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John Reitman

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About John Reitman

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    Director of News & Education

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    TurfNet
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    Findlay, OH

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    http://www.turfnet.com

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  1. Green Start Academy, a joint educational initiative by Bayer, John Deere and Rain Bird specifically for assistant superintendents, is headed to Pinehurst Resort this year. The three-day event is scheduled for Nov. 15-17. Applications will be accepted July 1 through August 1. Green Start Academy was established in 2006 to help develop aspiring leaders by bringing the best and brightest of the industry together for a career-changing experience. The agenda includes educational sessions from top industry experts and breakout sessions with industry leaders. The move to Pinehurst will include changes other than just physical location. This year, attendees can expect additional new events and added emphasis on mentorship and networking. Green Start Academy is open to assistant superintendents from the U.S. and Canada who are looking to advance their careers and build connections within the Golf industry. The 2021 application period will be open from July 1 through August 1, and selected participants will be notified by August 16. To apply or learn more about the 2021 event, visit the Green Start Academy website.
  2. Craig Kessler has established a career advocating for public golf courses in Southern California. Photo of Rancho Park Golf Course by City of Loos Angeles Golf. When it comes to defending Southern California's golf industry, no one carries a bigger stick than Craig Kessler. A former attorney, Kessler has spent the past 11 years as the director of government affairs for the Southern California Golf Association and before that he was the executive director of the Public Links Golf Association of Southern California. That background adds up to many years of experience working on labor issues and public affairs, including nearly a quarter century of government relations and advocacy on behalf of golf. A skilled player who loves the game, Kessler is especially passionate about defending the merits of municipal golf. Passion for the game is one thing, helping save it from politicians and those who view golf courses as apartment complexes in waiting is another. It takes a special kind of person not just to go into battle every day to protect the game you love, but to have the necessary tools and the skills to wield them is another matter entirely. "Some people are like a fish out of water. They're not comfortable in that realm," Kessler said. "I'm comfortable in that role as a strategist and all the skills that go into advocacy. "Years ago, if you would have told me that I would be working in the golf industry, I would have laughed you out of the room." The SCGA and PLGA merged in 2010. At that time, SCGA executive director Kevin Heaney stayed on in his position and Kessler, who already had considerable experience working with the media and elected officials, took over the role of director of government affairs. Today, he advocates on behalf of the SCGA's 160,000 members and golfers throughout California. "What people don't see is what he does behind the scenes," said Jim Ferrin, a former superintendent in Roseville, who worked closely with Kessler on California Alliance for Golf issues. "His work is essential to the California golf industry, and he is one of the best at what he does." Kessler's background includes experience as a USGA committeeman, chairman of the Los Angeles Golf Advisory Commission, member of the Ventura Golf Advisory Group, member of the Los Angeles County Junior Golf Foundation Board of Directors and the First Tee of Los Angeles advisory committee. Through the years, he has worked closely and regularly with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, one of the country's largest utility providers, on establishing water use When California was in the throes of one of the worst droughts in the state's history, which eventually resulted in state-mandated water-use restrictions, golf courses around the state came under heavy fire. No other place in California has a love-hate relationship with golf quite like the Coachella Valley. With about 120 golf courses, the Coachella Valley relies on golf for its very economic livelihood, if not its very existence. But not all residents see it that way. The golf courses of the valley were squarely in the crosshairs of the local media and residents, And those golf courses were painted as water use abusers by many of the nearly 400,000 people who chose to live in a desert. Kessler played a key role in working with the Coachella Valley Water District, members of the local golf community and others to form the Coachella Valley Golf and Water Task Force that developed smart water use protocols for golf courses and established the cash for grass rebate program that paid golf properties for converting irrigated turf into non-irrigated. Mike Huck, a Southern California-based irrigation consultant as well as a former superintendent and USGA Green Section agronomist, was part of that group that helped found the task force in the Coachella Valley. "Craig is the clearinghouse of everything in California on how to work with these water districts and how to develop plans for your golf course," Huck said. "I don't know if there is another association doing what the SCGA has going on with government affairs." For all of his accomplishments, Kessler has a special affinity for protecting municipal golf. Taking up for public golf also has been among some of his most challenging work. He has been a vocal detractor of AB 672, proposed legislation in California that targets municipal golf courses as potential sites for low-income housing units and open space. The bill died in committee in April, but probably will be introduced again in 2022, Kessler said. "The most challenging things I have worked on have been attacks on the very legitimacy of municipal golf," Kessler said. "In the state's highly populated urban areas, land is precious. Cities are park-poor, and the interests competing for land are incredible. There is a serious housing shortage here, and many people have nowhere to go, so when people drive past a golf course in an area where there is a need for affordable housing they see a solution. "If you ask people in this business how they got started, most would say they started in municipal golf. Now, it has reversed course. Even if a golf course is successful, people don't care about that million dollars. They want another use for that land, and golf isn't it." Those challenges of advocating for public golf have done little to dampen Kessler's enthusiasm for helping to save the game he loves. "When it comes to government affairs, Craig Kessler wields a pretty big sword," Ferrin said. "So, when he talks, people better damn well listen."
