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From the TurfNet NewsDesk

  • John Reitman
    Editor's note: This letter on the importance of understanding the culture of Hispanic workers was submitted by 2014 Superintendent of the Year finalist Jorge Croda. Jorge is a Mexican national living and working in Burleson, Texas, where he is superintendent of Southern Oaks Golf Club. 
      Today's workplace environment is vastly different than it was ten years ago. Management practices that worked in the past and that suited some cultures do not necessarily work with the changing cultural workplace climate of today. According to the American Immigration Law Foundation, Hispanics represent more than one-fifth of the entire workforce in the landscape industry and 13% of the entire U.S. workforce. So what does this mean to you and your business? Understanding the cultural differences of your workforce can build better workplace relationships and impact productivity which can in turn positively impact your business. By taking the time to learn about different cultures it gives us the opportunity to broaden our perspective and make connections between ourselves and others that can allow us to be stronger leaders.    Being of Hispanic descent myself and having immigrated to the U.S. to build a better life for my family I am able to more accurately detail the aspects of my own culture, therefore this article is focused mainly on Hispanic cultural nuances. That is not to say however that the same regard and practices cannot be applied to many different cultures and produce positive results. It is worth noting that the observations made are generalizations, not all people within a specific culture are the same and there are similarities and differences within every culture.    As with most people, work ethic, family values, respect and resourcefulness are dominant characteristics of Hispanic immigrant workers. It is the culturally driven nuances behind these characteristics that can make them stand apart from other workers of different descent.    America was established as the land of opportunity. Our differences are what make this country great. Acknowledging and understanding these differences is a respectful practice that can be used to yield positive results in the workplace. Hispanic immigrants who come to the United States are pursuing the American Dream, doing so to build a better life for their family. Family values are a top priority. They are filled with optimism about the opportunities available and the ability to build a better life. Building a better life begins with securing employment. The work ethic of Hispanic immigrants is driven by the importance that they place on the opportunity to build a better life. The working conditions and wages in the U.S. are considerably superior to some countries and they want to excel at their job in order to remain in a position to stay in the U.S. and provide for their families. Hispanic immigrants tend to value stability and long-term gains over short-term gains. This means staying in a position and working their way up rather than going from job to job searching for higher wages. Understanding this work ethic and the reasons behind it is a big step in strengthening workplace relationships. Find ways to allow your employees to feel a sense of pride and ownership in their jobs and the tasks they are undertaking, this will establish a relationship between your employees and company.      Respect is an important aspect of the Hispanic culture. Hispanic immigrants have an engrained respect for authority; it is natural to respect those in positions of authority whether they are supervisors, teachers, law enforcement, or other individuals. If you gain their trust you will have an employee who is loyal to their employer and will go above and beyond to get their job done. However, at the same time respect in return is expected. The inability to gain the respect and trust of your employee can result in them appearing to be, but not actually being as productive as possible. If you are respectful towards your employees it will allow them to trust you and build relationships that will build a stronger workplace. I have monthly carne asada lunches for my crew as a way to show appreciation for their hard work and dedication to our golf course and to foster camaraderie. Knowing that people from different places and cultures have different food preferences the choice to serve carne asada was made by talking to my crew about where they are from and what they prefer to eat. When your employees know that you acknowledge and respect the cultural differences that are present in the workplace they will gain respect for you as a leader and this will strengthen the sense of teamwork.    Resourcefulness is a key characteristic to the Hispanic culture. Many Hispanic immigrant workers come from countries that do not have a variety of resources available to them. They are able to complete tasks with a resourcefulness that stems from the necessity of getting the job done regardless of what resources are or are not available to them. Connecting back to their emphasis on family values and respect, they value teamwork and will all work to pick up the slack when needed and ensure that the task gets done. An important aspect of teamwork is having a cohesive vision. Focus on being a leader and not a boss, leading by example is always important. I make sure that my employees know the vision and values of our golf course. Where we want to go and why we are doing the things we do. This allows us to be a team that has one specific goal in mind, achieving the vision through our teamwork and effort. I also encourage my crew to use the creativity that comes from their resourcefulness when completing tasks. If they can draw from this aspect of their culture and find a more efficient way to do something, this should be encouraged.    Again, these observations are generalizations and can be applied to almost any individual. The question is, "What can you do to acknowledge these cultural differences and begin seeing positive gains in your business?" Three words will begin this process; leadership, camaraderie and vision.
  • Researchers at a recent university field day believe that powerful, ground-penetrating radar might one day help superintendents gain a better understanding of just what lies beneath the surface at their golf course.
      "Originally, our research focused on being able to map infrastructure at the base of the greens, particularly drainage systems, sand and gravel," said Barry Allred, Ph.D., of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Recently, we've been looking at it to map water content in the sand layer."   Allred and others from the Soil Drainage Research Unit of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, have been testing ground-penetrating radar at two Columbus-area golf courses and demonstrated the technology's capabilities for others at the recent Ohio Turfgrass Foundation-Ohio State Turfgrass Research Field Day in Columbus.   Unlike hand-held meters that measure moisture content through the rootzone, ground-penetrating radar can go much deeper, and thus can detect structural deficiencies that might otherwise go undetected.   Ground-penetrating radar can rapidly measure and map bulk water content over vast and deep areas. The unit Allred was demonstrating at Ohio State, the SIR 3000 developed by Geophysical Survey Systems Inc. of Nashua, New Hampshire, can measure and map bulk water content from the surface to the base of the sand layer by emitting ground-piercing radar signals and measuring the time it takes to travel to and from the unit's antenna.    "It can differentiate between sand, native soil and gravel," Allred said.    "It measures the values of depths at various locations, the spatial variation across the green, whether it is draining well or staying wet."   The unit on display at Ohio State was mounted onto a three-wheeled device that looks like a steroid-enhanced baby stroller. And that mobility allows it to cover a large area in short order.   "If you have overly wet spots, you can put in localized drainage. If you have overly dry spots, you can hand water," said Ed McCoy, Ph.D., associate professor at Ohio State. "The goal would be to have this unit mounted onto a mower. Every day the mower goes across a green, it would spit out a map to the computer screen, calculate differences from one day to another and find tendencies."   A 2002 University of Berlin study by Stoffregen, Yaramanci, Zenker and Wessolek showed that ground-penetrating radar could measure water content in the soil at depths up to 5 feet. The technology is expensive, with a start-up cost, Allred said of $25,000-$30,000.   Despite the capabilities of GPR, handheld meters that operate on technology known as time-domain reflectometry are used on a wider scale, and it's not just because TDR meters have a lower cost point.   Research studies conducted by scientists at the Berkeley National Research Laboratory (Huisman, Hubbard, Redman and Annan in 2003 and Lunt, Hubbard and Rubin in 2005) as well as Kennesaw State University in Georgia indicate that TDR technology, which also measures then quantifies reflected waves, produces data that is as reliable or even exceeds that produced by GPR.    Where GPR has an advantage, said Ohio State's McCoy, is that it can detect problems with greens construction that are not detectable any other way. He also admitted that the cost means it will be years, if ever, that it makes inroads into golf.   "It can pick up problems on greens due to construction issues; cases where the integrity of the interface between the sand and gravel is disrupted for some reason and therefore never formed a perched water table, and therefore there is always a localized wet problem or dry problem," said McCoy.   "If we can incorporate this onto a mower, we will be able to get a much more rapid collection of data, each data point will cost substantially less money. There is an initial investment, but it gets cheaper over the long term."
