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From the TurfNet NewsDesk

  • John Reitman
    An irrigation audit under way at the Bear Trace at Harrison Bay in Harrison, Tennessee. Photo by Paul Carter There are countless stories that are a mouse click away that slam golf and everything it is about, from how they allegedly waste water to poisoning the soil with pesticides and fertilizers to handling animals that root in the soil. The reality is few if any of those stories perpetrated by mainstream media are based in fact, and superintendents are far ahead of the curve when it comes to environmental stewardship. To that end, when it comes to communicating the sustainability efforts of a golf, the best choice to convey the message is in the mirror.
    "For me, it's vitally important to show the world and our community that we are stewards of the land," said Paul Carter, CGCS at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay in Harrison, Tennessee (at right). "We sit on 660 acres and we maintain 125 of that. Three-quarters of the property is the residence for the wildlife here. It's their home, we just come out here to play.
    "We have to be conscious of what we do on the property and the only way to let people know what we're doing is to tell our story."
    Stewardship is something Carter wears on his sleeve at Harrison Bay. The property has been certified in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf since 2008, and the course became known around the globe 12 years ago when a video camera perched atop a tree showed the parenting skills of bald eagles to viewers around the world.
    Since then, visitors, many of them non-golfers, descend on Harrison Bay each winter to get a close-up view of the eagles in their natural habitat as well as the golf operation at work. The eagle cam will return next year after taking a year off to update the set up with new equipment. 
    "We have the Friends of Harrison Bay State Park who monitor our bluebird boxes, and every Tuesday after the eagles hatch we open the 11th hole for people to photograph and view the eagles," Carter said. "We do that for about three months, those are people who never play golf. They get to see us maintaining the golf course, and we stop and talk to them because we're spokesmen for the golf course. We try our best to put that out there by inviting the community on the golf course and see what we're doing.
    "Being in front of people and telling our story is vitally important."
    In Greenwich, Connecticut, Jim Pavonetti, CGCS, is a mouthpiece for Fairview Country Club as well as a handful of other private clubs in the town.
    Earlier this year, Pavonetti was named a winner of the GCSAA Environmental Leaders in Golf Award at Fairview, which has been a certified Audubon property for 13 years. This year was the ninth time Pavonetti has been an ELGA winner since 2006. He submitted his work at Fairview for a sustainability award given by the Greenwich Sustainability.

    Fairview Country Club in Greenwich, Connecticut. Photo by Jim Pavonetti Although he did not win the award, Pavonetti did not walk away empty handed.
    "I didn't get it, but I got invited to be on the committee," Pavonetti said. "Now, I get to represent golf and the interests of eight private clubs in one town."
    The committee includes a diverse cross section of Greenwich residents, including engineers, local leaders and concerned citizens.
    "It's nice to have a voice," Pavonetti (at right) said. "And if they're going to pass an ordinance that would affect golf, I can try to change that or at least talk to them about it."
    Pavonetti sees his place on the committee as an avenue to communicate what he and other superintendents in Connecticut do for the environment.
    "This is me getting out of my comfort zone," he said. "This is the opposite of me, but I'm doing it, and when I speak, everyone stops talking and they listen to every word."
    Indeed, others on the committee recognize Pavonetti's expertise. A woman on the committee who is committed to keeping natural grass fields throughout the town comes to him for advice as a turfgrass expert.
    Among Pavonetti's goals while on the committee is to promote smart water use among non-golf constituencies.
    "My focus is protecting water quality and water conservation," he said. "You can drive through my town or your town and see sprinklers running in every office park when it's raining. Golf courses aren't doing that. It's residents of the town are doing that."
    Pavonetti says not to discount the importance of government outreach efforts.
    "Some of the most important things in my New York and Connecticut days were to go lobby and sit with legislators, explain some of the bills that were coming up and how they were going to affect golf, and how those bills may or may not be based in science. Legislators are pressured by the public, or the media. If they approve a new pesticide, there are those who will turn it around with no education even though new products are 10 times safer than the old ones that are less desirable.
    "Politicians promise voters, especially on Long Island, that they won't allow any more pesticides. That sounds great to a homeowner, but those decisions are not educated decisions."
    That's why, as Harrison Bay's Carter says, it's best to look within to communicate what you do.
    "Nobody tells your story better than you," Carter said. "So, don't let anyone else tell it for you."
  • The work of the John Deere Foundation could not be accomplished without the efforts of the company's employees. John Deere photo John Deere has a history of supporting charitable endeavors that spans decades. Giving to worthy causes occurs both in the many communities in which Deere operates and elsewhere around the world through its foundation.
    Reportedly one of the earliest corporate foundations established for community support efforts, the John Deere Foundation started with an $18,000 commitment to the Moline Community Chest in the company’s hometown in western Illinois. 
    As it celebrates its 75th anniversary, the John Deere Foundation has grown in lockstep with its parent company, giving out more than $400 million since its founding in 1948.
    "Whenever we give freely to nonprofit organizations and provide them with the resources they can use to better serve others, they have a greater impact. . . . (T)he Foundation strives to earn the trust of the nonprofits and communities we serve," said Nate Clark, Global Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and President of the John Deere Foundation. "This is our legacy and our future."
    Two years ago, the foundation announced a commitment to award a minimum of $200 million during the next decade. In those two years, the foundation has exceeded $68 million in total giving, provided 42 million meals to those in need, supported 6,000 non-profit organizations and served 290,000 marginalized youth through its educational programs.
    None of this work would be possible without the sweat and hard work of Deere’s employees, who in the past two years have contributed more than 550,000 volunteer hours (including 260,000 this year) and $10 million in personal donations.
    "When John Deere employees volunteer for or give to causes that mean something to them, they create a ripple effect that has an immediate impact on individuals and families within our home communities," said John May, CEO of John Deere and Chairman of the John Deere Foundation. "The John Deere Foundation has been a powerful catalyst for change since 1948, and we will continue to invest generously in organizations that help relieve and uplift our neighbors. It's about treating people with honesty, integrity, and respect—plain and simple."
  • On the back of golf's resurgent popularity, the Carolinas GCSA enjoyed one of its most successful conferences.
    According to the 1,800-member Carolinas chapter, its 2023 conference and show in Myrtle Beach attracted 1,995 attendees from 30 states and Canada, the most since 2,006 attended the 2013 show. The show, held Nov. 13-14, grossed a record $830,000-plus, which is more than a 15 percent increase from last year's record-setting show.
    "There are all sorts of metrics people use to gauge how the industry is doing – rounds, memberships, renovation and construction activity – but at the end of the day, the big tell is how much industry players are spending. And there might be no better snapshot of that in this region than our Conference and Show," said Tim Kreger, Carolinas GCSA executive director.