  3. Ohio State entomologist Dave Shetlar, Ph.D., says that female cicadas are better in the pan because they are packed with fat-filled eggs. Photo above and on front page (of cicada fettuccine) by WCMH-TV. Below, cicadas cling to a water cooler at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. Photo by Chad Mark via Twitter. Anyone who watched this year's Memorial Tournament no doubt heard or witnessed the drama. No, we're not talking about 54-hole leader Jon Rahm being jettisoned from Muirfield after testing positive for Covid-19 after the third round. We're talking about the loud noise in the background throughout the tournament. Brood X of the 17-year (or periodical) cicadas could be heard loud and clear on television as they descended on Muirfield by the millions. Brood X cicadas have been out in full force this summer in parts of at least 16 states, getting into and onto everything. Totally harmless, but an incredible nuisance, they land on and stick to everything, including clothing and hair. Superintendents have posted photos of the red-eyed demons on water coolers, irrigation control boxes and even congregating in the bottoms of cups on putting greens. Dave Shetlar, Ph.D., retired entomologist at Ohio State University, says those grossed out by cicadas can get the last laugh on these periodic pests by, of course, eating them. "My normal preference is to get rid of the wings," Shetlar said in a televised segment on WCMH, the NBC affiliate in Columbus, in which he pan-fried up a batch of cicadas with a little bacon fat, garlic, snow peas and sage and tossed the concoction together with some fettuccine. Yum. Shetlar, whose expertise in the field also was highlighted in a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live, expressed a particular affinity for egg-laden females, mostly because they are packed with carbohydrates, fats and proteins. If you did not hear cicadas this year, don't worry, you probably will. Maybe not this summer, maybe not next, but you will. According to the U.S. Forest Service, there are at least 15 broods of cicadas that emerge periodically. Some, like Brood X, are on a 17-year cycle, others are on a 13-year cycle. And the noise they bring emits from the males as they woo females as they fulfill their sole purpose in life - to propagate the species (well, and to serve as a food source for others). Although a pan of cicada fettuccine is not likely to make a dent in the population, try convincing those arthropods swimming in hot bacon grease of that. Revenge is sweet, just like the cicadas on the Bug Doc's plate.
  4. Nematode-management program available from SiteOne Soil Technologies' Armorex nematicide and Bac-Pack microbial blend soil amendment are now available through SiteOne Landscape Supply. Armorex and Bac-Pack applied to nematode-infested golf course putting greens showed up to 90 percent control of lance nematodes in research conducted in Florida. The combination of Armorex and Bac-Pack resulted in turf that recovered quickly from nematode damage, according to research. Armorex is O.M.R.I. listed for organics and contains the essential oils of sesame, clove and horseradish, the company says. The product is a liquid formulation that is diluted with water for easy spray application. RightLine releases herbicide for use in warm-season grass RightLine has launched its first sulfentrazone combination product with RightLine Sulfen Southern herbicide. By combining sulfentrazone with the powerful herbicide imazethapyr, the new herbicide expands the list of weeds controlled beyond straight sulfentrazone products. While sulfentrazone alone controls many sedges and kyllinga, the addition of imazethapyr expands label claims to include purple nutsedge and a total of more than 50 weeds. Sulfen Southern is labeled for use on many warm-season turfgrass species including bermudagrass and zoysiagrass and can be applied to golf course fairways and roughs, sod farms and athletic fields, as well as residential, commercial and institutional lawn areas. Sulfen Southern is packaged in a 64-ounce bottle. New charging platform coming from Delta-Q Delta-Q Technologies, a manufacturer of battery-charging solutions for electric vehicles and industrial equipment, introduced a new line of battery charging solutions with the launch of the XV3300. Its design combines a high-performance 3.3kW charger, a 500W DC-DC converter and an EV charging station interface in a compact package. The XV3300 is the ideal solution for power-train electrification. The 3.3kW charger will be available in 58.8V, 65V, and 120V models and is scalable, allowing OEMs to stack chargers for power levels up to 20kW. The XV3300 delivers a precise charge of battery packs of various chemistries and voltages to maximize battery life and optimize charge time. Key features and benefits of the XV3300 charger include a compact, rugged design that has been tested for automotive-grade shock and vibration; integrated 500W DC-DC converter provides auxiliary power to operate vehicle accessories; and EV charging station Interface. The XV3300 will go into production early next year.
