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From the TurfNet NewsDesk


  • John Reitman

    And the survey says

    By John Reitman, in News,

    Turf managers who missed out on an opportunity to participate in last year's Global Soil Survey still have a chance to take part in the program and receive customized information about site-specific fertility needs.   A cooperative effort between PACE Turf and the Asian Turfgrass Center, the Global Soil Survey provides researchers with a database of soil conditions around the world and turf managers with detailed information about fertility needs, including deficits and excesses, on their respective properties. The end result is a program that has helped many turf managers reduce fertility rates by more than 50 percent without compromising turf quality.   Those registering to participate in the survey will receive all materials needed to pack and ship three soil samples to Brookside Laboratories in New Bremen, Ohio, sample analysis, and a customized report by Larry Stowell, Ph.D., of PACE Turf and Micah Woods, Ph.D., of the Asian Turfgrass Center that includes information on soil nutritional conditions, including nutrient deficits and excesses, and customized fertility guidelines. Results typically are received within a week after the lab receives samples.   The Global Soil Survey is a response to the many versions of fertility guidelines available for turf managers today.   "Our findings challenge the soil nutritional guidelines that most of us have been using for years," Stowell said. "While these older guidelines all produced good quality turf, they frequently resulted in unnecessary applications of fertilizer. Today, when everyone is concerned about budgets and environmental impact, anything we can do to reduce inputs is going to be incredibly beneficial."   The benefits of participating in the survey, according to PACE, include knowledge of local soil conditions, recommendations for maximizing turf quality while minimizing fertility inputs, the ability to document progress toward sustainability, having the tools need for doing what is right and assuming a position of leadership within the industry.   "The Global Soil Survey is an exciting citizen science project that helps each participant determine just the right amount of each nutrient for their turf, at their location," Woods said. "When turf is fed with just the amount it needs, we see that fertilizer rates usually go down quite significantly."
  • Bernhard and Co. has made mid-season changes to its Anglemaster, Express Dual and Dual Master line of grinders.   The Anglemaster 4000 and 4000DXi now offer a choice of configuration allowing the manufacturer's datum point to be used to achieve recommended bedknife angles.   Other updates include two side-by-side drawers at the front of the machine for organizing tools and accessories. This user-friendly arrangement shifted the coolant reservoir and main electronics to the left and right legs, respectively. These redesigned legs also allow machines to be moved with a pallet jack rather than a forklift.   All Express Dual and Dual Master models now feature improved lift tables that do not require platform extensions and can be especially useful for machines mounted on wheel kits. In addition the Express Dual 4000, like the Anglemaster 4000 and 4000DXi, has an hours-run meter that displays when the machine is in operation. A loose reel kit for the Dual Master is also new.
  • Wanted: New golfers

    By John Reitman, in News,

    The idea is so simple in its design it is ingenious. 
      The folks at Monarch Dunes Golf Club in Nipomo, Calif., devised a great plan in an attempt to grow the game: simply remove the most common barriers people cite when they say they don't play, or don't play more.   "We wanted to attract more golfers," said Holly McGinty, the club's director of marketing. "We have an 18-hole course and a par-3 course, and they weren't getting enough play."   Last year, the club's 12-hole, par-3 Challenge Course received a bit of a makeover with new forward tees, less-punishing bunkers and optional 8-inch cups on each hole. Oh, and Monarch Dunes also will provide newcomers with a handful of clubs, balls, tees, as well as some personalized instruction, all for $10.   "We wanted to take away every excuse," McGinty said "People told us that it took too long to play, was too intimidating and it cost too much. We took all that away."   And people are coming.    McGinty couldn't pinpoint an exact figure, but said the program has resulted in "hundreds" of new players and more-than-passing interest from other courses in the area who like what they see enough to consider implementing a similar program.  
    The program has meant some changes for the golf course, a 6-year-old Pate/Pascuzzo design that measures 1,377 yards from the forward tees and 1,858 yards from the back. Bunker lips have been removed to make it possible to put from greenside hazards, each green now has a regulation cup as well as an easier-to-hit 8-inch hole. Green surrounds are mowed at seven-sixteenths of an inch, and greens are kept at 0.140, and walking paths mowed into the turf point the way toward a round that course superintendent Tom Elliott says can be completed, even by newcomers, in about 90 minutes.   "We're trying to simplify the game of golf," Elliott said. "We want new people to come out and play."   The club also maintains the Old Course, a 6,800-yard 18-hole layout, which also was designed by the Sacramento-based team of Pate/Pascuzzo.   With four tees and two cups (and two flags) on every hole, each ranging from 65 to 205 yards in length, the course is not only friendly for beginners, but continues to offer a challenge to more advanced players. The idea, Elliott said, first is just to get people to come to the course and play and eventually convert them into a serious golfer. So far, the plan appears to be working among those who've given the Challenge Course a try.   "The 8-inch cup is a novelty," Elliott said. "What we're seeing is that people will try that one or two times, then start playing to the regulation cup."   McGinty admits that the decision to rework an existing golf course and alter a business model made for some nervous moments. But it was a decision that had to be made.   "Sure it did, but we're glad we did it," she said. "We still have the integrity of the golf course, but have made it easier for beginners.    "This is not just about us and growing rounds here. This is about growing the industry, too."
  • A glass half full