  • Ballmarks created by golfers, or more precisely players' refusal to fix or repair them, has been a problem nearly as old as the game itself. According to a recent study in England, convincing golfers to fix the scars they create could be as simple as refining the way in which they are asked.
      Golf course superintendents have used a variety of methods, including blogs, newsletters, PowerPoint presentations delivered during green committee meetings, and even signs on bulletin boards and in restrooms to communicate the significance of correctly repairing ballmarks. All have been met with varying degrees of success. It turns out, signage that reminds players that someone might be watching them resulted in a nearly 80 percent reduction in unrepaired ballmarks in a study conducted throughout June and July at a golf course in England.   The Surrey-based firm of Sport Psychology Ltd., teamed with Wimbledon Signs to post a sign on one green at Surrey Downs Golf Club that showed a pair of menacing eyes. The sign read, "Did you leave a pitchmark? Don't leave it -- repair it."   Results were compared with two nearby greens that did not have the sign.   Unrepaired ballmarks on a control green increased by 27 percent, while the number of ballmarks on the green with the signage decreased by 51 percent, creating a difference of 78 percent.   The two greens selected for the study were similar in length and design. One was 330 yards in length and the other 347, and each with a sharp left dogleg and approach shots of 90-130 yards. Both greens also had similar design features, rising 2-3 feet in elevation from front to back. Both also shared a history of suffering from unrepaired ballmarks.   Researchers measured the number of unrepaired ballmarks after one month of play.   Kansas State University research conducted in 2005 showed that unrepaired ballmarks left cavities in the putting surfaces and improperly repaired ballmarks took twice as long to heel as those that were fixed correctly. Ballmarks that were repaired incorrectly also left the worst scars compared with those that were fixed correctly or left unrepaired entirely.   According to Sport Psychology, forward-facing eyes lead golfers to focus on the sign and its message, because, according to the group's research, the eyes have a powerful emotional impact. The group also concluded that similar signage with other messages could produce the desired results regarding other challenges superintendents encounter throughout the golf course.
  • Surveys show that playing conditions on the golf course are the most important factor in determining golfer satisfaction, not the size of the clubhouse, amount of apparel available for purchase in the shop, or quality of food in the lounge. And the golf course superintendent has the greatest influence on producing those conditions.
      Today's golf course superintendent must wear many hats to provide the best possible playing conditions for the club's golf clientele with the resources at hand.    To do that, he (or she) must be a self-disciplined, multi-tasking agronomist in charge of managing the clubs most valuable asset; a multi-lingual personnel manager; babysitter; therapist; accountant; electrician; politician; hydraulics expert; ditch digger; plumber; arborist; environmentalist; integrated pest management specialist; turfgrass pathologist; entomologist; irrigation expert; and mechanic.   If this sounds like your golf course superintendent, or one you know, nominate him (or her) for the 2015 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award, presented by Syngenta.  In the photo at right, Stephanie Schwenke of Syngenta presents the 2014 Superintendent of the Year Award to Fred Gehrisch, CGCS.   Since 2000, the Superintendent of the Year award program has been honoring dozens of nominees each year for their work in producing great playing conditions often during times of adversity.   Nominees are judged on their ability to excel at one or more of 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.    To nominate a deserving superintendent for this year's award, visit the 2015 Superintendent of the Year Award nomination page. For more information, email John Reitman.   Nominations can be submitted by golf course owners, operators, general managers, club members, golf professionals, vendors, distributors or colleagues, even by mothers and wives. The nomination deadline is Nov. 27.   A panel of judges will select a list of five finalists and a winner, who will be named at next year's Golf Industry Show in San Diego.   Previous winners of the award include Fred Gehrisch, Highlands Country Club, 2014, Highlands, North Carolina; Chad Mark, Kirtland Country Club, Willoughby, Ohio, 2013; Dan Meersman, Philadelphia Cricket Club, Philadelphia, 2012; Paul Carter, The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay, Harrison, Tennessee, 2011; Thomas Bastis, California Golf Club of San Francisco, South San Francisco, California, 2010; Anthony Williams, Stone Mountain Golf Club, Stone Mountain, Georgia, 2009, Sam MacKenzie, Olympia Fields Country Club, Olympia Fields, Illinois, 2008; John Zimmers, Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pennsylvania, 2007; Scott Ramsay, Golf Course at Yale, New Haven, Connecticut, 2006; Mark Burchfield, Victoria Club, Riverside, California, 2005; Stuart Leventhal, Interlachen Country Club, Winter Park, Florida, 2004; Paul Voykin, Briarwood Country Club, Deerfield, Illinois, 2003; Jeff Burgess, Seven Lakes Country Club, LaSalle, Ontario, 2002; Kip Tyler, Salem Country Club, Peabody, Massachusetts, 2001; and Kent McCutcheon, Las Vegas Paiute Resort, Las Vegas, 2000.
  • Golf rounds played drop 2 percent in June
      It appears that the golf business is headed for another lackluster year, according to the latest year-over-year rounds played report. Despite favorable weather conditions throughout much of the country in June, rounds played were down 2 percent nationwide compared to the same month last year, according to the Golf Datatech National Golf Rounds Played Report.    Only nine states across the country experienced an increase in rounds played, while 40 others saw a decrease. The survey of 3,620 private and daily fee facilities does not include Alaska.   Iowa and Minnesota led the way in June with a 10 percent increase in rounds played. Play also was up in North and South Dakota (8 percent), Washington and Wisconsin (7 percent), Georgia (4 percent) and Alabama (less than 1 percent.   The biggest losses were in Hawaii (down 12 percent); Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire and Vermont (all down 11 percent); and Texas (down 10 percent).   Year-to-date rounds played were up by 0.6 percent through the first six months of the year, compared with the same period last year.       WinField Academy offers education for turf managers
        The 2015 WinField Academy is an interactive program that brings career-development courses to professional turf managers and others in various markets throughout the country.   The Academy teaches attendees about new products and technologies, application processes and new business strategies for golf turf, lawn, sports turf, ornamentals, pest control, aquatics and vegetation management.   Sessions are designed to provide practical insights through interactive learning, product testing and tutorials. Instructors include Frank S. Rossi, Ph.D., Cornell University; Thom Nikolai, Ph.D., Michigan State University; Aaron Palmateer, Ph.D., University of Florida; Brandon Horvath, Ph.D., University of Tennessee; and representatives from BASF, Bayer and Dow AgroSciences.   Click here for a list of remaining classes.   United Turf Alliance launches new fungicide
      United Turf Alliance recently launched ArmorTech ZOXY-T fungicide.   A combination product that includes the active ingredients azoxystrobin and tebuconazole, ZOXY-T is labeled for control of a variety of patch, foliar and soil-borne diseases, including brown patch, dollar spot and Pythium on greens, tees and fairways.   ArmorTech ZOXY-T is currently labeled for golf course use only and available in four 1-gallon cases from United Turf Alliance members and partners.
  • Who would've thought that the saying "the more things change, the more they stay the same" would apply so appropriately to turfgrass management?
