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From the TurfNet NewsDesk

  • John Reitman
    When it comes to describing Tom Hurst, technical specialist for Bernhard and Co., superintendent Dave Delsandro of Nassau Country Club in Glen Cove, N.Y., had four words: "Tom simply gets it."   Hurst, who has more than 30 years of experience serving the turf industry, recently was named as the recipient of the International Golf Course Equipment Managers Association 2013 Edwin Budding Award.   Sponsored by Ransomes-Jacobsen, the seventh-annual award recognizes individuals for their contributions to the golf turf maintenance industry. The award's namesake is credited with inventing the reel mower in 1832 and the adjustable crescent wrench.   "This is difficult to explain, but you rarely find an individual in any industry that has unprecedented technical knowledge and expertise coupled with an incredible work ethic and the understanding of real-world applications," Delsandro said. "Tom has and will undoubtedly continue to elevate the level of our profession. He has left a lasting legacy on everyone he has worked with throughout his career, and I feel honored to be one of those people."   Other finalists for the award were Patrick Callaby, David Kirschner, Fred Peck and Mark Johnson.   "No job is either too big or too small for Tom," said John Zimmers, superintendent at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania. "Simply put, Tom is a constant professional."   The award will be presented during the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association annual conference scheduled for Jan. 21-24 in Harrogate, England.   Previous winners include Dana Lonn of Toro (2012), Wes Danielewicz of Forest District of DuPage County, Ill. (2011), Vollie Carr of Jacobsen (2010), Eddie Konrad of Seneca College (2009), Eric Kulaas of The Vinoy Renaissance Resort (2008) and Ed Combest of Lake City (Fla.) Community College, now Florida Gateway College (2010).  
  • In the new golf economy, there are two options: get smart or get out. 
    More than ever, golf courses around the country are squarely focused on the bottom line. Many operations, according to industry analysts, don't have the cushion or margin for error to withstand a golf season marked by bad weather, bad luck or bad decisions.
    All too often, decisions driven by the bottom line have included replacing a seasoned superintendent with a less-experienced, cheaper model. The city of Madison, Wis., has taken a different approach to cutting expenses and increasing revenue by eliminating the golf professionals at its four municipal courses. And the move, though initially met with golfer resistance, has proven to be a savvy business decision, the city says.
    In the fall of 2012, the city council, at the urging of the parks and recreation department, opted not to renew contracts with four Class A PGA professionals with more than 100 combined years of experience operating city-owned Glenway, Monona, Odana Hills and Yahara Hills golf courses. The city estimated that the four professionals, who were independent contractors, took in 90 percent or more of the estimated $1 million that went through the four golf shops combined. The pros were replaced by seasonal, unionized assistant pros and concessions workers, the city said.
    The decision to move away from the traditional golf pro model was purely economic.
    From 2008 to 2011, the city said, the four golf courses took in a combined average of $1.14 million annually from food and beverage sales and club and cart rental. The city, which owns the courses and takes the greens fees, got 15 percent of club and cart fees and 11 percent of food and beverage sales at each course, with golf pros getting the rest, which also included all proceeds from merchandise sales.
    Two of the four former pros said their annual take-home pay after expenses was about $30,000 in 2012, figures that were disputed by the parks department and other city officials who told the Wisconsin State-Journal that the men had not been forthcoming with financial information. One of the displaced pros had worked at a city-owned course for 36 years, two others for nearly 30 years and the fourth for a dozen years. Each, according to the city, also was paid a stipend that ranged from $24,000 to $44,500.
    Golfers feared inefficiency and disruptions to play and league activity, and told the newspaper that they would miss the personal touch offered by the golf pros. Instead, they showed with their wallets that they appreciated special deals on green fees and reduced prices in the grill since, discounts the city can stomach since it no longer has to split the proceeds with the golf pro. The result, the city says, is the golf operation's largest profit in several years.
    A total of about 81,000 rounds had been played at the four courses. Even though much of the spring golf season was washed out by rainy weather, that number is about 1 percent higher than the entire 2012 golf season, according to park officials.
    The four courses turned a combined $287,000 profit that included a $150,000 computer upgrade project. That's an increase of 43.5 percent over last year and a 400 percent increase over 2010. The four courses lost a cumulative $71,000 in 2011, the city said.
    The city said it plans to use the profit to make badly needed improvements to the clubhouses at each property.
  • The California Golf Course Owners Association giving out a new award beginning this year - the CGCOA Ted Horton Distinguished Service Award.   Named for CGCOA co-founder and former executive directorTed Horton, the award honors an individual for dedication and service to the golf industry in California. And who better to win the inaugural Horton award than Ted Horton?   Horton, who led the association as its executive director from 2001-2011, is a former superintendent at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y., Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y., and the Pebble Beach Co., where he was vice president for resource management and oversaw conditioning on five Pebble Beach Resort properties that included Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Links at Spanish Bay, Spyglass Hill Golf Course and the nine-hole Peter Hay course in Pebble Beach and Del Monte Golf Course in Monterey.   The award was presented Oct. 17 during the association's annual meeting in Palm Springs.   During his career as a certified golf course superintendent, Horton was the host superintendent for 26 PGA Tour events, two U.S. Open Championships, one U.S. Womens Open Championship and a U.S. Amateur Championship.   Horton, who lives in Canyon Lake, Calif., is a co-founder of the California Alliance for Golf, an advocacy group for the states golf industry, which, according to Golf 20/20, has an overall annual financial impact of $13 billion.
