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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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  1. In this episode of The Ladder, Conrad Pannkuk, assistant superintendent at Wynstone Golf Club in North Barrington, talks about his career path and the benefits of participating in Nufarm's EXCEL career-development program for assistant superintendents. Pannkuk also shares what his club is doing to address the labor crisis facing the golf turf maintenance industry.
  2. Bobby Jones Golf Course brings a private golf experience to daily fee golfers in Atlanta. Photos by Bobby Jones Golf Course It is only fitting that the inspiration to remake a golf course named for the great Bobby Jones came from one of his favorite layouts. When golf course architect Bob Cupp was hired in 2016 to redesign the compact Bobby Jones Golf Course from the ground up, he looked to The Old Course at St. Andrews and its numerous double greens as a way to get the most out of the 80 or so acres that comprise the state-owned track in Atlanta's Buckhead section. Initially, Cupp told representatives of the Bobby Jones Foundation that oversees the property and members from the late player's family that he had two choices - design and build a short 18-hole course with no practice range, or a nine-hole layout with one. "No one really liked that idea," said Bobby Jones superintendent Kyle MacDonald. "One night (Cupp) had an epiphany, and started thinking about St. Andrews and playing in different directions and double greens, and he came up with an idea that offered public golfers a better experience." With a dearth of affordable public golf within the Atlanta city limits, Cupp, who resided locally in Buckhead, was brought aboard for what turned out to be his last project. He was tasked with the goal of creating a quality public layout worthy of Jones' name. A practice facility that could help introduce newcomers to the game was a critical part of the project. "We need to get golfers back," MacDonald said. "A lot of younger people think golf takes too long, is too boring and is too rigid." Cupp completed the design before he died in August 2016, and his son, Bobby, ushered the project through to completion. The result of his vision is a reversible nine-hole course with double greens that average 10,000 square feet and multiple teeing areas for a layout that truly can accommodate players of all skill levels, a practice area and short course designed for kids and beginners. The updates, that will include a new clubhouse, were funded through donations. The project bucks golf's norms in more ways than one, including a fleet of Club Car golf cars with the Shark Experience. Developed in cooperation with the Greg Norman Co. and Verizon, the Club Car vehicles incorporate the Visage fleet-management system and come equipped with an array of music and entertainment options designed to appeal to an entirely new golfing segment. The golf course is where things really are different, and staff at BJGC are still fine tuning the system. The property's Magnolia and Azalea layouts share nine double greens and each hole has eight teeing areas copied after the Longleaf teeing system that offers multiple teeing options allowing players to choose which best suits their game. Tees are marked only with plaques and are not color-coded or identified as men's or ladies' tees. "It's all one height of cut," MacDonald said. "They are defined as teeing areas, but there is no definition. You can easily tee off and end up on a tee box going the other way. There is no definition of what is a tee and what is not. When you're playing, it just looks like you are hitting from the fairway. "If you want to play 18, you play the same course twice. People think they can come in and play one way and turn around and play the other. We figured that won't work; you'll kill people out there. We alternate courses each day. "We are doing things outside the box. We have a more relaxed dress code, you can listen to music on the golf course, or even watch the (NCAA) basketball tournament." The TifEagle greens at BJGC currently are being mowed at 0.130 and the TifTuf turf grown everywhere else is maintained, for now, at about 0.75 inches. MacDonald does not even own a Stimpmeter and insists reaching a specific speed is never a goal. "For 99 percent of golfers, 11.5 (on the Stimpmeter) is too fast. If we do that, we'll lose golfers and we'll lose revenue." Ideal putting conditions instead are the result of working with the golf shop to find conditions that work for BJGC's clientele. "We'll see if that works," MacDonald said. "I've worked at courses where we lived and died by green speed every day. We want to make sure players can get through here in two hours. Our greens are so big, you can have a 150-foot putt. If the green is too fast, you could have a four- or five-putt situation. We don't want that." There will be times when golfers can play both directions at BJGC on the same day. "When we have a shotgun start, you play one course, then when everyone is ready to make the turn, you turn around and play the other one," MacDonald said. "We are still learning as we go." A graduate of the Auburn turfgrass program, MacDonald, 39, came to BJGC from private St. Ives Country Club in suburban Johns Creek. "There are not a lot of nice public golf courses in the city of Atlanta," he said. "We're coming from a private background. The challenge is to provide daily fee golfers with the kind of golf experience private member golfers get on a daily basis. That is our goal, to provide private club conditions and experience." Bobby Jones Golf Course opened in 1932 in response to the overwhelming interest in the game generated by Jones, an Atlanta native. The original routing was designed by Wayne Stiles and John R. Van Kleek and was part of Peachtree Creek Memorial Park. with its namesake striking the ceremonial first tee shot. All areas of Bobby Jones Golf Course except greens are mowed at one height of cut. Described by MacDonald as a typical short, city-owned urban golf course, BJGC eventually fell into a state of disrepair. "There were dangerous blind shots, it was dilapidated, and there was no investment in it," MacDonald said. "It was a goat track. The Bobby Jones Foundation and the Bobby Jones family saw the course as a disgrace to Jones' name. They wanted to do something that would do justice to his name." The property was transferred to the state of Georgia in a land swap that allowed a private developer to buy the old Underground Atlanta for redevelopment. It was only fitting the elder Cupp turned to St. Andrews for inspiration. The Old Course was a favorite venue of Jones', and he was a favorite of the people of St. Andrews. He won the Open Championship at the Old Course in 1930 and his run to the 1930 (pre-Masters) Grand Slam started with him winning the British Amateur Championship there. In 2002, the town of St. Andrews celebrated the 100th anniversary of Jones' birth. Jones, who won the U.S. Open four times and three times won the Open Championship, died in 1971 at age 69. He was diagnosed with syringomyelia in 1948, a neurological disorder that affects the spinal cord and eventually confined him to a wheelchair. Now, the course named after Atlanta's most famous golfer is hoping again to capitalize on his legacy to attract new players to the game. The project has not been without its challenges for MacDonald, assistant Jeff Weeks and the rest of the team. Since golf course irrigation systems typically are laid out to accommodate greens, tees and fairways. "We don't have roughs. My assistant and I went back and forth over how to catalog the irrigation system so that it makes sense," MacDonald said. "We've readjusted patterns more times than I could count. We never saw that coming." Training his team on the nuances at Bobby Jones, like the number of the double greens on Magnolia and Azalea also has been a bit of a challenge. "Each green is double, so greens are 1 and 8 or 2 and 7, etc.," he said. "Training the staff on which green to mow or meet at has been a challenge."
