Golf Industry Show 2011, Orlando Florida

Last week I attended the Golf Industry Show in Orlando Florida. As usual, I enjoyed catching up with all of my great friends from around the country and meeting many new ones. Needless to say I will try to recap my week in one post but it may be rather lengthy.

The week started of with educational sessions on Monday and Tuesday. This year I decided to attend the free sessions in lieu of taking classes. I felt that there was so much offered this year that it was worth my while to take advantage.

Monday morning I attended a seminar called "Surfing for Turf: Using the iPhone Turfgrass Application at Your Course by Patrick E, McCullough, Ph.D., from University of Georgia. U of G riding the wave of cell phone apps and has developed an app for the Droid , Blackberry and the iPhone. The application takes into account of all aspects of turfgrass management providing and easy access to information for identifying and diagnosing pests while in the field. There are calculations built in for spray volumes, irrigation, seeding, fertilizer and topdressing. The app also provides access to a large data base which allows you to I.D. weeds, insects, and diseases, and provides chemical recommendations for each. The product comes in a Lite version and a $19.99 annual subscription version which benefits the turf program at the University of Georgia.

My next seminar was on ADA Accessibility and NPDES pesticide general permits and preparing for compliance. I was most interested in what they had to say about the NPDES general permit and I think I have finally got my arms at least part way around this thing. To be completely honest, I think this is governmental bureaucracy at its best. As I struggle to understand how we will be impacted, I constantly run into varying interpretations of the rule. From my understanding the permit is written to cover applications of pesticides directly to the waters of the US. This is in response to the Talent Water District mishap which occurred right here in our own state. A significant fish kill resulted after an aquatic weed application was made to an irrigation ditch which leaked to an adjacent stream. As I read through the permit it states that it is intended to cover direct applications to waters of the US which obviously includes our irrigation ponds. This is where it gets confusing to me as I listen to various interpretations. One interpretation states that chemical applications over turfgrass that drains through a subterranean tile system which flows off site to a body of water would have to be permitted. Yet I have not seen specific language written in the permit to cover such an activity. It seems to me that the ambiguity of the law is going to create a litigious nightmare down the road.

One thing that was clear as a bell to me is that the golf industry will need to have their BMP's in order and will need to operate by way of an IPM plan. That became completely evident to me as I read this slide by the presenter. I have been preaching for years now of the importance of BMP's and an IPM and now it appears it will become mandatory as I read it.

One simple solution will be to take advantage of GreenGolfUSA. I have posted on it before so here we go again. This is an online tool (which will by the way is FREE) that allows you to enter specific information about your property and practices and then it sends you a complete IPM program in PDF form that is specific to your property. The same applies to the BMP generator. The beauty of this program is that it is a living document and can easily be changed as your programs evolve. Simply click on http// and get started.

The afternoon seminar was on Exploring Golf's Carbon Footprint. I really don't want to get into the details of the actual process of carbon footprinting but there were a few good take points that I will share. Much of the discuss was around the benefits of turfgrass and here are a few points to ponder:
The benefits of turfgrass are:
  • Noise reduction
  • Carbon fixing
  • Fire reduction
  • Air cooling
  • Glare reduction
  • Water filtration
  • Erosion control
  • Dust control
  • Nitrogen producing
These are just a few and the list can go on.

I was very impressed by an one of the speakers that is an architect named Andy Staples. I had an opportunity later in the week to spend time with him found what he was doing to be a very useful service to the industry. He has diversified his business and is consulting courses on energy conservation. As he spoke he gave us the top 10 things every golf course could do to save energy.
  1. Increase pump efficency
  2. Understand central control
  3. Manage cart charging
  4. Take a pump off line
  5. Reduce water consumption
  6. Become efficient first
  7. Vanpool employees
  8. Maximize efficiency of maintained areas
  9. Not all turf is created equal
  10. Turn off equipment when not in use
Many of these things are already implemented here at Stone Creek but one new idea that I got from his presentation was the possibility of taking one of our irrigation pumps off line. Since we receive a demand charge from PGE it is possible that we can turn off one of our three 75 hp pumps and still irrigate everything that we need. If so we will decrease the demand from PGE thus reducing our power bill!

I would like to give a plug to Justin Ruiz, CGCS (OSU grad) for giving his first GCSAA presentation. Justin's topic was on blogging and he did a fantastic job and was very well organized. It is never easy getting up in front of your peers but he did a great job. Congratulations as well on his new job as he will be moving back to the NW to become the new superintendent at Indian Summer near Olympia. (Sorry the photo is a little dark)

Good Friends
Networking is one of my favorite aspects of the golf industry show. I have met so many new friends over the years from around this country and over the "pond". I always enjoy catching up with with many of them each year at the show. This industry is full of great people and I am privileged to know as many as I do. I would like to share a few that I managed to get pictures of over the week.

I roomed with Richard Matteson from Los Alamos New Mexico and Ron Wright, Mobile Alabama. Richard is an OSU grad and was previously superintendent in Pendleton. He has become a good friend over the years and we enjoy catching up at the show. Ron Wright is between jobs and will soon be heading down to the Caymen Islands to become the superintendent at the Ritz Carlton. Ron has an impressive hobby which he uses to benefit the Environmental Institute for Golf. This is the second year in which he has made a guitar for the annual EIFG benefit auction. I am so impressed with his work. This guitar is similar to what you would find at a high end music shop. Ron now has one of his bases being played by a professional musician on tour.  What a talent!

