Other Industry News

Voices: RBC Canadian Open Tournament Director Bryan Crawford Discusses Concerts and Upcoming Player Announcements

Golf Industry Insider - Tue, 2019-03-19 16:15
  Bryan Crawford, tournament director for the RBC Canadian Open, chats about this year’s concert series, upcoming player announcements that may come as early as this week and other topics. For more on the concert series, click here. Click Play below to hear his discussion with Hutch. Please allow 10 seconds for the sound to […]
Categories: Other Industry News

Great Ideas Come From All Segments And Age Groups And From Outside The Industry

Golf Industry Insider - Tue, 2019-03-19 16:07
I had the pleasure of sitting in on the first day of the PGA of Ontario’s 4ORE Learning gathering on Monday and was glad I did. It began with the opening keynote featuring Todd Keirstead, best known for his Bring Back the Game program, former Canadian Football League quarterback Damon Allen, former Toronto Maple Leaf […]
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Enhanced dollar spot alerts now available from Syngenta

Golf Course Industry - Tue, 2019-03-19 15:22
To help golf course superintendents monitor for dollar spot, the most prevalent disease on courses nationwide, Syngenta has enhanced its dollar spot alerts. Based on the Smith-Kerns Dollar Spot Model, the alerts now offer season-long text and email notifications plus the ability to forecast disease development risk five days into the future. Superintendents may sign up at GreenCastOnline.com/DollarSpot to be notified by email or text, when conditions in their area are conducive to dollar spot development.  “Syngenta is always researching not only new products, but also new digital technologies to help superintendents manage their turf,” said Stephanie Schwenke, turf market manager at Syngenta. “By working with the researchers who developed the original dollar spot model, Syngenta was able to digitize the model, bringing convenience and automation to superintendents.”  The dollar spot prediction model was developed by Dr. Damon Smith, associate professor and extension specialist, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Dr. Jim Kerns, associate professor and extension specialist, NC State University, along with researchers in Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Tennessee, Connecticut and New Jersey. It uses weather indicators to predict when conditions will be conducive for dollar spot development.  “The model itself is basically a logistic equation that you plug in the parameters, such as relative humidity, mean and max air temps, as well as how much risk you're willing to take – 20, 30, 40 percent, whatever it might be,” Kerns said. “Essentially it spits out a probability of whether or not you're going to have disease. One of the things we are most proud of is it allows superintendents at their own facility to decide for themselves how much risk they are willing to accept. In our research, we found that 20 percent was the most accurate prediction.”  Once a superintendent signs up, they will receive their first notification of the season when dollar spot pressure in their area is forecasted to reach a 20 percent risk threshold in the next five days, 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.]]>
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Turfco introduces versatile spreader and material handler

Golf Course Industry - Tue, 2019-03-19 13:41
Turfco has introduced the CR-15 Large Area Topdresser and Material Handler. Designed to be the multi-purpose workhorse of the golf course maintenance industry, the CR-15 gives superintendents access to precision spread application controls for fairways and other large-area turf management jobs equal to what the customers expect from Turfco’s greens topdressers."The CR-15 revolutionizes fairway and large-area topdressing in the same way that our WideSpin 1550 Topdresser delivered revolutionary performance for greens topdressing," Turfco executive vice president Scott Kinkead said. "The patented precision system engineered into the CR-15 is designed to help superintendents achieve their agronomic goals, eliminate material waste and improve labor productivity – all areas of high concern to golf superintendents and other turf professionals today." Turfco equips the CR-15 with a digital smart controller that gives superintendents the ability to calculate their preferred rates and then lock-in rates and widths into four savable presets. They can set up and save applications to get the perfect topdressing program every time. For efficiency while in use, the equipment operator can switch between the various presets, 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 -- improving productivity without wasting material.  “With the CR-15, superintendents can optimize their spread application programs so that they use only as much material as necessary to get the job done correctly and quickly,” Kinkead said.The edge-to-edge spread capability of the CR-15 allows operators to lay down their spreads evenly and with pinpoint accuracy as they move over the turf. This kind of precision means material won’t be wasted by spreading into the rough. Miscalculating by five feet off the fairways, for example, can add up to four or more hopper loads. The CR-15's advanced hydraulics and spinner design allow for uniform application, with edge-to-edge spreads at any desired width and rate within a 15- to 45-foot range – perfect for fairway topdressing programs or sports field applications.  On turf areas that require heavier applications because of drainage issues or high traffic, the CR-15 smart controller can also allow operators to increase the spread rate as needed, all at the push of a button and totally on the fly. It applies to areas with variable soil profiles as well as others like ball landing zones. The CR-15 can assist superintendents in determining their topdressing program budget, eliminating the guesswork. Simply input the estimated square footage of the area to be topdressed and desired application rate into the smart controller. The controller will calculate how much material is needed to do the job – helping budget for an entire season. Backed by Turfco's three-year warranty (and that includes the digital controller), the CR-15 doubles as an all-purpose construction and turf renovation machine. When operated as a loader, the CR-15 can quickly load other topdressers, turf vehicles and spreaders or move material quickly around the golf course. Using available attachments, the CR-15 can be used to load and unload materials during course renovation, remediation and new construction work. 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.]]>
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Mid-Week Notes: Webb/Doig Updates, Golden Era In Canadian Women’s Sports, Gold Putters And More