  3. The life of a golf course superintendent is a constant journey, traveling along from one challenge to the next. One day, it might be hauling out greens covers to protect against winter damage, the next it could be getting a jump on disease control in advance of the next playing season. Dollar spot is one of the most common diseases superintendents encounter. It is most active when temperatures are between about 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. That is a pretty big window of opportunity for the pathogens in genus Clarireedia that cause the disease and a big window for guesswork on the part of turf managers. The Smith-Kerns Dollar Spot Prediction Model developed at the University of Wisconsin can help superintendents identify periods when dollar spot is most likely to occur. Developed by Damon Smith, Ph.D., and Jim Kerns, Ph.D., the model that bears their name uses a five-day average of daily humidity and average air temperature that superintendents then can use to accurately time spraying for dollar spot control. According to the University of Wisconsin, the model was developed using years of research conducted in Wisconsin, Connecticut, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Users must determine a spray threshold unique to their property and turf type and a fungicide reapplication interval. For example, at the University of Wisconsin, the researchers determined that a threshold of 20 percent provided acceptable disease suppression on creeping bentgrass. That level can vary based on turf type, cultural practices, environmental conditions and climate. Once the application interval has been reached and conditions (theoretically) change, the model should be run again to help the superintendent determine the next application period. The model is the result of a complex mathematical equation that is described in-depth in this peer-reviewed document. Users can use excel documents to upload weather data either in degrees Fahrenheit or degrees Celsius. Data also can be uploaded for users in select states through the Michigan State University Growing Degree Day Tracker and the Greenkeeper App developed by Bill Kreuser, Ph.D., at the University of Nebraska. Syngenta also has recently enhanced its dollar spot alert system that is based on the Smith-Kerns model. The Syngenta system provides season-long text and email notifications along with the ability to forecast disease development risk five days into the future. Superintendents can sign up at GreenCastOnline.com/DollarSpot to be notified by email or text, when conditions in their area are conducive to dollar spot development. Once a superintendent registers they will receive their first notification of the season when dollar spot pressure in their area based on the 20 percent threshold level described above, which will help them prepare for a preventive fungicide application. After the first alert, superintendents can also elect to be notified of their dollar spot risk on 7-, 14-, 21- or 28-day intervals.
  4. Superintendents from Washington and Oregon recently helped American Lake Veterans Golf Course get ready for the upcoming golf season. The mission of American Lake Veterans Golf Course is a simple, yet noble calling: to offer rehabilitation, socialization and support to veterans with physical and psychological wounds. Superintendents throughout Washington and Oregon recently did their part to help the course on the grounds of a Veterans Administration Hospital near Seattle in its mission by volunteering their time and expertise to help prepare for the upcoming playing season. Dozens of superintendents on March 14 turned out at American Lake, a not-for-profit operation located at the Veteran's Administration Puget Sound Healthcare System in Lakewood, Washington to help superintendent Randy Moen aerify greens and tees, restore and repair bunkers and generally clean up so the course can be ready to provide a service to those who need it most and who have paid a steep price to serve their country. "Forty guys from two associations showed up and probably knocked out about a month-and-a-half of work in six hours," Moen said. "Just incredible." For Sean Reehoorn, president of the Western Washington GCSA and superintendent at Aldarra Golf Club in Sammamish, giving his time and talents to the American Lake project was personal. "My dad was a veteran; my dad served in Vietnam, so giving back on this platform is something that is near and dear to my heart," Reehoorn said. "And any time you get a chance to thank people and pay it forward, it's always fun." The efforts of the Washington and Oregon contingent were the subject of a Youtube video. American Lake opened in the 1950s as a nine-hole operation and was owned and operated by the Department of Defense until 1995, when the government ceased funding the course and all other VA golf facilities nationwide. The course nearly closed its doors after several years of financial hardship, but today is managed by the Friends of American Lake, a 501 c3 organization. In 2013, Jack Nicklaus donated his design services to expand the course to 18 holes so it could further serve its constituents through healing through the power of golf regardless of whatever wounds they have, mental or physical, said American Lake general manager Bruce McKenty, who also is a Vietnam War veteran. The goal of the the members of the two associations was to help Moen provide golfers with the best possible conditions. "Today, we go the Oregon chapter and the Washington chapter together, both golf course superintendents associations to come out and kinda take some of our knowledge and take some of what we know and give back to a worthwhile cause … ," said Oregon GCSA president Gabe Hughes, superintendent at The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club in Aloha. At American Lake there are golfers with brain injuries who need the assistance of service dogs, amputees, double-amputees and those with spinal injuries or who because they are paralyzed from the waist down only can play from a specially designed golf cart with a seat that lifts them into a standing position to strike the ball or putt. In 2013, Aaron Boyle, a U.S. Army veteran who in 2010 lost his right arm above the elbow and right leg above the knee in a mine explosion in Afghanistan, told TurfNet what American Lakes and the opportunity to play assisted golf meant to him. "It represents the opportunity to get out and function, but learn what your body can do and can't do," Boyle said. "It also lets you know that you're not the only one who has gone through something like this."