    The 2023 Carolinas GCSA Conference and Show set record highs for gross revenue and education seats sold. Photo courtesy of Trent Bouts "This is where golf course superintendents come for education and to meet face to face with manufacturers, suppliers and service providers. When all those groups turn up and spend like they did this year, you know the game is in a great place."
    The show also set a new record with 1,511 education seminar seats sold, eclipsing the previous high of 1,366 in 2019.
    In other conference highlights:
    Pete Gerdon, from Grandfather Golf and Country Club in Linville, North Carolina, was elected the association's 50th president; Three new members to the board of directors were elected — Eric Dusa, CGCS from Marlboro County Golf and Recreational Complex in Bennettsville, South Carolina; Matt Jones, CGCS from Forsyth Country Club in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; and Todd Lawrence, CGCS from The Country Club at Wakefield Plantation in Raleigh, North Carolina; Fred Yelverton, Ph.D., of North Carolina State University, received the Distinguished Service Award; Steve Agazzi, from Charleston Municipal Golf Course in Charleston, South Carolina, won the golf championship presented in partnership with Toro and Smith Turf & Irrigation; Adam Cribbet, from Old Tabby Links at Spring Island in Okatie, South Carolina, won the sporting clays championship; Ron Kelly, CGCS from the Country Club of North Carolina in Pinehurst, North Carolina, won a fishing trip for two to Panama in the 27-Hole Challenge; Eric Church, from Hound Ears Club in Blowing Rock, North Carolina was named Turf Equipment Technician of the Year by the Turf Equipment Technicians Association of the Carolinas; Clemson University's No. 1 team and Horry-Georgetown Technical College recorded the first tie in the history of the Turf Bowl.
  • With an ongoing war in Ukraine, unrest in the Middle East, lingering inflation and economic uncertainty, Washington politics run amuck and there and it is no wonder more than 1 in 5 of all adults in the U.S. receive some sort of mental health therapy and the number of people questioning their own mental stability is at a record high.
    All that said, there are always things to be positive about. We asked a few people in the golf industry what about the business they are thankful for this year.
    Dave Schlagetter
    Indian Hill Club
    Winnetka, Illinois
    "When I step back and look at the big picture, I owe all I am to the game of golf. Golf provided for my family and put my kids through college. For the last 40 years golf has given me all the essentials of food, shelter, clothing. Golf has given me the opportunity to meet people and experience a life that would never have been provided me without it. I am a lucky guy and truly thankful for the game of golf."

    Kevin Ross occasionally overnights in his Airstream trailer during golf course visits, like this trip to Estes Park Golf Course in Estes Park, Colorado, where John Feeney is superintendent. Photo courtesy of Kevin Ross Kevin Ross
    Loveland, Colorado
    "I'm thankful for the amazing reception I receive from superintendents throughout the U.S. and world when I contact them. Whether it's about touring their golf course, video work, permission to use a photo or just stopping to say hello, I'm always welcomed with open arms. I've even had some supers offer overnights with my Airstream in the clubhouse lot. It's an amazing community of amazing people, and I'm thankful for that."
    Paul MacCormack
    Fox Meadow Golf Course
    Stratford, Prince Edward Island
    Yes, Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving, although it is the second Monday of October. 
    "If I had to reflect on something I am thankful for within our industry, it would be the people. I feel so blessed and fortunate to work and communicate with such a good group of folks. It may sound cliche, but it's true."
    Steven Neulip
    Etowah Valley Golf & Resort
    Etowah, North Carolina
    "A great, tight-knit industry that readily provides support, shares knowledge and has people that are always willing to help one another. Even if they are direct competitors. The relationships that I have developed over the last 40 years. Support organizations and companies that support the golf and turf industry." 
    Fred Gehrisch
    Highlands Falls Country Club
    Highlands, North Carolina 
    "I'm thankful for my staff for supporting me and making the transition (from director of golf course operations) to general manager and being on board with the changes I'm making. More than that, I didn't realize until this year the demands of the job and how it affected the lives of those at home. I'm thankful for my wife, Lynn, supported me through it all. Being the spouse of a workaholic is not easy. And she helps me even when I think 'What am I doing, doing this?' She keeps me grounded."

    Fred Gehrisch has had a lot of support in his first year as general manager at Highlands Falls Country Club in Highlands, North Carolina. Sam MacKenzie
    Olympia Fields Country Club
    Olympia Fields, Illinois
    "I guess you could say I'm thankful the 2023 BMW Championship went as well as it did for all of us involved and it now is in the books. Add to it all of the various construction projects we did this year and I am looking forward to this winter more than most."
    Kevin Breen
    La Rinconada Country Club
    Los Gatos, California
    "I am thankful for the record number of rounds of golf being played and for those committed to working in this great industry that keeps those players coming back."