    By John Reitman, in News,

    Combine shrinking budgets and diminishing resources with factors such as increased golfer expectations and a contracting industry and it's easy to understand why some superintendents might view the current state of their profession as a glass half empty. Still, there are those who embrace the opportunities that come with challenges, and they believe success hinges on looking at the state of the industry with a more optimistic view.   Doing more with less is not a philosophy confined only to the golf turf maintenance industry. It is a reality driven by competition and economics that faces virtually every industry, and it's one superintendents must learn to embrace, says Bryan Stromme, regional agronomist for Billy Casper Golf.   "I don't understand why so many people in the industry complain about that," Stromme said. "We can't look at it as doing more with less. We have to look at it as being better at what we do. Everything is changing, and I don't think it is for the worse."   For those who find themselves wearing loafers and a tie more often than jeans and boots, Stromme says get used to it.   "If you look at people at Motorola or Apple, do you think they're not looking at how to make their products better? My next iPhone better be faster, better, stronger and lighter," he said. "Those are my expectations. We as an industry have to do the same thing."   Stromme says his employer is always seeking new ways to help its employees succeed.   Those efforts include an internal career development program that allows employees to take college level course work toward a company-sponsored certificate. BCG's focus on helping employees focus on career development has resulted in many hourly workers stepping forward in search of a career.   "We are finding a lot of people on our staffs who want a career," he said. "Careers don't come from making people mow. Careers come from giving people a purpose. If they have purpose, then it all makes sense to them. Then it becomes a career, not just a job."   Gone are the days of superintendents who try to fly under the radar. Standards for turf conditions and competition for golfers simply are too high for superintendents not to play an active and visible role in the overall management of the golf facility.   "This industry always has been one of being out-of-sight, out-of-mind, but that is a slippery slope today," said Chad Mark of The Kirtland Country Club near Cleveland. "Now, it is vital to have that face-to-face interaction with golfers. By the time they see a problem on the golf course, you've already told them about it. You can put out a lot of fires if you are a good communicator."   Matt Shaffer agrees.   Shaffer has seen a lot of changes in his 40-plus years in the business.   When he started as an assistant superintendent 43 years ago, seven-gang pull-behind units with ground-driven reels were the norm and greens were topdressed by hand with a shovel.   Nowadays, says Shaffer, top-shelf communications skills and business acumen must be as common as state-of-the-art five-plex mowers. To be successful today, superintendents have to be visible to golfers and accessible to members.   "During my career (as a superintendent), I was at various times an electrician, mechanic, hydraulic engineer, plumber, carpenter, heavy- and light-equipment operator, landscaper, councilor, accountant, teacher, author, researcher, arborist, agronomist and finally just a plain laborer. When I would try to explain this to someone, their eyes would roll. It is just what we did."
    - Jon Scott, Nicklaus Design
      He recalled a quote by former GCSAA chief executive officer Steve Mona, now with the World Golf Foundation, that went something like this: "Superintendents need to change their image. They do not need someone else telling the members what they accomplished. If you want to make more, then you need to have a different persona."   "That really resonated with me," said Shaffer, who went on to say if he were a younger superintendent he would develop the skills to become a general manager and would have a better golf game that the in-house PGA professional so he could play with and have an audience with members.   "I would make every single member know that I was the man to run it all," he said.    Like Shaffer, Jon Scott has been in the business for more than 40 years, including a total of 16 years with Nicklaus Design, 15 as a superintendent and almost 10 years with the PGA Tour's agronomy division.   The golf boom brought with it, he said, a tiered employment structure that included the advent of the second assistant. With the boom officially over several years ago, Scott says he sees two emerging trends: fewer second assistants and tenured superintendents being pushed out the door and replaced by the first assistant for the sake of cutting costs.   "Today, the median age of the superintendent keeps going down and so are wages and benefits," Scott said. "Fewer people are looking to enter the profession, and those that do are finding a return to the single assistant model. We have come full circle and perhaps settled into a more sustainable model for what being a superintendent is all about. The superintendent profession may have hit its high water mark some years ago."   Given that reality, success in today's leaner economy, Scott says, will superintendents to do their jobs better than ever.   "The new survival skills are going to be a willingness to be more personally hands-on with an emphasis on cross-training and multi-tasking," he said. "At all but the high-end courses, the days of the 20-person staff for 18 holes are coming to an end. Likewise, having the luxury of two assistants, two mechanics, a spray/fertilizer technician, a project foreman and even an administrative assistant is disappearing at many courses. Those jobs still exist, but they are done with fewer people having more diversified abilities. During my career (as a superintendent), I was at various times an electrician, mechanic, hydraulic engineer, plumber, carpenter, heavy- and light-equipment operator, landscaper, councilor, accountant, teacher, author, researcher, arborist, agronomist and finally just a plain laborer. When I would try to explain this to someone, their eyes would roll. It is just what we did. I am seeing a return to this philosophy in my consulting work today. I'm not sure whether to lament or embrace this regression, but it is the reality of the marketplace."   Scott's observations reinforce the philosophy that the superintendent should work to develop the reputation of being the most valued person at any golf course. That means improving business and communications skills and being accepting of change.   "If we're not moving forward that way we are stale. We have to continue to learn," Stromme said.   "You have to develop these skills to thrive. It's about getting back to viewing challenges as opportunity, developing your business side and understanding that everything you do every day is about how you utilize your resources to maximize the experience for your guest."  
  • One of the keys to winning any battle is to know your enemy.
     
