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From the TurfNet NewsDesk

  • Peter McCormick
    The 30th year of operations for TurfNet kicked off February 1 and will be celebrated with TurfNet@30, a series of retrospective videos, snippets and interviews focusing on the innovations, friendships and industry leadership fostered by TurfNet over the past 30 years.
    The idea for a fee-based information-sharing service for the golf industry jolted Peter McCormick awake in the middle of the night in late 1993.
    "I had a dream, seriously," he quipped. "With input from some friends, my brother Bob, and a couple of local superintendents, we refined the concept over the ensuing two months around my kitchen table in central New Jersey," McCormick reflected. He launched TurfNet at the 1994 GIS in Dallas by handing out home-printed business cards and brochures to superintendents he knew from the NJ and metro NYC areas.
    "It was the scariest day of my life," McCormick recalled. From there it was off to the races.
    "My first goal was to NOT be one of the 90% of new businesses that fail during the first five years," McCormick said. "We made it, and then some."

    TurfNet Monthly, the print newsletter that put TurfNet on the map with a no-nonsense style that didn't shy away from the tough issues. Noted for many industry "firsts" and innovations over those years — original dog calendar, first graphical discussion forum, first turf media website, Superintendent of the Year and Technician of the Year awards, free webinars and job listings (for members), first dedicated video channel (spearheaded by Randy Wilson, the first to poke fun at the industry), beyond-distributor-territory used equipment listings, member trips and even the Beer & Pretzels Gala — TurfNet@30 is appropriately presented by Kress, an innovative European manufacturer of autonomous mowers and 60v commercial landscape tools that is just breaking into the North American market.

    Golf Car Control, the epic Randy Wilson film that launched TurfNetTV and a new era where nobody -- including "The Alphabets" -- was exempt from Randy's satire.

    The third Beer & Pretzels Gala, held at Bubba Gump's in New Orleans in 1999, is still being talked about 20+ years later. Popcorn shrimp and a Hurricane, anyone? As part of the TurfNet@30 series, TurfNet will be sharing some of the key business strategies employed over the years to accomplish so much with only three people. "The first of those is having no business plan," said McCormick. "While that may fly in the face of business school teachings, we found that keeping our ears to the ground and our thumbs on the pulse of the industry guided us well over the years."

    Just the three of us! We will be sharing how we do it during the TurfNet@30 series.
  • When the idea of a smart ball bounced around the golf world, one that could transmit data that would make life simpler for its user, it is doubtful that many thought one would be available to superintendents for monitoring turf and soil conditions long before golfers would have one to put on a tee.
    The USGA officially launched the GS3 smart golf ball that measures metrics like green speed as well as surface firmness, trueness and smoothness.
    Seven years in development, the rechargeable GS3 is outfitted with sensors, accelerometers and gyroscopes that collect more than 15,000 data points to provide agronomic benchmarks that superintendents and researchers can use to make agronomic decisions and predict putting surface performance.
    "We are excited to provide a tool that enables the industry to objectively quantify putting green metrics, besides just green speed," said Matt Pringle, Ph.D., managing director of the USGA Green Section. "GS3 can clarify the impact of different maintenance practices, provide benchmarks and communicate to stakeholders how the course is performing." 
    The USGA had a soft launch last fall at the Carolinas GCSA Conference and Show in Myrtle Beach and officially launched the ball Feb. 7 at the GCSAA Conference and Show in Orlando.
    The GS3 operates in conjunction with the USGA's DEACON course management software to help superintendents determine agronomic practices designed to maximize putting green performance. All data is also calculated locally and can be synched to the cloud at a later time.
    The ball has been in use in real world conditions by some university researchers and at select golf courses, including Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles.
    "We have been utilizing GS3 for over two months, and I love being able to compile all of the information it provides in one spot," said Justin DePippo, director of golf course and grounds at Bel-Air "We are using the numbers to chart our green conditions and create benchmarks, which allows me to make course care decisions based on the data. GS3 and DEACON will improve the way we maintain our greens and we are looking forward to seeing positive results because of it."
    The GS3 also was used at USGA tournaments throughout 2022 and will continue to be part of the arsenal used for set up and daily decision making at future USGA championships.
    "This is an ingenious way for collecting tons of data," Cornell University professor Frank Rossi, Ph.D., said in a recent TurfNet webinar. "And that data is powerful in helping us predict what you could expect to happen under certain weather conditions, under certain maintenance conditions and how you could expect your   surfaces to perform."
    The GS3 is available from the USGA for $2,750 and includes one year's free subscription to the Deacon platform. Customers who renew the Deacon subscription will receive a new GS3 every three years.
