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From the TurfNet NewsDesk


  • John Reitman
    Last February 1 was positively balmy in Detroit.
     
    The daytime high temperature that day topped out at 54 degrees Fahrenheit, while the overnight low was 41. That's downright toasty for February in Michigan, and the effects trickled down to golf courses throughout the state where play for the month was up by 900 percent.
     
    This year was a different story, with more seasonal low-high temperatures of 15 and 21 in February. The effects, again, were felt on the golf course as rounds played for the month fell off by 97 percent, nearly wiping out all of last Februarys gains. The dropoff symbolizes the cold, brutal reality hitting golf courses around the country, as rounds played in February dropped off by 6 percent nationwide compared with the same month in 2012, and year-to-date play is down by nearly 8 percent through the first two months of the year, according to Golf Datatechs National Golf Rounds Played Report. February was the third consecutive month in which year-over-year rounds played had dropped.
     
    Michigan was the biggest loser in February followed closely by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, where rounds were down by 92 percent, New York (88 percent), Pennsylvania (74 percent), New Jersey (72 percent), Illinois and West Virginia (65 percent each), Ohio (56 percent), and Delaware and Maryland (53 percent).
     
    Most states that historically see cold winters took a hit in February, but two beat the trend. North and South Dakota saw the greatest increase in rounds played in February at 56 percent.
     
    The report is a nationwide survey of 2,970 private and daily fee facilities.
     
    With an 11.5 percent drop in play in February, private clubs saw less play than daily fee properties, where rounds were down by 4 percent. Year-to-date rounds at private clubs are down by 14.5 percent compared with a 5 percent slip at public access courses.
  • Eye in the sky

    By John Reitman, in News,

    Can an airplane flying "low and slow," shooting high-resolution multi-spectral imagery, help with sustainable management of your golf course? Or perhaps assist you with laying out a new facility?
     
    Steve Apfelbaum, founder and principal ecologist at Applied Ecological Services answers enthusiastically in the affirmative.
     
    "Every day we realize more landscape management applications of the aerial imagery we can acquire with our defense-grade, high-resolution, multi-spectral camera. From airport wildlife hazard assessments to wildfire risk mapping in remote backcountry, to management and planning in cities, parks, and golf courses the possibilities keep multiplying," said Apfelbaum.
     
    Much more than just pretty pictures, aerial images produced using this military-originated technology show fine enough resolution to detect objects as small as 9-12 inches in diameter, supporting precise on-the-ground measurements. On a golf course, for example, imagery can be used to keep tabs on spatially specific management concerns such as trespass or illegal dumping.
     
    The "multi-spectral" aspect of the Leica RCD30 camera refers to the Red, Green, Blue and Near-Infrared spectral bands the camera is able to image. The near-infrared band allows the formation of spectral signatures, characterizing vegetation types (and other land surfaces) by how they uniquely reflect and absorb light. This information can also be correlated with such attributes as plant stress and health, seasonal growth phases, and long-term ecological changes, allowing a manager to remotely evaluate vegetation over large areas, such as golf courses, efficiently and cost effectively.
     
    A fast turn-around is typical. An average 200-acre golf course can be flown in a half hour or less. Depending on the level of analysis needed, results can be made available quickly, within days to a couple weeks. Managers can then respond to emerging problems with alacrity, allowing operations to keep moving along smoothly to keep customers happy.
     
    At the Medallion Club (a golf course near Columbus, Ohio), AES scientists used basic aerial imagery to detect places where fairway construction had inadvertently broken historic farm field drain tiles resulting in unwanted flooding and drainage of adjacent wetlands. The situation had burgeoned to a dispute with the U.S. EPA. Imagery was used to help resolve the dilemma and avoid potential fines for unplanned wetland damages.
     
    In northern Illinois, failing historic agricultural drain tile lines were contributing to poorly drained conditions, failing lawns, and tree disease at a national historic site and adjacent golf course. Imagery was used to provide early detection and mapping of tree stress. Linked to on-the-ground identification of a fungal disease, the landscape managers of both facilities were able to take prompt corrective actions and forestall a greater calamity.

    One Illinois golf course used imagery to detect lawn areas that were over or under-fertilized, allowing for better targeted applications of expensive fertilizers.
     
    Encroachments of weedy invasive plant species were also mapped, again allowing grounds managers to selectively focus their use of herbicides. Such targeted chemical applications not only save money; they also cut down on potential contaminants in runoff.
     
    Golf courses, like airports, attract their fair share of geese, gulls, and deer (and other wildlife), which, in turn pose problems in terms of droppings and damage to vegetation. A golf course owned by the University of Illinois, located adjacent the Universitys Willard Airport, was able to make imagery do double duty. The same imagery that helped the airport understand how to manage vegetation to minimize wildlife hazards was also used by their neighbor, the golf course. Together they are creating compatible and coordinated land management plans that minimize wildlife issues.
     
    Aerial imagery can also be used to create accurate maps of the effects of rainstorms. A manager can use imagery to detect failing storm water sewers and drainage pipes, informing maintenance and repair activity. In a proactive application, imagery can be used to map erosion upstream and downstream of a golf course. These images, combined with strategic field measurements, can be used by a golf course manager to respond to water pollution accusations that may be leveled at them when pollution problems arise in the watershed.
     
    Far more than just a striking framed aerial photo on the clubhouse wall, high-resolution aerial imagery makes sustainable golf course management both doable and affordable.
     
