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From the TurfNet NewsDesk

  • John Reitman
    For the past couple of years, engineers at John Deere have been busy developing a stable of new equipment that reflected the company's largest new product introduction since the company entered the golf business a quarter of a century ago.   This summer, Deere's distribution network has been nearly as busy demonstrating the new portfolio of eight new A Model mowers, to customers around the country.   Although current generation models are still available, limited numbers of new A Model fairway, rough, and trim and surrounds mowers that were introduced at the Golf Industry Show in February, are being demonstrated across the country by John Deere distributors.   During years of refinement, John Deere worked closely with its customers to implement the changes that would improve operator productivity, make machines easier to service, and provide superintendents with more control over after-cut appearance.   "Throughout product development, we've had touchpoints and reviews with customers," said Tracy Lanier, John Deere product manager. "In our last feedback program, for instance, we asked customers to come in and use the equipment so they could make sure our solutions work for them."   New models include 7500A, 7700A, 8700A PrecisionCut and 7500A E-Cut Hybrid fairway mowers, 7400A TerrainCut and 7200A PrecisionCut trim and surrounds mowers, and the 8800A TerrainCut rough mower.   The A-series intelligently integrates electronic controls with mechanical features to deliver improved performance, better diagnostics, and more uptime and reliability. The complete line is Final Tier 4 compliant.   Some of the many new features across the line include a TechControl display that allows operators to set or change mowing, turning and transport speeds, which limits variations in performance by different operators. The TechControl display serves as a platform to set, diagnose and maintain each piece of equipment. The password-protected display enables the superintendent to set or change mowing, turning and transport speeds, and limit variations in performance by different operators.   The TechControl display can also be used to diagnose and maintain the equipment via on-board visual diagnostics and the ability to set regular service times.   The AutoPedal system allows engine RPM to be controlled via foot pedals for easier operation and training, while also saving fuel and reducing noise levels.   LoadMatch technology, borrowed from the John Deere compact utility tractor line, automatically adjusts the speed of the machine to maintain sufficient power to the cutting units during heavy load conditions, such as when mowing thicker turf or in wet conditions. This provides a better quality of cut without the need to train operators to recognize when they need to adjust their speed.   The eHydro traction pump and internal wet disc brakes make maintenance easier on technicians. The new electronic pump is no longer controlled via mechanical linkages. Reducing the complexity of the drive system eliminates the need to adjust or repair linkages.   "We have units out in the field with distributors now who are doing demonstrations for customers," Lanier said. "We've had a lot of positive feedback on the changes."   Contact your local John Deere distributor for a demonstration.
  • The drama surrounding California's water woes sounds like the plot for a Hollywood film. In fact, it is.   Water in California is a system wrought with politics and intrigue, and was the subject for the 1974 Oscar-nominated film Chinatown that revealed the underbelly of the struggle to secure water rights in early 20th century Los Angeles.   Like any movie, the tale of water in California has all the essential ingredients of a good cliffhanger: plot, protagonists, antagonists, crisis and conflict. The one ingredient it seems to be missing is resolution.   Found smack in the middle of this adventure are some 1,100 golf courses, nearly all of which are struggling to get enough water to keep players happy, yet seem to have too much to suit a general public uber-aware of the state's many environmental issues. Finding a balance between the two has been so impossible that if it were left to any of Hollywood's iconic directors to depict in a believable manner in a motion picture, they'd likely be so far over schedule and over budget they'd never find work again.   For those reasons, it might appear to some that the golf industry in California does not approach water issues with the same zeal and purpose that has become the norm in other water-challenged states. But rest assured, the state's golf industry has been a proactive leader on water-use issues for years. And that isn't easy in a place with so many inherent challenges.   When factions in the golf industry from other states have developed self-imposed best management practices regulating water use, they were able to do so partly because there are so few regulating agencies to satisfy. For example, in Florida, where golf courses have been able to become BMP-certified since 2007, five entities manage water resources for more than 19 million people statewide. In Georgia, the state's GCSA chapter built a water BMP certification template for courses around the state in the face of widespread drought in 2007. Its efforts had to pass the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the governor's office.    By contrast, there are more than 3,000 water districts in California governing collection, distribution and pricing of water from myriad sources to nearly 40 million users across the state. Some of those purveyors serve millions of customers, while others are miniscule in comparison, providing water to a handful of users. All operate under their own guidelines.   Through the years, factions within the golf industry have come together to create task forces in Los Angeles, San Diego, the Coachella Valley and most recently Sacramento in an effort to give the game a voice with regional water agencies throughout the state.   "It's very complicated here," said Craig Keller, director of government affairs for the Southern California GCSA. "It's not only complicated; it's also very sophisticated."   Indeed.   Californians get their water from several sources, including the Colorado River, local groundwater and recycled water from water-treatment plants. And then there is the State Water Project, which provides water for nearly 70 percent of all Californians. The project is a system of 700 miles of canals, aqueducts and pipelines that channel water from 34 reservoirs to more the 25 million users throughout the state, including large metropolitan areas like Los Angeles and San Francisco.   "We've already cut back 20 percent. Twenty percent plus another 20 percent? Golf course superintendents don't want to get measured on what they're already cutting. We want to be measured by the historical norm. With 40 percent cutbacks, you would be hurt. You'd have to think about reducing acreage."
      And the state's water supply is under siege from drought, competition for access and pricing, making it a challenging time for golf courses, agriculture and private residential users statewide.   Ongoing drought in the North, which supplies water to much of the rest of the state, is taking its toll statewide (the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission recently raised rates by 50 percent on all users) and threatens to supercede voluntary water-saving efforts by superintendents that have been in place for years.    According to the California Department of Water Resources, 2013 was the driest year on record since California attained statehood in 1850. That lack of precipitation along with rising temperatures also has affected snow pack in the Sierra Nevada, which contributes to much of the state's water supply.    The State Water Project accounts for nearly half the water supplied to the city of Los Angeles through a century-old system of pipeline and aqueducts. And much of that water comes from Sierra Nevada snow pack, which was at 30 percent of the historic average during this past winter, according to the California Department of Water Resources.   According to CDWR, 22 of the state's 47 reservoirs monitored on the department's web site are operating at capacities of 50 percent or lower. Only 11 are near capacity.   For example, Folsom Lake near Sacramento is operating at 46 percent of capacity. It only is that high because of relief provided by spring rains. Water levels in the reservoir dipped to as low as 19 percent of capacity in 2013 and dropped to 17 percent in early 2014, revealing an old mining community that had been submerged for 58 years.   These numbers have not gone unnoticed in Sacramento where Gov. Jerry Brown, in April, signed a drought emergency declaration that, among other measures, carries a mandatory reduction in outdoor water use by private residences and urges golf courses to "limit the use of potable water for irrigation."   That declaration came on the heels of a similar measure in January that included an order from Brown directing golf courses to "immediately implement water reduction plans to reduce the use of potable water for outdoor irrigation."   "California is unique in a lot of ways. Agriculture made the state, but the gold rush made it grow up too quickly. ... Some, literally, are still operating on the same rules that miners gunslinged out years ago."
