NBC aired a taped segment in which USGA Green Section managing director Kim Erusha, Ph.D., discussed what her association is doing to help the game along a path toward sustainability. She discussed the 96-year history of the Green Section, its efforts to help develop grasses that require less water, fertilizer and pesticides and its goal of helping individual courses implement site-specific BMPs that are good for the environment and result in conditions that are pleasing to the golfer.   Specifically, she discussed how this philosophy relates to the unique look of the well-publicized Bill Coore-Ben Crenshaw restoration of the Donald Ross-designed No. 2 Course at Pinehurst, which was dialed back to look like it did for the 1936 PGA Championship, and how the already rustic-looking layout with its vast sand waste areas and expansive, yet arid fairways became increasingly more brown during the tournament. She also told viewers that tan turf was a good thing.   "We're combining all those pieces of the puzzle to work with golf facilities to help them get the best quality playing conditions," Erusha said during the segment. "Pinehurst is a great example of what we're trying to do with golf course management. Pinehurst has always focused on sustainability. They wanted to restore what they had when Pinehurst was first created. When you look at the golf course today, you look at the out-of-play areas and the uniqueness of the rough, you look at a little bit of the brownness on the edges of the fairways; that's really what Pinehurst used to be." Even USGA agronomist Adam Moeller took to Twitter, tweeting a photo and a message from atop a TV tower overlooking No. 18 and stating that "Pinehurst #2 is exactly how USGA wants it."    After the taped segment, Hicks and Miller asked Davis about Pinehurst's new look and how the layout tested golfers in relation to past U.S. Opens held there.   In 1999, winner Payne Stewart was the only player below par at 1 under. Six years later, Michael Campbell won at Pinehurst at even par. This year, Martin Kaymer took advantage of soft, wet conditions early in the week to fire identical scores of 5-under-par 65 in the first two rounds and setting a U.S. Open record before going 1 over par on the weekend to finish at 9 under par. Only two other players, Erik Compton and Ricky Fowler, both at a more U.S. Open-like 1 under, finished below par.   Davis briefly addressed the USGA's contentment with the layout, but, to his credit, largely chose to keep the conversation focused on sustainable golf.   He mentioned how the restoration has allowed Bob Farren, CGCS, Pinehurst's director of grounds and golf course maintenance, and No. 2 superintendent Kevin Robinson to dial back water consumption on No. 2 by 70 percent and how the architects called the project not only a return to the Pinehurst's past, but also a look into the game's future.   "They talk about looking at Pinehurst No. 2 and looking back to the 1930s and 1940s, but Bill (Coore) also said this is looking to the future," Davis said. "(Pinehurst) went from (using) 55 million gallons (of water) to 15 million gallons, and that is a very good statement for golf."   Does this mean that every golf course must look like No. 2 did during the Open? Of course not, and Davis and Farren, said as much. But it does mean those with a stake in the future of the game have to do more to bring this conversation into the open. And it means there is a lot of work to be done to educate golfers on why every golf course must be more sustainable, and it means more efforts like those on display during the third round of the U.S. Open must take place to educate people on what those in the business are doing to meet those needs.   "We took away 40 acres of turf out of the total 90, and eliminated water for it to be a natural ecosystem that it's supposed to be in the sand hills of North Carolina," Farren said during the segment. "The water was the common denominator in all the changes we made. We reduced our water use by as much as 70 percent and changing our expectations and not worrying about being vibrant and green all the time, reducing our carbon footprint in the sense of fuel usage. So, it's really a great statement for golf and what we can do to improve the sustainability of golf.    "Not every course can do what we've done with Pinehurst No. 2, with the history that we have with the documentation of it, the credibility of Coore and Crenshaw. But I think we can take pieces and parts of that and all benefit from it on all courses."   With numbers like that, who in this business can't get behind that message?   Granted, whichever side of the Pinehurst debate one falls on is a matter of personal preference, but it also has to be said that those who prefer a lush, green course all the time, are, like Miller, wrong, because that philosophy represents a long-term strategy that is not realistic.   If you don't understand why Pinehurst looks the way it did, you are, as Jason Goss said, part of the problem, not part of the solution.
  • The layers of uncertainty surrounding how government might oversee private use of drones for commercial purposes continue to be peeled away.   Last week, BP conducted what is at least the second commercial drone flight when the London-based oil company and drone manufacturer AeroVironment flew a Puma AE unmanned aircraft system near Alaska's remote Prudhoe Bay area to survey roads and pipelines in the country's largest oilfield.   The Federal Aviation Administration, which has jurisdiction over all manned and unmanned flight, has limited non-recreational drone use primarily to government, police, fire and public safety purposes as well as some academic research. FAA approved limited commercial flight in July 2013, when it OK'd use of the Puma AE and Insitu ScanEagle vehicles for surveying in the Arctic.   ConocoPhillips engaged in what is believed to be the first commercial drone flight on Sept. 12, 2013 when it flew a ScanEagle over the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska for monitoring marine mammal life and Arctic ice sheets. A subsequent ConocoPhillips flight crashed into the ocean.   To date, the FAA does not require users to get approval to fly a craft for recreational purposes, but does impose some limitations that state the vehicle must remain in sight of the operator, be flown only during daylight hours, and be operated within the confines of Class G airspace and then only at an elevation of less than 400 feet and outside 5 miles from any airport or heliport. Whether restrictions for private and recreational users will change in the future is uncertain.
    Public Law 112-95, known as the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, charges the FAA with developing a comprehensive plan for safe use of unmanned vehicles. The agency says it is implementing pieces of such a plan in incremental phases.   Unauthorized commercial flights have occurred on occasion in the filming of movies. Multiple operators representing the motion picture industry have sought exemptions for commercial flight from FAA regulations since early last year. The FAA still has not granted such an exemption.    
  • Technician of the Year Award Finalist
     