    FMC Professional Solutions has launched a new mobile tool that helps turf managers in the ongoing battle against broadleaf and grassy weeds and sedges.
     
    The mobile tool, which can be accessed through a smartphone at www.fmcturfadvisor.com, includes a weed-identification tool, chemical solutions finder, contact information for FMC technical specialists and a distributor locator tool.
     
    The weed-identification tool includes photographs and information on nearly 50 sedges and broadleaf and grassy weeds, including growth habits, detailed physical descriptions and ideal growing conditions for each.
     
    The chemical solutions finder can be cross referenced by pest type, turf type and weed type and includes in-depth information on nearly 20 herbicides, insecticides, including information on specific pests, tank mixing and downloadable labels and material safety data sheets.
     
    The tool also allows users to locate specific weed information from FMC technical staff located in their home state.
     
    Users also can find local vendors by clicking on the ?Find and FMC Distributor? tab.
  • A superintendent working in South Florida once said that good equipment managers once were in such high demand there that superintendents almost made a game out of trying to hire the good ones away from one another. If you have an equipment manager that your colleagues would like to steal away, take that first step toward keeping him by nominating him for the TurfNet Technician of the Year Award, presented by The Toro Co. 
      Criteria on which nominees are judged include: crisis management, effective budgeting, environmental awareness, helping to further and promote the careers of colleagues and employees, interpersonal communications, inventory management and cost control, overall condition and dependability of rolling stock, shop safety and work ethic.    Previous winners include Brian Sjögren of Corral de Tierra Country Club, Monterey, Calif. (2013); Kevin Bauer, Prairie Bluff Golf Club, Crest Hill, Ill. (2012); Jim Kilgallon, The Connecticut Golf Club, Easton, Conn. (2011); Herb Berg, Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club (2010); Doug Johnson, TPC at Las Colinas, Irving, Texas (2009); Jim Stuart, Stone Mountain (Ga.) Golf Club (2007); Fred Peck, Fox Hollow and The Homestead, Lakewood, Colo. (2006); Jesus Olivas, Heritage Highlands at Dove Mountain, Marana, Ariz. (2005); Henry Heinz, Kalamazoo (Mich.) Country Club (2004); Eric Kulaas, Marriott Vinoy Renaissance Resort, St. Petersburg, Fla. (2003). No award was given in 2008.    Three finalists and a winner will be chosen from a panel of judges and all will be profiled on TurfNet. The winner receives the Golden Wrench Award and an all-expense paid trip to Toro's headquarters in Bloomington, Minn. for a weeklong session at the Toro University Service Training Center.   Click here to nominate your technician, and please provide specific examples of his or her achievements. The nomination deadline is April 30.     
  • If you've been around TurfNet.com at all during the past many years, no doubt you've read about Anthony Williams CGCS a time or two or 10.
     
    We like Williams, director of grounds at Stone Mountain Golf Club near Atlanta, not just because he's an innovator, because let's face it, all superintendents have to be innovators today to remain employed as greenkeepers. It's not because he's a good manager of people, or makes the most of modest resources. Those traits, too, are required of contemporary superintendents. It's not because of his emphasis on education, or his habits of setting and working to achieve goals. We like Anthony Williams for all of those reasons above and because of his willingness to share what he knows with others.
     
    A masterful story-teller, Williams is a published author (Environmental Stewardship Toolkit: Wiley, 2012), speaks regularly at national and regional educational conferences, speaks on behalf of his profession to legislators, is a black belt in karate and, most importantly, might have missed his true calling as a motivational speaker.
     
    Williams' latest project came on the heels of his 50th birthday, and includes setting 50 goals he would like to accomplish before he blows out 51 candles on his next cake. He's called the self-imposed challenge 50@50.
     
    Williams has written each goal on an index card and keeps the lot in a box on his desk, or as he calls it "a bucket list with a deadline." In true form, it's not enough for Williams simply to attain these goals for his benefit; he wants to share it with others.
     
    "It took some time and searching for the right mix of things and a system with a catchy title. I knew that I wanted to make some course adjustments at 50 and wanted to build off of some things that I had learned along the way. This seemed perfect and the box keeps the symbol of hope in my face several times a day."
     
    So, why does he feel the need to share something that, like a New Year's resolution, could easily go unfulfilled?
     
    Part of the answer is to inspire others to action. It's just what he does. It's a philosophy that Gandhi summed up by saying "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
     
    "The most obvious answer is that it is harder to give up when others know your true aspirations and walking in truth and transparency is a bit liberating (and sometimes terrifying). There is also the knowledge that others have inspired me to reach for new ground all of my life so in payment of those who taught me the way I tend to try and leave a trail for the next ones who rise up and fly. I look at it as a three-step process: 1. sow good seeds, 2. nurture your networks and 3. launch your legacy.
     
    The goals are diverse and include both personal and professional objectives, such as donate a day's pay to someone who "needs it more than I do", lose 50 pounds, win another karate tournament, donate to PBS, walk on the beach with his wife and complete Stone Mountain's $585,000 pump station project.
     
