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Peter McCormick

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About Peter McCormick

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  • Birthday 07/04/1954

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    Cornwall, VT and Campobello, NB, Canada
  • Interests
    Learning to play the guitar and keyboard, cooking, reading, Boston Bruins hockey, dogfather (2 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. In this episode of Frankly Speaking, Frank Rossi chats with Dr. Peter Dernoeden reflects on his academic, research and extension career in turfgrass pathology from Colorado and Rhode Island to Maryland, and his six degrees of separation from so many notable personalities in the turf industry ranging from Noel Jackson to John Kaminski. Presented by DryJect and Intelligro/Civitas.
  2. In this OnCourse video, Kevin Ross discusses options for cart path curbing and instances where 2" and even 6" or 8" curbing are more appropriate than the standard 4".
  3. In this episode of Frankly Speaking, Dan Dinelli relates what he has learned from his recent conversion from Poa annua on native soil greens to bentgrass on sand-based greens at North Shore Country Club near Chicago. A fresh look at behavior and management of organic matter and biomass in sand-based systems, down to the single-particle level. A fascinating discussion! Presented by DryJect and Civitas/Intelligro.
  4. Holidays are all about traditions, so it's appropriate that I sit here this Thanksgiving morning contemplating and writing. It's what I do, for some reason, like splitting wood on New Year's Day. (Reading this after Thanksgiving? You may want to skip to here.) This is an odd Thanksgiving for us, with no bird destined for the oven, no casseroles or side dishes in the making. Daughter A is rotating off with Hubby's family (at her chagrin, I'm sure), but a tradeoff for Christmas. My mother-in-law, at 97, has decided the holiday trip from New Jersey has become too much, at her chagrin as well, I'm sure. Daughter B offered to cook and host this year, so my wife and I looked at each other and thought, why not? Let's forego the bird in the oven this year (at my chagrin, somewhat, for the aroma of the turkey in the oven is a high point of my year) and drive the hour north, so that's what we're doing. Since I decided to write today about carving, a word or two of guidance about carving the turkey may be in order. My grandfather taught me many years ago, back when I was six or seven, how to wield the knife properly. It starts with a high quality carving knife, properly sharpened. If your family is one that traditionally breaks out the electric knife to slice the turkey breast, throw it out. The knife, not the meat. We're talking Quality of Cut here, something all turf guys should understand, and it can't happen with an electric knife. Might as well go out to the garage and get your chain saw. Same effect. Thick, rough-hewn hunks and chunks just don't taste as good as precision-carved, wafer-thin slices. In my opinion. Uhh, no. Beyond a good sharp knife, the trick is to time your roasting so the bird is done (165 degrees in the thigh) an hour before mealtime. Not only does this free up the oven for casseroles, but it gives the meat time to rest. Tent it loosely with aluminum foil (not tightly, as you'll steam it and there goes the crisp skin) and let it sit. It's almost impossible to properly carve a hot bird right out of the oven. There are those who advocate removing the breast and slicing on a board, across the grain. This is OK, but you can't get those large, thin slices that result from carving the breast intact. I remove the leg and thigh so I have plenty of room to work. I also like to slice the meat off the leg, holding the drumstick at the tip and slicing down and around so all pieces have a hunk of skin attached. Arrange white and dark meat artfully on a nice platter, with a sprig or two of parsley or rosemary for garnish. Like a golf course, good presentation is part of the experience. OK, enough with that carving, and on to carving for ourselves. I'm talking about putting responsibilities and commitments aside and carving out some time for you. For your own enjoyment, pleasure, personal development or relaxation... and in turn your physical and mental well-being. We all have things we'd like to do, things we know we should be doing but yet excuse ourselves because we simply don't have time. Or so we tell ourselves. Not true! Those who do and those who do not all have the same amount of time. It's a matter of priority as to how we use it. I like to think in terms of 15-minute segments of time. A 24-hour day has (96) 15-minute segments in it. The same for all of us. To stake out and claim even one for ourselves can be tough, but the returns can be huge. I decided to start learning the play the guitar five years ago. I added keyboards earlier this year. For me. My enjoyment. My personal growth. My satisfaction. Both life-changers, as it turns out. And the key has been 15 minutes of practice or simply playing (there's a difference) every day. Sometimes it's only ten, or might be 30 or even 60 minutes. Whatever the day permits, but it's my time. I've been fortunate to work at home for 25 years now, and in recent years I've allowed myself the luxury of taking a nap every afternoon. With the dogs, as many as three, on the bed with me. Our pack nap. They love it as much as I do. I usually read for 15 minutes, then snooze for another 15 or 30. It's refreshing and rejuvenating. Good thing my wife prefers to read in the living room, by the fireplace, as there's no room for her here! Pack nap with three dogs (count 'em). One of life's simple pleasures. As I get old and the joints get ornery and creaky, I also allow myself the occasional luxury of a hot bath. In the morning after the first dog walk, for 15 minutes or so, with Sore Old Ass bath salts. Sets me up well for the day. My time. This might sound selfish, and impractical for many. It would have been for me in years past when it's by necessity all about family and job and running here and running there. Doing for others. I did it too. But part of me laments not carving out that chunk of time for me, not starting the guitar or piano 30 years ago. But better late than never. What's different today is that we are all under siege, constantly, all day, every waking hour. Never in the history of mankind have we been subjected to the constant bombardment of always-on, can't-escape-it technology. The lines between work and off-work are blurred. Real down-time is rare, unless we selfishly carve for ourselves. To read, take a walk, go to the gym, run, ride a bike, go forest-bathing, play the guitar, take a nap. Carve it out of your day, stake your claim, be fiercely protective of it. It's your 15 minute slice of the day. There are still 95 slices left for others.
