Jump to content

From the TurfNet NewsDesk

  • John Reitman
    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."
  • In response to customer feedback, especially from those managing turf on uneven surfaces, John Deere Golf recently released a direct-mounted grass catcher.   The unit, which Deere says allows for better contouring and retention of clippings, attaches easily to the 2500 riding greens mower as well as the 180 and 220 E-Cut hybrid walk mowers.   Constructed from polyethylene, the grass catcher features molded-in grooves that allow it to easily attach to the cutting unit, and is designed to slow air volume and route air out of the catcher, while retaining more clippings.     It attaches to the cutting unit, allowing it to follow contours more freely.   "We are constantly speaking with superintendents and their crews to gain a better understanding of their best practices and methods," said Tracy Lanier, product marketing manager for John Deere Golf. "We have learned many professionals have unique preferences and needs based on their course, which is why the new direct mount grass catcher and current weight transfer catcher systems are key offerings when it comes to accommodating needs of our customers."   Since the unit attaches directly to the cutting unit, that can mean added weight to the unit as the catcher fills with clippings. Therefore, Deere also now offers an easy-to-use weight-transfer system.
  • Few gave back to the turfgrass business the way Joe Duich did.   As a professor, Duich helped create Penn State's two-year turf management program, and his career in State College spanned five decades. He taught hundreds of undergraduates and mentored dozens of graduate students and doctoral candidates during his 35-year career in State College.   As a longtime plant breeder, he developed many turfgrass varieties, including Penncross creeping bentgrass, once the standard against which all bentgrass species at one time were measured He used royalties from the sales of those turf varieties to run the Penn State program before eventually establishing an endowment fund that today is worth millions.   Duich died Oct. 11. He was 85.   "His name is one that will go down in history as one of the great contributors to turfgrass science," said Al Turgeon, Ph.D., professor emeritus at Penn State. "He made tremendous contributions to education and turfgrass breeding."   Duich grew up in Farrell, Pa., and after a post-World War II stint (1946-48) in the U.S. Marines, he attended Penn State where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1952 and a doctorate in 1957.   Turgeon was a graduate student at Michigan State when he first met Duich at a Rutgers University field day. He recalled that Duich was an intimidating figure for a wide-eyed graduate student. Turgeon later served as head of Penn State's agronomy department while Duich was a professor at Penn State, and said he was equally intimidating then as well.   "He could be warm, or he could be bitter," Turgeon said.    "He marched to his own drummer. He was true to his values, and he tolerated no nonsense. But, if you were one of his students, he was totally dedicated and would do anything for you."   Along with Burt Musser in 1954, Duich helped develop Penncross creeping bentgrass, once the most widely used bentgrass on golf courses around the world. He also developed Pennlinks, Penneagle and six varieties of the Penn A and G series, as well as Pennfine perennial ryegrass and Pennstar Kentucky bluegrass.   Bill Rose of Turf-Seed Inc. said Duich stepped in to help the seed industry in the late 1960s when less-than-careful dealers were peddling substandard seed.   "Dr. Duich entered my life in 1967 at a Penn State turf conference. I sat in the audience with Dr. Musser, and when it became known an Oregon seed grower was present, at intermission I was surrounded by angry seedsmen blaming me for the inferior quality of Penncross seed that was being marketed in Pennsylvania. They threatened to pull the variety from the market," Rose said.    "From this all-night meeting a program evolved providing only certified quality would be produced and sold with no Poa annua or Poa trivialis. Joe would check our fields prior to swathing and the Penncross Bentgrass Association would have an exclusive production and marketing rights on bents bred at Penn State, to include Penneagle, Pennlinks, the A's & G's and Seaside II. This program has been successful ever since.   "In 1974, the Penncross Bentgrass Association established a scholarship program at Penn State for needy turf students, which continues today. Dr. Duich also established certification standards that far exceeded those previously set by Oregon Seed Certification."   He showed the same care with his own research plots in Pennsylvania.   "You would see him out there mowing his own plots every day," Turgeon said. "He took great pride in the level of quality of those plots. They were incomparable, and he managed them like they were his own golf course."    A member of the Penn State faculty from 1955-91, Duich was a prolific writer, authoring hundreds of academic articles. He was the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2008 C. Reed Funk award from the Turfgrass Breeders Association, the Distinguished Alumni award from Penn State (2008), the Old Tom Morris award (2006) from the GCSAA, the USGA Green Section award (1981) and the GCSAA Distinguished Service award (1976).   Survivors include his wife Pat, daughter Katherine Brennan (Jim), son Michael (Leslie) and five grandchildren.
  • What a difference a year makes. At this time last year, many in the golf business were singing the praises of what appeared to be an industry revival. Fast forward to 2013, and for the first time this year, rounds played were ahead of 2012 figures.   Year-over-year rounds played were up 3 percent in August compared to the same month in 2012, marking the first increase in participation since November 2012. According to Golf Datatech's monthly rounds played report, rounds played were up in seven of eight geographic regions into which the Kissimmee, Fla.-based firm divides the country.    Double-digit gains occurred in Louisiana (up 21 percent); Arizona, Florida, Nebraska and Hawaii (13 percent); Oklahoma (12 percent); California and North Carolina (10 percent).   Despite the good news, play still is off by 6 percent compared with the first eight months of 2012, according to the report that survey 3,705 private and public-access facilities nationwide.    According to Jim Koppenhaver of Pellucid Corp., the bleak performance in the first seven months of the year can be attributed in part to weather.   "On the weather front, we needed a positive quarter for the health of the average operator after a brutal first half, both in the absolute (vs. the long-term averages) and relative to a very strong 2012," Koppenhaver said in his monthly newsletter.   The biggest losses were fled in Arkansas (down 13 percent) and Kansas (down 12 percent).
  • Franklin Electric adds booster pumps to portfolio 