  • John Deere introduced a lineup of sustainable equipment solutions at this year's GCSAA Conference and Show.
    That lineup includes a greens mower, fairway mower, utility rake and Gator, all of which will be available by Feb. 13.

    185 E-Cut, 225 E-Cut
    The 185 and 225 E-Cut electric walk greens mowers have an independent floating cutting unit mounted on the front and are powered by a 58-volt, 3.56 kwh maximum Lithium-Ion battery. The controllers provide power to the electric motors that control the gear transmission and reel. The near-silent operation opens the operation window where potential early morning or late evening noise is a concern, without compromising performance.
    The 185 and 225 E-Cut can cover about 50,000 square feet between charges. These machines offer an advanced TechControl Display, allowing operators to dial in frequency of clip based on reel and ground speed, 10 handlebar height positions plus a fore/aft adjustment for maximum comfort and ease when operating and turning, as well as Deere's Cleanup Pass Mode. The 185 and 225 E-Cut come equipped with a dual traction drum for ease of control when turning, and use the same attachments as the 180 and 220 E-Cut hybrid walk mowers.

    6700A E-Cut, 7700A E-Cut
    The 6700A and 7700A E-Cut hybrid models have the capability to mow, verticut and scalp. The 6700A is the first three-wheel fairway mower on the market available with 7-inch reels and electric reel drive. Both can reduce fuel consumption by up to 30 percent. Hydraulic leaks have been reduced by as much as 90% by electrifying the reel circuit. An advanced LoadMatch system with a smart alternator prioritizes cut quality in challenging conditions.

    TruFinish 1220
    The TruFinish 1220 utility rake helps save time by raking bunkers and field surfaces, reducing labor and ultimately resulting in increased crew productivity. The TruFinish 1220 is equipped with an updated hydrostatic drive with selectable 2-wheel-drive or 3-wheel drive, allowing customers to customize their drive to best suit the job at hand. Customers looking to work in lighter-duty applications can benefit from the 2WD option with higher transport speeds, while those looking to increase efficiency during applications where more traction is needed can utilize the 3WD option.
    Other features include a larger engine and increased fuel capacity compared with previous models. Improved traction speeds and rear attachment system can help save time when changing rear implements. A host of attachments, including brushes, scarifiers and light kits are available.
    Gator GS, Gator GS Electric
    Measuring 49.3 inches, the smaller and more narrow iteration of Deere's utility vehicle, the Gator GS and Gator GS Electric cargo bed allows for tools, equipment and materials to be transported easily around the course, with a 13.1 cubic foot, 800-pound capacity.
    Both versions of the Gator featured high-back bucket seats, two standard USB ports, low-effort steering system design and multiple storage compartments. Protection from the elements for both the operator and passenger is essential, as each machine is shipped with a dealer installed standard canopy.
    The Gator GS features a 14.25 hp gasoline-powered electronic fuel injected engine. The vehicle is easy to operate with a pedal start and infinite speed selection that does not require shifting with the continuous variable transmission drivetrain. The Gator GS Electric also features near-silent operation without compromising payload or towing capabilities. The 48V utility vehicle uses an AC drive motor and controller system to help maintain torque during even the toughest situations.
    The John Deere 185 and 225 E-Cut electric walk greens mowers, 6700A and 7700A E-Cut hybrid fairway mowers, TruFinishTM 1220 utility rake and Gator GS and Gator GS Electric will be available for order starting Feb. 13. For more information, visit www.JohnDeere.com. 
  • Santa Fe Country Club and Golf Association and the city have had a unique water rights agreement in place since 1959. Santa Fe CC photo Water-use issues and how they affect golf courses in locations like California, Arizona, Nevada and Colorado have been making news for years. Issues affected golf courses in New Mexico might not grab headlines like those in Las Vegas, Phoenix or Los Angeles, but challenges associated with water and access to it are just as real.
    Take Santa Fe Country Club and Golf Association for example and its struggle to maintain its unique water rights agreement that has been in place since the Eisenhower Administration.
    The City of Santa Fe gives the club access to reclaimed water to irrigate the golf course as long as the club grants access to the course to nonmember residents of the city. The deal struck in 1959 states the city would give the golf course access to water as long as the property is maintained as a golf course. Now, the city, which also operates its own golf course, wants out of the deal, saying the water is worth much more than the value of reduced greens fees for nonmember city residents. 
    The city has been trying to renegotiate the agreement with the golf course for 25 years and last July filed a 26-page complaint indicating it now seeks a deal that would comply with an effluent management ordinance that limits such deals to four-year terms and prices water at market value.