    - Applied Ecological Services
  • The threat of attaching a name to a wild animal is that it can be easy to become too attached to it. For hundreds of followers, that has become the case with Elliott and Eloise, a pair of bald eagles living above The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay golf course near Chattanooga, Tenn.
     
    Named by Hannah Carter, daughter of Bear Trace superintendent Paul Carter, CGCS, Elliott and Eloise have been nesting at the course located in Harrison Bay State Park for the past three years. And they have gained a throng of followers around the world after a Webcam installed by a park ranger put the pair's parenting skills on display for all to see.
     
    On March 21, a pair of eaglets hatched from the two eggs that Elliott and Eloise have been guarding for weeks. Click here to view a live stream of the nest site.
    to watch a video of the hatching process. 
    It's the third season two birds have had eaglets hatch at Harrison Bay.  In 2011, a pair of eaglets hatched successfully and eventually left the nest. Last year, however, the news was not as good as two eaglets hatched, with neither surviving the process. The mortality rate for new hatchlings, according to the American Eagle Foundation, is less than 50 percent.
     
    Elliott and Eloise first were spotted near The Bear Trace golf course two years ago. They gained worldwide acclaim when park ranger Angelo Giasante, a former Army ranger, installed a Web cam so people everywhere could get a birds-eye view of their nesting habits thanks to the efforts of a group known as the Friends of Harrison Bay, a cooperative effort of the golf course at Harrison Bay, Tennessee State Parks and the USGA.
     
    In 2012, the golf course received a Governor's Environmental Stewardship Award from Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam for Carter's work in the pursuit of sustainability. The award specifically mentioned the Eagle Cam project as a factor in the course winning the award. The Governor's Environmental Stewardship Awards program recognizes exceptional voluntary actions that improve or protect Tennessee's environment and natural resources with projects or initiatives not required by law or regulation.
     
    According to the Web site www.baldeagleinfo.com and the American Bald Eagle Foundation, bald eagles mate for life and both the male and female share time guarding the nest before and after the eagles hatch. Once an endangered species, bald eagles are on the rebound thanks to conservation efforts that have resulted in an estimated 7,000-plus pairs now nesting in every state except Hawaii.
  • Dave Gardner, Ph.D., associate professor of horticulture and crop science at Ohio State University, has produced a turfgrass identification worksheet for professional turf managers.
     
    The worksheet, which is available in a downloadable PDF format, separates turf types by growth habit, ligule type, auricle type, vernation, leaf tip, sheath type and collar type, with photographs of each trait.
     
    Growth type: rhizomonous, stoloniforous, bunch type.
    Ligule type: membranous, fringe of hairs, absent.
    Auricle type: long/clawlike, short/stubby, absent.
    Vernation: folded, rolled.
    Leaf tip: boat shaped, pointed.
    Sheath type: split-overlapped, fused tube.
    Collar type: continuous, divided, constricted with twist.
     
    The worksheet also includes a check list of 17 common turfgrass varieties and the identification characteristics of each for easy cross-reference.
  • He came, he saw, he charmed and he left nothing unturned in his wake.
     
    One day last month, the perpetual tropical storm that is Donald Trump blew through Miami on a Sunday afternoon to visit his latest acquisition, the eponymous (as always) Trump Doral Golf Club and Resort. In the course of a two-hour tour de force, Trump made a thousand friends and a hundred decisions.
     
    Or so it seemed, as a whirlwind walk-through during unexpectedly windy, rainy weather had him asking for hair spray for a planned photo shoot while he was accommodating well-wishers looking for an autograph, a snapshot, a handshake or a chance to thank him for all he had done since buying the resort in June 2012.
     
    Along the way, he settled on a shade of yellow he wanted for an exterior wall, exchanged ideas with laborers on outdoor tiling, and spent 15 minutes discussing details about bathroom fixtures for the 8,000-square-foot Champions Pavilion just off the first tee at the TPC Blue Monster.
     
    That's what it takes to overhaul a resort. In the case of 51-year-old Doral, it's a matter of converting what had been a holdover from the Catskills era into a premier exemplar of trendy Caribbean-Latin American styling.
     
    Trump had flown in on his small plane not the 25-seat Boeing 757 jetliner he uses for transcontinental and overseas hauls, but a mere Cessna Citation X 10-passenger jet. He was just coming off a long weekend up the coast in the West Palm Beach area, entertaining friends at Mar-a-Lago, his sumptuous 110,000-square-foot, 126-room estate and private club resort. There was golf at Trump International Golf Club West Palm, the initial jewel in the 14-gem crown that comprises his course empire. And in the run-up to that week's Champions Tour event, the Allianz Championship at The Old Course at Broken Sound in Boca Raton, Trump managed to play a round with his new BFF, Rocco Mediate.
     
    Apparently, the charm proved transferable, as Mediate won in his Champions Tour debut while sporting a cap with the Trump name.
     
    The socializing aside, this stopover at Doral was all business a quick inspection of the grounds on the eve of a major renovation of the resort's famous TPC Blue Monster. And that's only one of many moving parts in what amounts to a total transformation of the 797-acre resort's golf amenities, guest rooms, restaurants, lobby, landscape, staffing and, of course, its fountains. Yes, those fountains, especially the four-tier limestone sculpture befitting an Italian piazza that Trump imported from Florence. It now presides between the first tee and the 18th fairway of the Blue Monster.
     
