“It’s an efficiency thing, too,” he adds. “We go from 30 acres to 28.2 of fairways. If we are using 1,800 total gallons of solution to spray fairways, and if you take 6 percent of that, it’s 108 gallons. We’re making less, so it saves us time. These sprayers have an extra nozzle on them. A typical sprayer would have 11 nozzles: four, three and four. So you go to 12 nozzles and you’re getting almost 10 percent extra on every pass. It’s saving time, too. That’s the one thing we aren’t getting any more of in the mornings. Any metric that you can measure, it has helped — time, money, accuracy, playability.”
Pauley considers his management philosophies a combination of data and feel. An increased understanding and tracking of Growing Degree Days led to leaner practices on fairways. “We were overregulating the fairways,” he says. “We have gotten away from that. The turf looks better, it’s healthier and it helps with wear.” Pauley doesn’t track clipping yield, because he’s confident what he sees in a bucket tells the growth story, and he mixes Stimpmeter readings with ball roll observations to determine the quality of putting surfaces.
The first beachfront course on the Arabian Gulf, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club is among the facilities nominated for the World’s Best Eco-Friendly Golf Facility at the 2021 World Golf Awards. The winner will be announced later this year.
Sustainability and environmental best practices have been at the forefront of Saadiyat Beach Golf Club’s strategy since opening, embracing their stewardship responsibility on the land. The club provides a thriving sanctuary for more than 160 bird species, more than 250 mountain gazelles and a rejuvenation of native plants.
The team has also been supporting the efforts of Saadiyat Island’s Hawksbill Turtle Conservation Program, which has allowed hawksbill sea turtles to continue to nest on the island’s sweeping beachfront. Master developer Tourism Development and Investment Company began its Hawksbill Turtle Conservation Program — the only one of its kind in the Arabian Gulf — in early 2010. The nearly-six-mile-long Saadiyat Beach is now home to several hawksbill turtle nests each year, with each nest containing around 90 to 100 eggs.
Shortly after achieving Audubon Certification in 2020, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club made impressive strides in environmental practices by converting to 100 percent treated effluent irrigation water. The club is approximately 346 acres, with 296 of those acres irrigated through an automatic system. The conversion of the irrigation water source is a major positive for suitability on the island. Producing year-round championship golf course conditions in Abu Dhabi’s climate is challenging and the dramatic change in water quality has required some adaptation. Utilizing the resources within Troon International, which manages the club, the agronomy team underwent several changes within the maintenance program. The team also implemented a turf species change, which has better capabilities to survive and produce consistent turf surfaces to utilize the new irrigation water source.
Within the 160 bird species spotted at Saadiyat Beach, there was one extremely rare bird sighting: a juvenile Steppe Whimbrel, which caused worldwide excitement and showcased Saadiyat Island to the wildlife community. The discovery of a Steppe Whimbrel in Abu Dhabi confirms that the migration route of the sub-species passes through the Arabian Peninsula region. The sub-species was declared extinct in 1995 and that sighting marked the first time anywhere in the world that a juvenile Steppe Whimbrel had been seen in field.
All the Troon-managed facilities in Abu Dhabi host regular visits from local bird enthusiasts, with all bird species recorded, identified and counted with exact numbers and dates submitted to and available from the UAE Bird Database, which is linked to the Global Bird Database.
“With the commitment from Aldar & Troon, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club continues to evolve its sustainability practices throughout the entire facility,” said Francisco de Lancastre David, cluster general manager at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and Yas Links Abu Dhabi. “With the completion of the Audubon certification, a push for a plastic-free environment and changing the irrigation to fully recycle treated water and the reconversion of all fairways to Pure Dynasty Paspalum turf to accommodate for a more sustainable sanctuary, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club continues in its mission to lead the way in the Middle East and become globally recognized as the most sustainable golf course.”
The course was designed by Gary Player and has hosted the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open, the first Ladies European Tour event in Abu Dhabi, since 2016.
While a handful of GCSAA chapters are still determining how they will use the $25,000 donated as part of the 2021 FMC Give Back campaign, multiple chapters have established plans for the donated funds. The top 30 chapters earned awards from $250 to $5,000, distributed after participating in 2021 Golf Industry Show activities tied to FMC’s Kalida Fungicide launch earlier this year.
“We truly appreciate those companies that see value in the local chapters and try to help them out,” Carolinas GCSA executive director Tim Kreger said. The Carolinas GCSA plans to fund an additional scholarship this year with the $1,000 Give Back check they received from FMC.
Like the Carolinas GCSA, local chapters impacted by the extra funds earned in the Give Back program overwhelmingly plan to apply the donations primarily toward education initiatives in the form of scholarships, training, seminar hosting and workshops for their members or turf students. A few are building full-scale educational events to take place later in 2021 or in 2022.
“Thanks to FMC’s support of the Minnesota GCSA, we will use this unexpected money to support scholarships to attend the Great Lakes School of Turfgrass Science online educational courses,” Minnesota GCSA executive director Jack MacKenzie said. “Each year, the MGCSA sponsors up to five individuals who complete the ten-week program. It is a win-win for the industry and the student. The Give Back to Local Chapters program helps make this opportunity possible.”
As superintendents need to have such a broad knowledge base and multidisciplinary approach to their work in an industry with continuous advancements in management practices, plant science, regulations and even equipment, it is easy to see why so many chapters look to foster education and choose to spend any extra funds on it.