  • Two things make it rather difficult to focus on rounds played in September: 1. winter appears to have made an early appearance this year, 2. the news on golfer participation, as a whole, seems to bad almost every month for nearly a year.   Even with a 1.2 year-over-year increase in rounds played in September, compared with the same month in 2012, golfer participation through the first nine months of the year is down by more than 5 percent over the same period from a year ago, according to Golf Datatech's monthly rounds played report.   The glimmer of good news was that September marked the second straight month of increased rounds played, interrupting a run of nine straight months of decreasing play, a streak that dated to December 2012.   Rounds played were up in 31 states in September, ranging from a bump of between 0 percent and 1 percent in Alabama, Arizona and Texas to 9 percent in Indiana and New Jersey. Rounds played were flat in Louisiana and down in 18 states, from less than 2 percent in Florida, Mississippi and Oklahoma to drops of 18 percent in Oregon, 19 percent in Colorado and 21 percent in Washington.   There was a sharp difference in rounds played at public access facilities, where play was up by nearly 3 percent in September, and private clubs, where play was down by 5 percent. For the year, play is down by 4 percent at daily fee facilities and nearly 10 percent at private clubs, according to the report.   Jim Koppenhaver of Pellucid Corp. notes that demand for rounds played was up 1 percent and actually lagged behind a 2 percent increase in golf playable hours, his measure of the total number of daylight hours compared with factors that influence play such as temperature, precipitation, humidity, wind, etc. That all means the utilization rate, which measures demand of rounds vs. supply of favorable conditions, actually was down in September, which can be the game's last hurrah in many geographic locations.   Koppenhaver, while hinting at what October might hold, went so far as to say "too little, too late" in light of the recent two-month surge, but noted that "... it's better late than never."
  • Out of the ordinary

    By John Reitman, in News,

    Denim-clad golfers, playing under the lights at night, pop-up tees on the practice range, glow-in-the-dark golf balls. It's enough to make Old Tom Morris spin in his grave. Still, in an area flush with golf tradition, Mariners Point Golf Center in Foster City, Calif., has carved out a niche by catering to the game's non-traditional side.   Located on bayfront property in the shadows of the San Mateo Bridge, which links the east and west sides of San Francisco Bay, Mariners Point sits on some pricey real estate. Unlike other courses throughout the San Francisco Bay area that indulge some of the world's most affluent business professionals and retirees, Mariners Point is a nine-holer that reaches to the area's working class. Instead of a membership that costs tens of thousands per year, anyone can walk on at Mariners Point, throw down 16 bucks and go play even.   The Mariners Point clientele includes golfers who are more likely to sport cargo shorts than the latest in logoed attire, those whose main interest is the frequency at which the beverage cart circulates throughout the property, commuters who would rather hit a bucket of balls than sit in traffic and even avid golfers who stop in to hone their skills at the 2-acre practice area.   "We get all different kinds of people here," said Ross Brownlie, superintendent at Mariners Point for the past 17 years.   "East Bay residents will come here rather than sit in traffic on the San Mateo Bridge. We even get a lot of private club members who like to come here to practice."   But it is at night when Mariners Point really comes to life.   Once the sun goes down, rather than lock up until morning, banks of 1,000-watt halogen bulbs are switched on for nighttime golf. More than a gimmick, the concept has broadened the appeal of the game throughout the Bay area. Mariners Point even has a night golf league that plays several times per week under the lights, and lights-out play with golf balls that glow in the dark.   "That's a whole different crowd," Brownlie said. "It's a party atmosphere at night."   Night golf also leads to some challenges that are common at Mariners Point, but unheard of at traditional courses.   One morning, while making the rounds on the course Brownlie discovered a patch of browned turf he thought might be either the onset of disease or the result of a hydraulic leak. Instead, it was a problem he'd never encountered before, but has seen many times since.   "It was vodka-tonic disease," he said. "It burns the grass and looks just like recovering damage from a hydraulic leak."   Owned by Chris Aliaga's VB Golf LLC, Mariners Point has no committees or chairmen, "and no club politics," said Brownlie who also oversees company-owned practice ranges in nearby San Bruno and Burlingame.    "It's just Chris and I working together since Day 1. That's one of the reasons I came here," said Brownlie, superintendent at Mariners Point for 17 years. "It makes my job so much easier."   In this area, just a few minutes from the San Francisco International Airport and a half-hour from the city's bustling downtown, Brownlie is as local as as they come. After all, he's lived virtually his whole life within a 10- to 15-mile radius of Foster City and San Mateo.   Brownlie, 55, was an accomplished high school and college golfer in the area. In fact, it seems the farthest he has ventured from home, other than to attend the Golf Industry Show or play at Pebble Beach with the son of the tournament founder in what then was called the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am, was when he went 10 or so miles down U.S. 101 to Menlo Park where he spent 10 years as superintendent at Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club.   "I've always been around golf in this area," said Brownlie. "Whether it's been junior golf, high school or college, I'm sort of known in this area for being around the game."   So does a reciprocal relationship with Poplar Creek Golf Course, an 18-hole VB Golf sister property in San Mateo.   The four properties share equipment such as spreaders and aerifiers as needed.   "Just yesterday, they were aerating their greens at Poplar when the topdresser broke down with four or five holes left to sand, and their mechanic was out sick. (Superintendent) Tim (Sedgely) called asking to use our topdresser.   "You have to be reciprocal in this business. You never know when you might need some help down the road. You know that time is coming. You just don't know when."   That's especially important for someone like Brownlie, who has deep roots in the area.    He played on the golf teams at Hillsdale High School and later at the College of San Mateo where he studied horticulture. During his high school days he befriended a player from rival Burlingame High School who happened to be Nathaniel Crosby, son of Bing Crosby, the singer and actor who in 1937 founded the pro-am tournament that bared his name past his death in 1977 until 1985 when it became the AT&T National Pro-Am.   The two met during a high school match at Crystal Springs Golf Course in Burlingame. They became fast friends and played together in a best-ball tournament in Palo Alto, finishing third.   "Our friendship really started after that," said Brownlie, whose game was so good that the younger Crosby extended a pro-am invitation to him from 1979 through 1983. Some of his fondest memories include bunking with Crosby in a room at Cypress Point and playing in the tournament with the game's best players and some of the biggest acting and recording stars of the day. He remembers as    "It was really special," he said.   Like his more famous friend, Brownlie comes from a golf-playing family. His father, who was an avid golfer, first put a club in his hand at age 8, and brother Alan, a pilot for American Airlines, also is a frequent player. All of which makes his position at a place like Mariners Point all the more poignant.   The 22-acre facility includes a 2-acre practice area that offers grass tees for accomplished players, mats for beginners and automatic pop-up tees for casual golfers into the latest gimmick. Despite nighttime golf, glow-in-the-dark balls and pop-up range tees, Mariners Point has a serious side.   Five teaching pros work out of the facility and instructional bays include the latest in video and swing-analysis equipment.   "It's can be pretty easy for beginners," Brownlie said. "But it can be pretty challenging for good players when it's windy."   And it's windy a lot in San Francisco.   "All in all," he said, "I think it's a pretty well-rounded place."
  • The Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association recognized the accomplishments of several of its members at the association's recent annual meeting.   Mike Crawford, CGCS at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth was named winner of the association's Superintendent of the Year award, and Richard Staughton, CGCS at Towne Lake Hills Country Club received the group's Distinguished Service Award. The association also inducted Ken Mangum, CGCS at the Atlanta Athletic Club, and Mark Esoda, CGCS at Atlanta Country Club, into its Hall of Fame.   Presentations were made at the annual meeting held recently at Atlanta Athletic Club in Jones Creek.   Crawford is the host superintendent of the Greater Gwinnett Championship on the Champions Tour and was host superintendent for the PGA Tour's AT&T Classic from 1997 through 2008.   Crawford led the Georgia GCSA as president in 2008-09 and is secretary-treasurer of the Georgia Golf Environmental Foundation, which he has served as a trustee since 2004. In 2010, the GCSAA honored his leadership on water use issues with its Excellence in Government Relations award. Working with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and the University of Georgia, Crawford spearheaded efforts to provide the state with new data on golf course water use leading to science-based policy that improved conservation.   Earlier this year, Crawford hosted a day-long golf course operations immersion for youngsters from The First Tee of Atlanta as part of a new Careers on Course program sponsored by the John Deere Company that introduced two-dozen children (ages 12-17) to the game, including playing the game as well as golf course and clubhouse operations.   In other news, Joe Hollis of the Atlanta Country Club was named Assistant Superintendent of the Year, and Mike Brown of The Standard Club in Johns Creek was elected president. 
  • Applications are being accepted for the second annual Plant Health Academy.
    Part of the Healthy Turf, Healthy Tomorrow educational initiative presented by Bayer CropScience, the academy consists of two two-and-a-half-day sessions that include classroom training March 3-5 at GCSAA headquarters in Lawrence, Kan., and field training Sept. 24-26 at Bayers Training and Development Center in Clayton, N.C.
    Attendees will receive instruction on a wide range of topics related to plant health, including how to measure plant health and its benefits, available treatments, preventive products and information on issues such as nutrient, water and pest management.
    Golf course superintendents can apply through Dec. 18 by visiting the Plant Health Academy web page. To be considered, superintendents must complete the application and answer two short-answer essay questions that will be evaluated by a selection committee that includes John Fulling, CGCS, Bill Maynard, CGCS, and Scott Welge and Laurence Mudge of Bayer . The program is open to GCSAA (class A or SM) members who are also enrolled in the My Bayer Rewards program and are currently employed as a golf course superintendent within the United States. 