  5. Believe me, Jon, it was not pleasant for me to write, either. Very disappointing, because I feel almost like a friend has died, not there anymore. You know what I mean about the fun-loving "personalities" having disappeared at the corporate level. That's sad too.
  6. or, So Much For a "Relationship Business"... My first inkling that something was awry was the announcement on Twitter about a month ago of a new podcast series aimed at superintendents. Gee, that's novel. C'mon in, the water's warm... as the saying goes. The weird thing is that this one, by @the_fried_egg, is sponsored by @ToroGolf. I found this curious because we have been doing TurfNet Radio podcasts for five years now (270 episodes with 226,000 listens to date), and every year I pitched that as a sponsorship opportunity for Toro — only to be told that for legal reasons Toro won't sponsor anything where content or message can't be controlled. Hmmm. I guess something changed. Even weirder is the fact that The Fried Egg is primarily a golfer- rather than superintendent-oriented entity. You know, pro golfers, courses, architects, that type of thing. Sort of Golf Club Atlas without the pompous attitude. Not exactly a superintendent hangout, I wouldn’t think. Not only do we produce six different podcasts, but GCI and GCSAA and others host podcasts for superintendents. To send sponsorship money outside this turf industry group to what amounts to a consumer golf platform like The Fried Egg is to me not only a questionable business decision but a kick in the balls (metaphorically speaking, of course, ladies) to all of us in turf media as well. The same turf media that has jumped (high) over the years when Toro has snapped its fingers. But it gets better. A few days after that I got a voicemail from an unfamiliar name at Toro to set up a phone convo to discuss 2020 advertising. Not my regular contact. The ensuing call was brief. Uh, what happened to Bob, with whom I've been dealing for the last 15 years or so? "He's not with the company anymore." OK... I guess. Surprising though. "I'm calling to give you a heads up that we won't be doing any digital or print advertising this coming year. We're not getting the ROI we are looking for." At all, with anybody? "That's correct." Basically, end of conversation. And a 25+ year relationship. But thanks for letting me know. During the ensuing gasp for air might have been when I dropped my coffee mug. I've been chewing on this for a few weeks now so my thoughts here are not of the knee-jerk variety. On one hand I can't blame them, as we all know Print is Dead. Beyond that, adjustments always have to be made, in every business. Toro has the Toro Advantage e-newsletter and a strong following on social media, so perhaps that's sufficient to get keep them in front of their customer base (hate that word). Oh, and now a podcast series on a golfer platform. That too. Am I taking this personally? Yes, I am. You see, everything we do at TurfNet is personal. Personal R Us. Jon, John and I (our own version of the three caballeros, I suppose) work very hard to produce all that we do at the high level for which we are known, and collectively have over 60 years in it. We live it, breathe it, sometimes eat and drink it. And to be told that, in a nutshell, what we do is of no value is a gut punch. Or a kick in the nuts if you prefer, to invoke that metaphor again. I think that was when my pencil mug slipped off the desk and hit the floor. It's been a tough few weeks for my mug collection. This one was an oldie, from a distributor incentive trip to Munich in 1993. Too bad. To wrap a little context around it, the amount of money Toro spent with us every year isn't huge, not even in our Top Three. I doubt it would buy a new Sand Pro. We'll need to adjust a bit, but we have survived worse over the years. It is disappointing, though, on several levels. From my personal standpoint, as one who spent the seven years prior to founding TurfNet as the sales manager for a Toro distributor, I always enjoyed working with the guys at Toro. Not only on their advertising program, but also getting the booth tour at GIS and talking with the product managers and engineers, and anything else that came up throughout the year. They knew that given my background, I understood what they do. It was comfortable, and easy. Used to be (almost) that way with Jacobsen, too, depending on the players at the time, before they faded into apparent oblivion. Deere has always maintained a front-line layer of PR or ad agency people, but we maintain good communication. One trend I've noticed over the years has been the gradual replacement of "personalities" in manufacturer-level sales and marketing with serious gray-suited MBAs. Technically proficient and well-schooled, I'm sure, but also pretty tightly wound. Within the halls of Toro, the pipeline seems to be from the Carlson business school at UMN through General Mills to get their real-world training wheels and ultimately to Toro. I personally have had