      Many local agencies already have implemented their own water-saving restrictions, making it difficult to tell just what the governor's directive means, if anything.   "You can go all over the state and to all of these crazy situations and naturally golf gets thrown into the middle of it," said Mike Huck, a former golf course superintendent and now a water conservation consultant for the golf and landscape industries. "Turf has been a bone of contention for a lot of people for a long time."   Being a proactive bunch, superintendents at many of the state's 1,100 golf courses already have been operating under voluntary water-use cutbacks of up to 20 percent for as many as four years. They're worried that additional mandatory restrictions will come on top of the voluntary cutbacks already in place if the drought persists into 2015.   "Government officials, they don't know what we as superintendents do," said Jim Ferrin, director of landscapes for Sun City Roseville, a 27-hole golf community near Sacramento.   "We've already cut back 20 percent. Twenty percent plus another 20 percent? Golf course superintendents don't want to get measured on what they're already cutting. We want to be measured by the historical norm. With 40 percent cutbacks, you would be hurt. You'd have to think about reducing acreage."   Golf courses aren't the only entities using less water nowadays, says Keller, who has served as SoCal's director of government affairs for five years.    By nature, Californians are supportive of many environmental issues, and he says water utilities, state government and individual users deserve some credit for their conservation efforts. The state's population has doubled in the last half-century, and in that time, statistics show that 4 million people in Los Angeles used less water in 2010 than 2 million people used in 1970. Selling the merits of such stewardship to golfers statewide, however, has been more challenging.   "I almost feel funny saying this, but we have to lower our maintenance standards," Keller said. "But conditioning gets amped up more and more. That has been the trend for years. We have to keep up with our neighbors."   Although conserving water is important and necessary, water is big business in California, and scaling back use affects the bottom line for those who sell it.   Some water-governing agencies are tiny, regulating water use to just a handful of users, while others are massive, like the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.    LADWP provides water resources to nearly 4 million users in Los Angeles. Mandatory cutbacks of 20 percent could cost LADWP as much as $150 million.   The Met, the country's largest public utility, is a consortium of 26 municipalities and water districts that bring water to a staggering 19 million residents in six Southern California counties.   The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior, manages water distribution to agricultural users in the state's fertile interior through the Central Valley Project. Water shortages there have been so severe that earlier this year the Fed completely cut off water for Central Valley farmers.   "It's convoluted as to who is going to be in trouble if there are cutbacks," Huck said. "It comes down to the individual water districts and water purveyors."   Many of the smaller providers still operate with an Old West mentality carved out more than 150 years ago. Some even continue to measure flow in what is known as miner's inches, a measurement of flow first employed to quantify water use in hydraulic mining during the 19th century gold rush era. Even more peculiar, a miner's inch in Northern California is the same as in Oregon and Nevada, but different than a miner's inch in Southern California.   "California is unique in a lot of ways," Ferrin said. "Agriculture made the state, but the gold rush made it grow up too quickly.   "Some, literally, are still operating on the same rules that miners gunslinged out years ago."   That Old World way of thinking can be a problem for a state that leads the country with a population of more than 37 million (nearly twice the population of New York, the country's third most populous state), is third in geographic size spanning more than 158,000 square miles (Florida would fit into California nearly three times) and stretches nearly 800 miles north to south.    "Once, I was like Chicken Little. I kept telling people, 'It's coming,' and no one believed it. Now, it's hitting us with both barrels. Now, I'm saying 'I told you so.' "
      Because of its size, proximity to the Pacific and topography that includes mountains and valleys from one corner of the state to the other, California has microclimates unlike any other U.S. locale. Weather conditions can vary wildly even on the same golf course, such as Pacific Grove Golf Links on Monterey Peninsula.    The original nine holes at Pacific Grove wind through a tree-lined residential neighborhood, where golfers often encounter warm, sunny conditions. The second nine jut out onto the peninsula's extreme northwestern corner on land once occupied by a U.S. Coast Guard station, and can be enveloped in fog for much of the day. Each nine can have different irrigation needs on the same day depending on the weather.   Nowhere in the state have golf courses faced scrutiny like they have in the Coachella Valley region that includes Palm Springs and Palm Desert, neither of which would exist to the extent they do today without the golf industry.   Still, virtually all of the 124 courses there have come under fire from local media sources and non-golfing residents whose home values are directly tied to the industry they bemoan. Ironically, residential use in the Coachella Valley is among the highest in California, according to the Desert Water Agency.   According to the Coachella Valley Water District, more than 20 courses in the valley use recycled water or a mix that also includes Colorado River water. Twenty-nine courses take water directly from the Colorado and 73 others pump groundwater. The goal is to eventually get at least 50 courses in the valley on recycled water.   While factions within golf have tried to tackle water issues on a regional basis, some insiders acknowledge the industry could do more to help itself. For example, there has been no grassroots effort to organize on a statewide level, and doing so could help educate state legislators and water district officials from San Diego in the south to Yreka near the Oregon border. Huck said he has  been preaching for years the need for the golf business to organize statewide in the event of a water doomsday event.   "California, which usually starts trends, well, we lag behind in this," Huck said. "We have no comprehensive plan for water management for golf courses.   "Once, I was like Chicken Little. I kept telling people, 'It's coming,' and no one believed it. Now, it's hitting us with both barrels. Now, I'm saying 'I told you so.' "  