  5. Photos by The Olympic Club via Twitter There were times during the recent U.S. Women's Open in San Francisco when it was difficult to determine whether the focus was on a golf tournament that ended in a dramatic playoff, or the people maintaining the playing surface on which the championship was contested. Conspicuous by their uniforms, a team of nearly 30 women on the volunteer crew at The Olympic Club arguably were more visible on TV and on social media than any maintenance team at any tournament anywhere. There is no doubt that the presence of so many women on the volunteer crew at a major championship is a positive step, but the bigger question is, after years of initiatives designed to gender diversity in turfgrass management, 'what's next?' " For now, that answer likely will include more women on more volunteers crews and initiatives designed to attract more women to careers in turf management. By now, the story has been told many times over. A total of 29 women, mostly superintendents, assistants and at least one academic, volunteered for all or part of tournament week. Corporate partnership by Rain Bird and Syngenta helped cover travel expenses and establish on-site career-development sessions. There also have been discussions about establishing a non-profit foundation to help set the stage for similar experiences in the future and fund scholarships for young women interested in pursuing careers in turfgrass management. The idea of assembling a team of female volunteers came to Olympic's director of golf maintenance Troy Flanagan a few years ago, right after the USGA picked the historic venue as the site for this year's championship. He had no idea at the time that his idea might be a cornerstone for bringing change to the industry. "I thought it would be a good idea to have as many women as possible on the volunteer crew for the Women's Open," said Troy Flanagan, director of golf maintenance at Olympic. "What I wasn't prepared for was the impact it would have." Many of the volunteers described the experience as "life-changing" and even Flanagan became emotional when discussing what it meant now and could mean in the future. "The first thing I noticed was the camaraderie between them. I thought they all knew each other, but it was anything but it was anything but that," he said. "The energy they had was amazing. Every day, they wanted to show the world that they were here to work, work hard and provide the best golf course possible. They know they have to outwork men to prove themselves, and they came ready to do just that. I heard the words 'life-changing' several times." On one hand, the presence of so many women helping prepare one of the most revered courses in all of golf for such a high-profile event shows the strides women are making toward gender equality in an industry historically dominated by men. On the other hand, that so many are compelled to recognize their accomplishments based, even in some small part, on gender, shows how much work remains in acknowledging the contributions of women in this industry on merit alone. "We don't want distinction because we are female, or because we are different," said Sally Jones, general manager and superintendent at Benson Golf Club in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and a volunteer at Olympic during the Open. "We want to do this because we want more of us out here. We want more women in this business. What drove me to pick this career was always being told 'no' by people who didn't think I could do this as a woman." Shelia Finney, senior director of member services for GCSAA and a former golf course superintendent of 25 years, was on site at Olympic and says there are a number of reasons why young women in the field of turfgrass are outnumbered in the classroom and the golf course. "Change is very slow. When you are trying to change something, the demographics of an industry or association, what you are talking about is encouraging people to get into this industry. But, if all they see is white males . . . ," Finney said. "There is a general lack of knowledge among young women that this is a career option. They don't see it as a viable career and that you can make a good wage. That's why things like this (at Olympic) are important, because you are sending the subliminal message that 'if you can see it, you can be it.' " Of the approximately 19,000 members of GCSAA, 324 are women, Finney said. That number is up from 200 just two years ago. Of those 324 women, 56 are assistants, an increase of 180 percent from five years ago. There are about 14,700 golf courses operating nationwide. The GCSAA has a member in about 48 percent of them. "We acknowledge that we are in about half the golf courses," Finney said. "So, there may be more (women superintendents) out there." Through her position with GCSAA, Finney spends a significant amount of time and energy recruiting students for potential careers in turfgrass management and speaks to a lot of kids at career day and First Green events. Beth Guertal, Ph.D., of Auburn University also was at Olympic, and she, too, beats the pavement to get out and speak to high school students and others, including a lot of girls, about potential careers in turf management. While she acknowledges there is still much work to do to attract more women into the industry, she too has noticed a change in the industry in recent years. "There has been some cultural tone deafness. It’s changing," Guertal said. "We're getting more women into leadership roles." During the Women's Open at Olympic, discussions turned toward establishing a non-profit foundation to help fund future career-development opportunities for working professionals and scholarships for young women. Although that idea is only in the discussion phase, funding ideally would come through corporate donations and sponsorships, Jones said. According to Finney, rather than establish a new foundation from scratch, those needs could be met through the GCSAA Foundation. "I think you will see something happen on that in the near future, not the far future," Finney said. "Why reinvent the wheel? With the GCSAA Foundation, we can set that up within a month or two. We just need the funds."
  6. The USGA grant initiative known as the Turfgrass and Environmental Research Program has been renamed the Mike Davis Program for Advancing Golf Course Management. Davis, shown here at the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont, is retiring this year. Photo courtesy of USGA/Darren Carroll The U.S. Golf Association has renamed its sustainability initiative to recognize the contributions of retiring CEO Mike Davis. Formerly the Turfgrass and Environmental Research Program (TERP), the initiative has been renamed the Mike Davis Program for Advancing Golf Course Management. Davis, who joined the USGA in 1990, is retiring at the end of the year. The longstanding initiative represents the single largest private grant program in golf dedicated to advancing innovation in sustainability and improving the on-course experience. The USGA invests nearly $2 million in the program each year and today has contributed a total of $45 million to the initiative that to date, which has resulted in better playing conditions, dramatic cost savings and a more environmentally friendly game. "Throughout his time at the USGA, Mike Davis' vision to lead the game forward through golf course sustainability has propelled the success of this program, ensuring that every golfer has a great playing experience and every owner has access to the latest innovations to manage their course," said USGA president Stu Francis in a news release. "With his passion for golf courses and data-driven decision-making, we could not find a better program to share his name and inspire a sustainable future for golf." Founded in 1920 in response to a need for agronomic advice in the run-up to the U.S. Open that year at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, the USGA Green Section has initiated and fostered sustainable practices that have benefited the entire game. Through it, the USGA has dedicated golf’s largest investment toward research focusing on science-based management practices, turfgrass innovation and environmental stewardship. Land-grant universities and researchers from California to New Jersey, and from New Zealand to the United Kingdom are among the primary recipients of the 50-70 Davis Grants dispersed annually. The research program has significantly contributed to the development of sustainable golf maintenance practices that have driven a decrease in water use of more than 20 percent, a 40 percent decrease in nutrient inputs during the past 10 years and a savings of $1.86 billion each year through incorporating more natural areas on golf courses that result in smarter use of water and pesticides. Widely used golf turfgrasses such as bentgrass and bermudagrass were first selected and improved through the USGA program, in an effort to improve drought resistance, promote recycled water and smart irrigation use and improve playing conditions on golf courses and playing fields worldwide. The published research is directly shared through the free USGA Green Section Record, as well as through Course Consulting Service visits by USGA agronomists and at regional and national industry conferences. A native of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Davis was the 1982 Pennsylvania State Junior golf champion and played NCAA Division I golf at Georgia Southern University. In September 2020, he announced his intent to leave the organization’s top post to pursue a personal career goal in golf architecture and design. Applicants for a USGA Davis Grant must demonstrate how their work will achieve one of the three main USGA strategic program objectives: 1 – optimizing sustainable golf course management and playing conditions; 2 – protecting and conserving water resources; or 3 – identifying and developing novel plant materials. The program is managed by Cole Thompson, Ph.D., director of USGA turfgrass and environmental research. The current deadline for grant funding is June 25. Click here for more information.
