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From the TurfNet NewsDesk


  • John Reitman
    The recent video and images on social media of hail-damaged Oakdale Golf Club. located 80 miles west of Minneapolis, will not long be forgotten.
    The results were predictable when a relentless barrage of up to baseball-sized hail rained from the sky onto an already-wet golf course like some sort of artillery assault from a war movie. Images and videos showed a minefield of countless pock marks from tee to green. 
    Those images were met with thoughts and prayers, good luck wishes, comments of "better you than me" and even some advice for repair from those who say they have been through a similar situation in the past.
    One such greenkeeper with a similar experience is former Merion director of course operations Matt Shaffer, who says a method he used to recover from such damage some 40 years ago would still work today.
    "It's unbelievable those pictures," Shaffer said. "That's going to be tough."
    Throughout his career as a superintendent, Shaffer developed a reputation for innovation. Often, innovation on Shaffer's part was born out of necessity, sometimes it was the result of a curious mind, or often it was both. 
    When the U.S. Open came to Merion in 2013, there were many doubters. The concern was that, at 6,700 yards, the par-70 East Course was too short for an Open. Several inches of rain in the weeks leading up to the tournament fueled skeptics and prognosticators predicting record-high Open scores.
    What many did not know was that Shaffer had set booby-traps of sorts throughout the course.
    "I got creative. I got really creative," Shaffer told TurfNet after the Open. "I spent months looking for the worst grasses to play out of, then I found those grasses and planted them in the landing zones and in the rough. I planted some of them together in different combinations in the same area, so if you landed in a 4-foot square four days in a row you could have four different lies."
    The results astonished doomsayers and only reinforced Shaffer's reputation for outside-the-box solutions to many turf problems. Only 18 players broke par in an individual round throughout the tournament that Justin Rose eventually won with a very U.S. Open-like score of 1-over-par.
    In those early days of his career, Shaffer learned a lesson in innovation while attending the Penn State Turf Conference when former Augusta superintendent and Better Billy Bunker founder Billy Fuller spoke on expediting recovery from aerification. 

    Former Merion superintendent Matt Shaffer learned about repairing hail damage at a Penn State Turf Conference The practice Fuller was using to speed up recovery at Augusta, where he worked from 1981 to 1986, involved flooding the greens with water, covering them with tightly fitting plywood planks and running over them with a 1-ton roller.
    "He's such a great speaker, and he is so smart," Shaffer said. "You have to keep the plywood tight so the turf doesn't squish up between the planks, and after you take them off, the turf was perfect. You have to let it dry, but the recovery was amazing. It was perfect."
    Shaffer was the superintendent at Scotch Valley Country Club in rural central Pennsylvania from 1978 to 1986, and when the course was the target of a damaging hail storm, he figured if Fuller's flooding idea worked for the greens at Augusta, it would work on hail damage in central Pennsylvania.
    He aerified with hollow tines, flooded the greens, covered them with plywood and rolled them with a borrowed 1-ton diesel packer.
    The aerifier was set to kick and break up the soil, which was not normal practice at the time.
    "Just aerifying was not good enough," Shaffer said. "We set the Coremaster to kick up the soil, which was actually the wrong setting then. Kicking up the turf tore the roots loose, but I figured I didn't have anything to lose, because the damage was so bad. Then we flooded the greens, and I mean we flooded them. Then we put down the plywood and rolled in two directions. You have to constantly hose down the plywood so the roller slides over it and doesn't grab and shoot the wood out the back.
    "When we were finished, we let the greens dry for three days and they were perfect. I'd never seen anything like it."
    Apparently, neither had golfers at Scotch Valley.
    "Some of the members came to me and said 'Shaffer, that worked out so well we should do that more often,' " he said. "It was no fun doing the entire golf course with just eight guys."
    The practice doubtlessly would have worked across the rest of Scotch Valley, but 200-plus acres is a lot of time for a team of eight and a lot of water. Not to mention who even has that much plywood?
    Once, again, it was time for Shaffer to get innovative.
    "We double-sliced (fairways) and cut them. As I remember, they played lift, clean and place," Shaffer said. "I didn't have much money back then, and so we spent what we had to on greens (and) did what we could on fairways, and tees didn't matter because you tee it up."
    Fairway recovery did not end there.
    "In the fall, we aerated the fairways, and seeded them with Colonial bents. Then a freeze-thaw over the winter and everything was good again.
    "Poverty makes you innovative."