    Just as Trump arrived at the resort, the weather turned, and a clear, sunny morning suddenly morphed into a typical, if fleeting, Miami rain shower.
     
    It was enough to drive lunchgoers on the patio back under a covered veranda and this at the same time that a huge corporate shotgun tournament on the Blue Monster was ending, so that more than 100 players converged as well. A crowd surged for protective cover just as Trump had completed his lobby walk-through and prepared to head outdoors, pausing at the sight of rain.
     
    Many celebrities would shrink from an oncoming crowd. Trump, by contrast, appeared to welcome it as a moment of personal affirmation and absorbed the approaching mass into his being. He literally got taller, pumped his chest out and took on a whole new public look, one that gushed confidence in his ability to command a stage. "You see?" he told one reporter, who was dutifully scribbling everything down. "No other golf resort owner can draw a crowd like this. It's why my properties succeed."
     
    Actually, they succeed because he backs the swagger with hard work, vision and commitment. For all of the joy he takes in the drama of his persona, he goes nowhere without knowing everything about the markets in which he's dealing.
     
    "My feasibility study is my gut," he said last year, when he was completing complex negotiations with New York City to secure the management contract for Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point. Likewise at Doral, he's fond of invoking the emotional connection he has with the place a resort he used to visit in the mid-1960s with his father, Fred Trump, a New York real estate developer who was good friends with Doral's founders, the late Doris and Al Kaskel.
     
    If the emotional bond is strong, so is the paper trail leading to the $150 million purchase of the resort and subsequent commitment of what will be about $200 million in upgrades. For that, Trump, 66, relies upon a team of street-wise, spreadsheet-smart businesspeople. Chief among them on the golf property side is his son Eric, 29, executive vice president of development and acquisition for The Trump Organization. It's his job to study financial pro formas as well as the larger golf market. At Doral, the numbers revealed a loyal core of 500 golf members and 300 social members who complemented the resort trade. The Trump Organization's assessment was that even a considerable investment could pay off in terms of expected revenue given the cachet of the resort and of the Blue Monster.
     
    "Doral's in one of the fastest-growing markets in the U.S.," said Eric Trump, "with wealth coming from throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. When you consider its location, the resort's reputation, the value of a private club and the stamp of a PGA Tour event, you have just an amazing property."
     
    Come April 1, three weeks after the last putt dropped at the PGA Tour's WGC-Cadillac Championship, the bulldozers will descend on the half-century-old Dick Wilson design and subject it to a total, six-month makeover. The design work, planned by architect Gil Hanse, will add length, make the par 5s more challenging, widen the practice range, bring water more into play, introduce more risk-reward elements, improve drainage and expand greens to recapture long-lost hole locations.
     
    Hanse, known for his quiet, unassuming ways and hands-on style of design, said he has been impressed with Trump's vision and knowledge of golf design. While Hanse was studying the nuances of strategy, Trump kept pushing him on the theater of the place. Hanse credits Trump, for example, with coming up with the idea of creating a common viewing area for spectators to take in the action on the panorama provided by the 18th green, ninth green and 10th tee. To do so, it would be necessary to remove a watery ditch, move the 10th tee onto a peninsula adjoining the ninth green and reshape the entire backdrop with a mound. Trump saw all of this at once as a possibility, which impressed Hanse.
     
    But when it came to a proposed island green, Hanse balked. When Trump urged extension of a pond to encircle the otherwise placid, landlocked green on the par-3 15th, Hanse resisted, explaining that it would be out of character with Wilson's emphasis on diagonal lines of play. So the plan now is to project the relocated green out into a corner of the expanded pond and form a sharp diagonal, with the putting surface flanked by water front left and deep to the rear.
     
    You don't exactly say "no" to the new boss. But you do have to have a good explanation and be ready to defend yourself repeatedly if and when he comes back at you again. That is exactly what Doral superintendent Don Thornburgh has to do on occasion.
     
    Trump, for example, likes ficus trees as an ornamental border because of their dense growth and their glossy, bright green leaf. His Trump International Golf Club West Palm is surrounded by them. But Thornburgh, who was superintendent there from 2009 to 2012 before coming to Doral last year, advised against ficus as a border for the five courses he oversees.
     
    "That border was well-established," Thornburgh said. "But down here it would take nearly a decade to grow in, and in this slightly warmer climate they are more susceptible to an infestation of white fly. I told Mr. Trump I didn't think it paid to spend $30,000 per course just to protect them and advised we use areca palms instead as a border."
     
    If Trump relented on that, it's because he trusts Thornburgh and knows they share a vision for what golfers want in a great golf course. The first thing Trump did was expand Doral's maintenance staff from 65 full-timers to 105. At a property where guests and members like to tee off early, it's imperative to get daily maintenance done quickly and efficiently.
     
    But daily maintenance is only the start. When you're asking and getting $350 per round for your premier course, you have to deliver high quality. Indeed, you have to deliver anticipation. As Thornburgh said, "You want golfers to be ecstatic before they get to the first tee."
    To achieve that, the plan is not only to upgrade the Blue Monster but also the two adjoining 18-hole courses that golfers see as they walk out of the pro shop onto the immediate grounds the Red and Gold.
     
    For that, Trump interviewed many leading architects, most of whom were less than enthusiastic about preserving both courses as 18-hole layouts on what is a tight parcel constrained by buildings, roads and property lines. He was smitten, however, with Nick Faldo, who, after tromping around the unheralded courses for a few days, proposed a partial rerouting of some finishing holes that would allow for an expansion of the Gold Course and a substantial upgrade of both layouts. And with that, a deal was done. Work on those two courses is slated to begin in mid-2014, after the Blue Monster reopens.
     
