PBI-Gordon Corporation announced that SpeedZone Southern EW Broadleaf Herbicide for Turf has received registration from California for use in the state.
Formulated for sensitive southern turfgrasses, SpeedZone Southern EW controls more than 70 tough broadleaf weeds — including dollarweed, ground ivy and spurge.
“SpeedZone and SpeedZone Southern are the leading speed herbicides for countless turfgrass professionals, and the new SpeedZone Southern EW formulation helps ensure more active ingredient impacts the leaf surface for improved efficacy,” PBI-Gordon herbicide project manager Jay Young said. “Now that SpeedZone Southern EW is approved for use in California, more golf course superintendents and lawncare professionals can benefit from this go-to herbicide.”
Designed for use on golf courses, and residential and commercial areas, features of SpeedZone Southern EW include:
• Most effective when applied February through April
• Rainfast in as little as three hours
• Allows for reseeding in one week
• A visual response within 24 hours, with weeds dying within 7 to 14 days
• Highly selective in established cool-season and warm-season turfgrasses
For years, no matter where he worked or what his responsibilities included, Mike Salvio tended to feel more like a student than a teacher.
He started to feel a shift from the former to the latter during his last couple trips around the sun, when the first digit in his age flipped from a 5 to a 6. The passing of two of his mentors, though, charged through him, changed him, and provided him with new perspective. “It’s just really weird,” he says, “being in that position where you become the mentor to kids.”
Salvio is a mentor and a teacher these days, a Certified Golf Course Superintendent and an industry veteran nearing the end of his first decade at Ocean City Golf Club in Maryland — and the start of his second quarter of a century of a career interrupted by a sojourn out of golf and into the great indoors. He works closely with his assistants — Mike Johnson, who long preceded him at the 36-hole Ocean City Golf Club and is now in his 45th year at the club, and Steven Bradford, who arrived with Salvio from nearby GlenRiddle Golf Club — and his valued equipment manager, Greg Seitz, to develop what he describes as “kind of an open dynamic.”
“I want their opinions, I openly solicit their opinions, and they take ownership of the facility by doing that,” Salvio says. “It’s not a dictatorship. I want to hear their opinions about things. They’re really good at their jobs and I feel really fortunate to have them. I learned a long time ago to surround yourself with the best.”
Not every lesson was so obvious. Back in 1979, right around the time he graduated from the Institute of Applied Agriculture at the University of Maryland with a degree in turfgrass and golf course management, he received a job offer down in Virginia. Good money. Good club. Instead, he headed back home, just south of Pittsburgh, to work at what he described as “a low-end club.” Not long after, he was out of the industry for 15 years.
He worked instead in the bowling business, climbing that ladder and, about 15 years after wrapping up turf school, received another job offer in the Old Dominion, this time with AMF Bowling. Again, he headed elsewhere — with some assistance from the beyond.
“I was trying to decide between going there or pursuing golf again,” he says, “so I went to see a fortune teller in Ocean City. First and only time I ever did.”
“‘I see your future outside,’” Salvio recalls the seer telling him after she flipped over a handful of her tarot cards. “‘It’ll cost you 10 bucks if you want me to continue.’”
“‘That’s all I need to know,’” Salvio responded.
Some years since then have provided more challenge than others. This year, for instance. His crew withered from 20 to four during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in March and Hurricane Isaias hammered the course in August, splitting healthy elms literally in half and dropping about 20 trees in all. And Hurricane Sandy, he recalls, “came in about 60 miles north of us and I have never seen anything like that, never dealt with anything like that.”
Johnson, Bradford and Seitz have been key with every challenge on the course. So has Syngenta.
Banner Maxx II, Briskway, Daconil, Heritage, Posterity and Velista fungicides, Ference and Scimitar GC insecticides, Divanem nematicide, Primo Maxx plant growth regulator — Salvio schedules them all. “My chemical building looks like a Syngenta warehouse,” he jokes. “They’re all part of my regular rotation, every year. Briskway I use in the summertime and make two applications a year, Secure I make probably five applications a year, and Daconil Action, I tell you, I use it a lot.”