  • News and people briefs

    By John Reitman, in News,

    Bar code offers info on Vanguard engines
    Briggs & Stratton Commercial Power recently launched its Power Code quick response code for its Vanguard single-cylinder and V-twin engines.
    The Vanguard Power Code is a square barcode located on the engine that, after being scanned with a smart phone barcode reader, directs the user to information specific to that engine model. Most notably, the Vanguard Power Code will provide the equipment operator with troubleshooting information especially suited for in-field support.
    In addition to jobsite troubleshooting guidelines, other highlights of the Vanguard Power Code include: dealer locator via GPS or zip code search; answers to frequently asked questions; parts lists; maintenance recommendations and schedules; owners manuals. All information is available in English or Spanish.
    For more information, visit www.vanguardengines.com.
    Kubota Tractor names new president
    Kubota Corp. has appointed Masato Yoshikawa as president of its Torrance, Calif.-based tractor division.
    Yoshikawa is a 32-year veteran of Kubota, which is based in Osaka, Japan. Most recently he held the position of general manager, corporate planning and control.
    During his tenure with Kubota, Yoshikawa has spent nearly 13 years in U.S.-based assignments, most recently as President, Kubota Credit Corporation, from 2003-2007. In that capacity, Yoshikawa played a significant role in developing the retail credit segment of KTCs business, which has greatly influenced the companys growth in recent years.
    For more information, visit www.kubota.com.
    Trailer-mounted toolbox makes use of wasted space
    Backyard Pool Products has launched a line of trailer tongue boxes that convert unused space into valuable storage area.
    The boxes mount on the front of A-frame style trailers and are ideal for storing and transporting equipment, tools and accessories and minimizing the need to secure items in the trailer.
    The trailer tongue boxes are rotationally molded in a single piece from waterproof polyethylene for high-impact strength, lightweight, and resistance to inclement weather conditions, harsh marine environments and chemical intrusion.
    The plastic trailer tongue boxes come with a steel hinge pin and a steel hasp for installing a lock. Measuring nearly three feet in length for high capacity yet with a low profile for safe operation.
    For more information, visit www.BackyardPoolProducts.com.
  • Bob Farren fancies himself in much the same light as Harvey Keitel's character Winston Wolf in the movie Pulp Fiction, albeit without the mob connections.   Like Wolf, who in the 1994 Quentin Tarantino movie has a reputation as someone others can rely on to help solve their problems, Farren is known by his colleagues at Pinehurst Resort as someone who can handle just about any extenuating circumstance that arises at the eight-course property, regardless of how mundane or extraordinary it might be. And Farren, director of grounds and golf course maintenance at the eight-course facility, believes other superintendents and assistants would be well advised to do the same.   "Position yourself every day, with every question from any department that comes to you as a resource person. Be the go-to person at your facility," Farren told attendees at this year's Green Start Academy, an educational event for assistant superintendents. No matter what happens, if a car runs into something in the parking lot, whatever it might be, position yourself as one of the first people they call if something needs to be done. The way to do that is to be accommodating. You typically have the most resources and people available to you at any given time. It's just a matter of redirecting resources or changing schedules to become that go-to person.   "If they have to land a helicopter on the golf course, I want them to have to call me to figure out how we do it."   In its eighth year, Green Start is conducted by Bayer Environmental Science and John Deere Golf at their facilities near Raleigh, N.C. The event includes career management advice by some of the game's most successful superintendents while also providing a behind-the-scenes look at Bayer's operation in Cary, as well as Deere's manufacturing center in nearby Fuquay-Varina.   It's one of at least two such educational events taking place each autumn that is aimed at tomorrow's generation of superintendents.   Across the country, the Northern California Golf Association has been helping educate assistants from some of the West Coast's most revered golf courses for 13 years.   The NCGA event features advice from industry professionals, researchers and golf course superintendents such as Manny Sousa, who along with Tom Huesgen of Frontier Golf, gave a guided tour of the renovation of Poppy Hills Golf Course and some of the challenges associated with that project.   For Kyle Butler, assistant superintendent at Carmel Valley Ranch, this year was his sixth trip to the NCGA event. His superintendent, Andy Magnasco, also is a two-time NCGA attendee.   "Andy is a new superintendent himself, so he knows what it takes to get to that point," Butler said. "He knows it is important for assistants to continue their education, and I appreciate that."   Economic conditions that have resulted in the closing of hundreds of courses in recent years (a net loss of more than 500 since 2006 according to the National Golf Foundation), taking advantage of educational opportunities is critical, said Pat Finlen, CGCS, of the Olympic Club in San Francisco.   Finlen has been at Olympic for 12 years. He was named director of golf in February and recently was named interim general manager for the 9,000-member club.   "Your tenure is as an assistant is much longer than when I got into the business," Finlen told a group of assistants at Green Start. "When I started, the average was two years to become a head superintendent. Now, it's more like five, six or even seven years."
    Finlen, who also sent three of his assistants to the NCGA educational event, told Green Start attendees to do what they must to set themselves apart from their peers in order to stand out when sending out resumes for superintendent positions.

    He suggested volunteering for as much extra responsibility as possible, substituting for others during committee meetings when possible and getting comfortable with the budgeting process.