  5. John Reitman

    News and people briefs

    Syngenta technical services manager Lane Tredway, Ph.D., demonstrates the effectiveness of Divanem nematicide in the field at Orange County Golf Center in Winter Garden, Florida. New spot treatment rate can help expand nematode control To provide faster enhancements to turf quality for golf course superintendents managing plant parasitic nematodes, Syngenta has announced a new curative spot treatment rate of 12.2 ounces per 10,000 square feet for Divanem nematicide. With the new rate more product is available to turf roots and plant tissue, which helps provide greater control of a broad spectrum of nematodes, including spiral, lance, root-knot and sting, on golf course greens, tees and fairways. It also results in more rapid turf quality improvements than when using the Divanem broadcast rate. Divanem is recommended for use as part of an agronomic program to better manage multiple nematode species and prevent the onset of resistance. With the active ingredient abamectin, Divanem targets nematodes where they are most active, helping protect turf from nematode damage, which can make roots more susceptible to disease and drought. Turf that is properly protected will be more durable and can recover more quickly from stress. Divanem also is a good tank-mix partner with several fungicides that can help provide greater turf quality and protection against disease and abiotic stress. The Divanem supplemental label must be in the possession of the user at the time of spot treatment. Existing Divanem inventory may be used at the spot treatment rate as long as the supplemental label is on hand. Nufarm's Safari receives expanded label Nufarm Americas announced that Safari 20 SG insecticide has received a 24(c) label for the control of spotted lanternfly in New York. This follows 2ee label approval to control spotted lanternfly in 15 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia. The spotted lanternfly is an invasive plant-hopper quickly invading, and now spreading in, the northeastern US. The pest impacts more than 70 host plants and, if infested, would result in significant damage and loss to nursery operations. With the active ingredient dinotefuran, Safari 20 SG is approved for supplemental use in containerized and field grown (in-ground) ornamental plants in nurseries, outdoor landscapes, tree plantations and reforestation nurseries. It includes national, private and state forests and wooded areas. The label provides application alternatives that include foliar spray, media drench, soil drench or basal trunk spray. Safari is a super-systemic insecticide with quick uptake and knockdown of tree, shrub, and herbaceous ornamental pests. It controls a broad spectrum of invasive pests including Q- and B-biotype whiteflies, emerald ash borers, mealybugs, leafhoppers, leafminers, and armored and soft scales — and now both nymph- and adult-stage spotted lanternflies. Turfco launches new large-area spreader Turfco recently introduced its CR-15 large-area topdresser and material handler that provides precision spread application for fairways and other large areas. The CR-15 features a digital smart controller that gives superintendents the ability to calculate preferred rates and lock-in rates and widths into four savable pre-sets. Users can set up and save all of their application programs at the same time. The user also can switch between the various pre-sets on the fly, varying the spread rate and width for different areas. This allows the operator to move from wide to narrower areas and still maintain the same application rate without wasting material. The CR-15's advanced hydraulics and spinner design allow for uniform application, with edge-to-edge spreads at any desired width from 15 to 45 feet. The CR-15's Fast Attach system requires no tools when connecting attachments, and the galvanized, self-cleaning hopper accepts virtually any wet or dry turf material, including sand, lime, compost, stone, wood chips, soil conditioners and grass clippings.
  6. Travis Shaddox, Ph.D., of the University of Kentucky discusses fertilizer formulations and blends. Fertilizer formulations vary widely based upon numerous agronomic and economic factors. Many fertilizers contain components such as filler that provide little to no value and increase costs. The presenter will show several fertilizers and discuss which components are listed on the label and which components are not. The presentation also includes information on the importance of proper fertilizer formulation and how to adjust fertilizer to maximize efficiencies without reducing turfgrass performance. Fertilizers presented are relevant to both cool- and warm-season turfgrasses.
