During a news conference Wednesday at the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., USGA president Glen Nager unveiled a pace-of-play public-education campaign designed to combat one of the most significant threats to the game.
As the saying goes, the first part is admitting you have a problem. Nager noted four major factors affecting slow play: golf course design, golf course setup, player management and player behavior.
How bad is it? A recent study by the National Golf Foundation found that:
> 91 percent of serious golfers said they are bothered by slow play and say it detracts from their golf experience;
> more than 70 percent believe pace of play has worsened over time;
> half acknowledged that they walked off the course due to frustration over a marathon round of golf.
"We must stop simply complaining about poor pace of play and instead mobilize the golfing public to demand action on real potential solutions to the issue," Nager said in his prepared remarks.
The five new public-service announcements borrow the iconic line "While we're young" from the character portrayed by Rodney Dangerfield in the movie "Caddyshack," and feature the likes of Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Annika Sorenstam, Paula Creamer, instructor Butch Harmon and film star/director Clint Eastwood.
"It's the language of golf and the language of golfers," Nager said. "It's a device designed to cut through golf's cultural conformity. The purpose of these spots is not to lecture but to relate; not to admonish but to wink."
Woods, in a news release, said: "Pace of play is a big issue. Rounds of golf take too long, and no one enjoys it. This campaign is lighthearted, but it also shows that we need to pick up the pace of the play."
The PSAs direct viewers to a newly created website (www.usga.org/whilewereyoung) that asks golfers and golf course managers to sign a pledge to improve pace of play. Those who do will be guided through an educational program developed in partnership with the PGA of America, LPGA and Golf Course Superintendents Association of America to provide accurate, practical information that offers potential solutions to reduce the amount of time it takes to play a round.
Nager said there is industry-wide concern, and that 20 golf organizations met this week to discuss ways to best unify the industry's approach to improving pace of play. For now, the USGA test center is spearheading an analysis of key factors known to influence pace of play and developing a pace-of-play model based on USGA-led research and quantifiable data, which Nager said should be complete later this summer.
The USGA-led initiative is the most aggressive effort yet to address concerns of slow play that plague the game.
"The reason we're launching this public-awareness campaign is because poor pace of play is driving recreational golfers from the recreational game," Nager said. "They have other things to do with their leisure time."
Nager concluded by underscoring the initiative's theme: "Let's fix pace of play 'while we're young.' "
- Adam Schupak, Golfweek
There are times when it is difficult to ignore the link between weather and golf rounds played. April was one of those times.
Year-over-year rounds played were down by nearly 15 percent in April, according to Golf Datatech's monthly report that solicits information from more than 3,700 private and daily-fee facilities nationwide. And in each section of the country where rounds were down compared with April 2012, there was either an accompanying dip in the average temperature or increase in precipitation, or both.
For example, rounds played were down by 41 percent in the country's mid-section, where the average temperature was down by 10 degrees and precipitation was up by 16 percent compared with April 2012. In the coastal southeast, rounds were down by nearly 5 percent even though temperatures were relatively unchanged compared with the same month last year. Rainfall amounts in that region, however, were up by 56 percent.
The only area of the country showing an increase in rounds played was the Pacific coast (up 2 percent), where coincidentally the average monthly temperature was flat and precipitation was down by 32 percent.
Play was down in 44 states (excluding Alaska, which is not included in the survey). The greatest losses were in Minnesota, where play in April was down by 70 percent. Other double-digit losers were North Dakota, South Dakota (58 percent); Wisconsin (51 percent); Colorado (41 percent); Illinois, Iowa (33 percent); Arkansas (30 percent); Kansas (28 percent); Idaho, Michigan, Montana and Wyoming (27 percent); Indiana, Missouri (26 percent); Nebraska (25 percent); Oklahoma (24 percent); Louisiana (23 percent); Ohio 19 percent; New York, Tennessee (17 percent); Mississippi (16 percent); Georgia, West Virginia (14 percent); Alabama (12 percent); Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island (11 percent).
The biggest gains were in made in California and Oregon, where play was up by 4 percent compared with April 2012.
The 14.8 percent downward trend in rounds played in April marked the fifth straight month of decreased play, dating back to December 2012. Year-to-date rounds played are down by roughly the same margin 15.1 percent, according to Golf Datatech.
"The most important job in golf." That's the label given to golf course dogs in one of Randy Wilson's TurfNet videos.
Each year, superintendents list the reasons their dogs are so important in their quest to manage day-to-day golf course operations. They keep geese and other nuisance animals on the run, provide reliable companionship throughout the day and are effective at running PR interference against overzealous golfers. As one superintendent said of his dog: "My members think more of him than they do of me."
Every year since 2002, the TurfNet Superintendent's Best Friend Calendar has highlighted 14 golf course dogs for their tireless contributions to golf courses across the country and around the world. If this describes your golf course dog, then nominate your canine friend for a place in the 2014 TurfNet Superintendent's Best Friend Calendar, presented by Syngenta.
A panel of judges will select the 14 dogs for the calendar, including the cover and December 2013. Images should be taken horizontally at your camera's highest resolution setting. Also, try not to center your dog in the frame, as left or right orientation often can result in a more dramatic photograph. Nomination deadline is July 31.
To nominate your dog, email HIGH-RESOLUTION photos to Laura Salinas and be sure to include the dog's name, age and breed; photographer's name; owner's name, phone number, email address; and the name of the golf course where the owner and dog both work.
Projects come fast and furious at Corral de Tierra Country Club.