    Matt Muhlenbruch, one of Finlen's former assistants recently was named grow-in superintendent for the renovation at Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. And he was chosen to move on, Finlen said, because he had set himself apart from other applicants.   "He got an MBA. It took him two years to do it, but he stood out from the rest of the people who applied," Finlen said. "Do something that makes you stand out from the crowd."   The NCGA event typically is frequented by dozens of assistants working at courses along the Monterey Peninsula and San Francisco Bay areas. Leonard Carrera, however, came all the way from Hacienda Golf Club in La Habra Heights near Los Angeles, where he has worked for almost two years under superintendent Rafael Barajas, CGCS.    "I'm fortunate to have a boss who values networking and attending meetings," Carrera said. "I'm eager to learn, meet new faces and take advantage of opportunities to further my education and my career."   Dylan MacMaster, assistant to Steve Cook, CGCS at Oakland Hill Country Club in Michigan, said he took to heart messages by Finlen, Farren and Chris Condon of Tetherow Golf Club in Bend, Ore., all of whom stressed the importance of interdepartmental communications and doing all the extra things that set one apart from the pack when seeking to advance to the next level in their careers.   "Anything you can do to separate yourself in this kind of environment," MacMaster said, "you need to do."    The secret, Farren said, to setting yourself apart, is keeping an open mind and a positive attitude.   "Wake up each day and see how many people you can impact and be a resource for," Farren said. "I think if you do that, it will take you a long way."
  • When Pat Finlen spoke recently about the importance of establishing a line of communications between the maintenance facility and the golf shop, support for his viewpoint came from, of all people, a golf pro.   Bob Baldassari, director of youth golf development for the PGA of America, has been a golf professional and general manager at courses around the country. During the recent Green Start Academy, a career-development and educational event for assistant superintendents held by Bayer Environmental Science and John Deere Golf near their respective facilities in the Raleigh, N.C. area, Baldassari spoke of informal 6 a.m. meetings he held with superintendents at the courses where he worked as a club pro. Those casual meetings typically included breakfast or playing 3, 6 or 9 holes of golf, and allowed each party to better understand the other. Those meetings, he said, also ensured that any challenges were confronted with a team approach, not an adversarial one. It was a concept that others in the golf shop and maintenance building where he worked were force fed as well.   "I told them 'you're going to bring your lunch down there and spend time with maintenance,' " Baldassari said of golf shop staff. " 'You're going to get on the course with those guys. You're going to learn their names and what they are doing.' "   Chris Condon, superintendent at Tetherow Golf Club in Bend, Ore., said building interdepartmental relationships, like those proposed by Finlen and Baldassari bridges gaps between maintenance and the golf shop and sets an example that will be obvious to members and administration, said Chris Condon, superintendent at Tetherow Golf Club in Bend, Ore.   "It shows that you're a cohesive unit," Condon said. "It shows these guys know what they're doing and that they can work together."   An adversarial relationship between golf staff and maintenance is a stereotype nearly as old as the game itself. But the importance of a positive relationship cannot be overstated, Finlen said.    "The worst thing that can happen to you is that a member or patron complains about the golf course, and someone in the golf shops says 'I don't know. They don't tell me anything,' " he said.    "Who is your mouthpiece when you are not there? The more information you can give (the golf shop), the better you are going to be."   Although golf patrons and customers stewing about conditions, whether it is remnansts of a recent aerification project or the onset of disease from summer stress, can be a troubling time for superintendents, what is worse is not having answers or solutions when conditions are not up to snuff.   Equally important, said Bryan Stromme, regional director of agronomy for Billy Casper Golf, is communicating up the chain of command, especially during difficult times.   Stromme, who oversees operations at 36 BCG courses throughout the Midwest, has a four-point plan to help superintendents survive stressful times.   Communicate
      When conditions are not what they should be, regardless of the reason, Stromme says superintendents should be upfront and honest about conditions and have a recovery plan.   "I don't like to call it getting fired. I like to call it making someone available to the industry. And I've never done that because someone has lost turf," Stromme said. "The only reason I've done that is because of a breakdown in communication, and it's not a breakdown on my part. I'm the one communicating. But when (superintendents) clam up, when they're hiding and not talking, when they don't have any solutions, that's how you lose jobs."   Positive attitude
      Maintaining a positive attitude is not always easy when the going gets tough, but doing so can be the difference between keeping a job and being forced to search for a new one.   "Don't adopt the victim attitude,"Stromme said. "Be positive with everyone around you, above you, below you, guests. Nobody likes working with someone who complains."   Know your staff
      A manager is only as good as those who work for him, yet too many superintendents don't take the time to get to know or understand their staff or learn what makes them happy.   "I hear it all the time, 'oh, they're an $8-an-hour employee. I can't talk to them,' " he said.   "You have to understand what motivates them to come to work. That comes from talking to them."   Business communication
      Stromme says he stresses the importance of effective business communications to his staff of superintendents. That includes checking emails for correct spelling and grammar as well as proper phone etiquette.   "Return emails and phone calls, and understand the importance of that," he said. "With so many properties to manage, I have to prioritize my day. If someone calls me and leaves a voicemail, I will call them back 100 percent of the time. But, if I see a missed call, I assume that it's not that important. If you call someone, leave a voicemail."  
