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John Reitman

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About John Reitman

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    Findlay, OH

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  1. The first step toward recovery is recognizing there is a problem. Not even four years into being a superintendent at Charbonneau Golf Course in Wilsonville, Oregon, Danny Vandecoevering was struggling to find what just about all golf course superintendents seek - that almost-mythical balance between life at home and at work. Unable to find that yin and yang, Vandecoevering left the business for a sales position with Wilbur-Ellis, a California-based supplier of products to the agriculture and turf industries. "Any long-term career success is going to come back to one's ability to have a healthy work-life balance. I struggled finding that on the golf course," said Vandecoevering, who still lives in Wilsonville. "I emphasize 'I' I struggled leaving the course at the course, and in reality, I struggled leaving the course at all, but that comes back to my ability to choose to manage that in a healthy way. Ultimately, I wasn't in an environment where I was going to be a good husband and father. I can't emphasize enough, that was a function of my personality and the organization I was a part of. That's not to say that every superintendent job is like that." An Oregon State graduate, Vandecoevering, 30, started working on a golf course in high school and was an assistant at Snoqualmie Ridge in Washington where he worked for friend and mentor Ryan Gordon. Those two first met in 2009 when Gordon was the assistant at Snoqualmie and Vendecoevering, then a student at Oregon State, volunteered for the Boeing Classic, a Champions Tour event in the Seattle area. He quickly developed into a leader and coach and showed an eye for detail work. A natural leader, he also has a self-professed love for the physical labor side of the job. "I find it so much harder to sit still nowadays," he said. Once he became the head man, responsibilities changed and so did accountability. Eventually, he realized his most important job was at home with wife, Marie, and 3-month-old son, Troy. There had to be another way to earn a living and still stay connected to the industry he loved. "It can be really tough to not head back to the course on a Saturday afternoon when it's hot out, or you get a call that there's an irrigation break," he said. "I feel like we talk about work/life balance in the industry as if it's easy to just let there be dead turf on the golf course. "I'm glad I don't have to be stuck in between that rock and that hard place while we raise our son." As much as he knew he had to make a career change, Vandecoevering said pulling the trigger wasn't so easy. His wife offered support, but tried hard not to influence his decision. "I have the most supportive wife in the world," he said. "I was fortunate enough to have been approached by Wilbur-Ellis with the opportunity. It took me a couple of months to really come around to the idea. I would talk about pros and cons with my wife often, but she maintained a poker face. The day I told her I was ready to commit to the change she broke and told me how relieved she was to see me get out of my current situation. All that said, I would have made the decision much earlier if I had known she felt that way all along." Vandecoevering admits sales is not a cookie-cutter profession and might not be for everyone looking to make a change in the golf business. "The sales role can take you to your limits," he said. "But for my skill set, it seems so much more manageable." Still, the profession has its rewards, and Vandecoevering called upon some previous experiences with sales reps when making his decision and deciding what his place in the golf industry would truly be if he no longer were a superintendent. Ultimately, helping other superintendents achieve their goals made him feel pretty good about his new career choice. "I worked with some really talented reps who weren't salesmen; they were truly my agronomic advisors," he said. "I respected them as much as any superintendent, and their example showed me that applying yourself in a sales role could not only be rewarding, but provide an opportunity for me to have a positive impact on the industry at-large." A former employer once told him: " 'Why do all golf course superintendent's think that the whole turf thing is all they can do? You manage staff, you manage budgets, you manage incredibly high expectations, you have to coordinate maintenance for massive events, you have to know hydraulics and electricity' That's so true," he said. "The one thing that makes any superintendent successful is an unrelenting dedication to learning new things and adapting to change. If you've done that successfully as a golf course superintendent, then you're going to do well in whatever you do next."