“We want our members to thrive, and education is an investment in their success," GCSA of New Jersey executive director Maureen Sharples said. "Our industry is constantly evolving, and continuing education is critical to keeping current with the latest research advancements, best management practices, regulations and product releases."
One admirable non-education use of an FMC Give Back donation is being implemented by the Utah GSCA chapter. “We have allocated our funds to our local Riley L. Stottern Benevolent Fund,” Utah GCSA Chapter executive Natalie Barker said. “The goal of the fund is to do as much good as possible for all Utah GCSA members and their immediate families who may be burdened by a serious illness, a death or other hardship. The money is greatly appreciated and will help our members in need.”
“We strive to support local chapters who can benefit in various ways from the support,” said FMC golf and lawn care market manager Evan Parenti. “To see the FMC donations fostering educational initiatives is especially rewarding as that knowledge only makes the industry better and stronger.”
Don Hearn, executive director of the New England GCSA, said that his chapter is looking to highlight the work of superintendents and notes what these efforts are really about – the game of golf. “We plan to use the funds to assist with the production costs of a video highlighting the work of superintendents who help make golf an enjoyable experience for those who play the game.”
The FMC Give Back to Local Chapters initiative was driven by FMC True Champions, a program launched in spring 2019. A key feature of the program is to support industry associations such as GCSAA chapters, We Are Golf and RISE. Superintendents can enroll for free, and FMC will track purchases of qualified products throughout the season and then submit their “give back” donation directly to their local GCSAA chapter. Qualified products include Fame SC, Rayora and Kalida fungicides. Through August 2021, a percentage of sales of those products will be donated to local GCSAA chapters.
David Whelchel is the center of attention during the afterparty at Hurdzan Golf Course Design’s offices in Upper Arlington, Ohio. He’s dressed in a simple purple polo shirt and jeans, and he tears up as friends and acquaintances shower him with gifts. Whiskey, cigars and a handmade trophy from Whelchel’s own tournament are presented to him one by one as he wells with emotion. Next to him, Michael Hurdzan smiles and laughs with the crowd as he’s presented with his own gifts.
The gifts were the least the crowd could do. Many of them have known Whelchel and Hurdzan for years, and these gifts pale in comparison to what the pair have done thanks to the Keepers of the Green charity scramble.
Keepers of the Green began as an idea shared by Whelchel and Hurdzan to raise money for charities the pair supported or found noteworthy. The event teed off in 2000 and has been held every year since — with the exception of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Causes donated to have included the Special Forces Association Support Program, which aids those in the special forces and their families, and Fore Hope, a nonprofit focused on using golf as a therapeutic practice for those with chronic illnesses and disabilities.
“The Hurdzan family, when they talk about their family and golf, guess what? It’s Mike and Chris (Hurdzan) and his family and people who personally helped me over the years,” Mindy Derr, the founder of Fore Hope, said during the outing’s opening ceremony. Derr’s nonprofit was recently absorbed into OhioHealth and she was grateful for the help Hurdzan and Keepers of the Green provided for her and her organization.
“I’m taking what I’ve learned and I’m taking it to the streets,” Derr said. “I have 32 years in business and nonprofit helping people with disabilities through the game, and now we’re the first and only nonprofit, small grassroots program that was absorbed into a major health care system.”
Hurdzan later mentioned how important it is to give back to charity, especially those revolving around the military. Hurdzan was a colonel in the Green Berets and remembers how daunting the job can be. Special forces units are deployed for the majority of the year and the time away from family can wear on everybody involved. If the soldier or their family needs help during those deployments, Hurdzan wants to make sure they are taken care of.
“It’s our way of helping in any way that we can,” Hurdzan says. “It’s pretty scary for a young family but if they know somebody that need to get to the hospital or they need medicine, or they’re having a problem with payments or something, there is a family support program that can help them if they need. It goes a long ways. So not only does the family appreciate it, the soldier feels good about it as well.”
Aside from the donations to charity, Keepers of the Green also brought back a touch of nostalgia for golfers with its event them of bringing golf back to its roots. The Golf Club of Dublin is an Irish-style course situated in suburban Ohio, and closest to the pin challenges around the course were played with hickory clubs. Hurdzan and Whelchel even played the part and dressed to the nines in classic golf fashion. Hurdzan sported plus fours and a flat cap, while Whelchel strutted around the course in a corduroy jacket and a green cap while chomping on a cigar.
However, this year’s outing might have been the last. Hurdzan and Whelchel are now both at retirement age and organizing the event has become more labor-intensive as the years wear on them both. Now that the outing has reached its 20th year, the two believe it’s best to end on a high note.
Neither Whelchel nor Hurdzan is opposed to someone else taking over operations. The tricky part is finding a group willing to take the reins that can coordinate with the contacts they have established over the years.
“It’s not a whole lot of work but you put in a lot of hours to get something like this put together, and a lot of the way that we get this done is through people we’ve met through the golf courses we’ve designed over the years,” Whelchel says. “And I would say that you know we lean on him a little bit and say you know we need your help, but they’ve always been happy to step up.”
For all the hours he’s put in over the last two-plus decades, Whelchel considers it all worth it. He says after many long nights organizing and coordinating every outing, he can sleep soundly knowing he’s done his part and helped those in need.
“I think the tournament that we have is maybe a microcosm of all that helps people,” Whelchel says. “Maybe on the other hand it epitomizes what golf should be — that we can reach out and touch somebody and help them.”
Jack Gleckler is an Ohio University senior participating in the Golf Course Industry summer internship program.