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From the TurfNet NewsDesk


  • John Reitman
    Golf is a game built on tradition: 18 holes, sportsmanship and etiquette, self-reporting rules violations, green jackets and claret jugs. It's also a game traditionally dominated by men - on the course and in the maintenance building. Although women continue to make strides in breaking down gender walls in golf turf maintenance, they still have a long way to go.
      A group of current and future superintendents say that although they make the same professional and personal sacrifices as their male counterparts, they've had to go above and beyond to earn the same level of respect from their colleagues. Still, none of them have second-guessed their career choice for a millisecond.   "There are males out there that are very respectful and treat me as an equal, whereas there are others that treat women as second-class citizens and can't wait for them to be replaced by a male counterpart," said Monica Lalinde, superintendent at Smyrna Municipal Golf Course in Tennessee.   "I knew it was a male dominated field but I did not care, it was what I wanted to do and I was going to fight for it."   The GCSAA says it has 101 women members, 31 of whom are Class A members and another 21 with Superintendent Member status.   A 1984 graduate of the Ohio State turf program and a former Buckeye golfer, Sherri Brogan, CGCS, has been in the golf business since 1986 and a head superintendent in the six-course Columbus municipal golf system since 1989. She has been superintendent at the city's Champions Golf Course since 1992, and GCSAA certification in 1998.   As an OSU student in the 1980s, it didn't take Brogan long to realize she'd chosen a major dominated by men. And she figured making a name for herself might not be easy. Like her male colleagues, Brogan, 53, has worked hard to get where she is today. Maybe, she admits, she's had to work a little harder, not that she's complaining, mind you.   "Did I know what I was getting into? To some extent yes. To the full extent? No. I've had to work a lot harder to get the same respect that a lot of my male counterparts, who I'm around every day, have gotten," Brogan said.   "When I was working my way up I continually had to prove myself. It didn't matter how good the golf course looked, I knew people were thinking ?Someone must have been helping her.' "   Would she have chosen a different career path if she'd known then what she knows now? Don't bet on it, because Brogan doesn't just think she's as good as any other superintendent in the business who happens to be a man. She knows she is.   "There are some superintendents who don't accept it, and there are some who are great friends who I know I can call and they'll help me any time," she said.   "I've been doing this so long, I don't really care. I can do as good a job as any of them. I love what I do, and I can't wait to get here to the course every day."   Arin Hawkins is head superintendent at Raymond Memorial Golf Course, also in the Columbus municipal family.   He knows when he needs to make a call to get advice from a colleague, he can count on Brogan, and vice-, Hawkins said.   "When you look at her qualifications, she's got it all," Hawkins said. "She's a senior member of our golf division, and she's certified. That's a rigorous process.   "We both look to each other if we have problems or issues. She's the first person I go to. We lean on each other heavily."   Like Brogan, Lalinde's days in golf began as a player. As a near-scratch golfer when she was a youngster, she thought she would make a living wielding a putter, not a soil moisture meter.   Lalinde saw her plans for a life as a professional golfer dashed by back pain when she was 18. She loved the game too much to walk away from it, so she chose a career in turf management instead.   A native of Colombia, Lalinde has been in the business for parts of four decades. At age 55, she's been a head superintendent for 21 years, including the past 14 at Smyrna Municipal Golf Course in Tennessee. She knew the field was one dominated by men when she graduated from Walters State Community College in Morristown, but that did not deter her then, or now.   "The biggest challenge was getting a chance to show what you could do and that you could do it," Lalinde said. "There was also the misconception that the job was too physical for a woman. You do not have to be Superman to do it, however, you cannot be afraid of physical labor and adapting your abilities to the demands of the job. The job is not too much to handle; it is demanding but not impossible."   Like her male colleagues, Lalinde has spent years putting in long hours on the golf course, often placing her job ahead of her family. Her dedication to her job cost her a marriage.   "The hours that you put in during the golfing season are long, and it is very easy to lose yourself in your job and forget that your family needs your time too," she said.   "The demands of the job are hard on families and you have to have a good support system, or your family will suffer. A strong support system is a necessity that I did not have.    "I can only speak for myself, but I lived in a state of chaos trying to be good at my job and trying to be a good wife and mother. I was never at peace either at home or at work. I am an overachiever and a perfectionist and tried to give 110 percent at both, and ended up with a divorce on one hand and a career and my daughter on the other. Families need you year round, not just during your slow time at work."   Carmen Kozak knew she too was entering a field dominated by men when she turned a summer job on a golf course into a career path. Initially studying business at Red Deer College in Alberta, Kozak eventually switched gears and earned a degree in turfgrass studies at nearby Olds College. At age 26, she's completing her first year as foreman at Riverbend Golf and Recreation Area as she completes her studies at Olds College in Alberta. Last year, Kozak was the first woman to win Toro's Future Superintendent of the Year Award, an honor bestowed each year in concert with the Canadian Golf Course Superintendents Association.   Her reasons for pursuing a career as a head superintendent sound pretty familiar.   "At first it was just a summer job, but I absolutely loved it," Kozak said. "Every season that I returned to the links I just kept falling in love with it more and more. The people, continual change of pace, as well as the physical nature of the job made me excited every day. I had the opportunity to work for and alongside some amazing people who showed their passion for both this industry and their job every day. The fact that I woke up every single day with a smile on my face, and not to mention the excitement of what the day was going to hold for me made it a pretty easy decision to pursue this career."   Even upon entering the business in the 21st century, Kozak quickly learned that as a woman she was in the minority. She says a lifetime spent in youth sports has helped her make the transition.   "Although at the time it seemed odd to be primarily working with males, it didn't deter my decision to continue working on a golf course," Kozak said. "I have had a lot of male influences in my life from my own father, hockey coaches, and swim coaches. For me it wasn't much different than how I was raised. I honestly believe that this helped make it an easy transition and allowed me to be very comfortable early on."   Like her more experienced female colleagues, Kozak still finds herself having to prove she knows the business and not just the jargon. She's also learned it's not just in the maintenance department where women suffer from stereotypes, it's throughout rest of the industry as well.   "One of the biggest challenges, not just for myself but many women face within this industry is proving ourselves," she said. "Proving that we can do the work, proving that we can have just as much knowledge, and proving that we want to be taken seriously on the job. The last thing I ever imagined myself doing prior to turf school or when I was first starting on a golf course was being able to talk irrigation or to discuss sprayer operation and calibration; basically anything that a stereotypical women wouldn't understand just because they are a women. Now I have the education and practical experience to that talk shop. We need to prove that we understand all aspects of the industry, including the game of golf, and we are not there just for the cute clothes."   Aretha Franklin said it best: "All I want is a little respect . . ."
  • Whether you're heading to San Antonio, or giving this year's Golf Industry Show a pass, Pellucid Corp. and Edgehill Golf Advisors are offering a can't-miss opportunity during this year's show.
     