      When Ohio State University turf pathologist Joe Rimelspach, Ph.D., was preparing handouts for this year's Ohio Turfgrass Foundation/Ohio State Turfgrass Research Field Day, he printed out copies of a cheat sheet he first drafted for golf course superintendents . . . in 1995.   Entitled "Factors Noted in 1995 on Golf Courses That Successfully Maintained Turfgrass" the sheet simply is a list of 30 practices that helped golf course superintendents maintain healthy turf 20 years ago.    While a few things on the list have changed - no one at this year's field day admitted to still using water-injection aeration, and spikeless shoes no longer are "new" - most of the items on the list remain common sense advice even today, including raising mowing heights and adjusting clean-up passes prior to periods of anticipated stress. The take-home message Rimelspach tries to impart on superintendents today is much the same as it was 20 years ago: that preventing diseases in turf is a whole lot easier than treating one after an outbreak. And that message of prevention over cure is one he and Todd Hicks, program coordinator for the turfgrass pathology program at Ohio State, were delivering in 1-2 punch fashion at field day.   "Some things have changed in 20 years," Rimelspach said. "The main things are the expectations on golf courses have just gone higher and higher with green speeds, etc., which equates to a solid future for people like Todd and me, because there will be more and more diseases with these pressures put on the turf.   "People who were successful (in 1995), were those who did things prior to injury. Once you see decline, the horse has run away."   At the other end of the turfgrass research center, Francesca Peduto-Hand, Ph.D., associate professor of turfgrass pathology at Ohio State, had a similar message of prevention, not cure. She and Caterina Villari, a post-doctoral researcher in turf pathology, were demonstrating a spore trap that one day might provide turf managers with a economical and easy-to-use tool for detecting fungal pathogens long before the presence of disease outbreak in the field.   Collecting spores and determining the presence of pathogens, a process she used to forewarn California vintners of powdery mildew when she worked at UC, Davis, is a process that, in 40 minutes or less, collects spores and subjects them to a DNA-extraction process.   The system includes a battery-driven collection device in which two tiny, stainless steel rods slathered in packing grease are attached to a spinning bar. The spinning action creates a vortex that draws up just about anything that is in the turf canopy below. The rods are placed in vials containing a solution that aids in the DNA-extraction process, then boiled for 5 minutes, shaken and finally spun in a centrifuge. A small amount of the solution is then placed in a reagent which tells the superintendent whether a pathogen is present and how much, giving an indication of whether disease outbreak is imminent.      The process tested during field day was to detect for gray leaf spot, but Peduto-Hand said she is working to perfect the system to detect all major fungal pathogens common throughout Ohio. The collection process can be completed in 10-15 minutes, and the extraction can be completed with results sent to the user's smart phone or tablet within 30 minutes. Peduto-Hand said she can train a superintendent to use the system in less than one hour. She hopes to have the system ready for widespread use within a year or two.   A tool that is both economical and easy to use and provides a glimpse into the presence of pathogens before disease outbreak could help superintendents get a jump on disease control.   A field day test of the system showed a scant 50 spores of the gray leaf spot pathogen Pyricularia grisea.   "If we can detect 50 spores flying around in the air, we probably are detecting the pathogen before it is showing any symptoms in the field," Villari said.   It also could help superintendents make better use of their fungicide stock, and thus help them maximize their budget potential.   "The reason we are doing this is to try to diminish the number of fungicide applications out there on golf courses or in athletic fields," Peduto-Hand said. "We are trying to avoid calendar-based management and go on to management actually drive by detection of the pathogen.   Until that system is perfected, Hicks makes a good case for preventive fungicide applications, especially during a hot, wet summer in which conditions are perfect for multiple diseases. Once turf becomes a disease host, it can be perpetually vulnerable in the future, he said.   "Once one disease comes in, it's a multiplex," Hicks said. "Summer patch comes in on top of dollar spot, or vice-versa. They seem to marry off each other. Once you get an area that is weakened and susceptible, it's like that three-legged zebra that every lion on the safari is looking to eat, because he's susceptible to being eaten. It's the same with turf.   "What's better? Do you spray now and have a good season, or wait until you have an outbreak, try to cure it, spend a lot of money and get a bunch of crap from your GM, the owner, the golfers and have a horrible rest of the season? Take care of it now. Preventative is always the way to go."
  • By Bradley S. Klein, Golfweek
      Who would have thought that Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, which purports to be the sausage capital of the world, could become a world-class golf destination? Give the credit to the four courses associated with the American Club: two inland at Blackwolf Run in Kohler and two here at Whistling Straits along a shorefront bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, The Straits and The Irish. Together, they form a gathering point for self-appointed masochists out to sample the mad genius of golf's "Marquis de Sod," Pete Dye.   It's too bad that the PGA of America is so kind when it comes to course setup. If ever a case could be made for making golf pros sweat for their millions, it would be here at The Straits, where they'll play for the Wanamaker Trophy for the third time in just more than a decade (2004, won by Vijay Singh, and 2010, won by Martin Kaymer).     The eye candy consists of about 1,000 bunkers scattered wildly about the one course, though no one on staff knows for sure because Dye never kept count and the maintenance guys invariably quit before they get to identify all of them. No worries, because it's all a distraction, as Dustin Johnson found out on the 72nd hole in 2010 when he didn't realize that he was standing in a bunker (along with about two dozen spectators) and grounded his club. The resulting two-shot penalty cost him a playoff but secured his place in golf lore. Too bad that in the run-up to this year's event, they covered up that bunker with an expanded spectator stand.   Lesson learned: Pay attention to what's in front of you and underfoot, and forget all the glitz and fluff that Dye throws at you. Here's a how-to guide, hole by hole, for this par-72, 7,514-yard layout.   No. 1, par 4, 408 yards
    This one heads diagonally right out to Lake Michigan and into the prevailing wind. A massive fairway bunker 275 yards out on the right makes a driver seem unnecessary at first, except that unlike most holes on this layout, the fairway widens the deeper it goes: 22 yards across at 290 yards out but 27 yards wide at 310 yards. Obviously, this is meant to entice golfers to play boldly, but there's no real need to hit driver. A fairway metal or rescue club does fine, leaving a short iron or wedge into a diagonally canted green that's shallow from front to back at any point but deep along the front-right/back-left axis. At any other course, the trouble off the tee on either side of the fairway would get your attention, but it's one of the tamer holes at Whistling Straits.   No. 2, par 5, 593 yards
    From the welcoming to the vertiginous! Dye, ever intent upon frustrating strong players, was the first to champion lowering the back tees rather than elevating the forward ones, thus preventing players on the back tee from seeing much of their landing area. It's what makes this tee shot so disorienting ? the more so because it's played into the prevailing wind from the southwest (headlong, from the right). The second-shot landing area down the more favorably aligned right side is very tight, and any player going for the green has to account for a maddening lunar bunker mound 20 yards short and right of the green. It might as well be a billboard announcing, "Dye was here."   No. 3, par 3, 181 yards
    First of the four cliffside par 3s that feature a corner clinging desperately to the edge of Lake Michigan. This one plays into a prevailing crosswind from the right, to a canted, tightly bunkered green where all of the trouble is along the left side.   No. 4, par 4, 493 yards
    The party is over and the hard work begins. Long, uphill tee shot into the prevailing wind from the right to a poorly defined fairway (by intent) with a steep falloff into sand and scruffy junk down the entire left side. At 290 yards, the fairway is only 24 yards wide and narrows to 20 yards at 310 yards away, at which point it bellows out generously. The point is to entice players into playing boldly off the tee. This is one of the few holes here that provides a generous run-up. You can bet the front-right lane will be heavily used for approaches and for chipped third shots.   No. 5, par 5, 598 yards
    It's sometimes hard to distinguish between a really bad hole and one that just doesn't fit the golf course. This double-dogleg par 5 to a green fronted by a beach bunker (in Wisconsin!) makes a strong claim to both. Dye and the PGA's main setup man, Kerry Haigh, have done everything imaginable to reduce the likelihood of players coming into this wacky hole with short irons on their second shot. Most players would be wise just to hit a fairway metal or even a long iron off the tee and play it safe to set up a flip-wedge third shot. But players who can carry it 325 yards or more off the tee will be tempted to play boldly way right over sand and junk and risk ending up in an unplayable lie to a narrow shelf of fairway. The trouble is that if they hit it too far, through the narrow, 20-yard-wide neck of fairway, the ball goes into a man-made lagoon ? the same lagoon that snakes up ahead to the green. Sounds risky, except there's no risk if they end up long and wet off the tee because they get a drop (plus penalty stroke) and can still hit the green with their third from only 185 yards out. For amateur golfers, this is a fascinating hole with plenty of options. For Tour-quality players, it's a hole with a mouthful of useless teeth.   No. 6, par 4, 355 yards