  • At least for two facilities in San Francisco, municipal golf is feast or famine.   City-owned TPC Harding Park will host three of golf's biggest events over the next 11 years, according to a recent announcement by the PGA of America, PGA Tour and City of San Francisco. Its sister property, nine-hole Gleneagles is in one of the city's deadliest neighborhoods, and could close its doors by the end of the month.   The 2015 World Golf Championships-Match Play Championship, as well as the 2020 PGA Championship and the 2025 Presidents Cup will be played at the city-owned course on Lake Merced, according to The Associated Press. Harding Park has been managed by the PGA Tour since 2010.   The PGA, which hasn't played its championship on a municipal or state-owned course since 1974 at Tanglewood Park in Clemmons, North Carolina, is now headed to two straight. Preceding the 2020 championship at Harding Park is the 2019 edition scheduled for the Black Course at Bethpage State Park in New York.   The PGA Championship has not been played on the West Coast since 1998 at Sahalee Country Club outside Seattle. The 2020 event at Harding Park also gives California majors in three consecutive years, with the U.S. Open going to Pebble Beach in 2019 and Torrey Pines in 2021.   The Match Play Championship, which has been held the past eight years in Arizona, will begin the last week of April under a new format. The tournament will offer a similar structure to the World Cup, with group play leading into single-elimination matches.   The reconfiguration will ensure that all 64 players are around for at least three days. In the past, single-elimination from the outset often led to quick exits for top players and fan favorites.   The trio of tournaments adds to an aggressive schedule in San Francisco's southwest corridor.   The Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, which was held on the last weekend of April this year, is set to return to Lake Merced in nearby Daly City in 2015. And next year?s inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship is scheduled from April 30 to May 6 at The Olympic Club, where the U.S. Open was last held in 2012.   It's a different story across town, on the city's southeast side near Candlestick Park where historic Gleneagles Golf Course could be forced to close up within the next several weeks.   Also owned by the city, Gleneagles is struggling to make ends meet thanks in part to rising water rates, according to a story in the San Francisco Chronicle.   The city recently announced plans to hike water rates by 50 percent, making it difficult to make ends meet at a course that already is struggling.   On July 1, course manager Tom Hsieh issued a 30-day notice that if things don't improve or a rate settlement is not reached he might have to step away from the course by month's end. Hsieh also is responsible for all maintenance and repairs, but also gets to keep any profit in exchange for leasing the property from the city. The city does not contribute to the upkeep of the course, but also must approve any increase in its modest $19 green fees.   Paying the higher rate to irrigate wall-to-wall is not realistic for Hsieh, who has held the management contract on the course for nine years. The fairways and out-of-play areas at this challenging nine-hole layout already are firm, dry and brown. Any more cutbacks in water use will reach the bone.  
  • With a body just 3 inches in length, but a wingspan of nearly 2 feet, the Florida bonneted bat should be easy to spot. Problem is, there are so few of them remaining in the wild that finding one is a challenge. Except at Granada Golf Course in Coral Gables, Florida.   The role of golf courses as habitat for wildlife is well documented. According to Audubon International, there are 835 properties in the cooperative sanctuary golf course program. Fox, elk, deer, coyote, mountain lions and even bears are regular visitors on golf courses all around North America as are all manner of birds of prey and other rare species. It's not often that a golf course is singled out as habitat for bats.   When the sun goes down, an unknown number Florida bonneted bats, so named because of their large, broad ears, emerge to hunt insects in the skies above the nine-hole, Donald Ross design built in 1923 five miles from downtown Miami.   Just how many Florida bonneted bats are living in the wild or even around the golf course is anyone's guess. Researchers estimate the number of Florida bonneted bats across all of South Florida to be somewhere between 300-1,000. The number of bonneted bats roaming the skies around Granada also is unknown and could be anywhere between a half-dozen and 50, researchers say. The bats are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, and until researchers are able to physically find their roosting sites, any guess on how many there are is just that - a guess.   "We really do not have a good estimate because we have not found any roost sites," said Kisi Bohn, Ph.D., research assistant professor at Florida International University in Miami. "My guess is about 500, but again it is very hard to estimate until we find more roosts and do more widespread acoustic surveys."   Researchers use ultrasonic recording equipment to detect the bats and their unique high-pitched call. Even with such state-of-the-art technology it can be difficult to trace the bats' activity, because the Florida bonneted bat flies higher and much faster than most other bat species.   "You record one, then you record another one 10 minutes later," said Frank Ridgley, Ph.D., conservation director with Zoo Miami. "But because they are so mobile, have you recorded the same bat twice? You don't know.   "So, how many are at the golf course? We can see four or five at a time, but does this mean there are 30 or 40, or just six?"   Found only in Miami-Dade, Collier, Lee and Charlotte counties in South Florida, the bats are a tropical species that Ridgley says were first observed in Florida in the mid-1930s, about the same time fossils records were found indicating they thrived in the area since prehistory. That said, they have not been found in Monroe County in the extreme southwestern corner of the state.   And why not?   "No one knows," Ridgley said.    "The problem is we just don't know enough about them."   Other than its large wingspan and voracious appetite, little is known about the Florida bonneted bat. In fact, so little is known that scientists can't even agree on how many reproductive cycles the animal goes through per year. They do know, however, that each cycle includes just one offspring and they rarely are found roosting in the wild. Instead, they almost exclusively are found nesting only in boxes, in people's homes and other manmade structures.   So far, the location of the Granada colony's roost is a mystery.   Colonies in Charlotte and Lee counties have been detected using ultrasonic equipment within as little as 15 minutes after dusk. The Granada colony's calls have been picked up within just a few minutes of dusk, leading Cyndi Marks, founder of the Florida Bat Conservancy to one conclusion.   "We think they live close by (the golf course)," she said. "The old barrel tile roof is a perfect roosting location, and there are a lot of old homes around the course. They also like cavities in palm trees."   Researchers believe that urbanization has contributed to the bat's declining numbers. In fact, only four reliable colonies are known throughout the state: two near Punta Gorda in Southwest Florida, the one at Granada and another near the zoo, Ridgley said.   Likewise, scientists don't know why a colony appears to be thriving near the golf course. The bats typically are drawn to open areas like golf courses, and researchers haven't ruled out that Granada coincidentally is to be one of the few places in Miami-Dade County that has gone relatively undisturbed during the past 90 years.    "Bats, in general, love golf courses," Marks said. "They have long flyways and are perfect places to forage."   However, most bats also are drawn to golf courses because they have ponds or lakes where they can find a drink at the beginning of each nightly foraging period. Granada has no pond, confounding scientists even more.   "When I first heard about them being on a golf course, I thought it was going to be a big golf course with landscaping and water features," Ridgley said. "But there is no water anywhere.    "Nothing about this place says this should be a hot spot for bats. There are people walking with their dogs all around it, and here is this critically endangered bat right in the middle of it. We don't know if they've always been here and have adapted to survive, or if something recently attracted them here."   There have been unconfirmed sightings nearby at The Biltmore resort and golf course, says Marks. But attempts to locate bats at another nearby course in Miami Springs have been fruitless.   FIU's Bohn believes the Granada colony has thrived at the golf course for as long as a half-century, and says the question isn't why this colony appears to be succeeding.   "I'm not sure why the Coral Gables golf course is such a hotspot," Bohn said.    "I think a better question is why we don't see them on other golf courses and parks. That's exactly what we're trying to find out."   