Golf Industry Insider - Tue, 2019-03-19 11:29
While Ian Webb, COO of the Credit Valley Golf and Country Club in Mississauga, Ont., was discharged from hospital on Monday, there is no set date yet for beginning radiation and chemotherapy, but that’s expected in about 10 days … Ian Doig, who was also recently sprung from hospital after having a pacemaker put in, […]
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Golf Ontario Juniors Win Can-Am Matches In South Carolina

Golf Industry Insider - Tue, 2019-03-19 11:27
After establishing a healthy lead following the first round of the Can-Am Junior Team Matches, the Ontario juniors held off the South Carolina team to win the 2019 Can-Am Junior Team Matches 37.5-34.5 at Wachesaw Plantation Club in Murrells Inlet, S.C. The weekend featured the top eight ranked male and female junior golfers from the Golf […]
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New York receives supplemental label for spotted lanternfly control with Safari 20 SG

Golf Course Industry - Tue, 2019-03-19 10:38
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 spreading in the Northeast. The pest impacts more than 70 host plants and, if infested, would result in significant damage and loss to nursery operations. Safari 20 SG supplemental labels are approved for 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.  “The spotted lanternfly may be one of the most devastating invaders the US has combatted,” said Jason Fausey, Nufarm’s Turf & Ornamental director of technical services. “Safari is a proven leader when it comes to turning the tide on costly insect invasion and an important course of action for the ornamental and nursery growers.” ]]>
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Seeking authenticity

Golf Course Industry - Tue, 2019-03-19 08:19
“The made course cannot compete with the natural one”George C. Thomas, “Golf Course Architecture in America” We lead busy lives. A digital world connects us in ways that boggle the imagination. More information and more options provide greater distractions and more dilemmas. Our identities are tied directly to where we live and work. But digital connectivity keeps us from understanding our regional uniqueness.  It is that same digital convenience that is tearing at the fabric of our shared humanity. Regional character and distinction are eroding because of the expanding digital world. If we are truthful, our phones, computers, cars and television have become weaponized. This is one reason why golf matters. The game of golf is refuge. It is respite. It is recovery. Yes, golf is a challenge, but it is also, as the saying goes, “a chance for the game and the ‘out-of-doors’ to sweep away the cobwebs”.     Golf has the capacity to provide the outlet for millions. More importantly, golf provides direct and indirect benefit to lives and communities beyond the boundaries of the golf course through stormwater management, water quality benefits, open space and native habitat. That beautiful park/open space down the street … it’s a golf course. Conservationist Aldo Leopold documented a year living in the middle of Wisconsin during last mid-century. From “A Sand County Almanac” he wrote, “Our grandfathers were less well-housed, well-fed, well-clothed than we are. The gadgets of industry bring us more comforts that nature can, but do they add to the glory of our existence as much as nature?”   More and more we seek legitimate, genuine experiences. While we strive for more and better things, we are confronted with the simple need for authentic places and spaces. They exist all around us, but less and less. These places fulfill us in ways that help us maintain our most basic human needs and instincts. Humans will persist without natural things and wilderness. But humanity will not.  There is a strong need to seek authenticity.  Golf, even with all its maintained green, can be such a place. These manufactured landscapes provide a small inoculant against modern comforts and digital distraction and dysfunction. This game pits us against the wind and the ground, against vegetation and gravity and our own mental and physical limitations. How can such a contrived landscape offer such respite? Because these places are rooted in substance.  The best golf courses, and my best golf experiences, are those that were on golf courses that were true to the landscape, genuine to the character and reflected the site in ways that were honest and compelling. Golf is best when architecture reveals a site, rather than creates it. Golf course architecture is more fun, enjoyable, maintainable and sustainable if it remains truer to the site. What is better than a golf course that is connected to a site? Authenticity is about connection and integrity, and we are hungry for those characteristics. Authenticity is quite different than the recent deliberations about sustainability. ustainability is defined as the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level. Therefore, sustainability is an attempt is to ensure, at minimum, status quo.    Is that what we want? Status quo? Of course not. We want more than just “the same.” We want and seek authenticity. Sustainability is a byproduct and an outcome of solid design, thoughtful engagement of resources and long-term benefit. Sustainability creates a better experience and it is engagement that is genuine.  Sustainability is the result of authenticity. We’ve been thinking about sustainability as something commercial. It is not. Sustainability does not increase sales, produce golfers, sell memberships or generate rounds. Sustainability will not entice golfers to make the drive or spend the money and time with friends.  Experience is the essence of the game and authentic experiences are generated from a unique property, producing enjoyment of golf and delight in the game. Thoughtful, integrated environmental benefit and solid sustainable practices can produce better experiences. Experience compels golfers to play.  We need to strive for less perfection and more authenticity. The best golf courses are those that are less about perfection and more about place, the atmosphere, the character and ambiance. You can’t notice it, but you feel it. The personality of a golf course is clear and based upon this unique site-specific link. You can’t ignore it. It is genuine, it is connected, sustainable and it is authentic.  Greg Martin is the president of Martin Design and past president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects. ]]>
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Concerts Returning To The RBC Canadian Open