  2. Feral hogs are a problem on golf courses throughout the South, including in Florida (above) and Texas (below right). Everything is bigger in Texas - even hazards on golf courses. A team of three trappers and dogs recently caught and removed a 400-pound feral hog at Gateway Hills Golf Course at Lackland Air Force Base just outside San Antonio. Wyatt Walton of Lone Star Trapping hunts feral hogs for a living. He has trapped more than 3,000 of them in the past three years, and said the 411-pound porker seized on Sept. 12 is the largest he has ever caught. According to Texas A&M, hogs in Texas, and there are a lot of them, typically run in the 200-300-pound range. Walton’s recent catch required the help of three dogs, one hunting dog to track the beast and two specially trained animals to grab it and hold it down until the trapper arrived to kill and dispose of it. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says hogs of various species were introduced into the state nearly 300 years ago by European explorers and likely escaped into the wild during the Texas Revolution in 1835-36. Since then, they’ve crossbred with one another at an alarming rate. A model of evolution, feral hogs are able to reproduce as early as 6 months of age and can go through two reproductive cycles per year with as many as 12 piglets in each litter. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture there were more than 5 million feral hogs in 39 states across the country with more than 1.5 million roaming the Texas countryside - five years ago. They’ll eat plants and animal matter - and each other if need be to survive. According to a story on CNBC, hogs cause more than $2 billion in damage to crops and property per year while they root for food. According to estimates, hogs are responsible for about $400 million in damage per year in Texas, where it is legal to hunt them without a license.
  3. After 15 years as a superintendent, Neil Mayberry sought a change of scenery so he could spend more time with his family, including son Tanner. Some people just have a knack for being in the right place at the right time. As the sun set on 2017, Neil Mayberry was ready for a career change after 15 years as a superintendent. He even went back to school to earn an MBA to help facilitate the change. No sooner had he earned his graduate degree from Sam Houston State when a senior agronomic position opened with Yara Turf and Ornamental, a Norwegian company looking to expand into the golf turf fertility market. It seemed Mayberry, 40, was destined to be a golf course superintendent. A second-generation greenkeeper, he first started working on a golf course at around age 10, picking range balls at the coastal Mississippi course where his father, James, was superintendent. Soon after graduating from Mississippi State with a degree in turf management in 2002, he was named superintendent at New Orleans Country Club, where he remained until January 2018. Mayberry left a lasting mark on the New Orleans golf scene where he ushered the club through renovations, expansions and natural disasters, namely Hurricane Katrina, which left its mark forever on the Crescent City in 2005. It seemed to be a match made in heaven, except for one thing. With two children at home, Mayberry, understandably, wanted to be around the house more. He'd heard too many stories from fellow superintendents who missed out on their children growing up, and he did not want to be the next one to share that story. "You know how it is on a golf course," Mayberry said. "Sometimes you're not home in the evening until after dark. You feel like you're married to the golf course. I wanted to get away from weekend work. I wanted to be there for my kids, to watch their games and help coach their teams." Mayberry began work toward an MBA at Sam Houston State, with the thought of becoming a general manager or supporting superintendents through a job with an industry manufacturer or supplier. While the exact path of his future was unclear, one thing he knew for sure was that he wanted to spend more time at home with his family. "A lot of people in this business have told me that their biggest regret is not spending more time with their kids," he said. "With kids at home, I knew if I didn't take action I would have missed out on a lot. Getting an MBA got me where I needed to be." He started his position with Yara in January 2018 as crop manager for the company's T&O division. Reaching that end point was not easy. Long days at the golf course followed by even longer nights slumped over a computer working to better his life and tested Mayberry's resolve, and, at times, the patience of his wife, Shannon. "That was the biggest challenge. I'd get home late from the golf course and be up until midnight or 1 a.m. doing school work," he said. "My wife would ask me, 'What are you going to do with it?' "I thought I wanted to be a GM, but they work on weekends, too, so being a GM was out. This job was exactly what I was looking for." Besides achieving the goal of more time at home with his family, Mayberry's experience with Yara, has helped him become a better agronomist. "It's nice being able to help people all over North America," he said. "What has really been positive has been seeing different ways of doing things. That really makes you think outside the box. If I had known when I was a superintendent what I know now, I would have been really dangerous. That's a good thing, and a bad thing." Mayberry's story at NOCC wasn't the typical "superintendent gets burned out (or fired) and moves on" saga that has become so common. When he told the club he was leaving, he was asked to help find his successor. The search committee eventually settled on Will Guererri, Mayberry's assistant. "Leaving a job where they take care of you, and I mean really take good care of you, was hard," he said. "I needed something different." He still misses those special times at the golf course, but has never looked back on his decision to change lanes in his career. "The No. 1 thing I miss is being around the guys," he said. "I also loved the early mornings when you are the only one on the golf course, and late in the afternoon when the sun casts long shadows on the golf course." Still, he has never looked back on his decision to get out of the profession. "What this job with Yara has given me is priceless. I can't describe it," he said. "Kids grow up so fast. You blink and they're gone. I'm where I need to be."
