Monday, March 26th, 2012

I know I'm sounding like a broken record but the weather tops the news once again this week . By my calculations, Thursday's snowfall was our fifth accumulating snow event since the last week of February. I don't think I can remember ever seeing 4" of snow at the end of March. I won't say we're out of the woods yet because with the spring weather we have been getting lately, you never know what the next system will bring. This latest event didn't seem to have the damage that last week's snow brought. There were only a few branches down which gave the crew much needed time to mow the greens and put the bunkers back in place.
Just for fun I took a photo Thursday in the snow and again on Friday from the same place. It's amazing to see the change in 24 hours. (Yes, this is my favorite tree on the course)

Thursday, March 22nd

Friday, March 23rd

Once again the crew stepped up and and made sure the weekend golfers received the best possible playing conditions. The guys all appreciated the kind words toward their efforts. It means so much to them to hear given the miserable conditions they have all had to endure lately.

It was great to see the golf course so busy on Friday and Saturday. I know this time of year players are getting a little stir crazy and need to get out on the course. The course is in great shape but please don't expect the greens to be running over 10. With 2.5" of rain and 4" of snow it is difficult to maintain summer conditions. When conditions are favorable, meaning firm, we will roll the greens to increase ball roll. If we have a day where we can either mow or roll we will mow first to make sure they have a clean cut. If we can roll the next day than by all means we will.

We recently had Stone Creek mapped by CourseVision. I learned about this program at the Golfdom Summit at Pinehurst last November. The power of this tool is immense. Unlike a CAD program, CourseVision is one simple file in PDF format that delivers accurate measurement data on the entire property. All for one ridiculously low price. This is a tool that will enable us to communicate more effectively and keep track of everything we have done on the property. I was able to submit our irrigation file which was then overlaid on to the entire map with amazing accuracy.

Although Stone Creek is an Audubon certified sanctuary, CourseVision comes complete with an entire property inventory which is part of the certification process. Every part of the property is digitized with proprietary software and then summarized in a spreadsheet.  I can also see this being used in many other ways throughout the golf course.

I will be providing the proshop with a copy of this software for their use as well. I am sure we will find good use for it in setting up tournaments and employee orientation. CourseVision told me that we are the first course in our area to use this technology. They said we have some of the finest aerial photos available in the country which make for a high quality map.

Monday, March 19th, 2012

For the third week in a row we have had snow on the ground at Stone Creek Golf Club and we may be looking at a fourth if the predictions hold true. Last week was unusual with over 4 inches on Tuesday. The crew stayed home but Chris and I stayed to attend the Redox seminar hosted by Gary Willis and OVS Proturf Solutions at our event center. As always Dale Miller from Redox gave an excellent presentation on Redox fertility. Seems every time I attend I learn something new.

Tuesday was also our Ladies Club opener but unfortunately that will have to be rescheduled. Sorry Ladies! By Wednesday the course was clear for the most part and we were able to get play out on schedule. As you could expect, the course was saturated. I call 4" of snow "slow release water". It began to rain on top of the snow and by Thursday we had close to 1.5" of rain. As luck would have it, the rain stopped Friday morning in time for us to mow the greens for the OPGA ProAm. Thank you Doug for the invitation to play. The bright sun and the great company made for a great day! Even with all of the precipitation throughout the week, I was very pleased how playable the course was. I especially enjoyed seeing the results all of the drainage projects that we have been working on all winter.

What the golfers didn't realize on Friday was the aftermath of the snowstorm. The snow was very wet thus the fir trees lost quite a few large branches. The crew did an unbelievable job bucking up all the branches, hauling them to our refuse pile and sweeping up all the cones from the rough and fairways.  This was all done in two days and in the midst of one inch of rainfall on Wednesday. If those of you that played on Friday get a chance, please be sure to express your gratitude to the guys for all their hard work.

All winter the repair of the large Dakota topdresser had been looming over us, and this week Steve and I finally decided to see if there was a way we could repair it, instead of ordering a new conveyor box for the side chute. Last fall the tractor jackknifed while topdressing the tees thus crunching the bottom end of the conveyor box. We checked the price on a new one and that was going to cost us close to $4K. If there is a way to repair it,I was confident Steve could find a way. We sat there and stared at it for some time then finally Steve had a plan and off he went.