  • Deere and Co. announced plans to sell a majority share of its John Deere Landscapes division to private, New York City-based equity firm Clayton, Dubilier and Rice.

    The deal is worth a reported $465 million, including $300 million in cash, and Deere will retain a 40 percent share in the business, which is a division of the companys ag and turf segment.

    Formed in 2001, John Deere Landscapes provides landscape supplies and irrigation equipment to the turf and landscape markets. John Deere Landscapes has more than 2,000 employees at 400 company-owned outlets spread across 41 states.

    The move follows other similar sell-offs of Deere divisions and affirms the companys focus on its ag and turf and its construction divisions.

    The Moline, Ill.-based company sold its wind energy division to Exelon Corp. in 2010 for $900 million.
  • A.J. Powell was one of the true gentlemen in the turf business.   Andrew Jackson Powell Jr. was the turfgrass world's version of Andy Griffith. A longtime extension specialist at the University of Kentucky, Powell was folksy and funny, and enjoyed taking good-natured jabs at friends and colleagues. And like Griffith, whose sense of fair play and kindness to others earned him a spot on Parade's list of the best TV dads of all time, Powell had another side - the side that was kind, caring and generous; the side, that despite his down-home good nature made you realize he usually was the smartest man in the room.
    Powell died Oct. 30 of cardiac arrest in a Lexington, Ky. hospital. He was 74.   During a conference in which he was asked to speak on changing climate and the future of turf management Powell quipped with his Kentucky drawl: "We don't know nothin' no how about what's going to happen."   A native of Lacie, Ky., Powell earned bachelor's and master's degrees at UK before going on to Virginia Tech to earn his Ph.D. in agronomy in 1967. He served two years in the U.S. Army, and for about a year-and-a-half managed the golf course at Fort Bliss, Texas.    After leaving the Army in 1969 as a captain, Powell took teaching positions at the University of Maryland (1969-71) and Virginia Tech (1971-76) before returning to his beloved UK where he remained beyond his retirement in 2010.   As professor emeritus, Powell was retired in name only. Until his death he remained active as an extension specialist and consultant, and was a regular fixture at national and regional trade shows and educational events.    I was visiting with Marcus Dean, head groundskeeper in charge of managing UK's athletic fields, in August 2012 when Powell pulled up in his truck in a driving rain to check on the status of the renovation of the school's softball complex. Doing whatever he could to help was his nature. And it didn't matter whether it was a golf course, football field, soccer field, thoroughbred race track or polo field, or whether the grass covering them was cool-season or warm, he could tell you how to make it better.   Through his own firm, Turf Doc, Powell was the consultant of record on at least four Lexington polo fields, three at Mount Brilliant Farm and another at the nearby Kentucky Horse Park.   "Dr. Powell's thoughtful suggestions and advice were instrumental in the success of the polo fields at Mount Brilliant Farm and at the Kentucky Horse Park," said Gay Bredin, chief operating officer at Mount Brilliant. "He always made himself available for a review of the fields and was mild-mannered in taking a stance on how he felt about a situation. His stories about various projects from croquet pitches to putting greens and the characters along the way were always enjoyed."   His dedication to the university and the industry he loved did not go unnoticed. In 2011, the University of Kentucky renamed its turfgrass farm the A.J. Powell Jr. Turfgrass Research Center and erected a stone edifice in his honor.   Despite years of service to the turf industry, Powell remained humble and true to his Kentucky roots. When talking with him by phone to set up a meeting, I suggested meeting at the Powell Center.   "Where?" he asked.   "You know, the place with your name on the sign," I replied.   "Oh, there."   Ohio State University professor John Street, Ph.D., was Powell's close friend, and the two enjoyed skewering each other in front of a crowd.   During a Sports Turf Managers Association Conference, Street talked to attendees about the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center Web site that tracks climate and soil conditions throughout Ohio. He asked Powell, who had addressed the group previously, whether Kentucky had such a tool. When Powell replied that he checks the weather by "going outside and opening my eyes" Street fired back with a quick-witted jab. "I know what you do," Street said. "When you go out to the outhouse, you stick your finger in the ground and say 'nope, not warm enough yet.' "   The room erupted in laughter, and no one laughed more than Powell.   It should be added that Street's presentation began by him telling the crowd how fortunate they were to have Powell at the conference, calling him "one of the most prestigious turfgrass men in the country, no, the world."   Perhaps the UK turf Web site put it best the morning after Powell's death: "He made a difference."   Survivors include wife Janie; sisters Joan Rains, Sue Hoagland, Ann Cravens and Gene Kirkpatrick; daughter Julie Powell; son Jeff Powell; and granddaughter Lily Jane Powell.   Services are scheduled for 10 a.m., Nov. 2 at Anchor Baptist Church in Lexington.
  • Growth opportunity

    By John Reitman, in News,

    Golf might have the stigma of being perceived as a game for rich, old, white men, but club's reinforcing that stereotype are missing out on a growth opportunity.