  4. As many parts of the country are flirting with some of the hottest conditions of the year while summer winds down, it might be hard to focus on winter and the challenges it can mean for golf course superintendents. But harsh winter conditions often can have disastrous results for superintendents managing cool- or warm-season turf. And they'll be here before you know it. Whether it is ice-covered Poa, or Bermudagrass left uncovered during periods of extended cold and windy conditions, winter can be a cold, lonely time for golf course superintendents on multiple levels. In 2017-18, winter conditions left a trail of dead or stressed turf that former Clemson turf pathologist Bruce Martin, Ph.D., said affected about a third of the roughly 100 golf courses on the Grand Strand. With that in mind, as summer winds down it is never too soon to start thinking about winter prep, especially on warm-season grasses. Jim Kerns, Ph.D., of North Carolina State University recently tackled that subject in a free TurfNet University Webinar on Sept. 3 titled "Preparing for fall and winter diseases of warm-season turfgrasses". Presented by BASF, Kerns addressed low-temperature stress, including snow and ice, and their effects, and management strategies to promote acclimation to cold weather conditions. The presenter include information on cultural practices and how they can influence dormancy and how to promote recovery and spring green-up. He also addressed the most common diseases in warm-season turf, including take-all patch, leaf spot and Pythium root rot and the importance of establishing a good relationship with a diagnostics lab. On cool-season turf, periods of freeze, thaw, freeze can leave cool-season turf, especially Poa, vulnerable to winter's harsh reality. On October 1, Kevin Frank, Ph.D., of Michigan State University explore that side of that story when he presents another free TurfNet University Webinar titled "Preventive measures for minimizing winterkill on annual bluegrass" a topic Frank knows all too well. In this presentation that is presented by Grigg and BASF, Frank will focus on winter prep efforts and the most recent research results to help mitigate winterkill. Topics will include fall management practices such as topdressing, aeration, surface drainage improvement, fertilization, plant growth regulators, wetting agents and adjusting mowing height. Successes and failures from the field will be discussed and the most recent research efforts to mitigate winterkill from around the country will be presented. There are several other webinars planned for the remainder of the year, including "Update on what's new in Microdochium patch control" by Alec Kowalewski, Ph.D., at Oregon State on Sept. 26; "Considerations for building a course pesticide program" by Ken Cropper, Ph.D., at the University of Kentucky on Nov. 19; and "The year in review" on Dec. 19 by Frank S. Rossi, Ph.D. There will be additional titles before the end of the year. All are presented by Grigg and BASF. All TurfNet University Webinar are free for members and non-members and all are recorded for on-demand playback on our Archives page which houses more than 250 Webinar recordings. TurfNet members should be logged in to their account and non-members should register for a free guest account to view them.
  5. Hydrogel technology, shown below right clinging to a turf root system, could help turf managers save as much as 40 percent on water use. Many of the advancements that ultimately make life easier for golf course superintendents come out of agriculture. One such example that has been used in agriculture for several years one day could help turf managers reduce water usage exponentially as cost and access are destined to go off in separate directions. Hydrogel technology - small, polymer granules injected beneath the surface that absorb and store water like a sponge - has been used as a water-saving measure in California agriculture for years. These polymers can absorb up to 400 times their weight in water, storing it at the root level until the plant needs it. The polymers release about 96 percent of the water back to the plant over time Five years ago, Fresno, California-based Aqua Cents began work toward bringing this technology to turf through research at Fresno State University’s Center for Irrigation Technology. Last month, the City of Phoenix and Arizona State University announced a research project funded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that will study the effectiveness of these polymers on athletic fields under Arizona’s desert climate. Hydrogels will be installed on 12 acres of soccer fields that combined use 11 million gallons of water annually at a cost of $63,500. Researchers expect to realize water-use savings of about 40 percent, or 4.4 million gallons annually, or $25,400. Injecting the polymers underneath the rootzone is a laborious process, and it will take six weeks to two months to complete the task on the soccer fields at ASU’s West Campus, which is about 20 miles northwest of the main campus in Tempe. The polymers are designed to last five to seven years. The hydrogel injection machine from Aqua Cents. The probes rotate while beneath the turf surface. If the Arizona research on soccer fields is consistent with what the technology has produced in agriculture and residential lawn use, city officials in Phoenix say they likely will introduce the use of hydrogels to other municipal properties, including parks and golf courses.