    Franklin Electric recently launched its VR Series stainless steel vertical multistage booster pumps for use on golf courses, athletic fields and municipal parks and recreation applications.
    Featuring an innovative hydraulic design, improved efficiency and an integral heavy-duty bearing designed for minimized axial thrust, the pumps utilize industry standard motors. They are designed to deliver clean water under pressure with temperatures ranging from -5 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
    All models are constructed from 316 stainless steel construction for corrosion resistance and ease of installation to meet or exceed municipalities' requirements for pure water. The VR Series is available in flow ratings from 8 to 60 gpm at 0.75 to 10 hp.

    Bernhard names new U.S. territory manager 

    Bernhard and Co., a manufacturer of blade-sharpening systems for turf-cutting machines, has named Steven Swanson manager of its Western U.S. territory.
    Swanson will guide sales and distribution of the Bernhard product line in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, as well as the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
    A former superintendent, Swanson previously served at Red Rock Country Club, Arroyo Golf Club and Siena Golf Club in Las Vegas.

    Rossi among speakers at NYSTA event

    Frank S. Rossi, Ph.D., associate professor of turfgrass science at Cornell University, will be among the speakers at this year's New York State Turfgrass Association Turf and Grounds Exposition.
    Scheduled for Nov. 12-14 at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center in Rochester, N.Y., the event will feature six speakers, including Shawn Askew, Ph.D., of Virginia Tech, Rick Latin, Ph.D., of Purdue, Steve Keating of The Toro Co., Brad Park of Rutgers and Peggy Greenwell of the U.S. Access Board.
    The program is certified by the GCSAA and STMA.

    Syngenta closes deal on DuPont acquisition

    Syngenta has closed the acquisition of the DuPont Professional Products insecticide business.
    As a result of this transaction, Syngenta now owns insecticide brands Altriset, Advion, Arilon, Acelepryn, Calteryx and Provaunt. Many DuPont employees have also joined Syngenta.
    In addition to targeting the professional turf and pest management markets, Syngenta will pursue adjacent market opportunities in ornamental horticulture and the consumer space.
    The closing price for the acquisition was $125 million.

    Jacobsen supports education with scholarships

    Jacobsen is helping tomorrow's generation of turfgrass managers achieve their goals by helping offset the cost of their college education.
    The company recently awarded $500 scholarships to 18 students currently enrolled in turfgrass management programs throughout the country and Canada.
    Winners were selected based on essay submissions and professor recommendations.
    The scholarships are one of several ways Jacobsen supports industry education. Jacobsen has been hosting the Future Turf Managers' program for recent college graduates since the 1980s, and Jacobsen University provides hands-on training for 150 turf students, superintendents, technicians and sales representatives.
    The company also donates equipment and resources to several turfgrass programs around the country.