    The club responded in August with a 44-page counterclaim that says it intends to hold to the deal both sides agreed to 64 years ago. The dispute is set to be settled in court sometime this year.
    The club's attorney says the city is trying to recoup some of the $1 million or so it loses each year in managing municipal Marty Sanchez Links. According to the website for each property, weekend green fees range from $46 at Marty Sanchez to $62 at Santa Fe.
    The club is located on land once owned by the Catron family, which played a key role in development of the city in the early 20th century. In the 1930s, the family conveyed land to the city for use as a golf course. After 10 years, the city leased the property to the Santa Fe Golf Association in 1949 and eventually gave the property back to the Catron family 10 years after that. The family conveyed the property to the golf association in 1959, at which time it entered into the current water deal with the city.
    Through the years, the Santa Fe Golf Association says it has made significant investments to deliver water to the golf course, including constructing a pipeline to a wastewater treatment plant and other upgrades to pump houses and modern irrigation systems on the golf course. The club's attorney also claims that disruptions to service that have limited or cut off water on occasion have forced the club either to close or buy potable water from the city to remain open.
    The city contests such claims and has filed a motion asking the court to dismiss the club's counterclaims, which would threaten the financial viability of SFCC as a golf course. A pre-trial conference is set for March.
  • The Toro e3200 rotary mower can be configured with up to 17 lithium batteries. Toro photo For professional turfgrass managers who need extended power from a large-area rotary mower, Toro recently introduced the e3200 Groundsmaster.
    Powered by Toro's 11 HyperCell lithium battery system, the e3200 can be configured with up 17 batteries for all-day runtime, and smart controls optimize power consumption by continuously and efficiently providing ample cutting power without bogging down. The e3200's reserve power mode allows the operator to set parameters ensuring enough battery power to return to the shop for recharging. The on-board 3.3kW charger allows for overnight recharging.
    Toro's InfoCenter displays battery charge status, hours, alerts and a host of customizable settings for the operator. 
    The e3200 shares the same rugged chassis, commercial-grade mowing deck, and operator controls with our traditional diesel-powered platform.
    With a 60-inch mowing width, the two-wheel drive e3200 has a maximum ground speed of 12.5 miles per hour and can mow 6.1 acres per hour.
    Weighing in at 2,100 pounds, the e3200 has an 8-inch ground clearance and has a height of cut ranging from 1 inch to 6 inches.
  • Many awards, even those individual in nature, often are viewed by their recipients as a team effort.
    That was the response University of Nebraska professor Roch Gaussoin, Ph.D., had when he was named recipient of this year's USGA Green Section Award.
    "It reflects a body of work by collaboration," Gaussoin said. "This isn't just me. I've worked with many amazing graduate students over the years, and I've worked with many amazing colleagues inside the university as well as outside UNL."
    Since 1961, the USGA Green Section Award honors an individual's distinguished service to the game through work with turfgrass.
    Gaussoin was nominated by Rutgers' Jim Murphy and Bruce Clarke, the former being Gaussoin's classmate at Michigan State when both were completing their doctorate work.
    Gaussoin earned bachelor's and master's degrees at New Mexico State before moving on to MSU. He has been at Nebraska since 1991. 
    Gaussoin's curriculum vitae lists more than two dozen awards, including the 2013 GCSAA Col. John Morley Award, presented annually to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the golf course superintendent's profession.
    "This one is a little different," he said. "When I see names up there like (2022 winner) Frank Dobie and some of the others, it's pretty special to be in that group."
    Much of Gaussoin's work at Nebraska has focused largely on organic matter management and providing superintendents with solutions to surface smoothness and firmness and the movement of water through the profile. He is a regular speaker at industry events and has become known for his minimalist advice on surface management that includes aerating without pulling cores.
    "I think (the award) says that a small school like Nebraska, a Big 10 school, but a small Big 10 school," he said, "can generate information that has real value."
  • Good news in the golf business has been as difficult to come by in recent years as equipment, parts and workers seeking a career in turf management.
    There was plenty of good news emanating Jan. 26 from the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando where Jim Koppenhaver of Pellucid Corp. and Stuart Lindsay of Edge Hill Golf Advisors presented their annual state of the industry address during the PGA Merchandise Show.
    Overall, the number of golfers is up, rounds played are down only slightly in what has been a horrible weather year, younger players are entering the game and revenue is up, according to Koppenhaver.
    "I thought we'd lose all those golfers who came during Covid because they had nothing else to do," Koppenhaver said. "The great news is they're still here, and we're two years down the road."