    Chris Adler, Oakland Hills Country Club, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
     
    Home to more than a dozen major championships throughout its history, Oakland Hills Country Club is all about quality of cut. So is the club's equipment manager, Chris Adler.   "His commitment and passion are like none I've seen in 30 years," said Steve Cook, CGCS, director of agronomy at Oakland Hills, a 36-hole property near Detroit in Bloomfield Hills.    "His main focus is quality of cut. He makes sure all of our mowers are set perfectly before they go out. You just don't see an uneven cut here."   That's important at a place like Oakland Hills where members are driven to make sure the property is a regular fixture in major championship golf.   Designed by Donald Ross in 1918, the club's South Course has been the site of 13 major championships, including six U.S. Opens, three PGA Championships, two U.S. Senior Opens, a U.S. Amateur Championship and the Ryder Cup Matches. The Ross-designed North Course, which first greeted players in 1924, went under the knife in 2013 to the tune of $2.3 million.    Overseeing property with so much history requires a superintendent to be on top of his game. Likewise,managing the $2.3 million in equipment used to maintain the property requires a skilled equipment manager as well.   Enter Adler who was an assistant technician during the 2009 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills and left later that year to become the equipment manager at Indianwood Country Club in Lake Orion, Michigan. When the top mechanic's position at Oakland Hills became available in 2011, Cook actively recruited Adler to fill it.   Adler has been named one of three finalists for the TurfNet Technician of the Year Award, presented by Toro.   The winner of the TurfNet Technician of the Year Award will be named this summer, and will receive the Golden Wrench Award and a spot in the Toro Service Training Academy at the company's headquarters in Bloomington, Minn.   Previous winners include Brian Sjögren, Corral de Tierra (California) Country Club (2013); Kevin Bauer, Prairie Bluff (Illinois) Public Golf Club (2012); Jim Kilgallon, Connecticut Golf Club (2011); Herb Berg, Oakmont (Pennsylvania) Country Club (2010); Doug Johnson, TPC at Las Colinas, Irving, Texas (2009); Jim Stuart, Stone Mountain (Georgia) Golf Club (2007); Fred Peck, Fox Hollow and The Homestead, Lakewood, Colorado. (2006); Jesus Olivas, Heritage Highlands at Dove Mountain, Marana, Arizona (2005); Henry Heinz, Kalamazoo (Michigan) Country Club (2004); Eric Kulaas, Marriott Vinoy Renaissance Resort, St. Petersburg, Florida (2003). No award was given in 2008.   Adler has worked in the past as a spray tech and maintenance crew worker. He even attended turf school and worked for three years as superintendent at Mulligan's Golf Center, a driving range and practice center in nearby South Lyon, before deciding he no longer desired the aggravation that comes with being a superintendent, Cook said.   Still, that experience has increased his value as an equipment manager, said Cook.    "He has a good eye and understands the playing surfaces and what they should look like. He gets the grass growing part of it, and when a sprayer or a piece of equipment doesn't work, he gets that too," Cook said. "That's important here, because here our next major is always tomorrow morning. Whether it's for daily play or major tournaments, we might raise or lower the height of cut, but we don?t change much else."   Adler also possesses intangible qualities that Cook can't quantify like he can quality of cut, or the ability to manage a budget.    "Chris is transformative," Cook said.   "The entire staff now communicates openly with our team of mechanics. Morale is higher. Cookouts are better. Production has increased. Our costs are lower. We have more respect for the equipment and he has elevated the visibility of our fleet, our staff and our department."
  • Jack of all trades