  6. Nufarm renews commitment to military families Nufarm Americas Inc. announced its recommitment of $150,000 to Project EverGreen’s GreenCare for Troops program. The nationwide program assists thousands of military families by providing basic lawn care and yard maintenance while a family member is deployed defending our country. The investment will help expand the impact of the initiative and enable more lawn and landscape professionals with the opportunity to give back to their community in a meaningful way. The GreenCare for Troops initiative, which celebrated its 13th year this year, has helped more than 6,000 green industry professionals assist provide much-needed services to more than 11,000 military families since the program was launched in 2006. GreenCare for Troops and its sister program SnowCare for Troops provided lawn care, snow removal and landscape services exceeding $1 million to hundreds of military families across the United States in the past year. The contribution will be used to enhance and expand the national program that is managed by non-profit Project EverGreen. This will include increased outreach for volunteer recruitment and communications to families, volunteers and the media, as well as adding promotional and logistical resources required to grow the GreenCare for Troops database and serve more military families. Based on Nufarm's support in 2019, the GreenCare for Troops program realized a double-digit increase in active volunteers, a 70 percent match rate among military families and an immediate volunteer match for three-fourths of all newly registered families. Bayer is offering savings on a few timely products throughout September. Bayer announces personnel changes, offers new savings program Bayer Environmental Science recently announced several personnel changes the company says will enhance focus on finding innovative solutions for the evolving needs of customers. Axel Elling, Ph.D., T&O product development team lead, ES Field Solutions Organization, North America, will lead the Turf and Ornamental product development team responsible for disease, nematode, insect, weed and turf stress management. Axel will remain responsible for disease and nematode management solutions, and will lead a team including: Bruce Spesard, focused on weed management; Xulin Chen, focused on insect management; and Chenxi Zhang, focused on stress management. Jake Doskocil, Ph.D., has been named Global Project Leader of Pest Management and Rodent Control for Environmental Science. He most recently served as product development manager for insecticides and led the Clayton Development and Education Center for Environmental Science.; Nonggang Bao, Ph.D., has been named as Head of the ES Field Solutions Development and Experience Center in Clayton, N.C., Biology Team Manager and will also be responsible for leading projects within the ES Global Specialty Actives Team.. Xulin Chen, Ph.D., joins the T&O Field Solutions team as Product Development Manager for Environmental Science. She brings more than eight years of broad entomology expertise to the team. Xulin obtained her Ph.D. in entomology from the University of Florida. In other news, Bayer Environmental Science recently launched its 2019 NOW Solutions program that includes instant savings on the agronomic solutions turf professionals need to successfully manage turf conditions through critical summer months. The program offers customers tailored, volume-based discounts on Specticle FLO, Indemnify, Interface Stressgard and Mirage Stressgard throughout September. Specticle FLO is a preemergent herbicide with the active ingredient indaziflam that provides broad-spectrum control of more than 50 grassy and broadleaf weeds in warm-season turf. Indemnify controls nematodes on contact in as little as one application and continues to work throughout the root zone to offer visible, long-lasting improvement in turfgrass quality for up to six months. It offers control of plant parasitic nematodes, such as sting, root-knot, stunt, ring, Anguina pacificae and others. Interface Stressgard is a combination of iprodione, trifloxystrobin and Stressgard technology that provides a solution for diseases and plant stresses under hot, cool, wet or dry conditions. As a non-DMI fungicide, Interface Stressgard can be applied throughout the year without plant growth regulator effects and helps control DMI-resistant plant pathogens. Mirage Stressgard is a DMI fungicide (tebuconazole) that provides control of major diseases affecting cool- and warm-season turfgrass including annual bluegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, creeping bentgrass, perennial ryegrass, bermudagrass, seashore paspalum and zoysiagrass. Tanto Irrigation taps Clarke Tanto Irrigation recently named Tim Clarke to its management team. A native of upstate New York, Clarke is a graduate of SUNY Delhi, Clarke has more than a decade of experience in the golf industry. He was an assistant at Wykagyl Country Club in New Rochelle, New York, and spent 11 years at Augusta National where he specialized in irrigation. PBI-Gordon adds to regional sales team PBI-Gordon recently named Peter Lange as a sales representative servicing golf course customers in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. Based in Georgia, he most recently Lange was the assistant golf course superintendent at the Atlanta Athletic Club where he managed a crew of nearly 20 and helped oversee many budgeting, administrative, and agronomic functions at the club. Lange received a two-year turf degree from Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He also has earned a bachelor’s degree from Florida State and an MBA from LSU.