  • Acelypryn Xtra is labeled for control of many pests, including turf caterpillars. Syngenta photo Syngenta's Acelepryn Xtra insecticide is now available for use on golf and sports turf and residential lawns.
    With the active ingredients chlorantraniliprole and thiamethoxam, Acelepryn Xtra has been developed to provide broad-spectrum, season-long control of many common turf pests, including grubs, billbugs and caterpillars, as well as enhanced control of chinch bugs and ants.
    With its two active ingredients, Acelepryn Xtra offers turf managers two modes of action and thus increased control and a wider application window than the original Acelepryn that was introduced four years ago. 
    In addition to season-long control of grubs, billbugs and turf caterpillars, Acelepryn Xtra offers early curative grub control through the second instar stage. It is also labelled for ant control and provides enhanced chinch bug control of at least three months, research shows.
    "Turf managers historically have had to make multiple insecticide applications throughout the year to get the length and spectrum of control they need," said Syngenta technical services manager Matt Giese. "Acelepryn Xtra has an even wider application window and controls more pests than Acelepryn, reducing the number of applications needed."
  • Once the home layout to the University of South Florida, The Claw golf course soon will become another in a long line of shuttered golf courses.
    Built in 1967, The Claw was designed by architect William F. Mitchell, and it served as USF's home course for several years. Once a popular daily fee in the Tampa area, the course has struggled financially in recent years and was abandoned by the school's golf teams long ago. 
    USF has not practiced there for years, and according to the university's athletics department website, USF's men's team has played exactly one tournament at The Claw in the past dozen years, and the school's women's team has not played there since before 2005. Instead, tournaments have been played at layouts like historic Belleair Country Club, Lake Jovita G&CC, Innisbrook, Black Diamond and Southern Hills Plantation. 
    Set in an environmentally sensitive area on Tampa's north side, The Claw will close Sept. 5, raising concerns from both disgruntled golfers and environmental advocates.
    An email to USF alumni from university president Rhea Law read: "In recent years, the course has lost nearly $200,000 annually, as operating costs have far exceeded revenues. The course operations have required USF to inject cash each year to keep it open, and those financial resources could be used elsewhere to better support our students."

    Open since 1967, The Claw at the University of South Florida will close Sept. 5. USF photo The university has not yet said what it plans to do with the property.
    Known for tight fairways, The Claw covers 120 rustic acres that looks as much like a wildlife refuge as it does a golf course. It also adjoins the USF Forest Preserve, a 500-acre research and teaching facility that also is home to various species of wildlife, many of which are threatened or endangered, according to the university, so it is understandable that there is some concern about what will become of the golf course that has been a buffer between the preserve and Tampa's sprawling suburbia for more than a half-century.
    The university explored plans to close and build on the site two years ago, but the email announcing the closure said the decision to shutter the course does not change the school's commitment to maintaining the preserve.
    USF has plans to build a football stadium, but Law said another site on that side of campus already has been selected for that project.
    More than 2,200 courses have closed in the U.S. in the past two decades.
  • For much of the time since Burt Musser developed Penncross 70 years ago at Penn State, superintendents have been looking for ways to keep annual bluegrass out of creeping bentgrass turf.
    There is a saying that good things come to those who wait.
    If that is true, then professional turf managers in California who are looking for another tool to help them control Poa annua in both cool- and warm-season turf could be in for some pretty good times.
    After years of research and real-world testing, PoaCure is labeled for use in 49 states, with the latest, California, finally granting label registration to the herbicide this week.
    Dubbed the next great tool in the battle against annual bluegrass, it will be for sale in California by October, the company said.
    University research and field studies on golf courses nationwide, as well as years of use in South Korea have shown PoaCure to be effective at controlling annual bluegrass under a variety of conditions.
    Despite its efficacy, PoaCure's timeline from blackboard to market has been a long, slow one. 
    With the active ingredient methiozolin, PoaCure was invented by Suk-Jin Koo, who founded the Moghu Research Center in 2007 in South Korea. Since then, PoaCure has been the subject of several university research trials, including at the University of California at Riverside.
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted an experimental use permit in 2014, opening the door for use on dozens of golf courses nationwide.
    After multiple applications by Moghu and about 10 years of waiting, Poa Cure finally received label registration in 2019 for selective pre- and post-emergent control of annual bluegrass, and it has been a slow and steady flow of state registrations ever since.