    Each year during the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Pellucid's Jim Koppenhaver and Stuart Lindsay of Edgehill present their annual State of the Industry report. Unlike some entities in the golf business, Koppenhaver and Lindsay peel off the gloves to give a very frank view of the good and bad facing the golf business. This year, they are bringing their unabashed look at the golf industry to San Antonio - sort of - in two streaming live events.
     
    GIS attendees, or those who have elected to stay home, can watch and listen from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday and again from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday. Space is limited.
     
    Click here to register for Wednesday's event.
     
    Click here to register for Thursday's event.
     
    The report will provide updates on course closures and new course construction, how many courses must close (or how many golfers must be gained) for the industry to be healthy, rounds played, number of golfers lost in the past year and golfer demographics - who is playing and who is not, revenue and pricing, online payment systems and more.
     
    The information isn't for the faint of heart, but it is key for those who want the straight skinny on what is happening in the golf business, and not the industry cheerleader version. Neither session is approved for GCSAA education credit, but attendees will become instant graduates of the school of hard knocks. And they will be better for it.
  • Are you curious to learn what's new this year at the Golf Industry Show, but San Antonio is not in your plans this year? Or, perhaps you're heading to Texas, but you just can't get around to everything you want to see in two days. Don't worry, either way TurfNet has you covered.

    Again this year, TurfNet will bring you the latest information on new products and services straight from the trade show floor - and beyond - through the TurfNet GIS Blog.

    With items grouped by category, we'll provide the latest on new machinery; irrigation products; fungicides, fertilizers and pesticides; tech gadgets; seed; supplies and soft goods; fun stuff; giveaways; and more.

    Coverage will begin next week, with information on new products and other news trickling out daily.
  • Jacobsen's Certified Pre-Owned Equipment program has partnered with Patriot PAWS, a non-profit organization that provides disabled American veterans with service dogs at no cost.

    Started in 2006 by professional dog trainer Lori Stevens, Patriot PAWS is a program that pairs mobility impaired U.S. armed forces veterans with specially trained service dogs. The dogs can pick up dropped items, provide bracing to get up and down, help with household chores and get help in an emergency.

    In addition to making an initial contribution to Patriot PAWS, Jacobsen is donating funds for every piece of certified pre-owned equipment it sells.

    "Our mobility-impaired veterans have a great need for assistance dogs," said Stevens, the group's founder and executive director. "Jacobsen's donations will help us make more connections between our dogs and veterans around the country. This partnership will also create more awareness of what we do and the many veterans who need our help."

    For Jacobsen, supporting the program is a way to give back to those who have given much.

    "Patriot PAWS is helping to make a real difference in the lives of our country's returning war heroes," said Brad Adamson, vice president of customer care. "We are very proud to be part of Patriot PAWS and look forward to helping increase awareness of this great charity."

    Stevens and Jazz the dog will visit Jacobsen's Certified Pre-Owned booth (No. 13045) at the upcoming Golf Industry Show, where attendees will be able to learn more about this worthwhile program.