    By John Reitman, in News,

    TurfNet Technician of the Year Finalist
    Brian Aiken, Kings Point Golf Course, Delray Beach, Florida
       
    Being a golf course equipment manager often requires ingenuity and creativity, especially at a low-budget operation with high-budget expecations.   When a leak recently emerged on the pickup superintendent William Jeffrey drives at Kings Point Golf Course in Delray Beach, Florida, equipment manager Brian Aiken used a fog-making machine that people use on their front porch to scare trick or treaters at Halloween to isolate the problem.   "He can troubleshoot and diagnose just about anything," said Jeffrey.    Aiken is a second-generation mechanic who learned the trade from his father. He  has been the equipment manager at Kings Point since 1993, and in that time, he's repaired pieces of equipment others might have condemned as scrap, fabricated tools out of odds and ends to fit a specific need and keeps reels sharpened to a razor's edge at a property with 36 holes of par 3 and executive golf covering 120 acres of managed turf and 30 acres of common area nestled among 7,200 private residences and a maintenance budget of less than $600,000. Aiken's monthly budget for all equipment maintenance and repairs is $2,500.   "He's a one-man show at a low-budget operation, but we have every piece of equipment you can imagine," Jeffrey said.    Aiken has been named one of three finalists for the TurfNet Technician of the Year Award, presented by Toro.   When Meadowbrook Golf took over management of the Kings Point last year, the course inherited a 20-year-old tractor that didn't work from a nearby sister property that told Jeffrey "If you can fix it, you can keep it."   The dealer representing the OEM wanted $4,500 for a single part to keep the relic running. Aiken was able to get it back onto the golf course for a third of that cost.   "He could have thrown his hands up and told me he couldn't fix it," Jeffrey said. "He can fix stuff over and above normal."   That's an important skill at a place like Kings Point, where there is no offseason and golfers arrive early every day making it necessary for the grounds crew to get an early start.   "Brian is without a doubt the best mechanic I've ever had in my 40 years in golf turf maintenance," Jeffrey said. "He can do it all. He is a master at all kinds of engine diagnostics and repairs. That's important here.   "This place is busy, busy, busy. By 7 a.m. they are teeing off on both courses, and we have to move them around the course. We do everything on the front nine of both courses in the dark."   The winner of the TurfNet Technician of the Year Award will be named this summer, and will receive the Golden Wrench Award and a spot in the Toro Service Training Academy at the company's headquarters in Bloomington, Minn.   Previous winners include Brian Sjögren, Corral de Tierra (California) Country Club (2013); Kevin Bauer, Prairie Bluff (Illinois) Public Golf Club (2012); Jim Kilgallon, Connecticut Golf Club (2011); Herb Berg, Oakmont (Pennsylvania) Country Club (2010); Doug Johnson, TPC at Las Colinas, Irving, Texas (2009); Jim Stuart, Stone Mountain (Georgia) Golf Club (2007); Fred Peck, Fox Hollow and The Homestead, Lakewood, Colorado. (2006); Jesus Olivas, Heritage Highlands at Dove Mountain, Marana, Arizona (2005); Henry Heinz, Kalamazoo (Michigan) Country Club (2004); Eric Kulaas, Marriott Vinoy Renaissance Resort, St. Petersburg, Florida (2003). No award was given in 2008.
  • TurfNet Technician of the Year Finalist
    Lee Medeiros, Timber Creek and Sierra Pines Golf Courses, Sun City at Roseville, California