    Underhill adds new nozzle

    Underhill International recently released its Turbo Shift dual variable flow hose-end nozzle.
    The Turbo Shift is capable of delivering water ranging from a light fog to a low-volume jet stream pattern to high-pressure, high-volume output.
    Constructed to firefighter standards, Turbo Shift can be used to syringe finely manicured turf, to hand-water dry and patchy areas as well as for equipment clean up.
    The Turbo Shift is available in five models and features pistol and firefighter grips. A low-flow model delivers water at 7 to 12 GPM and turbo shifts from 14 to 17 GPM. The high-flow model opens with 12 to 17 GPM and turbo shifts from 20 to 43 GPM. A super high-flow model fires water at 34 to 104 GPM. All flow rates are based on 80 psi.
    All models are built using aircraft-grade aluminum and stainless steel with sturdy ball valves and push-pull on and off control handles and all are virtually leak-proof. 
  • From time to time, Tom Egelhoff would hear complaints about locations of pin placements on the greens at The Club at Las Campanas, a 36-hole facility in Santa Fe, N.M.
    Since he began using ezLocator, he doesnt hear as many complaints. 
    Developed by Dallas Athletic Club member Jon Schultz, ezLocator maps all pinnable locations using GPS technology and provides full archiving and reporting capabilities that allow the superintendent the ability to select a new hole location each day.
    This summer, ezLocator enhanced its pin placement-tracking technology when it released the ePinSheet app.
    Available through the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores, the ePinSheet app allows golfers as well as the golf shop staff and club administrators to get pin placements sent directly to their smartphone.
    The app displays all pin locations with detailed views of each green. 
    Chip Lafferty, superintendent at Rye Golf Club, says the ezLocator tool helps him not only choose a new pin location daily, but it also helps him manage golfer traffic on his greens more efficiently. Moving pin locations throughout each green can help alleviate wear and stress from foot traffic.
    Lafferty said that golfers also have expressed interest in how pin placements are chosen since he began using the tool to choose and track hole locations.
  • It doesn't come with quite as much pomp as Masters Week, but when it comes to furthering turf managers' knowledge about intelligent water use, Water Week is just as significant as that one week in April when the golf world stops and turns its attention toward Augusta.
    For the fourth straight year, Aquatrols and TurfNet are presenting Water Week, a series of five free Webinars on smart water use presented daily from Oct. 14 through Oct. 18 by some of the industry's leading experts on water use and conservation.
    Each Webinar begins at 1 p.m. EDT and is one hour in duration. Each also is approved by the GCSAA for 0.1 CEU. That's a total of 0.5 CEUs FREE, courtesy of Aquatrols.
    Water Week kicks off Monday, Oct. 14 when John Cisar, Ph.D., of the University of Florida discusses practical advice on how and when to use surfactants in his presentation entitled Practical Surfactant Strategies for Improving Turfgrass Quality.
    Erik Ervin, Ph.D., of Virginia Tech gets things started on Day 2 when he explains how soil surfactants work to alleviate soil water repellency and allow for more uniform dehydration avoidance in Soil Surfactants and Amino Acids for Improved Creeping Bentgrass Dehydration Avoidance. 
    On Day 3, Larry Lennert of Aquatrols will present Bicarbonate in Irrigation Water during which he will discuss the effects on turfgrass of bicarbonate, which is one of the harshest salts found in irrigation water, as well as a review of current academic research on the topic.
    On Thursday, Oct. 17, Stan Kostka, Ph.D., of Aquatrols will discuss the benefits of surfactant-coated grass seed in water-repellent soils in his presentation entitled Surfactant Seed Coating Technology. Kostka will take a unique approach in this presentation, citing research and results from post-wildfire restoration efforts, and he will apply those findings to turfgrass establishment on golf courses.
    The week concludes on Day 5, Friday, Oct. 18 with Bryan Hopkins, Ph.D., of Brigham Young University discussion Wetting Front Impacts the Turf, Environment, Pests and Profits. This talk will focus on how solvents and water move through the soil profile and how they affect the turf, pests, surface water contamination, ground water contamination, atmospheric pollution, water conservation efforts and a turf manager's bottom line.
    Can't make it to Water Week? Don't worry, all five presentations will be available on our archive site and CEUs will apply through the end of the year.
  • Sometimes, it's necessary to kill a few bees to save thousands.
    That's the case at the University of Kentucky where former USGA Green Section Award winner Dan Potter, Ph.D., and some of his post-graduate students have been performing seminal research on protecting pollinator populations.
    Research performed under Potter's direction by doctoral candidate Jon Larson shows that neonicotinoids applied to flowering weeds can adversely affect pollinators such as honeybees and bumblebees.
