There is plenty of action at the annual Golf Industry Show, more than the hard-working staff of GCM can share with you while the event itself is under way. That's why we're going to spend some time this week sharing with you some of the sights and sounds from last week's stay in San Antonio that we weren't able to post onsite.
Most notable among those items were a series of short features that appeared on Golf Channel during the week, as the network's Geoff Shackelford (@GeoffShac) spent some time in San Antonio taking in all GIS 2015 had to offer. Hope you enjoy them.
The relaunch of a golf course management industry standard stood front and center among the new offerings from Jacobsen at the 2015 Golf Industry Show in San Antonio.
The all-new Truckster XD is the company-in-orange's spin on the classic Cushman Turf-Truckster that had been a staple in the business for decades. The new machine, which industry publication editors got a sneak peek at in late January (see GCM's story about that experience here), features a 3,550-pound payload capacity in a bed that the company says is the toughest in the industry, with steel up to 75 percent thicker than comparable models with 20 percent more volume.
The Truckster XD also features a new forward cab design with 25 percent more capacity than comparable models, Jacobsen says. Engine options include a gas model with 32.5 hp and 51.6 feet pounds of torque or a diesel version with 24.8 hp and 52.7 feet pounds of torque. Full production on the Truckster XD should begin this spring.
One year after the largest product roll out in company history, you could have forgiven John Deere Golf if it had taken a bit of a breather heading into 2015. But as the products rolled out to golf course superintendents during the 2015 Golf Industry Show in San Antonio illustrated, that's just not in the company's DNA.
Topping that list was the new 9009A TerrainCut rough mower, the newest addition to Deere's A Series line of Tier 4-compliant mowers. With a nine-foot cutting width delivered by five, 27-inch cutting units and a deeper deck design with rear discharge, the 9009A joins the 7400A and 8800A in the company's line of rough mowing options. Previewed in San Antonio, the 9009A will be available in model year 2016.
John Deere also continued to evolve on the tech front, rolling out improvements to its TechControl displays found on its entire line of A Series fairway, rough and trim/surrounds mowers. TechControl puts mower options directly in superintendents' hands, according to the company, allowing them to customize mow, turn and engine speeds as well as service timers and provides on-board diagnostics for each machine.
The night belonged to David Feherty. And a whole lot of students from Penn State.
The Closing Celebration tonight presented in partnership with John Deere Golf at the Lila Cockrell Theatre put the finishing touches on the 2015 Golf Industry Show in San Antonio. It began with the introduction of the GCSAA Board of Directors and the newly elected president of GCSAA, John O'Keefe, CGCS. Then there was a few words from GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans and John Deere's David Plaster, who liked what he saw this week.
"I don't know about you, but I feel a renewed sense of optimism and enthusiasm about our business. And it is visible in those of you in the audience who represent the future of our industry," Plaster said.
The 21st annual Turf Bowl wrapped up earlier today. Penn State notched its first championship since 2001. In fact, the Nittany Lions were everywhere. They had four teams place among the top 13. Defending champion Maryland placed runner-up and another Penn State team took third. Penn State, though, dominated.
John J. O’Keefe, CGCS, became GCSAA’s 79th president at the association’s annual meeting today in San Antonio.
“It’s a pleasure to serve you; now it’s time to get to work,” said O’Keefe, who is the director of golf course management at Preakness Hills Country Club in Wayne, N.J., and a 35-year member of GCSAA.
Peter J. Grass, CGCS, the superintendent at Hilands Golf Club in Billings, Mont., was elected vice president, and Bill H. Maynard, CGCS, the director of golf course management at the Country Club of St. Albans, Mo., was elected secretary/treasurer.
Rafael Barajas, CGCS, the superintendent at Hacienda Golf Club in La Habra Heights, Calif., will remain on the board for the second year of his term. Returning to the board for two-year terms are Darren J. Davis, CGCS, the superintendent at Olde Florida Golf Club in Naples; John R. Fulling Jr., CGCS, the superintendent at Kalamazoo (Mich.) Country Club; and Mark F. Jordan, CGCS, the natural resource leader at Westfield Group Country Club in Westfield Center, Ohio. Kevin P. Breen, CGCS, the superintendent at La Rinconada Country Club in Los Gatos, Calif., was appointed to fill the remaining year of Maynard’s two year term as a director.
That's short for, and perhaps the simplest way to spell, Georgette. Her last name is Harman. If anything, Harman certainly has made a name for herself in the industry.
This marks the 27th consecutive Golf Industry Show for Harman. The streak began in 1989 in New Orleans, when Harman and her late husband, Bond Harman, unveiled Cup Cutting Caddy (then it was called Soft Bucket), which includes a 5-gallon bucket. Jett came up with the idea when she was helping on the crew at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas.