    TurfNet will provide periodic updates to ensure Williams fail in his task, although anyone who knows him realizes there is little chance of that.
  • As course manager at The Mere Golf Resort and Spa near Manchester, England, Gwynn Davies knows a thing or two about managing Poa annua. He also knows how its seedheads can make it difficult to maintain consistent putting conditions across a single green not to mention throughout an entire golf course.   The Parry Meter, a new device manufactured by the British firm iGreenKeeper, could be the next tool for superintendents looking for a way to measure putting surface smoothness and trueness. Developed by greenkeeper and inventor Karl Parry, the Parry Meter is a self-contained, maintenance-free, mobile app-driven device that can record as many as 148 surface readings per second, or more than 18,000 per green.   The iPhone-only app allows the operator to customize settings based on the green that is being measured, local rainfall amounts, current surface conditions, green speed, maintenance levels of each green and height of cut. The phone then plugs directly into a receptacle on the four-wheeled unit. The unit then utilizes the smart-phones internal gyroscope and accelerometer to measure surface smoothness and trueness, with data fed through the app and displayed on the phone?s screen.   "The Parry Meter allows me to make management decisions based on real-time activity on the surfaces like the impact of Poa seed heads, seeing a decline in performance and then acting on my verticutting or brushing," Davies said on the Parry Meter Web site.   While serving as the course manager at Denbigh Golf Club in England, Davies conducted a study in 2012 to quantify how frequency of clip affects surface smoothness and putting conditions utilizing a Jacobsen Eclipse 322 outfitted with 11-blade reels. By using the Parry Meter he was able to show in research conducted on three greens at Denbigh that increasing frequency of clip could improve surface smoothness by up to 8.5 percent.   The iGreenKeeper firm is planning to launch the Parry Meter next month at 10 locations throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. Final pricing is still in the works, and availability here could come later this year.
  • Even a green committee meeting would make the challenge facing Jeff Andrews seem like a walk in the park.
      The second assistant at Lahontan Golf Club in Truckee, Calif., Andrews is undergoing rehabilitation therapy at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colo., after a snowboarding accident last month left him paralyzed from the neck down.   Andrews, 25, fractured his C6 vertebrae March 15 while snowboarding in the Sierra Nevada at the Sugar Bowl Ski Resort in Truckee. He was admitted March 26 to Craig Hospital, a Denver-area facility that specializes in spinal cord and brain injuries and is ranked seventh in the U.S. News and World Report list of best rehabilitation hospitals.   Andrews immediately began the rehabilitation phase of his recovery. According to Lahontan superintendent Michael Cornette, Andrews, who is in his final year of studies in the Penn State turf program, has regained minimal range of motion in his upper arms and has graduated to operating the joystick on a motorized wheelchair and also has regained some minor feeling in his legs, but he still faces a long rehabilitative process.    A native of Santa Rosa, Calif., Andrews is in his final year of studies in Penn State's turf management program. He is facing significant medical bills, and friends are asking for help.   A fund has been established to raise $50,000 to help Andrews defray some of the expenses associated with his rehabilitation. Nearly $40,000 has been raised so far, but Andrews still needs help and is facing weeks of therapy.   "He has slowly gotten some movement back in his upper arms and has vibrations in his legs from time to time," Cornette said. "This is why proper rehab is critical at this time. Hope is there and he is working hard to change his status."
  • When it comes to turfgrass education, The Ohio State University shows that non-traditional learning opportunities are just as valuable as traditional education.
     
    Along with one of the country's leading turfgrass management programs offered at both the main campus in Columbus and the university's Agricultural Technical Institute established 45 years ago in Wooster, Ohio State also offers short course and other in-person sessions such as an August field day, two-day Spring Tee Off and works with the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation to present several days of education at the annual OTF Conference and Show each December.
     
    The school also recognizes the value of non-traditional education and to that end is a pioneer in e-learning, taking part in the Great Lake School of Turf initiative developed by the University of Minnesota and University of Wisconsin as well as offering online certificate programs for golf and sports turf management.
     
    Karl Danneberger, Ph.D., has taken e-learning to the next level by making available several books he has authored or co-authored in iBook format through Apple.
     
    Some of the offerings made available by Danneberger include:
     
    Golf Course Management
     
    Golf Course Management: Advanced
     
    Winter Injury, which he co-authored with Karolina Ruzickova Hofferova.
     
    The downloadable books are free and available for iPad only.
  • Time of transition

    By John Reitman, in News,

    Joe Alonzi laughs when he thinks back to a day in 1997 and one of his first conversations with David Dudones, then a brash, 22-year-old intern at Westchester Country Club.
     