  7. If Hollywood made a movie about golf courses in California and their access to water, it might be titled "The Way We Were." Starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford, the movie by that name made its Hollywood debut in 1973, which happens to feel like the last time golf course operators in California were not concerned about issues related to water use. Although much of California has been lifted out of drought status since 2016, the way golf courses are managed in the country's largest state will never go back to those pre-drought days. Even in times of plenty, the rising cost of water eventually will become more than some golf facilities can bear, and efforts are underway in Southern California to protect two main water sources in the region - groundwater aquifers and the Colorado River Basin that provides water to more than 40 million people in parts of seven states. To that end, California was the latest state this week to sign onto a multi-state drought-management plan to monitor levels in the overly burdened Colorado River Basin that includes Lake Mead on the Arizona-Nevada border. The plan gives the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation authority to shut off access to the river that is the primary water source for California's Coachella and Imperial valleys. No one in the California golf industry follows these water issues more closely than Craig Kessler, government affairs director for the Southern California Golf Association and chairman of the Coachella Valley Golf and Water Task Force for the California Alliance for Golf. He believes it is better for golf courses in the valley to start getting used to the concept of even less water in the future, and they should start sooner rather than later. If the level of Lake Mead continues to drop, it could trigger a series of cutbacks initiated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, a branch of the U.S. Department of the Interior. The first cutbacks would go into place if the lake drops below 1,075 feet above sea level, which is expected as early as next year. Additional cutbacks occur if the lake level continues to fall. The lake's current level is 1,089 feet above sea level, and surface elevation at full capacity is 1,221 feet, which hasn't occurred since 1983. "If Lake Mead drops below a certain level, and it's close to it, the government steps in, declares an emergency and cuts the whole thing off," Kessler said. "It's inevitable sometime in the 2020s that the very rich allocations that the Imperial and Coachella valleys get off the Colorado River now will change. They're still the primary users, but things are wrapping up now, so that will be cut back. So suddenly, the cheap and plentiful water that is in the desert today won't always be there. But when water is cheap and plentiful and there is no threat of drought statewide, it is very difficult to get the attention of golf communities in the desert where people come from Manitoba and Sweden and wherever in the world to see wall to wall green. "The pressure is off, or people think it is, but it isn't. We are huddling to try between now and then to convince people that it is the better to ramp up to this over four, five or six years rather then when an ax falls." Water in other parts of the state is not so cheap. In fact, constant year-over-year rate hikes will continue to eat away at California's golf business, Kessler said. "The Coachella Valley really is a nation apart from the rest of California in many regards, in particular regarding water and golf," Kessler said. "In other parts of the state, notwithstanding the breaking of the drought, everything related to water is baked in for years to come. There are many places in the state where water is going up 9 percent a year. When you're going up 9 percent on 9 percent on 9 percent, it adds up very fast and you have a doubling effect in very rapid order. That rate structure has imposed incredible discipline." In the L.A. area, changes are coming in the way the the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power manages groundwater resources. The department eventually will be given new powers of tiered pricing, penalty pricing and allocation to users. "Those tools soon will become available to the water district, and they will be compelled by California law to use them if necessary to keep the aquifer in balance and the state capital happy that they are doing a prudent job," Kessler said. Although the U.S. Drought Monitor shows only small areas in extreme Northern and Southern California to be abnormally dry (the site's lowest level of drought awareness) access to water continues to be a matter of serious concern in California. Last November, a stormwater-storage measure in Los Angeles County that taxes real estate at 2.5 cents per 1,000 square feet of building space received nearly 70 percent of the vote. The measure promises to provide hundreds of millions of dollars annually to add infrastructure to capture and store stormwater. "The cost of everything related to water is going up and up and up," Kessler said. "And it is going up by many multiples of the consumer price index. And for the golf industry it is more than the market's ability to absorb through green fees and club fees. "It is impossible to be complacent - everything baked into the system moving forward is a hardship related to water and golf. We'll be able to solve the problem, I have no doubt about that. The question is how much of the golf industry is going to come out the other side. It has nothing to do with not being able to get water. It has everything to do with not being able to afford water."
  8. Nikki Gatch definitely is a glass-half-full person. And that is a personality trait that comes in handy as the membership coordinator for the Southern California PGA. So when Gatch pointed out during the Ladies Leading Turf event at this year's Golf Industry Show that the overwhelming majority of members of two of the largest professional associations in the golf industry are men, she chose to look at that as a chance to effect change, not an obstacle to success. As a former collegiate golfer and the daughter of a golf pro, Gatch has spent virtually her entire life around the game. "It was simple, I wanted to be like dad," she said. "I didn't want to be a golfer necessarily. I just wanted to be like dad." As she spent more and more time around the golf course, Gatch noticed early on that there were not a lot of women in the golf business. They might have been selling merchandise in the pro shop or working in the office, but they were not the face of the business. Not like men, anyway. "They certainly weren't a golf pro," she said. They weren't mowing greens either. According to statistics Gatch presented at GIS, 4.4 percent of the PGA's 29,000 members and 1.5 percent of the 18,000-member GCSAA are women. The number of female superintendents is even lower than what Gatch reported. According to the GCSAA, 112 female superintendents are members of GCSAA, only 61 of which are head superintendents. "Let's look at this as an opportunity," Gatch said during the Syngenta-sponsored event at GIS. "What can we do to close that gap? "Maybe (girls and women) just don't know what we do every day. We have to educate them on that." In its second year, the Ladies Leading Turf event was organized by Leasha Schwab, superintendent at Pheasant Run Golf Club in Ontario. Unlike Gatch, who played competitively at Oklahoma State University, Schwab did not grow up around the game and doesn't really play it, either. "I grew up on a farm. I never golfed, I just wanted a job where I would be outside," Schwab said at GIS. "I think it's just a matter of educating women that this is