    Record play and support from golfers is at the top of Kevin Breen's list of things for which he is thankful this year. Twitter photo Rob Golembiewski
    Atticus LLC
    Columbus, Ohio
    "I am thankful for the 35-plus years spent in this amazing industry. More so, I am grateful for all the fantastic people that have come into my life because of the turf industry and the special friendships that have resulted and continue to this day."
  • In the spirit of doing for others in need as the holiday season approaches, Profile Products brought employees and community organizations together for the inaugural Profile Community Impact Week. The initiative united more than 150 employees at Profile locations around the world as well as those who work remotely to effect change in their local communities.
    From Oct. 16 to Oct. 20, Profile employees engaged in a wide range of activities aimed at supporting local charities, enhancing community spaces and participating in worthy causes. Each location selected an organization or activity based on input from employees.
    "The effect of Community Impact Week goes far beyond the activities of this single week. It's about building a legacy of community and creating lasting change," said Profile's Rebecca Young. "Our employees' enthusiastic participation demonstrates our commitment to making a positive difference in the communities where we live, work and play."

    Profile Products employees in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, collected pet supplies and visited the rescue dogs at Second City Canine Rescue. Photo courtesy of Profile Products In Blue Mountain, Mississippi, employees collected hygiene products and clothing for children, which were donated to Together for Tippah, an organization that serves families in need. 
    In Bowling Green, Florida, team members completed grounds-improvement projects at the Center for Great Apes, a sanctuary for orangutans and chimpanzees. 
    Team members in Buffalo Grove, Illinois collected pet supplies to support Second City Canine Rescue, an organization committed to rescuing and rehabilitating dogs in the Chicago area. 
    To address food insecurities in the area, employees in Conover, North Carolina volunteered at the Hickory Soup Kitchen and collected food and hygiene kits for local organizations. And in Hickory, North Carolina, employees took part in the Out of the Darkness Community Walk with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, raising awareness and funds for suicide-prevention efforts. 
    Across the border in Limestone, Tennessee, employees organized a food drive for Second Harvest Food Bank and initiated fundraisers for the Greene County Schools Family Resource Center and Limestone Free Will Baptist Church.
    Just to the south in Monticello, Georgia, team members held a canned food drive and volunteered with local organizations of their choice. 

    Profile Products employees in St. Catharines, Ontario, teamed up with Start me Up Niagara to provide assistance to homeless individuals in the community. Photo courtesy of Profile Products Activities in Rockford, Washington, included cleaning up the grounds at the Rockford Area Museum and Historical Society and participating in a tree-planting program at the local Rockford City Park. 
    Four separate virtual teams from across North America worked to support various causes individually, as well. These included a fundraiser for Every Kids Sports, ensuring that underserved youth have access to organized sports; while other teams participated in 5K walks or charitable giving to support the Animal Human Society, National Forest Foundation, Surfrider Foundation and Habitat for Humanity.
    Efforts took place internationally as well. In St. Catharines, Ontario, a fundraiser was organized for Start Me Up Niagara, a community organization that provides assistance to the homeless. 
    Finally, in Tamil Nadu, India, the team in that country donated food items, stationery and sweets to a non-governmental organization that provides support to deserted children and seniors.
    "Community Impact Week brings to life our core values, one of which is to 'Foster a Passion for a Better Tomorrow,'" said Shane Porzio, president and CEO for Profile Products. "We are excited to build on the success of this year's activities and continue our journey of community engagement with the goal of enriching the lives of our employees and making our communities better places for everyone."
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released an updated version of its Plant Hardiness Zone Map. It is the first update of the tool used to determine which plants are most likely to thrive in a specific geographic location since 2012.
    The updated map was developed by USDA's Agricultural Research Service and Oregon State University's PRISM Climate Group and is based on 30-year averages of the lowest annual winter temperatures at specific locations. It is divided into 10-degree Fahrenheit zones and further divided into 5-degree Fahrenheit half-zones by incorporating data from 13,412 weather stations, compared with the 7,983 with the 2012 map.
    According to the USDA, about 80 million people use the map at some point throughout the year.
    The site also includes Tips for Growers that provides information about USDA ARS research programs.
    Plant hardiness zone designations represent what’s known as the "average annual extreme minimum temperature" at a given location during a particular time period.
    As with the 2012 map, the new version has 13 zones across the United States and its territories. Each zone is broken into half zones, designated as "A" and "B." The updated map reveals that about half the country shifted to the next warmer half zone.
    These national differences in zonal boundaries are mostly a result of incorporating more data.
    The annual extreme minimum temperature represents the coldest night of the year and varies by year and local weather patterns. Changes are a result of changing weather patterns as well as advancements in technology and improved data from more weather stations. 
  • Anyone headed to Arizona for a winter golf conference might want to pack a jacket, and those located in parts of the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast might want to start putting together a plan to thwart winter damage on greens.
    Slightly warmer water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific could trigger El Niño conditions in much of the country this winter, according to meteorologist Herb Stevens, principal of Grass Roots Weather and T3 Golf. That could translate into cooler-than-normal temperatures throughout much of the South from California to Florida, heavier precipitation in parts of the eastern U.S. and some extended periods of frigid polar air.
    When water temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific are warmer than usual, the result usually is an El Niño winter that brings cool, wet conditions across the South, drier-than-normal conditions in the Midwest and more precipitation in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
    A La Niña is the result of cooler temperatures in the Pacific and translates into dry conditions across the country's southern tier, unseasonably warm temperatures in the upper South and increased precipitation in the Midwest.
    "The Pacific is the biggest source of heat energy on the planet," Stevens said. "When the water temperatures are warmer than normal, or cooler than normal, it has an effect on weather conditions in North America.
    "If you're going to Phoenix for the GCSAA show, you better bring a coat, or at least a jacket."
    Stevens recently was speaking with a friend who spends the winters in Florida playing golf.
    "They had three great years of La Niña," Stevens said. "He said in three years he never touched a rain jacket. I told him he better find it."
    Water has 1,000 times the heat energy of air, Stevens said. And since the Pacific is the world's largest body of water, fluctuations in water temperature greatly affect global weather patterns.