  7. Joe Vargas, Ph.D., turfgrass pathologist at Michigan State University, has never been shy about his against-the-grain views on fungicide resistance. In this Webinar, he discusses fungicide resistance and why he does not believe in rotating products. The presenter also provides university research trials and real-world conditions in the field that support his opinions that are delivered in a no-holds-barred style.
  8. until
    A former golf course superintendent and USGA championship agronomist, Tim Moraghan is the principal of Aspire Golf. Today, he consults with superintendents about course conditions, navigating club politics and career development issues. In this TurfNet University Webinar, Moraghan will pull no punches as he discusses the current golf turf labor market, not just for hard-to-find assistants and team members, but also for golf course superintendents. Tim will provide advice on when it is a good time to look for that next job, who should be looking and who might want to stay put. He also will provide tips on how to get a foot in the door for that next dream job, interview tips and things to consider when on site during an interview.
  9. Wake Forest's Bill Davis, Ph.D., leads a session on negotiating in 2017 (above), while (below) Paul Latshaw (left) and Chad Mark negotiate a deal during the 2015 edition of SBI. Photos by John Reitman The 13th annual Syngenta Business Institute will be a virtual event in 2021. The Syngenta Business Institute is a multi-day event that is part of Syngenta's ongoing effort to grow the professional knowledge of golf course superintendents and assist them with managing their courses. Through a partnership with the Wake Forest University School of Business, the program provides graduate school-level instruction in financial management, human resource management, negotiating, managing across generations and cultural divides, impact hiring and other leadership- and professional-development skills. Applications for the 2021 SBI are open for golf course superintendents through Sept. 2. The event is scheduled for Dec. 2, 6-10. Click here to apply. “Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the SBI class of 2020 and with the health and safety of our customers in mind, we will be hosting the Syngenta Business Institute virtually for another year,” said Stephanie Schwenke, turf market manager for Syngenta. “From our survey of the 2020 attendees, they all wanted more education, so we are increasing the class hours to 15 hours." The 2021 program will be held via Zoom, beginning with an introductory social networking session on Dec. 2. Educational courses will then be hosted in three-hour sessions Dec. 6-10. Faculty from the Wake Forest University School of Business will present the curriculum, which will cover the following topics: work/life balance, negotiations, financial management, tools for managing employees, leading across cultures and generations. “The Wake Forest and Syngenta teams couldn't have been happier with the level of participation, energy and involvement from superintendents in the first virtual SBI last December,” said Ken Middaugh, faculty director for SBI. “The faculty were impressed that many were eager to stay ‘overtime’ to discuss issues with them and other participants, adding significantly to the experience. A post-event survey showed they wanted even more time and virtual opportunities to learn and a desire to expand the scope of the program. Based on that feedback and the active engagement of the cohort, we decided to expand the length and scope of the 2021 Syngenta Business Institute to allow for more education, more time with professors, and more time with each other.” Alumni of the SBI class of 2020 also shared praise for the virtual program. “[SBI 2020 was] beyond my expectations,” said Amos Stephens, superintendent at Settlers Bay Golf Course in Wasilla, Alaska, and SBI class of 2020 alumnus. “I questioned the Zoom format; and surprisingly, with it being my first time using the technology in this format, it was more than above my expectations. I learned aspects in each of the sessions that I have already brought to our operation. If you are serious about your career, you should look seriously at SBI to advance your knowledge, network and resume.” To facilitate deeper interaction among attendees, the class size for SBI 2021 will be limited. The program is only open to individuals employed in the U.S. as a superintendent, director of agronomy or at an equivalent level. Applications must be submitted online by midnight PDT on Sept. 2. Click here to apply.