    According to the research, colonies exposed to clothianidin, which is a neonicotinoid pesticide, failed to produce new queens, while colonies exposed to plots treated with chlorantraniliprole developed normally, compared with the untreated control. Both insecticides are popular options for control of white grubs, caterpillars and other non-desirable pests that forage at or near the surface.
    Larson's work shows that pollinators were not adversely affected when treated flowers were removed by mowing and new ones grew in their place.
    Honeybee and bumblebee populations have been on the decline for years, and although one cause for such a decline has not been identified by researchers, the consensus in the academic community is that a variety of issues that include chemical exposure, parasite pressure and habitat loss, are coming together at once to challenge pollinator populations says Emily Dobbs, another of Potter's students.
    "It's a very complicated issue, and I don't think anyone really knows what is causing colony collapse. I do know that the belief in the academic community is that several things are combining to create a perfect storm, such as habitat loss and fragmentation, pesticide use and parasitic pressure," Dobbs previously told TurfNet.
    "Any one of those things alone wouldn't be enough to take down a bee colony, but when they're all happening at the same time, the bees can't withstand that."
    Whatever the cause of colony decline, Potter says one thing researchers can agree on is that bee populations need help.
    "With honeybee populations struggling," said Potter, recipient of the 2010 Green Section Award. "We need to rely on native bees, such as bumblebees, to pick up the slack on plant pollination."
  • It was built for stroke-play tournaments, and nearly four decades after opening it's ideal for match play, too.   Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, is the House that Jack Built near his hometown of Columbus. Back in 1966, when he first walked this ground 20 miles northwest of downtown, it was farm country with many more horses and cows than people. Even when it opened in 1976 as home to PGA Tour's Memorial Tournament, spectators heading up there encountered no traffic, no lights and no real-estate development. That's all changed now, with Muirfield Village the centerpiece for expansive, upscale real estate. Though so skillfully has Nicklaus kept the homes out of view you'd never know they line these fairways.   The routing, which Nicklaus did with a Salvador Dali-esque, non-golfing landscape architect named Desmond Muirhead (1923-2002) is ingenious. For all the rolling terrain of the land, you never have an obscured view of a landing area and you barely ever play an uphill shot until the 18th approach. The trick they did was simply to route the holes so that the uphill climbs come between holes, as you go from green to next tee. So you always see your landing zone on tee shots and approaches, and crowds on a course that can easily handle 40,000 spectators also have ideal vistas.   It all sets up for what should be a very engaging Presidents Cup. Much of the credit goes to veteran superintendent Paul B. Latshaw. Imagine the pressure of perennial PGA Tour scrutiny and with Jack Nicklaus functioning as your green chairman. The conditioning is usually spotless, literally. It's likely there won't be a single white line anywhere denoting ground under repair. Par for the course is a very balanced 36-3672 of returning nines, with yardage set at 7,388. That clocks in at a 76.3 rating / 149 slope. Of course this week slope doesn't matter, since nobody's getting any shots in the matches.   Your basic opening Nicklaus hole from the 1970s and 80s, a distinct fade drive to a generous fairway, and then a short iron (when it opened it was a middle- to long-iron) in to a well-bunkered green. The putting surfaces here are not expansive on average 5,000 square feet. They demand precision, reward well-struck shots played from the fairway and don't allow you to work the ball in from the side of the green surrounds. The bentgrass greens are groomed to within about one-tenth of an inch of their life, with Stimpmeter speeds around 13. It's a matter of starting the ball on line and letting it roll out. The faster these greens are, the better the American team will do.   No. 2: Par 4, 455 yards
      The first test: a very tight feeling tee shot, thanks to a straight, unbunkered fairway with nothing visually to shape a shot with and a very large caveat running the length of the right side: Do not hit it in the creek. Three-woods off the tee will predominate here, especially Thursday afternoon and Saturday morning with alternate shot/foursomes, where the rule of thumb is simply to avoid heroics and put your teammate in good shape for the next shot.   No. 3: Par 4, 401 yards