    An El Niño winter often means colder conditions in the desert Southwest. PGA Tour photo Deviations of 1.5 degrees Celsius in temperature can result in a strong El Niño or a Niña.
    This year, those temperature fluctuations are not as dramatic. That makes accurate predictions even more of a challenge, said Stevens.
    "This is going to be a weak to moderate El Niño," Stevens said. "When it's weaker, accurate forecasting is a toss-up."
    The Great Lakes and Midwest should be drier this winter, but a phenomenon known as Sudden Stratospheric Warming, which is a disruption to the polar vortex and results in extremely cold air descending into North America.
    "The cold that comes with Sudden Stratospheric Warming lasts longer and is more extreme," Stevens said. "History tells us that January will be harsh in the Great Lakes, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic."
    Stevens is a former TV meteorologist and one of the original on-air personalities when The Weather Channel debuted in 1982. He has been providing weather reports to the skiing and golf turf industry for more than 20 years with Grass Roots Weather. In 2021, Stevens and fellow meteorologist Garrett Bastardi launched T3 Golf which provides golf course superintendents with short-term forecasts at an uber local level.
    Aside from the threat of another polar vortex, there are other reasons for concern among superintendents in some parts of the eastern half of the country.
    "It is my estimation that this winter could be stressful for superintendents because of snow cover and ice cover from the Central Appalachians to the Northeast," he said. "And it's going to be cold and dry in other areas, and the concern is desiccation."
    There's more good news. An El Niño winter typically means a longer winter.
    "The air is colder, and it keeps it cloudy and these storms don't allow for an early spring," Stevens said. "With El Niño there will be no early start to the spring."
  • Former LPGA Tour professional and tour TV broadcaster Dottie Pepper has been named the recipient of the GCSAA's 2024 Old Tom Morris Award.
    The Old Tom Morris Award is presented to an individual who, through a continuing lifetime commitment to the game of golf, has helped to mold the welfare of the game in a manner and style exemplified by Old Tom Morris. Old Tom Morris was a four-time British Open winner and the legendary greenkeeper at St. Andrews in Scotland.
    Pepper was a 17-time LPGA tour winner whose victories included two majors (1992, 1999 Nabisco Dinah Shore). She competed in six Solheim Cup events, finished atop the LPGA money list in 1992 and finished in the top 10 ten times. She is the seventh female to win the Old Tom award, joining Patty Berg (1986), Dinah Shore (1993), Nancy Lopez (2000), Judy Ranking (2010), Annika Sorenstam (2014) and Renee Powell, who, along with her family, was the 2019 recipient.
    "When you put me in a group with Judy and Dinah and those others in the same sentence, it's significant," Pepper said in a news release. "This is the pinnacle, you know, like Mount Everest, for a garden geek and dirt nerd like me."
    She will be recognized on Jan. 31 at the 2024 GCSAA Conference and Trade Show in Phoenix.
    "Dottie Pepper has had a standout career as both a major champion and a golf reporter," GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans said in a news release. "But she also has a deep appreciation for what all goes into making the game happen and the work that superintendents do, which is why Dottie Pepper is an ideal recipient of the Old Tom Morris Award."
    Pepper's first career win was a playoff victory over Beth Daniel in the 1989 Oldsmobile LPGA Classic at Stonebridge Golf and Country Club in Boca Raton, Florida. Her final win came in the season-ending ADT Championship in 2000 at Trump International in West Palm Beach.
    She moved off the golf course and behind the microphone in 2004. In 2020 she was the first-ever walking reporter during the Masters.
    A native of Saratoga Springs, New York, Pepper comes from an athletic family. Her father, Don Pepper, was a professional baseball player who had a short stint in the Majors with the Detroit Tigers. She took up the game at an early age, and her father built a practice range on the family farm in New York to keep her interested. It was there that she also learned an appreciation for maintaining fine cut turf.

    Dottie Pepper is a 17-time LPGA Tour winner and an accomplished TV analyst. She will be recognized in January as the 2024 Old Tom Morris Award recipient. Furman University photo "It had well-manicured greens. I was never allowed to mow the greens, but I certainly mowed the fairways on the tractor in my youth," Pepper said in the release. "I knew when it was time to aerate and put things to bed properly for the winter."
    When she was 14, Pepper turned to PGA professional George Pulver as her coach. She wrote about the impact Pulver had on her life in her book "Letters to a Future Champion: My Time with Mr. Pulver" (Mission Point, 2021, 195 pages).
    She thrived as Pulver's student. At 15 she won the 1981 New York State Amateur and was the low amateur in the U.S. Women's Open in 1984. At Furman University, Pepper was a three-time All-American and graduated in 1987 with a bachelor's degree in health sciences. She joined the LPGA Tour in 1988.
    After a 16-year professional career that included two major wins, a 13-5-2 career record in the Solheim Cup and being named Player of the Year in 1992, Pepper retired from the Tour in 2004 for the next phase in her career.
    "When she came to us, she immediately raised our broadcasts to a new level," said Jim Nantz, Pepper's CBS colleague and 2021 Old Tom recipient. "She executes to perfection."
    Pepper's preparation for telecasts often relies on superintendents. 
    "I try to speak with the superintendent on a regular basis," she said, "especially those superintendents who have gone through a restoration or renovation because they're the ones who are hands-on the whole time."
    Old Tom Morris Award recipients
    2023 — Johnny Morris
    2022 — Vince Gill
    2021 — Jim Nantz
    2020 — Gary Player
    2019 — The Powell Family
    2018 — Ernie Els
    2017 — Paul R. Latshaw
    2016 — Herb Kohler
    2015 — Dan Jenkins
    2014 — Annika Sorenstam
    2013 — Mike Hurdzan, Ph.D.
    2012 — Peter Jacobsen
    2011 — Nick Price
    2010 — Judy Rankin
    2009 — Col. John Morley
    2008 — Greg Norman
    2007 — Charles Sifford
    2006 — Joseph M. Duich, Ph.D
    2005 — Jack Nicklaus
    2004 — Rees Jones
    2003 — Pete Dye
    2002 — Walter Woods, Esq.
    2001 — Timothy W. Finchem
    2000 — Nancy Lopez
    1999 — Jaime Ortiz-Patiño
    1998 — Ken Venturi
    1997 — Ben Crenshaw
    1996 — Tom Fazio
    1995 — Dr. James R. Watson
    1994 — Byron Nelson
    1993 — Dinah Shore
    1992 — Tom Watson
    1991 — William C. Campbell
    1990 — Sherwood A. Moore, CGCS
    1989 — Juan "Chi Chi" Rodriguez
    1988 — Gene Sarazen
    1987 — Robert Trent Jones Sr.
    1986 — Patty Berg
    1985 — Gerald Ford
    1984 — Bob Hope
    1983 — Arnold Palmer
  • Height of cut on the Turf Pride roller mowers can be adjusted up and down without the need for tools. Turf Pride photo For professional turf managers who do not want to compromise quality of cut in hard-to-mow areas, Turf Pride recently introduced its new and improved line of roller mowers.
    Available in 11-, 15- and 17-foot tow-behind models as well as three-point hitch versions that cut widths of 43, 57 and 72 inches. Tow-behind models have full width front and rear rollers for following contours, as well as mowing around bunkers and along cart paths with a quality that helps reduce the need for string trimming. The three-point hitch versions are are outfitted with full-width rear rollers and front castors.