    Jazz, a 5-year-old Labrador retriever, has been the Patriot PAWS demo dog since accompanying disabled veterans in the Tournament of Roses Parade when she was 19 months old.
  • If ever there was a business in need of some good news, the golf industry is it. Recent industry reports have done little to satisfy those yearning for a silver lining.    At last month's PGA Merchandise Show, the brutally frank state of the industry report given each year by Jim Koppenhaver and Stuart Lindsay of Pellucid Corp and Edgehill Golf Advisors, respectively, revealed that in 2014 new course construction was down (OK, we knew that was coming) and that people are walking away from the game almost faster than anyone can count them.   More good news recently came out of Kissimmee, Florida, where the latest monthly rounds played report just released by Golf Datatech shows that year-over-year rounds played in 2014 were down by 1.7 percent, compared with rounds played throughout 2013. And, oh, by the way, rounds played in 2013 were down by 5 percent from 2012.   According to the Golf Datatech report, which surveyed 2,885 private and public-access courses in 49 states (not including Alaska), rounds were down in six of eight geographic regions and up in only two (the Mountain West and the Great Plains). More specifically, rounds played were down in 32 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and up or about flat in 17 others.   The most significant losses were in Nebraska (8 percent); Delaware, Maryland and D.C. (7 percent); Alabama (6 percent); and Arkansas, Hawaii, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia and Washington (all down 5 percent).   The 17 states that saw an increase in rounds played were Kansas (up 9 percent); Iowa (3 percent); Colorado, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon and South Dakota (2 percent); Arizona and Utah (1 percent); Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Tennessee (less than 1 percent).   Play at private courses was about flat for the year, while public-access facilities took the hit with a loss of slightly more than 2 percent.
  • TurfNet recently reported that MTD Products acquired Precise Path Robotics, the company that brought the RG3 robotic greens mower to the golf industry six years ago. Since then, the RG3 has been rebranded under the Cub Cadet badge.   The all-new RG3 (hint: it's no longer green in color) will officially be unveiled at the Golf Industry Show in San Antonio later this month, and it is symbolic of Cub Cadet's official entry into the golf market.   By using a proprietary positioning technology, the RG3 with Precise Path Technology moves precisely and safely across the green on preset paths. It travels in straight lines and along the perimeter without the need for an operator, delivering what Cub Cadet says are consistent and repeatable cuts every time, so every green is mowed exactly the same way.   Precise Path Robotics was founded in 2004 as a private start up company called IndyRobotics. Cub Cadet is integrating the technology of Precise Path Robotics, an Indianapolis-based company that first brought the RG3 to market at the 2009 GIS in New Orleans.   Cub Cadet is a division of MTD Products, a Cleveland-based manufacturer of outdoor power equipment primarily for the residential and lawn and landscape markets. Other brands under the MTD umbrella include Bolens, MTD, Yard Machines and Yard Man.
  • In the 14-plus years he worked for Paul Colleran, Dean Owen never was fooled whenever his boss wanted to try something new.
      "He'd shuffle into the shop and say 'well, I got this idea  . . . ,' " said Owen, who for a couple more weeks will serve as equipment manager at Aldarra Golf Club in Issaquah, Washington before moving on to a new job. "Then he'd ask 'any chance we can do it tomorrow' When he said that, you knew he'd been thinking about whatever it was for a long time and didn't want you to think about it too much."   Although he had a penchant for springing projects on his staff with little or no warning, Colleran also taught members of his crew a great deal. A near scratch golfer at one time, Colleran had a way of viewing the golf course from a player's perspective and imparted that ability onto others.   "He came from a different background. I was an assistant mechanic when I came here, and he wanted a mechanic who loved the game," Owen said. "He shared with me his insight and thoughts about laying out a golf course and what is presented to a player as he navigates through the course."   Colleran, who built and grew-in two high-profile golf courses on the West Coast, died Oct. 8 at age 54 after a year-long battle with brain cancer. He left behind wife Joan, a PGA professional in the association's Pacific Northwest chapter, and sons Troy and Bryce.    He built Poppy Hills in Pebble Beach in 1986 and eventually went to Washington in 1999 for the construction and grow-in of Aldarra. For his ability to share with others his vision of what a golf course should be, and for his never-ending dedication to his crew and his course, Colleran was named a finalist for the 2014 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award.   "He was a great superintendent, and he allowed others to share his passion," said Owen, who nominated his boss and his friend for the award. "He even made guys on the crew who don't play golf feel that same passion."   A total of 10 finalists have been chosen by a panel of judges from a field of nominees based on the following criteria: 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.   The winner will be named Feb. 26 at the Golf Industry Show in San Antonio. Previous winners include: Chad Mark (2013); Dan Meersman (2012); Paul Carter, CGCS (2011); Thomas Bastis, CGCS (2010); Anthony Williams, CGCS (2009); Sam MacKenzie (2008); John Zimmers (2007); Scott Ramsay, CGCS (2006); Mark Burchfield (2005); Stuart Leventhal, CGCS (2004); Paul Voykin (2003); Jeff Burgess (2002); Kip Tyler (2001); and Kent McCutcheon (2000).   One of the things that stood out most to Owen was Colleran's budget mastery. In the 15 years he was superintendent at Aldarra, Colleran's department came in under budget every year.   "That takes someone who is good at knowing where he stands, taking what he had and getting the most from it," Owen said. "I think I learned a thing or two from him."   Owen said he recalled touring the course with his boss, and was always amazed at what Colleran could see that others could not.   "One thing he was excellent at was that he saw diseases before anyone else could," Owen said. "I'm looking at quality of cut, and he's looking at the health of the grass."   Owen has had a difficult time handling the loss of his boss, mentor and friend. Although he could have stayed on and worked with Colleran's former assistant Sean Reehorn who has since been named superintendent, he has decided to make a new start. Later this month he will take on the role of equipment manager Inglewood Golf Club near Seattle.   "Everything I see here, I think about Paul," he said. "I need a new challenge and to get this all out of my head.   "I never would have thought it would affect me like it has. Joan told me I am suffering from broken heart. I loved that guy. As far as I'm concerned, he's still with me every day."   A graduate of Oregon State University, Colleran not only was an accomplished agronomist and player, but his experience as a player allowed him to diffuse member input about course conditions and layout and what might or might not make sense.   "He would engage golfers, but he always proved that he knew best about what to do on the golf course," Owen said. "He always told golfers that their job was to have a good time out here and not to worry about the golf course. That was his job."   Even after he was diagnosed with cancer, Colleran frequented the golf course as often as possible, and did so in a wheelchair in his final days. In his last visit to the course, just days before he died, he was calling out instructions on a practice range-improvement project.   "He had just gotten a call that he had a week to live," Owen said. "He came here that day just to see the project. He wanted to make sure the job was done right. That's just the way he was."
  • There are early adopters, and then there is Mark Hoban.
     
    The 60-year-old Hoban has been incorporating use of native grasses in Georgia and combating the Augusta Syndrome long before many knew that the title referred to manicured conditions and not a science fiction movie. And he has been seeking a look that reflects the game's classic era through going brown, saving on water use and reducing labor costs years before such things were chic in golf.
     
    Hoban first adopted the brown look at The Standard Club in the mid-1970s, and has since put into practice at Rivermont Country Club when he arrived there 10 years ago. For his ability to convince others that brown is the new green and for his work at researching organic products, including his own homebrewed compost tea, Hoban has been named a finalist for the 2014 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award, presented by Syngenta.
     
    "Mark Hoban has been and continues to be a pioneer in our industry when it comes to sustainable turf practices," wrote Rivermont general manager and owner Chris Cupit in nomination letter.
     
    "Over the years, Mark has converted almost 15 percent of our old golf course (25 of 188 acres) to very low maintenance native grasses and sedges that have become thriving habitats and food sources for our wild life near the river."
     
    A total of 10 finalists have been chosen by a panel of judges from a field of nominees based on the following criteria: 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.
     
    The winner will be named Feb. 26 at the Golf Industry Show in San Antonio. Previous winners include: Chad Mark (2013); Dan Meersman (2012); Paul Carter, CGCS (2011); Thomas Bastis, CGCS (2010); Anthony Williams, CGCS (2009); Sam MacKenzie (2008); John Zimmers (2007); Scott Ramsay, CGCS (2006); Mark Burchfield (2005); Stuart Leventhal, CGCS (2004); Paul Voykin (2003); Jeff Burgess (2002); Kip Tyler (2001); and Kent McCutcheon (2000).
     
    Hoban recently was named winner of the Georgia Golf Environmental Foundation Environmental Leader of the Year Award. His work incorporating native tall grasses, native sand and organic management practices that have helped put Rivermont on a path toward sustainability were the subject of a recent three-part TurfNet TV video series produced by Randy Wilson. 
     
    Hoban also has reduced fertilizer and fungicide use by embracing organic management practices. He maintains a worm bed on the property and brews compost tea that helps produce beneficial mychorrhizae in the soil, which is the subject of University of Georgia research being conducted on the course.
     
    "It was actually Randy (Wilson) who pushed me out of the plane on organics," Hoban said. "He's the one who told me I could make an even bigger impact with that than what I've been doing with native grasses."
     
    Although some superintendents have been slow to incorporate widespread use of organics, many also are lining up to see the results of the UGA research being conducted at Rivermont.
     
