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Peter McCormick

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About Peter McCormick

  • Rank
    Maestro
  • Birthday 07/04/1954

Profile Information

  • Club/Course/Company
    TurfNet
  • Location
    Cornwall, VT and Campobello, NB, Canada
  • Interests
    Learning to play the guitar and keyboard, cooking, reading, Boston Bruins hockey, dogfather (3 currently), my wife of 42 years (Patty) and daughters Colleen (37) and Erin (34), our summer home in the Maritimes.

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  1. Looking back a couple of months to BCV (Before Coronavirus), the thought that 200 million Americans and more around the world would be hitting the pause button and staying at home for a month or more would have been ludicrous. Absurd. No way. Fast forward and here we are. I’m sure I am not the only one who wakes up from another restless sleep to hope that this is just a bad dream. Of course, it is not. The horrors of this pandemic are yet to be felt by most of us. Thankfully we work in a fairly low people-density occupation so the health impact upon those in the golf industry might be less than others. But everyone views this type of thing in the abstract — something that happens to others — until it hits close to home. Then it gets real, fast. In the interim, while waiting for the world to right itself, we are Staying at Home. It’s no big functional change for me as I have worked at home for 25+ years, but it’s a sea change for many. No doubt there’s an underlying layer of anxiety about our near- and long-term futures, but I can’t help but feel this time of (even forced) family togetherness, home cooking, books, jigsaw puzzles, Scrabble and streaming movies will have a lasting benefit. In many ways our society BCV was like a runaway train of over-scheduling, family distancing, meals on the fly and a hamster-wheel pursuit of more, bigger and better. Happiness and material satiety were around the next corner or above the next step, when I get this or am able to buy or do that. This pandemic has forced us to do a hard reset, our BCV lives grinding to a halt. Suddenly time has taken on a less urgent dimension. We plan meals and daily activities rather than leave them to happenstance. I would wager that prior to our new Stay at Home reality, few families with two working parents and kids under 20 would eat more than one or two meals together during any week. If that has changed, it’s a change for the better. In my belief and experience, families that eat together stay together. Whether we realize it or not, we are being forced to look at “unnecessaries” like fashion, recreational shopping and personal indulgences like hair color and manicures with a more discerning eye. That’s another good thing... except for the economy, which will have to adapt as well. Beyond the near-term medical emergency, the economic crisis will have much longer legs. Many businesses and industries will simply not recover, including less well-heeled golf facilities and hand-to-mouth Mom-and-Pops. Hey, maybe even TurfNet won't survive in our current form, should membership and advertising go south (so keep those renewals, signups and advertising orders coming!). All businesses are going to have to rework themselves to fit the New Reality. Will there be a GIS in the future? Who knows? Jon Kiger and I laugh when we recall an exhibitor at GIS a few years back who declined to shake hands, instead saying, "Sorry, I'm not sharing this year." Seems now like he was eerily prescient. The big unknowns at this point are how far and wide this pandemic is going to go, and when things will return to “normal”. None of us knows the answer to the former, but I’m afraid “normal” as we knew it will forever be changed. There are dire consequences in that for many, but also some positives. If this Hard Reset of 2020 forces us to reassess living our lives at breakneck speed in pursuit of more, to return to a simpler era with fewer needs and more family and personal time, we as a society will be better off. For the golf industry, maybe golfers will return with a newfound sense of what's crucial to the enjoyment of the game, and what is merely fluff not worth bitching about any more. At that point, the golf business will be better off too.
  2. In this episode of the TurfNet Renovation Report, host Anthony Pioppi chats with Scott Bordner, who recently moved from Chicago Golf Club to a rebuild project of the old Sand Barrens Golf Club in Swainton, New Jersey, near Atlantic City. Renamed Union League National Golf Club, the original Hurdzan/Fry design is being redone by Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design. Presented by Golf Preservations and The Andersons.
  3. Join Dave Wilber and Kevin Hicks as they talk about what the Coronavirus means, to looking at our world going forward. Kevin Hicks is the Western Regional Agronomist for Earthworks. He's also been a golf course superintendent and understands very well what times of change mean in our business. Kevin recently tweeted a short video talking about his thoughts about preparing for change and difficult times. It was a from the heart masterpiece. You can see it here. Dave asked Kevin to go more into depth about that video. What came from that was a sharing of wisdom and knowledge from two dedicated professionals who are old friends and have seen a thing or two. While this is indeed an unprecedented time in our history, much can be developed by looking at the past and seeing how to apply those lessons while moving forward. Thank you for listening to this most important podcast.
  4. How are you as turfgrass managers handling the trying time of the Coronavirus? There is no question that the coronavirus is affecting all of our lives. Dave shares some advice of his own and others about what golf course superintendents and other turf managers are and should be doing. While it is true that we have so many things to worry about concerning a worldwide health issue, the jobs that keep us employed are also of great importance. Some perspective on Leadership, Agronomy and Self-Care are a good thing.