  7. David Dore-Smith discusses the transition from wanting to become a landscape architect to golf course superintendent and how intertwining the two has helped forge his career. A native of Australia, Dore-Smith also talks about why it was important to leave his homeland to come to the United States to pursue his dream and how an internship at Ohio State University helped him achieve that goal.
  8. Alden Maddocks' children check out the butterfly scene at Ekwanok Country Club in Vermont (above). A monarch caterpillar feasts on milkweed at Ekwanok (below right). When it comes to value as a pollinator, bees are the undisputed king. They pollinate as much as 80 percent of the world's plants and nearly 100 different food crops. As much as 75 percent of the food consumed by people can be traced back to a bee making a pit stop on a plant. Butterflies, especially monarchs, might look the part, but that fall somewhere further down the list of effectiveness. As University of Kentucky entomologist Dan Potter, Ph.D., a pioneer in the field of providing habitat for pollinators, once told TurfNet: "Monarchs are an iconic and beloved species. . . . Monarchs really don't have any economic value, and they are not important pollinators like bees. They don't really help crops in any way. . . . They are a symbol of environmental health. They're like pandas in China, or polar bears or bald eagles. What good do they do? But it's special when you see one. And we don't want to lose them." Much has changed since Potter, and his former graduate students, established the first Operation Pollinator plot in North America and the first on a U.S. golf course nearly a decade ago. Few saw the merit in establishing butterfly habitat on golf courses in those early days. Today, according to the U.S. Golf Association, as much as 70 percent of all U.S. golf courses have managed out-of-play areas. And many have out-of-play areas dedicated to pollinators. Dale Wesselman, regional superintendent for Billy Casper Golf in Duluth, Minnesota, maintains a half-acre of milkweed and other Monarch-friendly plants at Enger Park Golf Course as part of Audubon International's Monarchs in the Rough program. "We have 300 acres here and we manage 240 of them, so we have the acres to do a lot of initiatives," Wesselman said. "I'm not doing this just to get on the bandwagon. I'm doing it because I like walking the golf course and seeing butterflies." Some of the other butterfly-friendly plants at Enger Park include black-eyed Susan, coneflower and butterfly bush. When establishing out-of-play areas, Wesselman can't plant just anything in Duluth, where sub-freezing temperatures often is the norm for five months. "Even things that can grow in Minneapolis won't survive the winter in Duluth," he said. "We planted from locally harvested native plugs so we know it survives here." From those plants, he harvests seeds to start new plantings from that native population. Alden Maddocks has established two areas for Monarch habitat at Ekwanok Country Club in Manchester, Vermont, where either he or his father, Ted, now the club's general manager, have been superintendent for the past 25 years. The younger Maddocks' commitment to environmental stewardship at Ekwanok, an 1899 Walter Travis design, was renewed while researching old photographs to piece together a presentation for a committee meeting in the winter of 2015-16. That's when he discovered a 1903 image that promoted natural area on the course as "the largest natural waste area in American golf." At that time, the club was going through the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary renewal process when a member coordinator involved in the program mentioned Audubon had recently started its Monarchs in the Rough Program and there was milkweed already growing on the course anyway, so . . . . "When I saw that photo from 1903, I just decided to go with it," Maddocks said. Alden Maddocks has been all in on establishing native areas at Ekwanok Country Club (above) since he found a vintage photograph from 1903 that shows the club's environmental legacy. A trout stream meanders through butterfly habitat at Enger Park Golf Course in Duluth, Minnesota (below right) where Dale Wesselman is superintendent. While promoted as pollinators, butterflies aren't very effective at that, but helping promote their population seemed like the right thing to do, Maddocks said. While adult monarchs can drink the nectar of many plants, they eat only milkweed during the caterpillar stage of their lifecycle and need the plant to lay their eggs. Each fall, monarchs throughout North America begin their migration to a mountain forest in Mexico barely 70 miles wide where they spend the winter. Their habitat, according to the National Wildlife Federation, is disappearing at such an alarming rate it is estimated that their numbers in North America have declined by as much as 90 percent over the past several decades. "They don't really do anything, but they are a good sign of a healthy environment in general," Maddocks said, echoing Potter's sentiments. "Members enjoy the idea of helping the environment, using less pesticides and water, and helping the monarch population is a bonus." Both Ekwanok and Enger Park have established BMP programs that make it easy to be Monarch friendly. "We've established a small area behind the No. 11 green that is about 4,000 square feet and an area surrounding No. 11 tee complex and the No. 14 tee complex," Maddocks said. "We use minimal herbicide in there. We already had milkweed here, and we used to hand pull it three to four times a year." A native of Iowa, Wesselman spent a lot of time outdoors as a child on his grandparents' farm. He spends a lot of his free time as an adult outside, too, hunting and fishing. His appreciation for everything outdoors extends for his programs on the golf course. "We don't use any insecticides here. They're not necessary because of the winters," Wesselman said. "Ten years ago, nobody even thought about Monarch butterflies. I remember as a kid, I used to see tons of butterflies. Now, I rarely see them like I did when I was a kid."