    "Mark currently utilizes a red wiggler worm farm fed from our club's kitchen scraps to feed his vermiculture program. He has two compost tea brewers creating brews that include both thermal and vermicompost on our tees and fairway while the compost tea from the worm farm is used on our greens, tees and fairways," Cupit said.
     
    "By using 100 percent reclaimed water, dramatically dropping his fungicide and nitrogen use through his organic approach and wholeheartedly embracing a more sustainable approach to golf course care, Mark has positioned our club to be well ahead of the game at a time when increased pressure is being applied to golf courses regarding their inputs."
     
    One thing that surprises Hoban about his use of native grasses is why more low-budget courses haven't followed his lead.
     
    "It's not about spending money," he said. "It's about spending your money more wisely, and doing something that doesn't cost a lot of money to set yourself apart from your competition."
     
    Hoban began his career in 1971 at The Standard Club, where he eventually succeeded Palmer Maples Jr. in 1976, and began working with native grasses when the club physically moved from its original location in Brookhaven, Georgia to its current home in Johns Creek. His work there drew mixed reviews from golfers. Some loved it while others, obsessed with the idea of lost golf balls, hated it. But the use of native grasses, organics, implementation of butterfly-friendly zones and habitat for native bees all have been a sure-fire hit at Rivermont.
     
    "People love the look of the native grasses, but they are ball magnets. That's the only problem," Hoban said.
     
    "Bringing the native look to Georgia; I guess that is what I'm noted for, or condemned for."
  • It's plainly obvious that Jim Ferrin loves his work. After all, he has been in the golf business since 1974 and has worked as a superintendent for 40 years. But when it comes to doing for others, Ferrin has nearly turned his generosity into a second career based almost entirely on giving his time to promote his profession and helping his colleagues navigate through times of tremendous challenge.
      Ferrin, who turns 62 next month, not only manages 27 holes at an active adult community near Sacramento, he has made it his mission to make the game more accessible to those with physical disabilities and works diligently to help his colleagues throughout California make sense of the state's ongoing water crisis.   Because of not just his willingness to give back to his profession, but because of the passion he displays through such selfless displays of professionalism, Ferrin has been named a finalist for the 2014 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award, presented by Syngenta.  
    A total of 10 finalists have been chosen by a panel of judges from a field of nominees based on the following criteria: 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.   The winner will be named Feb. 26 at the Golf Industry Show in San Antonio. Previous winners include: Chad Mark (2013); Dan Meersman (2012); Paul Carter, CGCS (2011); Thomas Bastis, CGCS (2010); Anthony Williams, CGCS (2009); Sam MacKenzie (2008); John Zimmers (2007); Scott Ramsay, CGCS (2006); Mark Burchfield (2005); Stuart Leventhal, CGCS (2004); Paul Voykin (2003); Jeff Burgess (2002); Kip Tyler (2001); and Kent McCutcheon (2000).   Ferrin first is superintendent at Sun City Roseville, a Del Webb community east of Sacramento, where he manages 27 holes of golf on the property's Timber Creek and Sierra Pines courses. He also is a member of the board of directors for the California Alliance for Golf, a non-profit entity that serves as a unified voice for the state's golf industry in its dealings with local, state and national government agencies, media and others, and is also co-chairman of the group's government relations committee. He is a member of the First Tee of Sacramento and the Sierra Nevada GCSAA Alliance for Drought Management, and he speaks regularly on the topic of smart water use. Finally, Ferrin also is versed on the finer points of the Americans with Disabilities Act and works feverishly to help bring the game of golf to those, who through their own disabilities, might not otherwise have a chance to play the game.   "Jim is known for his ongoing efforts in the area of Government Relations and serves on the board of directors for the California Alliance for Golf, where he is the voice at the table for California golf course superintendents," wrote Emmy Moore Minister of Moore Minister Consulting, in her letter nominating Ferrin for the award. "He also participates in a regional water task force along with other golf course superintendents, seeking solutions to best conserve water resources while also strengthening relationships with local water agencies."   For Ferrin, assisting others and helping his profession is a labor of love he's followed for most of the 10 years he has been superintendent at Sun City Roseville.    "Seven years ago I dedicated myself to going in a different direction, because I realized I could give back in some ways that I am very good at," Ferrin said. "Except for hosting championships, it lets me do what I want to do. I just have to find that excitement somewhere else now.   "I am lucky that my employer lets me do what I need to do. They appreciate having someone engaged in the process."   A drought that is measured in years presents a lot of challenges for superintendents, whose line of work often is called into question by an uninformed public.   Helping other superintendents understand what water-use restrictions mean to them as well as representing the industry with folks like Craig Kessler, director of government affairs for the Southern California Golf Association, as a government liaison is as important to Ferrin as managing putting green turf.   "Golf has a target on its back, and it shouldn't have a target on its back," Ferrin said. "One day to the next you could be out of a job.   "Water is going to be the biggest issue in golf. We need to kick people ... and get them going. If we're going to be viable in the future, we need to talk about this. Craig and I are on the same page with this. We don't want the state telling superintendents when or how to cut their water. Tell us how much to cut, and let us make it happen."   Ferrin's efforts to help educate others are not limited to fellow superintendents or government officials. Most of his staff has been with him throughout his tenure at Roseville.    "Jim is on the cutting edge of agronomic programs. Poor soil, poor water and very little of it," said Tim McCoy of Turf Star, a West Coast equipment distributor. "Jim has educated his staff and golfers as well of the sustainable practices they adhere to."   Ferrin also works to elevate the role of the golf course equipment manager by speaking to mechanics and other superintendents are state and regional events.   He recalled how a fellow superintendent called him to say "my mechanic says we need a hydraulic lift, because Jim Ferrin says so."   That equipment managers today are still asked to do their jobs without lifts or even computers is beyond Ferrin's ability to reason. His own equipment manager, Lee Medeiros, last year was named winner of TurfNet's Technician of the Year Award.   "Superintendents should want to empower their mechanics," Ferrin said. "How do you expect them to get their job done, and done safely without what now are basic tools of the trade?"
  • It's one thing to be required to maintain a golf course to championship conditions. It's another matter entirely to be held to championship standards by the game's greatest champion.   Such is life for Paul B. Latshaw, who, since 2003, has managed the turf at Jack Nicklaus's own Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.   "It's a challenge, no matter what we're doing and what we are preparing for," said Latshaw, 49. "If you look at the downturn in the economy, everyone has had to reevaluate what they're doing, including us. Our budget has been reduced to make sure we stay viable, and you have to look at other ways to get things done without compromising playability.   "We still have to keep conditions firm and fast, because that is the way Mr. Nicklaus wants the course to play."   No pressure there.   For the impeccable conditions he is able to produce under demanding standards that include an annual PGA Tour and a double-dip with the 2013 President's Cup, and his role as a teacher and mentor Latshaw has been named a finalist for the 2014 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award, presented by Syngenta.  
    Finalists are chosen by a panel of judges from a field of nominees based on the following criteria: 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.   The winner will be named Feb. 26 at the Golf Industry Show in San Antonio. Previous winners include: Chad Mark (2013); Dan Meersman (2012); Paul Carter, CGCS (2011); Thomas Bastis, CGCS (2010); Anthony Williams, CGCS (2009); Sam MacKenzie (2008); John Zimmers (2007); Scott Ramsay, CGCS (2006); Mark Burchfield (2005); Stuart Leventhal, CGCS (2004); Paul Voykin (2003); Jeff Burgess (2002); Kip Tyler (2001); and Kent McCutcheon (2000).   Succeeding at a course owned by someone whose golf feats are unequaled requires tremendous agronomic knowledge, a thick skin, superior managerial skills and trust in one's employees.   "Paul is one of the best in the business at delegation of responsibility, leading by example, and the development of a well organized work plan," said Jon Scott, agronomist with Nicklaus Design. "He has contingency plans for almost any circumstance and watching his crew work is like listening to a great piece of symphonic music. Everyone knows their role and each performs it flawlessly. I would take Paul's staff to any golf course, anywhere in the world, and know that the job would be done to everyone's maximum expectations."   Indeed, Latshaw is all business all the time, and that should come as no surprise.    A graduate of Penn State's four-year agricultural science program, Latshaw also completed PSU's two-year turfgrass management degree in one year under the eye of the late Joe Duich, Ph.D. He also spent years prepping under one of the best in the business, his father, Paul R.   While he was superintendent at Merion Golf Club near Philadelphia, Latshaw went back to school again, this time to earn a post-graduate degree in business.   "Excellence and Paul B. Latshaw are synonymous," wrote Muirfield general manager and chief operating officer Nicholas LaRocca in his letter nominating Latshaw for Superintendent of the Year. "Paul always wants to make sure the presentation of the golf course is A-plus for the membership and their guests. The golf course and conditions at Muirfield Village Golf Club are the best in the 40-year history of this special place and that is due to the tireless effort by Paul B. Latshaw. For me, my experience at Muirfield Village is 17 years; what Paul has done for the club is priceless and appreciated. The best or nothing - that sums up what we are all about at Muirfield Village Golf Club, and Paul B. Latshaw makes sure we are the best."   Sometimes being the best means throwing aside old ways of doing things and adopting new ideas, including new ways of delivering fertility.   He has adopted such products as Holganix, compost tea brews, beneficial microbes and Turf Screen, all with positive results. He especially likes Holganix because the self-contained refrigeration unit keeps microbes in a dormant state until they are needed. The results, he said, include a deeper root system on Muirfield's greens, which are a combination of A1, A4 and G6 bentgrasses along with some Poa contamination.   Poa management is an issue each year spring when the club is the host site of The Memorial Tournament. Average daily high temperatures in Columbus in late May-early June are about 76 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. And that is prime Poa weather in central Ohio.   The trust between Nicklaus and Latshaw was put to the test early during the latter's career at Muirfield. Shortly after taking the job in 2003, Latshaw commissioned an arborist to survey the property's trees and to make recommendations for a tree-management plan.   Latshaw explained the report to Nicklaus hole by hole. In total, the report recommended removing nearly 700 trees.   "I was nervous," Latshaw admitted.   The response by Nicklaus was supportive, but came with a disclaimer.   "He told me 'if that's what you need to do, then do it,' " Latshaw said.   "He also said "it better work.' "   It did.
  • There is no evidence that 19th century French novelist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr ever visited Pittsburgh. It's also pretty doubtful he was thinking of the steel city when he coined his now-famous phrase (in French, of course) "The more things change, the more they stay the same."
     