    This will be an entertaining hole, thanks to a drive that can sail with a prevailing tail wind and the accessibility of the green from the tee. Plus, the steepest, nastiest, darkest hole-in-the-wall bunker Dye has ever created is embedded smack into the front right of the flank of the green. It creates a little subdivided lobe of a putting surface that will be used for a hole location at least once, maybe twice, during the PGA. When the hole is cut left, players can go after the green on their drive. When the hole is on the right, most players will lay up with an iron off the tee.   No. 7, par 3, 221 yards
    This ingenious routing, a pair of figure eights, allows the par 3s to be flipped with respect to the water; so that the front nine has the short one (No. 3) with water on the left and the long par 3 (No. 7) with water on the right. It's vice versa on the back nine. Here, the 42-yard-long green plays along an axis running front-left to back-right that mirrors the prevailing wind and brings everything behind into trouble. If the wind really howls here, it brings all sorts of trouble into play, whether high left along a sand-strewn ridge or way low right, along the rocky shoreline.   No. 8, par 4, 507 yards
    Despite the length of this hole, many golfers will play safe and short off the tee, with the prevailing wind from the left. The fairway (50 yards wide at 270 yards off the tee and 27 yards wide at 310 yards out) necks down deep into the landing area with a sandy crevice that juts out into the fairway at about 340 yards out. This is one of several greens on The Straits Course that has been reduced in size since 2010: the back has been rolled down and away to create an infinity edge to Lake Michigan right behind it.   No. 9, par 4, 446 yards
    Pretty basic drive, ideally down the left side to avoid wide-strewn bunkers right and the only tree on the course that comes into play (it overhangs the approach line 100 yards out). This is one of the most elusive, heavily sectioned greens on the course, well bunkered all around and falling off steeply down the right.   No. 10, par 4, 361 yards
    Cool little hole, drivable when it plays with the prevailing wind coming over one's left shoulder. It's a sharp dogleg left, with a chimney-stack bunker mid-fairway that's only 235 yards to carry and another, smaller one behind it that's 300 yards to reach and decidedly in play for bold players off the tee who block the tee shot. The hard part is up at the green, a domed, two-tiered putting surface that's the smallest on the course. It's also the one that falls off most sharply all around, with particular trouble for those who pitch or run through and face a demanding, up-and-over recovery.   No. 11, par 5, 618 yards
    Easily within reach in two for those who shave the sand-strewn inside line of the dogleg on this right-twisting par 5. The prevailing wind promotes a left-to-right cut, and a healthy downward kick and forward roll rewards drives that carry 310 yards on the proper line. Anything right gets beached (the hole is called "Sand Box" for good reason), and anything to the left can run through into steep bunkers on the far side. A trademark hook bunker ? massive, steep and knifed out of the ground on the left approach ? is pulled back from the green just enough to create a 10-yard-deep landing zone that can help approach shots hold the green. A full-bore second shot landing on the putting surface easily can run out and over. A little mound dead center on the approach line will steer approach shots left or right into a bunker, enough to make it very difficult to hold this green.   No. 12, par 3, 143 yards
    This 46-yard-long green is set diagonally and perched on a bluff that spills down to Lake Michigan to the right. The front of the green is wide and generous, but two-thirds of the way back, a pair of bunkers intrude enough to bisect the green, leaving a tiny globule of turfgrass cover and a hole location or two back there that effectively comprises a freestanding 1,500-square-foot target. That's how good these guys are: they can hit that target with a wedge in hand even when it plays with the prevailing wind at their back.   No. 13, par 4, 404 yards
    The last of the prevailing downwind holes. Someone will drive it, even though it's called "Cliff Hanger" because the risk of going overboard (right, into Lake Michigan) is ever-present off the tee and on the second shot. Here, too, the back of the green has been trimmed to create an infinity-edge feel when viewed from the fairway so that anything coming in too strong spills over into trouble from which it's very difficult to recover.   No. 14, par 4, 373 yards
    Out at the far northern end of the golf course, this relatively short dogleg left starts a demanding stretch of concluding holes playing directly into the prevailing headwind. From the tee, most players will lay up to about 250 yards. Beyond that, the fairway quickly narrows, from 38 yards wide at the landing area to less than half that at the 310-yard point. The wise play off the tee here is to get into position for an approach into a green bunkered heavily on the inside right and clipped behind to spill out and over into a very tough low area.   No. 15, par 4, 518 yards
    This hole is long, exposed to the wind and features a raised green. There's not a lot to aim at off the tee. The 15th is another one of those holes on which a player will have to work hard during the practice rounds to ascertain a line of flight. The right side of the fairway offers a marginally better sight line into the green, but given the cant of the fairway and the tendency of the crosswind to blow drives left, a lot of tee shots end up on the low side or in the left rough and with a partially obscured view into the green.   No. 16, par 5, 569 yards
    This hole is reachable in two, even though the longer the drive, the more accurate it needs to be. At 305 yards, the landing area is impeded on the right by a maddening bunker complex that intrudes upon one third of the fairway. Steer it left of the tee and a dense line of sand and rough will trap the ball, making it hard to reach the green in regulation. Dye knows that pros hate blind shots. Sorry, but they can't get away from one here. It's either a safe second shot way right over crinkly mounds or bold and all the way to the green over cross hazards 75 yards short that jut out across the line of sight into the green.   No. 17, par 3, 223 yards
    Sometimes an architect climbs out onto a limb and then just cuts his own perch away from the trunk. That's about what Dye has done here in creating this long, demanding hole ? one that, depending on whether it's calm or the prevailing headwind is coming from the right, requires anything from a middle iron to a rescue or fairway metal off the tee. As with all of the par 3s here, Dye has hung an edge out over the lake. To thoroughly confound players, he has piled a towering sand stack front right that bisects the approach line completely. Only a genius or a mad man would have the temerity to build something so "outré." Let the players moan and groan. It just confirms that Dye essentially thinks of them as spoiled babies. On this hole, they'll just have to stand up like men and deal with it.   No. 18, par 4, 520 yards
    Every golf course has one sick, twisted hole that is ill conceived from the start, a nightmare to build and has to be (or ought to be) rebuilt three or four times before it begins to work. Such is the eponymous "Dyeabolical," a monstrously severe hole that is overwhelming to the senses and overflowing with options. Too bad so much attention will be paid to the ridiculous decision by PGA of America staffers to cover up the notorious Dustin Johnson bailout bunker way right ? this week it sits under the leading edge of spectator stands.   The rest of the hole is still more than most can handle. The back tee, nominally 520 yards, probably won't be used; it's just too severe a hole from back there, given the uphill tee shot and a fairway landing area that ends at about 325 yards by dumping balls into the downslope of Seven Mile Creek, the stream that traverses the hole and runs in front of the green. Strong players who hit the ball hard right-to-left always can opt to turn over a drive and catch a downslope into what is suddenly a 60-yard-wide fairway, down a kick slope and to a little flat spot only a wedge from the green. That's a calculus that tends to make it mighty unappealing to play safe off the tee and end up with a middle or long iron in against the prevailing wind.   As always on this unique course, that guarantees a theatrical finish, for players and spectators alike.   - Bradley S. Klein is the architecture editor for Golfweek.  
  • The application period for a slot in this year's Syngenta Business Institute is quickly approaching.