      A mechanic who can fix just about anything is a commodity at any golf course. One who can prevent breakdowns from occurring in the first place is even more valuable.   Lee Medeiros is that man. For the past eight years, Medeiros has been equipment manager at Timber Creek and Sierra Pines golf courses that are part of a Sun City development in Roseville, California. His superintendent says he can diagnose and repair any down piece of equipment, but his real expertise is keeping machinery rolling and keeping it in good enough condition that he can sell it off before it reaches the end of its useful life.   "He increased the longevity of equipment, prevented major breakdowns and assisted the crew in becoming more productive on the golf course," said superintendent Jim Ferrin, CGCS.   "In the eight years he has been here, there have be no major breakdowns."   Madeiros has been named one of three finalists for the TurfNet Technician of the Year Award, presented by Toro.   The only major repair Ferrin could recall during Medeiros' time at Roseville was when he overhauled a rough mower after the transmission failed. Now, each piece of equipment lasts an average of five years longer than it did before arrived, helping Ferrin meet and exceed budget every year. For example, there is an 18-year-old Toro rotary mower with a front deck that Ferrin still uses, thanks to Medeiros.   Those skills also help add to the bottom line when it's time to sell used equipment that brings in as much as $40,000 per year in additional revenue.   "He continually figures out how to keep that running," Ferrin said. "He's got crafty skills.   "He's increased the longevity of our equipment and prevented major breakdowns, saving thousands."   Tim McCoy, sales manager for Turf Star, a California-based Toro distributor, says Medeiros displays a dedication for his job that he doesn't see everywhere. And he shows that passion by helping other courses with less experienced technicians with needed repairs, loaning equipment to other nearby properties and serving up the courses at Sun City Roseville as test sites for local equipment distributors.   "Lee has the experience from being in our industry for several years. He has the attitude of lifelong learning," McCoy said. "More importantly, Lee has the passion to resolve every issue to completion.    "Lee has helped neighboring courses, not only loaning a part, but helping with the repairs. . . . He has helped equipment distributors with loaning equipment, beta testing, valuable feedback on new products. Lee has loaned me a HD Workman for a demo in a neighboring city. He has given valuable feedback on new products."    The winner of the TurfNet Technician of the Year Award will be named this summer, and will receive the Golden Wrench Award and a spot in the Toro Service Training Academy at the company's headquarters in Bloomington, Minn.   Previous winners include Brian Sjögren, Corral de Tierra (California) Country Club (2013); Kevin Bauer, Prairie Bluff (Illinois) Public Golf Club (2012); Jim Kilgallon, Connecticut Golf Club (2011); Herb Berg, Oakmont (Pennsylvania) Country Club (2010); Doug Johnson, TPC at Las Colinas, Irving, Texas (2009); Jim Stuart, Stone Mountain (Georgia) Golf Club (2007); Fred Peck, Fox Hollow and The Homestead, Lakewood, Colorado. (2006); Jesus Olivas, Heritage Highlands at Dove Mountain, Marana, Arizona (2005); Henry Heinz, Kalamazoo (Michigan) Country Club (2004); Eric Kulaas, Marriott Vinoy Renaissance Resort, St. Petersburg, Florida (2003). No award was given in 2008.
  • Sustainability isn't a buzzword or catchphrase at BASF. Instead, it's a philosophy that extends throughout all of the multinational corporation's five business segments at nearly 700 production sites in 80-plus countries around the world. 
     
    "We create chemistries for a sustainable future. This is totally different from 'we sell chemicals,' " said Andreas Kreimeyer, BASF's research executive director and a member of the corporation's board of directors.
     
    "Creating chemistry means we combine chemicals. It's about how we use them, how to make our customers more successful using them, offering technical service and helping our customers design exclusive programs."
     