One of the most engaging and friendly individuals that I know is Greg Lyman. Greg is the Director of Environmental Programs for GCSAA and the Environmental Institute for Golf. If you know Greg, you are keenly aware of his enthusiasm and energy and have probably wondered what he is taking to sustain such a level. I happened to catch him in action. This is one reason I keep my camera with me for these once in a life time shots. How fitting, Greg drinking an energy drink. Can you imagine him after he finished this? I didn't stick around to find out! By the way Greg, great tie!

While on the show floor a group of us had an informal meeting to discuss the First Green program. This is an educational program that ties the superintendent to the local schools and provides teachers with opportunities to use the golf course as more or less a laboratory for education.

In this photo from left to right is Matt Ceplo from Rockland CC, Sparkill, NY, Cathy Relyea from First Green of Washington, Steve Kealy from Glendale CC, Bellevue, WA, Joellen Zey from Audubon International, Gary Ingram from Metropolitan Golf, Oakland, CA, Jeff Gullikson from Spokane CC, and myself.

I have hosted a number of classes out to Stone Creek over the years which we have introduced the benefit of golf and the golf course to the students. Many other superintendents are doing the same thing and it has even become a well organized program in the State of Washington called The First Green of Washington. Gary Ingram has been doing a similar program in Oakland called the Oakland Turfgrass Education Initiative. Gary is very interested in adopting the First Green program and starting a new chapter in California called the First Green of California. Jeff and Steve are very instrumental in the success in Washington which is now used by many superintendents across their state and have touched literally thousands of kids.

In 2007 I was asked to host the inaugural year of GreenLinks, a site within the Environmental Institute for Golf's website that introduces case studies by superintendents which depict environmental achievement. While at the show all of us that have hosted the program up to this year met for lunch and awarded the 2010 host Matt Ceplo with his plaque of appreciation. The one point Mark Johnson of GCSAA (left) makes is there is not date on it which implies that you are always on the team.

The two other members of the team are Bob Farren, CGCS, Director of Grounds and Golf Course Management for Pinehurst Resort and Country Club (my right) and our new host for 2011 Roger Stewart, CGCS, TPC Twin Cities(my left). I first met Bob and Roger on my trip to England in 2007 with Bernhard and Company. A once and a life time experience which none of us will never forget. Bob and Roger are a couple of the finest gentlemen you could know, a privilege for me indeed!

There were various hospitality events during the week which at times were a struggle to attend due to the distance between them. In the name of vanity I would wear my best dress shoes which to say the least were not you run of the mill Nikes. The dogs were barking by the end of each evening but it was always worth attending and enjoying the company of my peers. Wednesday was the busy night which I managed to make every event! On the schedule for that evening was the EIFG Reception at the Ballroom Foyer then off to the Bernhard Reception at Tommy Bahama's followed by the Northwest Reception at the Rosen Plaza then finally to the Audubon Reception at my stay hotel, the Rosen Centre. Here are a few photos from the evening:
Larry Gilhuly and Pat Gross of the USGA
The Audubon International Team
Alan Neilsen, Linda Whitworth, Richard Matteson, Sean Hoolehan

David Phipps, Jimmy Kidd

Bruce Williams, Pat Gross, Jimmy Kidd

David Phipps, Leah Brilman

Mark Wilcut, Tim Lambert

David Freitag, Randy Shults
Trade Show
While on the trade show floor I found some pretty interesting things. One that I know Doug will like very much. It is a vinyl heat shrink wrap that can be applied to various things including hazard markers. Perhaps instead of trying to paint them we could wrap the markers with this and preserve the bright color! It is called Vinyl Guard. Doug, I have a sample that I will show you later.

There was also an RC helicopter which they attached a video camera on and they could shoot a flyover of the course which could be used as a promotional tool on a website. It is called Survair, I thought it was pretty unique and was a bit safer than flying an actually flying a helicopter through the course.

My favorite was a greens brush developed by a superintendent that provided a quick and easy way to brush sand into the holes following aerification. It is called the Sweep-N-Fill, developed by John Heitfield, a superintendent that came up with a creative way to solve an age old problem. I give John two thumbs up for innovation and give his competitor two thumbs down for copying his design. I am very interested in picking this up. I feel this could speed up our brushing procedure and help us get the course open much quicker following aerification.

While on the show floor there were additional venues for education. The Architects had a small education center where they highlighted one of my case studies on energy conservation. I kind of though that was cool seeing pictures of Stone Creek on the trade show floor. Greg Lyman also asked me to give a little presentation on our project to highlight the details and how much money we have saved.

There was also another area called "Answers on the Hour" where various speakers presented on topics that ranged from Environmental to agrinomic and construction. Pictured here is Mark Johnson from GCSAA speaking on Golf's Drive Toward Sustainability.

It was a very long week and I missed my family very much. It was great to get back home and climb into that all familiar bed. I can safely say that I made it without bringing home any bed bugs!  I certainly hope nobody brought home any little guests in their suitcases, from what I hear they can be a bugger to get rid of.

The trip home was long and uneventful until it was time to land at PDX. The weather was changing and we landed in a 35 mph headwind with gusts in the 40's. Probably one of my more memorable landings to say the least. Now I understand why they curled up the tips on the end of the wing!


  1. Great blog David. You covered some areas I was not able to.

    Leah A. Brilman

  2. David,
    Great show recap!
    VGC has a Sweep'n'Fill and he loves it, swears by it actually.

  3. Great recap Dave. Was all excited to come home and do some blogging of my thoughts and what I saw. However, after reading your recap I am shamed at what I had planned; it will not be close to your quality. Thanks for the great recap and glad you enjoyed your trip.

  4. Thanks for sharing this wonderful blog of yours. I learn some information here. I like the images in your blog.

  5. nice blog with full information...appreciate the great information about Turf Suppliers Stoke
    many thanks...


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