      The Syngenta Business Institute is an intensive four-day program designed to grow the professional knowledge of golf course superintendents and assist them with managing their courses. Through a partnership with the Wake Forest University School of Business, the program provides graduate school-level instruction in areas such as financial management, human resource management, negotiating, impact hiring and other leadership- and professional-development skills, and managing across generations and cultural divides.   This year's SBI is scheduled for Dec. 7-10 at the Graylyn International Conference Center on the campus of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Application deadline is AUGUST 18.   The event includes so much valuable information that 2013 attendee Eric Frazier of Willow Oaks Country Club in Richmond, Virginia, had a difficult time pinning down what he found to be most useful.   "After a week of education and networking, it is hard to decide what was the best part," Frazier said. "I think for me that would have to be the opportunity for open discussion that happened during the educational sessions."   Interested superintendents must complete an online application, which requires them to write a 250-word essay summarizing why they should be selected for the program. Syngenta selects 25 individuals to participate based on their essays, commitment to the industry and other factors. Travel, lodging and meals are included for all superintendent attendees.   For more information, click here.  
  • Like many land-grant institutions of higher learning, the University of Kentucky has, for some time, been feeling the pinch of declining enrollment among students seeking an education in some iteration of turfgrass management. And like most other schools, educators there have been pondering just what to do to reverse that trend. In fact, the late A.J. Powell, Ph.D., who just about grew the program from scratch in the 1970s until his retirement in 2010, was involved in looking for ways to boost enrollment before he died in October 2013.
      Gregg Munshaw, Ph.D., the turf extension specialist at the school in Lexington, figures UK is like a lot of places when it comes to declining enrollment. He points at factors like a struggling golf market, the housing crisis and ensuing recession, as well as a saturated turf education market in a relatively small state, for declining enrollment. And as many universities around the country struggle with a solution for the future of their respective turfgrass programs, Munshaw is taking a step back to take a critical view of traditional turf education at UK, and he is heading efforts to change the face of the program to more accurately reflect the needs of today's students and hopefully boost enrollment in the process.   "Student numbers are down. That was something A.J. and I talked about a lot," Munshaw said. "We still thought there was a market for these kids to get jobs. It might take a little longer for them to become a superintendent, but there are still jobs out there, and there are different kinds of jobs out there now."   Although more golf courses have been closing than opening every year since 2006 according to the National Golf Foundation, UK's enrollment woes go deeper than a stagnant golf market. The state of Kentucky has three established turf programs in UK, Eastern Kentucky and Western Kentucky, creating quite a competition for students in a state that ranks just 26th in population with 4.4 million residents.   Todd Pfeiffer, Ph.D., department head for plant and soil sciences has been supportive of the notion of a new-look program as well, as Munshaw seeks ways to grow the program that once flourished under Powell's watchful eye.   "We should be able to find 10 more students. Why shouldn't we be able to get 10 more students who want to do this?" Munshaw said. "We talked about ways to do that. We have a recruiter out looking for students."   What students likely will find at UK in the near future is a program unlike any other in the country. Although the details have not yet been finalized, the future of turfgrass management at UK most likely will be a program that combines turf management, with general horticulture along with a landscape background.   A UK graduate, Munshaw spent several years as a professor at Mississippi State before returning to his alma mater in 2012. MSU not only has a large turf management program ? with as many as 85 students when Munshaw worked there ? but also offers a successful landscape architecture program that had nearly twice as many students as the turf program. Some combination of what worked in Starkville likely will serve as a blueprint for the future of a revamped Kentucky program.   "We taught kids how to run their own landscape contracting business. That included landscape architecture, design, lighting and irrigation," Munshaw said.    "We're going to try to take elements from those things, plus what we've traditionally done well here and come up with a new major that is not necessarily completely turf focused. We're going to broaden it out and try to attract some kids who might have gone into horticulture. The sports turf and golf guys have to deal with beds and trees anyway. By making it broader instead of so narrowly focused, 1, it offers more career opportunities, and 2, gives students more skills to do their jobs."   The new look program, although it won't be specifically a turf major, will include separate tracks of study and career-specific internship opportunities geared toward professions such as sports turf, golf and landscape management.   Since last October, Munshaw has been pulling double duty as the state's only turf extension agent and the head of turf research at the university. The plant and soil sciences department is seeking a research coordinator so Munshaw can concentrate on extension, and the university can again become a leader in research conducted at the 27-acre A.J. Powell Jr. Turfgrass Research Center.   Munshaw has solicited input from Marcus Dean about how to construct the new program. Dean is a UK alum as well as the sports turf manager in the athletic department, where he oversees several natural grass and artificial turf fields for the school's athletic teams.   He knows there are jobs out there, and wants to help position UK to become a leader in educating students for those opportunities.   "There are jobs in Kentucky for turfgrass students. I have just hired three full-time spots in the last seven months," Dean said.    "Would it have been nice to hire some Kentucky kids? Yeah, it would've."   He's also happy to see Munshaw shaking up the status quo on behalf of the university, its students and professional turf managers throughout the region. Staying abreast of current issues in turf can be a challenge for those working in the field, since they often come faster than academia can research them.   "The curriculum needs to be updated . . . with the current issues in the turf industry," he said.    "I think Gregg's thoughts and experiences at different universities around the nation have allowed him to be a much different approach to freshen up the curriculum here at UK," Dean said. "He has seen the success and failures, he knows what works and what needs to be implemented here at UK."   Munshaw thinks back to why he came all the way from his native Canada to attend UK, and hopes to recreate some of that attraction, albeit in a new wrapper that includes not only a new major with a new curriculum, but a new way of developing the whole student as well through community service projects that also fit in with their major.   "When I came here, I sat down with A.J., and he was slick and he was funny, and he was really good at recruiting. I became that way too. I always thought if I could get a kid into my office to talk to him, I thought I could land him," he said. "The thing is, we have a lot to offer. Lexington has a lot to offer. When I talk to kids and their parents, I want them to know that the kid the drop off now, when they get them back in four years, their character will have developed as well over that time. We want to do things that develop our students as people, not just as students."
  • A study conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin indicates there could be a direct link fungicide effectiveness in managing diseases in turfgrass and air temperature.
      The recently published study by Paul Koch, Ph.D., and Jim Kerns, Ph.D., examined the relationship between ambient air temperature and the persistence of chlorothalonil and iprodione in creeping bentgrass. Tests were conducted in 2011 at the O.J. Noer Turfgrass Research Facility in Madison.   The researchers argued that the link between fungicide efficacy and air temperature during application is not clearly understood. Previous information indicates that fungicides are most effective when temperatures range between 15 degrees and 29 degrees Celsius (60-85 degrees Fahrenheit).   The Wisconsin study gets much more specific, indicating that "dissipation of both fungicides was greatest at 30 degrees Celsius and slowest at 10 degrees Celsius, while dissipation at 20 degrees Celsius was intermediate between 10 and 30 degrees Celsius and often not statistically different from either of the temperatures."   According to the Wisconsin study, iprodione half-life through both trials averaged 51.2 days at 10 degrees Celsius, 7.8 days at 20 degrees Celsius, and 4.0 days at 30 degrees Celsius. Chlorothalonil half-life averaged 9.5 days, 4.3 days, and 4.0 days at 10, 20, and 30 degrees Celsius, respectively.    These results indicate that fungicide persistence decreases with increasing temperature, which might explain why fungicides might fail to provide adequate disease protection during periods of hot temperatures.
  • Bluegrass beauty