    "Power, income, education, everything is rising among the female demographic," said Bob Baldassari, director of youth golf development for the PGA of America, during this year's Green Start Academy.
    "We've seen good results of marketing efforts to try to get the whole family out to the golf course, and some courses are actively seeking that demographic for membership because of women's increasing buying power, control of household scheduling. The list goes on and on."
    Chasing the same demographic year after year and failed attempts to grow the game have resulted in a net loss of more than 500 golf courses (18-hole equivalents) since 2006, according to the National Golf Foundation. Facilities that work toward attracting female golfers could go a long way toward avoiding a spot on future NGF lists, said Baldassari, who has worked as a golf professional and general manager for more than 20 years.
    According to recent stories in Time and BusinessWeek, women 30 and under earn more money than male counterparts in many of the country's largest cities. Although nationally women still earn 20 percent to 40 percent less than male counterparts, according to several studies, women are attending college in greater numbers than men and are graduating at a higher rate, according to Forbes. That spells opportunity for forward-thinking golf facilities, said Baldassari.
    Bob Farren, CGCS at Pinehurst Resort, concurred with Baldassari's assessment of women's role in the family and potential impact on the game of golf.
    "They have a big influence on getting children involved," Farren said during the eighth annual Green Start, an educational event for assistant superintendents presented by John Deere Golf and Bayer Environmental Science. "Every good player you know who grew up in junior golf, it was their mother who took them to golf events."
    Actively seeking women, however, requires rethinking the standard golf business model.
    When Baldassari was general manager at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla., he learned that aspects of the game, including events such as new product demo days, that attract men do nothing to entice women.
    "If your message blares demo day and high tech' that doesn't resonate with women," he said. "We changed the name of our demo day to Golf Fest because it sounded more inviting. Immediately, more families came out. We still wanted the guys to come out and see the latest and greatest, but even a lot of men said they thought the name sounded more fun and inviting than demo day."
    Baldassari said he believes things such as spending time with friends and building relationships on the golf course are much more important to women overall than Stimpmeter readings and perfectly manicured bunkers. Superintendents should keep that in mind during course set up for women's events, he added.
    Baldassari made reference to a 1930s era article in the PGA's official magazine, The Professional Golfer of America, in which PGA president George Jacobus wrote that the association should work to make the game more fun and inviting, including the possibility of 8-inch cups.
    "Some of the ideas to grow the game that we think are new," he said, "have been around for a long time."
  • More than a year after it acquired DuPont's professional products division, Syngenta next year will release one of the former's fungicide chemistries.
    Velista fungicide, which received label registration from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in February 2012, will come to market in a wettable granular formulation, according to Syngenta.
    With the active ingredient penthiopyrad, Velista is labeled for control of anthracnose, brown patch, dollar spot, large patch, leaf spots, red thread, powdery mildew and gray snow mold. It is labeled for use on all turf types on golf courses and athletic fields.
    Velista has been a long time in coming to the turf industry. University of Tennessee turfgrass pathologist Brandon Horvath, Ph.D., wrote about its attributes two years ago.
    "Dollar spot, brown patch and anthracnose all have been tested in my research programs, and Velista has performed excellently on these diseases," Horvath said in 2011. "We also included it as a part of our standard fungicide program this season, and again it provided excellent control."
    A succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor class fungicide, Velista's active ingredient is classified by the Fungicide Resistance Action Committee as FRAC group 7 and a member of the pyrazole carboxamide fungicide class.
    Said Mark Coffelt, head, technical services, Syngenta Turf and Landscape North America: "Velista will be a formidable turf disease management tool and a great addition for managing tough diseases on golf courses."
  • Surveys and statistics reveal that golf course conditions are the most critical component in determining golfer satisfaction, not square footage of the clubhouse, diversity of apparel in the shop, or quality of food in the lounge. And the golf course superintendent has the single greatest influence on producing those conditions.
    But life at the top as a superintendent can be lonely. When conditions are good, praise often is heaped onto the staff in the golf shop. Often, it only is when something goes wrong that the work of the superintendent is singled out.
    If that is not enough, the superintendent not only must be a self-disciplined, multi-tasking agronomist in charge of managing the clubs most valuable asset, he or she also must be a multi-lingual manager, babysitter, therapist, accountant, electrician, hydraulics expert, ditch digger, arborist, environmentalist, integrated pest management specialist, turfgrass pathologist, entomologist, irrigation expert and mechanic.
    Since 2000, the TurfNet Superintendent of the Year award has been highlighting the accomplishments of golf course superintendents throughout North America.
    Presented by Syngenta, the Superintendent of the Year award program honors dozens of nominees each year for their work in producing great playing conditions often during times of adversity, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, drought, flooding, extreme heat, ice damage, or stress caused from insects and disease.
    If you know someone who fits this description, nominate him for the 2013 Superintendent of the Year award.
    Nominees are judged on their ability to excel at one or more of the following criteria: labor management, maximizing budget limitations, educating and advancing the careers of colleagues and assistants, negotiating with government agencies, preparing for tournaments under unusual circumstances, service to golf clientele, upgrading or renovating the course and dealing with extreme or emergency conditions.