Golf Industry Insider - Tue, 2019-03-19 08:06
RBCxMusic and Golf Canada have announced a new concert series, featuring Grammy-nominated Florida Georgia Line (FGL), and Juno award winners The Glorious Sons, taking place at the 2019 RBC Canadian Open. The concert series will be held on the grounds of the Hamilton Golf and Country Club on June 7-8. It isn’t the first time […]
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Hearn Qualifies for Valspar Championship

Golf Industry Insider - Mon, 2019-03-18 20:12
David Hearn won a three-for-one playoff to qualify on Monday for this week’s PGA Tour stop, the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Fla. Hearn got into the playoff after firing a five-under 67. Hearn joins Austin Connelly, Adam Hadwin, Mackenzie Hughes, Roger Sloan, Adam Svensson and Nick Taylor as Canadians in the field. The final […]
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Editor's notebook: Raving about research

Golf Course Industry - Mon, 2019-03-18 16:53
Sometimes the speaker lineup flows perfectly at an industry event like it did during the 2019 New England Regional Turfgrass Conference & Show in Providence, R.I. In his first appearance at the annual event, ingenious Chicagoland superintendent Dan Dinelli described the results of biochar research at North Shore Country Club. Not familiar with biochar? In short, it’s a carbon-rich soil amendment created via pyrolysis, a process requiring abundant heat. Research conducted on North Shore’s 7,000-square foot experimental green convinced Dinelli to incorporate biochar into the mix the club used for a recent greens renovation. Biochar, Dinelli says, can help sand-based systems “prosper for a long period of time,” thus extending the club’s investment.    Early in his presentation, Dinelli asked a room filled with 300 colleagues about biochar usage. Only one New England superintendent indicated he had dabbled with the amendment. Dinelli started biochar research in 2014, making him one of the few superintendents holding data about its performance in a golf course rootzone. “Fortunately for us, the scientific community has gotten into studying char, but there haven’t been a lot of studies on turf,” he says.  After his 30-minute presentation, which started with an introduction to the science behind biochar before transitioning into its purpose at North Shore, Dinelli plopped into a seat near the front of the Rhode Island Convention Center ballroom and listened to the next speaker. Once the Wednesday morning education session commenced, Dinelli experienced his favorite part of a turf event.  “I don’t really like doing talks,” he says. “I get pretty uptight. When you write, you have a chance to edit. I’m more comfortable writing. I don’t give talks because I necessarily enjoy it, but I enjoy learning from other people. The fun comes after the presentation when people come up to you and say, ‘I tried this, I saw that.’ And it happens every time.” The organizers of the New England event, which has thrived since its inception in 1998 because of strong local chapter and corporate support, picked the ideal topic to follow Dinelli’s presentation: “Superintendents and Field Trials.” Dr. Olga Kostromytska of the University of Massachusetts offered practical and honest guidance for attendees looking to conduct research at their respective courses.  Yes, turfgrass specialists desperately need courses and superintendents willing to participate in research trials. And, yes, that participation requires significant superintendent attention. “Conducting even a simple research trial is time and labor consuming,” Kostromytska says.  Kostromytska described the perils and pleasures of university and do-it-yourself research. Perils, according to Kostromytska, include the regular presence of researchers on playing surfaces, turf samples being extracted from “valuable” areas and withholding product applications in certain spots for comparison purposes.  Many superintendents, at this point, are ready to leave research participation to more daring colleagues. But conducting a research trial, Kostromytska says, offers numerous benefits to willing superintendents, including: 
  • Obtaining info about the newest finding relevant to your course’s specific location 
  • Receiving onsite diagnostics and consultations 
  • Networking with researchers 
  • Contributing to new discoveries