    By John Reitman, in News,

    Looks can be deceiving when driving past Griffin Gate Golf Club. Other than a sign that directs traffic toward this Marriott resort course in Lexington, Kentucky, there is little evidence from the outside that such a peaceful place could exist wedged into a corner formed by six lanes of traffic-snarled Newtown Pike and as many lanes of the always-busy Interstate 75.

    Once one makes the turn and begins the slow, uphill climb toward the golf course, the hustle and bustle gradually give way to a feeling of serenity that is almost surreal given the location. In a sea of traffic that steadily has been engulfing Kentucky's Bluegrass Region for the past 35 years, Griffin Gate is an oasis.

    "That's what I compare it to," said Zach Newell, who is in his third season as superintendent. "You go from urban sprawl, Newtown and (I-)75, and then you come in here. It's pretty amazing."

    A former stop on the PGA Senior Tour, the 1981 Rees Jones design has developed a reputation in recent years for being a blueprint for environmental stewardship. That journey largely is one that began in 2002 when Scott Bender, CGCS, arrived here. And it's one that continues today under Newell.

    Griffin Gate is located on 185 acres of what once was one of Lexington's trademark thoroughbred horse farms. Everything about the property belies its location while Kentucky's second-largest city continues to grow up around it. Even the farm's 19th century mansion home, built in 1873 after the original residence erected in 1854 was destroyed by fire, still is located here.

    A 2000 University of Kentucky graduate, Bender, 39, prepped for two years under Mark Wilson at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, before returning to his hometown in 2002 to become superintendent at Griffin Gate.

    "It was nice to come back home to Lexington to work," Bender said. "In this business, you never know where you're going to end up."

    During Bender's tenure as superintendent, Griffin Gate became a certified Audubon sanctuary in 2008 and was a pilot facility for the e-Par environmental certification program. His work toward achieving Audubon certification included erecting boxes to attract bluebirds and bats, and establishing areas that have helped attract other forms of wildlife to this urban environment.

    In 2013, with help from UK's entomology department headed by former USGA Green Section Award winner Dan Potter, Ph.D., Bender established the first of two pollinator zones on the golf course.

    "We worked with the department of fish and wildlife and established wildlife corridors on the property where animals can pass through," Bender said. "We established two areas of butterfly gardens. It was great working with UK. Whenever they want land here, I'll find them a spot to do things like this."

    Since then, Bender has been named the property's director of engineering and grounds, giving him the responsibility of overseeing not only the golf course, but the property's 409-room, 350,000-square-foot hotel as well. Newell, his assistant for two years, is in his third season as course superintendent, but make no mistake, Bender still is at home on the golf course. His philosophy of environmental stewardship now permeates the entire property and includes resource-conserving measures inside at the hotel and outdoors on the golf course.

    "I love it out here," he said. "It's always welcome when I can get back out on the golf course."

    Just about everything that happens on the golf course at Griffin Gate likely will accomplish at least one of three goals ? improve the golf course for Marriott customers, maximize profitability for the hotel and make more efficient use of resources. Often, a project can accomplish all three goals at once.

    On July 23, the course celebrated a grand reopening after a four-month bunker renovation projected headed by Jones promises to improve playability for a wider range of golfers and more friendly to Griffin Gate's maintenance budget.

    Although the bunker count was reduced by only two, from 69 to 67, Jones took out about 53,000 square feet of hazard. Areas that once were filled with sand now are covered with zoysia sod. Nearly 400,000 square feet of it have been used during the project.

    "We went from 133,000 square feet of bunkers, which is just enormous, to around 80,000 square feet," Bender said. "There were some silly large bunkers that were not in play."

    Since Griffin Gate opened nearly 35 years ago, bunkers there were, as Bender described, like a catcher's mitt, nearly surrounding every green on the course with high, flashing sides that were difficult to maintain.

    "When we'd have rain events, we'd spend the next three days trying to recover from that," he said.

    Shaving down those sides has opened up views across the golf course.

    Griffin Gate's bunkers not only are smaller now, the high, flashed sides are gone. Couple that with the installation of Better Billy Bunker system, at Bender's request, and post-rain event bunker maintenance suddenly has become almost a thing of the past.

    With a combined 24 inches of rain falling in June and July at Griffin Gate, Bender shudders to think what the course would look like this year without a bunker renovation.

    "It has been crazy wet this year. We're finding water in places we never had it before," he said. "If we didn't go with a liner, the bunkers would have been ruined before we opened, we had that much rain."