    Specifically, the number of golfers in the pipeline rose from 21.6 million to 21.9 million. That is the most since 2 million golfers played 451 million rounds in 2014. A total of 502.5 million rounds of golf were played last year. That figure is down from 518 million rounds in 2021. Although there was a drop in rounds played, Koppenhaver says he considers it a net gain considering the weather in 2022.
    Of the new players picked up during Covid, many play infrequently at best and the industry overall has to do a better job at retaining them and getting them to play more.
    "We have to get them up the involvement curve," Koppenhaver said. "At two rounds a year, it is easy to fall off that involvement curve."
    The good news is 80 percent of new golfers entering the game are under age 45 and half are under 35, with the average age of a new golfer being 36. The biggest difference was in female golfers, who comprise about 26 percent of existing players, Lindsay said. The median age of female golfers is down from 48 in 2015 to 37.
    Those aged 55 and older still play most of the rounds, with that group accounting for 54.6 percent of all rounds played.
    Koppenhaver's Pellucid Corp. tracks weather's effects on golf through a measurement he calls golf playable hours. GPH is a function of factors such as sunlight, temperature, wind and precipitation and how they can affect the number of available hours to play golf.
    The nationwide average of golf playable hours in 2022 was 1,932 hours. That number marks five consecutive years of GPH coming in below the 10-year average of 2,146 hours and is the first time in the two decades Koppenhaver has been tracking such data that it came in below the 2,000-hour threshold.
    With such a grim weather outlook, Koppenhaver said he would not expect such a hike in the number of golfers. Likewise, he said he would expect demand to be down by much more than 17 million rounds played, leading him to conclude that virtually all losses were due entirely to weather.

    "The story is not that we're down 3 percent. The story is we're 2 percent rounds up vs. weather," Koppenhaver said.
    "When the weather cooperates and we have the right conditions, people are still coming out. Demand is very strong."
    According to a study of 100 golf courses by Koppenhaver and Lindsay, revenue climbed 60 percent throughout the Covid era.
    "That's unheard of," Koppenhaver said. "We have been realists in the industry for 20 years. I've never had the opportunity to sit in front of you and talk about 15 percent annual growth rates in revenue, and 60 percent (growth) in three years."
    Every year since 2006, more golf courses have closed than opened, and 2022 was no different. The gap between new course construction and closings is narrowing because of the game's rise in popularity.
    A total of 97 courses (18-hole equivalents) closed in 2022 and only 23 opened, while another 102 courses changed ownership.
    Since 2006, 647 new courses have opened while 2,259 have closed for a net loss of 1,612.
    In that time, Koppenhaver has been preaching supply/demand equilibrium based on 35,000 rounds per 18-hole equivalent. 
    Since the Covid onset, courses nationwide cumulatively have been operating above supply/demand equilibrium.
    Courses nationwide have averaged 37,900 rounds played per 18-hole equivalent in 2020, 40,100 rounds in 2021 and 39,000 rounds in 2022.
    "What this is saying, if you are true to the math, with 502 million rounds with 14,000 18-hole equivalents, we could support another 81 18-hole equivalents," Koppenhaver said. "Now, can you just drop 81 golf courses anywhere? No, that's what we did wrong the last time. We didn't put them in the right place and we didn't build the right type. Everyone wanted to build the three P's: penal, pristine and premium.
    "We could start building more supply, but we need to pay attention to the right place and the right type of golfer. The industry has been out of balance for many years, and I sat up here saying we need to lose 1,000 18-hole equivalents, and we won't do that in my lifetime. Then Covid came along and changed all that in two years."
  • Instructors in the University of Tennessee online certificate program include Jim Brosnan, Ph.D., (second from right). Photo by John Reitman For those interested in pursuing a potential career in turfgrass management, or experienced industry professionals seeking supplemental education, the University of Tennessee is launching the UT Certified Lawn Care Professional Program.
    Despite its name, this introductory-level online program is designed for anyone interested in golf turf, sports turf and lawncare management. It is targeted toward everyone from industry newcomers to experienced turfgrass professionals seeking supplemental education.
    "The course content takes a from-the-ground-up approach to introducing and exploring the world of turfgrass," said UT extension specialist Anna Duncan. "For new or prospective turfgrass professionals, this will provide a strong foundation of knowledge that will prepare them for a successful start in their career and to be an effective member of a turfgrass management team. For more experienced folks, this course may provide an opportunity to explore the concepts of variety selection, pest management, and others in a new or more in-depth way."
    The course is taught by University of Tennessee faculty and staff, and is entirely online so students can learn at their own pace. 