The bonneted bat is a high-flying animal, soaring hundreds of feet above the ground, which is a much different behavioral pattern than that exhibited by other bat species that race around the tops of the tree lines.    The Florida bonneted bat is in the same family as free-tailed bats which have been observed in Texas flying as high as 5,000 feet above the ground and feeding on migrating moths at altitudes of 3,000 feet, Marks said. Although the bonneted bat doesn't have to fly that high to feed, its flying habits historically have made catching and studying them almost impossible. The bats at Granada, however, have reportedly been flying at altitudes more consistent with those of other bats.    "On Florida's West Coast, they live in a more isolated area," said Zoo Miami's Ridgley. "In Coral Gables, it could have adapted to a different food source. It appears that they are flying lower there. They might have adapted to a whole new feeding behavior just trying to hang on. We just don't know yet."   Scientists don't know if that modified behavior means the bats have adapted to local conditions or prey. They have to find roosting locations and bat scat, known as guano, so they can analyze where they live and what they eat. Dogs specially trained at Auburn University to detect the guano of Florida bonneted bats have turned up nothing.    "Their flight patterns are determined by where the insects are," Marks said.   Researchers also hope that raising public awareness might help them learn more about the bats.   "We're glad to see that they are getting some attention. People don't even know they are out there," Ridgley said. "We have to find where they live. This could be a small colony living under the tiles of someone's roof. A roofer making repairs could unknowingly wipe out a whole colony. It really is that simple."  
  • A properly trained staff that operates with a "safety first" approach to all day-to-day tasks on the golf course can be the difference between just another day at the office and a superintendent who has to answer for fines, lawsuits or worse.   That's the story at an Ohio golf course, where the club and its management company are facing fines by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and a lawsuit following the 2013 death of an assistant superintendent electrocuted while attempting to repair a damaged irrigation line.   "Not many superintendents are judged on their safety programs, but I promise you that if you have a major accident there are going to be a lot of questions from bosses, government agencies and insurance companies about safety training and what you've done," said Mickey McCord, a former superintendent who now specializes in safety training for golf course maintenance operations.    "Nobody wants something like this to happen. When it does, you have OSHA issues, a court case and a serious financial settlement."   Last month, Megan Krebs filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Fox Meadow Country Club near Medina and Fore Golf Partners, a Manassas, Virginia-based company that owns and/or operates 39 public and private facilities in 11 states, after her husband was killed in an on-course accident.   According to Montville Township Police records, 33-year-old Michael Krebs, an assistant superintendent at Fox Meadow and father of three, died July 10, 2013 when he was electrocuted while working in a trench on a damaged irrigation pipe near the club's No. 5 hole.   The lawsuit filed in Medina County Common Pleas Court claims his death was preventable and that he had "no experience with excavation equipment or repair of irrigation lines, was given no safety training to this type of work, was given no electrical testing equipment to determine if there was electrical power to the excavation site and he was required to work in close proximity to electrical lines without any safety precautions."   "It's a tragic situation, and it was preventable," said Krebs' attorney, Brian Kerns of the Columbus-based firm of Isaac, Wiles, Burkholder and Teetor.   According to police records, Krebs had been operating a backhoe around 1:15 p.m. on July 10 when he climbed off the machine and stepped down into a 9-foot hole to repair a ruptured irrigation line, according to police records. Co-workers later found his body, police said, in the water-filled trench and entangled in electrical wires.   Michael Miraglia, president of Fore Golf Partners, said he was unable to comment on the case.   "In general, OSHA says you have to train employees in any unsafe work conditions," McCord said.   "You want to be OSHA compliant. The bigger concern when protecting the club is not a $15,000 OSHA fine, but a $400,000 or $1 million lawsuit that claims someone was injured or worse because they were not trained properly. That's a serious problem for a club."   The OSHA investigation specifically cited Fore Golf Management for violations of three agency standards: 19260416 A01, 19260417 A, 19260651 C02 and resulted in three fines of $4,900 each.   The first two standards relate to working with electrical circuits and specifically reference the need to de-energize live electrical circuits an employee might come into contact with and tagging the equipment. The third standard relates to working in an excavated ditch and specifically is written in regard to providing an easy way in and out of the hole.   At a minimum, McCord said, safe practice for such a procedure, even with low-voltage electrical systems such as irrigation wiring, should include de-energizing the electrical source and releasing any stored electrical energy, as well as following the proper tag-out, lock-out procedure to ensure that it the system does not go back online before the task at hand is completed.   Training, according to OSHA documents, can be done in a classroom setting or on the job. Many standards are very specific, while others can be vague. It's only after a workplace accident occurs that OSHA officials show up and determine if an employer meets the standards for proper training and ensuring a safe work environment.   "There shouldn't have been any power on there," McCord said.    Standard 19260416 A01 states "No employer shall permit an employee to work in such proximity to any part of an electric power circuit that the employee could contact the electric power circuit in the course of work, unless the employee is protected against electric shock by deenergizing the circuit and grounding it or by guarding it effectively by insulation or other means."   Standard 19260417 reads "Controls that are to be deactivated during the course of work on energized or de-energized equipment or circuits shall be tagged."   Standard 19260651 C02 states "A stairway, ladder, ramp or other safe means of egress shall be located in trench excavations that are 4 feet (1.22 m) or more in depth so as to require no more than 25 feet (7.62 m) of lateral travel for employees."   In the absence of proper training or supervision, McCord says common sense should dictate to ensure personal safety.   "You don't typically have electricians working on a golf course. But if you're not comfortable working on electrical systems or you haven't been trained on it, don't do something you're not comfortable with," McCord said.    "I don't know if that would satisfy OSHA standards for compliance, but it would have saved the man's life, and that would have solved the whole problem."   The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, claiming that "the defendants' actions or inactions constituted willful, wanton, intentional, deliberate and malicious conduct and a conscious, reckless or flagrant disregard" for Krebs' safety. It is standard procedure in Ohio, Kerns said, not to publicize amounts sought in a lawsuit in excess of $25,000. Kerns did say that he has made a settlement offer that Fore Golf's insurers have rejected. The case is expected to go before a jury in the winter.   "People think you don't have to be concerned with low-voltage wiring," Kerns said. "They think you'll just get shocked. But it will kill you. It obviously killed him."  
