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From the TurfNet NewsDesk

  • John Reitman
    Pure-Seed Testing, long a provider of cool-season turfgrass for the golf market, has developed the newest variety of Bermudagrass.
    In cooperation with Atlas Turf International, Pure Seed introduced Sun Queen seeded Bermudagrass for the golf, sports field and landscape markets. 
    Developed for use on tees, fairways and roughs, Sun Queen traits include excellent turf quality, color and density; superior establishment even after injury; early spring green-up and excellent fall color retention; excellent, disease, heat and salt tolerance; fine leaf texture.
    Pure-Seed is a longtime fixture in the cool-season turf market with dozens of releases available. It is a relative newcomer, however, in the warm-season market.
    "Pure-Seed Testing developed Sun Queen using germplasm obtained from Mississippi State University," said Dr. Melodee Fraser, director of Pure-Seed Testing, Inc. East. "It has demonstrated wide adaptability by exhibiting excellent turf performance in multiple trial locations over a range of environments and management conditions. Sun Queen is well-adapted for sports turfs, golf courses, parks, lawns, and amenity turf areas."
    Consistently ranked as a top establishing Bermudagrass in NTEP trials, Sun Queen provides rapid grow-in and extreme wear tolerance and quick recovery as demonstrated through field trials at the University of Tennessee.
    In addition to performance and appearance, Sun Queen traits include consistent drought tolerance and lower fertilizer requirements.
    Sun Queen is protected by PureCoat+, Pure Seed's water-absorbent seed coating. PureCoat+ guards the seed against environmental pressures and provides faster germination, quicker establishment and improved water efficiency for stronger, healthier plants.
  • Rain-starved California is getting a reprieve, but is there such thing as too much of a good thing where precipitation is concerned?
    Parts of Ventura County received up to 18 inches of rain on Jan. 10-11. Snowpack levels in the Sierra Nevada, a critical source of water during the spring melt, is as much as 200 percent above normal. Reservoirs are on the rise, and farther east in the Upper Colorado River Basin, snowpack in the Rockies is at 140 percent of normal, which is promising for water levels in depleted Lake Mead come spring.
    December is the wettest month in Northern California, with an average monthly rainfall in the San Francisco area typically ranging between 2-7 inches for the month. Since Christmas, the rainfall in Northern California has ranged from about 9 inches in the Sacramento area to nearly 14 inches in San Francisco, which is more than half the area's annual average.
    This is a La Niña winter, which was supposed to be dry in Southern California, but anomalies like what the state has faced in recent weeks is not unprecedented.
    At Monterey Peninsula Country Club on California's Central Coast a video surfaced showing golfers fleeing for higher ground as a wave from the Pacific washed onto the course.
    "Yes, it is terrible in the short term that so much rain has fallen out there," said meteorologist Herb Stevens. "But because California is a location that has always featured extremes due largely to the meeting of the largest body of water on the planet and some of the steepest mountains in the world, this cannot be labeled unprecedented."
    Some celebrities in Southern California see things differently.
    As water levels in what is described as a dry creek bed swelled and threatened her home, Ellen DeGeneres dismissed the weather in California by stating "Mother Nature is mad at us."
    The explanation is a little easier and scientific than that.
    The Pacific Ocean is in a La Niña state this winter, the third in a row, according to meteorologist Herb Stevens. That typically translates into a dry winter for Southern and Central California as the storm track usually leads from Alaska to the Pacific Northwest, Stevens said. NorCal often is close enough to the fringe to get some relief.
    That does little to explain what is happening in Southern California.
    "In the middle of a La Niña it is not impossible for the storm track to more closely mimic an El Niño, which brings wet winters to California," Stevens said. "In an El Niño, the storm track is more west to east, and farther south, and that is what we have seen the past couple of weeks.  The more southern storms are warmer than their Alaskan counterparts, and originate over warmer waters well out in the ocean and thus have more water vapor contained in the circulations, leading to heavy to excessive rain.
    "It is unusual to have a stormy period like this in California in a La Niña, but certainly not unheard of. The pattern will break in about eight or nine days, and the next couple of months will revert to dry conditions in California."