    Height of cut is adjusted in one-sixteenth-inch increments by removing and reinserting spacers, with no tools required.
    Mowing decks are constructed of 7-gauge steel for durability and to maximize safety, and drive belts are reinforced with kevlar.
    Four blade selections are available: fine cut, medium cut, heavy duty cut and ultra thatch blades that, with available reversible and replaceable blade tips, can turn clippings into dust in a single pass.
  • Jonathan Larson knew that spotted lanternfly would be such a problem that he became an expert in the field before they ever found their way into his state.
    "I just wanted to prepare people because the wolf is at the door," said Larson. "I hate when people are surprised by invasive species. It's better to have some knowledge in your back pocket."
    Larson earned a bachelor's degree at Purdue and was fast-tracked in the Ph.D. program at Kentucky by UK entomologist and former USGA Green Section Award winner Dan Potter, Ph.D.
    Spotted lanternfly is an invasive species that came to the U.S. in 2014 on a shipping freighter. It was first found here in Pennsylvania in packing material.
    According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, spotted lanternfly is now found in 14 states, but Larson says it is probably more than that now.
    That list includes Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia.
    There is only one generation of spotted lanternfly a year in the U.S. Adults mate in late august and early autumn, lay their eggs, which are covered in a brown smear that helps them survive over winter until spring when they hatch and the life cycle begins all over again.
    Unlike other invasive insects like the elm bark beetle, or emerald ash borer that chew into trees and ultimately kill them, spotted lanternfly is just a nuisance pest that invade in huge numbers then feed off the sap of several varieties of trees and poop out a sticky excrement that falls on whatever is underneath the tree, which might include golfers and golf cars. It also attracts other unwanted visitors like yellow jackets.
    "They constantly go to the bathroom, and that sticky excrement attracts sooty mold and stinging insects," Larson said "It doesn't do any damage, but a lot of people don't want to be outside near these insects. They're odd looking, and they'll get on your or get tangled in your hair. And they just go to the bathroom all the time. It's like if you just drank Mountain Dew all day every day, you'd just go to the bathroom all day, too."