From sandcapping fairways to renovating ponds to building waterfall features from scratch, nearly everything is done in-house, which requires not only a lot of equipment, but equipment that runs correctly all the time.
That need has led to a strong relationship between superintendent Doug Ayres and Brian Sjogren, equipment manager at the course in Monterey, Calif.
"Like any other superintendent, I come in in the morning and say 'we're going to do this today.' And then he's scrambling to get three aerifiers together or other implements hooked up to tractors," Ayres said. "Many times its spur of the moment. For example, we just found out we have to build a bocce ball court and have it open by Father's Day. My requests of Brian are usually that I need all these things yesterday, but I'll give you five minutes to have it done. And it always gets done."
For his ability to keep Corral de Tierra's inventory in perfect working order under extreme conditions, Sjogren was named one of three finalists for the TurfNet 2013 Technician of the Year, presented by Toro. Also named as finalists were Jonothon McGuigan of Fox Meadow Golf and Country Club on Canada's Prince Edward Island and Ed Greve of Highland Woods Golf Course in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
Along with his duties at Highland Woods, Greve also is responsible for upkeep of equipment at not one, not two, but four other golf courses and a practice facility in the Cook County Forest Preserve portfolio managed by Billy Casper Golf.
Finalists were chosen by a panel of judges, and the winner will receive the Golden Wrench Award as well as a spot in an upcoming Toro Service Training Academy session at the company's headquarters in Bloomington, Minn.
TurfNet has been presenting the award annually (almost) to a golf course equipment manager who excels at one or more of the following: crisis management, effective budgeting, environmental awareness, helping to further the careers of colleagues and employees, interpersonal communications, inventory management and cost control, overall condition and dependability of rolling stock, shop safety and work ethic.
Previous winners include Herb Berg, Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club (2010); Doug Johnson, TPC at Las Colinas, Irving, Texas (2009); Jim Stuart, Stone Mountain (Ga.) Golf Club (2007); Fred Peck, Fox Hollow and The Homestead, Lakewood, Colo. (2006); Jesus Olivas, Heritage Highlands at Dove Mountain, Marana, Ariz. (2005); Henry Heinz, Kalamazoo (Mich.) Country Club (2004); Eric Kulaas, Marriott Vinoy Renaissance Resort, St. Petersburg, Fla. (2003). No award was given in 2008.
A former superintendent, Greve has one assistant and two seasonal mechanics assisting him in equipment upkeep at the Billy Caldwell, Chick Evans, Edgebrook and Indian Boundary courses as well as the Harry Semrow Driving Range.
Among Greve's greatest assets, said Highland Woods superintendent Dan Stahl, are his willingness to teach others about proper equipment use and maintenance and his unyielding need to know why parts and equipment fail.
"He has to know why something fails so he knows if he can prevent it from happening again or if it's a design flaw," Stahl said. "It just bugs him to no end when something fails.
He also enjoys sharing his passion with others within the golf operation.
"He enjoys teaching people how to take care of equipment. He explains why you have to do certain to make the equipment last longer," Stahl said.
"With him, I know things are going to be fixed and they're going to run properly."
Resources are scarce in the Forest Preserve, so instead of new equipment, many implements are passed down from Highland Woods to other courses in the operation. The good news is that Greve already is familiar with many of the hand-me-down pieces. The bad part is that many are nearing what should be the end of their useful life.
Thanks to Greve, most have many years yet to go.
Known around the course simply as Finn, McGuigan plays a unique role at Fox Meadow where he is equipment manager and assistant superintendent.
That dual role can be a handful when a catastrophe, such as ice damage that occurred at Fox Meadow four years ago, necessitates the resodding of 50,000 square feet of bentgrass putting greens, a process that Finn helped oversee as the club's assistant.
His ability to fix rather than replace equipment helps superintendent Paul MacCormack stay within budget. And because Fox Meadow's equipment is in such good shape when it reaches the end of its useful life cycle, it consistently has high resale value. Distributors often marvel at the condition of the club's equipment, MacCormack said.
"Any wise superintendent will tell you they are only as good as the crew that makes it happen," MacCormack said in his nomination of Finn. "For me, having Finn as both my assistant and head technician gives me the peace of mind and confidence that we can tackle anything."
He has developed and implemented a shop-wide recycling program, that includes disposal of used machine oil, which is used as heating fuel by a local John Deere dealership, according to MacCormack.
But before any new member of the Fox Meadow staff is permitted to operate anything first they must go through an extensive training session with Finn that includes a two-hour shop tour with stops at the first-aid and eyewash stations, training video, training on each piece of equipment and, get this, a test afterward.
At project-heavy Corral de Tierra, Sjogren maintains a fleet of equipment and mechanized tools valued at about $2.4 million. A testament to his ability to keep all of it in like-new condition is a Ford tractor that Ayres says dates to the early 1970s.
"It's hooked up to a trailer right now," Ayres said. "We use it all the time. We have some newer ones, but it out competes some of them, so we have to keep it around."
During the past two years Ayres has spent $300,000 on new mowing equipment. That Ayres has spent more than a quarter of a million on new machinery is a testament to Sjogren's skills, considering the equipment that is being replaced was bought piecemeal between 1989 and 1996.
"I know when I buy new equipment that it's not on a five-year rotation, it's on a 15-year rotation," Ayres said. "And I know it's going to be maintained.