    "Good things are worth waiting for," tweeted Jim Baird, Ph.D., when he learned of registration in California.

    Baird conducted some of the seminal research on PoaCure at UCR, including a study he co-authored nearly a decade ago. The team of Baird, Fayek Negm and Marco Schiavon explored the tolerance of Pure Distinction creeping bentgrass to methiozolin under worst-case conditions. Their findings were published under the title "Response of Creeping Bentgrass Cultivar Pure Distinction to Methiozolin Herbicide."
    The research included three sequential applications of methiozolin at two-week intervals at 1x, 2x and 4x rates on putting green-height turf when daytime temperatures in Riverside ranged from the low 90s to more than 100 degrees. The plots also were subject to solid-tine aeration and sand topdressing applied after the second application of methiozolin.
    Even under these harsh conditions, there were no visual signs of stress or damage, according to the research. 
    It also emerged from a 2013-14 trial on a golf course in the San Francisco area when tested against several other products at multiple rates and timing.
    PoaCure has long residual activity, is safe for warm- and cool-season grasses, is effective on biotypes and works in differing climates.
    Despite the benefits of many of the new chemistries that are piped through the turf business, the registration process can take what seems like a very long time.
    The EPA looks at product ingredients; plants on which it will be used; amount, frequency and timing; storage and disposal; potential effects on humans and non-target organisms; contamination of water bodies; drift; and research data from the company that owns the product to develop risk assessments.
    In the case of PoaCure, the process was prolonged due in part to a lack of U.S. data to present to the EPA.
    Exhaustive oversight of a chemistry that is made to kill living organisms is never a bad thing considering the impact such products can have on the environment. It also can help prevent the company bringing the product to market from being the next defendant in a class-action lawsuit, or face canceled registration during a future label review. 
  • Genesis Turfgrass recently joined United Turf Alliance as its newest owner. Based in Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, Genesis Turfgrass serves Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, West Virginia and New Jersey.
    United Turf Alliance is a consortium of U.S. distribution companies that have developed a pesticide and plant-health portfolio under the ArmorTech and Optimizer names. UTA markets turf protection products through its members and dealer partners.
    Founded by Mike Del Biondo 18 years ago with the mission was to provide solutions to turfgrass managers, Genesis Turfgrass is a distributor of turf management products that services Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, West Virginia and New Jersey.
    Today, Genesis Turfgrass has 40 employees across two locations. The company provides products and support to golf courses, lawn and landscape services, sports complexes, athletic fields, nurseries, sod and organic farms, agriculture, vineyards and infield tracks.
    The new partnership is win-win for both companies, Del Biondo said in a news release.
    "Joining UTA is an opportunity for Genesis to partner with similar distributors around the country," Del Biondo said in a news release. "We're confident that this new membership will serve our employees and customers well for years to come."
    The addition of Genesis Turfgrass makes the third new UTA owner to come aboard this year and ninth overall.
  • Arkon is labeled for control of several weeds, including many species of kyllinga. PBI-Gordon photo PBI-Gordon's Arkon herbicide liquid is now approved for use in 48 of 50 states, the company said.
    With the active ingredient Pyrimisulfan, Arkon is approved for use on established cool- and warm-season greens, fairways and roughs for post-emergent control of annual kyllinga, annual nutsedge, cockscomb kyllinga, false green kyllinga, green kyllinga, path rush, purple nutsedge, yellow nutsedge, buckhorn plantain, common chickweed, dollarweed, false dandelion, Florida betony, ground ivy, hairy bittercress, henbit, lawn burweed, purple deadnettle, rough fleabane, Virginia buttonweed, wild garlic and wild onion.
    Additionally, research has shown that the liquid herbicide reduces the number and viability of nutsedge tubers.
    Arkon is registered in all states except Alaska and California. Its active ingredient is the result of a partnership between PBI-Gordon Corp., Kumiai Chemical Industry Co. and its U.S. subsidiary, K-I Chemical U.S.A Inc. Previously approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Pyrimisulfan has been available in the agricultural market for several years.
    In addition to  years of proprietary and independent testing before launch, PBI-Gordon provided demonstration product Arkon to more than 460 turfgrass professionals throughout the country earlier this year so they could learn about Arkon firsthand.
    Part of PBI-Gordon's Powered by Vexis family of herbicide products, Arkon is a low-rate, non-phenoxy product. The application rate is 1.2 to 1.7 ounces per 1,000 square feet. The maximum annual use rate is 2.5 ounces per 1,000 square feet. For harder-to-control weeds, two applications at the 1.2 ounces per 1,000 square feet rate at 30 apart should be considered.