While those products provide him with “healthy turf” and “reliable, predictable control,” he still experienced turf issues — chief among them the chronic spring dead spot on 22-year-old Midlawn Bermudagrass. “I was at my wit’s end with the third fairway on the Newport Bay golf course,” he says. “No matter what we applied in the fall, every spring, the patches coalesced and it would be (late July) until it was nice again.” His longtime territory manager Doug Rider suggested a trial on the worst fairway, treating half with Velista fungicide and half with tebuconazole. “The results were so dramatic,” Salvio says, “that I expanded Velista treatments the next year. Our worst fairways became our best.”
So much so that when Rider arrived to check out the results, Salvio introduced him to Buddy Sass, the Ocean City Golf Club pro since 1998. “I was walking nine holes after work and I called Mike to tell him, ‘Wow, dude, this is unbelievable. It’s our best fairway,’” Sass says. “Mike is a problem-solver. He’s not afraid to ask for help. I let him know when I see issues and we give him some latitude to figure things out and not just be reactionary.”
“That was really eye-opening for me, that this could not only help Mike out, but also other superintendents who deal with the same issue,” says Rider, who worked as a superintendent until 2008. “A lot of superintendents, they’re very detail-oriented and they’re always their own worst critic. Golfers and even professional staff don’t notice small blemishes. For a golf pro to go out of their way to say that bodes well for the work he’s done.”
Covering 30 acres of fairways with Velista would have stretched the budget, so Salvio opted to apply Posterity fungicide wall to wall twice last fall and spot treating Velista on the worst fairways. “I didn’t have one spring dead spot this past winter, knock on wood, and the turf came out of dormancy better. I think the holes where I used Velista, the turf quality was significantly better.”
Because annual bluegrass weevil is relatively new to the competitive Ocean City market, Rider also introduced Salvio to WeevilTrak.com. The updates, Salvio says, are accurate enough that he has saved time scouting the course, and the soil temperature map is an unmatched resource. “The readings are amazingly accurate,” he says. “I’ve done spot checks and they’re within half a degree. This is invaluable to me when making preemergent applications in the early spring, especially when we’re aerifying and cleaning up from winter. Proper timing gives me the best value.”
All those applications prove that, as Salvio and many other superintendents often point out, time is money.
Money is money, too, of course and Ocean City Golf Club should enjoy a stronger 2021 thanks to both Salvio’s thorough application schedule and a recent anniversary membership program that attracted more than 2,000 new members over the last year and overhauled the club’s business model. The restructuring allowed the club to weather being shut down for nearly seven weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic, finally reopening May 7 after Maryland governor Larry Hogan cleared the state for play. “Other than losing that revenue in the spring,” Salvio says, “we’ve had a record-breaking year when we’ve been open.”
Next year will be big for Salvio personally, too. He and his fiancée, Carla, have a February wedding on their calendar.
“How fortunate am I?” Salvio asks. “I work for a great organization, I live where I want to live. It’s nice to love what you do and do it where they appreciate you and in an area you love. I’m really fortunate.”
Consider that a lesson learned — and passed along to the next generation.
This is an expanded version of the Outside the Ropes column by Tim Moraghan that was originally published in the August 2020 edition of Golf Course Industry.
No one likes to be told how to do their job, particularly by people who have never done the jobs and never will.
How often do you get challenged over some element of your golf course’s conditioning? Probably more than you wish. None of us likes to be questioned, but at a private club, members pay their dues and they feel it is their privilege to comment about anything regardless of their knowledge.
It is inevitable that you will have to attend — and defend yourself at — a members’ forum on the state of your course. Again, it’s part of the job. How you prepare and present at this meeting can be critical to keeping that job.
But before offering some advice on dealing with these meetings, take stock.
Is it the criticism or how it’s delivered that rubs you the wrong way? Is it possible you’re perceiving the delivery of comments in the wrong fashion? It’s critically important that you understand your own feelings about taking criticism as well as trying to see things through your golfers’ eyes. I’m not saying they’re right — although they might have some valid points — but I am saying that they are entitled to voice their thoughts. How you respond to them is key.
If this is happening now, it’s even more annoying because the global pandemic has you and your reduced staff trying to do everything you can to allow members to play with a smaller budget and more pressure. There’s nothing wrong with reminding them of that when questioned.
But never allow your sensitivity to criticism to put you on the defensive. Whether it’s members at a private club or public golfers who pay green fees, they feel it is their privilege to comment, criticize and recommend regardless of their knowledge.