  • A pioneer in helping promote the role of women in turf for the past decade, Miranda Robinson is only getting started helping fellow superintendents as she embarks on the next phase of her career.
    Robinson, who was in on the ground floor of the Women in Golf movement in 2012, has spent most of the past two decades as an assistant or head superintendent. On Jan. 1, she began a new job as operations manager for the British Columbia Superintendents Association.
    Much of her job will be focused on education and organizing events for superintendents of the 300 or so golf courses throughout the province. 
    "The challenge is going to be learning a job that is not a hands-on physical job, like being a superintendent. Now, I've gone to the dark side," Robinson said. 
    "I will be a facilitator for whatever the board wants to do."
    Much of the programming she hopes to put into place also will be based on customer feedback.
    "I'm looking forward to getting out into the province to see what superintendents want from the association," she said. "A lot of them question what they get out of (membership). Many of them believe associations are only for bigger clubs. I need to find out what they want from the association."
    Pulling the trigger on a career change can be a stressful decision. A lot of questions swirl about. Is this the right job? Is this the right time?
    Sometimes those questions go unanswered. In Robinson's case, a very loud voice told her that after two decades as an assistant and a head superintendent it was finally time to get off the golf course and into another line of work.
    "My body told me," she  said. "My body was wearing out." 
    A lifetime of competitive sports couple with green keeping took a toll on back, knees and hips.
    "Once I start something, I can't reel in my athletic competitiveness, and I end up hurting myself," she said. 
    Nearly 20 years spent in ditches on the golf course did not help either.
    "I'm only 37, but I'm only 120 pounds, and I do the work of a 200-pound man," Robinson said. "My back just can't take it."
    She had knee surgery at 16 and was in knee braces for the first time at age 12.
    "I've torn an ACL, MCL and a meniscus," she said. "I can't even ride a bike."
    None of that has dampened enthusiasm for her new job.
    Robinson said the the Women in Golf movement that eventually was picked up by corporate vendors in golf like Bayer, Syngenta and Valent started 10 years ago when she and Leasha Schwab were in a foursome together in an association tournament in Ontario. The foursome of women was invited back year after year. The impact the group made eventually resulted in Schwab reaching out for corporate help to promote the profession to other women while also providing a networking opportunity for those women already working in the turf business.
    While Robinson is focused on providing outreach and educational opportunities for turf managers throughout British Columbia, she will continue to promote the industry to other women.
    Among her plans are workshops to help ensure women are skilled in use of equipment throughout the entire golf operation, an opportunity still not offered to all women in the business.
    "You're in a position of authority," she said. "You need to know how to use everything."
  • Ask around for the biggest challenges facing the business and just about every superintendent in all corners will mention labor eventually.
    Once a pipe dream, technology designed to automate many tasks on the golf course and make life easier for superintendents is getting closer than ever to reality.
    For the past several years, the Dutch company TurfTroniq has been providing after-market robotic-mowing technology to turf managers in the United Kingdom and Ireland. 
    Now, the company based in Renkum, Netherlands, has added a robotic bunker rake to its lineup of automated equipment.
    The TurfTroniq Smart Rake can be programmed to rake bunkers of any size freeing up team members to complete other tasks.
    TurfTroniq claims to be the inventor of autonomous-mowing technology for the green industry. 
    Founded in 2016, TurfTroniq’s autonomous-mowing technology is retrofitted onto existing mowers for precise patterns and straight lines. The company says autonomous mowing can result in labor savings of up to 90 percent.
    The SmartRake is a self-contained machine that can be programmed to groom mostly flat bunkers of any size anywhere on the golf course.
    While the automated bunker rake might still require a live person for transport, oversight and even clean-up around edges, the machine can handle the lion’s share of raking bunkers, allowing a smaller number of team members to take on other duties while helping superintendents overcome labor shortages.
  • A federal appeals court has agreed to review a three-judge panel ruling, reopening a lawsuit claiming that the weedkiller Roundup caused a Georgia man's cancer.
    The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta said its entire panel of judges will grant the company’s rehearing petition, vacating its Oct. 28 decision.
    At issue is whether federal pesticide law trumps state failure-to-warn claims, a decision supported the Oct. 28 decision in a claim by John Carson that Roundup caused his cancer. 