  10. Today, superintendents have more resources than ever before to help keep bees on golf courses. Photo by Ohio State University. Photo below by the University of Florida. A decade ago, bee hives were scarce on golf courses and about the only resource for superintendents who did dabble in raising them was the occasional university field day presentation. Things have changed since University of Kentucky entomologist and former USGA Green Section Award recipient Dan Potter, Ph.D., helped establish the first Operation Pollinator zone on a U.S. golf course at Griffin Gate Golf Club in Lexington in 2011. At the UK turfgrass field day the following year, Potter and his graduate students promoted to a spartan audience the benefits of keeping bees and shared the challenges facing them, such as parasite pressure, habitat loss and pesticide use. Since then, beekeeping on golf courses is more popular than ever, and growing native pollen-producing flowers to feed them and attract other species has been a growing trend. has been a and fortunately the resources available to superintendents (and others) on the topic is voluminous. Web sites, like Honey Bee Health Coalition offer resources for keeping bees and managing pests. And university bee labs at the University of Florida and Ohio State provide a wide range of tools, such as bee-identification guides, scientific research and outreach efforts including workshops and webinars. "It's great to hear that beekeeping and supporting pollinators is becoming more common on golf courses," Ohio State entomologist Reed Johnson, Ph.D., said. "This is something that probably requires more research – how to best manage bees and bee forage on golf courses." While some keep bees on golf courses no doubt to monetize honey production, others do it to help struggling bee populations, and many do it for some combination of both. Jeff Sexton has been keeping bees at Evansville Country Club in Indiana for five years. His hives are thriving, and his members love having them and learning more about them. He also educates the rest of the Evansville community on how he and his team work to promote environmental stewardship on the golf course, not destroy it. "My members have always trusted my judgment on various projects," Sexton said. "We educate them through email and newsletter writings. We have also educated the public through news media. We have even had Congressman Buschon here on site as well. We have had ours since 2016 and never had a golfer stung! Hive location relative to golf is important. We sell honey to our membership every year. They love it." Honey bees are responsible for pollinating a host of common foods that many take for granted yet would cease to exist without their help. That list includes almonds, apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, cashews, cherries, chocolate, coconut, coffee, cranberries, grapes, grapefruit, kiwifruit, mangos, melons, papayas, peaches, pears, pumpkins, raspberries, strawberries tomatoes and vanilla, just to name a few. For all the good they do, bees also are threatened by pesticides, parasites and loss of habitat. Imagine for a moment a world without coffee. Agriculture is a $50 billion industry in California. The state produces one-third of the country's vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts, and relies on the work of honey bees for much of that output. Bee decline in the U.S. began in the mid-1980s, according to Purdue University entomologist Greg Hunt, Ph.D. That's about the same time the invasive Varroa mite, public enemy No. 1 in the western honey bee world, arrived in the U.S. Native to the Korean peninsula, where it parasitizes the Asian honey bee. The Asian honey bee can tolerate the mite, but its western cousin cannot. Within two years of their arrival in the U.S. in 1987, the mites wiped out an estimated 90 percent of the non-native bee populations in California. The parasites are so deadly that they have become known as Varroa destructor. Female mites lay their eggs in the honey bee cells where they feed on the pupae and are attached to the adult bees when they emerge. Left unchecked, they can overwhelm and eventually wipe out an entire bee colony. "Varroa is a serious and deadly pest of honey bees and needs to be controlled," Johnson said. "In colonies where Varroa are left unchecked, the colonies generally die in November (through) January. "Summer management of Varroa is critical so that the bees reared in late summer are healthy and stand a good chance of surviving into the following spring." Wild native bee populations are more hardy than their domesticated cousins. According to Bee Informed, managed colonies lose an average of 10 percent to 50 percent of their population each year. Losses are attributed to mites, weather and starvation. "Starvation has always been a killer of bees over winter, and even before Varroa beekeepers would generally lose 10 to 20 percent of colonies because the bees ran out of accessible food," Johnson said. "Making sure the colony has a full deep box of honey - about 70 pounds - will help them survive the winter. We also feed bees with sugar bricks or cake fondant to make sure they don't run out of calories before spring flowers start to provide nectar. "The rule of thumb is that one colony needs one acre of blooming plants, flowering throughout the season, in order to sustain themselves. Having enough flowers nearby can help ensure that the colonies have that 70 pounds of honey going into winter. Many colonies make a lot more honey, if they're in a good environment, making it possible for the beekeeper to collect honey for extraction and sale."
  11. The FC Cincinnati Foundation and The Motz Group got together to build a playground and a soccer facility near Cincinnati for children with special needs. A professional soccer franchise and a leading installer of artificial and natural turf athletic fields recently partnered to enhance ADA-compliant services in a Cincinnati-area park that accommodates children with special needs. Last August, FC Cincinnati Foundation, The Motz Group, Cincinnati TOPSoccer and the City of Mason worked together to bring a high-performance sports field to Makino Park, an accessible facility in Mason. The vision was to create an inclusive place where children could enjoy a playground and sports field experience that is similar to any other park, while being ADA-compliant. That vision culminated in the creation of Common Ground Playground at Makino Park. While the pandemic and weather created some challenges, the complex was completed by early summer. FC Cincinnati Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the FC Cincinnati MLS franchise, and The Motz Group has installed more than 500 natural grass and artificial turf athletic fields, including surfaces for FC Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Bengals, Cincinnati Reds, Ohio State, Baltimore Raven and Indianapolis Colts. TOPSoccer is a competitive play league for children with special needs. The Makino Park complex consists of a Motz InPlay five-a-side system, as well as a butterfly-shaped playground and a connecting sidewalk to the concession stands and other facilities. Before the project began, representatives from both FC Cincinnati Foundation and The Motz Group met with TOPSoccer athletes who provided insight to challenges they have experienced at other ADA-accessible locations. The group built a facility that is conducive to the needs of participants in wheelchairs. Based on athlete feedback, and lab testing that was completed to validate the system, it was determined that a slit-film synthetic turf product on the InPlay system, paired with a shock pad and SafeShell infill, would create an ADA-compliant system that would be high performing and have low rolling resistance. Each year, The Motz Group, which is an employee-owned company, takes a day away from the office and building fields to join forces for a community-based project in the Cincinnati area. Common Ground Park was intended to be a 2020 service project for all employees and partners, but the Covid pandemic changed all that. Instead, a truncated team of field installers completed the project, with help from Shaw Sports Turf and Schmitz Foam Products, both of whom donated product for the project. Makino Park is a multi-sport complex that has Common Ground (a butterfly-shaped playground), a soccer field and three baseball fields, all of which are ADA-compliant facilities.