Too often it’s the vocal 10 percent who dictate how the golf course should play — which is wrong. And you probably already know what they’re going to say. If you can get some of the 90 percent to show up, good for you; if they don’t, shame on them.
But there you are, the meeting is on the calendar. How do you handle criticism and politely attempt to solve issues? Should you retain industry “experts” to assist in explaining concerns or solutions? Consider this game plan for making a member meeting or public forum work to your benefit.
- Timing is everything. Plan the meeting when people are in their best mood and have a full stomach. Not after morning caffeination or in the midst of happy hour. Schedule it after dinner (best) or early afternoon (acceptable).
- Let the club president or green chairman (one of their own) run the meeting, but encourage sticking to a tight schedule. Create an agenda before the meeting and try to establish rules for people speaking.
- Be sure the senior staff has your back. Make sure the general manager and director of golf are present, agree with you and will speak up.
- If the issues are significant, bring a panel of experts. Make sure they are fully briefed before the meeting. Not only on the agronomic issues but who the antagonists might be, who will remain silent, and to whom comments should be addressed.
- When others are speaking in agreement with you, make sure they don’t sound as if they’re simply taking your side. The focus must be on what’s best for the course and the club. Don’t let it get personal; keep it about the issues.
- Provide visuals to illustrate your points.
- If the room is large, make sure there are microphones as well as staff to quickly bring them to questioners.
- Plan ample time for discussion and questions.
- Do not act defensively, show emotion, or get angry at a question or critique of you or your operation. Flatline your comments. Remember, many members are smart businesspeople. Do not BS them, they’ll see through it. If you don’t know the answer, admit it and say you’ll come back to them with an answer soon. And then do it!
- Plan for any possible question — about the course, about you and your staff. Imagine the worst possible scenario and be ready.
- Remember: Part of your job is to protect the member from themselves. While you work for them, your ultimate responsibility is to the golf course. You know the science, you know the course, you know the members. If you don’t have command of all of those, you’ll be in trouble.
- There are politically correct ways for you to receive and handle member comments. As a paid staff member, don’t do anything that can impact your job and your livelihood.
Professional staff needs to cater to the membership as a whole. Know the facts, know your numbers, and know your job.
Now for the hard part: You need to get the following to the members/golfers beforehand. Maybe give this to whoever is running the meeting, as well as the GM and head pro, hoping they’ll share it with those who will be speaking up.
- Think before you speak: Do you know the facts, the budget, the circumstances, the weather patterns, or whatever else is pertinent to your questions?
- If you are coming to the meeting to complain, fine. But be open-minded enough to learn and have a productive, educational debate.
- If there are consultants present, they are there to offer their expertise, not as a paid mouthpiece for the superintendent. They can help everyone understand the facts and address the validity of any criticism.
- It is both wrong and unfair to compare your course to any other, even if it’s next door. And if you do fall back on “But that course …” make sure you have all the facts: the size of their budget, their staff, their agronomic conditions, etc. etc. etc.
- Whether or not you see her, there will be one important constituent in the room: Mother Nature.
- Please do not insult the ability or expertise of those presenting. They are there to help. That’s true of your professional staff and any specialists or consultants. They are all experts in their fields, and unless you’re in the same field, they know more than you do.
- There is no need to get angry. Golf is supposed to be fun and an escape. And whatever you think is wrong, it’s not about you. Feel free to express your opinion, but it’s not personal.
- Understand your ability as a golfer. You are not good enough to play on — or afford — U.S. Open conditions. The average handicap index is 16.4 and I don’t know any 90-plus shooters who want to regularly play tight fairways, knee-high rough and super-fast greens.
- If you cut your maintenance staff or the budget, as happened everywhere during the pandemic, the course suffers, mostly in the details. Cart paths aren’t edged, bunkers are unraked or full of debris, greens aren’t mowed and rolled every day. Did you really think your course would be different?
- Consider the big picture of running a golf course. Forget your pet peeves and consider the times, as well as the expense and privilege of playing.
- Finally, if you miss the meeting, don’t show up the next day and resume your complaining. Man up and show up!
If both sides follow these guidelines, you’re much more likely to have an open, fair and ultimately constructive session. That means everyone — the golfer, the superintendent, his staff and the golf course — benefits.