    Bayer's legal team called the decision by the 11th Circuit one of the most important developments in seven years of lawsuits over Roundup.
    Last year, a three-judge panel from the 11th Circuit rejected Bayer's argument that federal law shielded it from state law claims like the one brought by Carson, who claims he was diagnosed with cancer in 2016 after using Roundup for 30 years
    Carson's attorneys argued there should be a cancer warning on the product label. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said there is not sufficient proof that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is a carcinogen.
    If the full panel of judges from the 11th Circuit were to overturn the previous ruling, it could vacate the approximately 30,000 outstanding cases against Bayer, claiming that Roundup, with its active ingredient glyphosate, is a carcinogen. Such a decision also could create a circuit split, which would open the door for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit the case.
    Claims against Monsanto and now Bayer stem from a 2015 ruling by the World Health Organization that glyphosate is likely carcinogenic, a claim the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has rejected.
    Bayer announced in 2021 that it would discontinue sales of Roundup in the consumer marketplace by next year, when it will be replaced by products with a different active ingredient. Roundup will remain available in the professional segment.
  • The 10th course at Pinehurst will be a Tom Doak design carved out of the longleaf pine forest. Pinehurst photo Rumor has it that new golf course construction is up during the past year.
    Among those new projects is another course at Pinehurst Resort, where architect Tom Doak will design the property's 10th layout.
    The course, located 4 miles from the main clubhouse, is scheduled to open in spring 2024 and will incorporate rugged dunes, native sand and wiregrass. Doak's design also will work with the property's existing natural ridgelines, landforms, longleaf pines, streams and ponds, some of which is a direct contrast to other Pinehurst courses.
    "The site is topographically distinct and drastically different from anywhere in Pinehurst," Doak said in a news release. "It's bigger, bolder and more dramatic. There's about 75 feet of elevation change, and we'll work our way up to it around the mid-point of the layout. You'll have expansive views from this apex over the rest of the course. It will be an unforgettable experience for golfers."
    Doak's first visit to Pinehurst was more than 40 years ago on the famed Donald Ross-designed No. 2 course.
    Doak recalls first visiting Pinehurst more than 40 years ago and playing and touring No. 2. He rated the storied Donald Ross design a perfect "10" in his famed book "The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses," and was one of the most vocal supporters of its restoration by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in 2010 prior to the 2014 U.S. Open.
    "Tom Doak builds incredible golf courses on sand, and we're excited to see what he'll create in the North Carolina Sandhills," said Pinehurst Resort President Tom Pashley. "We've worked with some amazing golf architects who've embraced our natural aesthetic and believe Tom will do something fantastic on this site."
    Landscape architect Angela Moser will serve as Doak's lead design associate on the project. Moser's credentials include Los Angeles Country Club's North Course, Streamsong Black in Bowling Green, Florida, St. Patrick's Links in County Donegal, Ireland, Te Arai Links in Tomarata, New Zealand and Ohoopee Match Club in Cobbtown, Georgia.
    "The number one thing that excited us about the project is working with the beautiful sand that's native to this region," Doak said. "The sand, the wiregrass, the bluestem grass, and other native grasses that grow around the Sandhills create a fabulous texture for golf. It's something most places just don't have."
    In addition to Doak's routing, Pinehurst has plans for even more growth in the area, that encompasses 900 acres in Aberdeen. A variety of development opportunities will be evaluated with town officials, including additional golf, short course, clubhouse, guest cottages and other lodging.
  • The most-read story on TurfNet in 2022 had nothing to do with golf. ABC News photo For years, dramatic photos of receding water levels in Lake Mead have helped tell the compelling story of water woes in the West. Lake Mead told another story in 2022, and it's one of crime and intrigue some 30 miles away in Las Vegas.
    Last May, two bodies were discovered in Lake Mead's receding shorelines. Each victim was believed to be the subject of a mob hit that, according to police, could have occurred as much as 50 years ago.
    Lake Mead, created on the Colorado River by construction of the Hoover Dam on the Arizona, Nevada border in 1935, provides water to golf-centric locations such as Las Vegas, Phoenix and parts of Southern California. Despite the lake's loose connection to golf, the story about bodies stuffed into barrels and dropped into Lake Mead as much as a half-century ago, was the most-read story on TurfNet in 2022. Click here to read the story.