    For the resort's Jim McLean Signature Course that sits on an outlying parcel, plans for now are limited to a bridge that would span the four-lane road dividing it from the core Doral parcel. And because the land occupied by the Greg Norman-designed Great White Shark Course on a separate parcel to the east is owned by another entity (Trump Doral only manages the golf there), the fate of that real estate will be decided later.
     
    Effusive as always, Trump said his goal for Doral is "to make this the greatest resort in the U.S." Given the lack of elevation or dramatic natural landscape views, that would seem to be a reach. More important is that by "great" he means a commitment to certain core values that cut across all of his properties: customer expectations, service, exclusivity, access to a premier private resort experience and incomparable standards of maintenance. By those indexes, he's on the right path at Doral.
     
    It's exactly that which motivated Mike O'Connell, 55, a businessman from Framingham, Mass., to grab a quick word with Trump that afternoon at Doral.
     
    As Trump was ready to roll out from under Doral's porte-cochere, he stopped his limo driver just long enough to listen to O'Connell's heartfelt comment.
     
    "We've been coming down to Doral for 16 years," O'Connell told him. "And what you've done in the last year is more impressive than what was done in all that other time."
     
    And with that, Trump was off, accompanied by a four-man motorcycle brigade provided by the Miami Police Department for the 13-mile ride downtown to AmericanAirlines Arena. There he had a brief meeting with PGA Tour officials before taking his courtside seat with Tour player Justin Rose for the 3:30 p.m. tipoff of Lakers vs. Heat a nationally televised game, at that.
     
    Why he needed the police motorcade wasn't exactly clear. But when you're the new owner in town and your name is Donald Trump, a cavalcade of security fosters an aura around you. For Trump, it's just part of his routine.
     
    It's a job he does with more ease, energy and conviction than anybody in golf.
     
    - Bradley Klein, Golfweek
  • The second edition of the Handbook of Turfgrass Insects offers professional turf managers an inside look at what makes turf pests tick.
      Edited by Rick Brandenburg, Ph.D., of North Carolina State University, and Callie Freeman, Ph.D., of Parker BioLabs LLC, the Handbook of Turfgrass Insects (Entomological Society of America and The American Phytopathological Society, $79.95 at www.shopapspress.org) contains current, thorough and practical information covering all aspects of turfgrass insect management in a streamlined format. All major insect pests and mites of warm- and cool-season turfgrasses in the United States are addressed. Extensive use of color photos of various insects and the turf damage they cause along with illustrations of insect life stages in their actual size, life cycle charts, and distribution maps help this new title to aid in accurate identification and diagnostics.   The first edition is used by many of the top turfgrass training programs, and this new edition is designed to be utilized by a broad range of users, including golf course superintendents, sports turf managers, grounds maintenance personnel, sod producers, consultants, students, extension agents, pesticide applicators, master gardeners, teachers, students, entomologists, plant scientists, commercial lawn care professionals and anyone involved in the cultivation and care of fine turf. A helpful glossary, index and sources of local information also are included.   Brandenburg and Freeman have selected experts to cover harmful turf insects in concise, yet complete, individual sections that provide essential information on the key turfgrass pests that can damage golf courses and the turfgrasses found in commercial, residential, and sports settings. The benefit of having many authors involved in this book is that each section is written by the leading expert on that pest. The scientists who study these pests have brought Handbook of Turfgrass Insects, Second Edition, up to date with 16 years of new knowledge, including coverage of additional insects and effective new management strategies to make it even more useful than the first edition.  
  • AMS Inc. recently launched its Compacted Soil Sampler kit for obtaining composite soil samples in compacted or frozen soils.
     
    The AMS Compacted Soil Sampler includes a 1-1/16 x 21-inch auger with a carbide tip that fits most drills and can penetrate the most compacted surfaces, stainless steel footplate, 5-gallon bucket, two bungee cords and quick-release extension.
     
    The unit assembles and disassembles in seconds and the stainless steel footplate helps ensure quality samples and easy decontamination. www.ams-samplers.com
  • Livin' on the edge