    Weather also provided predictable challenges during the project.

    Temperatures in Lexington reached 60 degrees on March 3 and 50 degrees the following day, according to the National Weather Service, more than enough to get winter-weary golfers back onto the course. By the night of March 4, temperatures dropped into the 20s and 17 inches of snow fell during the next 36 hours. Then came the rain.

    "We would seed, and the rain would wash it off," Newell said. "We paid to hydroseed, and the rain washed it off."

    From horseshoe teemarkers to 150-yard markers fashioned from old hitching posts, links to Griffin Gate's past are everywhere. Perhaps the property's most important legacy is Bender's minimalist philosophy.

    He's instituted use of LCD bulbs throughout the hotel, a policy that Newell is taking to buildings around the golf course, as well as an extensive recycling program. Next up are sensors in restrooms so lights are on only when needed.

    "Our first fairway app usually isn't until June," Bender said. "We'll grow some dollar spot before we freak out. We really watch the weather, and we'll stretch our fairway apps as much as we can to get a three-week spray, or even longer.

    "Our philosophy here is to go green, and economics is a big part of that."
  • A packed schedule is sure to offer something for every golf course superintendent at this year's University of Tennessee Turf and Ornamental Field Day.
      Scheduled for the Sept. 10 at the East Tennessee Ag Research and Education Center, the field day attracts more than 500 professional turf managers and offers pesticide recertification credits for attendees from Tennessee as well as Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The program also has been approved by the GCSAA for 0.50 CEUs.   Topics to be covered include pre-emergent and post-emergent weed control, fescue establishment and maintenance, disease control in bentgrass putting greens, new tools for aerification, climate change for turf managers, BMPs for non-turf areas, boxwood blight update, new Bermuda and zoysia cultivars, invasive pests (including emerald ash borer), ornamental grasses and ultradwarf Bermuda management.   The event also will include a fraze mowing demonstration and information on its benefits as well as a behind-the-scenes tour of the East Tennessee Ag Research and Education Center.   Details on the field day are here.  
  • A new drought-tolerant turfgrass developed by breeders at the University of Georgia is a staunch indicator of just how much R&D goes into the process before a new variety is released to the market.
      In development since 1993, TifTuf Bermudagrass emerged from a pool of more than 27,000 potential cultivars to finally reach the market because of its ability stand up to drought-like conditions.   Developed by a group led by Wayne Hanna, Ph.D., and Brian Schwartz, Ph.D., TifTuf is now available through The Turfgrass Group of Monroe, Georgia.   TifTuf began to emerge from a crowded field during Georgia's recent drought years. While other varieties under development were turning brown in the field, the variety that became known as TifTuf remained green, Schwartz said. TifTuf went by the name DT-1 during testing.   "After three more years of field research in two different soil types, we found evidence that TifTuf was using less water than Tifway 419 and TifSport," Schwartz said. "This was exciting because initially we believed it might just have a deeper root system capable of extracting more water. But instead, it seems that it's just using less of the available resources."   Some of the traits exhibited by TifTuf include:   > TifTuf used 38 percent less water than Tifway during a 2011 drought trial; > TifTuf generally exhibited superior turfgrass performance than many other cultivars (including Tifway, Celebration and Princess-77) when subjected to short- and long-term periods of drought in multiple locations; > faster Green Up than many other Bermuda varieties.   TifTuf is available now for sod production license with limited foundation material ready for planting this summer.  
  • Jacobsen adds Jenkins to marketing staff
      Jacobsen named Dena Jenkins as the company's events and channel manager.     She is responsible for planning and managing the company's events and working with Jacobsen's network of dealers on marketing initiatives. She has more than 10 years of experience in the turf industry, working in a variety of marketing roles at Woods Equipment Co., LG Seeds, and most recently, Dixie Chopper.    Prior to Jacobsen, Jenkins was an events manager for Bell Helicopter (also a Textron company), planning events across the globe for the rotorcraft manufacturer.   New Hampshire gives thumbs-up to Nufarm's Clipper herbicide
      The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has granted a 2 (ee) label registration for Nufarm Americas' Clipper aquatic herbicide for control of two pesky water-borne weeds.   With the active ingredient flumioxazin, the tank mix of Clipper and 2,4-D, provides New Hampshire applicators with a tool for weed-management programs at the rates specified on the new 2 (ee) label for fanwort and variable leaf milfoil, two species of invasive submersed weeds, with one application.   Clipper may be tank mixed with other registered aquatic herbicides for enhanced control of submersed and floating plants.   For more information about Clipper, visit nufarm.com/USTO/Clipper.     Engage Agro USA celebrating fifth anniversary
      Engage Agro USA is celebrating its fifth anniversary of serving the agriculture, turf and ornamental markets.    Based on the business model developed in Canada by Engage Agro Corp. that is based in Guelph, Ontario, Engage Agro USA specializes in crop protection and nutritional products for agricultural, turf, industrial, and niche crop markets in the United States.    The company's product portfolio includes a line of adjuvants, soil surfactants, pesticides and accessory products.
  • When a golf course architect's dying wish is to have his ashes scattered in the stream that runs past his home course, it's safe to conclude he was a fan of his own handiwork.
    Much of the bite A.W. Tillinghast put into his 1922 design at the Philadelphia Cricket Club had been lost in the decades since 1942 when his ashes were sprinkled into nearby Wissahickon Creek. Once Tilly's pride and joy, the course garnered nary a sniff from the game's biggest bodies as they sought tournament sites in the Philadelphia area. After a 2013 restoration by architect Keith Foster that was designed to recapture some of Tilly's magic, the Cricket's Wissahickon Course has teeth again with features such as "The Great Hazard," and the 1922 Tillinghast classic is on the tournament radar with three events in six years.

    This year, the PGA Professional National Championship - the biggest event of the year for PGA professionals, the top 20 of whom qualify for this year's PGA Championship - was held at the Cricket. Next year, the Constellation Senior Players Championship will be held on the Wissahickon Course as will the USGA's U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship in 2020.

    "We haven't had tournament golf here for 100 years," said Dan Meersman, the club's director of grounds since 2009. "Now, we're going to make up for it in six years."
    Managing turf, and just about everything else at a place as large as the Cricket is no small task for the 37-year-old Meersman, winner of the 2012 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award, presented by Syngenta. And make no mistake about it, there is no moss growing under his feet. Meersman is a man constantly on the move. He has to be because he has a lot of ground to cover across two campuses.

    Known as the nation's oldest country club - it was founded in 1854 - the Cricket is located in multiple cities and towns, including the Chestnut Hill section of northwestern Philadelphia and the Flourtown section of Springfield Township. The property also borders a state park. Aside from 45 holes of golf, Meersman also oversees squash and lawn tennis facilities, clay tennis courts, a paddle tennis complex, pool area and all the common grounds throughout both campuses. Getting things done requires not only consensus from the club's many constituencies, but can often include getting an OK from decision-makers from the township and the city as well.

    "There are so many moving parts here with members, departments and staff," Meersman said.