    "He asked me what he needed to do to get better because at some point he wanted my job," Alonzi said. "Dave wasn't the first or the last person to say that. A lot of guys would've liked to have had my job. 
     
    "I told him that he was too young and that he should get a master's degree."
     
    Dudones took Alonzi's advice to heart. He went back to school and earned a master's degree at Cornell University under Frank Rossi, Ph.D., and spent more than two decades in the industry paying his dues, including a return to Westchester from 2002-04 to serve as Alonzi's assistant. And that all paid off as Dudones, 39, recently fulfilled his goal of succeeding his former boss as director of grounds at the storied club outside New York City. 
     
    Dudones returned to Westchester on Jan. 1 (the hire was made official last fall) after a 20-year career that includes nine years as superintendent at North Jersey Country Club and prepping under Shawn Emerson at Desert Mountain and Don Szymkowicz at Engineers Country Club. 
     
    "It is my dream job," Dudones said. "When I came here in 1997, I told him Joe I wanted his job. 
     
    "This place is on a whole other level."
     
    Straddling the villages of Harrison and Rye, Westchester is on the top shelf of golf course superintendent jobs. It boasts 36 holes designed by Walter Travis, a nine-hole executive course, and a history that rivals just about any other club in the country. It was a PGA Tour site for more than 30 years, and past members include names like Johnny Carson and Jackie Gleason.
     
    But Westchester is about more than championship golf. Much more.
     
    With a hotel, an Olympic-sized saltwater pool, squash and tennis facilities, more than 6 miles of roads and a beach club located 5 miles away from the main clubhouse, Westchester is more like a small city. Managing just a piece of that small city can be overwhelming.
     
    "The grounds are huge. There is a lot of peripheral stuff that doesn't include the golf courses," Alonzi said.
     
    "This job isn't for everybody. Some can do 45 holes, but there is also a hotel, beach club and miles of road. There were a lot more people who didn't want this job than wanted it. It's not for everybody. You have to be willing to put family second to be successful. And you have to have a wife who can be a mother and father to your kids while they're growing up, because you can't be there. If that is something you accept, great. If you can't, the job is not for you."
     
    In fact, the job is so unique that Alonzi is hanging around throughout the year on an as-needed basis to help Dudones learn the ropes, not of maintaining Westchester's turf, but of managing a piece of such a massive property.
     
    "With the size of this property, he's a great sounding board for me," Dudones said. "For me not to consider him a valuable asset would be foolish."
     
    Dudones also has restructured the turf management team to reflect the changing role of the superintendent in today's economy, naming seven-year Westchester veteran Joe Gikis as assistant director and construction superintendent. Doug Vanderlee, who has been at Westchester for four years, is superintendent of the South Course, and Addison Barden came with Dudones from North Jersey to fill the role of West Course superintendent.
     
    "We're not just growing grass anymore. This is full-time management," Dudones said. "You have to spread the wealth with your management staff. And you have to trust the people around you, you have to bring in the right people, hire the right people and train them the way you want it done or you won't be around long."
     
    After 22 years, Alonzi has seen a lot come and go at Westchester, but insists he only will help when needed.
     
    "When I first got here, there basically was an old irrigation system and nothing else underground except phone lines for the (PGA Tour) tournament," Alonzi said. "I've watched everything go into the ground. I know where the drains are. I'm only there if he needs me. I'm really looking forward to kicking back and relaxing."
     
    Alonzi said he isn't sure what life holds for him next, but he's more than ready for a change.
     
    "I'm still committed to Westchester this year" he said. "But I think after 40 years of being a superintendent and another seven or eight as an assistant, I'm ready to do something else that doesn't involve waking up at 4:30 or 5 in the morning, and that does include Saturdays and Sunday off. I might even take a summer vacation. I've never had one in my life."
  • The winter of 2014 has had golfers in Detroit partying like it is 1881. That is the last time people in eastern Michigan have seen as much snowfall as they have this year.
     
    Although the nearly 84 inches of snow that fell in the Detroit area this year ranks second all-time to the 93.6 inches that fell in 1881, it was more than enough to bring golf in the area to a standstill.
     