even a thing and then mentoring and helping those who get into it." There are many benefits to diversity in the workplace, which include new ways of thinking, new ideas and new solutions to old problems. Gender diversity is just one slice of that pie. Hispanic laborers make up the backbone of the golf maintenance business in much of the country, yet few seem to make the transition to head superintendent. Access to golf and education have made career development a challenge for many Hispanics. Jorge Croda, a native of Mexico and the co-winner of the 2017 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award, who now runs his own consulting business, says just educating fellow Hispanics that they can become a superintendent and helping them along the way is critical. He points to newly minted GCSAA president Rafael Barajas as an example for others to follow. "I'm so proud of him," Croda said. "I tell my workers 'You can do that.' We need more exposure to the game. In Mexico, you need a degree to be a superintendent. Here, you can have a two-year degree. Being a superintendent is a real opportunity for people who come to the United States." It's not always that simple. At the annual Syngenta Business Institute, a three-day professional development program developed in conjunction with the Wake Forest University School of Business, WFU professor Amy Wallis, Ph.D., discusses gender, generational and cultural differences in the workplace. She also points out how some Hispanics shy away from promotions and title changes because they don't want to be a boss among their peers. Jesus Romero is a native of Mexico and an assistant superintendent at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida. He is a former superintendent at Sailfish Point in nearby Sewall's Point and knows first hand the challenges associated with elevating the careers of his workforce. "Some Spanish people take advantage of other Spanish people," Romero said. "We don't trust. You have to gain that trust. Spanish people, in the beginning, don't trust supervisors. It's worse if it's an Hispanic supervisor. First, you have to gain their trust. "They will believe an American boss. But when they see a Spanish boss, they see somebody who they think is going to take advantage of them." Barajas came to the U.S. with his family when he was 14, started working on a golf course two years later when his brother hired him at Sunset Hills in Thousand Oaks, California, and hasn't looked back since. He's been in the business for 40 years, the last 36 as a superintendent. Although Hispanic workers comprise a large sector of the golf course labor market, many do not see a path to becoming a superintendent as a realistic option for them, and that is something that has to change. "The percentage of Hispanic superintendents is low. How do we change that?" Barajas said. "We just have to go out and encourage those in the industry to participate. We have to show them that this is an inclusive industry. I'm here." Barajas (pictured above) places heavy emphasis on the word "inclusive" when discussing his profession and his new role as GCSAA president. "I have been looked at through a large magnifying glass, and a lot of people want me to succeed. And there are some who don't," Barajas said. "I happen to be Hispanic. I have a great responsibility to continue to make sure that professional development is available, relevant and affordable. That is our responsibility and our mission. . . . I know I play a bigger role because of who I am and that I touch the Hispanic community more than any other past president because of my background and heritage. But it's not as much about Hispanics as it is everybody. We have to include everybody. This industry is inclusive. We include everybody. It's just how do we motivate some people. How am I going to motivate them? Just be being who I am. That's part of motivating Hispanics, but I do it for everybody." Schwab has become a self-appointed champion for other women in the field. Opening the door to women and minorities means not only educating people about turf maintenance as a career option. It also means current superintendents must be willing to mentor them. "I know women who have gotten into this, and have been too intimidated and decided to leave the business because they didn't see anyone who looked like them," she said. "I did not have any women as mentors, but I was lucky I had some very good mentors who were men." Being a resource for others is a big reason why she created the Ladies Leading Turf event. "I wanted a place for women where they could network and talk with other women in the field, because I didn't know of anything else like this," she said. "I know nothing is going to change overnight, but it's a start."
  9. A letter from Jack Harrell, Jr. CEO of Harrell's regarding recent decision to discontinue distribution of glyphosate products. There has obviously been some discussion and concern about our decision to stop selling glyphosate products. I apologize for any confusion about this and I would like to explain why we made this decision. First, Harrell's is not making any judgment as to whether glyphosate is detrimental to anyone's health. In fact, the weight of scientific evidence strongly supports its safety when used properly. That said, during our annual insurance renewal last month, we were surprised to learn that our insurance company was no longer willing to provide coverage for claims related to glyphosate due to the recent high-profile lawsuit and the many thousands of lawsuits since. We sought coverage from other companies but could not buy adequate coverage for the risk we would be incurring. So we had no choice other than to notify our Harrell's Team and customers that we would no longer offer products containing glyphosate as of March 1, 2019. We are still ready and able to help you with a variety of alternative products that will meet your non-selective control needs or to help you find glyphosate elsewhere. As always, we will make sure your needs are met no matter whether we sell a particular product or not. Finally, be assured that Harrell's will continue to partner with our suppliers, customers, and all National, State and Local associations to advocate for responsible regulation and legislation of our products and practices. Together we can educate lawmakers and the public and ensure we can continue Growing A Better World.
  10. Growing the game will mean finding ways to make it more appealing to women and children. For the past century-plus, golf has had a pretty good run in this country as a game supported mostly by white males.Those demographics will have to take on a different look if it is going to be viable for the next 100 years. "One of our stated objectives is we want golf to look like America looks," said World Golf Foundation CEO Steve Mona. "That means gender perspective, age, ethnicity, physical disability, sexual orientation, you name it. And we're not there, obviously. The biggest delta is women are 50 percent of the population and just 24 percent of the golfer population. Minorities are 37 percent of the population and just 18 percent of the golfer population." There are plenty initiatives afoot to help golf usher in a new era. Some are taking place at the association level, like the First Tee, which started in 1997 and today claims to reach 5 million kids annually, and the recently launched PGA Reach program that also promises to introduce the game to children and veterans and to others through the workplace. Other attempts at growing the game are occurring at a more grassroots level. Jorge Croda is more than a skilled superintendent who transformed Southern Oaks Golf Club from a rundown daily fee in northern