  • Golfweek says Pete Dye might be the most influential golf course architect of the past half-century. Along with his wife, Alice, the Dyes have been a formidable team that has left an imprint on golf course architecture around the world.
      Golfweek is offering Dye aficionados, or those simply interested in knowing more about to the game, a three-day symposium at Kiawah Island Resort, home to one of Dye's most renowned creations - The Ocean Course. The event will showcase the accomplishments of Pete and Alice Dye and how they influenced the game through 50 years of course design.   Scheduled for Nov. 9-11 at Kiawah Island, the 2014 Golfweek Architecture Summit, Honoring Pete and Alice Dye, will include a host of featured speakers, including honorees Pete and Alice Dye, Jerry Pate of Jerry Pate Design, Ty Votaw of the PGA Tour, Bill Coore of Coore-Crenshaw Design, Tom Doak of Renaissance Golf, Jason McCoy of Greg Norman Golf Course Design, Lee Schmidt of Curley-Schmidt Golf Course Design, former PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beaman and golf course architect Jan Beljan.   A 2008 inductee into the World Golf Hall of Fame, and one of just a handful of architects to receive the honor, Pete Dye has designed, co-designed or redesigned hundreds of courses on five continents, among them TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida; Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head, Island, South Carolina; The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort in South Carolina; The Straits Course at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin; Des Moines (Iowa) Golf and Country Club; and The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tennessee.   According to Golfweek, Dye's "distinctly modernist appropriation of classical, links-inspired, ground-game design features and geometry revolutionized the face of American golf and provided a stunning aesthetic contrast to the strictly aerial, down-the-middle approach, of postwar golf architecture. He also transformed the craft of course construction through a design/build approach in the field that he handed down to several dozen apprentices, many of whom became influential designers in their own right, among them Bill Coore, Tom Doak, Tim Liddy, Jason McCoy, Lee Schmidt and Rod Whitman."   Says Golfweek: "Pete and his wife, Alice, also devoted considerable attention to forward and middle tee placement and course playability in an era when the experience of everyday golfers was virtually being overlooked. And their work has indelibly stamped the golf map with unforgettable images ? of island greens, railroad ties, lunar bunkering, madcap doglegs, and landscape features on an outrageous vertical and linear scale."   Click here for more information, or to register.
  • James Whitcomb Riley was a 19th century poet who is credited with saying: "When I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck."   Nearly 100 years after Riley's death, the only correlation that can be drawn between the man known as "the Hoosier poet" and the game of golf are the teams that compete at the South Bend, Indiana high school named in his honor. Still, if Riley, who lived from 1849-1916, were around today, even he could look at the game of golf and the problems facing it before finally concluding he must follow his own advice and call it a duck.   In absence of Riley's insight and wit, getting a handle on just where the golf industry is headed can be confusing depending on who one listens to.   Rounds played in May continued to trudge along with an unspectacular bump of 0.9 percent, according to Golf Datatech's Monthly Rounds Played Report. Golfer participation is down by 1.9 percent through the first five months of the year, compared with the same time frame last year, according to the study. Despite those numbers, National Golf Foundation president Joe Beditz was quoted in a recent interview in Marketwatch, a Wall Street Journal publication, saying "interest in the game continues to remain high with 2 to 3 million approaching the game each year."   Beditz went on to say the game's outlook is "steady or favorable." Never mind that NGF figures also show while the game attracted 3.7 million players in 2013, it lost 4.1 million.   Recently, the NGF also released initial findings from its ongoing Project M study into the relationship between millennials and golf. The study shows, according to NGF, that play is down among those age 18-34, in part, because of declining income.   Indeed, income today is down by 10 percent among those age 24-29 compared with income levels of the early 1990s, according to the study. It stands to reason that less disposable income means less money for extravagances - like golf. And coincidentally, golf participation when compared with play in the early 1990s is down by 40 percent in that same age group. That bears repeating. Income is down by 10 percent; golf rounds are down by 40 percent.    The same study shows that income today vs. the early 1990s was down 3 percent among those age 30-34 with a corresponding drop in golfer participation of 20 percent, leading the NGF to conclude: "This tells us that as Millennials earn more money, they play more golf. We expect this 'delay effect' to continue, and anticipate that as this generation ages, golf participation will gradually increase." Income down 3 percent; play down 20 percent, but it's going to get better.   NGF also blames long-term losses in golfer numbers on changing demographics during the past 20 years, especially in the 18-34 age group where the non-Caucasian population has grown by more than 60 percent, according to the study.   About 12 percent of the Caucasian population in that age group play golf, compared with 7 percent of non-whites, according to the study.   The study also shows that as non-whites age and earn more money, they play more golf, just not at quite the same rate as their Caucasian contemporaries, so it will get better we are told.   Here's even better news.   In the latest edition of the NGF Dashboard electronic communiqué, PGA of America president Ted Bishop writes "golf is not 'in a hole' nor is the 'golf market stuck in a bunker.' "   He says golf is dependent on the weather, which it is, and that despite the long-lasting effects of the past winter "rounds played are up this spring in areas of the U.S. not affected by the weather."   Here are some facts. Play was up in 24 states in May, led by North and South Dakota (up 29 percent) and Kansas and Iowa (up 21 percent), hardly barometers of the industry's health. It was down in 25 others, according to the Golf Datatech survey of 3,575 private and public-access courses nationwide (Golf Datatech doesn't measure rounds in Alaska). The greatest losses for the month were in New Mexico, where play was down by 11 percent. Despite some gains in May, year-to-date play in some sunbelt strongholds is down, including Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas (all down 5 percent); Georgia (4 percent) and Florida (3 percent).   Monthly statistics are cyclical. Long-term trends are more telling, like the net 400,000 people who walked away from the game in 2013. Can't blame that on the weather. According to Pellucid Corp., there are now about 23 million golfers in the United States, down from 26 million in 2011 and way down from the 29.8 million in 2002. That puts the current number of golfers on par with 1988 statistics.    Among the net 400,000 golfers who left the game last year were more than 200,000 between the ages of 18-34.   Is golf dependent on the weather? Of course. Is it driven by economics? You bet. But there are plenty of other examples out there that call golf what it is: a game that struggles to attract and retain players because it is too hard, takes too long to play, lacks in customer service at the point of sale, is not friendly to newcomers, is too expensive and lags behind a plethora of activities competing for people's free time. Ignoring those issues solves nothing.   While the various factions of the golf industry should be applauded for all they do in an attempt to drive more interest in the game and grow its numbers, the truth is there are at least 3 million fewer golfers today than when The First Tee was launched in 1997.   Where is James Whitcomb Riley when you need him?