    Nowhere within that corporate structure is this philosophy more evident than in BASF's Agricultural Solutions division, or more specifically, within the unit's crop protection segment.
     
    Every two years, members of the upper management team from BASF's headquarters in Ludwigshafen, Germany, as well as those who oversee its crop protection business in North America convene at the BASF North American Agricultural Solutions Media Summit to discuss the crop protection challenges facing the world and BASF's efforts to confront them.
     
    "We are trying to move from a technology-driven and product-oriented organization to a solutions-oriented organization," said Markus Heldt, president of the company's crop protection unit, during this year's summit held in Durham, North Carolina.
     
    For BASF, that means focusing on innovation and research and development for new products and ideas, dialing in on customer needs and bringing those innovations to customers faster, Heldt said.
     
    According to Kreimeyer, BASF spends $1.8 billion annually just in R&D and employs 10,000 people in that field worldwide. About 37 percent, or nearly $2 million per day, of that is devoted to research in crop protection, Heldt said.
     
    Admittedly, most of the bi-annual program is devoted to the corporation's efforts to meet the food-production needs of a growing world population, but that focus on sustainability translates to the company's turf and ornamental business as well. In fact, many of the products that eventually emerge on the turf and ornamental side of the industry were born in agriculture, where the bulk of the research funding lies.
     
    Two examples of the journey toward sustainability in the turf market are the release of two new products that provide preventive and curative control of a host of fungal diseases.
     
    Xzemplar, with the active ingredient fluxapyroxad, is a succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor fungicide that works by blocking fungi respiration and disrupting the energy supply, which prevents further growth of fungal cells.
     
    Lexicon Intrinsic contains both fluxapyroxad and pyraclostrobin, the ingredient common to all products in BASF's Intrinsic portfolio. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted label registration to both products in January.
     
    "When you bring innovation to market, you have to be able to demonstrate an increase in value to the end user," said Jon Sweat, director of BASF's specialty products division. 'We have to demonstrate that using Lexicon means fewer trips than a superintendent would make with something else, or that it's more effective at a lower rate than other products.
     
    "We are trying to look at it holistically. We are trying with active ingredients and inputs to make it for superintendents to be able to look at their constituents and say 'I am running a more sustainable operation than I was five years ago.' "
     
    Fluxapyroxad, now branded as Xemium, is a chemistry in the carboxamide family, and exhibits enhanced systemic activity that BASF technical specialist Kathie Kalmowitz, Ph.D., says extends its residual properties, thus increasing the plant's ability to fight stress and resulting in longer, more prolific root growth and curative activity against disease.
     
    During a Summit field trip to BASF's 130-acre research farm in Holly Springs, North Carolina, Kalmowitz showed the efficacy of each product on a Crenshaw creeping bentgrass plot subjected to abnormally hot summerlike conditions in late spring. Plots treated with Lexicon and Xzemplar were disease free, while the untreated control plot was pocked with dollar spot lesions.
     
    "That means turf can go through a day like today, or just a normal day, and it means we have consistent growth patterns and we're not losing roots through these stress events," Kalmowitz said.
     
    "First and foremost, we have to be a fungicide. Our customers demand that of us."
     
    Among the outside factors prompting BASF to take a solutions-based look at the future is projected world population growth. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the world population is nearly 7.2 billion. The United Nations projects that number to swell to more than 8 billion in the next decade and reach 9.6 billion by 2050. Although population growth has slowed in developed nations, the challenges associated with that projected growth are underscored by the fact that the UN predicts populations in the 49 least developed countries will more than double in the next 35 years. The challenge facing companies like BASF is how farmers worldwide will be able to produce enough food to meet that demand and how they can get it to the table affordably.
     
    To do that, BASF says it will lean on its three pillars of sustainability that include efficiency in economy, ecology and society.
     
    That means minimizing economic risk for customers, developing products and solutions that ensure BASF and its customers are able to practice stewardship without compromising efficacy.
     