  • When it comes to picking winners in golf tournament pools, Kevin Clunis claims he does not know what he is doing. The results, at least the recent ones, say differently. 
    A regular participant in major pools for several year, Clunis, superintendent at Luck Golf Course in Luck, Wisconsin, won the past two TurfNet pools, presented by sponsor Standard Golf. He won the U.S. Open pool outright with the team "Not Sure" and his "Not Sure Again" finished in a three-way tie for first with Jeff Smelser and Chris Colton in The Open Championship pool.
    "I've been entering those for I don't know how many years, and I don't think I've ever finished in the top 50 in all those years," Clunis (right) said. "I literally had no clue about any of the golfers."
    That's not exactly true.
    Clunis has picked up a trick or two in all that time. When he picks golfers now, he looks across the pond.
    Except for winner Brian Harman, who is from Savannah, Georgia, the rest of Clunis' Open Championship "team" comprised Jason Day of New Zealand, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Tommy Fleetwod of England, Scotland's Robert McIntyre and Si Woo Kim of South Korea.
    "If there is anything I've done, it is pick foreign golfers in majors. They always seem to play well," Clunis said. "Tommy Fleetwood, I had him on the roster. He doesn't win majors, but he plays well in them. I do like to stick with foreign golfers."
    The TurfNet U.S. Open pool had 196 total participants, while 164 took part in The Open Championship pool. 
    No one we asked was sure what the odds are of winning two consecutive pools. But one thing those involved agree on is the chances of it happening are not very good.

    Kevin Clunis says staying up with tournament golf helps him relate to golfers at Luck Golf Course in Wisconsin where he is superintendent. "That is very rare. One other pool admin reached out this year wondering about the same thing, but you and him are the only admins tat have ever mentioned it," said Sean Hogan of Easy Office Pools, which supplies the software for hundreds of office pools. "I haven't done the analysis to get the exact stats regarding the rarity of back to backs.
    "With over 100,000 golf pools run on our platform, only twice have we heard of back to back winners in larger pools like TurfNet's."
    For his efforts, Clunis won swag from TurfNet and pool sponsor Standard Golf.
    "I got a hat and a flag that shows I won, but that's not why I do it," Clunis said. "I have enough hats."
    "Congratulations to Kevin on winning TurfNet's The Open pool, and collecting back to back victories," said Matt Pauli, VP and Director of Marketing for standard Golf. "This is certainly one way to collect Standard Golf swag. The excitement of Major golf and seeing the camaraderie and banter between the participants is one reason we enjoy sponsoring TurfNet’s Major Pools."
    Participating in pools with other superintendents is one more way for the ever-busy Clunis to stay in touch with his colleagues and the game, and he enjoyed keeping up with some of the good-natured banter that took place on social media during the Open.
    "I'm not a gambler; I just like to do this and see what happens. I know there are a few guys who really keep up with it. I saw Kevin Ross shooting his mouth off on Twitter because he was in first place on Saturday," Clunis said with a laugh. "It's fun, and I like to see that. I just don't have time to spend on social media doing that."
    Ross enjoyed the online banter, as well.
    "I tweeted out I had a two shot lead and he commented back that it would come down to two players," Ross said. "We had the same picks with only one difference. I had Cam Young and he had Jason Day. Cam Young went out on Sunday and stunk up the place, while Jason Day played well giving Kevin the victory. My hat's off to Kevin, these are not easy to win. Winning two in a row is impressive.
    "I’ll be gunning for him in the next pool, you can guarantee that. Might have to have a little side wager even."
    There also is a professional component to such pools for Clunis.
    "It helps me keep in tune to the golf season, and it's just fun to stay somewhat active, because you get caught up with the day-to-day duties," Clunis said. "Golfers look at TV, and they want to be like what they see on TV, and they want their course to look like what they see. Staying up with the golf season helps communicate to them and speak their language."
     
  • Roundup is not widely used on golf courses, but the legal wranglings that its owners have faced the past several years should make turf managers everywhere stand up and take notice as an example of what can happen to any of several pesticides that end up on the wrong side of the news cycle.
    What once was the world's most popular weedkiller, Roundup has been the center of legal struggles for the past five years amid claims it is responsible for causing cancer among users.