    By John Reitman, in News,

    "There's somethin' wrong with the world today
    I don't know what it is Something's wrong with our eyes   We're seeing things in a different way And God knows it ain't His It sure ain't no surprise   We're livin' on the edge"   - Aerosmith   Steven Tyler wasn't talking about the plight of golf course superintendents when he wrote the lyrics to Livin' on the Edge, but the analogy fits better today than it did in 1993 when the Aerosmith hit climbed to No. 18 on Billboard's hit list.   According to Karl Danneberger, Ph.D., at Ohio State University, the demands to duplicate conditions that golfers see on TV often can have superintendents and putting surfaces teetering on the brink of failure.   "What was that saying the USGA had? Brown is beautiful? You don't hear that so much any more," Danneberger said at the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation Spring Tee Off held recently on the Ohio State campus.   "Everything radiates from the putting green," Danneberger said. "What makes for a good playing surface? The agronomics, or the look of the grass. Consistency and smoothness are achieved through controlling grain. Speed is the benchmark by which people determine quality of greens.   "As we push greens, what is the edge of failure? We tend to push the grass to get what we want. We're dealing with biological systems. If you push too far, you go over the edge and end up with turf loss."   Danneberger likened turfgrass management today to going over the much-publicized fiscal cliff.
    Danneberger likened turfgrass management today to going over the much-publicized fiscal cliff.
    "The difference is with the fiscal cliff we know when it's coming and we pretty much know what the results will be," he said.     When a biological system is pushed to the brink, it's difficult to predict how it will respond and when.   Maintaining a healthy growing medium is the best way to prevent flirting with the edge of disaster, Danneberger said.   "You can't have optimum surfaces unless you have a good rootzone mix," he said. "And drainage is important."   Inadequate drainage not only results in slow conditions due to sponginess, but also prevents a superintendent's ability to keep up with agronomic practices such as mowing and rolling.   "It can take days to get that speed back," Danneberger said.   Spring and fall coring can improve drainage and long-term root growth. But it also results in adverse conditions for three to four weeks after each event. That makes timing of aeration critical, especially in the spring.   "You can choose a day and send out a message every day for the next eight years telling everybody that is when (aeration) is going to happen. And the first question you are going to get is why are you aerifying? And how long is it going to last?" he said.
    You can choose a day and send out a message every day for the next eight years telling everybody that is when (aeration) is going to happen. And the first question you are going to get is why are you aerifying?
    "I can name a lot of good things about it, but it disrupts the surface.   "You're looking at six weeks throughout the year when your greens aren't as good as they were before (aeration)."   Danneberger suggests superintendents managing cool-season putting surfaces should try to time their spring aeration so that greens have several weeks to heal before periods of heat stress sets in, which helps protect the grass and the superintendent.   "One in 10 people in this country play golf. And most of the people who play don't know what you're doing," he said. "It comes down to knowing what you're doing and how well you can communicate that to your staff, golfers and members."   Indeed, research shows the benefits of core aeration, including a recent study at Clemson University. There are other studies that show it's possible to produce quality playing surfaces without aerating, including programs consisting of deep tining and straight topdressing with 30 to 50 cubic feet of sand per 1,000 square feet per year.   "You can do it if compaction is not an issue," Danneberger said.    "The problem I have with that is I don't know how you get that much sand down without coring. If you just topdress, that's a lot of sand."  
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines environmental management system as a set of processes and practices that enable an organization to reduce its environmental impacts and increase its operating efficiency. Such a plan, according to the EPA, is designed to help a company achieve its environmental goals by "through control of its operations."
     
    Leave it to the government to make something that can be so simple to develop and implement sound so difficult.
     
    "Developing an environmental management system doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg, and if done properly can realize a pretty quick return on investment," Jim Sluiter of ePar USA said during this year's Sports Turf Managers Association annual conference.
     
    An EMS defines a company's environmental point of view through establishing goals and providing a framework on how to reach those goals.
     
    For a golf course part of an EMS might include attaining status as a Certified Audubon Sanctuary golf course, reducing water use and reducing chemical inputs. But it is much more than butterfly gardens and bird boxes, says ePar's Kevin Fletcher, Ph.D.
     
    "It involved compliance issues, risk issues, safety, buildings, energy, chemicals," Fletcher said. 
     
    "There is a laundry list of things you are responsible for or indirectly responsible for."
     
    Creating an EMS, Fletcher said, is like building a house.
     
    Regulatory compliance, risk management and containment serve as a foundation. Public programs such as industry expectations, staff training, emergency management preparedness and communications form the walls. The roof comprises an operation's lofty goals, such as zero carbon footprint and striving toward sustainability.
     
    The International Organization for Standardization created ISO 14001 as a blueprint for establishing an environmental management system, however, as Fletcher said, "you can draw one on the back of a napkin."
     
    An EMS can be as detailed or general as you like. The key to developing an effective EMS, Fletcher said, is to be realistic in setting goals and expectations.
     
    "You can't address 200 (goals) at once," Fletcher said. "Start with 20 or 10. Keep that list of 200 items, because it might change over time. But what are the top 10 percent that you can deal with and address?"
     
    For some, smart water use might be a critical component of an EMS, while in other locations where there is plenty of water, quality issues and runoff management might be more important.
     
    Both Fletcher and Sluiter warn not to confuse local, state and federal laws with an environmental management system.
     
    "Compliance is mandatory," Sluiter said. "Environmental stewardship is going above and beyond."
     
    Waste management can be another critical component of an EMS, not because it's the most important, but often it's the most visible, Sluiter said.
     
    "It becomes the face of what you're doing," Sluiter said. "You have to do things like recycling that the public understands. To them, this is green. You can have all the wind turbines in the world, but if you're not recycling it's all for naught.
     
    "If you recycled 12,000 pounds of aluminum last year, say this year you want to recycle 12,500 pounds."
     
    Creating and implementing an EMS is a multi-step process that involves the following steps:
     
    Plan
    Do
    Check
    Act
     
    That formula means plan an EMS, implement it, monitor the results and correct was needs correcting. There is another step, tell people about your efforts toward attaining sustainability and environmental stewardship.
     
    "Show progress, and don't be afraid to tell people about it," Fletcher said. "But show real results. Don't make claims you can't back up. Back your claims with substantive environmental approaches."
     
    In other words, said Sluiter, have hard data not generalities when discussing or promoting achievements.
     
    "You're going to have to have some sort of measuring system," Sluiter said. "It's great to say you're saving the planet, but you're going to have to tell us how many millions of gallons of water you are saving, or how many tons of aluminum you are taking out of a stream. 
     