  • Goodwin Park Golf Course, an 80-year-old layout in Hartford, Conn., finally opened for the season recently thanks to much-needed improvements provided by, of all things, the local chapter of the PGA of America.   Until it opened for the season on June 26, municipal Goodwin Park had remained closed since last year after it, along with sister property Keney Park, had fallen into a severe state of disrepair due to what the city has termed as neglect by the management company operating the property.    The city has since fired MDM Golf Enterprises, charging that the company had failed to make necessary upgrades at both courses as per its contract with the city. In March, the city hired the PGA of America Connecticut Section as a consultant on course conditions. As a consultant, the local PGA section will oversee course operations at both Goodwin Park and Keney Park. Pat Aldrich, golf properties consultant for the Connecticut Section, is serving as director of golf course operations for the city's two properties.   City officials say a municipal audit last fall showed that MDM had failed to make the $2.4 million in upgrades to both courses that were stipulated in its contract with the city. According to the report, repairs were needed to turf on 27-hole Goodwin Park's greens, tees and fairways, including drainage and irrigation upgrades. Across town at Keney Park, which the report noted was littered with trash, needed repairs included a leaky clubhouse roof and cart paths and bridges that had deteriorated.   The report also laid blame with other city officials for failing to maintain necessary oversight.    The city, which is paying the PGA section $150,000 annually for course consulting and management services, has since spent more than $400,000 on new maintenance equipment at Goodwin Park, which has been serving Hartford-area golfers since 1930. Keney Park was declared unplayable and remains closed while a renovation under the guidance of Dusenberry Design Inc., is under way. The course, which first opened in 1927, is scheduled to reopen in April 2015.
  • Rising temperatures and humidity mean one thing on northern golf courses: anthracnose season is not far behind.   If this devastating turf disease is a concern at your golf course, check out this TurfNet University Webinar archive by Bruce Clarke, Ph.D., and Jim Murphy, Ph.D., of Rutgers University on developing best management practices for anthracnose. Recorded earlier this year, the Webinar, entitled Strategies for Managing Anthracnose, provides background information on anthracnose, its causes and what superintendents can do from a management perspective to prevent it.   Approved by the GCSAA and STMA for continuing education, the Webinar is one of dozens of archived events available from TurfNet, Grigg Brothers and Aquatrols. The portfolio of archived events includes Webinars on a broad range of agronomic issues that will appeal to busy turf managers from all geographic locations, such as Managing Turf Under Shaded Conditions by David Gardner, Ph.D., of Ohio State University, Taking Bermudagrass to Extremes by Gregg Munshaw of the University of Kentucky, and Analyzing Drainage Problems and Applying Proper Drainage Techniques by Dennis Hurley of Turf Drainage Company of America, just to name a few. The site also includes Webcasts on career development, including titles such as Negotiating for Success by Amy Wallis, Ph.D., of Wake Forest University, and Jump Start Your Career in 2014, by Anthony Williams, CGCS, of Stone Mountain (Georgia) Golf Club.   All archived Webinars are available for on-demand viewing 24/7.   In Strategies for Managing Anthracnose, Clarke and Murphy, two of the country's leading researchers on anthracnose, discuss developing management strategies based on cultural and chemical practices.   BMPs developed through cultural practices pay particular emphasis to the role of fertility, mowing and rolling, topdressing, irrigation and verticutting.   Developing BMPs through chemical programs includes the role of fungicides in preventing anthracnose, including research-based information on several products, both new and old, used alone, in combinations and as part of a program.   Many of the archived Webinars are available for public viewing, while others are for TurfNet members only. If you're not a TurfNet member, but would like to view these broadcasts as well as enjoy the many other benefits that come with a membership, you can fix that by clicking here.