    Those words certainly apply in part to Eric Wygant's situation at Shannopin Country Club. When Wygant took over as superintendent at the Pittsburgh country club 16 years ago, his maintenance budget was $687,000 - probably a pretty tidy sum in those days. Today, Wygant's budget has barely budged to $690,000.
     
    Keep in mind, golfer demands for exceptional conditions have not remained static during that time. Greens are faster now, bunkers and tees are in better shape, the fairway has a second cut, and he has had fewer workers with which to accomplish this.
     
    Not only have Wygant managed to pull off the near impossible over the past decade-and-a-half, he's improved staff morale in the process and he has members singing his praises.
     
    For his ability to pull a budgetary rabbit out of his hat for so long and produce one of the best conditioned courses in the Pittsburgh area, Wygant has been named one of 10 finalists for the 2014 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award, presented by Syngenta.
     

    Finalists are chosen by a panel of judges from a field of nominees based on the following criteria: 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.
     
    The winner will be named Feb. 26 at the Golf Industry Show in San Antonio. Previous winners include: Chad Mark (2013); Dan Meersman (2012); Paul Carter, CGCS (2011); Thomas Bastis, CGCS (2010); Anthony Williams, CGCS (2009); Sam MacKenzie (2008); John Zimmers (2007); Scott Ramsay, CGCS (2006); Mark Burchfield (2005); Stuart Leventhal, CGCS (2004); Paul Voykin (2003); Jeff Burgess (2002); Kip Tyler (2001); and Kent McCutcheon (2000).
     
    Employee morale already was down when Wygant arrived at Shannopin and had a staff of 20. Sixteen years later, with no money infused into the system, there was every excuse for morale to sink even lower, but it hasn't. That's a credit to Wygant's team-building skills as well as his ability to reorganize priorities and spread the money he does have around so it's spent as wisely as possible. Oh, and today he has a staff of 12, six of which are full time employees and six of which are seasonal.
     
    When it was time to rebuild bunkers, Wygant's crew did all the work themselves to save money. Today, they're not raked as often as they could be, and high-cut areas are mowed less frequently, but those are the tradeoffs that must be made to keep greens rolling at 13 (they rolled at 10 when Wygant started here) and adding a double-cut to the fairways.
     