One of the key attributes of Cup Cutting Caddy (displayed in the picture by Jett, on the right, and Ralph Weigley) is that the bucket is smooth and rounded on the bottom, which means it does not leave a ring on the course. That was an issue the day TPC Summerlin was unveiled during an exhibition featuring major champion Fuzzy Zoeller (and an idea was born). The Cup Cutting Caddy enables the user to organize tools, such as nozzles, and to make a mark by not leaving an unsightly mark.
Altogether, Steve Tyler, the national sales manager for Standard Golf, and David Slater, the owner of Plant Marvel, can claim 96 years of attendance at GCSAA's national trade show.
Tyler, 67, remembers the first of his 48 consecutive years at the show well: Minneapolis in 1976. "It was 70 degrees for four straight days, and no one could believe it!
"You always remember your first show," he continues. "I was 29 and totally in awe." Tyler began his trade show visits as a superintendent based in Iowa, but he's been at show representing Standard Golf since 1981.
Slater, 74, began tagging along to the show with his dad, the company's founder, in 1967 when the event was held in Washington, D.C. These days, David Slater's own son, Joe, is by his side in the Plant Marvel booth.
A lot has changed about the industry's trade show, but both Tyler and Slater can sum up the most obvious change in a handful of words: It's grown a lot bigger. Both the Plant Marvel and Standard Golf booths have also doubled in size to keep pace.
The veteran vendors share another view of this particular trade show: The business opportunities are unparalleled. "GCSAA has afforded me the opportunity to do a lot of international business," Slater says.
Adds Tyler, "The best part of the business is the people."
Calling it "Christmas morning for superintendents" might be a bit of a stretch, but there is no doubt that the unveiling of the newest gadgets and gizmos in the industry during the Golf Industry Show is one of the highlights of the year for those who work in this business.
And there are very few segments of the industry where that unveiling is more eagerly anticipated than among the big iron companies. The Toro Co., John Deere and Jacobsen all spare little expense in making sure their appearance at GIS is highlighted by the launch of a raft of new products.
At Toro, for example, which was my first stop of the day on Wednesday, the company debuted new products on both the equipment and irrigation sides. At the top of that list was the new Reelmaster 5010-H hybrid fairway mower, which the company says is the industry's first and only fairway mower with a true hybrid drive system. The unit utilizes a 24.8-hp, Tier 4 compliant Kubota diesel engine with an inline generator and a self-charging 48-volt battery pack that Toro says results in consistent and efficient power, traction and cutting performance. The new 5010-H is available now.
The greats in the golf course management industry had the spotlight shining on them today.
Even some of the greatest players in history, such as Ben Hogan, would agree that the people who are in this business make quite a difference. One man who knew people such as Hogan says they would.
Old Tom Morris Award recipient Dan Jenkins, who closed today’s Golf Industry Show Opening Session presented in partnership with Syngenta at the Lila Cockrell Theatre at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, recalls once asking Hogan, Byron Nelson and Sam Snead what were the greatest advancements in golf.
“Was it hickory to steel? Persimmon to composite? Lift and clean? Those guys always said the same thing,” Jenkins said. “It was the lawnmower. They were right.”
“Give bees a chance” is the message Faith B. Kuehn, Ph.D., has for superintendents and the world in general. Kuehn is environmental program administrator for the Delaware Department of Agriculture, and she was speaking to a receptive audience of turfgrass managers at the first of two Agronomic Solutions sessions GCSAA’s education program at the Golf Industry Show in San Antonio.
Agronomic Solutions I: The Buzz About Bees and Other Pollinators, moderated by Roger Stewart, CGCS, offered an overview of the various types of pollinators, how superintendents can establish pollinator habitat (and beehives!) at their facilities, and how ignorance of science can affect legislation that has an impact on golf courses.
Kuehn, the first speaker at the event, gave a review of the types of pollinators, what they do for us, and what we should do for them. There are 20,000 species of pollinators worldwide, and 4,000 species in the U.S. alone. Pollinators are both solitary and social, and they can live in the ground, in tree cavities and in manmade structures. Some are specialist and require specific plants (or even one plant) for their survival, and some are generalists, pollinating an array of flowering plants. Bees are vegans, but wasps also eat insects.
Somebody asked architect Jan Bel Jan about the fairly new craze that has come to many golf courses: Footgolf.
"I like everything that's interesting. It serves a purpose," Bel Jan said. "If people aren't running over one another and people aren't being couch potatoes, I'm happy about that."