  • Furthering your own and your crew’s education
  • Promoting your successful management strategies. 
What will members and customers think of all this? A third-generation superintendent, Dinelli has a deep connection with North Shore, where his father also served as the superintendent. A portion of the membership is familiar with Dinelli’s zest for research. That familiarity yields member encouragement.  “It gives most of them a sense of security that we’re thinking about things pretty critically,” Dinelli says. “It’s a win-win-win for everybody. The researchers are also looking for plots and environments that relate to real-world conditions. Nursery or research plots at universities are appropriate for some tests, but other tests not so much. They’re not receiving the same wear or same level of care as what it might be receiving at a golf course. Researchers are getting information they feel better about it, and I’m getting site specific information that’s applicable to us. I’m developing relationships with the scientific community, which is always a bonus. Ultimately, the club and the industry benefits from that." Science is one of Dinelli’s hobbies, thus his penchant for handling research requests despite the demands of leading a team responsible for maintaining an elite course. Conducting research on processes such as applying biochar or sand topdressing are Dinelli’s version of reading golf literature or playing the game following a turf shift. The job doesn’t necessarily demand the extra hours, but it boosts a portfolio. “Plus, I enjoy it,” he says. “It’s fun. Science is a gas.” Visiting New England allowed Dinelli to spread his passion for science to a different audience. The region’s researchers, especially the one who followed his presentation, are hoping the Midwest message resonates with Northeast superintendents.  Guy Cipriano is GCI’s senior editor.  ]]>
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Syngenta announces new spot treatment rate for Divanem

Golf Course Industry - Mon, 2019-03-18 16:46
To provide faster enhancements to turf quality for golf course superintendents managing plant parasitic nematodes, Syngenta has announced a new curative spot treatment rate for Divanem nematicide. At the spot treatment rate of 12.2 ounces/10,000 feet, more product is available to turf roots and plant tissue. This helps provide even 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. “The broad-spectrum activity of Divanem makes it an ideal foundation for any nematicide program,” said Dr. Lane Tredway, technical services manager for turf at Syngenta. “In particular, spot treatment applications offer greater activity for curative applications or for very high populations, and have provided excellent control of root-knot and spiral nematodes in field trials.” 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. Using Divanem with a fungicide like Heritage Action, Velista or Posterity provides even greater turf quality and protection against disease and abiotic stress. “Turf quality is a critical indicator of the effectiveness of a nematicide program,” said Stephanie Schwenke, turf market manager for Syngenta. “With this new label amendment, superintendents have more application options that can help provide greater turf quality, resulting in enhanced root growth, increased drought tolerance and more stress-tolerant turf.” 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. ]]>
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Teeing Up Tweets: “Webby” Sprung From Hospital After Recent Surgery

Golf Industry Insider - Mon, 2019-03-18 16:00
Simon Bevan, general manager of the RiverBend Golf Community in London, Ont., reporting on Twitter that Ian Webb, COO of the Credit Valley Golf and Country Club, was released from hospital in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday after surgery last week. For more on Webb, click here. Discharge day! @PGAofOntario @CSCManagers #Homesweethome #Webbystrong pic.twitter.com/i2y2gWuszd — Simon […]
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Making the Cut: Part 2

Golf Course Industry - Mon, 2019-03-18 15:59
About this series

Golf Course Industry is partnering with John Deere to provide an inside look at three unique tournament venues. As the part of the project, social media tours of each facility will be available @GCIMagazine and podcast interviews can be found at www.golfcourseindustry.com.