      There's nothing duller in match play than a forced lay-up hole with no viable options. That's the case here on this par 4 with a creek that runs the left side of the fairway and expands into a pond exactly at what would be the far point of the drive zone to form a forced-carry hazard. There's no advantage at all in hitting driver and it's safe to say nobody will all week; this is strictly a lay-up off the tee because the narrow, elongated green will not hold an approach shot hit without spin. The important point is to approach from the fairway. Even with the rough cut back a little to about 3 inches a bit less than during The Memorial Tournament there's little ability to control this approach from the rough and no advantage to hitting it longer than 260-270 yards off the tee short of two fairway bunkers right and that water left. It's also unlikely that PGA Tour officials will move the tees up for better-ball play or Sunday's singles matches. That's because there's no fairway beyond the water short of the green and no safe place to miss the green that would warrant risking driver off the tee.   No. 4: Par 3, 200 yards
      A strong par-3, with a green that falls away slightly from the line of play, and one that encourages a draw off the tee (except from Phil Mickelson).   No. 5: Par 5, 527 yards
      A severe dogleg right, one that demands a very precise high fade that gets around the tree-lined corner without running through into the far rough. A creek bisects the hole, creating a fairway-bailout to the left on the second shot that only seems to come into play for players who have to chip out from rough. Otherwise, this hole can be reached in two by all the players in the field, though it really demands two well-placed shots traveling left-to-right, the second one (into the green) ideally played very high and coming down soft. With water coming up tight to the front left of the green, it's not a putting surface that plays well for a draw shot, since the elevated putting surface nudges everything left sometimes into water, or, if hit strong, over the green to a falloff at the rear. This will be an exciting hole in Sunday's singles matches. During the better ball, it would be smart if any team suffering doubts about their position plays its first approach safely short and right, leaving the second player on the team to go for broke.   No. 6: Par 4, 447 yards
      This strategy on this hole is set up by a large greenside bunker, which helps set up a divided putting green that falls away on each side from a central spine. The ideal drive will be on the side of the hole where the hole is cut, whether left or right, though in any case, the landing area off the tee is well bunkered on both sides, effectively narrowing down a 30-yard-wide fairway.   No. 7: Par 5, 563 yards
      An elegant long hole that unfolds right-to-left on the tee shot, then rolls back the other way on the second. It's also a case of an interrupted hole, with the fairway ending 40 yards short and giving way to a heavily grassed swale. The only way to get to the green is through the air, whether on the second shot or the third. A large, very deep bunker protects the entrance to the green; it's a common landing area for second shots and not a bad place from which to play. With the green tipped from right to left and one of the shallower ones on the course, it's also hard to hold with a long shot unless the ball comes in very high and soft.   No. 8: Par 3, 185 yards
      Downhill, to a green popped up slightly above its surrounds, most of which is sand. At 43 yards deep and with two distinct tiers, the green can play anywhere from a 9-iron to a 6-iron on a calm day.   No. 9: Par 4, 412 yards
      It's fascinating to see a golf course like this that presents a premium on driving the ball well, yet also offers five holes without a fairway bunker. That's because the shaping here, to a slightly crowned landing area, makes players all too aware of the impending tree canopies on both side to the point where on this slight dogleg right it's possible to get blocked out on the near side of the fairway, or at least to have to hit a heckuva cut shot to reach the green. As for spectator-friendly golf, the putting surface here occupies the stage of a vast viewing platform that makes for quite a scene. It can be especially dramatic for shots coming up just a tad short that find the pond fronting this green a hazard which induces players to overplay their approaches and wind up long, with a difficult recovery back to the green.   No. 10: Par 4, 471 yards
      Left-to-right twice here, on the tee shot from an elevated platform fronting the clubhouse grounds and then again to a green that's well bunkered short right and long left. This is one of the very few steadily uphill holes on the course, one that readily divides the field into those who can carry it 285 yards off the tee (and thus past the little upslope crown in the fairway), leaving themselves a short iron in; and those who cannot carry it that far and find themselves hitting a long iron in.   No. 11: Par 5, 567 yards
      This is wonderfully complex hole, a double-dogleg (left, then right) that engages a creek crossing such that the water is in play on the tee shot, second shot and approach in. The green is very shallow, set diagonally a perched above that creek and one very busy front central bunker. Let's just say that the only way to get here in two is hit a long draw of the tee and a very high, cut second shot in. It's the kind of hole that breeds a lot of overly cautious play short of the green leaving a wedge in. That's not a bad option, especially in alternate shot and singles matches.   No. 12: Par 3, 184 yards