Sjogren also has a knack for concocting equipment from recycled parts. Among the pieces he's built is a custom trailer from the bed of a cannibalized Gator utility vehicle. When fertilizer drift led to corrosion and rust in parts of the spray rig, Sjogren eliminated that problem when he built an extender from a tow bar, excess hose and a nozzle that now delivers product 12 feet behind the rig. A gas-powered air compressor welded to a tow bar doubles as a pneumatic staple gun during bunker liner installations and an air pump to inflate tires on the golf course, and yet another similar set up with a hose attached to the motor's exhaust system is used for gopher control.
"It obviously works," Ayres said. "We could've thrown that engine away, but he's repurposed it, and it's working."
With Memorial Day and the 69th anniversary of D-Day behind us and Independence Day rapidly approaching, BASF is remembering America's servicemen and women by supporting the Wounded Warrior Project. And it needs your help.
BASF is asking golf course superintendents to take a digital photograph holding an American flag on their golf course. For each photo it receives through July 31, BASF will donate $100 (up to $20,000 total) to the Wounded Warrior Project.
Submissions can be viewed at www.basfturftalk.com/honor-america.
All submissions should be sent to HonorAmerica@PadillaSpeer.com.
The Wounded Warrior Project military personnel by raising funds to provide services to veterans and active service members who have incurred a physical or mental injury, illness or wound related to their military service since Sept. 11, 2001, and their families.
When it comes to environmental stewardship, Rain Bird is willing to put its money where its customers' mouths are.
The manufacturer and provider of irrigation products and services is going to award $2,000 worth of irrigation products to one lucky recipient that applies for Green Site designation through the Groundwater Foundation.
The Groundwater Foundation was founded in 1994 as a way to educate users on the need to conserve water. Part of that mission is the formation of the Groundwater Guardian Green Site program that encourages managers of green spaces, including golf courses, athletic complexes, parks and schools, to implement, measure and document groundwater conservation practices.
Anyone who manages or maintains a green space can apply for the Green Site designation by completing a survey and application. The foundation the online application and awards points based on a site's current practices related to chemical use, water use, pollution prevention and water quality. Sites that earn a minimum of 70 percent of the total applicable points receive the Green Site designation.
Groundwater Guardian Green Sites can use the Green Site logo to document and promote their efforts in water conservation. These sites also receive from the foundation a monthly newsletter and public recognition of their stewardship efforts.
"As strong advocates for responsible water use, Rain Bird appreciates the excellent work that the Groundwater Foundation does each day to ensure sustainable, clean groundwater for future generations," said Alex Nathanson, brand manager for Rain Bird Corp. "We hope our involvement will help inspire many more green sites to become part of this very worthwhile program."
Deadline to applie for Green Site status is Sept. 16.
After extensive field testing, BASF has launched Pylex herbicide for weed control in cool-season turf.
With the active ingredient topramezone, Pylex is labeled for post-emergent control of more than four- dozen grassy and broadleaf weeds, including Bermudagrass and creeping bentgrass in Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, fine fescue and perennial ryegrass on golf courses, athletic fields and sod farms.
It also is effective on other grassy weeds such as crabgrass and goosegrass as well as broadleaf weeds like dandelion, ground ivy, oxalis and more.
Topramezone has been used for weed control in corn and other agriculture applications for years. Pylex, which was used in field trials last year, received label registration from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in December.
Its systemic action attacks weeds by inhibiting the plant's ability to complete photosynthesis.
In other news, BASF also launched its Siesta insecticide for fire ant control.
With the active ingredient metaflumizone, Siesta is a sodium-blocker insecticide formulated from corn grit and soybean oil. It is effective as a broadcast treatment to control foraging ants as well as those on the mound.
Siesta is best applied in when temperatures are above 60 degrees Fahrenheit when ants are active, which is typically in early morning or late afternoon. It should not be applied in wet conditions or within 12 hours of anticipated rain events or scheduled irrigation.
To be an instructor - check that - to be THE instructor in Oregon State University's turfgrass program it helps to have a background in wrestling. And if that's the case, Alec Kowalewski, Ph.D., should be just fine as he completes his first six months on the job as the program's only professor.
A former wrestler during his days as a student at Michigan State, where he earned his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, Kowalewski has since been busy grappling with the many challenges associated with managing small turfgrass programs.
"When you look at what is expected of the job, it's almost undoable," said Brian McDonald, the program's senior turfgrass research assistant. "It's a 100 percent teaching position, oh, and by the way, you're also the statewide extension specialist, and you get emails from homeowners, landscape construction contractors, school districts, golf courses who all need help, plus you have to get published and since you're the new guy you get to be on all these committees too."
It was like that at Oregon State under Tom Cook, who started the program in 1977 and stayed at the Corvallis campus through his retirement in 2008. And it was like that under the direction of Rob Golembiewski, Ph.D., who manned the program from 2009 until last year when he left to take a position with Bayer Environmental Science. Golembiewski once said that he spent more than 30 days per year on the road just trying to sell the program to potential students and donors. And it's going to be this way into the foreseeable future.
Kowalewski, 33, said he has been preparing for such challenges long before he began his post at Oregon State on New Year's Eve of last year.
In his last position as a member of the faculty at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Ga., Kowalewski taught four classes per semester during his nine-month appointment, then spent the summers working on research projects at the University of Georgia's Coastal Plain Experiment Station, also in Tifton.
"I think the job here combines all of that, and that is what I was looking for, more of a complete appointment," Kowalewski said of the OSU position. "Research, extension, teaching: that's what I was trained to do."
The turf program at Oregon State is a lean operation that despite its modest size and scope has been turning out some of the west coast's most successful golf course superintendents since the days of Tom Cook. Literally hundreds of the program's graduates are working as turfgrass professionals throughout the country at such as addresses as Pebble Beach, Bandon Dunes and Chambers Bay just to name a few.
