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From the TurfNet NewsDesk


  • John Reitman
    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
  • When it comes to growing the game of golf, John Deere is more than a silent partner.    The same company that donated $1 million to The First Tee during the 2013 Golf Industry Show in San Diego has erected a First Tee exhibit to be displayed at the PGA Tour's Valero Texas Open designed to educated tournament patrons about the life and leadership skills youth development program promotes. The tournament is scheduled for this week in San Antonio.   The First Tee helps promote life skills such as how to manage emotions, set goals, resolve conflict, introduce themselves to and communicate with others. A 501©(3) entity, The First Tee also focuses on helping juniors develop core values that include honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment, and finally reinforces healthy habits like energy, play, safety, vision, mind, family, friends, school and community.   According to the organization, it has helped more than 9 million youths in programs operating in all 50 states and four international locations and has helped more than 9 million youths since it was formed in 1997.   Golf patrons also will be able to visit the John Deere-First Tee display at other PGA Tour events, including the Shell Houston Open (March 31-April 6); the HP Byron Nelson Championship in Dallas (May 12-18); the Principal Charity Classic in Des Moines, Iowa (May 27-June 1); the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston (Aug. 27-Sept. 1); the TOUR Championship presented by Coca Cola in Atlanta (Sept. 11-14); the SAS Championship in Raleigh, N.C. (Oct. 6-12); and the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Scottsdale, Ariz. (Oct. 30-Nov. 2).
  • Syngenta recently upgraded Weevil Trak, an interactive tool for customized annual bluegrass weevil tracking and control recommendations. The updated platform features a new look including a customized stage notification progress bar displaying the status of users controlling the first two generations of annual bluegrass weevil. New monitoring sites were added for better geographic coverage and more in-depth data.   Upgrades were made in response to superintendent input, and now Weevil Trak users can now follow two courses, a primary and secondary, that will provide two sets of email alerts. This helps golf course superintendents be even more prepared for annual bluegrass weevil outbreaks, since the secondary course they will follow is typically south of their primary location and will move through the alert stages earlier.   A new map graphic shows a wider range of courses by geography to provide Weevil Trak users with a more complete geographical representation of annual bluegrass weevil pressure in the Northeast.   The customized progress bar takes users through Weevil Trak?s five-stage tracking system. Users will receive notifications when they enter new stages, such as the wait stage, pre-stage and in-stage phases. Along each step, the Syngenta Optimum Control Strategy is communicated, providing the recommendations for control using Scimitar GC, Acelepryn and Provaunt insecticides.   Turf managers can view the updated platform, register for a Weevil Trak account and sign up for email alerts by visiting www.weeviltrak.com. Watch the how-to videos for detection and monitoring techniques, such as soap flushes to detect adult annual bluegrass weevil in turf, and using a salt flush and soil core sampling to help identify larvae.
  • Healthy alternative