  9. For nearly 20 years, Pat Berger was a golf course superintendent, but he has spent most of the past two decades managing sports turf for the University of Arkansas athletic teams. That tenure includes the past 10 years overseeing the artificial turf surface at the university's football stadium. For the first time in a decade, the university has real grass on its football field, and the experience has brought Berger back to his roots. This summer, the field at Razorback Stadium was converted to Tahoma 31 Bermudagrass, a new release developed by breeders at Oklahoma State University for cold, drought and traffic tolerance. The new surface got its first test Labor Day weekend when Arkansas kicked off the college football season with a game against Portland State. Exhibiting its potential for traffic tolerance, the turf showed nary a divot after two practices and a game, Berger told Hawgs Illustrated. "This is a lot like being a golf course superintendent," Berger said. "We need to topdress the field to fill in some low spots. . . . Topdressing is going to solve your problems." Noted for its visual turf quality and density, Tahoma 31 grows aggressively, but has a low vertical growth rate, and it can be mowed as low as 0.125. Field tested on golf courses in Oklahoma and in NTEP trials throughout the transition zone, Tahoma 31 can easily handle the hot, humid summers of the mid-South. It also was bred to withstand unseasonably cold winters that can plague transition zone golf courses. In field trials at Oklahoma State, Tahoma 31 showed exceptional drought tolerance, exhibiting the lowest ET rates for three consecutive years. Researchers in Stillwater say their new grass can use up to 20 percent less water than some other Bermudas. Breeders at Oklahoma State, including Yanqi Wu, Ph.D, professor of grass breeding and genetics, have been working on Tahoma 31 since 2006. As breeders pared down a list of potential new genotypes from more than 10,000 to about 1,600 specimens, plot No. 31 performed best under grueling winter conditions in 2010 field trials, exhibiting early spring green-up and dense growth. Sod Production Services of Charles City, Virginia, holds the licensing rights to this hybrid Bermuda system that is available only as sod.