Texas into one of the best-conditioned courses in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area on his way to being named the co-winner of the 2017 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year award, presented by Syngenta. He also is one of the game's true ambassadors. An 8 handicapper, Croda is a skilled player who shares his passion for the game with anyone who has an interest in learning the game. A certified First Tee instructor, he has helped introduce thousands of Fort Worth-area kids to the game. He also teaches adults, and has helped dozens of employees and hundreds of others Like the First Tee, which teaches children soft skills through its core values of honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance and courtesy, Croda believes adults too can learn from the lessons the game teaches. In fact, he said, it's a critical component of helping the game stick with newcomers. "One of my goals is growing the game, not just for kids, but women, minorities, all people," said Croda who recently started his own consulting business after a change in ownership at Southern Oaks Golf Club in Burleson south of Fort Worth. "Teaching them the game has impacted their lives through focusing on the importance of values in their personal and professional lives, and also the importance of societal responsibility." According to the WGF, about 24 million people in the U.S. play golf. The National Golf Foundation puts that number at a little lower at about 20 million. Of the WGF's total, approximately one-fourth are women and about 4.3 million are minorities, which the association defines as African American, Latino or Asian. TurfNet reported recently that interest in golf is at an all-time high. Getting people to the golf course and convincing them to come back has been the challenge. Or, as Nikki Gatch, chief membership officer of the Southern California PGA, put it, there is a difference between introducing people to the game and making the experience a positive one. Gatch was on hand in San Diego as the keynote speaker at the second annual Ladies Leading Turf, a professional networking event for women in the golf industry. Held in conjunction with the Golf Industry Show, the event was organized by Leasha Schwab, superintendent at Pheasant Run GC in Sharon, Ontario, and sponsored by Syngenta. "Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance," Gatch said. "In my opinion, you can't have one without the other. . . . Are we inviting people to the party, and if we are, are we inviting them to dance?" Jorge Croda, center, has taught the game to a lot of people through the years, including dozens of people who have worked for him. Croda is a regular Fred Astaire. He's taught the game to dozens of his crew members, hundreds of adults and thousands of kids in the U.S. and Mexico. "Hispanic people are very interested in learning the game," Croda insists. "In Mexico, there is not too much opportunity to play golf, because about 95 percent of the courses are private. You only play if you are a caddie or work at a golf course. There is less opportunity than like you have here in the United States. Then there is an economic part, too." Mona agreed that there are cultural walls to break down to grow the game. And that, he said, is where the First Tee can play a role, especially its National School Program that makes golf part of the physical education program at more than 9,000 schools nationwide. "The parents might not play, but their kids go to school, and golf gets introduced in a four-to-six-week program in the P.E. curriculum," Mona said. "That's a big deal because parents will try to help their kids get ahead and help them pursue whatever interests they have. "Latino parents here from Mexico probably were never introduced to the game, and it's unlikely they're going to come home and say 'Hey, let's go play golf today.' That's not going to happen. But, if their kids come home and say 'I really liked this,' they're going to do their best to try to get them introduced to the game." Objections to growing the game based on gender are not as challenging as those based on culture. Although women are about a fourth of the U.S. golfer population, they are ahead of the curve when it comes to new players, Gatch said. About 35 percent of new golfers are women or girls, and one-third of all junior golfers are girls, she said. "I think the game is in a great place," Gatch said at GIS. "Let's look at this as an opportunity. What can we do to close that gap? We have girls and women interested in the game. Maybe they just don't know what we do and we have to educate them on that." The game also has to be presented in a way that keeps people coming back. "It has to be welcoming, fun and inclusive," Gatch said. "We have to make the game fun. We can't lose site of that. If it's not fun, people are not going to spend extra money and extra time doing it." Croda agreed, saying golf has to be perceived as a more attractive option than other ways of spending discretionary income. He said the industry can learn a thing or two from Hollywood. "The game needs to be like going to a movie theater: It takes two hours to see a movie. It's expensive, popcorn, soda, everything," he said. "Golf can be six holes or whatever you can enjoy for two hours, and it should be too expensive. You can make your revenue on food."
  11. As the range of the annual bluegrass weevil increases, so to are efforts to combat this tiny-yet-destructive pest. To better help golf course superintendents manage annual bluegrass weevil, Syngenta has updated its WeevilTrak monitoring system with new courses, researchers and control recommendations. Updates include new additions to the ABW research team, new courses on the list of reporting stations and updates to the WeevilTrak site. "ABW activity is spreading to new locations, so we want to ensure WeevilTrak is evolving to meet the needs of superintendents through more monitoring sites and improved control products," said Stephanie Schwenke, turf market manager for Syngenta. "Based on requests we've received for additional input in Southern Virginia, we've added several new courses to the program. We've also improved the Optimum Control Strategy with Provaunt® WDG insecticide recommendations." This year, Thomas Kuhar, Ph.D., of Virginia Tech and Olga Kostromytska, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts have joined the WeevilTrak team of researchers and will monitor ABW activity in their respective locations and provide monthly updates for the WeevilTrak blog. Golf courses added to the list of reporting ABW research stations include The Federal Club in Glen Allen, Virginia, Ballyhack Golf Club in Roanoke, Virginia and Blacksburg Country Club in Blacksburg, Virginia. Since its launch 10 years ago, the WeevilTrak program has been continuously updated to provide new resources and help superintendents stay on top of the latest trends. New in 2019 are text alerts that provide timely updates on local ABW progression, a blog updated by 11 industry-leading ABW researchers, secondary course monitoring for additional localized stage-progression information, a growing degree day model designed specifically for ABW and control strategies. "ABW has historically been the most troublesome insect for golf course superintendents in the Northeast, and, in recent years, it has continued to move to other regions," said Steve McDonald, principal of Turfgrass Disease Solutions, and managing consultant for the WeevilTrak research team. "To help superintendents combat this pest, WeevilTrak continues to provide the tools they need to stay informed on ABW activity and the control options needed to prevent damage throughout the season."