    According to Golf Datatech, year-over-year rounds played were down 4.6 percent nationwide in February, but that statistic doesn?t quite tell the whole story. Michigan was one of seven states nationwide, joining Minnesota, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, where weather was so bad throughout the month that there were no measurable statistics on play available. In other words, it was too cold and too snowy throughout all six of those states that no one was able to play anywhere.
     
    For the year, play is down 4.1 across the country compared with the first two months of 2013.
     
    In February, rounds played were down by double-digits in six of eight geographic regions. The only areas in which rounds played were on the rise were in the Southeast and the drought-stricken mountain west.
     
    Play was up in six states, with New Mexico (up 23 percent), Arizona (10 percent) and Georgia (10 percent) leading the way. Conversely, the Golf Datatech survey of 2,990 private and daily fee courses, shows that play was down in 43 states (the survey does not include Alaska), including losses in double-digits in 38 states and Washington, D.C.
     
    Besides the seven states where no measureable rounds occurred, the biggest losses in February occurred in Pennsylvania (down 91 percent), Iowa (down 80 percent) and New York (down 71 percent).
  • Recipe for recovery

    By John Reitman, in News,

    It has been a challenging winter, with record amounts of snowfall and cold temperatures the norm rather than the exception in many parts of the country.
     
    The threat of winter injury was so severe that 372 people recently tuned in to a Webinar on the topic that was conducted by Kevin Frank, Ph.D., of Michigan State, Bill Kreuser, Ph.D., of the University of Nebraska and Frank Rossi, Ph.D., of Cornell University.
     
    Grigg Brothers, who co-sponsored the online seminar along with Aquatrols, also has developed a checklist of advice on recovering from winter damage.
     
    Grigg Brothers' agronomic team recommends the following:
     
    Where injury is severe, close the greens (or at least the damaged portion) and direct play to temporary greens. Traffic will compromise recovery significantly and delay restoring acceptable playing quality. In fact, playing on a green under recovery could double or triple recovery time.
     
    Raise the height of cut and equip mowers with smooth out-front rollers to reduce stress and wear injury to existing/new plants. Smooth rollers make the mowers much less aggressive than grooved or spiral rollers. Mow as infrequently as possible.
     
    An application of black or other dark-colored topdressing sand at a rate of 200 to 400 pounds per 1,000 square feet could help warm the soil for seed germination and an increased rate of growth.
     
    Permeable turf covers can also be used to stimulate soil warmth and accelerate growth. Be sure to monitor disease pressure under covers.
     
    Grigg Brothers also recommends developing a fertilization program that includes applications every seven days to promote recovery.
  • Chemistry 101