    The result has been a cascade of lawsuits, multi-billion-dollar settlements and eventually pulling the product from the consumer marketplace. The most recent turn in this story is the settlement of lawsuit brought by the State of New York.
    According to reports, Bayer, which inherited the Roundup brand when it acquired Monsanto in 2018, has been accused by New York Attorney General Letitia James of misleading consumers by claiming the product is environmentally safe.
    A statement by James's office read: "Bayer and Monsanto repeatedly claimed in advertising that Roundup consumer products containing the active ingredient glyphosate were safe and non-toxic without adequate substantiation. These claims violated state laws against false and misleading advertising, and also breached a previous settlement the Office of the Attorney General reached with Monsanto in 1996, in which Monsanto committed to stop making unsubstantiated claims regarding the safety of Roundup products that contained glyphosate."

    As part of the settlement agreement, Bayer will pay the state $6.9 million that James says will be used to "prevent, abate, restore, mitigate, or control the impacts of toxic pesticides such as those containing glyphosate on pollinators or aquatic species." 
    Bayer has neither confirmed nor denied malpractice, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has refuted claims, saying that Roundup is safe when used according to label instructions.
    The settlement also requires Bayer and Monsanto to immediately remove or discontinue any advertisements that represent Roundup consumer products containing glyphosate as safe, non-toxic and harmless to pollinators and other wildlife. Bayer and Monsanto must also direct distributor and retail partners to halt any marketing materials that contain allegedly false claims.
    "It is essential," James said in a statement, "that pesticide companies — even and especially the most powerful ones — are honest with consumers about the dangers posed by their products so that they can be used responsibly."
    The New York Attorney General's office says it has been investigating Roundup and its effects on the environment for three years.
    More than 100,000 cases have been filed against Bayer claiming that glyphosate is responsible for causing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
    Three years ago, Bayer settled many of the cases lodged against it for $11 billion. Since then,many of the 150,000-plus suits brought by plaintiffs have been settled or dismissed.
  • The majority of diseases diagnosed on greens are root diseases. And they are a threat because often the damage is already done by the time symptoms appear.
    Resilia root health solution, the newest innovation from Envu, is available in states where it is registered. The Resilia root health solution protects roots from destructive soil-borne pathogens for up to 21 days and most up to 28 days, allowing the opportunity for a more robust root system.
    "The key to healthy turf starts below the surface," Mark Brotherton, product manager, Envu Turf & Ornamentals, said in a news release. "With that foundational goal in mind, Envu developed Resilia root health solution, the first, all-in-one root health solution that was exclusively developed for soilborne root disease control. Golf course superintendents can rest easy knowing their roots are protected when they incorporate Resilia root health solution into their plant protection program."
    Resilia has proven to be effective at controlling soil-borne pathogens that cause diseases such as Pythium root rot, fairy ring and summer patch, as well as nematode damage.
    "Resilia root health solution is the only product that offers simultaneous control of patch diseases, Pythium diseases and suppression of pathogenic nematodes," said Jesse Benelli, Ph.D., Green Solutions Team specialist, Envu. "The solution is not meant to be a total replacement for other products, but it can integrate seamlessly into any program as a preventative maintenance application."
    Resilia is registered for use in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
  • Sebonack Golf Club on Long Island was the site of a recent protest by climate activists. Sebonack GC photo The right to protest is a revered privilege. It also is an oft-abused one. 
    Freedom to protest can be a powerful and persuasive tool, and it also can be dangerous when the message is not entirely accurate, or even remotely so. 
    We see the results of false narratives and outright lies every day in Washington, but "fake news" is not limited to politics. In fact, few industries have been the target of hyperbole more than golf, where people speak out against much of what you do, from water use to pesticide inputs to perceived exclusivity of the game in general.
    Despite the proactive efforts of superintendents to conserve resources while maximizing playability, smear campaigns have resulted in actions such as the banning of pesticides, imposing water-use restrictions, construction embargoes and attempts at land grabs for the sole purpose of constructing high-density housing.
    Recently, protests aimed at golf took a different turn when activists voiced the ills of the game by invading, ironically, a club that is subject to some of the most stringent and intense environmental oversight anywhere in the country.

    On July 19, about 20 activists from a New York City group known as Planet Over Profit stormed Sebonack Golf Club on Long Island to protest on behalf of climate change, carrying signs reading "YOUR GREED = CLIMATE CHAOS."
    They descended on Sebonack, where they danced on greens. Some were dressed as orcas, others carried pitchforks or beat drums while chanting obscenities at golfers and decried the wealthy.