Her response pretty much hit the theme of today's GIS session titled "Small scale projects to evolve the golf course for a changing clientele" right on target. Besides Bel Jan, horticulturist Lisa Barton and superintendents Tom Elliott, CGCS, and Stacy Baker (pictured at podium) served up their own ways to draw people to golf courses.
Bel Jan's theme, "Tees to please," focused on attracting more women to golf. Part of the problem, she says, is refueling players who have given it up. "You don't just have to get new players. Engage players who were already there and understand the game," she says.
Part of the enjoyment at a golf course can begin upon arrival, says Barton, director of outside operations at Manufacturers' Golf and Country Club in Fort Washington, Pa. Her theme was "From the parking lot to the first tee: How a horticulturist can help make a lasting first impression." Barton says it's important to "make a statement" when golfers arrive on the scene, something that wows them before ever teeing up the first shot.
"Go bold. Create chatter, word of mouth," Barton says. "Guide people to the entrance, make an impression that they can get excited about."
News flash: managing turfgrass through the winter can be murder. Think back no farther than the winter of 2013-2014 and you get the picture: The perp? The Polar Vortex that stormed in and dipped as far south as the transition zone. The evidence? Ice. The victim? Golf course turf.
In this morning’s education session, “CSI Turf: What Killed My Grass? Surviving the Next Polar Vortex and Other Weather Anomalies,” five “witnesses” handed out clues for dealing with the aftermath and for what Michigan State’s Kevin Frank, Ph.D., called “winter turf management.”
"If this is too painful for you," he told attendees while showing slides of ghostly white, dead Poa annua, "just look down until I finish. I used to think I knew what severe winter kill was, but last winter reset my perspective,” Frank continued, describing how superintendents sometimes punched through inches of ice and instantly knew their turf was DOA. “There’s the smell of turf death; if you’ve ever smelled it, you never forget it.”
Water is a hot topic these days among golf course superintendents. This week's Golf Industry Show provides a platform for them to speak their mind.
That includes Shawn Emerson, who weighed in on it this morning during the education session "DIY for your facility: Ideas that make an impact." As director of agronomy, he oversees six Jack Nicklaus-designed courses at Desert Mountain. There are homes on the courses that range from $2 to $9 million. Expectations are pretty enormous for sparkling golf courses, Emerson says, and that usually means they have to be of a particular color.
"Brown does not sell at my property. Green does," says Emerson, 24-year GCSAA member, whose presentation was titled 'Golf is green. Green is good.' "When you have (brown turf), there is no way back except for water. The strategy I'm after is a healthy plant."
Emerson is aware that many courses out West, especially in California, are participating in turf elimination rebate programs that are designed to save on precious water in that drought-stricken region. He, though, simply can't go that route. Not right now, at least. There is too much at stake.
"I'm a turf manager. I really don't want to take out turf. Or they'll be taking my job pretty soon, too," Emerson says.
More than 100 superintendents hit the road yesterday to take a look at the zoysia breeding and growing operation at Bladerunner Farms in Poteet, Texas. Later in the day, the three-bus road show moved to the Golf Club of Texas just outside of San Antonio, which has been recently renovated with zoysia on every surface.
The event, “Zoysia as a Game Changer: The Olympic Golf Course, New Zoysia Grasses and You,” was presented by Team Zoysia, an affiliation of producers, scientists, golf course superintendents, equipment manufacturers and distributors. On hand for yesterday’s events were representatives from Bladerunner, Jacobsen, Cushman, Doguet Ventures, Team Zoysia International, The Turfgrass Group, TurfMaker and Green Up Services.
Braving freezing temperatures and occasional drizzle, the supers rotated through stations set up on Bladerunner Farms’ zoysia research and demonstration plots that showcased the latest varieties, including Zeon, L1F and JaMur. Presenters included the domestic and international licensing team of Don Roberts, Arthur Milberger and Bill Carraway; superintendents Doug Petersan, CGCS, and Ken Mangum, CGCS; and researchers Ambika Chandra, Ph.D., of Texas A&M; Brian Schwartz, Ph.D., of the University of Georgia; Wayne Hanna, Ph.D.; and Milt Engelke, Ph.D., Texas A&M professor emeritus. Welcoming attendees and overseeing the day’s activities was the farm’s colorful owner, David Doguet.
Nutrients were the hot topic at GCSAA’s Turfgrass Talk Show hosted by Thomas A. Nikolai, Ph.D., of Michigan State University. Nikolai’s guests included Roch Gaussoin, Ph.D., of the University of Nebraska--Lincoln; Larry Stowell, Ph.D., of PACE Turf; and special guest Dave Kopec, Ph.D., University of Arizona, who gave a talk on nutrients in the desert Southwest and briefly joined the house band, Henry and the Latin Beats.