Part 1 February: TPC Scottsdale; Part 2 March: TPC Sawgrass; Part 3 May: Trinity Forest

Tim Barger is the longest-tenured employee at a facility known for launching the modern tournament golf movement. On a damp, turned delightful morning 44 days before the 2019 PLAYERS Championship, the lore associated with longevity becomes apparent as Barger sits in a utility vehicle parked along the 17th hole and revisits TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course memories.

A Greensboro, N.C., native, the Navy brought Barger to north Florida in the 1970s. He later enrolled at Lake City Community College, a once robust supplier of turfgrass management talent to the booming Florida golf market. Details about the PGA Tour building a tournament-caliber course in a swamp in nearby Ponte Vedra Beach intrigued Barger and a few classmates. The Lake City contingent helped an eclectic team led by Pete Dye, Alice Dye, Dave Postlethwait, Alan MacCurrach Jr. and Vernon Kelly construct a golf course where only PGA Tour visionary Deane Beman and optimistic developers thought one should be built.

The crew averaged 68-hour weeks, working continuously through the spring, summer and fall of 1980. Walking the course shortly after it opened, Barger and a friend spotted the rarest of critters, a Florida panther, darting between the 16th green and the 17th tee. In his 39 years working at TPC Sawgrass, where he parlayed the construction opportunity into a golf course maintenance career, Barger has seen Michael Jordan, Lawrence Taylor, Gene Hackman, Larry Bird, Kenny Rogers, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, along with every elite pro golfer of the last 40 years, enjoying the same spot as the panther.

More startling than the celebrities, champions, crafters and critters are the changes within Barger’s own department. When the Stadium Course opened in 1980, the entire TPC Sawgrass crew could “fit around a picnic table,” he says. The Stadium Course has gone from being reviled to rejoiced and another layout, Dye’s Valley, was added seven years later. Barger now has more than 80 co-workers. Director of golf course operations Jeff Plotts and top assistant Lucas Andrews stage pre-tournament motivational staff meetings in a hospitality tent behind the 17th green, one of several massive structures surrounding the photogenic and perplexing hole. Close to 100 agronomy volunteers representing 17 countries converge in north Florida this month to assist one of the most scientific and data-driven operations in turf.

Crew members and PLAYERS Championship volunteers conduct tournament week meetings in a large tent behind a majestic agronomy center built as part of a $50 million renovation completed in 2017. The tent is adjacent to a research nursery akin to something found at a land-grant institution. Everything about TPC Sawgrass has become bigger than Barger, Beman or the sunniest of Florida’s land development optimists imagined.

The18th hole on the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course.© photos by guy ciprianoTim Barger is the longest-turned agronomic employee in the TPC Network.‘Our Disneyland’

TPC Sawgrass boasts a sizable economy of its own within the $9 billion golf maintenance industry – and it’s positioned for continued growth. The scope and splendor of the operation enthralls anybody interested in high-level agronomy.

“I don’t know what it’s like behind the scenes at Disneyland,” says PGA Tour senior vice president of agronomy Paul Vermeulen, whose department oversees the maintenance of TPC Sawgrass. “I’m sure it’s impressive. We call this our Disneyland just because it’s so impressive and so far-reaching.”

Plotts and his team maintain a pair of golf courses next to the current – and future – PGA Tour headquarters. Beman still lives in the area and frequently plays the Stadium Course. Imagine former Disney CEO Michael Eisner dropping by Disneyland to ride Space Mountain.

The PGA Tour owns and operates TPC Sawgrass, and an 80-year-old who halted a successful playing career in 1974 to become an administrator still motivates, inspires and challenges the agronomy team; Beman’s presence and legacy overshadows all others at TPC Sawgrass.

“Even to this day, when he comes out and plays, his expectation is for it to be higher and bigger,” Plotts says. “Lucas and I are always asking: Is that gold standard? Is that PLAYERS standard? Is that worthy of TPC?”

Something as seemingly repetitious as dispersing seed receives constant scrutiny. Preparing for The PLAYERS Championship’s return to March required overseeding more than 200 Stadium Course acres for the first time since the 2006 PLAYERS Championship. Only three members of the crew had experienced an overseed at TPC Sawgrass. Only a few more had experienced an overseed anywhere.