    For people hoping to make a statement on environmentalism by pointing out what they believe to be the negative impacts of golf courses, the protesters could not have picked a more inappropriate target than Sebonack or any of its neighbors.
    Sebonack was the subject of strict pesticide and chemical regulations when it was being built 20 years ago on the shores of Long Island's Peconic Bay next to the equally well-heeled National Golf Links and Shinnecock Hills. It has adhered to those same restrictions ever since.
    Besides a minimalist approach to daily management of the golf course, Sebonack also raises bees and a resident beekeeper helps ensure the success of one of the country's most threatened and high-profile species.
    The protest was part of a larger series of demonstrations around Long Island, including one at the East Hampton Airport, where protester Abigail Disney, the great-niece of Walt Disney, was arrested. And it came weeks after activists planted seedlings on the greens of at least 10 courses in Spain in protest of golf.
    The reality is most golf courses (never say "every"), whether they be public, municipal or ultra private like Sebonack, are managed in a more environmentally conscious manner now than ever before. Equally true is that few outside the game are aware of this. 
    Whether it is Birkenstock-wearing crackpots or killer whale-clad protesters who contribute exactly nothing, or simply the misinformed or misled on the subjects of water or chemical use who are destined not to stop until access to both is severely constrained, these assaults will continue.
  • Rounds played were up 10 percent nationwide in May and are up 5 percent for the year. Photo by John Reitman After nearly two decades of slow decline, golf enjoyed renewed popularity during Covid in what the game's stakeholders hope is the new normal. But after a few years of a pandemic-driven boom, about 50 million fewer rounds were played in 2022, compared with the previous year. Less than halfway through this year, it appears things are on their way to getting back to the new normal.
    Year-over-year rounds played in May were up by 10 percent compared with the same month last year, according to the Golf Datatech Monthly Rounds Played report. 
    Rounds played in May were up in 39 states and were up by at least 11 percent in 19 of them, with New Mexico leading the way with an increase of 57 percent. Play also was up by 35 percent in Kansas and Nebraska, 30 percent in Oregon and Minnesota, 27 percent in Illinois and 26 percent in Washington.
    Year-over-year rounds played through May were up by 5 percent, compared to the same five-month period a year ago. The increase was welcome news in an industry that saw rounds drop from 502 million two years ago to 451 million last year.
    The biggest losers in May were Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming, all of which saw play drop by 23 percent compared to the same month last year. Year-to-date rounds played are down throughout New England, including a drop of 43 percent in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.
  • Flooding in Vermont left the fairways at Fox Run GC in Ludlow under a layer of silt and mud. Photo courtesy of Jesse Sutton By the time more than a half-foot of rain fell during a two-day span in early July at Fox Run Golf Club, the course in Ludlow, Vermont, already had been inundated with 10 inches of precipitation in the previous three weeks.
    "We were already waterlogged,” said Fox Run superintendent Jesse Sutton. "We had 19.53 inches in five weeks. And there is more rain in the forecast today.”
    Mudslides and overflowing rivers from the rain that fell on July 9-10 left a trail of flooded golf courses, roads and towns across Vermont.
    Some have reopened already, others will be closed for the remainder of the season — or longer. 
    "Everything on mountain courses that wasn't buttoned down — roads, bridges, cart paths, was gone,” said Chris Cowan of Atlantic Golf and Turf, who has spoken with many superintendents throughout the state as they continue along the path to recovery. "There was water in places where water had never been before.”
    Many of the courses that were affected most, Cowan said, were those that sustained the worst damage during Hurricane Irene in 2011. 
    When Sutton arrived July 10 at Fox Run, which is located along the Black River at the base of the Okemo Mountain Ski Resort, he could not access the maintenance facility because the roads were impassable.
    By the time he was able to get through to the maintenance facility, three members of his 15-man team were waiting for him.
    "They walked up a Nordic skiing trail and through a cemetery,” Sutton said. "They were already popping off drain heads and doing whatever they could.”

    Floodwaters inundated many Vermont golf courses, including The Quechee Club. Photo courtesy of Chris Cowan By the time the water receded, much of the fairway turf was covered in silt and mud up to a foot deep and bunkers were washed out.
    "It was like a river coming from the woods,” Sutton said. "There was so much debris. It was like an organic landslide of sticks, leaves and dirt.
    "I had to get a mini excavator just to get to something I could work with.”