    "And working with different municipalities, you have to develop relationships quickly. You also have to know who the township engineer is. You have to know the police chief, you have to know the fire chief. Then you go to the City of Philadelphia, and it's a different set of people. Once you know everyone, it streamlines everything you are doing, but you do have to spend time getting folks on board early."

    He walks at a brisk pace while making his rounds, greeting everyone he encounters between Points A and B (as well as C, D, E, F and G) with a smile and a courteous salutation. Most members he comes across recognize him, and all other club employees know who he is.

    Players during the PGA Professional National Championship go out of their way to thank him for producing a course that is a tough, but fair test of golf, not to mention in immaculate condition. Members in one of the many buildings on the property or serving as tournament officials line up to compliment him on his work. Fellow employees tell him the same, or stop him to say "so-and-so, told me to tell you the course looks great."

    Even Ben Kimball of the USGA's competitions committee, upon seeing the Wissahickon Course immediately after the restoration in 2013, told Meersman "(the USGA) could host something here right now."

    "When you inherit a golf course, you are inheriting the Titanic, not a speedboat that you can turn around quickly. It takes time," Meersman said.

    "In the restoration, we used a lot of sod, so we went from dirt to ?oh my' in two days.

    Based on the accolades, praise and thanks others heap on Meersman, it would be understandable if he were to become comfortable or complacent. A third-generation superintendent, Meersman is the exact opposite of complacent. He learned the ways of a business early, when as a boy he and brother Jason - also is a superintendent - visited their father Mike's maintenance shop in the mornings before heading off to school. Today, his attention to detail is evident when he stops each time he sees something as small as a candy wrapper, picks it up and throws it away. If there isn't a garbage can nearby, the trash is filed temporarily in his pants pocket until something more appropriate is located.

    Improvement projects at the Cricket often can come in bunches, and for good reason.

    "We have to elevate each campus simultaneously for things to pass," Meersman said. "When they passed the Wissahickon restoration, they also passes a squash court expansion, the paddle tennis hut and some redesign of the pool pavilion. Then when all that passed, I proposed restoring the St. Martins Course before the Wissahickon restoration.

    "It's important to get out with different people. There are many different member groups, and you really don't want to get pegged as favoring one over another."

    Members here expect a lot, and Meersman delivers. Golfer expectations at a place like the Cricket Club are always at an elevated level, but they are especially high here since the Wissahickon restoration. A membership drive in advance of the restoration yielded an influx of young, skilled players.

    The level of everyday play here has helped ease selling parts of the restoration, namely the addition of some hazard features, including The Great Hazard, that were in place when Tillinghast built the course, but were lost over time.

    "We built the golf course to maintain at a high level," Meersman said.

    The restoration served two goals: it stayed true to what Tillinghast put in the ground in 1922 while at the same time providing a fair test of golf for players of all skill levels. In the process, the Wissahickon's heralded restoration is a breath of fresh air to a facility that was the site of the U.S. Open in 1907 and 1910. Even then, the USGA's national championship was played on the St. Martins Course, and 1895 design that opened as a nine-hole layout and was expanded to 18 holes two years later. As evidence of the changes that have occurred through the decades at the Cricket Club, the St. Martins Course is again a nine-holer complete with its original square putting surfaces.

    A quote by Tillinghast cited in a video to commemorate the restoration attempts to connect golf course architects to those who play on their creations: "This attention of the golfers at-large to details of course planning and construction must be welcome indeed to be leaders of their craft, the architects whose greatest reward is the approval of those whom they seek to please."

    A complex of 13 bunkers in a waste area in the middle of the No. 7 fairway known as The Great Hazard, a raised green protected by bunkers on No. 14 and a fescue-covered hillside on No. 15 are designed to penalize golfers for errant shots, not swallow golf balls.

    "It's a Tilly golf course, and it was intended to honor Tilly and to reintroduce all of these great Tilly features that at one time had been kind of watered down," Foster said in the Cricket Club video. "A.W. Tillinghast was a member at this course. This was his home course. He's from Philly, which is really quite important, and to now have the opportunity to reintroduce the world to what Tilly did here at his home golf course is really, really special."

    It wasn't enough to get such features included into the restoration blueprints, Meersman and Foster also worked to get them into a published set of standards that was voted upon by members.

    There is a sinister side to Meersman, who chuckles almost on queue each time he discusses the difficulty built into the course. Talking about these new native features and the process of getting the club to approve how they are to be maintained is no different.

    "(The Great Hazard) is a native feature in the direct line of play that is 50 yards wide. Sooner or later, this is going to become a topic for discussion," Meersman said with a laugh. "We got together with the architect and the committee because this is going to be a tough feature for some.

    "When the restoration is done, Keith is gone. I knew I'd have to do something. I checked the (standards) with Keith, and he was OK with them, so we took them to the club. Once we put those in, the biggest fear for the club was that they had worked five years getting this restoration teed up for a vote. They'd walked through the mud with Keith. The last thing we wanted was someone coming in and telling you to change things and filling in bunkers.

    "I now have something I can defend."

    Those standards allow Meersman to maintain these areas as hazards as long as they don't get overgrown to the point where lost balls become a recurrent problem.

    "The members here have so much pride in this place, and now they have a key feature that is different," Meersman said. "To be a feature, it has to be something that is not normal, otherwise it would look like bunkers you can see anywhere and no one will remember or have a reason to celebrate.

    "If you can't find your ball and the hazard is in play, then I think that is a legitimate argument. If you lose your ball in the direct line of play, you should be able to find it.

    "The standards also build in a level of staff accountability. We have high standards, and our guys know how to hit them."

    Once covered by trees, the fescue hillside is another matter. Buttressed with railroad ties, the feature adds aesthetic appeal and helps to naturally control weed pressure.

    "The more you're in there thinning it, the more weed pressure you're going to have. The more weed pressure you have, the more you going to be in there pulling those too," Meersman said.

    "These features are far from natural. It's a gorgeous fescue and everything is wonderful about it, but to pull that off takes a lot of work. In this case, the railroad trestles and visual aesthetics of the feature trumps your playability. That's the way the architect designed it, and that's what we all agreed to."
  • Through field days and conferences, Ohio State University and the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation have worked in concert to promote the latest in turfgrass education and research to industry professionals from throughout the state and around the Midwest for more than 50 years.
      The next series of "classes" offered through this unique partnership will take place at the 2015 Turfgrass Research Field Day, scheduled for Aug. 11 at the OTF Research and Education Facility at 2710 North Star Road in Columbus.   The one-day event will include research updates and education for those involved in all facets of turfgrass management. Topics that will be covered include: gray leaf spot forecasting, fungicide updates for golf, granular fungicide evaluation, herbicide efficacy during spring and summer seeding, Poa Cure update, Bermudagrass in northern climates, plant responses to acidivorax, putting green management, how to kill weeds, insect management for golf and sports turf, ground penetrating radar for putting greens.    All sessions are led by Ohio State professors and personnel.   Registration is $40 for OTF members and $60 for non-members, and attendees will have the opportunity to earn commercial recertification credits from the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) in categories 8 and CORE. GCSAA members may also receive 0.35 education points.  Registrations details are here.
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