A veteran of the process from his TPC Scottsdale days, Plotts understood the tactics and patience associated with overseeding. His vision involved being “really good” this cycle, becoming even better next cycle and developing an “exceptional” overseed in three to five years. The defined vision helped train a staff to execute individualized tasks such as pushing a drop spreader over a green to create straight lines without overlap.

“We are getting there through brute force this year and we’re looking forward to bringing some finesse to our execution next year,” Andrews says. “The one thing I did learn about overseed is that it does not allow you to have any weakness in your game. You have to prep it perfectly, then you have to apply it perfectly, then you have to water it in perfectly.”

Overseeding has sparked changes in mowing practices – and more training. To prepare fairways blended with ryegrass and fine fescue for tournament striping, managers started painting directional lines on surfaces in early winter. When Bermudagrass covered fairways, TPC Sawgrass had two feasible mowing options: a one-directional or 50-50 cut. Neither cut requires the same precision as striping. “Now everything we mow has a purpose,” Plotts says.

Equipment manager Mark Sanford started his TPC Sawgrass tenure in 1983. His team maintains more than 500 pieces of equipment.Equipment everywhere

There’s no shortage of equipment available to mow the Stadium Course and Dye’s Valley turf. Like Barger, equipment manager Mark Sanford has observed the enormous transformation over the last three decades. His TPC Sawgrass tenure started in 1983, and he recalls working long hours to extend the effectiveness of every mower. “I couldn’t talk to the superintendent about getting new equipment unless it was five years old,” he says.

Higher stakes requiring lower cuts resulted in an increase in equipment and support. The 1983 PLAYERS Championship featured a $700,000 purse, with winner Hal Sutton receiving $126,000. The totals for 2019 swelled to $12.5 million and beyond $2 million, respectively.

The tournament staff mowed greens at .125 inches in the 1980s. Greens are now mowed at lower heights for resort play, Sanford says.

Sanford oversees a six-person staff responsible for maintaining more than 500 pieces of riding, walking and handheld equipment. Besides the nearly six-dozen walking greens mowers, TPC Sawgrass also deploys 11 2500E E-Cut triplexes, nine 7500A fairway mowers, five 2653B trim and surrounds mowers, and 52 Gators. The size of the fleet has increased by “six or seven times” since 1983, Sanford says. The new agronomy center tripled the size of shop space, Sanford adds. Once viewed as gluttonous for a 36-hole facility, the building storing Gators and riding mowers is approaching capacity. “When we were building this building, nobody thought we would have enough equipment to put in here,” Plotts says. “This building is huge. It’s silly big. But we are almost at capacity. If we get something new, we will find space for it.”

Equipment deliveries are common. TPC Sawgrass operates on a three-year lease, with John Deere dealer Beard Equipment dispatching a mobile technician multiple times per week to assist Sanford’s team. John Deere innovations are tested at TPC Sawgrass because of the spacious turf plots. The nursery also provides space to study emerging turfgrass varieties, including zoysiagrass at tournament-level green heights. In addition to the two courses, the agronomy team maintains professional and resort practices areas, turf and landscaping surrounding the clubhouse, and a revamped entryway. Hundreds of PGA Tour employees roam the grounds every day.

“I never thought it would evolve into what it is today,” Sanford says. “I remember going to Christmas parties in the clubhouse, and there were 100 of us between the PGA Tour and TPC Network. I used to know just about everyone who worked for the Tour.” The number of managers on the agronomy team, Sanford adds, is comparable to the size of the crew when he arrived in 1983.

TPC Sawgrass Tidbits

So, you want to work there …

What type of mentality does it take for an industry professional to succeed at TPC Sawgrass? Senior vice president of agronomy Paul Vermeulen says the PGA Tour seeks team-first managers when filling TPC Sawgrass openings.

“We are not looking for franchise players,” he says. “What is being accomplished here at TPC Sawgrass is so big that it takes everyone contributing equally on the team. If we have singular franchise players that do well, but we have others on the team that don’t perform equally, then we can’t achieve what we are wanting to present to the world during the PLAYERS Championship. We’re trying to find the individuals that want to learn and fit into a team doing the task at hand. That’s not to say the top graduates at one of the leading universities is not of interest. But that individual wouldn’t be of interest if they don’t have a team-oriented perspective.”

Clip it and record it

Speed, firmness and moisture readings are key data points collected at PGA Tour sites. TPC Sawgrass obtains additional data by measuring clipping volume on greens. After mowing a green, an operator empties clippings into a bucket and records the volume. An assistant superintendent gathers the data from operators and inputs daily readings into a spreadsheet. TPC Sawgrass has monitored clipping volume for the past three years.