    "This course utilizes the research of the UT turfgrass team and delivers those findings and recommendations in an approachable, digestible way," Duncan said. "Course topics are taught through short, engaging videos and written materials."
    Topics that are covered include:
    • Introduction to UT Extension
    • Turfgrass Identification
    • Turfgrass Selection
    • Soil Fertility
    • Water Management
    • Planting and Establishment
    • Turfgrass Weeds
    • Turfgrass Diseases
    • Turfgrass Insect Pests
    • Integrated Pest Management
    • Maintenance and Operation of Turfgrass Equipment
    Instructors include: Jim Brosnan, Ph.D., John Sorochan, Ph.D., Brandon Horvath, Ph.D., Tom Samples, Ph.D., Natalie Bumgarner, Ph.D., Christopher Cooper, Ph.D., Kyley Dickinson, Ph.D., Anna Duncan, Justin Stefanski, Mitchell Mote, Taylor Reeder, Seth Whitehouse, Jason Garrett, Tyler Carr, Ben Pritchaerd and Jose Vargas.
    Click here to register.
    A Spanish-language version will be available later this year.
  • Anyone who has watched professional wrestling knows the classic good vs. evil tag-team scenario: the bad guy (every story needs a villain) is on the verge of being pinned, caught in some inescapable hold with a catchy name. 
    With a championship belt on the line, the villain's manager distracts the referee just long enough so his partner can enter the ring undetected and kick our good guy in the back of the head, breaking his hold. With the roles suddenly reversed, the good guy, who moments ago was “this close” to a win, is now subjected to relentless assaults, one after another from all sides as the seemingly incompetent referee remains distracted by the slick-talking manager.
    It is a tactic as old as time. 
    In recent years, the golf industry is not unlike the wrestler who takes beating after beating, desperate to catch his breath before the next barrage of assaults is unleashed upon him.
    We all know, most of us anyway, that wrestling is theater, concocted purely for entertainment value. However, golf's foes are real, and they are powerful and they are just as relentless. And like the manager inside the squared circle, they manage to run enough interference to distract onlookers, convincing them that their intentions are based on facts and science, when in fact their message often emanates from misinformed blowhards interested in nothing more than political gain.
    Golf has become that PR punching bag for a lot of municipalities and water districts as well as those who do not play the game or know how hard you work to maintain a balance between creating playing conditions your golfers demand and doing what is right by the land over which you are a steward.
    They do not know how hard superintendents worked a generation ago in places like Georgia and Florida during a time of drought to carefully craft best management practices that prove you know more than elected officials about how to produce a great golf course with minimal inputs.
    The attacks on golf typically are based on use of water, pesticides and fertilizers. Nearly a decade ago, a now-defunct website known then as Decoded Science blamed algae blooms in Lake Erie on fertilizer runoff from northern Ohio golf courses, not the thousands of acres of agricultural land that ring that part of the state.
    Since then, golf courses have been blamed for water shortages in virtually every western state, despite efforts of superintendents to reduce the number of irrigated acres, as well as the advent of low-use pesticides and minimalist BMPs.

    Golf often is blamed for a shortage of water - in a desert. USGA photo A recent story about water use in Arizona blamed “high water use industries like golf” for declining levels in Lake Mead. The images of Lake Mead for the past several decades are indeed alarming, but water levels there are tied more to 40 million residential users across seven desert states than it is golf.
    Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs inherited a mess surrounding water issues in her state when she won her seat in the November election, and she ran on fixing it. Cutbacks are on the table as a solution, and golf is squarely in the crosshairs. 
    Lawmakers in California last year pushed for legislation that would have allowed for municipal golf courses to be closed and used for high-density housing. The City of Las Vegas recently imposed cutbacks of about one-third on its users. Many towns in multiple states now prohibit the construction of new courses while others have banned various pesticides.
    Why is golf the bad guy, while other users like agriculture or the millions of people living in a desert without blame?
    One word: Interference.
    It does not have to be this way.
    Last year, the Southern California Golf Association fought back against the campaign to kill public golf. In the end, municipal golf in California lived to fight another day, all because the SCGA fought back publicly armed with facts about water use and the economic impact of the game in California.
    Although the SCGA got a win for public golf, there are more challenges to be fought every day. The attacks are relentless, but unlike the wrestling counterparts, they are real. Those who do not fight back are at risk of being pinned.
  • A golf course shuttered for nearly five years will be repurposed for the greater good.
    The National Park Service recently closed on the purchase of the former Brandywine Country Club, and will remediate the land with the intention of incorporating the 215-acre golf course into Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
    The park service bought the property from the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, a land trust that acquired the property in 2021, three years after the club's former owner committed suicide.