"The program is top notch," said Pat Doran, superintendent at Trysting Tree Golf Club at Oregon State. "The instructors, whether it was Tom, or Rob or now Alec, they care for the students, and the students can feel that."
With little general support from the university community, the turf program is a self-sustaining entity that is funded through an endowment from the Giustina Foundation, which also owns Trysting Tree.
It doesn't have a golf- or sports turf-specific curriculum. Students there complete coursework in a general turfgrass management track in the school's horticulture department and can choose an internship that focuses on sports turf, golf turf or a landscaping background.
In fact, Kowalewski is looking to do even more at Oregon State as he seeks ways to expand the program's base of 18 undergraduate students. And he is looking toward one of his passions, sports turf, as a way to grow the program.
"I see fewer and fewer golf courses, but I don't see fewer athletic fields. That is something that is always going to be a constant," said Kowalewski, who earned a Ph.D. in sports field management under Michigan State professor Trey Rogers, Ph.D. "If we can tap into that, I think it's better for our program. Balancing it will be a challenge, but we have to branch out."
Just keeping up with the current load, much less considering expansion would be out of the question without the help from McDonald.
"He's really critical to the success of our program," Kowalewski said. "He does a lot of our research work and our extension work."
There is another key element that contributes to the success of the graduates of the OSU program the students themselves, says Doran, who has seen many of the turf program's alums crew at the Trysting Tree.
"Often, the students here are a bit older, and they've already decided that's what they want to do with their life, so they're focused on school," he said. "I wish I'd taken names and photographs, because we've had hundreds come through here. They've all sat around the wood stove."
As focused as the students are, the program simply presents too much work for one person to do alone. This semester, McDonald teaches undergrads about fertilizer budgeting as well as lab experiments.
A former accountant, McDonald turned stopped hovering over balance sheets 15 years ago when he chose to return to college to study turf management under Cook at OSU with the idea of becoming a golf course superintendent.
"I had been an accountant for 15 years, and I knew I didn't want to do this for another 25 years," said McDonald, 53. "I was a good golfer, I had a house, and I was single. I could afford to sell my house, go back to school and take some time to decide what I really wanted to do."
Somewhere along the way, McDonald chucked aside the notion of being a superintendent, and he hasn't left Oregon State since.
He summed up the attitude that has kept the program among the nation's best since it was started 36 years ago.
"Now, I'm a maintenance person, teacher and equipment-repair person," McDonald said. "And I'm not trained in any of them. You just get up every day and do it."
It might seem to many in the business who are struggling to make ends meet that golfers still are using their clubs as doorstops, conversation pieces or just about anything except for playing golf, when in fact the opposite appears to be true.
No, golfers arent returning to the game in record numbers, but the number of players stepping away from the game has slowed considerably.
According to Jim Koppenhaver, golf industry analyst and owner of Pellucid Corp., there was a 2 percent drop in the golfer base in 2012 of 400,000 players. And while that might not sound encouraging on its face, it is great news compared with 2011 when 7 percent of the golfers, or 2 million players, stepped away from the game.
The number of golfers in the U.S. stands at just more than 24 million, which is down considerably from the all-time high of nearly 30 million in 2002.
All of the players lost in 2012 were male. The female golfer population, one that the industry has been chasing for some time because of growing disposable income, actually grew last year.
The bad news pieces to this puzzle are the losses were juniors as well mid-career males (age 35-54) earning more than $75,000 per year and who were playing 10-39 rounds per year.
It is worth remembering that there was an increase in rounds played in 2012 of nearly 6 percent, much of which Koppenhaver says is attributable to unseasonable weather conditions throughout the winter and early spring.
Those gains, however, seem like a distant memory as cold, wet conditions throughout much of the country took a toll on rounds played in the first three months of this year.
Rounds played in March were down 23 percent compared with the same month last year, according to the Golf Datatech National Golf Rounds Played Report. Year-to-date rounds played through the first three months of the year are down by 15 percent compared to the same period in 2012, according to the report.
Rounds played were down by double-digits in March in 32 states. Some of the hardest hit states were Minnesota, where play was down by 95 percent, Iowa (down 80 percent) and Illinois (down 79 percent).
Much of those losses can be attributed to wet conditions, unseasonably cool temperatures or a combination of both, as was the case in parts of Illinois and Wisconsin.
Only eight states experienced an increase in rounds played, led by Oregon (up 79 percent), Washington (50 percent) and California (14 percent).
The recent trend of a downward spiral in rounds played in 2013 coupled with a continued loss of golfers, albeit a controlled release, is a reminder that a slow and steady decline is likely to occur, Koppenhaver says, until grow-the-game initiatives at the facility or industry level and other efforts address barriers to the game like cost, time and difficulty as well as generational challenges.
It was a hazy, hot and humid day at Greenville (SC) Country Club March 22 for the first North American Turf Science Live event, presented by Jacobsen, Syngenta, Smithco and Turfco.
Approximately 60 superintendents from within a 3-hour drive radius rotated between eight stations at the outdoor field day that showcased the latest research and technological innovations in turf agronomy. The event was patterned after similar events held in England over the last several years, also sponsored by Jacobsen/Ransomes, Syngenta and local partners.
"We wanted to host a program where new technology and research could be explained and demonstrated in small group settings," said Chris Vernon, VP of Marketing and Product Management at Jacobsen. "The schedule also allowed ample time for questions from superintendents, networking among themselves and product feedback from attendees for us."