  12. Greens grade 'Poa' surrounded by creeping bentgrass. Photo by David Huff Poa annua possesses transgenerational memory, or the ability to "remember" whether its parent was mowed or not mowed, a trait that actually becomes part of the plant's DNA, according to research at Penn State. The discovery is part of ongoing research by David Huff, professor of turfgrass breeding and genetics at Penn State, to breed Poa annua to produce seed for use on golf course putting greens. "We learned that mowing Poa annua increases global DNA methylation, a process allowing it to pass on the environmental effects of mowing to its unmowed offspring," Huff said in a news release by Penn State. "The transgenerational 'plasticity' in Poa annua — the ability of the grass to adapt to changes in its environment — is conferred, in part, by an epigenetic mechanism that modifies the function of the genes and affects gene expression." The ability of Poa to "remember" (and "forget") mowing explains why his efforts to breed the species to develop and enhance qualities valued on golf course putting greens have repeatedly failed, Huff said. In 1994, he began breeding Poa annua with the goal of developing a commercial variety for use on golf course putting greens. The USGA awarded funding for about a decade to do this breeding. "After 10 years or so, I had some beautiful lines — about a dozen elite lines — and I went into seed production," Huff said in the news release. One of those lines was a dwarf type that would have been ideal for use on putting greens, Huff said. After about two or three generations of seed increase and collection and no mowing, the dwarf type reverted back to its weedy roots. The process repeated itself several times. "I asked myself, 'what the heck happened?' " Huff said. "At first, I thought my lines must be breeding with weeds in a nearby field." He fumigated his plots and grew the next generation of Poa on plastic. He put a graduate student on the project and together they did more cross-breeding and performed more genetic studies. "We found out the dwarf phenotype that we loved so much for the putting green surface is unstable," he said. "And that's what led us to this research." After extensive genetic analysis and comparison of mowed and unmowed Poa annua clones over several generations, researchers saw that the "stress" from mowing affected the development of the turfgrass. In recently published findings, they reported that they have observed that the transgenerational inheritance of close mowing stress is correlated with heritable patterns of DNA methylation. "The lack of mowing stress enabled Poa annua to reduce the transgenerational memory of mowing stress, that is, 'forget' the memory of mowing stress, presumably by removing epigenetic marks," said Chris Benson, a doctoral candidate in plant biology who spearheaded the research. "We believe that such transgenerational memory would be further entrenched or relaxed across additional generations of continued or relaxed mowing stress. We think we can use this knowledge to overcome the genetics and produce stable cultivars." The transgenerational memory of Poa probably stems from the plant's need to adapt to the stress of grazing animals over time, Benson said. Such stress, Benson said, can be vary based on differing degrees in grazing pressure.
  13. Photo by The Olympic Club The Olympic Club has a history with the USGA that dates nearly 70 years. With 45 holes spread across the renowned Lake Course, the Ocean Course and the nine-hole Cliffs Course, the historic club in San Francisco has been the site of nine USGA championships, including five U.S. Open championships, since 1955. Something the club has never hosted is a women's event. Until now. The best women's players in the world will tee off at Olympic on June 3 when the 76th edition of the U.S. Women's Open comes to San Francisco. "This is huge for our club," said director of golf maintenance Troy Flanagan. "Our partnership with the USGA is a long one that has benefitted both sides. "It is receiving a lot of attention because it is at Olympic. It is going to be great for the game in general and great for women's golf." Flanagan, 52, came to Olympic seven years ago after eight years at Anthem Country Club in Henderson, Nevada. When he arrived in San Francisco, the Olympic Club was two years removed from its last U.S. Open in 2012. Since then, Flanagan has focused on creating the same processes, standards and programs across all 45 holes. The greens throughout are a mix Tyee and 007 creeping bentgrass, the fairways and tees are predominantly Poa annua with some ryegrass, and the roughs are mostly rye with a little Poa. "We started spending more money on the Ocean Course to make sure our programs were the same," Flanagan said. "Now, greens construction and grasses are nearly identical, and the experience on the Ocean Course is just as good as the experience on the Lake. It took five years to accomplish that." When players arrive for the Women's Open, they still will find a formidable foe in the Lake Course. "With the sloped fairways, the challenge at Olympic is even if you hit it straight that might not be the play," said USGA agronomist Darin Bevard. "They might have to pick one side to hit it so it doesn't run out of the fairway. That's the interesting thing about Olympic, you might have to hit it to the left side of the fairway to get it to stop on the right side of the fairway." When Flanagan came to the Olympic Club, the width and breadth of what is billed as the country's oldest and largest athletic club took a little getting used to. The Olympic Club was founded in May 1860, a full year before the first shots of the Civil War were fired. It boasts 11,000 members who participate in a variety of sports, including basketball, swimming, soccer, rugby and golf. "The biggest thing for me was learning the Olympic Club," Flanagan said. "It's such a big club, and I didn't understand how big it was. At most clubs, the golf course is king. At the Olympic Club, golf is big, but it is a sport among many others. We have 11,000 members, and 1,000 are golf members. It is a different dynamic than what I was used to." Jack Fleck won the first U.S. Open played at Olympic in 1955. Since then, Open champions there include Billy Casper in 1966, Scott Simpson (1987), Lee Janzen (1998) and Webb Simpson (2012). Next week will be the first time the Women's Open will be held at the 1924 Willie Watson-designed Lake Course where Thom Irvin is in his last lap as superintendent before heading to Claremont Country Club across the Bay in Oakland. For the Women's Open, Olympic's greens will be mowed at 0.95 inches with a target Stimpmeter reading of 12-12.5 feet, and fairways will be maintained at 0.4 inches, Flanagan said. "We would like to bring them down," Flanagan said. "But because of the steep slopes, we don't want shots on those slopes to roll off the fairways." There will be no intermediate rough, and all areas outside the ropes will be kept at 4.25 inches, nearly 3 inches taller than what Flanagan and Irvin produce for member play. "This is a hard course. We've made the fairways wider because of the slopes. There will be a premium on hitting fairways." This year's Women's Open will be the third in the past 11 years held on a course synonymous with the men's national championship, including Pinehurst No. 2 in 2014 and Oakmont Country Club in 2010. "From my perspective, this is a great venue and a great location, and it has a great history in the game and a great history with the USGA," Bevard said. "The Olympic Club has been a great partner for a lot of years, and it is always in immaculate condition. "This event is receiving a lot of attention because it is at Olympic. It is going to be great for the game in general and will continue to raise the stature of women's golf."