    Fox Run fared better than most. The club's California-style greens, except one, were pretty much unscathed. 
    "We were able to open by Saturday,” Sutton said. "People were blown away. All the credit goes to my crew.”
    Cowan said some courses anticipate being closed for a year-and-a-half, which will mean missing the remainder of the current golf season and most if not all of the next.
    Dozens of roads were closed across the state, including sections of U.S. 4 near Killington that were covered in up to 20 feet in debris. 
    "You see things like this on the news and it looks awful, but you can't believe how bad it is until you live through it,” Sutton said. 
    What amazed both Sutton and Cowan was the way area superintendents and local communities came together to help one another.
    Superintendents, even those literally under water, reached out to help colleagues at other courses.
    "We have a great fraternity. That was the No. 1 take-home message to me,” Cowan said. "Even the guys who were dinged up offered assistance to others who also were dinged up.”
    Sutton concurred.
    "Every business has some kind of water damage. FEMA is here and the national guard,” Sutton said. "Clean up started the next day. 
    "In town it's a volunteer effort. Residents are helping. Second-homeowners who are not full-time residents have come back to help. This has shown the good nature of people. It has been inspiring to see. When you see someone doing something for someone else, it makes you want to do something. It makes you feel good, and it becomes a domino effect.”
  • Shuttered in 2006 after only five years in operation because of financial struggles, the Beacon Hill Golf Club in Virginia has been closed longer than it has been open. Much longer.
    Nearly 20 years after it closed, the property near Leesburg, Virginia recently was acquired by Resort Development Partners, which plans to restore and reopen the golf course by 2024 as The Preserve at Beacon Hill.
    Designed by Johnny Miller, the 27-hole club opened as the Golf Club of Virginia, and the owners later changed the name to Beacon Hill. Original plans called for an additional 18-hole layout to be designed by Jack Nicklaus, but amid financial hard times the club closed prematurely.
    Eventually, the club ended up being owned by a collection of retirement funds in Massachusetts, according to reports. Another potential owner tried unsuccessfully to buy the property in 2010, and the homeowner's association finally acquired the club in 2014. Plans by the association to revive and reopen the course never materialized.
    The current restoration plans by Haymarket, Virginia-based Resort Development Partners include a redesign by architect Tom Clark, converting the course from 27 to 18 holes and adding a practice facility and a nine-hole course specifically for families.
  • One of the most economical tools for controlling many common turf pests is officially on the clock in New York.
    Proposed legislation in New York, known as the Birds and Bees Protection Act, would all but eliminate the sale and use of neonicotinoids on turf. The measure passed the New York Assembly in April and early last month was approved by the Senate. It currently awaits Gov. Kathy Hochul's signature when it would become law. Use of some neonics would be prohibited almost right away, while others would be banned within two years. The pending legislation is sponsored by Assemblywoman Deborah Glick and Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal, both of Manhattan.
    The proposed bill reads: "No person shall apply or treat outdoor ornamental plants and turf, except for the production of agricultural commodities, with a pesticide containing the active ingredients imidacloprid, thiamethoxam or acetamiprid on or after July first, two thousand twenty-five; the active ingredients clothianidin or dinotefuran effective immediately."
    Although neonicotinoids are among the most effective and economical options for controlling a variety of pests in their larval stage, such as annual bluegrass weevil, billbugs, beetles, chafers, black turfgrass ataenius, cutworms, chinch bugs and mole crickets, research shows they also are lethal to many non-target species, including birds and pollinating insects — most notably bees.
    The relationship between pollinators and neonics has been well chronicled.
    Bee populations throughout the U.S. have been in decline for more than 40 years. Although there are other contributing factors, such as the invasive Varroa mite, neonicotinoids have been linked as contributors to bee decline for decades. The case against neonics shifted gears 10 years ago when pesticide applicators in Oregon treated flowering Linden trees for an aphid infestation on a late spring day. The trees, which are a favorite stopover for bumblebees, surrounded a local shopping center, so when the ground became carpeted with dead bees, during National Pollinator Week no less, the incident became news in a hurry.
    Initial reports put the count of dead bees at 25,000-50,000. Researchers went back into the story two years ago, and now estimate the carnage at about 100,000 dead bees — from nearly 600 colonies, according to research from the USDA and the Oregon Department of Agriculture. 