    Remediation of the property to incorporate it into the national park is expected to begin this year. According to the National Park Service, 2.4 million people visit the park annually, making it the country's 11th most popular national park. HZW Environmental Consultants of nearby Mentor, Ohio will manage the project along with the park. The park will remain closed until the project is completed.
    Brandywine was one of 120 golf courses that closed nationwide in 2018, but not for the same reasons as many of the other 2,200 closings that have occurred during most of the past two decades.
    Sure, the course had a little debt, but nothing compared to what many other upside-down courses have experienced.
    The course was designed and built by Earl Yesberger in the 1960s. Yesberger died in 1988, leaving the property to his son, Brett, who died in 2009. Brett's son, Ryan Yesberger, inherited the property, but by then he also had inherited a host of other troubles he would not be able to overcome. 
    Troubled by personal tragedy, including the death of two friends in a crash in which he was the driver when he was 17, ultimately were more than Ryan Yesberger could overcome. In 2018, police were called to the club for a disturbance. When police arrived, Yesberger hit one over the head with an object, disabling him. Yesberger, police said, then took the officer's gun and fatally shot himself.
    The golf course, then a ship without a rudder, has been coveted by the park service ever since. The transaction closed Dec. 28
    "Since 2019, the Conservancy worked diligently to save this property in the heart of our park to protect habitat as well as create a space for all to enjoy the land and Cuyahoga River," Deb Yandala, president and CEO, of Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, told WKYC in Cleveland.
    Brandywine is the second idle golf course in northeastern Ohio to be sold for open land use in the past several months.
    In December, Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery purchased Rawiga Golf Club in Rittman for the purpose of incorporating the club's 156 acres into the cemetery for future expansion.
  • Sky Mountain Golf Course in St. George, Utah. St. George, Utah Golf photo Utah lawmakers have fired a shot over the bow at the state's golf industry over the latter's use of water. At about the same time, TV personality John Oliver and Hollywood actor Brian Cox took turns on HBO taking shots at western golf courses, specifically those in Utah.
    All of the above blamed the state's golf courses, all 140 of them, for wasting water and being the source of the state's water-starved status, with Oliver and Cox taking golf to task over the airwaves. State legislators in Utah seek to use public pressure in its battle over what it perceives as overwatering on golf courses.
    Despite the advent of water-efficient irrigation rotors, adjuvants and ever-evolving agronomic practices by superintendents, proposed legislation sponsored by Rep. Doug Welton, a Republican from Payson, would require golf courses to report the amount of water they use each year to the state's Division of Water Resources, which in turn would publish the information on a publicly accessible website.
    Any serious student of history knows it is difficult to wage a two-front war, much less win one.
    Known as House Bill 188, the proposed legislation was introduced to the House Rules Committee on Jan. 17. 
    With an average of just 11 inches of rain per year, Utah (Nevada gets 10.2 inches a year) is the country's second-driest state, and there are better uses for it than to irrigate golf courses, said Oliver and Cox.
    The campaign against golf in Utah has some legs.
    In 2021, Washington County asked golf courses to reduce the number of acres under irrigation, and last year the Washington County city of St. George prohibited the construction of any new courses.
    In reality, golf courses are not among the top 5 users of water in Utah. According to a U.S. Geological Survey survey, the top water users in Utah on a daily basis are:
    > agriculture - 2 billion gallons,
    > public use - 622 million gallons,
    > industrial - 54 million gallons,
    > thermoelectric power - 43.6 million gallons,
    > golf - 21 million gallons.
    HB 188 is one of just several proposals under way in Utah designed to conserve water, including those targeted toward industrial and residential users. Other measures include banning yards in new residential developments and incentives for converting grass to non-irrigated landscape in existing neighborhoods. HB 188 has a long way to go before it becomes law, but that it has made it this far in a politically conservative state like Utah is significant. Other states have taken up a fight at the state and local level against golf with various degrees of success. New course construction is banned in several municipalities throughout the West. 
    The most notable proposed anti-golf legislation was what was known as the Anti-Golf Bill in California that would have provided cities with financial incentive to convert publicly owned golf courses into high-density housing. The bill died in the statehouse in Sacramento last spring, but it hardly is the end of such efforts to dry down golf as people continue to live in a desert environment.
  • Pure-Seed Testing, long a provider of cool-season turfgrass for the golf market, has developed the newest variety of Bermudagrass.
    In cooperation with Atlas Turf International, Pure Seed introduced Sun Queen seeded Bermudagrass for the golf, sports field and landscape markets. 