    Here are other stories that rounded out the top 10 most-read stories on TurfNet. Click on each to read more.
    • GCSAA show numbers are in
    • Water-use restrictions could be coming again for California
    • What happens when a real estate golf course behind a gate closes? Good question
    • Ian's effects felt from one side of Florida to the other
    • 3 suspects indicted in golf course triple homicide
    • California's proposed anti-golf bill is dead - for now
    • Coliseum makes transition from athletic field to racetrack and back again
    • If the NFL can move its big show at the last second, can everybody?
    • Post-pandemic success requires new ideas and a new way of doing things
  • For the first time in two decades, new golf course construction appears to be on the rise.
    According to Golf Inc. and the National Golf Foundation, 54 golf courses are under construction nationwide and at least 38 others are in the planning stages.
    Since golf course closings began outnumbering new construction in 2006, an average of 36 new courses a year have been built while closures number an average of 135 annually. 
    According to the NGF, nearly 75 percent of all new course construction in that time has been either in the resort, upscale residential or private club markets. That trend is changing as most of the new projects are short courses that are designed to grow the game, says NGF.
    Most new course construction is taking place in the South with one-third in Florida and Texas.
    According to NGF, six of the new course projects are planned for California, where no new course has built in more than five years.
    Since 2006, 624 courses have opened and 2,162 closed for a net loss of 1,538.
  • Rawiga Golf Club has been a fixture in northeastern Ohio for more than 60 years. Have you ever wondered what happens when a cemetery runs out of space?
    In the case of one cemetery south of Cleveland, the answer is simple - buy a golf course.
    Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman has purchased Rawiga Golf Club, which is located just south of the Department of Veterans Affairs facility. The $1.69 million acquisition of the 156-acre course, which was finalized in October, gives the cemetery land for future expansion, however, the property will continue to operate as a golf course for the time being.
    The 273-acre national cemetery is one of two in Ohio. It opened in 2000 and today has 49,503 graves and eventually would have run out of space. The deal allows Rawiga's owners to lease back the property until the cemetery needs to expand, which is estimated at 7-15 years, or more, said Rawiga co-owner Bill Colianni, who also is the facility's GM and head pro.
    "We're there for all of our outings, banquets, leagues," Colianni told the Akron Beacon Journal. "No one need to worry about us going away. Nothing is changing."
    The golf course was designed in the late 1950s by E. Lawrence Packard, who also built four courses at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Palm Harbor, Florida, site of the annual PGA Valspar Championship tournament. Rawiga opened as a private club in 1959, but eventually transitioned to a public facility.

    The purchase of Rawiga Golf Club gives Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery room for eventual expansion. Golfers in the area have mixed feelings about the transaction.
    Janie Parish, executive director of the Wadsworth Area Chamber of Commerce, said she had mixed feelings about the purchase.
    "When it was first put out there that it was being bought by them, I think people were sad because it has been around since the '60s," Janie Parish, executive director of the Wadsworth Area Chamber of Commerce, told the Akron Beacon-Journal. "That's where we do our golf outing every year."
    The cemetery also is a prominent and valuable fixture in the county.
    The new agreement allows the owners of Rawiga Golf Club to lease back the property until the Western Reserve cemetery needs to expand.
    "I just think it's an honor we have that national cemetery," Parish said. "More than anything, it becomes a destination. My parents are both buried at the cemetery."
  • Rovaniemi photo
    Santa can relax this year. We're a little too old and tad large to sit on his lap, and we don't like lines anyway. Still, there are many things the golf business could use for Christmas.
    In the past few years, golf has been gifted with a lot of new players, but we had to endure a global pandemic to get them. Almost three years later, the effects of the pandemic still linger, but most of those new golfers have left the game nearly as quickly as they joined it. Ever since, Santa's sack has been pretty much empty, at least as far as the golf business is concerned. 
    We asked a few people what they would like to see under the tree on Christmas morning, and their answers probably won't surprise you. Needless to say, let's hope Santa has a big sack, a really, really big sack and that the Grinch doesn't cherry pick it.