The eight stations set up across the grounds of Greenville Country Club included:
1. Turf Application On Target - Dan Kidder, Ph.D., Syngenta.
Dr. Kidder talked about methods of optimizing turf spray applications through nozzle selection, sprayer pressure, sprayer calibration, mixing procedures, water volume and pH of the spray solution. He also introduced Syngenta XC spray nozzles, which are currently available in the UK but under testing in North America.
Syngenta XC nozzles (manufactured by Hypro) are specifically designed with a flexible spray pattern that maintains proper coverage on sloping ground or over contours where boom height may vary from the typical 20". They reduce drift and incorporate a rear-facing spray angle calculated to counteract the forward motion of the sprayer to deliver all-around coverage of the turf leaf.
It only makes sense for a plant protectant provider, after jumping through all the hoops and expense of product research, development and registration, to optimize the application process by supplying what they consider the ideal nozzles for each product.
2. Maximizing Putting Green Performance and Stress Tolerance - Lane Tredway, Ph.D., Syngenta.
New technologies from Syngenta -- including plant activators, pigments and new fungicide chemistries -- have been incorporated into eight new products introduced by Syngenta over the last year or two. Syngenta has been working with Chuck Connolly and his staff at Greenville Country Club to develop agronomic programs to provide season-long disease control and maximum stress tolerance of bentgrass greens in the transition zone.
An example of a plant activator is Acibenszolar-S-methyl, a component of Daconil Action. This "fortified" chlorothalonil formulation increases the turf's resistance to anthracnose, Pythium blight and bacterial wilt, while also increasing drought tolerance and overall turf quality.
Dr. Tredway explained the Syngenta Premium Program in use at Greenville Country Club, which includes Headway, Avid, Secure, Segway, Heritage, Appear, Daconil Action, Subdue Maxx and Briskway products at various rates and combinations. Half of the demonstration green was treated with this program and the other half by a similar program of competitive products.
Syngenta agronomic programs can be found at greencastonline.com/programs/
3. The Truth About Hybrid Mowers and What it Means to You - Greg Walker, Jacobsen.
The Big Three turf equipment companies have all introduced "alternative" power sources over the past few years, including all-hydraulic, e-reel units, true hybrids and true all-electrics. Each also has their own spin on which is "best".
The title of this presentation was a tad misleading, as it thankfully wasn't the to-be-expected pitch for Jacobsen's choice of electric and hybrid systems, but rather a fair and relatively unbiased explanation of the various technologies including an explanation of the benefits of lithium-ion batteries compared to traditional lead acid. Greg Walker, technical training manager for Jake, did a very nice job of explaining some of the little-known nuances of performance and capabilities of the various technologies.
4. Frequency of Clip, Height of Cut and Ball Roll on the Green - Chris Fox, Jacobsen.
This demonstration utilized a Pelzmeter to measure ball roll distance on plots mowed at various heights and frequency of clip settings in an effort to show how superintendents can utilize FOC settings and adjustments to increase ball roll distance without lowering the height of cut, or maintain current BRD with a higher height of cut in stressful situations. (photo at top of page)
5. Precision Topdressing - Scott Kinkead, Turfco
Turfco launched the new WideSpin 1550 topdresser at the recent GIS in San Diego (see our coverage here), and Scott Kinkead used it at Turf Science Live to highlight the new capabilities its technologies bring to topdressing.
By integrating an electronic controller (similar to those on sprayers) with hydraulic spinner drive, the WideSpin 1550 enables the superintendent to identify specific, quantified rates (rather than guessing by number of hoppers used, etc) then them dial in for different applications (greens, tees, heavy/light, wide/narrow swath). The operator has to only throw one switch on the handheld controller to start/stop the conveyor and spinners, and cannot start the conveyor before the spinners. Width of swath and application rates can be changed on the fly with no manual adjustment on the machine itself.
6. Increasing Seeding Success - George Kinkead, Turfco.
Turfco showcased their recent improvements in overseeding technology at Turf Science Live. George Kinkead gave a rundown of the technologies incorporated into the Turfco TriWave seeders to optimize seed-to-soil contact, increase germination rates and speed, reduce cleanup and turf disturbance, and reduce the amount of seed used.
The solid 'wave' blades on the TriWave units create square, flat-bottomed slits that capture and hold seed better than traditional v-shaped slits. They also enable double- and triple-cross seeding without tearing out "pizza slices" of turf as happens with notched blades.
Floating heads on the TriWave units enable seeding on a curve and avoid damage to sprinkler heads and high spots.
The 'hook up and go' capabilities of the tow-type TriWave 40 enable the unit to be quickly dispatched for spot seeding on a regular basis without exchanging attachments. No tools are required to adjust seed rates and depths so changes can be made in the field as required.
7. Make Spraying More Efficient, Convenient and Accurate - Doug Colley, Smithco
Technologies new to the professional turf market have been available and proven in agriculture for some time now. Smithco has incorporated multi-nozzle "Blended Pulse Technology" (BPT) of the Capstan Sharpshooter system to unlock the relationship between ground speed, rate, tip size and pressure, basically creating a situation where "speed no longer matters" as a discrete function of chemical delivery.
Don't confuse "multi-nozzle" in this case with turret-type nozzle heads. Multi-nozzle means two nozzles operate simultaneously at each position on the boom to allow the operator to spray at speeds of two to ten mph and at rates of 0.4 to 5.0 gallons per thousand while maintaining a constant operator-set pressure.