    Developed for use on tees, fairways and roughs, Sun Queen traits include excellent turf quality, color and density; superior establishment even after injury; early spring green-up and excellent fall color retention; excellent, disease, heat and salt tolerance; fine leaf texture.
    Pure-Seed is a longtime fixture in the cool-season turf market with dozens of releases available. It is a relative newcomer, however, in the warm-season market.
    "Pure-Seed Testing developed Sun Queen using germplasm obtained from Mississippi State University," said Dr. Melodee Fraser, director of Pure-Seed Testing, Inc. East. "It has demonstrated wide adaptability by exhibiting excellent turf performance in multiple trial locations over a range of environments and management conditions. Sun Queen is well-adapted for sports turfs, golf courses, parks, lawns, and amenity turf areas."
    Consistently ranked as a top establishing Bermudagrass in NTEP trials, Sun Queen provides rapid grow-in and extreme wear tolerance and quick recovery as demonstrated through field trials at the University of Tennessee.
    In addition to performance and appearance, Sun Queen traits include consistent drought tolerance and lower fertilizer requirements.
    Sun Queen is protected by PureCoat+, Pure Seed's water-absorbent seed coating. PureCoat+ guards the seed against environmental pressures and provides faster germination, quicker establishment and improved water efficiency for stronger, healthier plants.
  • Rain-starved California is getting a reprieve, but is there such thing as too much of a good thing where precipitation is concerned?
    Parts of Ventura County received up to 18 inches of rain on Jan. 10-11. Snowpack levels in the Sierra Nevada, a critical source of water during the spring melt, is as much as 200 percent above normal. Reservoirs are on the rise, and farther east in the Upper Colorado River Basin, snowpack in the Rockies is at 140 percent of normal, which is promising for water levels in depleted Lake Mead come spring.
    December is the wettest month in Northern California, with an average monthly rainfall in the San Francisco area typically ranging between 2-7 inches for the month. Since Christmas, the rainfall in Northern California has ranged from about 9 inches in the Sacramento area to nearly 14 inches in San Francisco, which is more than half the area's annual average.
    This is a La Niña winter, which was supposed to be dry in Southern California, but anomalies like what the state has faced in recent weeks is not unprecedented.
    At Monterey Peninsula Country Club on California's Central Coast a video surfaced showing golfers fleeing for higher ground as a wave from the Pacific washed onto the course.
    "Yes, it is terrible in the short term that so much rain has fallen out there," said meteorologist Herb Stevens. "But because California is a location that has always featured extremes due largely to the meeting of the largest body of water on the planet and some of the steepest mountains in the world, this cannot be labeled unprecedented."
    Some celebrities in Southern California see things differently.
    As water levels in what is described as a dry creek bed swelled and threatened her home, Ellen DeGeneres dismissed the weather in California by stating "Mother Nature is mad at us."
    The explanation is a little easier and scientific than that.
    The Pacific Ocean is in a La Niña state this winter, the third in a row, according to meteorologist Herb Stevens. That typically translates into a dry winter for Southern and Central California as the storm track usually leads from Alaska to the Pacific Northwest, Stevens said. NorCal often is close enough to the fringe to get some relief.
    That does little to explain what is happening in Southern California.
    "In the middle of a La Niña it is not impossible for the storm track to more closely mimic an El Niño, which brings wet winters to California," Stevens said. "In an El Niño, the storm track is more west to east, and farther south, and that is what we have seen the past couple of weeks.  The more southern storms are warmer than their Alaskan counterparts, and originate over warmer waters well out in the ocean and thus have more water vapor contained in the circulations, leading to heavy to excessive rain.
    "It is unusual to have a stormy period like this in California in a La Niña, but certainly not unheard of. The pattern will break in about eight or nine days, and the next couple of months will revert to dry conditions in California."
  • A pioneer in helping promote the role of women in turf for the past decade, Miranda Robinson is only getting started helping fellow superintendents as she embarks on the next phase of her career.
    Robinson, who was in on the ground floor of the Women in Golf movement in 2012, has spent most of the past two decades as an assistant or head superintendent. On Jan. 1, she began a new job as operations manager for the British Columbia Superintendents Association.
    Much of her job will be focused on education and organizing events for superintendents of the 300 or so golf courses throughout the province. 
    "The challenge is going to be learning a job that is not a hands-on physical job, like being a superintendent. Now, I've gone to the dark side," Robinson said. 
    "I will be a facilitator for whatever the board wants to do."
    Much of the programming she hopes to put into place also will be based on customer feedback.