    Paul McCormack, Fox Meadow Golf Course, Prince Edward Island
    "I’d love it if Santa brought us a healthy dose of perspective . . . remembering that we prepare a surface for people to play a game on, nothing more…nothing less."
    Sean Tully, Meadow Club, Fairfax, California
    "Rain and lots of it. We are seeing another year of abnormal rain events and I’d prefer we stay away from water restrictions for 2023. That and less frost, cause its raining."
    Kim Erusha, Ph.D., former USGA Green Section director
    "I hope Santa brings plenty of snow cover so that superintendents can have a long winter’s nap, but less than 60 days of ice encasement so there’s no need to fret about turf loss."
    Matthew Woodcock, Old Erie Golf Club, Durhamville, New York
    "Santa can bring something to most people not just the golf business. Acceptance. Acceptance of numerous ideas/opinions. There is room for private and public courses. We don’t have to be pitted against each other , we cater to different peoples needs. And that also goes for different approaches to agronomy and the game as a whole. As my first boss in the industry said “there is more than one way to kill a cat."
    Jim Brosnan, Ph.D., University of Tennessee
    "I think most superintendents could answer it with a single word — labor."
    Craig Kessler, Southern California Golf Association
    "In the Southwest what the golf community most wants from Santa is a well above average precipitation year, particularly precipitation in the form of a healthy snowpack in the Sierra Nevada and Colorado Basin."
  • Who says you can't go home again?
    Taking the job of superintendent at a rejuvenated Hueston Woods State Park Golf Course in southwestern Ohio, has been a coming home of sorts for superintendent Chris Dynes. Dynes, a native of nearby Oxford, home of Miami University, Dynes grew up playing Hueston Woods.
    "In the late 1980s, early '90s this was as difficult of a public golf course as any place I had seen, and we're talking Beth Page Black," said Dynes. "In my opinion, this is the best public layout within 50 miles."
    Opened in 1969, Hueston Woods was designed by golf course architect Jack Kidwell, who left his mark across about a half-dozen state park golf courses throughout Ohio. Kidwell, with an eye on the game's future, built Hueston Woods at about 7,100 yards. Set on 260 acres inside a 5,000-acre park, Hueston Woods has plenty of room to expand, which is part of the plan since Dynes started there and has begun restoring the course.
    "If we stretch every inch of it, we can get to about 7,500 yards," Dynes said. "But we have to remember we are a state park, and 90 percent of our play comes from 18-handicappers."
    Hueston Woods once was home to the Miami University golf teams and was the site of collegiate tournaments and was a mini-tour stop.
    As the golf industry declined so too did conditions on the golf course.
    Dynes, a 2012 graduate of the Ohio State turf school, had been working abroad in Australia and later England, when he played Hueston Woods during a trip home to see family. He'd learned on that trip that the job at Hueston Woods.
    He was introduced to work overseas through the Ohio Program at OSU, the same program that had brought then Hueston Woods superintendent Matthew Bourne from England to the U.S.
    Since taking the job in 2021, Dynes' focus has been reviving the course he knew as a youngster.
    Besides introducing new cultural practices designed to replace weeds with turf, Dynes has Hueston's future in mind.
    With a little work, he says, the course could be back on the college tour circuit.
    "For an old course, it has length and it's strategic," Dynes said. "When it's dialed in, I'd put this course up against anyplace."
  • GreenKeeper University is an virtual platform that - for some - can replace a more traditional education format. The inaugural class has "graduated" from GreenKeeper University.
    The group included the CEO of a golf management firm and four golf course superintendents.
    "The knowledge I gained from GKU has been invaluable to my growth here at my facility," said Scott Denil, superintendent at Pine Meadow Golf Club in Mundelein, Illinois. "The support from all the instructors at GKU exceeded all expectations. Relationships and assistance didn't end when the classes were over. The projects/assignments were geared so you could apply it to your location. That was a big help in grasping the concepts presented. I am a much-improved superintendent because of GKU."
    GreenKeeper University is an online educational program that offers courses in the field of turfgrass science for those who want a more in-depth training than is traditionally offered by short courses or other non-degree options, but do not have the resources or need to achieve a university degree in turfgrass science. 