    When spotted lanternfly find a tree on which to feed, they show up en masse. Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture photo The adults also will lay their eggs on just about anything, which helps facilitate their interstate spread, Larson said.
    "The egg case looks like a muddy smear, and there are about 40 or so eggs under this brown coating," he said. "You expect them to lay their eggs on shrubs and trees, but they'll lay them on firewood, cars, trains, paver sones, just about anywhere.
    "They're getting thicker in Cincinnati. Let's say you drive there in the fall. A female crawls in the wheel well of your car, lays her eggs then you drive back home. Nobody noticed the hitchhiker they just brought home."
    Tree of heaven is their preferred place to congregate and feed, but often any port in a storm will do and they'll attack any one of dozens of other species.
    When they find a tree on which to feed, they often swarm in by the hundreds and sometimes thousands, Larson said, making them virtually impossible to control once they have been detected.
    The best option for superintendents is to remove tree of heaven if it grows in out-of-play areas, or inject desired or strategic trees with a neonicotinoid class of insecticide like dinotefuran.
    "They feed on the trees as nymphs and adults," Larson said. "That will kill them."
    The spotted lanternfly also is equipped with a built-in self-defense mechanism.
    "They are black with white spots through the third install stage. The tree of heaven has a smell of rotten peanut butter," Larson said. "They are able to ingest that and sequester that, and that makes them taste bad to predators."
    Still, there are a few things in the U.S. that will eat the spotted lanternfly. Those predators include common garden spiders, some species of praying mantis and chickens.
    "They have no role in the ecosystem. They serve no grand purpose except to be food for something else that eats them," Larson said "The problem is they reproduce so quickly that it is hard for their enemies in the U.S. to keep up with them."
  • Dorothy famously said "there's no place like home" as she clicked her ruby slipper-covered heels in an effort to return to Kansas 84 years ago. Apparently, she had never been to Idaho.
    For nearly a quarter-century, there has been a Gourlay employed at Colbert Hills.
    That run is about to come to an end soon when Matt Gourlay, CGCS, leaves Colbert Hills in Manhattan, Kansas, for the next phase in his career.
    On Dec. 4, Gourlay will begin his new position as superintendent at Hillcrest Country Club in Boise, Idaho.
    He leaves behind a golf course, where his father, David, was grow-in superintendent and chief financial officer, and that Golfweek ranked as the No. 5 public access course in Kansas.
    "It's definitely emotional," said Gourlay, 38. "I've gone through a whole range of emotions at one time — happy, sad, anxious."
    Gourlay began working for his father at Colbert Hills when he was 14 years old. 
    "They paid me in cash because I was underage," Gourlay said. 
    "It was like doing chores. My dad would say 'Come to the golf course. There's something you can help me with.' "
    While he attended Kansas State, Gourlay worked for three years under superintendent Kenny Rogers.
    Gourlay was a senior at KSU in 2007 when Rogers retired. He applied to be Rogers' successor, and was hired as superintendent before graduation.
    Leaving a place that has been so important to his family for so long was no easy decision for Gourlay, wife Jenna and their 5-year-old son, Payne.
    "There were a lot of things that we considered as a family," Gourlay said. "One was it had to be a really special place. And we think Boise is the place, and we think Hillcrest is that golf course.
    "We love the scenery. It's at the base of the foothills. … The city is in a plateau, then there are hills and the Rockies are right behind it. I'm Canadian and I played a lot of hockey. There are a lot of outdoor sports to do with my son."
    According to course history, Hillcrest sits on the site of the old Idaho Country Club. The original nine holes at Hillcrest were fashioned in the 1940s. The second nine, located across a road, came some 20 years later. All 18 were designed by Oregon architect A. Vernon Macan. 
    Since 1990, Hillcrest has been the site of the Korn Ferry Tour Boise Open.
    Eventually landing at a bigger club, perhaps one that was a tour stop, also went into the decision to leave Colbert Hills, said Gourlay, the 2015 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year. To that end, members at Colbert Hills have been positive since he told them he was leaving.
    "There has been such an outpouring of support," he said. "Everyone has been so supportive for the past 24 years. It's sad leaving, but they understand that I was destined to take on a bigger club with more resources."
    One of Gourlay's biggest supporters now and since he was named superintendent has been the facility's namesake, professional golfer Jim Colbert.
    "Jim Colbert has always been a supporter of mine," Gourlay said. "He's been super appreciative of everything."
    Gourlay's goal at Hillcrest is a simple one.
    "I want to build upon what they've done so far," he said. 
    "They don't have a master plan, but maybe we can come up with one for the club to enhance what they have.
    "It's important for a club to buy-in to what a master plan is and what they want as a club.
    "A goal of mine is to create one and create a vision where they can improve the course in the next several years."
  • There is no mistaking the fact that everything about the game of golf has been under assault for some time. I can recite the complaints in my sleep: It caters only to rich white people, it's a waste of real estate, it uses too much water, it poisons the environment.
    We've heard it all.
    Just when you think you've read the dumbest thing yet to disparage the business of golf, guess what? There's more.
    For the past two weeks, assistant superintendent Emily Casey's video of javelina damage at Seven Canyons in Sedona, Arizona, has attracted more than 33 million views and a lot of commentary. Some funny, some helpful, some ridiculous.
    A story published on Yahoo claimed that the javelina herd making its daily trek through Seven Canyons is doing so because golf courses across Arizona threaten their natural habitat.
    The story is a partisan hit job, ignorant of the facts necessary to frame an objective description of the events. Instead, it supports a pre-ordained, anti-golf agenda. It's the kind of subjective "journalism" The story further illustrates the disconnect between your business and those who do not follow the game and have no idea what you do. 
    To them, you rob the planet of its water resources and poison the environment.
    Comprising nearly 114,000 square miles, Arizona is the country's sixth-largest state by area and is 14th in population with 7.4 million people. With about 370 golf courses across the state, it's not even in the top 10 in that category. There are a humble seven golf courses within 15 miles of Sedona, so it seems like the javelina in the country's 48th state have some room to spread out.
    In light of those facts, the story's author calls golf courses "water hungry" and "a nuisance to environmentalists." Never mind Arizona's population that has exploded by 470 percent in the past 60 years, from 1.3 million in 1960 to 7.4 million today, or how housing developments, strip malls and highways encroach on javelina habitat to a much greater degree, or how much water is used by the millions of Arizonans who have chosen to live in a desert.
    Talk about a strain on water resources and habitat.
    But let's blame golf. After all, it's an easy target and it doesn't fight back.
    The story cites a University of Arizona researcher who says in the face of shrinking habitat, the javelina have "no choice" but to raid golf courses for food - in this case lush green turf. 
    Two things. First, if the golf course was not there, there would be no lush green turn for the Javelina. Second, Casey is on record saying the javelina are digging for earthworms, which she notes are beneficial to the soils at Seven Canyons.
    But who cares about facts?
    "It's sad because we have coexisted with wildlife for our entire evolutionary history," the "researcher" said. "Up until the past 200 or 300 years, this wasn't seen as an 'us versus them.' It was just seen as living."
    Three-hundred years? That's nearly a decade before the birth of George Washington.
    The truth is that javelina are prolific breeders — females usually have two litters of two young per year — and are thriving so much that they have been hunted legally for more than 60 years with hunters taking as much as 10 percent of their total population each year in a season that spans parts of January and February.
    But who cares about facts when you're trying to make a point?
  • What do you do with an 18-hole executive course struggling to make ends meet in one of the country's most golf-centric locations? Easy; turn it into a 9-hole daily fee course with a luxury apartment complex for seniors. Oh, and tie the name of the new venture to the earliest days of American history.
    Sounds different, but that's exactly what has happened at the former Heatherwood Golf Course on Long Island in New York.
    Opened in 1965, the financially struggling Heatherwood course was shuttered in 2020 in the midst of the Covid pandemic. Fast forward three years, and Heritage Spy Ring Golf Club — along with a 200-unit, upscale 55-and-over apartment community — opened on its spot in the town of Setauket, which is located along the northern coast of central Long Island.
    Although it only came together in the past few years, the transition of converting a struggling 18-hole facility to a 9-hole operation with built-in cash flow from a rental community is one that has been on the drawing board for nearly a decade. 