Solenoids are located right at each nozzle assembly so spray material and pressure are maintained to the tip for instant on/off capability.
The operator can invoke "on-demand drift control" when required by reducing the pressure for bigger droplets and fewer driftable fines. Application rate is maintained independent of this pressure change.
8. Using GPS Satellites to Guide and Control the Spray Vehicle - Emil Miller, Smithco
The Star Command spray system from Smithco couples the Sharpshooter BPT system to a Raven Envizio Pro II advanced rate controller which incorporates GPS technology to identify and monitor the location of the sprayer and each spray tip, and where it has been already. The system automatically controls spray application coverage down to the individual spray tips, which are turned on and off to avoid pass-to-pass overlap errors or skips.
GPS technology enables "defined boundary" applications to eliminate overspray or drift into non-target areas. By automatically shutting off nozzles that would otherwise apply material to non-target areas, significant reductions in chemical use and subsequent cost savings can be achieved.
The Star Command system records all application functions and exports it easily to a desktop computer for record-keeping, planning and analysis. The superintendent will know exactly what has been applied, where it has been applied, how well it has been applied and how long it has taken.
* * *
Conversations with various Syngenta and Jacobsen personnel after the Turf Science Live event indicated a good probability of proceeding with future events around the country. Attendees had the option of playing golf today at Greenville Country Club to wrap up the event.
Each week, Paul Carter spends about as much time on environmental management issues as he does turfgrass maintenance. For Carter, superintendent at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay, and director of agronomy for the Tennessee State Parks golf system, those duties go hand-in-hand.
Although he has gained statewide and national acclaim for his work in environmentalism, Carter's efforts also have become the subject of an ongoing gag at the course near Chattanooga.
"Our job is to protect our resources, and provide a better product for our customers," Carter said.
"We spend half our time with the environment. The other half is the turfgrass. There's a running joke around here now that we're The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay Golf Course and Nature Preserve."
But developing a reputation as a leader in environmental issues is no joke for Carter. Developed in 1937, Harrison Bay is the first state park in Tennessee, and the golf course located on its grounds is the flagship of the park system's nine courses collectively known as the Tennessee Golf Trail.
"We try to be a leader in environmental stewardship," Carter said.
"The animals were here first. I get to go home at the end of the day, but they stay here, so we need to leave it better than how we found it."
Carter recently began writing a new chapter in his work to preserve resources while also providing exceptional playing conditions for park customers.
On March 4, he began using, as part of a state-sponsored emissions-reduction project, an ell-electric maintenance fleet that includes 18 pieces of equipment valued collectively at $440,000. The only things on the course that still use diesel fuel are fairway and rough mowers, but that too likely will change with coming advancements in battery technology.
His electric fleet, which was on display May 21 during a demo day at the golf course includes three Jacobsen Eclipse 322 greensmowers, four Eclipse 322 mowers for use on tees and approaches, five Toro MDE Workman vehicles, two TruTurf greensrollers, a pair of Smithco Super Star bunker rakes and two Club Car Carryall II vehicles.
Funding for the Harrison Bay project comes from an April 2011 Clean Air Act settlement with the Tennessee Valley Authority. Under the Consent Decree, Tennessee will receive $26.4 million over five years to fund clean air programs in the state (at approximately $5.25 million per year). As part of the grant programs initial offering, a total of $5.3 million in Clean Energy Grants was awarded in 2012 to a variety of projects within state government, municipalities, utilities, state colleges and universities and communities throughout the state.
The project, which includes what Jacobsen's Adam Slick says is the largest single Eclipse purchase to date, was made possible through a grant from the Tennessee Department and Environment and Conservation. Brock Hill, deputy director for parks and conservation for TDEC jokingly referred to Harrison Bay as "the quietest golf course in the state of Tennessee, maybe even the entire Southeast."
TDEC had considered several other high-profile properties for its grant, including the Tennessee Aquarium. The agency finally settled on Harrison Bay for a couple of reasons. First, the group never had partnered with a golf course and second, because observing and measuring the benefits of an electric equipment fleet could be easily monitored and measured, TDEC commissioner Bob Martineau said.
In just 60 days those measurable results include a reduction of 317 gallons of diesel fuel. Meanwhile, the electric bill at Harrison Bay has gone up just $47 in that same period. Carter says the new mowers are expected to pay for themselves in three years.
TDEC officials and Carter estimate that the project will reduce annual diesel consumption by 12,000 gallons, carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent and operating expenses by $30,000 while eliminating almost all air and noise pollution on the property.
"We wanted to do this in public places so we can be an example for others," Martineau said.
"It's a win for us from a cost-savings and operational approach, it's a win for our customers and it's a win for the environment."
Previously, Carter said the lowest he could mow the Champion ultradwarf Bermuda at Harrison Bay was 0.135 inches. The new Jacobsen mowers sport a cutting unit with a 15-blade reel that allows him to cut at one-tenth of an inch.
The most common reservations expressed by superintendents about all-electric equipment center around battery life, specifically will the machines retain enough juice to finish a job, and what happens in the event of a power outage.
Neither is a concern for Carter. Each of three walk mowers charges in about two hours and he is able to double-cut and complete a clean up lap on 10 greens with a single charge.
"My thinking is if we get a storm that's bad enough to knock out power, then the last thing I'm thinking about is mowing," he said.
Carter is accustomed to being a leader when it comes to environmental stewardship initiatives.