    "I'm looking forward to getting out into the province to see what superintendents want from the association," she said. "A lot of them question what they get out of (membership). Many of them believe associations are only for bigger clubs. I need to find out what they want from the association."
    Pulling the trigger on a career change can be a stressful decision. A lot of questions swirl about. Is this the right job? Is this the right time?
    Sometimes those questions go unanswered. In Robinson's case, a very loud voice told her that after two decades as an assistant and a head superintendent it was finally time to get off the golf course and into another line of work.
    "My body told me," she  said. "My body was wearing out." 
    A lifetime of competitive sports couple with green keeping took a toll on back, knees and hips.
    "Once I start something, I can't reel in my athletic competitiveness, and I end up hurting myself," she said. 
    Nearly 20 years spent in ditches on the golf course did not help either.
    "I'm only 37, but I'm only 120 pounds, and I do the work of a 200-pound man," Robinson said. "My back just can't take it."
    She had knee surgery at 16 and was in knee braces for the first time at age 12.
    "I've torn an ACL, MCL and a meniscus," she said. "I can't even ride a bike."
    None of that has dampened enthusiasm for her new job.
    Robinson said the the Women in Golf movement that eventually was picked up by corporate vendors in golf like Bayer, Syngenta and Valent started 10 years ago when she and Leasha Schwab were in a foursome together in an association tournament in Ontario. The foursome of women was invited back year after year. The impact the group made eventually resulted in Schwab reaching out for corporate help to promote the profession to other women while also providing a networking opportunity for those women already working in the turf business.
    While Robinson is focused on providing outreach and educational opportunities for turf managers throughout British Columbia, she will continue to promote the industry to other women.
    Among her plans are workshops to help ensure women are skilled in use of equipment throughout the entire golf operation, an opportunity still not offered to all women in the business.
    "You're in a position of authority," she said. "You need to know how to use everything."
  • Ask around for the biggest challenges facing the business and just about every superintendent in all corners will mention labor eventually.
    Once a pipe dream, technology designed to automate many tasks on the golf course and make life easier for superintendents is getting closer than ever to reality.
    For the past several years, the Dutch company TurfTroniq has been providing after-market robotic-mowing technology to turf managers in the United Kingdom and Ireland. 
    Now, the company based in Renkum, Netherlands, has added a robotic bunker rake to its lineup of automated equipment.
    The TurfTroniq Smart Rake can be programmed to rake bunkers of any size freeing up team members to complete other tasks.
    TurfTroniq claims to be the inventor of autonomous-mowing technology for the green industry. 
    Founded in 2016, TurfTroniq’s autonomous-mowing technology is retrofitted onto existing mowers for precise patterns and straight lines. The company says autonomous mowing can result in labor savings of up to 90 percent.
    The SmartRake is a self-contained machine that can be programmed to groom mostly flat bunkers of any size anywhere on the golf course.
    While the automated bunker rake might still require a live person for transport, oversight and even clean-up around edges, the machine can handle the lion’s share of raking bunkers, allowing a smaller number of team members to take on other duties while helping superintendents overcome labor shortages.
  • A federal appeals court has agreed to review a three-judge panel ruling, reopening a lawsuit claiming that the weedkiller Roundup caused a Georgia man's cancer.
    The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta said its entire panel of judges will grant the company’s rehearing petition, vacating its Oct. 28 decision.
    At issue is whether federal pesticide law trumps state failure-to-warn claims, a decision supported the Oct. 28 decision in a claim by John Carson that Roundup caused his cancer. 
    Bayer's legal team called the decision by the 11th Circuit one of the most important developments in seven years of lawsuits over Roundup.
    Last year, a three-judge panel from the 11th Circuit rejected Bayer's argument that federal law shielded it from state law claims like the one brought by Carson, who claims he was diagnosed with cancer in 2016 after using Roundup for 30 years
    Carson's attorneys argued there should be a cancer warning on the product label. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said there is not sufficient proof that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is a carcinogen.
    If the full panel of judges from the 11th Circuit were to overturn the previous ruling, it could vacate the approximately 30,000 outstanding cases against Bayer, claiming that Roundup, with its active ingredient glyphosate, is a carcinogen. Such a decision also could create a circuit split, which would open the door for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit the case.
    Claims against Monsanto and now Bayer stem from a 2015 ruling by the World Health Organization that glyphosate is likely carcinogenic, a claim the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has rejected.
    Bayer announced in 2021 that it would discontinue sales of Roundup in the consumer marketplace by next year, when it will be replaced by products with a different active ingredient. Roundup will remain available in the professional segment.
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