    "That's what regulatory agencies care about; numbers."
     
    Sluiter is convinced that creating an EMS and adhering to it soon is going to be the norm for green industry operations.
     
    "Some of you are going to do it by choice, some of you will be doing it with a gun to your head," he said. "This next generation, they're going to demand it. That's how they grew up. We didn't grow up recycling or with that ethic. Anyone under age 20 probably has that instilled in them."
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has granted a Section 24c special local need label to Syngentas Avid miticide/nematicide in Pennsylvania for control of sting and ring nematodes in putting green turf.
     
    With active ingredient abamectin, Avid is a miticide labeled for control of mites, leafminers, aphids, thrips and white flies. Research has shown that it also is effective at controlling sting and ring nematodes in turfgrass.
     
    Pennsylvania is the ninth state to receive a special local need exemption for Avid. It also is approved for control of sting and ring nematodes in putting green turf in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.
     
    For more information visit www.cdms.net.
  • Score a hole-in-one for the golf course.   An Illinois man escaped serious injury when the ground beneath him at Annbriar Golf Course near Waterloo opened and swallowed him on March 8, plunging him to the bottom of a sinkhole some 15 feet below.   Mark Mihal told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he was sizing up his third shot on the par-5 14th when the ground beneath him gave way.   "It didn't look unstable," Mihal told the newspaper. "And then I was gone. I was just freefalling. It felt like forever, but it was just a second or two, and I didn't know what I was going to hit. And all I saw was darkness."   The 43-year-old Mihal, who is a mortgage broker, avid golfer and founder of the golf blog site golfmanna.com, suffered minor injuries including a dislocated shoulder from the fall. Friends and course personnel lowered a ladder and some rope into the hole, but Mihal, thanks to his bum shoulder, was unable to climb out of the bell-shaped pit that measured about 15 feet deep and 10 feet across its base. Ed Magaletta, a member of his playing group climbed into the hole and tied a rope around Mihal so other members of the foursome along with club manager Russ Nobbe could pull him out. Initial reports say the pit was 18 feet deep, but Annbriar superintendent John Soetaert said members of his crew have since dug out the hole for safety reasons using a backhoe that can reach down 16 feet.   "That's as far as we can go, so I know it's not any deeper than that," Soetaert said.   Because of the fragile limestone bedrock in the area, sinkholes are common around the St. Louis area of western Missouri and eastern Illinois, and Soetaert says there are several other sinkholes on the property. Mihal's mishap was the first time any of Annbriar's sinkholes have given way, Soetaert said.   "This is uncharted territory for us," Soetaert said. "This is the second-worst location on the golf course for one of these - the middle of a landing area on a par 5. The only thing that would have been worse would have been a putting green.   "We have several sinkholes on the property, and you can see all kinds of them from the roads on farms. What is uncommon is for someone to collapse one just by walking on it."   So uncommon that Mihal is believed to be the first person to fall through a sinkhole in Illinois. The incident has gained nationwide acclaim on the Internet as well as network and cable news programs. Curious onlookers and members of the media have swarmed to Annbriar since the incident occurred, and that has been a cause of concern for Soetaert. Immediately after the incident, Soetaert and his crew erected snow fencing around the hole, but that didn't last long. Curious onlookers trampled the snow fence after a couple of days, prompting Soetaert to order the hole completely dug out with a backhoe so no one else fell through it. Now, he's left with a 15- to 16-foot-deep depression and searching for ways to repair it.   Annbriar is working with retired geologist Philip Moss to develop a plan of action as well as a list of materials needed to fill the hole so that it is as safe as possible.   "Normally, you'd go down to the bedrock," Soetaert said. "We can't go that deep."   The incident could have been much worse. Soetaert said a member of his staff drove a fully laden spray rig over the same area just two weeks ago without incident.   "You could still see the tire tracks over the hole," he said. "We didn't notice anything then. If we had, we would've investigated it.   "We were lucky, somebody could've been killed just as easily."
  • Necessary evil