A certified Audubon Sanctuary golf course, The Bear Trace has gained worldwide acclaim the past two years for its Eagle Cam that has brought the nesting habits of bald eagles to computer screens around the world. The course also is a certified Groundwater Guardian Green Site through the Groundwater Foundation and last year was named a winner of the Governor's Environmental Stewardship Award program.
The project did require new electrical work in the maintenance facility so Carter can quickly and easily charge his new fleet of equipment. His plan eventually is for the golf operation to produce its own electricity via solar power and ultimately implement the same green technology at the eight other state park golf courses.
"Our job is to protect our resources, and provide a better product for our customers," he said.
"Golf has developed a reputation of being a polluter and something that wastes resources. This program gives me something I can show them to prove we don't do that."
Assistant superintendents interested in furthering their education can apply for one of 50 slots in the eighth annual Green Start Academy.
A professional development initiative presented by John Deere Golf and Bayer Environmental Science, Green Start Academy includes educational sessions, workshops and roundtable discussions for assistant superintendents from the United States and Canada.
This year's Green Start Academy is scheduled for Oct. 2-4 at the Bayer Development and Training Center in Clayton, N.C., and John Deere's Turf Care facility in Fuquay-Varina, N.C. Attendees will have the opportunity to network with peers, absorb best practices from industry leaders to propel their careers and gain insights into trending topics and key issues they can take back to their courses.
Those interested in attending must submit a resume and complete the application process here.
Submissions will be judged by Chris Condon of Tetherow Golf Club, Bob Farren of Pinehurst Resort, Pat Finlen of The Olympic Club, Ken Mangum of Atlanta Athletic Club and Bryan Stromme of Billy Casper Golf.
Application deadline is June 28.
Although zoysiagrasses have been around for more than 100 years, they still encounter, comparatively speaking, some rather new world problems.
Chief among those challenges associated with managing Zoysia japonica and Zoysia matrella for use on golf course fairways is large patch.
"Everything takes place when the turf is dormant or only actively growing enough that we don't see the symptoms right away, so it's difficult to know what is going on and how to get a good handle on it," said Brandon Horvath, Ph.D., turfgrass pathologist at the University of Tennessee. "A lot of work still needs to be done on it. Here at Tennessee we've been interested in conducting efficacy trials on fungicides. The challenge we've had is getting repeatable, reliable disease events and treatment intervals."
A disease of the pathogen Rhizoctonia solani, large patch is a blight of warm-season grasses and is especially troublesome in zoysiagrasses. Symptoms manifest as light green patches that can become yellow and then brown. It typically strikes in fall and spring as the growing season winds down and again begins to heat up. It also affects Bermudagrasses, which typically can recover rather quickly. Zoysiagrasses, however, can be adversely affected for several weeks.
One of the problems associated with large patch is that few things with it are black and white. There are a lot of gray areas when dealing with this disease.
Typically associated with cooler conditions in fall and spring when turf is dormant or just hanging onto active growth, large patch has been detected well into the heart of the growing season.
"There has not been enough research conducted on this pathogen or the disease cycle," Horvath said.
What researchers do know is that outbreaks in fall and spring are two different animals. It is possible, when dealing with infestations in spring, that the grass can naturally grow out of large patch. Outbreaks in the fall, as the turf heads into dormancy, can be devastating if left untreated.
"They are separate. Now, with that said, if you make applications in the fall you lower the probability of a significant outbreak in the spring," Horvath said. "The fall epidemic is in my mind the critical one to control."
Although more research on the topic is needed, the typical treatment includes two preventive fungicide applications. In the fall, the first application should be made when temperatures in early autumn first reach about 70 degrees, with the second coming 28 days later, and ideally when temperatures are still in the low 60s.
The first spring application should be made when temperatures are in the low 60s, with the follow-up coming four weeks later when temperatures, again ideally are at about the 70-degree mark.
DMI fungicides, along with QOI's have been shown to elicit very high rates of success. Still, nothing with large patch is ever absolute.
Megan Kennelly, Ph.D., turfgrass pathologist at Kansas State, told TurfNet last year that disease outbursts even after spraying are not uncommon.
"You can still get some breakthroughs even when you spray," Kennelly said. "Even if you spray multiple times in the fall."
Large patch has been a problem on Meyer zoysia just about since its inception in 1941. Micah Woods, Ph.D., of the Asian Turfgrass Center has written about his observations that show Zoysia japonica to be more susceptible than Zoysia matrella to the disease-causing pathogen. But when outbreaks on the latter do occur in this country it causes more of a stir because of the use of Zoysia matrella as fairway cover on high-end courses throughout the southern end of the transition zone.
"The real challenge for superintendents is a cost issue," Horvath said. "Fungicide applications on fairways in the North, that's just another day in the life. They have to do that if they are a high-end facility. In the transition zone the mindset is that you have to make two applications in the fall and two in the spring, but you don't want to be spraying all the time."
It is important that superintendents and their committees communicate proactively to determine acceptable levels of disease outbreak in fairways and base programs on those expectations and cost factors.
"We have to balance what we can recommend on data that we have with the understanding that the information is imperfect," Horvath said. "We can get good control, but we have to educate golfers and the front office that rarely are there things that are a sure bet.
"That's what we strive to push with our students. You have to communicate what it is that you are doing; what your successes are and what the failures are. The problem isn't disease, the problem is when you hide in your office and pretend there isn't a problem."
Ken Venturi, winner of the 1964 U.S. Open and the voice of golf for CBS Sports for 35 years, died May 17.
Venturi's son, Matt, broke the news of the death to the San Francisco Chronicle, Venturi's hometown newspaper.