  • Different strokes

    By John Reitman, in News,

    Whether it's a label on a consumer product or appliance, or part of an overall philosophy that reflects day-to-day golf course operations, going green is a phrase that has become ingrained into popular culture and vernacular.   Just what exactly "going green" means takes on a different connotation depending on who is talking about what, where they're talking about it and when.    At home, it can be as simple as adopting a recycling program, using energy-efficient appliances, buying organic produce or driving a hybrid car. In the workplace, it can be much more involved and might even include a formal environmental management system like those designed and implemented by companies such as ePar. For example, some college campuses have adopted, as part of an EMS, zero waste programs designed to eventually eliminate all solid waste through recycling and composting programs. For some in golf, going green can mean reducing inputs that help conserve water and other natural resources as well as minimize pesticide exposure.   "The term 'going green' in my eyes means preserving earth's natural characteristics," said Neil Mayberry, superintendent at The Country Club of New Orleans. "I feel like this can be done by reducing pollutants, such as carbon dioxide, and preserving natural vegetation (and) landscapes."   Going green has become, in a way, similar to golf industry growth initiatives designed to attract new golfers and coax existing customers to play more. In other words, large-scale industry initiatives mean little for those who are not participating in them and reaping the rewards. And because golf still is an industry that remains under the watchful eye of environmental groups, government agencies and a consumer public largely uneducated on how the industry truly operates, it is important in golf that individual facilities implement programs with locally quantifiable results.    "You have to change your entire way of thinking. You are not sorta pregnant, and you are not sorta interested in being kind to the environment," said Matt Crowther of Mink Meadows Golf Club on the island of Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. "It has to be a total buy-in. We may not be perfect, but we truly try with every part of the operation to protect the environment and do the best we can to put it first."   Although it wasn't always this way, the golf business is an industry that sets the standard for environmentalism, even if most don't know it.   For example, at Corral de Tierra Country Club near Monterey, California, superintendent Doug Ayres had been looking for ways to proactively cut expenses. Eventually, he reached an agreement with the club's restaurant, as well as with another nearby golf course to secure used cooking oil that equipment manager Brian Sjögren repurposes by brewing as much as 40 gallons of biodiesel per week. The program provides Ayres with a fuel source that is cleaner than traditional diesel and also results in an annual savings of more than $5,000 in fuel costs.   "I think if there is a real green movement in golf, it will be because the superintendent led the charge," said Matt Shaffer of Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. "Will we get the recognition? Perhaps not. But, if we don't lead the effort, the effort will be lost."   At Merion, Shaffer constantly is monitoring conditions and thinking of proactive ways to maximize playability with less input.    "Don't spray because the label says 14 to 21 days control," he said. "Don't spray again until you see some disease in one of your indicator spots.   "Think about growing a healthy plant, not a chemical-dependent plant."   Managing environmental stewardship while meeting customer demands is easier at some places than it is others. At Merion, as well as at Oakmont Country Club near Pittsburgh, maintaining a golf course that is tournament ready every day yet also strives for sustainability is nearly a 24/7/365 task.   "Going green, to me, relates to anything we can do while maintaining turfgrass to reduce our environmental footprint, promote environmental sustainability and exercise the utmost environmental responsibility," said John Zimmers of Oakmont.   "I feel strongly that our industry does it better than we ever have, and I am consistently intrigued by the new innovations and persistent progress that the turf industry has continued to make. I believe that this is often overlooked; however, in my opinion the turf industry is on the cutting edge of maintaining and preserving the environment."   Even in golf, going green can take on different meanings depending on geographic location. For example, although water conservation is taking on increasing importance on golf courses everywhere, it is likely to mean more at courses where water shortages are the norm.   "Water usage and water conservation are a huge part of ?going green,' " said Eddie Roach, superintendent at the Jimmie Austin Golf Course at the University of Oklahoma. "Watering turf with only the amounts needed for proper health instead of water for color can add up to major savings in water usage, electric usage, etc."   For industry vendors, going green can apply to the products they manufacture and how they are made, or in the case of Aquatrols, how its products help customers achieve their environmental goals.   "We need to balance the expectations of management, golfers, coaches and players with the realities of our world," said Nick Gadd, director of global marketing for Aquatrols.    "Going green does not mean eliminating the use of irrigation or chemical inputs altogether, but rather to optimize the way water and chemicals are used to grow healthy turf.   "Our goal is to help our customers increase their water use efficiency and reduce the total inputs needed to grow healthy plants."   According to published reports, the term "green" as it relates to environmentalism first was used in the early 1970s in Australia. There, green bans, or protests, were staged, often by labor union members, to protect areas of environmental, historical or cultural significance from development.   Since then, the term has been incorporated into social movements, manufacturing of energy-efficient products, social outlook and corporate philosophy.   "These days, it seems like you can't turn around without a company touting a new green initiative. What was once a fad has now become mandatory for manufacturers to not only maintain corporate responsibility, but to positively impact the bottom line," said Paul Hollis, executive vice president for Redexim North America. "From the perspective of an equipment manufacturer going green is a difficult task. We look inside our own organization to see what small improvements that we can make to save time, energy, resources, and in turn, help the environment."   When it comes to environmental stewardship initiatives, Paul Carter, CGCS, is an industry leader. A past winner of the GCSAA Environmental Leader in Golf Award, Carter runs a fleet of electric equipment at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay. The golf course near Chattanooga Tennessee has won fans from around the world who have spent the past few years watching the nesting and parenting habits of bald eagles thanks to treetop cameras that stream live video. But mention going green, and even Carter admits the meaning can be murky.   "I agree that 'going green' in general terms can mean any number of things, and a lot of companies use the term just because they might think it looks good on their product, or they think it might help them sell more units," Carter said. "When the environmental movement started, (the term) 'going green' had, in my opinion, a connotation of being completely earth friendly and self sufficient/sustaining. I felt like the movement made you feel that if you weren't living in the mountains and living off the land that you were not going green. As thing s have calmed down and more people have accepted the environmental ideals I think going green means more about what you can and are willing to do to protect the environment and reduce the consumption of resources."   At The Bear Trace going green also means making decisions based on how they will affect local wildlife. Since the course is located inside a state park, how management decisions affect local fauna mean more here than at most golf courses.   "Going green to me means making sure that each decision we make in terms of growing turf on our golf course is done with the natural inhabitants of the land in mind," he said. "Are our actions going to positively or negatively impact the wildlife that call the golf course home? We try to find every way possible to reduce our use of natural resources and reduce our impact on the environment as a whole."   Thankfully, much has changed since then, said Gregg Munshaw, Ph.D., of the University of Kentucky.    "One of the things I was challenged with when I accepted my current position was to improve the green knowledge of everyone involved in turf management throughout the state," Munshaw said. "Much of our research these days is looking at ways to minimize the impact on the environment. Data from our research as well as from others is presented at various meetings around the state as well as in the classroom. When I was teaching at Miss. State I would challenge students to think every day about how their decisions would impact the environment. Good environmental choices make the whole industry look good while poor environmental choices make us all look bad."     Indeed, going green often can have a paradoxical meaning that refers not to the color of the turf, but another kind of green entirely.  
      "Oddly enough, as it relates to turf maintenance, going green can mean going brown," said John Genovesi, CGCS at the Maidstone Club on New York's Long Island. "Trying to use the minimal amounts of resources like water and fertilizer may not give you a course that's green in color but will yield a course that plays well and puts some green back into your budget."   There was a time in golf, however, when there was not a thought to going green, other than keeping courses green at all costs.