    By John Reitman, in News,

    Just because Andy Hutchinson left the golf business behind for a position managing institutional turf, it doesn't mean he is free from pressure to produce high-quality grass on a consistent basis. But it does mean he has a shorter walk for help if the pressure becomes too much.   Hutchinson, 31, spent nearly a dozen years in the golf business before leaving it in his utility vehicle mirror in 2011 for a career managing the grounds at Owensboro Health, a 157-acre healthcare campus in western Kentucky that includes a Owensboro Health Regional Hospital.    And the golf industry, he said, hasn't cornered the market on producing lush, green turf. Although there aren't green chairmen asking about Stimpmeter readings on hospital grounds, creating a strong first impression with aesthetically pleasing turf and grounds is important, Hutchinson said.   "There are a lot of similarities (between golf and hospitals) as far as aesthetics and attention to detail go," he said. "We still have very high expectations and are held to a very high standard."   Last year, Owensboro Health, under Hutchinson's guidance, was named a Certified Signature Sanctuary by Audubon International. Audubon's signature program is a comprehensive environmental awareness program that includes not only a properties natural grounds, but begins in working with property planners, building architects and others to achieve long-term sustainability practices.   "Landscaping at a hospital is very important for first impressions and curb appeal. It is not the main attraction like the golf course is," he said. "This can be a blessing and a curse at the same time.  Missing small details here would not cause headaches like they would on a golf course, but at the same time, we are not nearly as important at budget time either. Turf maintenance is very different on this side of the green industry. It is very fragmented and broken up into little pockets and islands that make maintaining a small amount of acreage very time consuming."   During his college days at Western Kentucky University, Hutchinson was a biology major and was working summers on a golf course crew. It was the lure of the outdoors that led him eventually to pursue a turfgrass management education.   He prepped at places like the 95-year-old Owensboro Country Club and Hunting Creek Country Club in Louisville, as well as at Atlanta-area tracks like the Golf Club of Georgia and Stone Mountain Golf Club.   Hutchinson and wife Lacey got the itch to move to their old Kentucky home in 2011. Initially, he took a job as the superintendent at The Falls Resort Golf Club, but the financially struggling facility closed its doors that year and has not reopened since, although a call to the facility reveals that it still is being maintained.   As luck would have it, there was an opening for the grounds supervisor at the Owensboro Health system property, and Hutchinson was hired with the understanding he would guide the property through the Audubon International program. He still remains active in professional development, both for himself and colleagues, as vice president of the Kentucky Turf Council.     "I don't think I left golf in search of something new," Hutchinson said. "My background and experience just fit the job at Owensboro Health very well. I would also be lying if didn't say that near equal pay for a 40-hour work week was very appealing."   According to hospital information, Owensboro Health's campus comprises more than 150 acres, about 110 of which are naturals comprised of turf, ponds and open spaces. The rest of the property includes hospital and medical offices as well as parking facilities.   It was at Stone Mountain, a Marriott resort and conference facility located on a 3,200-acre state park, where Hutchinson got his first taste of managing vast expanses of land and turf that went far beyond just a golf course. At Stone Mountain, both the golf course and the resort grounds have been certified, separately, by Audubon International.   "Andy is a standout turf manager because he sees the connection between things," said Stone Mountain director of grounds Anthony Williams, CGCS. "He understands how weather impacts the timing of agronomics, everything from aeration to fertilization to irrigation. He sees the environomic connection that protecting the green space also means guarding the profit line because there is a financial component in any sustainability that is linked to a business."   He has since learned that institutional grounds care shares other things with golf as well.   "The one thing that is most difficult to manage is the unpredictability of mother nature," Hutchinson said. "It's really hard to make people understand that at a certain point you just get what Mother Nature gives you and we just have to make the best of it."
  • Fast track