The information allows the agronomy team and PGA Tour officials to more precisely predict how a green is going to mature throughout the day and reaffirms the effectiveness of plant growth regulator applications, Vermeulen says.

Measuring clipping yield comes at little labor cost to the crew. “Some people might think it’s a little bit overkill,” director of golf course operations Jeff Plotts says. “But it gives us a good cross-section of what’s going on every day. Somebody has to empty the basket anyway, so they might as well empty it into the bucket and give us an idea of what we are seeing.”

Marching to an enhanced appearance

Shifting the PLAYERS Championship from May to March allows TPC Sawgrass to return to overseeding, a practice it abandoned because of a May tournament date from 2006-18.

“I still think overseeding has a place in the golf industry in the Southeast,” director of golf course operations Jeff Plotts says. “I think it’s beautiful. I think people like it. It causes some challenges, but that’s what we are supposed to do – try to manage that.”

Drone footage recorded earlier this year dazzled a staff accustomed to bermudagrass. “This is a beautiful facility and overseeding has dramatically changed the appearance of it,” Plotts says.

Director of golf course operations Jeff Plotts leads the TPC Sawgrass agronomy team.‘Divide and conquer’

Putting personnel and equipment in proper places represents a daily conundrum facing Plotts, Andrews, Stadium Course superintendent Kyle Elliott and Dye’s Valley superintendent Shannon Wheeler.

Plotts, a TPC Network veteran who shifted from Scottsdale to Sawgrass in August 2015, nine months before the renovation commenced, acts as the liaison between the agronomy department and PGA Tour players and officials. The position demands melding compassion and compromise with advanced agronomics. Asked how he appeases numerous high-achieving personalities, Plotts says, “You put everything 1A.”

Although he frequently observes activities on the courses, Plotts describes his philosophy as a “divide and conquer” management style. He’s the long-term thinker within a department executing a bevy of daily tasks. Following last fall’s overseed, for example, Plotts shifted his attention to this year’s process, which begins in October. Plotts participates in dozens of formal meetings, but the most productive gatherings are impromptu conversations with his staff.

Assistant director of golf course operations Lucas Andrews joined the TPC Sawgrass team as a full-time employee in 2010.

“We need people to communicate,” he says. “When you get into a formal setting, I have found the younger guys get quiet. They don’t communicate or share ideas. But if you’re in an informal setting, they are really quick with popping out ideas and thoughts. That is invaluable and makes us better.”

Plotts speaks with Andrews more than anybody else on the team. They occupy adjacent offices inside an administrative area featuring computers, copiers, scanners, Stadium Course canvases, motivational boards (the phrase “No whining” hangs above Plotts’ door), dry erase calendars with detailed plans and Wall Street-like conference room. Andrews, an Englishman who interned at TPC Sawgrass as University of Guelph student, joined the full-time staff in 2010, advancing from an assistant-in-training to assistant director of golf course operations in less than a decade.

Andrews, Plotts says, must be focused on the “now,” which means knowing every yard of the Stadium Course. Andrews sometimes parks his cart near a restroom behind the 16th tee and walks the final three holes. The walks allow him to seek input from employees while scouting for ways to enhance the closing stretch.

The Dye’s Valley course at TPC Sawgrass opened in 1987.

“Our habitat is out on the golf course,” Andrews says. “The staff’s creative juices are flowing out there. They are seeing things. They are adapting as they go through the morning and the rest of their day. If you can catch them in that moment when their creative juices are flowing, that’s when you get best input.”

Elliott and Wheeler, Plotts says, are responsible for leading “day-to-day” efforts on both courses. Elliott, who previously worked at TPC Boston, finds himself mesmerized by the resources available at TPC Sawgrass, especially the size on the crew. “The amount of stuff we can get done in a day or two here is insane,” he says.

While the management team has stabilized in the last few years, status doesn’t shield TPC Sawgrass from the hiring and retention challenges within the golf industry. And because the property features nuances as such as severe mounding and bulkheads, the training investment is huge. “There are not a lot of things here where you can just send somebody out and they can do it,” Elliott says. “That’s difficult as a manager. It requires a lot of management and guidance.”

The TPC Sawgrass agronomy center includes a pair of greenhouses housing thousands of flowers and plantings.