    By John Reitman, in News,

    It is understandable that golfers might be concerned about what sort of dangers they might be exposed to on the golf course after pesticides are applied to control disease or insect pests.   Still, despite the presence of a spray rig cutting a path along a fairway, a 2012 study conducted by researchers at Cornell University shows that a panel of pesticides commonly used on golf courses throughout the country present no carcinogenic hazards to golfers who might inhale lingering vapors in the hours and days following application.   The study measured the toxic effects of 37 chemicals commonly used on golf course greens, tees and fairways in climatic regions across nine states.   Health risks were measured by a complex calculation that estimated a golfer's lifetime average daily dose of inhaling vapors from a height of 1-2 meters during the course of a round of golf once per day over a 70-year period.   The findings of the research conducted by Hywel Wong and Douglas Haith, which were published recently in the Journal of Environmental Quality, could go a long way in helping the turf management industry dispel myths about some of the low-risk, low-use rate chemistries that proliferate today's market.   The researchers wrote that several of the chemistries studied displayed high volatilization levels (or a substance's ability to disperse as vapor), yet none present chronic health risks to golfers. The hazard quotient associated with all chemicals in the study was less than 1:10,000, while the cancer-causing risks of 10 chemistries in the study thought to be carcinogens was less than 1: 100 million. Researchers noted that anything that carries a cancer-causing risk of more than 1:1 million is considered unacceptable in the scientific community.   In the 2012 Cornell study, volatilization levels of some chemistries varied by location, which researchers attributed to weather patterns and application procedures. At least 22 of the 37 chemistries in the study showed negligible volatilization. The remaining 15 chemistries displayed volatilization rates ranging from 0.2 percent to 10.4 percent during typical annual applications   Chemistries studied were: (herbicides) 2,4-D, benefin, carfentrazone-ethyl, clopyralid, dithiopyr, fluroxypyr, isoxaben, mecoprop-p, oryzalin, oxadiazon, pendimethalin, penoxsulam, prodiamine, rimsulfuron, sulfentrazone, sulfosulfuron, triclopyr; (fungicides) acibenzolar, azoxystrobin, chlorothalonil, cyazofamid, fludioxonil, iprodione, mancozeb, myclobutanil, propamocarb-hydCl, propiconazole, thiophanate-methyl; (insecticides) acephate, bifenthrin, chlorantraniliprole, halofenozide, imidacloprid, indoxacarb, permethrin, thiamethoxam.   Some chemistries in past studies have proven to be dangerous in field studies, and research has played a valuable role in some being removed from the market. Some of those active ingredients that have been shown to be dangers in the field, such as ethoprop, diazinon and isazofos, no longer are registered for use in turf, and nine of the 15 chemistries in a 2007 study by Haith and Rebecca Murphy no longer are registered by the EPA for use in turf.