    By John Reitman, in News,

    While some believe it is better to be lucky than good, Andy Magnasco is living proof that a little bit of both can go a long way in forging a career path.   At age 27, Magnasco is entering his third season as head golf course superintendent at Carmel Valley Ranch in Carmel, Calif. For those keeping score, that means Magnasco was 25 when he landed his first job as a head golf course superintendent. And it has been a combination of meeting the right people, asking the right questions, having the guts to ask the tough questions and in inner drive that does not stop that have helped Magnasco reach a level of professional development much faster than what has become the industry standard.   In fact, Magnasco has been working in the golf business since age 13 when he was washing carts to gain community service hours at Tayman Park, a nine-hole course in Healdsburg, Calif.  originally built by Alister MacKenzie. By age 14, he was running a triplex and was responsible for course set up on weekends while also running his own lawn service operation as well as competing in golf, soccer and wrestling as a high school freshman. It was a schedule few kids that age could manage.    Although Magnasco admits there were many who helped him along his path to success, including mentoring from Dick Rudolph, management skills from Jeff Markow and soil management from Jason Goss, it soon became clear to many who crossed paths with him that he was driven like few others.    "He had ability to communicate with people from all walks of life, more so than others his age," said Rudolph, superintendent at Aetna Springs in Napa, Calif., and Magnasco's career mentor.   "He was an aggressive kid, who, you could tell, wanted to get somewhere really fast."   That somewhere is a full-service golf resort that is rewriting the books on providing customers and employees with a well-rounded experience found in few other places. And it's a place that would allow Magnasco to draw from his previous experiences.   Looking back, it was a stroke of luck that Magnasco and Rudolph met while the former was still in high school while also helping maintain Tayman Park and the latter was playing golf there. Sparked by mutual Fresno State ballcaps, the meeting changed both of them forever.   "Here was this man playing golf who looked like Robert Redford, and he asked me what I wanted to do with my life," Magnasco said. "When I told him I wanted to go to Fresno State and be a golf course superintendent, he told me he was a superintendent and he had gone to Fresno State.    "He told me if I really wanted to be a superintendent, that he wanted to meet my parents so he could tell them everything I needed to do."   Rudolph helped Magnasco plan his education, which included two years at Santa Rosa Junior College and two years at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.   Magnasco also went off the reservation from the pre-established plan once or twice, moves that define his personality and that have paid immense dividends.   While making the drive to Cal Poly, he stopped at Pebble Beach just to introduce himself. He made enough connections on that stop, including Bob Yeo at Spyglass Hill, that he has been volunteering at events at Pebble Beach ever since, including the PGA Tour's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.   While a student at Cal Poly, he picked up the phone one day to ask Markow for an internship at Cypress Point, a move that even Magnasco admits was pretty gutsy at the time.   "Cypress Point is the best golf course in the country. That's where I wanted to be," he said. "I'd never met Jeff, but I'd heard nothing but great things about him. So, I called him and told him I wanted to intern there."   Markow receives a lot of requests from turf students wanting to intern at Cypress Point, so he can afford to be selective.   "Basically what we look for in an intern is a passion for the industry, a willingness to experiment, learn and a relaxed attitude. The rest we will help teach and shape," Markow said. "It is also important they learn to get along with the crew and understand, appreciate their efforts because as a superintendent your success relies on the efforts and quality of your crew. How they are treated goes a long way in forging that relationship.   "Andy had and still has a great mental attitude, that willingness to learn and try things and also how to treat and respect his crew. While continuing education is important, the best lessons are to "Learn by Doing", to steal from Cal Poly's theme, which he is always willing to try. His dedication to his facility and providing the best possible conditions will ensure his success."   Magnasco said it was that brief time working for Markow that he learned not only about managing turf to meet golf demands, but how to manage people as well.   "Those were the most valuable three months I've ever spent working for someone else," Magnasco said. "He is perfect in  how he can communicate and get members and owners to understand what is needed on the golf course and the options available. He is cutting-edge and his professionalism is top-notch. It's refreshing that a gardener, a greens guy, can show that his strongest suit is being a businessman. He is what every superintendent should strive to be."   That positive attitude and willingness to learn and try new things that Markow talked about have come in handy at Carmel Valley Ranch, which is much more than a hotel property with a golf course.   Redefining diversity under the vision of resort manager Kristina Jetton, 500-acre Carmel Valley Ranch has areas for staging weddings, bocce ball and tennis facilities, a small organic farming operation, small vineyard, a salt house that pulls sea salt from ocean water out of Monterey Bay, hundreds of lavender plants that eventually are distilled for oils used in soaps and lotions and an apiary for raising organic lavender honey, all of which fall under Magnasco's supervision.   Managing lavender plants for a customer focused property like Carmel Valley Ranch is much more than raising flowers in a bed. It requires manipulating the plants so they are in bloom for customers longer, and when it's time to harvest them, Magnasco's staff pulls out every other row, to leave some in the ground as long as possible.    "We harvest every other row, so you don't wipe out an entire field of it for the guest experience," Magnasco said.    "If people come to Monterey Peninsula to play golf and golf is all that is on their minds, then they're going over there to the coast," he said of places like the Pebble Beach properties. "But, if you have a family, and you want to see what California is all about and also play some golf, it's incredible what we offer here. And I am a steward of this property."   Being a steward of the environment and wanting to learn more took root in Magnasco early.   Dave Wilber of Sierra Pacific Turf recalled visiting Goss at Sonoma and being chased down by the assistant superintendent who had a lot of questions to ask.   "I remember being about two hours later than I wanted to be leaving Sonoma Golf Club because Andy sat with Jason and me and just asked questions," Wilber said. "He wanted to know. Not because of a critical ?that's not what they taught me in school' attitude, but because he was observing some different things being done and wanted to know why."   Years later, Magnasco still is asking questions, seeking ways to make Carmel Valley Ranch better for its customers. He deflects much of the credit for his outlook to Jetton, who Magnasco says, has that one intangible you can't see, but you know it when someone possesses it.   "She gets it. And she makes me want to come to work," he said.   "She talks about generating revenue and what we can do to get to the next level. We want to make sure we are a step ahead. And right now, in my opinion, we're three steps ahead of most resorts in what we offer.   "When I got here in 2009 as an assistant, this was just a golf resort, and golf was my passion. It still is, but I want to be like an innkeeper. I have the heart of an innkeeper. My mind is all over the place all the time. No. 1. I want to make this a beautiful golf course that plays well. We're doing that, but we can be good at other things."  
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