    To nominate a deserving superintendent for this years award, visit the 2013 nominations page. For more information, email John Reitman.
    Nominations can be submitted by golf course owners, operators, general managers, club members, golf professionals, vendors, distributors and colleagues. Deadline for submitting nominations is Nov. 30.
    A panel of judges will select a list of finalists and a winner, who will be named at next years Golf Industry Show in Orlando, Fla.
    Previous winners of the award include Dan Meersman, Philadelphia Cricket Club, 2012; Paul Carter, The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay (Tenn.), 2011; Thomas Bastis, California Golf Club of San Francisco (Calif.), 2010; Anthony Williams, Stone Mountain Golf Club (Ga.), 2009, Sam MacKenzie, Olympia Fields Country Club (Ill.), 2008; John Zimmers, Oakmont Country Club (Pa.), 2007; Scott Ramsay, Golf Course at Yale (Conn.), 2006; Mark Burchfield, Victoria Club (Calif.), 2005; Stuart Leventhal, Interlachen Country Club (Fla.), 2004; Paul Voykin, Briawood Country Club (Ill.), 2003; Jeff Burgess, Seven Lakes Country Club (Ontario), 2002; Kip Tyler, Salem Country Club (Mass), 2001; and Kent McCutcheon, Las Vegas Paiute Resort (Nev.), 2000.
  • As a plant pathologist who kills a lot of turf today so he can help superintendents keep it alive tomorrow, Bruce Martin, Ph.D., knows a good fungicide program when he sees one - even if it is not his own. When Clemson University's Martin stacked his own fungicide program against two developed by BASF technical specialist Kathie Kalmowitz, Ph.D., he knew he was up against pretty stiff competition.   Martin's multi-product program has become the standard by which he measures other treatment programs in his research at Clemson University, including those developed by Kalmowitz that include two new BASF fungicides that are awaiting label registration by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. All three treatments performed well throughout the summer of 2013, but the two developed by BASF exhibited higher turf quality deeper into the summer.   One BASF program included Xzemplar, while the other featured Lexicon Intrinsic fungicide. Both treatments resulted in lush, green Crenshaw bentgrass on Martin's research plots.   "Her two programs were neck and neck the whole summer," Martin said. "I was hanging around pretty good until the end here, and then I tapered off. So, you win."   Xzemplar, with the active ingredient fluxapyroxad, is a succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor fungicide that works by blocking fungi respiration and disrupting the energy supply, which prevents further growth of fungal cells, said Renee Keese, Ph.D., research and development project leader for BASF's turf and ornamentals division.   With both preventive and curative control modes of action, Xzemplar is described by BASF researchers as representing advanced disease control for dollar spot and brown patch.   "It has faster curative activity. It's longer lasting, and it's better, new technology," said Kyle Miller, technical specialist for BASF. "It's the better mousetrap."   Lexicon Intrinsic contains both fluxapyroxad and pyraclostrobin, the ingredient common to all BASF Intrinsic products. Like it's cousin, Xzemplar, Lexicon is long-lasting. It is rainfast in two hours and because it is not a DMI, it can be used throughout the summer without threat of phytotoxicity.   EPA registration for both products for use on golf and sports turf is expected by mid-November, with state registrations expected to begin in the first quarter of 2014. Like other Intrinsic products, Lexicon will have the words "plant health" on its label.    BASF researchers recognize that on its face, the phrase plant health is an innocuous term. And to get it past the EPA as well as BASF's own legal team and onto a label means first defining the term and then proving a product meets those standards in replicated trials.   BASF officials defined plant health based on the Intrinsic line's ability to produce turf that has enhanced root development and is tolerant to disease stress, said Thavy Staal, marketing manager for the company's T&O unit.   Lexicon and Xzemplar have been run through about 150 trials through 2012, with another 50 or so conducted this year, Keese said.   Those trials have shown Lexicon to provide speedy curative control of dollar spot on bentgrass, summer patch in tall fescue and fairy ring on Kentucky bluegrass. The current label application submitted to the EPA includes 26 diseases. The fast-acting properties of Xzemplar and Lexicon Intrinsic even outperformed BASF's Emerald (boscalid) and Honor Intrinsic, a combination of boscalid and pyraclostrobin that has been on the market since 2010.   Among the diseases Xzemplar is formulated to control are dollar spot, brown patch, summer patch, pink snow mold and gray snow mold. In dollar spot trials it has provided 28 days of control with one application.   It won't control algae per se, but can help produce lush turf that is an inhospitable host to algae, Miller said.   "The bottom line," Miller said, "is that we get excellent quality turf with Xzemplar in dollar spot and brown patch trials."   Martin also tested both products on TifEagle Bermudagrass managed under putting conditions and Lexicon Intrinsic on Bermudagrass maintained at fairway height. More than six months after the trial had been completed he still was able to pick out the plots treated with Lexicon.   "Those are the results that surprised me," Martin told TurfNet in August. "Those plots were disease free all spring."
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