      "Many people, I think, think of ?green' in the turf industry as what we should be striving for from a visual or aesthetic standpoint, and that was how it was when I entered the business some 20-plus years ago," Carter said. "Everything was mowed, fertilized, and weed controlled on almost every acre on property. While that was good for the golfer who wanted to find his ball no matter where he hit it, it was not good for the environment.    "From over fertilization, to overuse of water and fuel, to water contamination from soil particle runoff, chemical and fertilizer residue, and petroleum product residue, the golf course maintenance industry did not do ourselves any favors during this time. I am glad that it has changed over the past 10 to 15 years and we, as an industry, are becoming more aware of how our actions and choices affect all aspects of the environment."   One thing many in the industry can agree upon is that it is incumbent on superintendents to assume the lead in the green movement, and pass along that knowledge to others, including future greenkeepers.   "I believe that ensuring we are green is a huge responsibility, especially when managing a historic site like Oakmont Country Club," Zimmers said. "I believe that this role also includes teaching and training upcoming professionals in the turf industry. It is also my role to manage their safety, teach them that gravity of environmental responsibility, and teach them the financial aspect of proper environmental management."   That does not happen overnight. Instead, said Maidstone's Genovesi, it involves changing the way people think and reinforcing it daily.   "As manager of our grounds department," he said, "I believe my greatest role does not revolve around a specific maintenance task but rather in establishing a culture among our staff that emphasizes environmental awareness as a guiding principle when we set out to accomplish our daily tasks."    
  • An incident at a northeastern Ohio golf course last summer and the ensuing fallout nearly a year later underscore the need for an emphasis on safety at the golf course.

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

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

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

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

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

    American Golf, according to its site, owns and/or operates a portfolio of 99 courses across the country, including 52 in California.
  • When it comes to thoughts on sustainable golf, Jason Goss is right, and Johnny Miller is wrong.   Goss, superintendent at Sonoma Golf Club in California's wine country, lobbed a tweet over the bow during the third round of the U.S. Open calling out those who might not understand why Pinehurst No. 2 was so brown, and went so far as to call them part of the problem facing golf.    Goss was right.   At the conclusion of a televised segment on Pinehurst's appearance and playability, Miller, NBC's resident mouthpiece who's never at a loss for words or opinions (until Fox Sports silenced him by outbidding the network for broadcast rights to the U.S. Open for the next dozen years), called the look into question when he asked USGA executive director Mike Davis if Chambers Bay will have a similar look during next year's Open.    Miller was wrong.   NBC play-by-play man Dan Hicks seemingly sensed the cynical tone of the question and cut off the segment just as Davis was able to say the course in Washington will be "different" next year.   The USGA as well as NBC deserve much credit for bringing the conversation about sustainable golf and the challenges it presents out of the friendly confines of the turf maintenance community and into the open where the general public can hear it. And they did so on the biggest of stages - the U.S. Open.   During the third round, NBC aired a taped segment in which USGA Green Section managing director Kim Erusha, Ph.D., discussed what her association is doing to help the game along a path toward sustainability. She discussed the 96-year history of the Green Section, its efforts to help develop grasses that require less water, fertilizer and pesticides and its goal of helping individual courses implement site-specific BMPs that are good for the environment and result in conditions that are pleasing to the golfer.   Specifically, she discussed how this philosophy relates to the unique look of the well-publicized Bill Coore-Ben Crenshaw restoration of the Donald Ross-designed No. 2 Course at Pinehurst, which was dialed back to look like it did for the 1936 PGA Championship, and how the already rustic-looking layout with its vast sand waste areas and expansive, yet arid fairways became increasingly more brown during the tournament. She also told viewers that tan turf was a good thing.   "We're combining all those pieces of the puzzle to work with golf facilities to help them get the best quality playing conditions," Erusha said during the segment. "Pinehurst is a great example of what we're trying to do with golf course management. Pinehurst has always focused on sustainability. They wanted to restore what they had when Pinehurst was first created. When you look at the golf course today, you look at the out-of-play areas and the uniqueness of the rough, you look at a little bit of the brownness on the edges of the fairways; that's really what Pinehurst used to be." Even USGA agronomist Adam Moeller took to Twitter, tweeting a photo and a message from atop a TV tower overlooking No. 18 and stating that "Pinehurst #2 is exactly how USGA wants it."    After the taped segment, Hicks and Miller asked Davis about Pinehurst's new look and how the layout tested golfers in relation to past U.S. Opens held there.   In 1999, winner Payne Stewart was the only player below par at 1 under. Six years later, Michael Campbell won at Pinehurst at even par. This year, Martin Kaymer took advantage of soft, wet conditions early in the week to fire identical scores of 5-under-par 65 in the first two rounds and setting a U.S. Open record before going 1 over par on the weekend to finish at 9 under par. Only two other players, Erik Compton and Ricky Fowler, both at a more U.S. Open-like 1 under, finished below par.   Davis briefly addressed the USGA's contentment with the layout, but, to his credit, largely chose to keep the conversation focused on sustainable golf.   He mentioned how the restoration has allowed Bob Farren, CGCS, Pinehurst's director of grounds and golf course maintenance, and No. 2 superintendent Kevin Robinson to dial back water consumption on No. 2 by 70 percent and how the architects called the project not only a return to the Pinehurst's past, but also a look into the game's future.   "They talk about looking at Pinehurst No. 2 and looking back to the 1930s and 1940s, but Bill (Coore) also said this is looking to the future," Davis said. "(Pinehurst) went from (using) 55 million gallons (of water) to 15 million gallons, and that is a very good statement for golf."   Does this mean that every golf course must look like No. 2 did during the Open? Of course not, and Davis and Farren, said as much. But it does mean those with a stake in the future of the game have to do more to bring this conversation into the open. And it means there is a lot of work to be done to educate golfers on why every golf course must be more sustainable, and it means more efforts like those on display during the third round of the U.S. Open must take place to educate people on what those in the business are doing to meet those needs.   "We took away 40 acres of turf out of the total 90, and eliminated water for it to be a natural ecosystem that it's supposed to be in the sand hills of North Carolina," Farren said during the segment. "The water was the common denominator in all the changes we made. We reduced our water use by as much as 70 percent and changing our expectations and not worrying about being vibrant and green all the time, reducing our carbon footprint in the sense of fuel usage. So, it's really a great statement for golf and what we can do to improve the sustainability of golf.    "Not every course can do what we've done with Pinehurst No. 2, with the history that we have with the documentation of it, the credibility of Coore and Crenshaw. But I think we can take pieces and parts of that and all benefit from it on all courses."   With numbers like that, who in this business can't get behind that message?   Granted, whichever side of the Pinehurst debate one falls on is a matter of personal preference, but it also has to be said that those who prefer a lush, green course all the time, are, like Miller, wrong, because that philosophy represents a long-term strategy that is not realistic.   If you don't understand why Pinehurst looks the way it did, you are, as Jason Goss said, part of the problem, not part of the solution.
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