    "We have to get closer to our customers and bring those innovations, new ideas and business concepts to our customers faster around the globe," Heldt said. "To achieve this, we have to be close to our customers, focus on their needs and better anticipate their needs."
  • Assistant superintendents interested in furthering their education can apply for one of 50 slots in the eighth annual Green Start Academy.   A professional development initiative presented by John Deere Golf and Bayer Environmental Science, Green Start Academy includes educational sessions, workshops and roundtable discussions for assistant superintendents from the United States and Canada.    This year's Green Start Academy is scheduled for Oct. 15-17 at the Bayer Development and Training Center in Clayton, N.C., and John Deere's Turf Care facility in Fuquay-Varina, N.C. Attendees will have the opportunity to network with peers, absorb best practices from industry leaders to propel their careers and gain insights into trending topics and key issues they can take back to their courses.   Those interested in attending the ninth annual event must submit a resume and complete the online application process here.   Applications will be judged by a panel that includes Chris Condon of Tetherow Golf Club, Jeff Corcoran of Oak Hill Country Club, Paul Cushing of the City of San Diego, Chris Dew of The National Golf Club of Canada, Bob Farren of Pinehurst Resort, Ken Mangum of Atlanta Athletic Club and Bryan Stromme of Billy Casper Golf and Billy Weeks of Duke University Golf Club.   Application deadline is June 29.
  • Toro has taken its AquaFlow drip irrigation system online, making it more accessible for end users.   AquaFlow 4.0 includes expandable panels that automatically adjust to multiple screen and font sizes, and allow instant visibility of design decision results by scrolling. The upgrade to take the system online was in response to customer feedback, according to Toro.   Pull-down menus allow users to create new customers and projects and select program features, such as Mainline Design, Custom Laterals and Pipes, Options, Common Formulas and Help. In addition, lateral quantity per block, number of laterals per block, submain and mainline irrigation travel time, and submain velocity vs. distance are now reported as well.    AquaFlow supports Toro's Aqua-Traxx and Aqua-Traxx PC premium drip tape, Neptune flat emitter dripline, as well as BlueLine Classic and BlueLine PC premium dripline laterals. In addition, multiple pipeline choices include Toro Oval Hose, Toro Layflat and PVC pipe. As in previous versions, multiple slopes can still be entered for laterals, submains and mainlines; and submains and mainlines may be telescoped with multiple pipe sizes.   AquaFlow designs can be saved, exported and imported. Or, users can print or save to in PDF format. The system can be used in English and Spanish as well as standard and metric units. The user manual also is available in English and Spanish.
  • Jacobsen at the World Cup
      As teams from around the globe compete in the World Cup in Brazil, they will be doing so on turf maintained with Jacobsen equipment.   The venues using Jacobsen equipment include the Arena de Baixada in Curitiba, Arena de Sao Paulo, Arena Pernambuco in Recife, which hosts USA's final Group G game against Germany on June 26 and Estadio Mineiro in Belo Horizonte.    The most prestigious venue at the tournament, the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janiero, which will host the final of the competition on July 13, is being mowed with the Jacobsen Tri-King small area reel mower. The Tri-King is popular with sports field managers because it provides reel-quality results at higher heights-of-cut.    Jacobsen Tri-King mowers are also being used at several national team training venues including the Australian training camp at Vitaria in Espirito Santo, Portugal's training center at Campinas at Sao Paulo and Mexico, who are using the training facilities of Santos, also in Sao Paulo.    In addition to the Jacobsen Tri-King mowers, stadium grounds managers will also be using the Ransomes Mastiff walk-behind reel mower to give the fields a final striping before each game.    The United States team plays its first matches June 16, 22 and 26 against Ghana, Portugal and Germany, respectively.    Grigg Brothers goes Down Under
      Beginning this summer, Grigg Brothers, a wholly owned subsidiary of Brandt Consolidated Inc., will launch its plant nutrition products in Australia through Globe Australia, a division of Amgrow Group.   The brand launch includes Grigg's proprietary liquid organic line of proven foliar nutrients, such as Gary's Green, PK Plus, AminoPlex and Tuff Turf, as well as select granular fertilizers.    Brandt, which provides products and services for the agricultural market, acquired Grigg Brothers in a deal that was announced in January. Amgrow has been a long-term partner of Brandt in both agriculture and turf markets.   Globe Australia is a subsidiary of Amgrow Australia. Amgrow is a market leader in Australia with its NuTurf and Globe business units and is part of the CK Lifescience Group Hong Kong.   Arysta taps Maravich to fill top T&O slot
      Arysta LifeScience North America recently named Michael Maravich (no relation to Pistol Pete) as business manager for its turf and ornamental division.    Maravich has been with Arysta since 2008 as a product line manager, and will be responsible for leading all sales and marketing efforts within the division.   A veteran of the T&O market who also has worked for Lesco, Maravich will be based in La Quinta, California.
  • Wake-up call