Venturi, who turned 82 on Wednesday, had been hospitalized for several months in Southern California. His son said he had developed an infection and pneumonia. Venturi had been unable to travel across country to attend his induction ceremony into the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla., on May 6.
Venturi's U.S. Open victory at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., has long been celebrated for the odds he overcame. On a day when temperatures soared above 100, Venturi survived a 36-hole pressure-cooker and limped home as the champion of the tournament he dreamed of winning all his life.
Venturi led one of golfs most fascinating lives: tutored by Byron Nelson, a regular golf companion of Ben Hogan, pals with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, and the man whom Gene Sarazen asked to deliver his eulogy.
Born in San Francisco on May 15, 1931, Venturi learned the game at Harding Park, where his father worked in the pro shop. Venturi became an amateur sensation with a swing to die for and an ego to match his talent. When he bragged of winning a junior tournament, his father shot back, "When youre as good as you are, you can tell everybody. When youre really good, son, theyll tell you."
Labeled the next "Cant-Miss Kid," Venturi suffered three heartbreaking losses at the Masters, in 1956, 58 and 60. Then, injuries sustained in a car accident in 1961 started a three-year slide, which had him on the brink of giving up. Venturi might have quit, if not for his fathers tough love: "Son, thats the easiest thing in the world to do. Anybody can give up. It takes no talent."
When Venturi's final putt fell at Congressional, he dropped his putter, raised his arms, removed his trademark white linen cap, and said, "My God, Ive won the U.S. Open."
It was his finest hour as a golfer.
"If I could choose to be anyone in the world, Id choose to be me," he said in an interview in 2012. "Ive been very fortunate. The only thing I think about is, I wonder what I couldve done if I hadnt lost the use of my hands."
Venturi won 14 times, but his playing career was cut short when he was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists. A year after winning the Open in '64, Venturi had an operation on his left hand. In his final trip to the winner's circle, in 1966, he won on the same golf course, Harding Park, where he had learned the game. In 1970, he had surgery on his right hand. The surgery was risky, he explained to his father. "The doctor told me I may lose three fingers," Venturi said. "My father said to me, It doesnt make any difference if you ever play golf again. "
Venturi asked, "How can you say that?"
"Because you were the best I ever saw," father told son.
At last, Venturi had received the parental approval he so deeply desired.
After the surgery, Venturi asked the doctor if he would ever be able to play golf again.
"Yes, but never to your standard," he said.
Even in retirement, Venturi continued to make an impact on the game. He overcame a childhood stammer to broadcast the game for 35 years as a television commentator and analyst for CBS Sports. To a younger generation, Venturi is better remembered as the CBS analyst who sympathized with Greg Normans collapse at the 1996 Masters and delivered an endless array of "Strokesaver" lessons.
"He became the voice of golf in America's living room," said his broadcast partner, Jim Nantz.
Venturi also served as the captain of the 2000 U.S. Presidents Cup team, and could hardly restrain his joy when he was finally selected for the World Golf Hall of Fame, in the veterans category.
"Jack Whitaker was introducing me once at the Waldorf Astoria," Venturi said. "And he said the most beautiful thing: Fate has a way of bending a twig and fashioning a man to his better instincts. I wouldnt trade my life for anything in the world. I know they make a lot today, but Id never trade my era."
TurfNet picked up seven awards, including four first-place entries, at this year's Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association annual Communication Awards contest.
Jon Kiger won two first-place awards for video work and Peter McCormick took first place in the Writing for Media Kit category.
Kiger's winning entries were in the categories of Best Short Video/DVD (Superintendent's Best Friend Calendar) and Best CD/Audiovisual Presentation (Rossi on Location in Las Vegas).
Hector Velazquez, equipment manager at Walnut Creek Country Club in South Lyon, Mich., won first place in the Best Instructional Video/DVD category (Daily Setting of Jacobsen Trueset).
TurfNet also took second-place or Merit awards in three categories.
Kiger claimed a Merit award for Best CD/Audiovisual Presentation (2012 TurfNet Outtakes), and John Reitman won a Merit in the New Media category for Water Week 2012.
Kevin Ross, CGCS, also won second place in the Best Instructional Video/DVD category (Return of the Rock Sled).
"It's nice to have the efforts of our staff recognized by TOCA with these awards," said Peter McCormick, founder of TurfNet. "But what is really impressive is that the video work of two TurfNet members -- Kevin Ross, CGCS, a golf course superintendent, and Hector Velazquez, an equipment technician -- was honored with awards after being held up against the work of media professionals."
In its 24th year, the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association is a 200-plus member association comprising editorial, advertising and marketing professionals working in various segments of the green industry.
The University of Tennessee turf and ornamental weed science team has developed a new Web site and free mobile app called Mobile Weed Manual for turfgrass managers who need help identifying weeds and finding just the right product to control them.
An online resource for golf course superintendents, athletic field managers, lawn care professionals and homeowners, the Mobile Weed Manual is designed to help users choose herbicides for use in warm- and cool-season turfgrasses and a variety of ornamentals.
End users can search for specific weed pests and the searchable app provides advice on herbicides that are most effective at controlling them.
The site was designed to replace hard copy extension manuals with a Web interface optimized for use on Apple and Android mobile devices.
"The Mobile Weed Manual contains not only weed control efficacy ratings for problematic weeds of turf and ornamentals, but tolerance information for over 2,300 different species, and labels for nearly 100 different herbicides," said Jim Brosnan, Ph.D., assistant professor of turf and ornamental weed science at Tennessee. "This powerful resources places all of this research based information in the palm of your hand."