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John Reitman

By John Reitman

TurfNet founder inducted into TOCA Hall of Fame

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Kristy Mach of the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association presents Peter McCormick with an award signifying his induction into the TOCA Hall of Fame.

Three decades ago, Peter McCormick struck out on his own, starting a business with the basic premise of helping golf course superintendents do their jobs better, faster and more efficiently. That sounds simple enough, but starting a business that centered on sharing information with a finite, niche audience is always a risk.

Thirty years later, TurfNet is still going. And the media entity that started as a one-man operation with a print newsletter today boasts a library of instructional videos, podcasts, blogs and webcasts; a members-only forum where users can ask questions and get answers and advice from colleagues; and is the golf turf industry's leading portal to help turf managers find jobs and buy and sell used equipment. And it still operates on that same simple mission McCormick adopted when he launched TurfNet in 1994.

042723 hof2.jpgOn Thursday, McCormick was inducted into the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association Hall of Fame. TOCA is a trade organization for editorial and advertising professionals in the green industry.

"As one who is basically humble and prefers staying out of the limelight, as difficult as that may be for some to believe, I was surprised and honored to be inducted into the TOCA Hall of Fame," McCormick said. "The nominations submitted on my behalf recapped many of the innovations and accomplishments that TurfNet has implemented and achieved over the past 30 years, and were very touching for me."

The Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association is a 200-plus member association comprising editorial, advertising and marketing professionals working in the green industry. The TOCA Hall of Fame recognizes the cumulative accomplishments of deserving communicators who have made outstanding contributions to the turf and ornamental industry.

"Peter McCormick was a man ahead of his time both in his courage to venture into unknown professional territory and do so with a fearlessness that inspires those around him," wrote Frank S. Rossi, Ph.D. of Cornell University in his nomination. "Managing a media group such as TurfNet over the last 30 years has been an exercise in riding a roller coaster! The highest of highs and often the lowest of lows. Peter has a resilience that cannot be taught, it's in his DNA."

One of the turf industry's true pioneers, McCormick is an alumnus of Rutgers where he earned a bachelor's degree in plant science and business management. A year after starting TurfNet, he took it online where it slowly grew into the media entity it is today. He sold TurfNet in 2001 to its current owner, Orlando-based Turnstile Publishing Co. and has continued to serve as its general manager..

"I can't think of a better individual to receive TOCA's Hall of Fame award in 2023," said Tony Girardi, CGCS MG, at Rockrimmon Country Club in New York. "Peter is one of the classiest, most professional people I know, and I am delighted to call him a close friend. Quite frankly, I do not know where our entire golf course maintenance industry would be today without Peter McCormick and TurfNet in its various communication formats. It is safe to say that Peter is to the golf industry as Steve Jobs is to Apple and Bill Gates is to Microsoft. And that is not an overstatement."

Finally, I think the most telling thing about Peter McCormick is when you thank him, and ask what you can do to repay him for all of his help, all he asks is that you do the same and help someone else when you have the chance.

For McCormick, helping superintendents extended far beyond providing a platform where they can find answers to agronomics' most challenging questions. He also helped many superintendents update resumés and cover letters, build websites and blogs, and mentored many of his close friends as they started businesses of their own.

"Not only has Peter had a massive impact on golf course maintenance as an industry, but there is no telling how many individual golf course superintendents lives he's influenced in a positive way, either as a mentor, coach, sounding board, or just someone to listen to your concerns and offer an encouraging word," said Mickey McCord, principal of McCord Golf Services and Safety. 

"A little over 10 years ago, I was a Golf Course Superintendent with an idea for a business and Peter was the first person I talked to. He did not hesitate to say 'yes, this is a good idea, and you can do it.' He then continued to help and guide me, sometimes with a gentle nudge, and sometimes aggressively pushing me forward when I'd stalled and didn't think I could do something. I can say without reservation, I would not be where I am today without Peter McCormick's encouragement, guidance, and support, and I know I'm not the only one.

"Finally, I think the most telling thing about Peter McCormick is when you thank him, and ask what you can do to repay him for all of his help, all he asks is that you do the same and help someone else when you have the chance."

Other TOCA Hall of Fame inductees include: Margaret Bell, Debbie Clayton, Cindy Code, Den Gardner, Felicia Gillham, Ron Hall, Dave Hansen, Ed Hiscock, Pat Jones, Bill Klutho, Jose Milan, Doug Obermann, Jerry Roche, Owen Towne, Bob Tracinski, Steve Trusty and Suz Trusty.

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