    Instructors have included Bill Kreuser, Ph.D., Doug Soldat, Ph.D., Aaron Patton, Ph.D., Jim Kerns, Ph.D., Paul Koch, Ph.D., Michael Carlson, Ph.D., and Alec Kowalewski, Ph.D.
    Unlike one-hour conference sessions or brief webinars, GreenKeeper University courses dive deeper into the information over the course of three to twelve weeks. The professors will have time to explain advanced topics and students will be able to interact with other learners and the instructors.
    Joseph St. Lawrence is superintendent at at Farmington Country Club in Milton, New Hampshire, and was looking for online learning opportunities.  
    "As a new golf course superintendent, I wanted an official degree. I have now obtained that," St. Lawrence said. "My goal is to continue broadening my knowledge of turf management."
    Andrew Porubiansky has a four-year business degree and was eager for a career change.
    "When I chose the turfgrass path, I needed formal turfgrass training," Porubiansky. "GKU is a great alternative for someone looking for turfgrass education, but does not want to pay for a four-year degree."
    As the CEO of Renovita Wilen, a Swiss golf management company, Patrick Sauder lacks both the time and opportunity to attend courses at an American university campus, however, he wanted to learn from university faculty.  "American turfgrass science is known for its reputation.  My goal is to constantly develop my skills and knowledge and be a role model for my employees in this respect."
  • Mike Leach celebrates with his team after a win over Texas A&M this year. Leach died Tuesday at age 61. Mississippi State University Athletics photo By his own admission, Mike Leach hated golf. He called it "boring," and said it is for people "who do not swear effectively enough, or need practice at it."
    Given that, he added: "So, I mean there are those that need golf, and I don't think that I do."
    Regardless of how Leach felt about golf, there is much that we, including golfers and non-golfers alike, can learn from him. The head football coach at Mississippi State, Leach died Tuesday morning at age 61 from, according to his family, complications related to a heart condition.
    Leach was a revolutionary coach, however, he will be remembered for his eccentric and comedic personality off the field, not for wins and losses on it.
    Leach was a one-of-a-kind personality. He was not consumed by his trade, nor did he let it define him. The architect of the Air Raid offense, Leach revolutionized college football and forever changed its trajectory. But he never liked to talk about X's and O's or his own contributions to the game. Press conferences or encounters with sideline reporters were more likely to end in discussions about history, politics, pirates or Apaches than they were post patterns or flea flickers.
    When he was introduced as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma in 1999, rather than discuss his offensive philosophy with the media, university administration and fans during the news conference, he went on for several minutes about one of his favorite topics - Geronimo.
    When one of his Washington State teams was on a bus headed to the stadium for a date with USC, tension and stress worked its way through the bus among players and assistant coaches. Leach was seated at the front of the bus wearing headphones and working on something with pen and paper. When an assistant asked what he was working on, Leach removed the headphones and told the coach that he was listening to Spanish language lessons on Rosetta Stone.
    Leach enjoyed a great deal of success as a coach. In his 21 years as head coach at Texas Tech, Washington State and Mississippi State, he guided 19 team to bowl game appearances.
    An eccentric and curious lifelong learner, Leach's interests extended far beyond the football field. He was a lawyer by trade, and his interests were much greater than just football and he wore those interests and his personality on his sleeve for all to see. 
    That irreverence coupled with what by all accounts appeared to be a genuine caring for others arguably made Leach the most beloved personality in the history of college football. His quick wit and dry humor endeared him to many, including coaches and fans from other schools like no one else college football had ever seen.
    When it was announced Monday that he had been transported from Starkville, Mississippi to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson because of a medical emergency, his health and hope for a recovery dominated social media and sports talk TV and radio for two days, and only intensified upon news of his death.
    No other coach would have commanded such attention for accomplishments on the field, much less for his personality off it, because no other coach is so widely accepted outside his own team's fanbase.
    Within hours of the news that Leach had died, the SEC Network aired a two-hour special dedicated to his memory. The show was packed with commentary from college administrators and coaches and media personalities expressing how Leach impacted them.
    This for a man whose head coaching resume included stops at Texas Tech, Washington State and Mississippi State, all respectable jobs, but they're not career destinations like Texas, USC or Alabama.