  14. "Jon Scott - what a talented guy and a great friend." - Jack Nicklaus Some of Jon Scott's happiest moments were when he was behind the controls of his 1965 Cessna 172F. Jon Scott was one of the most accomplished agronomists of his generation. A superintendent at a long list of golf properties, Scott rose to the top of his profession, growing in Valhalla and serving as vice president of agronomy for both the PGA Tour and Jack Nicklaus before finally starting his own consulting firm. A graduate of Michigan State and a lifelong learner and teacher, Scott died Sunday after battling pancreatic cancer for almost two years. He was 72. Survivors include wife Anne; daughter Brenda (Brian); stepsons Joel and Tom Krause; and sisters Jan (Ed) and Jyl (Jim). Upon news of his passing, the outpouring of remorse and respect from colleagues and peers across the turf industry was evidence of the regard people had for him not only as an agronomist, but also as a person. "Jon Scott - what a talented guy and what a great friend," Jack Nicklaus said. "Jon worked with us and the Tour and back with us for parts of 40 years. He was as talented an agronomist as there ever was. Not only was he talented, but he knew how to deliver his message to make everybody happy. Including me." Scott was remembered as an accomplished agronomist; proficient communicator; dedicated husband, father and friend; and skilled pilot who saw in his Cessna a portal into a world of escape from the stress of everyday life. Scott worked with a lot of superintendents during his time with the Tour and Nicklaus, including Paul B. Latshaw, CGCS. The director of golf course operations at Merion since 2017, Latshaw spent nearly 14 years as director of grounds operations at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, home of The Memorial Tournament. Latshaw's tenure at Muirfield intersected with Scott's time both with Nicklaus and the PGA Tour, so the pair have worked side by side for many years and developed a very close relationship. "This is just really tough for me," Latshaw said. "He was a wonderful person and extremely passionate about everything he did. Everything he did was about the greater good and producing the best conditions on the golf course and the betterment of the superintendent. He could be hard on you, but he was hard on you because he cared. He was a straight shooter, and you always knew where you stood with him." Scott worked as a superintendent at six golf courses over a 14-year span before he was hired in 1986 to grow in Valhalla Golf Club, a Nicklaus design in Louisville, Kentucky. He was at Valhalla for about a year when Nicklaus hired him to head the agronomy team for his North Palm Beach, Florida-based golf course design firm. Although he was at Valhalla only a short time, Scott set the table for a property that has been the site of the 2008 Ryder Cup Matches and three PGA Championships (1996, 2000, 2014). The PGA is scheduled to return to Valhalla in 2024. Scott eventually spent a total of 19 years as VP of agronomy for Nicklaus Design, succeeding Steve Batten and the late Ed Etchells, in two phases that were sandwiched around nine years with the Tour. In 2014, he returned to his native Michigan, where he set up shop with his own consulting service, and continued to work with Nicklaus on select projects until his death. For all of Scott's accomplishments, his career in golf almost never made it to the first tee. Fresh out of Michigan State with a degree in park management in 1972, Scott had accepted a position with Miami-Dade County Department of Parks and Recreation, but the job he had been promised was given to someone else before he could start. As the saying goes, "when one door closes, another opens." In this case, that open door was at Crandon Golf at Key Biscayne. "They told him they didn't have a job in parks, but they had a golf course that needed a superintendent," said Scott's stepson, Joel Krause, the superintendent at Eagle Crest Golf Club in Ypsilanti, Michigan. "So, if he wanted to work there he would have to take that job, so he did, and the rest is history." (Finally, a government snafu that worked out!) Scott had been working for Nicklaus for about 10 years when he was offered the opportunity to head up the Tour's agronomy division. "I told Jon, 'you need to take that job, it's the best thing for your career,' " Nicklaus said. "He took the job and worked for the Tour for nine or 10 years, and one day I saw Jon and said 'if you're ever tired of this, we'd love to have you back one day.' I got a call the next Monday morning - 'I'd love to come back.' " His career with the Tour and Nicklaus allowed him to help superintendents meet the demands imposed by some very insistent people. And when he showed up at your golf course, there was no question about whose word was final come decision time, said Phil Shoemaker, who spent nearly his entire career on Nicklaus-designed courses before retiring in 2019, including the Loxahatchee Club in Jupiter, Florida, Muirfield Village, TPC Scottsdale and 24 years at Desert Highlands in Scottsdale. "Once or twice a year he would pop in at all the Nicklaus courses to make sure they were up to Nicklaus' standards," Shoemaker said. "He was stern but respectful, and I admired that about the man. When Jack would visit, it was more about design than agronomy, so he built a team to make sure the agronomy was up to his standards. And that standard was perfection - all the time." As he rose to his profession's highest level and helped superintendents around the country produce the best playing conditions possible under what often were extreme and difficult circumstances, Scott never stopped learning. Throughout his career, Scott was a speaker as well as an attendee at regional and national conferences, enjoyed attending the BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition and soaked up as much knowledge as he could through outlets for non-traditional education such as