    Proposed legislation in New York would ban the use of neonicotinoids in most instances. Photo by John Reitman Bees are responsible, through pollination, for helping create much of the world's food supply of fruits, nuts and vegetables. According to research, they pollinate 35 percent of the world's food supply.
    Although the applicators in Oregon made a critical error by treating a flowering plant, which was a use violation even then, the outrage that followed was warranted, and, given the reliance on pollinators, it is understandable when politicians come down on one side or the other of such an issue. 
    The pending New York bill was approved by the Assembly by a vote of 100-49 and by the Senate by a vote of 45-16.
    The proposed measure does not just single out T&O. It would affect  the agriculture industry, targeting seeds coated with pesticides. 
    The bill also reads: "Beginning January first, two thousand twenty-seven, for any person to sell, offer for sale or use, or distribute within the state any corn, soybean or wheat seeds coated or treated with pesticides with the active ingredients clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran, or acetamiprid."
    Critics of the bill say the bill will have a disastrous outcome for New York's agriculture industry, and point to Europe, where a ban on neonicotinoids has resulted in burgeoning populations of pests such as aphids and beet weevils and causing vast losses of many varieties of crops.
    Critics also point to research that says honeybee populations have grown by 51,000 colonies in America, and say there are nearly 21 million more beehives in the world now than in 2000.
    The governor's office has not indicated whether Hochul will sign the bill. Similar legislation proposed in California was vetoed last year by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
  • For turf management professionals looking for an easier way to hand water areas throughout the golf course, Underhill launched a line of new Featherweight Series hoses.
    The Featherweight hose is available in two models, the Featherweight ProLine and the Featherweight UltraMax, that come in varying lengths. Both feature a tough, lightweight outer polyester cover that resists scuffing and tearing. Both the ProLine and UltraMax lines also resist kinking and feature tough, ergonomic aluminum fittings for easier connections.
    The UltraMax line is built for professional turf managers while the ProLine is designed specifically for landscape professionals.
    The UltraMax is available in four sizes — 50, 75, 100 and 125 feet — all of which are 1 inch in diameter. The UltraMax also can be custom cut to meet any superintendent’s specific needs. All are rated at 300 PSI with a burst pressure of 1,200 PSI, and the 100-foot version weighs just 15 pounds, so there is no more dragging heavy hoses around greens.
    The ProLine is rated to 200 PSI with a burst pressure of 800 PSI. At 0.75-inches in diameter, it is available in lengths of 50, 75 and 100 feet, the last of which weighs a mere 9 pounds.
  • The largest golf course management company in the world just got a little bigger.
    Troon will acquire the third-party Management Business division from Invited Clubs, the company formerly known as Club Corp. 
    The transaction includes 18 contracts, bringing Troon's total portfolio to more than 750 managed courses, the company says. In a separate transaction, Troon also has acquired Applied Golf Management, a New Jersey-based golf and hospitality management company. Troon takes over management of Applied Golf’s portfolio of 13 public and private golf facilities in New York, New Jersey and Florida.
    Invited, the largest owner of golf courses in the world, is also the second-largest operator. The Dallas-based company owns and operates 200 18-hole equivalents.
    As part of the agreement, management teams and all employees at the facilities will remain in their current roles. In addition, Invited vice presidents Seth Churi and Peter Faraone will move to similar positions within Troon.

    Chateau Golf & Country Club in Kenner, Louisiana. The 18 Invited Club Management contracts acquired by Troon include a mix of private clubs, resorts, and athletic clubs:
    • Bent Creek Golf Village Resort & Golf Club in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
    • Canebrake Country Club in Hattiesburg, Mississippi
    • Chateau Golf & Country Club in Kenner, Louisiana
    • Crystal Lake Country Club in Crystal Lake, Illinois
    • Hilton Head Owners Club in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
    • Lake Toxaway Country Club in Lake Toxaway, North Carolina
    • Lake Valley Golf Club, Longmont, Colorado
    • Mystic Dunes Resort & Golf Club in Celebration, Florida
    • Olde Town Athletic Club in Marietta, Georgia
    • PGA National Members Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
    • Pristine Bay Resort in Roatán, Honduras
    • Riverton Pointe Golf Club in Hardeeville, South Carolina
    • Saddlebrooke 2 in Tucson, Arizona
    • Santa Rosa Golf & Beach Club in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
    • Serenata Beach Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
    • Skyline Country Club in Tucson, Arizona
    • The Ocean Club at the Hutchinson Island Beach Resort & Marina in Stuart, Florida.
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