Gaussoin addressed the knowns and unknowns of nutrient uptake. Once the nutrient is in the plant, said Gaussoin, it doesn’t matter how it got there --- whether the application was granular or foliar. Turf leaves readily take up nutrients in soluble and chelated form ---nutrients can get onto the leaves in as little as 15 minutes. Uptake is also higher when temperatures are warmer (but not too warm; this study had temps up to 95 F). Gaussoin’s takeaway from the morning discussion is: turf will take in nitrogen through the leaves, and superintendents should use a complement of products.
She was among 115 fifth graders from Boone Elementary School on the north side of San Antonio who participated today in the First Green Workshop at Brackenridge Park Golf Course. The Golf Industry Show incorporated it into GIS for the first time ever.
First Green, whose mission is to support environmental education, illustrate the environmental and community benefits of golf courses and introduce potential golfers to golf courses, estimate that at least 80 percent of students who have been involved in the program never had stepped foot onto a golf course until they were part of a First Green outing.
Although she doesn't fall into that majority, it didn't take long today for Roberts to get a handle on what golf course management can contribute to the industry.
"I've been on a golf course before," Roberts said."I always thought grass at the course is pretty. I didn't know they put so much work into it."
First Green, which was established in 1997 and counts the USGA as one of its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) grant sponsors, features hands-on learning experiences at golf courses for students grade five to 12. There, at courses which they use as laboratories, students learn about soil, the importance of water, environmental components of a golf course and many, many other aspects about it. The idea is to have fun and learn.
Winter weather may have claimed the final round of the GCSAA National Championship, but it couldn't take the shine off a stupendous round of golf by Matt Cowan.
Firing a 1-under-par 71 in cold, blustery conditions that deteriorated as the day went on, the superintendent at the Crenshaw Cliffside Course at Barton Creek Resort in Austin, Texas, walked away with his very first national title in the weather-shortened event at Cordillera Ranch GC in Boerne, Texas, on Sunday. Because of safety concerns brought about by a winter weather advisory that was issued for Boerne, the final round of the event was cancelled (click here for more information). All other events related to the GCSAA Golf Championships were to go ahead as scheduled on Monday.
Cowan, a four-year GCSAA member, was the only player in the 88-player national championship field to record an under-par score, with the average score for the overall field checking in at 83.59, nearly 12 shots over par. The high scores were as much a function of the challenges presented by Cordillera Ranch, one of Texas' top-rated golf courses, as they were the difficult weather conditions.
Due to anticipated severe winter weather for Monday, Feb. 23, in Boerne, Texas, home of Cordillera Ranch Golf Club, the final round of the 2015 GCSAA National Championship has been cancelled. Play at all other facilities hosting the GCSAA Golf Championships Monday will continue, as scheduled, as well as other tournament events, including the 19th Hole Reception, at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country.
Boerne is currently under a winter weather advisory with sleet and freezing rain expected to begin overnight. Based on those forecasts, the decision related to the GCSAA National Championship was made in consultation with Cordillera, PGA of America rules officials, GCSAA and The Toro Co., the event’s sponsor. Cordillera’s unique location and microclimate make it especially susceptible to winter weather conditions, so this decision was made collectively with the safety of all participants and staff in mind.
This change will also affect the Chapter Team Competition, which will now be determined by Sunday’s 18-hole results only.
Editor's note: This post is the “Verdure” column by Beth Guertal, Ph.D., published in the February 2015 issue of GCM.
In 1936, Glenn Burton, Ph.D., a U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) geneticist, arrived at the University of Georgia Coastal Plain Experiment Station in Tifton, Ga. Among his many achievements was that he was one of the first to clearly demonstrate that large stands of bermudagrass could be successfully established via vegetative propagation. He started this vegetative establishment project with the pasture bermudagrass Coastal, but the first bermudagrass turf cultivars came from the same hybrids from which Coastal was selected in 1943. That 1943 selection brings us right up to today, with some of the vegetatively propagated hybrid bermudagrasses that are still in use.
When a new cultivar is introduced, it is often done so via a Crop Registration, which is sort of the birth certificate for that release. Until recently, that registration was announced in a short article in Crop Science, the primary scientific journal of the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA). A Crop Registration signals that a new release has been made. It provides details – who are the parents, how it was selected/tested, what makes it special or deserving of its unique name. This is changing a bit, as we now have plant patents and registrations are published in a sister publication of CSSA, Journal of Plant Registrations. Regardless of what we do today, in 1966, two new crop varieties were registered, and these two short pages in Crop Science changed bermudagrass selection and management in golf courses. The two new releases were Tifway and Tifdwarf.