    By John Reitman, in News,

    While transition zone golf courses spent the winter in a deep slumber, the sight that awaited many superintendents in the spring should serve as a wake-up call that Bermudagrass in the upper South needs extra care during the offseason.
     
    That's the take-home message from this winter, says Fred Yelverton, Ph.D., of North Carolina State University, as many courses in several states, including Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia that grow Bermudagrass greens continue to struggle into late spring.
     
    During the many site visits he has made this winter throughout North Carolina, Yelverton has seen a lot of winter damage and winterkill. It's the first time since 1995, Yelverton said, that he's seen since such widespread damage in North Carolina. What he hasn't seen much of on those visits, he said, are greens covers.
     
    "I think we have to be careful to remember we are in North Carolina, and winter kill is a real possibility," Yelverton said. "We have to plan for it. If we don't, we're setting ourselves up for disaster.
     
    "We've gotten complacent. Those who think this was some wild, cold winter, that's not accurate. Yes, it was cold if you look at records, but it was reminiscent of what we had in the early to mid-1990s."
     
    In Raleigh, the average low in January was 25 degrees Fahrenheit, which was 6 degrees below the historic average, according to the National Weather Service. February's average low was 33, which is the average. March remained cold, with average lows of 34 degrees. However, the historic average for that time of year is 40 degrees. That didn't come close to the coldest winter in central North Carolina. The record low in January was minus-9, set in 1985. February's record cold temperature of minus-2 was set all the way back in 1899. And the coldest day ever in March in central North Carolina was 11 degrees on March 2, 1980.
     
    "We tend to have short memories," Yelverton said. "If we haven't seen something in 15 years, we don't worry about it."
     
    The story is a similar one in Arkansas, where Mike Richardson, Ph.D., says the last time there was significant winter damage there was 2000-01.
     
    "This is only the second severe winter we've had in northwest Arkansas in the 16 years that I've been here," said Mike Richardson, Ph.D. of the University of Arkansas. "When you don't experience a problem for several years, people let their guard down and forget those basic practices and fundamentals. When you do that you set yourself up for a bad winter.
     
    "If you're growing ultradwarf Bermudagrass anywhere in Arkansas and you're not using covers, frankly, you're a fool. This year, you could have lost your entire greens complex without covers, and you still could have lost some even with covers."
     
    Equally damaging as winter's cold temperatures was a slow start to the growing season. Although average temperatures were pretty much in line with historic averages, according to the NWS, overnight lows dipped into the low 30s as late as the third week of April. That was 17 degrees below average. Cool conditions persisted into May as well.
     
    "We had winter injury, followed by conditions that were not conducive to Bermudagrass growth," Yelverton said. "What we have is slow grass that is still painfully slow."
     
    Winter conditions also led to a bumper crop of spring dead spot, and the only cure for that is patience, said Lane Tredway, Ph.D., senior technical representative for Syngenta.
     
    "There's really not much you can do from a fungicide standpoint," Tredway said. "You really just have to wait."
     
    As recovery crept along at a snail's pace, superintendents faced one of two choices: repair or wait. Areas left to recovery could take until July or August to fully recuperate. Areas that have been regrassed will be held out of play for almost as long. Which fork in the road each superintendent chose was a decision based on some combination of budget, damage level and golfer patience, Tredway said.
     
    "It just depends on how much damage there is and if it's a private club or a public course," Tredway said. "If the damage is severe, a high-end private club will never have the stomach for waiting. They'll regrass."
     
    There are agronomic practices, such as aerification, that superintendents playing the waiting game can employ to promote quicker recovery. 
     
    "I would suggest aerification, or spiking the greens," Tredway said. "You don't even have to go that deep; maybe an inch or so. Anything to break up that organic matter layer."
     