The scrutiny brings pressure and opportunity. Wheeler, a veteran of the South Florida private club scene who became the Dye’s Valley superintendent last year, stares at the logo when comparing working at TPC Sawgrass to other facilities.

“It’s the flagship of the Tour,” he says. “Anywhere you look, whether it’s merchandising or advertising, you’re front and center. You’re part of something bigger. But it’s still a golf course. If you can compartmentalize, you realize you’re trying to accomplish the same thing as everybody else. It’s just a different scope.”

So, the TPC Sawgrass team pushes forward, awaiting the next audacious move of bosses preparing to relocate into the PGA Tour’s new “global” headquarters. Whatever executives and players decide, it will be backed by significant agronomic brainpower and horsepower. Innovation associated with the PGA Tour’s growth, though, will never supplant memories created through decades of working atop a north Florida swamp.

“I would like to know how many people have come through here,” Barger says. “I should have counted that and how many greens I have mowed since I have been here. Those are the two numbers I would like to know. It’s been fun. There have been a lot of characters come through here.”

Categories: Other Industry News

Platinum TE Paspalum selected as exclusive turfgrass for 2022 FIFA World Club

Golf Course Industry - Mon, 2019-03-18 14:45
After years of comprehensive testing, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy selected Platinum TE Paspalum as the exclusive playing surface for all stadiums and training sites hosting the November 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. In a joint venture, Aspire Sports Turf of Qatar and international sports turf consulting giant STRI conducted extensive research on which to base their selection. Varieties of seashore paspalum, bermudagrass and zoysiagrass were tested at multiple sites, with Platinum TE Paspalum proving to be the most durable and shade tolerant of the turfgrasses tested while outperforming other varieties in recovery  Grassing has begun at multiple stadiums and training facilities. To ensure genetic purity and the highest quality, the Platinum TE Paspalum being utilized is licensed and certified plant material from global turfgrass supplier Atlas Turf International. Grassing will continue as the remaining facilities are completed over the next two years. “For over a decade, Platinum TE Paspalum has performed consistently well for projects in the Middle East,” Atlas Turf President John Holmes said. “It’s not surprising that it was singled out as the top performer and ultimately selected for Qatar 2022. In the testing, Platinum TE exhibited stronger tensile strength, greater ability to grow in low light conditions, and rapid recovery from injury.” Introduced in 2007 by noted plant scientist Dr. Ron R. Duncan, Platinum TE Paspalum features characteristics sought out for championship quality sports facilities, including athletic fields and golf courses. Platinum TE is the turfgrass of choice at over 150 projects around the world including soccer, baseball, rugby, and American football facilities and golf courses at every level of play. ]]>
Categories: Other Industry News

With The Season Approaching, What’s You Take On The Economy – Good, Bad Or Ugly?

Golf Industry Insider - Mon, 2019-03-18 12:01
  Canadians have received some positive economic news since I wrote this blog. The day after, it was announced by Statistics Canada that 56,000 full-time jobs were created in February. However, there was a caveat to that good news story and that is that most of the gains came in Ontario, with employment declining in […]
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Link: Mayor Says $9-Million Spent To Preserve Glen Abbey Is About Defending Official Plan

Golf Industry Insider - Mon, 2019-03-18 11:32
The Town of Oakville has spent nearly $9-million on consulants and lawyers in its effort to preserve Glen Abbey and Mayor Rob Burton says it’s a price you pay for defending the town’s official plan. David Lea has more here for the Oakville Beaver.
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Link: RBC Canadian Open Taking Tips From Disney

Golf Industry Insider - Mon, 2019-03-18 11:32
RBC Canadian Open tournament director Bryan Crawford joined a group of other PGA Tour event organizers who took in a volunteer service excellence workshop hosted by the Disney Institute last week in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Steve Milton has more here for the Hamilton Spectator.
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Link: Alberta City May Partner With Golf Club

Golf Industry Insider - Mon, 2019-03-18 11:31
The City of Leduc in Alberta will sign a memorandum of agreement with the Leduc Golf and Country Club that could see the golf course and city move forward in a partnership. Lisa Berg has more here for the Leduc Rep.
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Link: Winnipeg Councillor Questions Spa Lease On Golf Course Land

Golf Industry Insider - Mon, 2019-03-18 11:31
A councillor in Winnipeg is questioning whether the city is getting a good deal on an agreement with a spa that works out to a net zero-dollar lease on land at the Crescent Drive Golf Course. Cameron MacLean has more here for CBC News.
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