He started by cutting the bottom roller out of the box then he cut the seam at the corner. With a little heat he was able to bend the box back into shape and then he welded the roller back in place. Steve is a perfectionist and wouldn't be happy with just a simple fix. By the time he finished, he had new paint and safety stickers applied, and it looked as good as new. I can't describe how happy I was to see it back together when I came back to the shop Friday after the Pro-Am. The side conveyor plays a vital roll in our aerification program. Without it we would have to make multiple trips to the sand pile thus using an abundance of time and fuel. Great work Steve!

In the coming weeks we will be applying Verde-Cal to the fairways but will be looking for some firmer conditions. As long as the course is clean we will continue on some small projects along the cart path edges. We also have quite a large debris pile to chip up as well.

Golembiewski Leaves Oregon State University

Last week I received a phone call that I never imagined I would receive. A few years ago the turf community was pondering how they were going to replace Tom Cook at Oregon State University. The Oregon Superintendents came through with $50K to assure Tom's position would be fast tracked in order to keep the program running on a smooth course. I was asked by the University to serve on the selection committee and was overwhelmingly pleased to meet Dr. Rob Golembiewski, who we eventually agreed to offer the position. Dr. Rob and I developed a great friendship and often spoke on the future of the turf program and how it could reach new heights.

Since coming to Oregon State University, Dr. Golembiewski picked right up where Tom Cook left off and immediately began to develop new programs and interest in research at Oregon State. He began by constructing 50,000 square foot putting green and began trials on michrodochium patch, anthracnose and most notably, a green speed trial that mirrored Tom Nikolai's trial at Michigan State, but only on annual bluegrass instead of creeping bentgrass.

Dr. Golembiewski's impact to the turf community was immediate. In his first year he made over 30 appearances across the Northwest, speaking to various groups on turfgrass management. His enthusiasm was unbelievable and everyone was excited for the future of the turf program at OSU. I know this sounds like a eulogy but rest assured Rob is doing fine and well. The phone call I received was Rob informing me that he had been offered a position with Bayer Crop Science in Columbus Ohio. Rob didn't have to explain it to me because I knew that eight of his siblings would be close at hand in Michigan and he would be much closer to his family. There was no doubt that the offer must have been pretty sweet as well. It was not an easy decision to make but I know it was right for him and I would have done the same if I were in his shoes.

We will all miss Rob here in the NW and will always look fondly on the impact he had on the turf program within such a short time. Our focus will now go toward preserving the turf program and finding a replacement as soon as possible. I have already been contacted by Anita Azarenko, the department head, and asked to meet with the Dean. It will be imperative to show industry support for the position and to assure them that our support and funding will continue.

Rob is not the only university professor that has recently been lured away from academia. Most recently, Dr. Frank Wong from UC Davis has gone to Bayer Crop Science, Dr. Lane Tredway from UNCS has gone to Syngenta, and Dr. Eric Miltner from Washington State has gone to Agrium Advanced Technologies. This is a disturbing trend to say the least as far as universities go. Is this a sign of a failing university system that has become so reliant upon outside funding sources that once a turn in the economy, the programs begin to fail? I feel this is a trend that has begun long before this recession. States budgets have become stretched to the point where the idea of a land grant university is a notion of the past.

Dr. Golembiewski has been referred to as a “one man show” which is no exaggeration. Back in the days when I was at Oregon State there was a complete landscape curriculum as well as a turfgrass curriculum. That continued for many years until funding became short and they couldn’t retain the landscape professor and he was off to greener pastures. The university needs to offer both programs to retain its viability but the funding is still short for a full time landscape professor. Dr. Golembiewski’s position is funded but he is still required to fulfill 125% of a single full time equivalent. (FTE) This is why we still need to raise more funds to enable the university to bring on another position.

The only way universities can retain quality people any more is through endowments. The Oregon State Foundation has been extremely supportive of the superintendents and has helped us set up an endowment for the program. Jack Holpuck of the OSU Foundation has been a great supporter of the turfgrass program and has worked tirelessly to secure funding. In 2008 the Giustina family donated $1 million to endow the faculty position in turf management. Without this donation the program would probably be a wash today.

We are headed into a new chapter of leadership at OSU and I am excited about the new opportunities ahead . Turf programs on the west coast are few and far between, leaving mainly Oregon and Washington State as programs to educate our future superintendents and turfgrass managers.

Rob, I’ll miss you. You can move to Ohio but you cannot hide. Our friendship will remain and I’ll look forward to spending time together at future GCSAA conferences.

Course Update

Since I was away from the course last week, there isn't much to report other than when I came in on Saturday the course was getting rave reviews from the Men's Club. This March weather doesn't seem to want to let up. Snow is predicted once again on Tuesday! One thing for sure is the sun will be here before we know it. Just remember, July 5th is just around the corner.