    By John Reitman, in News,

    Aerification is like an evil ritual at many golf courses. The superintendent knows it is necessary to do it at least once, preferably twice per year. Golfers, however, often aren't sold on its benefits or why it has to be done when grass is actively growing under non-stress conditions.   Even with advance notice, pulling plugs often is met with resistance, and no amount of signage in the golf shop is enough to sate that golfer who misses a 4-footer on No. 18.   The recently published results of a research study conducted at Clemson University could provide superintendents with additional ammunition to communicate to golfers and committees the benefits of core aeration.   The study, conducted by Jeff Atkinson under the direction of Bert McCarty, Ph.D., and William Bridges, Ph.D., reaffirmed what superintendents already know and what many golfers do not want to hear: Core aeration reduces compaction, surface hardness and thatch levels, and improves infiltration rates and, despite initial surface disruption, it also eventually results in improved turf quality.   That might sound elementary to some, but according to the researchers at Clemson, previous work on the benefits of core aeration have focused primarily on turf quality and infiltration rates and have done little to communicate some of its other benefits. The researchers wrote: insufficient data exists on quantifying the effect of removing specific amounts of surface area per year, number of aerification events per year, or amount of topdressing applied post-aerification on turfgrass quality and soil physical properties.    The Clemson study included the effects of core aeration on soil bulk density, surface hardness and thatch accumulation.   The study examined the effects of core aeration by removing either 15 percent or 25 percent of surface matter spread over one, two or three treatments per year on a 10-year-old TifEagle plot. The plot was topdressed and rolled in two directions following each aeration.   First, the bad news. The study revealed that turf quality dropped below acceptable levels for about four weeks after each aeration procedure.   The good news or at least some of it is that turf quality typically recovered after the first month throughout all treatments in both years of the study.   Fortunately for professional turf managers, the good news outweighed the bad in this study. Other findings included, not surprisingly, that removing 15 percent and 25 percent of the surface matter two or three times per year resulted in reductions in compaction, surface hardness and thatch levels as well as increased infiltration rates. Reducing the frequency of aerations to once per year resulted in improved turf quality, but did not improve soil properties the way multiple treatments did.   In both years of the study, aerifying two or three times per year reduced soil bulk density by about 5 percent compared with areas where cores were pulled one time per year.   As the number of aerification treatments increased from one to three times per year, surface hardness decreased by 4 percent in 2008 and by 19 percent the following year.   There was no significant correlation between removal of thatch and frequency of aeration in the first year of the study, but in 2009, increasing aeration events from one to three times per year resulted in a 10 percent decrease in thatch, according to research findings.   Like thatch, infiltration rate in the soil was not significantly affected the first year of the study. However, in 2009, infiltration rates were higher after aerating once compared with two or three. The researchers attributed this finding to greater fracturing of the subsoil that occurs with affecting up to 25 percent of the surface in one aeration treatment.   The researchers' final determination was that aerating multiple times per year was favorable over one treatment or not aerating at all because of the positive effects on surface hardness, removal of thatch and reduction in compaction. They also determined, however, that additional research is needed to modify timing of aeration treatments, tine size, spacing and amount of surface matter impacted to hone in on the best program.  
  • With winter weather patterns returning to more historic norms throughout much of the country this year, it was only a matter of time before those conditions cut into the gains made in rounds played a year ago.   In fact, year-over-year rounds played in January were down in every state but two in Golf Datatech's National Golf Rounds Played Report. January play was up by 2.6 percent in Florida and 1.8 percent in South Carolina compared with the same month last year. Losses compared with last year's record warm winter ranged from less than 1 percent in Washington to 88 percent in Connecticut, North Dakota and South Dakota.   The report measures self-reported rounds played at 3,035 private and daily fee facilities in 49 states (excluding Alaska).    Regionally, rounds played were down 66 percent in New England (where Connecticut saw the greatest dropoff), 48 percent in the plains states, 51 percent in the Midwest, 21 percent in the south central U.S., 18 percent in the Mountain west, 9 percent in the Mid-Atlantic and Pacific Northwest and less than 1 percent in the Southeast.    For a bit of perspective, rounds played in January 2012 were up by 2,400 percent in Iowa, 1,500 percent in the Dakotas, 1,200 percent in Nebraska, 740 percent in Michigan and 419 percent in Ohio compared with the same month in 2011.   In those same locations this year rounds were down in January by 77 percent in Iowa, 88 percent in the Dakotas, 63 percent in Nebraska, 70 percent in Michigan and 33 percent in Ohio. That means although losses were significant in many parts of the country in January, many of those areas still are ahead of 2011.   According to last month's report, rounds played were up 5.7 percent throughout 2012. Those numbers are similar to those found in the most recent National Golf Foundation study that reported a 6.1 percent increase in rounds played last year.  
  • In its effort to support turfgrass education, Jacobsen recently donated new walking greens mowers to 13 university turfgrass programs.
     
    The donations will help students complete research trials as well allow them an opportunity to learn on some of the most up to date equipment in the turfgrass industry. Eclipse walking greens mowers recently were delivered to turf programs at Clemson University, Texas A&M University, Auburn University, Penn State, University of Florida, Ohio State University, Mississippi State University, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, Cornell University, Delaware Valley College, Gateway Community College and North Georgia Technical College.
     
    "At The Ohio State University's turfgrass science program, our classes revolve around what professionals say you'll need to succeed as a turfgrass manager," said Karl Danneberger, Ph.D., professor of horticulture and crop science. "Giving our students access to professional Jacobsen equipment really shortens the learning curve by giving them a real-life taste of what they'll be doing in the field."
     