    "We get used to it," said Wygant, 41. "We have tough skin, and this is a tough course, and Pittsburgh is fortunate to have it."
     
    The crew has bought in to Wygant's philosophy. Three members of his full-time crew of six have been at Shannopin since Jimmy Carter occupied the White House.
     
    To make the most of his budget-scrimping skills, Wygant shops far and wide to get the best deal on replacement parts, makes equipment last long beyond its useful life expectancy and completes course-improvement projects with his humble in-house crew. To raise additional funds he has published and sells informational greens fee booklets to golfers, with all proceeds going into a course-improvement fund.
     
    Members are sold, too.
     
    Wygant's nomination letter was signed by 15 members with a cumulative 374 years of history with the club.
     
    "He has accomplished so much with less, and no membership complaints, because he has developed a harmonious relationship with Shannopin board members and the entire membership over the years," wrote Shannopin member Gini Musmanno. "By fully explaining how and why he might scale back changing cup placements, raking bunkers, buying flags, etc., he has created support within the club."
     
    For Wygant and his crew, it's just a matter of doing what needs to be done.
     
    "It's just a matter of reorganizing how things are done. Everyone is cutting back on some things that aren't as noticeable," Wygant said. "We don't rake as much as we used to. In high-cut areas, we reducing mowing frequency, and we're converting out-of-play areas to wildflower areas.
     
    "We have to do the stuff that members will notice. The other stuff will get done in its own time.
     
    "It also means reorganizing the crew. We had 20 guys when I started in 2000. Now, we have 12. We have to be organized and have a routine."
  • Ask just about any golf course superintendent to name the easiest part of their job, and many will answer "growing grass". It's the other things that come with the job, managing time, managing others, working with outside agencies, working with in-house committees, that are such a challenge.
     
    Fred Gehrisch thrives on all those other things that come with the job. The things they don't teach in turf school.
     
    The superintendent at Highlands Falls Country Club in Highlands, North Carolina, Gehrisch manages the mountaintop golf course to impeccable standards, is always looking for non-agronomic projects to improve the club for its members, and volunteers his time and expertise to complete a variety of public service projects for the community surrounding the golf course.
     
    In the past several years, Gehrisch, 45, has completed a room dedicated to Highland Falls architect Joe Lee that serves as a history museum for the club and its members, planted trees throughout Highlands for the city, cleared a downtown lot to make room for a municipal park, managed hemlocks for the town's land trust, repaired its hiking trails, cleared debris so a local animal shelter could expand its operations, cuts firewood for the town to distribute to needy families, builds doghouses for a local charity.
     
    "The easy answer to why I do this is it's fun to keep challenging myself with other stuff," Gehrisch said. "Growing grass is easy, and I have a lot of experience at it. Likewise, I'm blessed with a great staff, and I give them a lot of leeway to take on the superintendent's role. That frees me up to do other stuff.
     
    "We don't ask for anything for it. The club likes that we do these kinds of things."
     
    For the ease with which he can grow grass at Highlands Falls, and for the great lengths to which he goes to improve the lives of those in the surrounding community, Gehrisch has been named as a finalist for the 2014 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award, presented by Syngenta.
     
    "Fred Gehrisch not only knows how to grow grass and manage a crew and a budget, he is also very attuned to the club members and probably the staff member who does the best job of seeing that members have reason to be proud of the club," said Highlands Falls general manager Jason Macaulay. "This is more than just the condition of the golf course. Our celebration of the history of the club and the accomplishments of Joe Lee, the golf course architect, was Fred's idea from the start. It was his vision that our members would have a much greater appreciation of the club if we could do a good job of presenting its history to them. He and I worked together closely on the project for a full year and I've got to say that Fred was the reason for the success of what we now call the Joe Lee Room and the dedication plaque recognizing Joe Lee that now graces our first tee. He is much more than a golf course superintendent in my mind."
     
    Gehrisch, with the blessing of his members, converted a little-used room in the clubhouse into a shrine dedicated to the club's history and Lee. When the project was finished, the dedication included a tournament to showcase the architect's handy work, and a dedication ceremony that included Lee's widow, Ginny, among many others. Two guests attending the event were so impressed by the festivities and the facilities that they joined the club.
     
    Gehrisch is able to perform so many extracurricular duties because of his ability to train and manage his staff.
     
    "As an assistant for Fred for the past six years, I have come to the realization that growing grass is the easy part of being a superintendent," said Josh Cantrell. "Making yourself and your staff available to the needs of the membership, whatever and whenever they may be, is the key to being successful in this industry. That's what separates the great superintendents from the average. Many times we are asked to do things that may be out of our comfort zones. Fred has changed my thought process in these instances. All too often I hear, ?That's not in my job description' or ?I don't get paid enough to do that.' Not with Fred. He has taught me to embrace these challenges and not to be afraid to try something new."
     
    Gehrisch is one of 10 finalists for the award. Finalists are chosen by a panel of judges from a field of nominees based on the following criteria: 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.
     