    Heritage Spy Ring Golf Club includes 200 upscale rental units for seniors. It was nine years ago, in 2014, when Heatherwood's owners were able to secure a zoning change that would allow for a rental community in the Long Island town, albeit a pricey one. 
    Even though zoning change allowed owners to redevelop the Heatherwood site, plans to add a luxury rental community were not approved until 2021, a year after Heatherwood closed.
    When plans for the Heatherwood site were announced, the property's owners said they wanted a challenging 9-hole layout that could be played in less than two hours but would be challenging enough to attract Long Island's better players.
    Architect Tyler Rae, who studied under Ron Prichard and Keith Foster, was brought aboard to design the new par-36 course that plays from 2,323 to 3,105 yards with holes ranging from 97 to 520 yards in length. The course is defined by its massive greens and hazards that take advantage of the property's natural landforms.
    The course draws its name from the Culper Spy Ring that was founded by Gen. George Washington's intelligence officer during the American Revolution.
  • If this whole golf course maintenance thing doesn't work out for Emily Casey, she might want to consider a career as a social media influencer.
    Casey, the assistant superintendent at Seven Canyons Golf Club in Sedona, Arizona, is the owner of the infamous video with nearly 33 million views on the site formerly known as Twitter that shows damage caused by javelinas. That's right, 33 million.
    "I know, it's crazy. I was expecting maybe a few thousand views, not 30 million," said Casey (right) laughing. "It's not even a good video. It's loud and it's shaky and it's recorded on an iPhone X. I'm not even a social media person."
    You are now.
    The video shows the result of a herd of javelina, which are native to Arizona, peeling back turf in search of a meal underneath the surface.
    "We've done all our apps for grubs, and we haven't found a grub on the golf course," Casey said. "We think they're going for earthworms." 
    The feedback the video has generated runs the gamut from supportive and sympathetic to callous and repugnant.
    Some offered thoughts and prayers, others suggested solutions to help heal the course. At the other end of the spectrum were those who concluded that Arizona is no place for a golf course, anyway, and the staff and members at Seven Canyons sort of got their comeuppance. There were even some who said Casey couldn't tell the difference between a collared peccary (the javelina's official moniker) and a feral hog.

    Ultimately, like most social media influencers, Casey was forced to limit responses on the thread and even stepped away from the unplanned notoriety.
    "Yeah, I've had to take a break from it," Casey said. "I've stopped checking my messages. It's been a little much."
    Prior to Oct. 22, the most popular video on Casey's account was a Jan. 20 clip of a northern Arizona snowstorm that to date has collected more than 480,000 views.
    "I thought that was a lot," she said. "And that was just a snowstorm. This was different." 
    The recent javelina video rapidly brought a very bright spotlight, wanted or not, onto Seven Canyons.
    "I've been posting videos of javelinas for the last few months, and no one has ever noticed," Casey said. "I posted this one on a Sunday, and by the time I came into work on Monday morning, it had more than 3 million views. I thought 'Oh, man.' "
    Andy Huber, her boss and the superintendent at Seven Canyons, was headed to the airport that day for a conference. Casey told him she'd sent him a text message when the video reached 10 million views. 
    "By the time his plane landed it was at 15 million," she said.
    And his response?
    "Oh, no. That might be publicity we don't want."
    "At first, I was a little nervous," she said. 
    "It's been a lot of publicity, but most of it has been positive. Now, we just laugh at it."
    Members not only have gobbled up the notoriety their golf course has received, many have pitched in to help repair the damage. That's a good thing, considering the javelina show up almost daily during the hot, dry months. When the javelina are most active, the Seven Canyon crew spends 100-150 hours a week repairing turf in fairways and rough and on tees and approaches.

    Damage on the 13th fairway at Seven Canyons in Sedona, Arizona. All photos by Emily Casey "The members have been great," she said. "It's been nice to have the support of the members."
    So, just what is a javelina, or collared peccary?
    Some in Casey's conversation wondered, or even claimed, that they are related to pigs, but they're not. As disgusting as pigs are, javelinas are even worse, said Casey, a Penn State graduate who has learned a lot about them since she arrived in August 2022 at Seven Canyons. 
    "They stink," Casey said. 
    Unrelated to pigs, javelinas are native the American Southwest with a natural range that extends south through Mexico and Central America into South America. They are considered game in Arizona with a strictly regulated hunting season that spans January and February. 
    That rules out the advice offered by so many on X who suggested a poison or even what caliber of ammunition would be best to wipe them out.
    Even those who hunt them legally during season are permitted only one per tag.
    "They're native to here, just like deer," she said. "And we wouldn't just blow away deer."
    They're native like deer with the odor of a skunk, leading some to call them "skunk pig."
    A scent gland on the javalina's rump emits a strong odor that most find repulsive but javelina consider inviting. They rub their rears on trees to mark territory, and they rub it on other javelina to identify members of their herd, which can number up to 50 or more.
    "It's nasty," Casey said. "If you hunt them and get their oils on the meat, it spoils the meat. And if you hit that scent gland, forget it. You just have to leave it for the coyotes, and they probably won't even touch it."