    He was passed over for other jobs, including Tennessee, and the inability to land what would be considered a top-tier position left him bitter and feeling incomplete.
    The reality is he did not need a job like Tennessee to leave a lasting mark on college football, or more importantly, on others. In fact, he made his impression on countless people across the globe because of the type of person he was, not for any of his success at plying his trade.
    Everyone can learn from that.
  • The recipients of the TurfNet Jerry Coldiron Positivity Awards for 2022 are Bill Blackburn of College Grove, Tennessee, and Dave Wilber of Littleton, Colorado.
    The Jerry Coldiron Positivity Awards are given annually to recognize individuals within the golf turf industry who live lives of joy, caring, sharing and compassion for others… or who have experienced personal hardship due to illness, natural events or job loss… or who do something special for the natural world. They are presented in memory of Jerry Coldiron, CGCS, a career golf course superintendent, salesperson, TurfNet member and friend to many who passed away suddenly in 2017 at age 60.

    Bill Blackburn, Lightning Bug Golf Course, College Grove, TN
    Bill Blackburn spent most of his long career in golf turf "peddling iron" for Smith Turf & Irrigation (STI) and before that the Toro Company and Olathe Manufacturing. He retired three years ago from his position as "General Manager for Tennessee Business" for STI, but it is not for that which he is being honored as one of the 2022 Jerry Coldiron Positivity Awards.
    18 years ago Bill had the idea to build a "little 5-hole golf course" and a fishing pond on his in-laws' farm outside Nashville and encourage kids to come out and learn the game of golf. The Lightning Bug Golf Course, as his young daughter Ann Catherine named it at the time, grew to 9 holes and began attracting not only kids but adults new to the game as well. Every September they hosted a tournament to raise funds for the Jesse Frank Jr. Golf Scholarship Fund (named after Bill's late father-in-law) to send worthy children to the Tennessee PGA Jr. Golf Academy at Golf House Tennessee. With a cost of about $700 per child, the early goal was to send two or three interested kids to golf camp. Fast forward 18 years and the annual event has raised in the vicinity of $225,000 and sent 250 kids to golf camp. The rest of the story:
    Dave Wilber, turf consultant, Littleton, Colorado
    Well known within the golf turf industry, Dave Wilber is a former golf course superintendent, world-traveling turf consultant, writer, podcaster, social media maven, bass player and — most recently — part-time school bus driver. 
    Surprisingly enough, it is for his outreach and extension of the bus driver role that we are recognizing him with a Jerry Award. Faced with Covid-reduced travel and income along with skyrocketing health insurance costs, Dave found a solution in the local Littleton school district. Working part-time driving a school bus would get him full-time health insurance. He soon encountered both challenges and opportunities with the "kids on the bus".
    Dave has chronicled on Twitter some of his humanitarian efforts with the kids  and did a recent podcast with our friends at Earthworks to explain in more detail. Justin Woodland (superintendent at The Barn Golf Club in Ogden, Utah, and owner of Airgronomics, LLC) recently set up a GoFundMe page — The Giving Bus Driver — to help Dave continue to make an impact in his community. The EW podcast and the GoFundMe campaign brought more attention to Dave's work with the kids, and led to his recognition with a 2022 Jerry Award.
    Susan Coldiron, Jerry's wife, said: "On behalf of our family, we would like to congratulate the winners of the “Jerry Coldiron Positivity Award” this year, Bill Blackburn and Dave Wilber. Jerry will always be remembered for his ability to spread cheer and provide optimism and encouragement to everyone, even during the most difficult of times. Bill and Dave are both very deserving winners and exemplify the positive outlook and values that make this award such a special recognition in Jerry’s honor. We would also like to thank TurfNet for helping us to continue Jerry’s legacy of “paying it forward.”
    Previous recipients of the awards are:
    Michael and Jenna Breuer and family of Bandon, Oregon, Paul and Kristie Hurst of GreensPro, St. Louis, Missouri Jack Percival of Chipstead Golf Club, England. 2020 - on hiatus due to Covid
    Tenia Workman, executive director of the Georgia GCSA the late Tom Morris, CGCS, career superintendent in Vermont 2018
    Marcos "Mike" Morales of the Buccaneer Golf Club in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands John and Peggy Colo, Jupiter Hills Golf Club, Tequesta, Florida Adam and Erin Engle, Lake Shore Yacht and Golf Club, Cicero, NY John and Nick Paquette, Indian Hills Country Club, Northport, NY Both Dave Wilber and Bill Blackburn will receive a cash stipend from TurfNet and the Coldiron family to spend as they please.