      Nicklaus named the course in honor of the Scottish layout where he won his first Open Championship (in 1966), but it's evident throughout, especially on this par-3, that he was actually more inspired by the strategy and land plan of Augusta National. This downhill par 3 sets up as a version of the famed short 12th hole where they play the Masters, except there's more going on vertically here due to the more intense topography. That said, the green is angled the same way, and the genius of the hole is that if you hit it perfectly equal to mid-green and pull it you're long left and in sand; and if you hit it equal to dead center but push it you're in water. The trick here is judging the wind, no easy matter when the tee shot plays out of tree-lined chute to a massive amphitheater, where evidence of the wind above the tree line might not manifest itself in any movement on the ground. Restraint here is a virtue, especially when the hole is cut back right near the edge of doom. And risky play here can extract severe punishment. A player on Sunday coming in three-down who wants to play aggressively (i.e., desperately) is more likely to walk away four down rather than two.   No. 13: Par 4, 455 yards
      The calm before the storm. This is the simplest hole on the course, your basic dogleg left around a fairway bunker 285 yards out on the left (also the bunker that bears the scars of heavy-handed shaping). The second shot is downhill to a green that absolutely screams for a high draw and that is the site of probably more close approach shots than any other hole on the golf course.   No. 14: Par 4, 363 yards
      When this hole debuted, it single-handedly revived the art of the short par 4. It offers a split fairway-landing area and the temptation of a carry of 280 yards past a creek to a fairway opening shot of the green. That will prove a tempting target for long hitters in the better ball matches Friday and again Saturday afternoon. For long hitters in Sunday's singles matches it might also prove seductive, though the risks are considerable, thanks to a thin-waisted green that cants sharply from its well-bunkered left down to a looming creek sheer on the right side. If, as is likely, the tees are moved up to bring the front of the green within range of 325 yards off the tee during four-ball and singles matches, expect some fireworks here as well as some water works (which is why the hole tends to play over par).   No. 15: Par 5, 529 yards
      Reachable, but maddening. At 529 yards, the par-5 15th is always the easiest hole at Muirfield Village. But the hole still carries considerable risk for a player trying to force a good score on another one of the five unbunkered fairways but this is the tightest, most tree-lined fairway. The ideal landing area off the tee falls away on both sides into woods. It's common to see players lay up with a second short in front of a creek that crosses the fairway100-yards short of the green. By contrast, the bold, long approach play is a high cut, from 220-250 yards out, to an elevated green tipped away from the line of play. It's a hole that demonstrates Nicklaus' respect for the par 4 and 1/2 championed by Augusta National. And it's the kind of hole that will make Muirfield Village an ideal setting for match play.   No. 16: Par 3, 201 yards
      It's an understatement to call Muirfield Village a work in progress, Nicklaus keeps tinkering to improve things, though in the vase of his latest major renovation, at this par 3, he ended up with a hole that looks and feels way too much like the 16th at Augusta National. It's also the hole where Tiger Woods pulled off a miraculous recovery from greenside rough to make birdie in the final round of his win here in 2010. The key here is simply do not hit it left. The green plays well for a draw, and smart players use the slope.   No. 17: Par 4, 478 yards
      The landing area off the tee here is uncommonly large, but so is the expanse of surrounding sand from four bunkers that squeeze a drive that wanders. Small wonder that many players give up distance off the tee for control, even when that leaves a tough shot to an elevated green that's deeply bunkered front and back. This is one of those holes that make you realize if you needed reminding of how good these guys are.   No. 18: Par 4, 480 yards
      Too bad so few matches tend to get to the 18th hole. The one big change at Muirfield Village from normal tournament play for The Presidents Cup will be use of a just-completed back tee on this home hole. A new way-back launch pad stretches the hole to 480 yards and will make it more likely that players will need a driver to get to a proper position in the fairway. In the past, they've steered safely left of a massive gaggle of bunkers down the entire right side, but in so doing their lay-up has kept them short of a creek that elbows in from the left. Now, with driver in hand, players will have to worry about staying short of the creek. If they lay back, they're asking for a second shot of 200-plus yards uphill to a very tightly contoured green. Odds are that at least one-third of those playing the 18th hole will be down by a hole and needing a win. That means they'll be playing aggressively, with a driver. That should make this hole exciting. And it comes down to the final day, it'll also make that tee shot nerve-wracking.   - Bradley S. Klein, Golfweek
  • Create New...