    In the meantime, the javelina run roughshod over Seven Canyons almost daily. When Casey posted a time-lapse video of the Seven Canyons crew repairing damage, viewers noted how they'll just return and damage the same area.
    "That's what they do. They come right back the next day," she said. "We have to laugh about it. If you don't, you'll cry."
    Javelina activity is dependent on weather. They are less active - at least on the golf course - during rainy periods and throughout the winter.
    "When it's hot and dry, they're here almost every day," Casey said. "Last summer we had a lot of rain, so we didn't see too many."
    With overnight temperatures in the 30s in northern Arizona, the javelina finally are becoming less visible at Seven Canyons. When winter hits, they'll disappear.
    "I think now they're just loading up, getting as many earthworms as they can before winter," Casey said. "When it's freezing, there's nothing here for them."
    With each visit, they hit the same cluster of holes. They're favorite run includes holes 9, 11, 15, 16 and the practice range.
    "It looks worse on video than it is," Casey said. "They're like animal sod cutters. They roll up the turf and we just roll it back - at least in the fairways. The rough is the worst, we've had to shut down trying to repair the rough until they go away."
    To minimize future damage, the club is soliciting bids to complete fencing of the property.
    "Traps don't work. They're very territorial. Once one herd leaves, another one will take right over," Casey said. 
    "The club is partially fenced. We're taking bids right now to see who can complete it ASAP." 
  • Agronomy is among the many training modules offered by the Bobby Jones Links Leadership Center. BJL photo Bobby Jones Links is adding a new division focused on leadership training for companies in the golf and hospitality industries.
    The Bobby Jones Links Leadership Center is an educational initiative focused on training resources, consulting and best practices developed at Bobby Jones Links-managed properties across the country.
    The center's focus is on training individuals and teams within an operation on leadership systems, insights and leadership philosophies.
    The company offers consulting in agronomy, operations, food and beverage, membership services, staff training, sales and marketing, communications, risk management, development and renovation, human resources, procurement, finance and accounting, technology and social media.
    The leadership center also provides in-person training to clients, the next being Feb. 13-14 at Eastpointe Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens. Attendees do not have to be existing Bobby Jones Links clients or from BJL properties.
    Based in Alpharetta, Georgia, Bobby Jones Links manages more than two dozen clubs in 11 eastern U.S. states.
  • Funny how life changes when one encounters a fork in the road. Life hangs in the balance depending on which route is chosen.
    Steve Cook, CGCS MG, director of golf course operations at Medinah Country Club in suburban Chicago, came upon such a fork decades ago when he was a student at the University of Illinois. One route led to a dead end career in forestry, the other to an incredibly successful career as a golf course superintendent. 
    Cook, who started down one path, backtracked and eventually took the other, will retire Nov. 1 after a 40-year greenkeeping career that has taken him around the world.
    As a forestry major, Cook thought he had his career all figured out.
    "I had an affinity for forestry," Cook said. "I wanted to be a park ranger."
    Things changed when he and his classmates were dispatched to southern Illinois for a series of summer courses.
    The class was sent to a facility in Paducah, Kentucky, where lodgepole pines were trimmed and shaped into telephone poles and injected with creosote. Cook talked up one of the workers who was covered head to toe in the tarry substance.
    "I asked him how he got a job like that," Cook said. "He told me he had a master's (degree) in forestry, and that was all I heard."
    That same year, a forestry professor from the university told the class his priority was to get as many students as possible to drop out of the program.
    He asked how many people entered forestry to become a ranger, thinking they'd ride a horse through the mountains of Colorado.
    "Of course, my hand shot straight up," Cook said. "Then he told us for every job like that there were 1,000 applicants, and we'd probably end up taking tickets at a state park and cleaning bathrooms."
    Clearly, it was time to change majors.
    Cook, turning right rather than left, changed majors to horticulture, took a summer job on a golf course and the rest is history.

    Steve Cook will continue to explore the outdoors in his upcoming retirement. "You could have heard a pin drop in that room," Cook said. "Honestly, it was depressing to kill someone's dream like that. I was waiting this whole time for someone just to show me how to ride a horse. I thought I would be Smokey the Bear."
    Forty years later, Cook is set to take another fork on the road when his retirement is official. Cook worked at Medinah under Pete Wilson before taking the job at Golf de Joyenval in France, where he worked for two years.
    That led him in 1992 to the Wakonda Club in Des Moines, Iowa, where he eventually met Rick Tegtmeier.
    "When he came here, I reached out and told him whatever he needed to let me know," said Tegtmeier, CGCS at Des Moines Golf and Country Club. "We've leaned on each other a lot over the years."
    Sharing information has not been limited to agronomics on the golf course. When Tegtmeier has encountered things in his career that are outside of his control, Cook has been there with advice.
    "When I've had concerns, he tells me to get over it," Tegtmeier said. "When I need to get my head straightened out, he's my guy."
    That approach has summed up much of Cook's career.
    During the past four decades, Cook has seen tremendous advancements in greenkeeping technology, newer and more effective products make it to market and height of cut drop dramatically, increasing pressure on the turf and those who manage it.
    Eight years ago, he scaled almost all 22,349 feet of Ama Dablam in Nepal before his party was forced to turn back due to an injury among one of his colleagues.
    Whether it was in France, or Des Moines, at Medinah or at Oakland Hills in suburban Detroit where he spent 21 years and oversaw conditions for the 2004 Ryder Cup Matches, Cook always has put people ahead of the job itself.
    "I'm most proud of the relationships I've made," he said. "There have been some tough summers, and some low points. The problem with this job is you take your work home too much, and that robs you of your time. It not only robs you, but it also robs those around you. I'm looking forward to occupying my mind with other things."
    Cook is looking forward to spending time at his newly purchased home in Durango, Colorado and seeing the country from his Airstream camper.
    "I'm going to continue to hike, bike and climb," he said.
    "There have been some tough summers, and some low points. The problem with this job is you take your work home too much, and that robs you of your time. It not only robs you, but it also robs those around you. In the end, nobody remembers the green speed for the club championship. In fact, they probably forget it the next day. What people do remember is what you say to them. It's not the events. They're just a moment in time, and there is no lasting satisfaction in that. It's the people you meet along the way."
    Steve was honored in March, 2022 as a TurfNet All Star of Turf:
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