  • If there has been one positive come out of the pandemic era, it has been the acknowledgment that a lot of people are suffering from mental health issues. It does not mean we all are crazy, but with more to do and less time and resources in which to do it all, it stands to reason that people of all backgrounds are dealing with a lot of stress that is affecting their mental health.
    The British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association is doing something about the challenges associated with mental health and has launched a campaign to combat the rise of mental health struggles in the golf green industry.

    BIGGA has pledged to create 100 mental health first aiders during 2023, who will receive training that will give them the skills to support golf greenkeepers and other clubhouse staff through any difficulties they may be experiencing.
    Poor mental health is one of the biggest challenges facing society today. According to BIGGA, 75% of deaths among men age 50 and under are attributed to suicide, making it the most common cause of death in that age bracket. The greenkeeping industry itself has been rocked by several tragic losses in recent years and in 2021 BIGGA launched a survey that revealed 80% of greenkeepers were concerned about the mental health of a colleague.
    Working environments and money concerns are major causes of stress and mental health problems and BIGGA is working alongside golf's governing bodies to improve governance and working practices at golf clubs. Stronger, more positive and respectful working environments should help relieve some of the undue pressures placed upon staff at present.
    To further support those working in the golf industry, BIGGA has launched its campaign to train 100 mental health first aiders across the United Kingdom. The training course provides the first aiders with knowledge to help them recognize signs that a colleague or friend may be experiencing difficulties and empowers them to direct others towards available help.
    The cost of the course is being met by BIGGA with support from The R&A, and participants will receive a certificate from Mental Health England. In addition, participants will receive three years' ongoing training and support from Mental Health England.
    The opportunity to get involved is open to BIGGA members, including greenkeepers and trade representatives who spend much of their time on the road, visiting greenkeeping teams.
    The first course will be held in February at Edgbaston Golf Club and further events will be hosted around the country, helping to build a national network of mental health first aiders.
    The campaign is being led by BIGGA's Steve Dudley-Brown, himself a former greenkeeper and course manager with 25 years' experience in the industry.
    "During my career as a greenkeeper, I experienced several of my colleagues having mental health difficulties,” Dudley-Brown. "It's a scary situation knowing that you have someone in front of you and they are upset and afraid. You want to try and support them the best you can. This training course will give people the ability to understand a little more about what the person is going through and point them in the right direction for help.”
  • In a greenkeeping career that spanned parts of five decades, Bill Anderson saw a lot of changes.
    A graduate of Michigan State University, Anderson began working at Carmel Country Club in Charlotte, North Carolina as an assistant in 1973. By 1975, he was head superintendent, a job he viewed as a short-term stopover on his career path. He retired from Carmel 40 years later in 2013.
    During that time, he saw demand for conditions escalate from hairy to fast and furious. He saw budgets and staff size increase and the job of superintendent transition from greenkeeper to management professional.
    Anderson died Dec. 4 in Charlotte.
    Anderson played a key role in the development of Carmel. The club's original 18 holes opened in 1950. A new nine-hole course, now known as the North Course, was launched in 1967 and expanded to 18 holes in 1998.
    Upon the news of Anderson's death, the Carolinas Golf Association described him on social media as "a true southern gentleman and extremely knowledgeable about golf and the turf industry."
    He is remembered by many as a mentor and leader who helped others in their own career development pursuits.
    "I had the chance to work for Bill," Scott Mauldin, CGCS at Bayville Golf Club in Virginia, said on social media. "(H)e sure created the vision for professionalism and commodity for me as a turf student. He will surely be missed."
    Anderson was a leader locally among superintendents in North and South Carolina. He was a former president and two-term board member of the Carolinas GCSA, was the 2008 recipient of the chapter's Distinguished Service Award and was a past president and vice president of the North South Turfgrass Association.
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