We will be looking for a break in the weather to make our calcium application to the fairways. If not this week, we will be on it as soon as the weather permits. Once again we will be using the Verde-Cal. I have decided to spread it ourselves this year and save us the application fee.

Golf Industry Show 2012, Las Vegas

It is great to be home after spending a week in Vegas. I normally have this blog posted first thing Monday morning but the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was spend time away from my family writing my recap of the week. It's now Monday afternoon and I have finally decided to give it a go.

First I would like to recognize my staff for doing such a wonderful job while I was gone. I came in on Sunday to find everything in top shape. Again, the weather threw them a curve with a light snowfall, but they still managed to check off a few more projects including some drainage between the tee boxes on fifteen.

The highlight of the trip had to be receiving the Presidents Award. I cannot describe how it feels to be recognized by my peers. When GCSAA's President Bob Randquist called last October, it really caught me off guard. Once I realized that he and the Board of Directors were responsible for the nomination, the gravity of the award fell upon me. This has been the highest honor of my career and I thank Bob and theGCSAA Board for bestowing this upon me.

Receiving the award in Peter Jacobsen's presents could not have been any better. Peter and I go back twenty plus years to the days when I maintained his putting green at his home. It was there when he told me he wanted me to help build Stone Creek Golf Club. For both of us to be recognized at the same event was a moment to cherish. Peter's a true gem to the golf industry and receiving the Old Tommy Morris Award was a well deserved honor. Here is a short video of some of his speech from the show.

David Feherty was our key note speaker at the Golf Industry Show General Session. As always, he kept us in stitches with his wit as he recalled some of his past experiences. Feherty has now been a US Citizen for over two years and it was amazing to see his patriotism shining through. Feherty is co-founder of an organization called Troops First Foundation. He and co-founder Rick Kell have developed several programs and events designed to help Wounded Warriors and their families that address relationship building, mentoring, reintegration and moving forward. Listening to him tell the stories of his experiences was certainly inspiring to say the least.

David Feherty from GCSAA TV on Vimeo.

While walking the trade show floor I like to look for new and innovative products. Especially ones that would enhance Stone Creek Golf Club. One item that caught my eye were these manufactured stone tee signs from Tee Box Creations. Their stones are made from 5000 psi solid cast stone with no resin or plastics. It is solid throughout and is exceptionally durable. What caught my eye was the price. You could pick up a pretty nice sign for around $500. That's not a bad price by golf course amenity standards. These would certainly take Stone Creek's presentation to the next level.

Standard Golf was displaying a new sign for the driving range tee. If you have been following my previous posts regarding the proper use of the driving range tee, this sign may look familiar. If I can contribute to the the greater good I like to share my ideas. Steve Tyler at Standard Golf liked the sign so I gave Standard my permission to print make it on their standard 12x12 aluminum sign. They tweaked the graphics a bit to save on printing costs. I believe the overall message is the same. I hope people take advantage of the sign and use it on their range. It is my goal to re educate the golfer on the proper range etiquette. When used properly we can use the range much more efficiently  and have it heal much quicker as well.

The trade show floor seemed to have more traffic than in recent years. On day one there was a huge line at registration which some stated may have been an over site on GCSAA's part but contrary, it was a great problem to see. I think by the time the numbers are counted the show will be an overall success. Many of the vendors I spoke with seemed very excited by the amount of traffic they had by their booths.

Las Vegas was a memorable week for sure. Especially reconnecting with all my close friends from across the country. The networking alone at the GIS is worth the price of admission. It is through sharing experiences and talking about what works and what doesn't that has inspired me over the years. I enjoy staying in touch with many friends through social networking but there is nothing like good ol' fashioned face-to-face to rekindle the friendships.

Through social networking I have met a lot of superintendents from around the globe. It was great to put a face to the name on many occasions in Vegas. One was Jason Chennault who made the trip all the way from Calcutta to come to the show. Working in India, Jason has utilized social media to stay in touch with his US counterparts and is often part of many Facebook conversations. Social media has certainly impacted the golf industry in a positive way.

On a final note, I would like to congratulate Class A Superintendent, Darren Davis on his selection to the GCSAA Board of directors. I cannot think of a better candidate for the position. Darren and I spent time at Mirimichi Golf Club recording Golf Channel vignettes  a couple years ago and have been friends ever since. He is a first class guy and will be a true servant on the Board.
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