  10. Marsh Benson's footprint on golf is, to say the least, immense. For more than a quarter century, Benson was a major influence on the direction of golf's grandest championship when served as superintendent and later director of golf course and grounds and ultimately senior director of golf course and grounds and long-range planning at Augusta National Golf Club. In recognition of his contributions to the golf industry, Benson has been named the recipient of the Don A. Rossi Award presented annually by the Golf Course Builders Association and “recognizes those that have made significant contributions to the game of golf and its growth as well as those that have inspired others by their example.” While overseeing long-range planning at Augusta National, Benson influenced the careers of countless up-and-coming interns, assistants and superintendents. He also built and directed teams that implemented the visions of the club established under the guidance of chairmen Jack Stephens, Hootie Johnson and Billy Payne, including enhancements to the golf course, clubhouse, The Masters championship, player and patron-support facilities at one of the world's most recognizable sports venues. A 1975 graduate of the University of Georgia where he earned a degree in environmental design, Benson was a product of the Penn State turfgrass management program. His tenure at Augusta started in 1981 when he interned under Billy Fuller. He was the superintendent at the Country Club of Florida in Boynton Beach and Jennings Mill Country Club in Athens, Georgia before returning to Augusta in 1989 as superintendent. His ability to improve maintenance practices at golf course facilities achieved world-wide recognition after he invented and patented the SubAir System in 1994. The popularity of the system has grown over the past 25 years, starting with golf course greens and expanding to all types of playing and sports field surfaces. Due to the demanding tournament turf conditions at Augusta under an array of weather scenarios, Benson has been instrumental in working with golf equipment manufacturers to improve mower performance, grass disbursement, irrigation concepts and more. Benson retired in 2015 but continues to consult with the club on several projects. In 2015 he founded his own company WMBIMAGINE, which provides design, construction and project consulting services for clients throughout the world. Benson continues to give back to the industry he loves by serving on the board of The Musser International Turfgrass Foundation that awards top doctoral graduate students the Musser Award of Excellence to provide financial support of their educational endeavors. He also is active in an effort to grow turfgrass scholarships at Penn State in memory of his mentor Joseph Duich, Ph.D., also a former Rossi winner, and serves on the board of the Warrior Alliance, whose mission is to drive skills development in the golf industry for veterans transitioning from active duty to civilian life. The Rossi award is named for Don A. Rossi, who served as executive director of the National Golf Foundation from 1970 to 1983, was instrumental in forming the National Golf Course Owners Association and served as executive director of the GCBAA from 1984 to 1990. The award will be presented at the 2020 Golf Industry Show in Orlando.
  11. until
    Once again, winter took its toll on annual bluegrass greens and fairways in the north last year. This TurfNet University Webinar by Kevin Frank, Ph.D., at Michigan State University, will focus on winter prep efforts and the most recent research results to help mitigate winterkill. Topics will include fall management practices such as topdressing, aeration, surface drainage improvement, fertilization, plant growth regulators, wetting agents and adjusting mowing height. Success and failures from the field will be discussed and the most recent research efforts to mitigate winterkill from around the country will be presented.
  12. Jim Kerns, Ph.D., of North Carolina State University discusses low-temperature stress, including snow and ice, and management strategies to promote acclimation to cold-weather conditions. The presenter also discusses various cultural practices and addresses how they can influence dormancy and how to promote recovery and spring green-up.
  13. Owner/operator Scott Malloy does it all at Shady Grove Golf Course in Ohio. To describe Scott Malloy as busier than a one-armed paper hanger would be an unfair comparison that puts too much pressure on all the one-armed paper hangers in the world. In reality, they couldn't keep up with the 59-year-old Malloy who has owned Shady Grove Golf Course in Findlay, Ohio for nearly three decades. Malloy does it all at the humble-but-busy public, nine-hole facility where he is the owner, operator, general manager, superintendent, head teaching pro, accountant, payroll clerk, driving range manager, advertising executive, marketing manager and proprietor of an on-site restaurant. The property also boasts a busy mini-golf layout. "I've never looked back," said Malloy, who has owned Shady Grove since 1990. "I've enjoyed every minute of it." It's as if Malloy was destined for a life in the golf business. A native of Toledo, Malloy was born in the shadows of the historic Inverness Club, the 100-year-old Donald Ross classic on the city's west side that has been the site of four U.S. Open Championships, a pair of PGA Championships, the U.S. Senior Open (twice), a U.S. Amateur and this year's U.S. Junior Am and in 2021 will host the Solheim Cup. A standout junior golfer in the 1970s, Malloy played for a Findlay High School team that compiled a 51-0 record in dual matches during his days as a prep player - a background that would later figure heavily into his future plans. He went on to earn a finance degree from Ohio State with designs on entering the world of big business. He never knew at the time that business would be in golf. With a passion for the game that he couldn't shake, Malloy refocused his career choice and set his sights on becoming a teaching pro. He worked as an assistant pro at clubs in West Virginia, Indiana, New Jersey and Florida