    Richardson suggests that superintendents and other stakeholders should take a look at the big picture when selecting turf types in the transition zone where the summer growing season is shorter than it is farther south.
     
    "If you go to Bermuda, you have to realize that for some of the traditional golf season you are not going to have green putting greens," Richardson said. 
     
    "For us in Arkansas, four-and-a-half or five months is all you are going to get out of Bermudagrass greens, so we're looking at seven months of dormant, painted Bermudagrass. On the other hand, bentgrass struggles here from July through September, but the rest of the year it looks great. 
     
    Among the reasons so many courses throughout the mid-south have made the switch from bent to Bermuda is cost of maintenance. That is an ill-informed decision, Richardson says.
     
    "First and foremost, Bermuda is not going to be cheaper to manage, so you have to get that out of your head," he said. "You might sleep better in summer because Pythium is not killing bentgrass, but there are still costs associated with it, such as covers, grooming, verticutting. The cost is a wash.
     
    "You really have to decide whether the grass you choose lines up with your playing season. The most important thing in this area is winter survival, because it's not a matter of if you're going to get winter damage. It's a matter of when."
     
    Yelverton agreed that Bermudagrass might have reached or even exceeded its geographic limits.
     


    "First and foremost, Bermuda is not going to be cheaper to manage, so you have to get that out of your head," he said. "You might sleep better in summer because Pythium is not killing bentgrass, but there are still costs associated with it, such as covers, grooming, verticutting. The cost is a wash.

     

    "There is a hard push for Bermuda greens into the northern limits. There are a lot of people in the industry who haven't been around long enough to experience anything like what had this winter. And there are some concerns among some of us who have been around a while that it might be too aggressive in places like North Carolina and Arkansas," Yelverton said. "I don't know how unusual this winter was. It's unusual if you look at it in the context of the last 18 years or so. But winter injury is not unusual for us, and you have to take a broader look at things."
  • We hear the excuses all the time about how rounds played lag because of the weather. It's too hot. It's too cold. It's too wet. It's too dry. In a month that even Goldilocks would conclude was just right, rounds played in April still lagged behind the weather.
     
    According to Golf Datatech's Monthly Golf Rounds Played Report, play in April was down by 1.7 percent nationwide despite an overall increase in the inventory of optimal playing conditions. Golf Playable Hours, Jim Koppenhaver's (Pellucid Corp.) measure of acceptable daylight hours in which one could play golf, factored against climatic influences that are unfavorable for playing golf, were up by 2 percent nationwide for the month. 
     
    According to Datatech, in the seven geographic regions into which it has divided the country, precipitation was up significantly in two, down substantially in two and were insignificant, plus or minus less than 10 percent, in the remaining three. An increase in the availability in dry, daylight hours doesn't always mean golfers are going to play more golf. In fact, it seems those conditions rarely translate into more play.
     
    Monthly rounds played have risen only twice in the last 28 months, with the last increase coming in October 2013 (3.7 percent). Before that, one has to go all the way back to November 2012 when the industry was bolstered by a whopping 2.6 percent boost in rounds played.
     
    According to Datatech's April report that measured rounds played at 3,705 facilities in 49 states (all but Alaska), rounds played were down in 27 states, up in 21 others and flat in another.
     
    The greatest gains were in Minnesota, where rounds were up by 51 percent. Double-digit gains were realized in 10 other states: North and South Dakota (27 percent); Colorado (23 percent); Indiana (16 percent); Idaho, Montana, Wisconsin and Wyoming (14 percent); Louisiana and Oregon (11 percent).
     
    Double-digit losses occurred in 14 states: Maryland and Rhode Island (23 percent); Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont (18 percent); New York (17 percent); Arkansas (16 percent); Hawaii (15 percent); Delaware and Maryland (14 percent); New Mexico (13 percent); Ohio and Virginia (12 percent); 
     
    The silver lining is that rounds played, while still down, were not down as much as they have been earlier this year. As a result, year-to-date rounds played, which were down by 4.8 percent through March, improved slightly in April to 3.4 percent through the first four months of the year compared with the same period in 2013.
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