TurfNet webinars and this year's virtual Golf Industry Show. "He was committed to continuous education and learning," Latshaw said. "He wanted to bring information to anyone and everyone he worked with. The only way to do that was to stay cutting-edge. He knew there wasn't just one way, that there might always be a better way to do things. His concerns were producing the best possible conditions and using the best construction techniques. That's why he was always learning. "He made you think about different ways of doing things: soil, water, construction techniques. He always questioned the process in a way that made everyone question whether the way they were doing something was the right way of doing it. He always made you think. His stance was to build something that was sustainable after the construction was finished." When Desert Mountain and Desert Highlands brought in help from academia to speak with city officials in Scottsdale about water issues 20 years ago, Scott, who then was with the Tour, showed up just to listen - and learn. "He wasn't there to take over," Shoemaker said. "He respected the process in place with the scientists. He just wanted to learn how to deal with water problems." Scott also excelled at communicating what he learned to others. "One of his greatest skill sets was his people skills. He could talk to anyone," Latshaw said. "He could communicate with CEOs of companies and turn around and talk to the person running irrigation. Not a lot of people have that skill, but Jon truly cared about people he worked with. When doing a tournament, you always get stressed out. Jon always was good at keeping things in perspective. "His writing skills were unbelievable. He'd write these five- and six-page emails to me. It would take me an hour-and-a-half to respond to him. They were very technical. I learned a lot from that man." As accomplished as Scott was an agronomist, he is remembered as an even better person. There is the side of Scott who was a great agronomist, mentor and teacher, and the side who made enough of an impact on a 10-year-old stepson that eventually he, too, became a golf course superintendent. "At work, he could be tough on you, but if you made a mistake, he would pull you aside and explain to you what you did wrong. He never berated you in front of others," said Krause, who crewed for his stepdad. "At home, he was much more relaxed. He let me make mistakes and figure them out on my own. It was like two different people. He was a great superintendent and manager, and he was very kind and understanding as a dad." Then there was the gregarious side that was not always so serious, Nicklaus said. When the Nicklaus Design contingent was in India on a construction project, the locals warned them to be careful about what they ate. One evening, the group dined at an outdoor buffet where the food had been out for quite some time when they arrived. "They had a buffet and had about 14 dishes. We all sort of looked at it and said 'we're in a foreign country, be careful what you're eating,' " Nicklaus said laughing. "Not that the food was bad, but we all were careful. I think I ate some lamb chops, and that was it. Jon ate all 14 dishes, and went back for more. We all got the greatest kick out of that. He had a cast-iron stomach." In the end, Scott was very private about his fight with cancer. Even many of his close friends had no idea how serious it was, or even that he was sick at all. Scott found escape and solace in piloting his 1965 Cessna 172F. He sold the plane on Feb. 2, which was an indicator that his days were numbered. "I just spoke to him a few months ago, and he didn't say anything," Latshaw said. "He was just a remarkable individual. He was a mentor to me and almost like a second father figure. We didn't just work together; we were friends. When you spend that much time together, it's impossible not to be. This really hurts. I can't believe he's gone."
  15. Doug Karcher, Ph.D., is returning to his alma mater as professor and chair in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science at Ohio State University. His four-year term begins Aug. 1, pending approval by the university’s board of trustees. Karcher, currently is a professor and assistant head in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Arkansas and also is the interim assistant director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. He earned a bachelor's degree in agronomy from Ohio State in 1984 and went on to earn master's (1997) and doctorate degrees (2000) from Michigan State in crop and soil sciences. During his career, Karcher has authored or co-authored more than 50 peer-reviewed papers and 130 articles resulting from his research. He is a founding board member of the European Institute for Turfgrass Science, an organization dedicated to providing research-based recommendations to the European Turfgrass Industry. “We are excited in bringing an engaged leader like Dr. Karcher to OSU,” Cathann A. Kress, vice president for agricultural administration and dean of CFAES, said in a news release. “He has a record demonstrating effective scholarship, a commitment to students, and productive relationships with stakeholders. Further, his leadership regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion are quite welcome, and align with our continued focus on DEI as a college.” In his new position, Karcher will lead the department’s research, teaching, extension and international development programs; foster effective, collegial, cooperative and productive relationships among students, staff; promote the department and the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences with state, national and international organizations. His research at Arkansas has focused on improving the functional and aesthetic quality of turfgrass while minimizing water, fertilizer and pesticide inputs through the refinement of cultural practices.
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