before eventually returning to Findlay, where his parents moved when he was 10 years old, to buy Shady Grove. "I'd been gone from Findlay for eight or nine years," he said. "I had no idea what the golf market and the teaching market would be like here." He caught the market as it was riding its high, and has withstood the lows while other courses in the area have struggled and some have closed. With no background in turf, Malloy first hired turf professionals to manage the golf course for him, but realized he had to become more vested in the ways of agronomy if he was ever going to have a firm grasp on his business. Through the years, he learned enough to take over the role of superintendent, thanks to the turf pathology department at Ohio State and trusted suppliers and sales people, and through attending seminars and state and regional turf conferences. FootGolf has become a significant part of Shady Grove's revenue stream. "I needed to know more about (managing turf)," he said. "The conditions on the golf course were a reflection on me. "I eventually learned enough to take on being superintendent as part of my daily job." That finance degree from OSU has come in handy since the boom and bust that has seen about 2,000 golf courses nationwide close their doors since 2006, including several in northwestern Ohio. Shady Grove might be a nine-hole course in city of 40,000 that is surrounded by farmland in every direction, but Malloy is always seeking that next trend or tweak in the industry that will give his course an edge on the competition. Throughout his tenure as owner of Shady Grove, Malloy has made a career of trying to bring the game to the area's underserved - namely kids and women. His goal has been to set his business apart from his competitors by taking advantage of his first love - teaching. When he's not mowing; applying fertilizers, fungicides and pesticides; picking balls off the range; ordering food for the restaurant; or manning the register in the golf shop, Malloy likely can be found on the range giving lessons. An app on his phone is connected to a motion detector near the golf shop and alerts him when the next potential customer has arrived, regardless of where he is on the property. And those customers are doing much more than just playing golf. Business at the restaurant, where wife Lisa is the manager, is always brisk and the mini-golf course helps generate extra revenue, too. "I couldn't have done this without her, especially when we were raising our kids," said Malloy, a father of three adult children, all of whom are Ohio State graduates. While seeking ways to grow the family business, Malloy toyed for years with the idea of joining the FootGolf craze, but always put it off saying he was too busy to take on one more initiative. After conducting his due diligence like any good finance major would, he finally took the plunge this year, and in the spring went across U.S. 224 to Walmart to buy several soccer balls. The sport that combines golf and soccer has taken off at Shady Grove, and in its first year comprises nearly half of the operation's revenue. Corporate outings have caught on with the likes of Marathon Petroleum and Cooper Tire, both of which are headquartered in Findlay, local church and hospital groups and kids parties. "I'm always looking for something. I'm always listening to people and talking to people," he said. "This isn't just about golf. We just keep looking for different revenue streams, just like every other business."
  14. until
    This TurfNet University Webinar by Ken Cropper, Ph.D., of the University of Kentucky will explore the different types of products, including pre- and post-emergent herbicides, regular fungicides, stress-acting fungicides, insecticides and plant growth regulators and how they fit into different levels of course management. The presenter will spend considerable time on fungicide selection and timing and the stress fungicides that have been used in current and recent trials at Kentucky.
  15. Armyworms and other opponents of chlorpyrifos were dealt a blow when the EPA recently ruled against banning the chemistry. For more than 50 years, chlorpyrifos has been effective at eliminating a host of insect pests, many of which are found in turf. For more than 10 of those years, those who object to its use have been trying to eliminate the chemistry from the market. Amid claims of adverse health effects attributed to long-term exposure, chlorpyrifos has been at the center of controversy for years, and several organizations have lobbied the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to cancel its registration. Earlier this summer, the agency decided against a ban on chlorpyrifos, which is commonly used in agriculture and also is effective in turf to control pests such as armyworms, cutworms and sod webworms. A request to ban the chemical was submitted by at least a dozen public advocacy groups as well as the states of New York, Washington, California, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland and Vermont in 2007. The EPA initially decided against a ban two years ago, and reiterated those same sentiments in July. At least six of those states mentioned here now are involved in a lawsuit against the EPA challenging its decision to allow the continued use of chlorpyrifos. It was banned nationwide for use in the residential market a decade ago, but still is registered for professional use in 49 states (Alaska). Some states have initiated limited-use rules and lawmakers in Hawaii have enacted a statewide ban that will go into effect in 2022. New York lawmakers also have passed a similar ban that is awaiting the governor's signature. Opponents say long-term exposure to the chemistry, which was patented by Dow in 1966, can cause neurological damage and claim that children are especially at risk. A data sheet published by Oregon State University says it does not bind to the soil and is not commonly taken up by plants, but is a concern in runoff. The EPA in 2015 produced studies it said at the time backed up such claims, but has since reversed its own findings.
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