  12. Lawmakers in Miami are concerned with how runoff containing pesticides like glyphosate can impact environmentally sensitive waterways, such as Biscayne Bay. Roundup is the byproduct of years of scientific research, but its future, and that of many other popular pesticides, could be determined by raw emotion. As representatives are preparing to march on Washington, D.C., in the next edition of National Golf Day in May, lawmakers in Miami took the first step in banning one of the golf industry's most widely used chemistries. No one should have been surprised last week when the city of Miami approved a resolution banning the use of herbicides containing glyphosate on city property. The ban affects city works and contractors working on behalf of the city. The PR campaign to stop the use of such pesticides is well organized, much more so than any efforts to save them. Although the Miami ban on glyphosate, the third in Florida so far, does not mention residential or commercial - which has the potential to be far more widespread - the story should serve as a wake-up call of challenges that are on the horizon. Glyphosate is the world's most popular herbicide and is an essential tool for golf course superintendents nationwide. Those who hope to continue using this and other pesticides targeted by environmental groups would be well advised to mobilize, much the way state associations did in response to water-use restrictions, to educate lawmakers on the responsible use of such products by those who are licensed to apply them. The Miami resolution, introduced by councilman Ken Russell, came in response to the city's continued reliance on glyphosate. According to published reports, the city used 5,000 gallons of it last year, and there is growing concern in South Florida how it might affect the environmentally sensitive waterways, particularly Biscayne Bay. There also is concern that glyphosate could be a cancer-causing agent, though there are arguments on both sides of that issue. A California jury last year ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million to a school groundskeeper who said his terminal cancer was caused by the popular weed killer. That figure was later adjusted by a judge to $78.5 million. However, in 2017, a study published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute said there was no scientific evidence to link glyphosate and cancer in people. Another study published in Brazil came to the same conclusion. Whether glyphosate is in fact a carcinogen remains to be seen, there are concerns about how long it subsists in the soil. Developed in the 1970s by Monsanto, Roundup promises weeks of weed control, but there is strong evidence that the active ingredient subsists in the soil for much longer. Data presented at the 2014 Acres USA conference on sustainable and organic farming found traces of glyphosate in the soil 10 years after application and a recent study found the chemistry in dozens of wines and beers available on the market. Some studies even suggest glyphosate might be harmful to bees. I don't know whether the chemistry adversely affects pollinators, but I do know from first-hand experience that ants and spiders do not like it very much. Glyphosate has been named in more than 10,000 lawsuits globally, and Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in 2018, vows to fight those claims. Synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are coming under increased scrutiny globally and have been banned outright in some locales. It is time to start thinking about proactive measures now to ensure future access to such products, much in the same way many state associations did when regional government bodies threatened to turn off water. Although there is a big difference between synthetic pesticides and water and defending one against mounting popular opinion will be a challenge, it is possible to demonstrate responsible pesticide use. In fact, there are countless examples of superintendents across the country who successfully manage golf courses without upsetting the balance of environmentally sensitive areas that are in close proximity. Those who want continued access to glyphosate - and other pesticides on the watchlist of various environmental groups - might want to put that on their agenda the next time they or those speaking on their behalf have an audience that includes lawmakers.
  13. John Cunningham (left) and Jim Pavonetti are locked in a negotiation dual at SBI 2015. Bill Davis, Ph.D. (below) leads a session at SBI 2017. Photos by John Reitman By the time John Cunningham, CGCS, attended the Syngenta Business Institute in 2015, he already had been promoted to director of agronomy and assistant general manager at Bellerive Country Club. SBI helped round out the skill set needed for the evolving role of today's business-savvy superintendent who wants to take their managerial talent to a new level, like Cunningham, who today is the general manager at Aronimink Golf Club near Philadelphia. "Golf course superintendents are truly responsible for running a business. Having the opportunity to attend three days of business classes focused on the many challenges we face as superintendents was unbelievable," Cunningham said during SBI. "Spending time with other superintendents was beneficial and walking away with best management practices, tools and solutions to help some of these problems was awesome." Superintendents hoping for the same experience can now apply for the this year's edition of the Syngenta Business Institute. An intensive three-day program developed in partnership with the Wake Forest University School of Business, SBI is designed to grow the professional knowledge of golf course superintendents and assist them with managing their courses. In its 11th year, the program is scheduled for Dec. 3-6 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and 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. About 25 superintendents will be selected to attend this year’s program. Application deadline is Aug. 13. "Superintendents work hard to make sure their turf is conditioned to perform at its best and recover quickly from stress," said Stephanie Schwenke, turf market manager for Syngenta. "But we know the turf is not the only thing they are managing. Every day, they make important business decisions and are responsible for leading their teams. At Syngenta, we don’t want to just provide products that help them take care of their turf. We want to continue to offer opportunities like SBI, where they can learn skills that will help them grow professionally and improve their golf courses." Since its inception, more than 250 superintendents have graduated from SBI, and many recently attended a reunion event at the Golf Industry Show in San Diego. Over the years, they have continued to praise the program for its effectiveness and impact on their careers. "The reason I came is because this deals with things that are outside of our wheelhouse," said Jim Pavonetti of Fairview Country Club in Greenwich, Connecticut, when he attended in 2015. "Making greens great is what we do, but managing boards and owners, those are the kinds of things we can improve upon." The deadline to apply is Aug. 13. Selected participants will be notified in October.