  5. I've threatened my wife (who tends to obsess on this type of thing) that I'm going to invoke Parental Controls on TV news. Enough is enough, already! Thankfully most of us in the golf industry work outside and enjoy fresh air, sunshine and plenty of personal spacing. For others, it's critical to get outside and take long walks (preferably with a dog or several), bike, hike or PLAY GOLF. I have worked at home for 25+ years so this is nothing new, but for those not accustomed to it I can see how it could make one stir-crazy or cabin-feverish. Get outside!
  6. So here we are. Uncharted waters. The stuff of sci-fi novels and B-grade terror flicks in the here and now. The novel coronavirus of 2020 has redefined “rate of change” in our lives, upending the oft-tenuous sense of balance we enjoyed BCV. Before Coronavirus. Yesterday, last week and last month. The Dow at 29,000, sports on TV, handshakes and hugs the norm, the paper products aisle fully stocked. (I can understand shortages of Purell but the toilet paper hoarding thing has me stumped; after all, this is a respiratory rather than gastrointestinal virus.) The tendency in times of unease or unrest is to look to leaders for leadership, for practical guidance, reassurance and calm. I’m not going down that Hobbit hole here other than to say that given a vacuum at the top we need to look to the layer of real experts beneath, and indeed to the common sense within all of us. A good friend and summer neighbor of mine is a world-renowned psychologist, former Assistant Surgeon General and retired Rear Admiral in the US Public Health Service. His resume is as long as his arm but his ego conversely small. Quiet, soft-spoken and measured, he flies well under the radar until he has something to say. I value his counsel and guidance more than anybody I know. Yesterday he posted on Facebook: ”Let's fine-tune our language in service of promoting mental and physical health. We are all in a learning curve so let's try to collectively bend the arc a little bit. We have all heard (and probably used) the term "social distancing" in recent days. Actually, what we mean is "physical distancing" from other people... NOT social distancing. The goal is to create physical distance but we also want to maintain "social connectedness". Maintaining social connection and support in times of crisis has been repeatedly shown to result in positive psychosocial outcomes. My colleagues and I at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress have taken to talking about "Creating physical distance while maintaining social connectedness." The bottom line is that we all need to be aware and creative in staying socially connected with our friends, families, and coworkers while getting used to, at least for awhile, being more physically distant. Let's get creative. Thanks for listening.” This is the type of practical guidance — yes, leadership — that should be coming from on high. No head-in-the-sand denial, soft-pedaling, finger pointing or self-congratulation. Just information we can use to get us through until this passes. In the meantime, circle around your family, friends and co-workers and keep them socially close. Check on each other, offer help, share your stash of toilet paper if need be. Perhaps the silver lining in all this will be a greater appreciation of that and those in our lives that truly matter. Stay connected. Stay well. Love this on many different levels!
  7. Dave Wilber interviews Peter Kessler, long time host and driving force of The Golf Channel. The Turfgrass Zealot Project starts the 2020 season with a bang! Peter Kessler, known as perhaps the greatest interviewer in golf media history joins Dave Wilber for a fun and unique conversation. Peter talks about his love of the game and those in the game, and provides some fascinating stories. Wrestling with Arnie? Yes. It's here. Peter also talks about what golf course superintendents and greenkeeping mean to him.
  8. In this episode of the TurfNet Renovation Report, Anthony Pioppi chats with Rob Collins of King Collins Golf Course Design, one of the new generation of "movers and shapers" bringing fresh thought to golf course design and construction. King Collins is the firm behind Sweetens Cove, Signal Mountain and The Buck Club, and is currently reworking the old Rondout Country Club in Accord, NY, a renovated 12-hole public track in Jackson, MI, and the new Landmand project in Nebraska. Presented by Golf Course Preservations and The Andersons.
  9. Ellie Update: A little over a week in and Ellie is becoming more comfortable every day. She’s getting the hang of house-training and absolutely LOVES the snow and cold. A couple days ago we got about 4” of fresh snow and on our morning walk she dropped to the ground and gatored on her back, snorting and making snow angels! It was awesome to see. We got another foot of snow yesterday and this morning, at -12F, she pranced outside, snorted a few times from the cold, rolled around on the driveway and then tore around through the snow, leaping over the banks and drifts, having a great time. She runs like a goofy puppy, all awkward and splayed legs, probably because she never had much opportunity to run before. She gets along great with the other two dogs, and they have accepted her as one of the pack.
  10. Can’t argue with you there, Steve. I feel much the same way, depending on circumstance. I have always enjoyed the quote below:
  11. I really don't want to write this, but there is a rage welling up inside me that begs release. For me, writing is cathartic — like having a therapist at my fingertips — so here we go. With senior citizenship upon me, I have dedicated the past year or two to personal wellness, finding and sharing joy, and shunning stress and negativity whenever possible. The latter is the most challenging of the three, but integral to the first two. I've found the key (if you can't simply avoid them) is to meet stress, tension and negativity head-on, deal with them and release them. Move on. Even my broken Toro mugs have been sent down the river, so to speak. My sources of joy are simple: my wife, my daughters and their husbands, my dogs, my books, my guitars and piano, my chainsaw and tractor, fireplace and our summer home in the Maritimes. Our dogs are always toward the top of the list. So it was with great anticipation (and a bit of fatigue) that we welcomed our third rescue, Ellie, the Friday of GIS week. We had to pick her up near Hartford, CT, at 8:30 that morning (a 4-hour drive for us), so I had a 90 minute nap between getting home from GIS at 1:30 AM and turning around for Hartford. The van transporting about a dozen dogs from Kentucky arrived on time, and it was a joyous occasion. I wish I could have just stepped back and watched the meet-n-greets between rescues and new dog-parents, but our new Golden Retriever emerged and of course took center stage for us. A quick pee (for her), a walk-around to stretch the legs and we headed to her new home in Vermont. Our series of four Goldens (three at one time, years ago) has been replaced in recent years by two rescues, Frosty (a Labrador/Great Pyrenees mix from this same rescue agency in Kentucky) and Marley, a chubby bucket-fed yard dog who came up from Atlanta two years ago. Both Frosty and Marley were "marketed" as Golden mixes but neither has a drop of Golden DNA in them, not that it really matters. Since we lost the last of our Goldens last April, my wife has wanted another and has been scouring the rescue sites. Available Goldens get snapped up quickly, so (as with many other things) it boils down to who one knows. This one happened to come up through the same agency through which we got Frosty (a true 'agency' as they never touch the dogs, which go from shelter to foster home to their forever home up here), so we had a leg up on the other 80 applicants and got her. The details on Ellie's history were sketchy. "Three year old female, purebred, somewhat timid, just weaning a small litter of puppies, housebroken, 50 lbs., would do well with a mentor dog in the home." She appeared very thin in her photos. Fifty pounds was being generous. We thought the puppy thing was a little odd as nobody in their right mind would give up Golden puppies, which usually fetch $1800-$2500 each, but we didn't dwell on it. It did occur to me that she might have been seized from a shut-down puppy mill, which would explain a few things. Upon arriving home, a quick introductory walk and the other dogs seemed to accept her, but she hesitated before coming into the house and quickly found a safe space between a sofa and upholstered chair. She was ravenous, tentative around me (less so with Patty), generally skittish. Didn't seem to know her name, didn't respond to praise, not interested in toys. It was like the "lights were on but nobody's home". She gradually took treats from our hands. Peed on the carpet a few times. Didn't seem to connect going outside with doing her business, except #2. No attempt to jump on the sofa, no interest in the multiple dog beds we have around the house. She slept on the floor along Patty's side of our bed. But she did walk well on a leash, trotting along with the other two. Fast forward a few days to yesterday, when we took her to our vet for a checkup. "Well, she's a beautiful dog but she's more like 6 years old than 3, missing a few teeth probably from decay, has had multiple litters judging from her well-worn nipples, and... you see this yellow-stained skin and fur on her belly? That's from laying on a concrete floor in her own waste for years." Hence my rage at those responsible, puppy mill or whoever they are. And some lesser irritation with the rescue agency, which was less than forthright with us. Hey, we would have taken her anyway, but forewarned is better than surprised by this type of thing, and a little honesty goes a long way. Upon relating the story to my colleagues, John Reitman said, "There's a special place in hell for anyone who would do that to a dog." So we have another project dog (Frosty was a year-long project), but that's OK. There's an odd sense of wonderment when putting myself into Ellie's paws and realizing how everything is new to her at this stage of her life. All the smells on our walks... the squirrel scampering across the driveway and the hawk overhead this morning... the coyotes howling at night... the UPS truck that drives the other two nuts. New snow underfoot. The calm of the fire in the fireplace and the sound of an acoustic guitar. A leaf blowing across the snow. Birds at the feeders. So much that we take for granted. There's much work to be done. She has never been up or down stairs. Isn't thrilled with the car. We will beef her up to our specifications, teach her how to play fetch. Frosty has already shared his stuffed toys with her, one of which she proceeded to rip the tag off of. And she reached up and grabbed a few pieces of paper hanging off the edge of a table and started to rip them up. That's the Golden genes coming out. All good. Frosty has already shared one of his favorite lambies with Ellie. Our job will be to help her forget the negativity and neglect of the first half of her life and blossom into a real dog. The second half of her life is now on a much happier trajectory than it was just a short time ago, and that brings joy to us as well. Yesterday I lifted her up onto our bed so she could enjoy her first pack nap with me and the other two dogs, and she reveled in it... as did I. Positive feedback can be difficult to come by these days, but just rescue a dog and they will thank you every day, even if starting out in small but meaningful ways.
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