    The winner will be named Feb. 26 at the Golf Industry Show in San Antonio. Previous winners include: Chad Mark (2013); Dan Meersman (2012); Paul Carter, CGCS (2011); Thomas Bastis, CGCS (2010); Anthony Williams, CGCS (2009); Sam MacKenzie (2008); John Zimmers (2007); Scott Ramsay, CGCS (2006); Mark Burchfield (2005); Stuart Leventhal, CGCS (2004); Paul Voykin (2003); Jeff Burgess (2002); Kip Tyler (2001); and Kent McCutcheon (2000).
  • Bernhard reaches distribution agreement with Finch
      Bernhard and Co., manufacturer of blade sharpening systems for turf mowing machines, recently entered into a distribution partnership with Finch Services.   One of the Mid-Atlantic's leading distributors, Finch has six locations throughout Maryland and Pennsylvania, and serves customers across Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia. Family-owned and operated since 1945, the company was named John Deere's Distributor of the Year in 2013.   Next-day delivery on more than 100,000 parts is a company hallmark. Its first-class service department and myriad financing programs on virtually all makes and models also contribute to Finch's well-earned standing as a one-stop shop for all maintenance needs.   Finch Services carries a large selection of Bernard inventory, including the Express Dual and Anglemaster models.   Hunter adds new synthetic turf irrigation system
      Hunter Industries recently released the new STK-6V, an enhanced version of its existing synthetic turf irrigation system to clean and cool synthetic sports turf.    The STK-6V was designed specifically to provide easier installation, simple maintenance, and to accommodate different types of playing surfaces, the company says. Its shorter vault design provides a connection to the mainline at approximately 24 inches to 30 inches deep, which the company says is a much more manageable depth for installation and requires less digging.   In the new model, the rotor hangs from an adjustable bracket within the vault for precise adjustment to meet grade, and adjustable stands support the manifold, eliminating the need to backfill the vault with gravel for support.   The STK-6V includes a new 3-inch galvanized ductile iron assembly with heavy-duty grooved fittings for ease of servicing. The isolation valve and point of connection for the quick coupler are now inside the vault and provided with the field-installed assembly, for a total top service solution. The vault also includes a drain valve for easier servicing and winterization. The core of the Hunter ST System features gear-driven long-range rotors, a heavy-duty manifold assembly, and low-pressure loss, slow-opening valves, with all components contained in a construction-grade vault for total top service and easy maintenance.   The STK-6V is configurable to accommodate synthetic turf over vault, non-infill tight turf over vault, running track, and concrete pad or walkway installations.   Residex names new turf director
      Residex, a distributor of professional pest-control and turfgrass-management supplies, recently hired David Helt as director of its turf division.   Helt, formerly with Direct Solutions, will be responsible for all sales initiatives in North America for the company's line of branded, generic, and proprietary turf products and services.    Residex is full-line distributor of turf, landscape, and pest control solutions that includes products from The Andersons, AP&G, Barenbrug, BASF, Bayer, Bell Labs, B&G Equipment, Civitas, Dow AgroSciences, FMC, MGK, Mitchell, Nisus, NuFarm, Pest West, SePro, Spring Valley, Syngenta, Turf Care Supply, Turf Fuel, Woodstream and Zoecon.
  • Golf course superintendents love removing trees that rob turf of precious sunlight and air movement. But promoting tree growth? It's difficult to find a superintendent who can get behind that movement. 
     
    Promoting a habitat friendly to the Oregon white oak, however, has become a passion for Joel Kachmarek, superintendent at Tacoma Country and Golf Club in Lakewood, Washington. The only oak tree species native to Washington, the Oregon white oak is being pushed out of its natural range by the aggressive Douglas fir. In fact, the Oregon oak is just one of many native species being pushed around by the "Doug fir".
     
    Dozens of species of flora and fauna are in danger of losing their habitat to the Douglas fir, an aggressive native species that first was found in British Columbia in 1791 and can grow to heights of nearly 250 feet.
     
    Kachmarek is removing Douglas firs from the grounds at Tacoma. He started with 17, including one that was an estimated 100 years old. His plans include taking out about 150 more over the next several years.
     
    "It's a new environmental push. We're killing trees to save trees," Kachmarek said. "We want to log out the Doug first because they are shading out everything else.?
     
    For his environmental efforts, as well as the way he managed a trying (and award-winning) renovation project, in which the architect died midstream, and more at Tacoma, Kachmarek has been named a finalist for the 2014 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award, presented by Syngenta.
     
    Built more than 100 years ago, the club was moved to its current location on Washington's coastal prairie in 1905. Generations before the club was founded, American Indians in the Pacific Northwest managed the lands through their own controlled burns. The fires kept the invasive fir at bay and allowed the Oregon white oak to flourish since mature specimens have a thick bark that is resistant to fire. This process provided habitat for game, on which the Indians relied for food and clothing.
     
    Since that practice stopped many years ago, the Doug fir has taken over the coastal oak prairie. For years, that included the golf course at Tacoma, which was built on that same coastal prairie. Through the generations, players there have grown accustomed to tree-lined fairways, even though the trees belong in the mountains, not in the prairies below.
     
    "About 200 species of plants and animals are on the verge of extinction due to loss of prairie. We want to save the oak, but our underlying motivation is to produce better golf turf," Kachmarek said.
     
    "We are going for more of the open prairie look now. That is freaking some people out."
     
    If the new look wasn't enough to make some folks at Tacoma sweat, a recent renovation project might have been.
     
    The restoration was drafted and initiated in 2012 by architect John Harbottle III. A Tacoma resident and member of the club, Harbottle seemed like a fitting choice for the project. The restoration was threatened that May when Harbottle died awaiting a flight at Los Angeles International Airport.
     
    "John and I were friends and we worked together on the design concept," Kachmarek said. "We wanted to take the golf course back to its golden age. The course had taken on a modern '80s look, and we wanted to take it back. That included changing from bunkers with manicured edges to classic-style bunkers with furry edges. We did six to show the members, but John died before the sand went in."
     
    Soon after, the club hired Nick Schaan of architect David McLay Kidd's DMK Golf Design, with strict instructions.
     
    "We hired him because he had worked with John," Kachmarek said. "We told him to finish it as if he were John Harbottle, not Nicholas Schaan." 
     
    Drafted as a multi-phase, multi-year project, the restoration instead was completed all at once after Harbottle's death. Kachmarek's staff served as a construction crew for about half the work for two reasons - to save money and maintain control of the project. Despite the many hurdles and challenges, the award was recognized by Golf Inc. as Best Renovation of the Year Under $1 million.
     
    "It was sad, it was tragic, it was everything you can imagine," Kachmarek said. "We were going to do 20 bunkers a year for three years. When John died, we decided to do it all in one sweep while his ideas are fresh in our minds. We had to convince the board to give us the whole nut at one time and adopt a new plan. 
     
    "To do all that and complete it within one year of John's death was astounding. And we did it for under $500,000. That was a monumental achievement, considering the circumstances involved in the project.
     
    "It was a typical bunker project with problems like no drainage. Now, they look amazing, and they play amazing, and the members are thrilled with them. It was stressful and gratifying all at one time."
     
    Kachmarek is one of 10 finalists for the award. Finalists are chosen by a panel of judges from a field of nominees based on the following criteria: 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.
     