    The Jacobsen Eclipse features variable frequency-of-clip, onboard backlapping and a choice of either hybrid or battery drive.
  • Bob Brame does not claim to carry a crystal ball. But as director of the USGA Green Section's North Central Region, he's been around the game enough to know that he doesn't need one to predict issues that will affect golf course superintendents from year to year. Taking a look at the past often provides enough clues to get a glimpse into the future.
      "Looking at the past is the key to previewing the future," Brame said at the recent Ohio Turf Foundation Spring Tee Off held at Ohio State University. "Where you've bumped your head on an issue in the past, you want to avoid that in the future."   Recent challenges to plague golf courses and superintendents, such as extreme heat, too much rain, too little rain and disease outbreaks associated with mowing too low during times of stress, Brame said, reaffirm the need for an established set of golf course maintenance standards. Such a guide, he said, can provide superintendents with a template for how to react to a host of issues, from establishing acceptable levels of disease outbreak to dealing with prolonged drought conditions, as well as work proactively day to day to avoid them as much as possible in the first place.   In other words, it is easier to respond to golfers' rants about dormant fairways in 100-degree heat in September when a superintendent has published maintenance standards that spell out a drought-response plan - that does not include a new irrigation system.   "Control what you can and create the best foundation possible and realize that things are going to get through even when you're doing everything right," Brame said. "But when you're doing things right and you have a good foundation, those incidents are going to be reduced."
    "Control what you can and create the best foundation possible and realize that things are going to get through even when you're doing everything right..."
    Recent playing seasons throughout the Midwest, Northeast and transition zone have been highlighted by extremely hot summers that are too wet one year and too dry the next. Throw in a virtually non-existent winter a year ago and that meant no offseason for a lot of golf courses that desperately needed one. Golf courses throughout many parts of the country ran critically short of water last summer thanks to an extended playing season coupled with droughtlike conditions. Many of those same courses in the Midwest and even into the Southeast haven't seen their irrigation ponds recharge to acceptable levels heading into this golf season.   Brame said he has visited many clubs in the past year that had to spend a portion of their 2012 seasonal labor budget before the season ever was expected to begin thanks to abnormally warm conditions that kept golf courses across the Midwest open almost year-round. For some, that tapped budget meant compromising on agronomic practices late in the season. Maintenance standards can spell out where such concessions, if any, can be made or how to pay for surprise expenses like seasonal labor in the offseason.   "Last winter forced guys to do maintenance in March that they weren't planning on doing and bringing in help they weren't planning on bringing in," Brame said. "That has quite and impact on the budget. If we start early and end early, then you can catch up, but the last few years we've been running pretty long into the fall. All of a sudden, you're faced with how you're going to balance that out. Do you just stop spending, or are less things going to get done?"   Maintenance standards also can help guide a superintendent through more of the day-to-day tasks of managing a golf course.   Among the most important aspects of the game to core golfers are firm, fast greens. What most of them don't know is that there are ways to coax speed out of greens during the summer that do not include dangerously low mowing heights that can make cool-season turf more susceptible to summer stress.    Brame noted how a program of light, frequent topdressing coupled with a slight increase in height of cut can, over time, result in green speeds consistent with a lower height of cut. Several research studies also show that a program of lightweight rolling, reduced mowing frequency and higher height of cut can produce firm and fast greens and a healthier plant even in July and August.   Brame acknowledges that it can be difficult to get buy-in for maintenance standards from club stakeholders. The key to starting the process and ultimately getting standards approved is education, he said. That's where Brame and his colleagues, or university extension specialists can help. The Green Section is adding a service, due to be implemented this year, that will include helping clubs established maintenance guidelines.
    "It can be difficult to get buy-in for maintenance standards from club stakeholders. The key to starting the process and ultimately getting standards approved is education..."
    Any set of maintenance standards also should include an aerification schedule and information about why it is a critical tool in maintaining long-term turf health.   "That's one of those practices that golfers are never going to like, but it's never going to go away," said Brame.   He's heard golfers ask during a site visit: "You did it three times last year, why do you need to do it this year?" he said.   "As soon as you are done (aerifying), you start losing the value of it."    Maintenance standards can help in other ways as well, he said.   Throughout his many site visits, Brame often is vexed by how many courses have inferior or outdated irrigation system, lack a full-time (or maybe even part-time) irrigation tech but have members who become irritated when they see club employees hand-watering in August and September.   Demonstrating the benefits of an irrigation tech, up-to-date irrigation system and the need for hand-watering can help get all included into a set of maintenance standards, he said.    "The politics and economics are always going to be there," Brame said. "But in my mind that further illustrates the importance (of maintenance standards)."
  • Bird's eye view

    By John Reitman, in News,

    Monitoring the happenings high atop the trees in Tennessee's Harrison Bay State Park has resulted in some recent highs and lows and the constant reminder that nothing in life, even tomorrow, is guaranteed.
      Two years ago, a pair of bald eagles first were spotted near The Bear Trace golf course within the park. They gained worldwide acclaim when park ranger Angelo Giasante, a former Army ranger, shimmied up the tree and installed a Web cam so people everywhere could get a birds-eye view of how a nesting pair of bald eagles really live thanks to the efforts of a group known as the Friends of Harrison Bay .   Named Elliott and Eloise by Hannah Carter, daughter of Bear Trace superintendent Paul Carter, CGCS, the eagles have had mixed results in their attempts to successfully hatch eaglets. In 2011, a pair of eaglets hatched and eventually flew the coop, so to speak. Last year, however, the results were not as positive.   Two eggs, laid February 11 and 14, hatched March 16, but neither eaglet survived the process. This year, the Web cam is back in place and the couple is again keeping vigil over the nest after Eloise laid another pair of eggs.   The eggs, which were laid Feb. 10 and 13, are expected to hatch about March 17.   Last year, the golf course received a Governor's Environmental Stewardship Award from Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam for Carter's work in the pursuit of sustainability. The award specifically mentioned the Eagle Cam project as a factor in the course winning the award.   In its 26th year, the Governor's Environmental Stewardship Awards program recognizes exceptional voluntary actions that improve or protect Tennessee's environment and natural resources with projects or initiatives not required by law or regulation.     According to the Web site www.baldeagleinfo.com and the American Bald Eagle Foundation [http://baldeagles.org/home], both the male and female share time guarding and incubating the nest for an average of 35 days before the eggs hatch. Once an endangered species, bald eagles are on the rebound thanks to conservation efforts that have resulted in an estimated 7,000-plus pairs now nesting in every state except Hawaii.    The Friends of Harrison Bay Eagle Project is a cooperative effort of The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay, Harrison Bay State Park and the USGA.
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