  14. World Golf Foundation CEO Steve Mona (below) says that while interest in playing golf is at an all-time high, getting people to the course and keeping them there is the real challenge. There has been plenty of reason for concern with the state of golf during the past decade, but when it comes to the game's future, Steve Mona is the eternal optimist. As the chief executive officer of the World Golf Foundation, Mona knows all the game's indicators backwards, forwards and sideways, and although the game has leaked players steadily for the past 12 years, he is confident that there are more reasons than ever to be encouraged about where the game is headed. Nearly 15 million people in 2018 said they were interested in playing golf, and more than 2.5 million played the game for the first time last year, according to industry statistics. Off-course facilities attracted about 13 million people during that time, some of whom already are golfers, but many of whom are not. "Two words I use to describe the game are stable and evolving," Mona said during a sitdown with TurfNet at this year's Golf Industry Show. "Golf is riding a high of interest. Last year, almost 15 million people said they were interested in playing the game right now. Not when the kids get out of the house. Not when they retire. Not when they sell the house. That's right now. Interest is high, and trial is high. Last year, 2.6 million people tried golf for the first time. That was an all-time high in interest and trial. We don't have an issue with people interested in the game. We don't have an issue with people trying the game. The issue boils down to keeping them in the game." Rounds played were down about 5 percent from 448 million in 2017 to 427 million last year, and are off by about 50 million since the turn of the century 19 years ago. According to Mona's statistics, the golfer population in the U.S. has dropped from 32 million to 24 million since 2002 (the National Golf Foundation puts those numbers at 30 million and 20.8 million, respectively). But of those 24 million, he said, 19.5 million are "committed to the game." "Golf is part of their lifestyle," Mona said. "They are responsible for 95 percent of the spending and 95 percent of the rounds. The challenge for golf has been how to build on those numbers." And new golf experiences such as Topgolf, Drive Shack and golf simulators can help introduce people to the game in new and different ways and maybe eventually generate interest in a more traditional on-course golf experience. "If you were interested in the game 20 years ago, your ways of acting on that interest were fairly limited," Mona said. "Today, you can try Toopgolf, you can try Drive Shack, you can try a simulator. You've tried it, and that could lead to that green grass experience. That's why we view these entry points as complimentary to the game and not competitors. "I actually think the future, we have a great opportunity. We have more people showing interest in the game and more people trying the game. But it's a conversion or retention issue. But at least now we have entry points into the game." Millenials view golf - and just about everything else - differently than their parents do, and golf course operators would do well to tap into that, Mona said. "Golf used to be 8 a.m. on the first tee on a Saturday morning at a private club with the same foursome you've played with for the last 10 years, steel spikes, khaki slacks, a golf shirt tucked in with a cap facing forward," Mona said. "Now, it can be 8 p.m., cargo shorts, flip flops, shirt untucked, hat on backwards and a beer in one hand at Topgolf. That is a golf experience and an entry point into the game." Forcing newcomers to the game to conform to the rules of yesteryear could prevent them from becoming committed golfers. "This way, they get introduced to the game and if they have fun the might want to pursue it further and eventually move to a green grass experience. Now, that's not going to be a Topgolf experience because it is different, but it needs to be more aligned with it than not," Mona said. "What we have to recognize now is that there are different ways to experience golf and that the way in which people experience golf has to align with how they experience other forms of recreational time. We are compared against going to a football game, basketball game or the Lucky Strike Bowl, but those are all forms of entertainment. If there are rules that prohibit you from doing things freely at those other forms of entertainment and that bothers you at any level, then you are going to matriculate away from golf toward those other forms of recreation. Attracting and retaining players is not just about bending the game's staid rules. A lot of it comes down to basic customer service. "We call it the moments of truth at a golf course," Mona said. "Is there a bag drop? And if there is, what is that person like? You're probably going to have a starter. What is that person like? . . . It all matters in how welcoming are they. We have to be thinking that golf competes with any other form of discretionary spending, not just bowling or tennis. It also competes with going to a movie or going out to dinner. However you spend your discretionary income, we have to compete with that. "The ingredients are in place to address this. It's a matter of us as an industry making sure that people have the right experiences at all these points along the way."
  15. Kris Bryan (below right), the 2016 Golden Wrench winner, maintained a neat, organized shop at Pikewood National in Morgantown, West Virginia. By now our cup should runneth over with nominations for the TurfNet Technician of the Year Award, presented by Toro. We get it. Really good equipment managers are really hard to find, and when you find one, you don’t want your colleagues to find out. But we know they’re out there. Superintendents simply cannot produce the playing conditions golfers demand without a great mechanic to maintain equipment, innovate and invent new tools. Click here to show your equipment manager how much he (or she) means to your operation by nominating them for this year's award. Three finalists, as selected by our panel of judges, will be profiled on TurfNet and the winner will receive the Golden Wrench Award and a slot in an upcoming Toro Service Training Center session to further hone his skills. Judges will select three finalists - and ultimately a winner - based on the following criteria: crisis management; effective budgeting; environmental awareness; helping to further and promote the careers of colleagues and employees; interpersonal communications; inventory management and cost control; overall condition and dependability of rolling stock; shop safety; and work ethic. Previous winners include (2018) Terry Libbert, Old Marsh Golf Club, Palm Beach Gardens, FL; (2017) Tony Nunes, Chicago Golf Club; (2016) Kris Bryan, Pikewood National Golf Club, Morgantown, WV; (2015) Robert Smith, Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, PA; (2014) Lee Medeiros, Timber Creek and Sierra Pines Golf Courses, Roseville, CA; (2013) Brian Sjögren, Corral de Tierra Country Club, Corral de Tierra, CA; (2012) Kevin Bauer, Prairie Bluff Golf Club, Crest Hill, IL; (2011) Jim Kilgallon, The Connecticut Golf Club, Easton, CT; (2010) Herb Berg, Oakmont (PA) Country Club; (2009) Doug Johnson, TPC at Las Colinas, Irving, TX; (2007) Jim Stuart, Stone Mountain (GA) Golf Club; (2006) Fred Peck, Fox Hollow and The Homestead, Lakewood, CO; (2005) Jesus Olivas, Heritage Highlands at Dove Mountain, Marana, AZ; (2004) Henry Heinz, Kalamazoo (MI) Country Club; (2003) Eric Kulaas, Marriott Vinoy Renaissance Resort, Sarasota, FL.
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