    The winner will be named Feb. 26 at the Golf Industry Show in San Antonio. Previous winners include: Chad Mark (2013); Dan Meersman (2012); Paul Carter, CGCS (2011); Thomas Bastis, CGCS (2010); Anthony Williams, CGCS (2009); Sam MacKenzie (2008); John Zimmers (2007); Scott Ramsay, CGCS (2006); Mark Burchfield (2005); Stuart Leventhal, CGCS (2004); Paul Voykin (2003); Jeff Burgess (2002); Kip Tyler (2001); and Kent McCutcheon (2000).
  • Precise Path Robotics made a big splash in the golf business when its RG3 robotic greensmower burst onto the scene at the 2009 Golf Industry Show in New Orleans. Other than a few snippets here and there, we haven't heard much from Precise Path or New Orleans since.
      It appears that is about to change.   Last month, MTD Products, a Cleveland-based manufacturer of outdoor power equipment primarily for the residential and lawn and landscape markets, acquired Precise Path Robotics as well as Core Outdoor Power. The latter is a Montana-based manufacturer of gasless outdoor power equipment for both residential and professional markets.   Although Precise Path will remain in Indianapolis, benefits of the acquisition by MTD will span state lines, said Jeff Everett, director of golf products for Precise Path.   "This allows us to leverage their manufacturing expertise and design expertise," Everett said.    Products under the MTD umbrella include Bolens, MTD, Yard Machines and Yard Man. Until the acquisition of Precise Path, the company has no footprint whatsoever in golf turf management.   Precise Path Robotics was founded in 2004 as a private start up company called IndyRobotics.   Five years later, the RG3 debuted on the show floor of the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. The GPS-guided mower created a significant buzz and has since been tested on dozens of courses around the country, sales have been slow.    Since 2012, the RG3 has been in use at The Bayou Club in Largo, Florida. Another customer recently placed an order, but only after learning of the acquisition by the larger and more-established MTD, Everett said, adding another four or so customers are expected to come aboard this year. He expects the size and staying power of MTD, which was founded in 1932, to help convince others to pull the trigger.   "One of the hardest problems for us is that people have been reluctant to make an investment in a company this small with no big name behind it," Everett said.    "We've run up against so many hurdles. Nobody wants to put their name, their reputation or frankly their jobs on the line behind a small company. In this business, we've seen too many of them come and go."   Those days not knowing whether it would be here tomorrow appear to be over for Precise Path. The company plans to announce specific details about future growth plans next month before the Golf Industry Show in San Antonio. Likewise, the RG3 is undergoing a minor facelift as well, an indicator that it isn't going away anytime soon.   "We are excited about the changes that are coming to the RG3," he said. "Hopefully, this will be interpreted as a new player bringing new innovation to the golf market."  
  • It's not uncommon for a superintendent to admit that golfer demands can make their job more challenging. For golfers themselves to concede such a thing is another matter entirely, but that's the case at Saucon Valley Country Club, where members demand much from Jim Roney, and they know it.
      When Saucon Valley green chairman Robin McCool sought support for Roney for the 2014 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award, presented by Syngenta, he called upon a host of Roney's colleagues, including USGA Green Section agronomist Darin Bevard. It would have been easy for McCool to bury or even discard what Bevard had written. Instead, he put it at the top of the list, almost like a badge of honor.   "Saucon Valley is a very unique club, and correspondingly, Jim has a very unique and demanding job," Bevard wrote. "It has been said that there may not be a more challenging job in the industry."   Roney, 43, oversees conditions on not one, not two, but three 18-hole courses and a six-hole layout at Saucon Valley, all of which must be at their best on a daily basis. The property encompasses 850 total acres and straddles two counties (and thus two different municipal governments). It also is a regular stopping point for USGA championships and qualifiers. And while members toss credit to Roney for his ball-juggling skills and agronomic expertise in producing top-flight conditions on three-plus layouts, he deflects praise to an engaged crew from which he demands much, such as volunteering at several professional tournaments each year, some as far away as California.    For his ability to maximize playability over such a vast area and under such demanding conditions, Roney was named a finalist for this year's Superintendent of the Year Award.   "The easiest way to describe it is we have three championship-caliber courses, and there are high expectations for each," Roney said. "We are constantly recruiting people: talent, interns, assistants. I call them nucleus employees. I try to assistants that they are superintendents-in-training. Everybody brings an intangible, and we try to empower people and give them rope. Accountability dictates how long the rope is."   Saucon Valley members recognize their property is special and that it can and should play a key role in supporting the golf industry locally, regionally and nationally. The site of many USGA qualifiers, the club was home to the 2009 U.S. Women's Open and the 2014 U.S. Amateur.   "Saucon Valley members always want to give back," said Roney, who has been at the property since 2005. "For the Women's Open, we had 65 volunteers (signed up) five months out. The Mid-Am is different. The Mid-Am doesn't get a lot of praise, and it was hard to get help. We needed 140 bodies for the tournament, and we pulled it off with 80. On top of that, another golf course here was still open for play."   Keeping everything open for play can be a challenge, especially during rain events as the property is located in a watershed, and several acres are prone to severe flooding.   According to McCool, as many as 23 holes were under water on several occasions during three separate tournaments in 2014. Roney has developed a flood-mitigation plan that typically has event the most severely affected holes open and ready for play in less than two days.   After he won the 2014 U.S. Mid-Am at Saucon Valley, golfer Scott Harvey said the greens were like putting on "pool tables."   "His understanding of championship preparation as well as the importance of meeting member expectations on a daily basis is unsurpassed in my experience," Bevard said.   With all the day-to-day challenges a property like Saucon Valley can present, Roney sees staff development among his greatest contributions to the industry. Former assistant Chad Mark of The Kirtland Country Club in Willoughby, Ohio, is, for another month anyway, the reigning TurfNet Superintendent of the Year.   He sends six to eight people from his crew each year to volunteer and hone their tournament-prep skills at events like the U.S. Open, the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, and the PGA Tour's Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club near Los Angeles.   His philosophy often places assistants on the fast track for jobs elsewhere. And that means he spends a lot of time hiring and training. And that's OK.   "I don't have the luxury of keeping good people," Roney said. "I have a wonderful staff. And when you're recognized for having good guys, they're going to get opportunities."   Roney is one of 10 finalists for the award. Finalists are chosen by a panel of judges from a field of nominees based on the following criteria: 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.   The winner will be named Feb. 26 at the Golf Industry Show in San Antonio. Previous winners include: Chad Mark (2013); Dan Meersman (2012); Paul Carter, CGCS (2011); Thomas Bastis, CGCS (2010); Anthony Williams, CGCS (2009); Sam MacKenzie (2008); John Zimmers (2007); Scott Ramsay, CGCS (2006); Mark Burchfield (2005); Stuart Leventhal, CGCS (2004); Paul Voykin (2003); Jeff Burgess (2002); Kip Tyler (2001); and Kent McCutcheon (2000).
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