trouble connecting the dots between Cheerios and Reelmasters, but some smarter than I say that business is business and widgets are widgets regardless of the industry. Perhaps, but one thing we have all enjoyed in the golf turf industry is that this business is different from most others. It's a relationship business, or always was. Business in this industry has also historically been conducted in the manner of the game itself, with respect and proper decorum while having fun. I have seen a lot of the fun bleed out over the years. The podcast sponsorship thing is to me is evidence of a disconnect in basic understanding of turf industry vs Cheerios consumers. But, hey, on the grand scale of things it's a mere blip. Not so much for the fun drain. I had known many of the Toro guys for years, had a few beers and laughs with them upon occasion, but lately I've come to realize many have retired and others shuffled around to other divisions to the point where I really don't know anybody there anymore. Sort of like a veteran superintendent working the first tee on a Saturday morning and realizing he doesn’t know many of the members anymore. That’s on me, I suppose, but nonetheless. It is what it is, as they say. Assuming that the "across the board, for all" edict is true and the other turf media players are getting kicked to the curb as well (which, incidentally, has given me pause to wonder if some of the Gray Suits are sporting long red neckties these days), it will be interesting to see if any Media People attend either of Toro's media confabs at the upcoming GIS . There's always a flurry of outreach prior to every GIS for us to register for one, so we dutifully block out an hour or so from our tight schedules. Then we file into their little room and sit and listen to the VP Guy and then the Red Iron Guy and the Irrigation Guy give us their spiel about new products and initiatives. We're handed our thumb drive with pertinent press releases and images, and sometimes a little toy Workman or Groundsmaster. Or maybe a coffee mug, with the understood quid pro quo of a slice of their advertising budget for media coverage. We then scurry for the nearest wifi connection to bang out some news items or social media posts about What We Just Learned From Toro. Not this year, I'm afraid. At least not for me. One of the other trends of the past few years — a happier one, no doubt — is the energy and enthusiasm of the smaller, often niche manufacturers with whom we do business. We enjoy consulting with and advising them, trying this and testing that, changing up their messages and promotions to keep them fresh and effective. Not hidebound or hamstrung, they tend to be open-minded, loose, receptive and responsive, and fun to hang with when we have the chance. And they appreciate what we do, and the results they get. One of them recently ordered a series of our large masthead banners at the top of our main page, saying, “We want to look like Toro up there.” Well, with a lot of space recently vacated, they can now look better than Toro up there...
  7. In this episode of Rockbottum Radio, Momma cooks up Himalayan Possum Stew and has to call in an expert pathologist... Aint Feemy picks the range and doesn't feel a thing... and an important golf corporation exec gets trapped by the Robot Commode in Rockbottum's new high-tech restroom. Baffled with BS: During Willy's intellectual segment, Buddy rounds up a road trip posse to hunt down the TurfTruthers, a gang of dry-gulchin', bulltwit slingin' yayhoos just trying to fit in with the cool kids and avenge years of wedgies and toilet swirlies. Momma says it best: Never trust a twitter who won't give you his real name.
  8. In this episode of the TurfNet Renovation Report, host Anthony Pioppi chats with Jeff Johnson, golf course superintendent at The Minikahda Club in Minneapolis, about their 2018 strip-and-seed regrassing project that opened earlier this year. Presented by Golf Preservations and The Andersons.
  9. In this episode of Frankly Speaking, Frank Rossi chats with Dr John Sorochan of the University of Tennessee about the latest research in measurement and testing technology for management of sports turf surface performance and safety. Presented by DryJect and Civitas/Intelligro.
  10. Scott Rettmann of Walnut Creek Country Club (South Lyon, MI) uses video to keep his membership updated on project progress. An OnCourse Turf video by Kevin Ross.
  11. In this episode of Frankly Speaking, Frank Rossi chats with Dr. Jim Brosnan of the University of Tennessee about the effect of weather trends in application decision making and weed species shift efficacy (and herbicide resistance) of Poa annua control programs the ongoing four-year, $5.7 million project among 15 universities to assess the national-scale herbicide-resistance epidemic in annual bluegrass in managed turfgrass systems the involvement and position of universities and extension on the recent glyphosate debacle.
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