  • Flowering plants can help spruce up common areas around the clubhouse or parking lot, out-of-play areas and even near teeing grounds. But choosing the wrong one can be the difference between an aesthetically pleasing ornamental and a proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing.   As turf managers turn their attentions toward spring and making golf courses green again, the Weed Science Society of America says it is a good idea to conduct some research before making any final decisions on ornamentals so as not to unknowingly planting any invasive species.   Many invasive ornamentals that have been transplanted from other countries can tolerate poor growing conditions, thus allowing them to grow quickly and densely and can easily become difficult to control. In fact, many invasive species, although attractive when they flower, can exhibit different growing characteristics when out of their native range and are considered noxious weeds here.   One such example is Scotch thistle. Though it was introduced into this country more than 200 years ago from Europe, Scotch thistle is a weed in this country. It thrives in drought conditions and is difficult to kill, making it especially troublesome in parts of the arid west.   Although Scotch broom might be perfectly fine for use as an ornamental on a golf course in Europe, in this country it is a non-native species that is difficult to control. It produces pretty flowers, but it is an ugly neighbor, crowding out native species and producing thousands of seed per plant per year that can remain dormant yet viable for several years.   Dalmatian toadflax is a member of the snapdragon family and is native to areas around the Adriatic and Mediterranean seas. Surely, anything so exotic would be a welcome addition to any area where ornamentals are planted, right? Wrong. Unlike its native cousin, the Dalmatian toadflax is perennial that keeps on growing, can take over open spaces and is toxic to some wildlife.    Many of these invasive species are sold as ornamentals, either through online outlets or nurseries, so procuring them is easier than it probably should be.   A complete list of invasive species can be found on the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Invasive Species Information Center Web site.   The site includes information on invasive plants and aquatics, including photographs, native range, when and how they were introduced here and control tips.
  • Editor's note: The following is a column by Golfweek editor Jeff Babineau on senior writer Ron Balicki, who spent more than 30 years covering college golf for our sister publication before his passing on March 25.
      Debbie Balicki won't ever forget the first time she met her future husband. She was at a party thrown by a pro football player in the Florida Panhandle in the early 1980s, and she decided to approach a tall, handsome man with a mustache standing next to the bar.   "Are you the bartender?" she asked. "No," he answered.   "Well, think you could fix me a drink anyway?" she asked with a smile.   Later that evening, after she had departed early, retreating to a quieter beach spot down the road, the two would meet up again. They talked. They laughed. They played some backgammon. And when she got home that night, she remembers thinking to herself, "That's the nicest man I've ever met."   Lots of people would say those very same words about her husband of 32-plus years, Golfweek senior writer Ron Balicki. He simply was the nicest, kindest man one ever could meet. At his home in the woods in Mount Ida, Ark., on Tuesday morning, Balicki passed away after a valiant eight-month battle with cancer. He would have turned 66 on April 6.   CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING
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