The times call for change

Departments - Notebook

The USGA Green Section’s director of education identifies innovative trends to consider.

February 8, 2019

USGA Green Section director of education Adam Moeller.

One of the highlights of a terrific visit to the Ontario GSA annual conference was spending time with USGA Green Section director of education Adam Moeller and hearing his marvelous presentation on agronomic and course management trends he sees around the country. I won’t steal his entire presentation, but here are a few of his key observations:

Irrigation: Manage water for playability, not color. He suggests ET-based management vs moisture meters or just “feel.”

ClipVolume: Moeller says his friend Jared Nemitz of Peninsula Club in Cornelius, N.C., has been weighing clippings from his 10th green to compare weight with factors like green speed, nitrogen use and other nutrient factors. “You should start slowly and look for trends,” Moeller says. “If you see big spikes, you’ve got a problem.”

Data Management: He’s high on the Greenkeeper App, Dr. Bill Kreuser’s free “crowd-sourced” tool that uses growing degree days to refine chemical spray programs. It allows superintendents to track products and spending and incorporates the Smith/Kerns disease forecasting model that many are using.

MLSN: The much-discussed philosophy advocated by Dr. Micah Woods and the PACE Turf team is intriguing, Moeller says. “PACE found lots of healthy turf with very low nutrient levels and perhaps we should look at a program that’s not designed to maximize turf growth, but to support turf growth,” he says. That said, when Moeller asked if any Ontario superintendents in the audience were using MLSN, there were no hands raised.

Drones: Valuable tools, but the new rules on their use are strict. “I talked to a number of supers who admitted they failed the new drone regulation test the first time,” Moeller says. “It’s not easy.”

One last trend: Regrassing fairways with improved turf types. “It pays for itself,” he says. Superintendents can find a regrassing calculator to show the ROI of better fairway turf at the USGA website in the Course Care section.

Final thought from Moeller: “A lot of you are being asked to do more with less. That’s just not possible. We can only do less with less.”

Pat Jones is GCI’s editorial director.

Industry buzz

John Deere has announced an exclusive agreement to develop autonomous mowing solutions for the golf and sports turf industry with Precision Makers, a Netherlands-based company specializing in autonomous technology for various equipment forms. Precision Makers is an affiliate of Dutch Power Company, which has an ongoing supplier relationship with John Deere.

SeeGrow and AQUA-AID Solutions announced a partnership offering North American golf markets patented LED growing systems. The SeeGrow Lighting Systems utilize LED technology along with a CO2 process to create a healthy microclimate for turfgrass. The covered lighting systems are a combination of light, heat, C02, H20 and acoustic booster enabling all day growth to quickly repair and restore shaded areas.

PBI-Gordon announced the EPA approved federal registration for Vexis Herbicide Granular. It will be available for sale in mid-2019. Based on a new proprietary active ingredient, Pyrimisulfan, Vexis is the result of an exclusive partnership between PBI-Gordon, Kumiai Chemical Industry Co., Ltd. and their US subsidiary K-I Chemical U.S.A Inc. Vexis is formulated for use on tees, fairways and rough.

UPL has changed the name of its North American operation from United Phosphorus, Inc., to UPL NA Inc. effective Jan. 1, 2019. “The new UPL brand name for the North America business more accurately reflects the global corporate identity” says Manish Sirohi, director, strategy and innovation. “The change aligns our business with our corporate parent and their subsidiaries around the world.”

Vietnamese Course Develops Innovative Training Program

In preparation for its opening in 2019, Hoiana Shores Golf Club has secured a long-term pipeline of trained staff through its investment in the Quang Nam-based Golf Operations and Maintenance Vocational College, the first such golf-specific enterprise in Asia.

The first graduating class of maintenance staffers joined the grounds crew at Hoiana Shores last month. All students are guaranteed employment at the course.

Hoiana Shores, designed by Robert Trent Jones II, will “soft open” this summer with a grand opening scheduled for late 2019. Since his 2007 arrival in Vietnam, Hoiana Shores vice president of golf & residential development Ben Styles has witnessed the country’s golf development boom. Labor, staff and training have been persistent issues throughout his tenure.

“This problem isn’t particular to Vietnam. We’ve all seen how golf courses across Southeast Asia open in a certain condition, with certain agronomic and hospitality standards, only to abandon those standards over time,” Styles says. “That’s a result of staff not being trained up properly by the time the original superintendent, director of golf or the original general manager moves on."

The Golf Operations and Maintenance Vocational College is part of HOIANA-Quang Nam Vocational Training Centre, located in Duy Phuoc district. According to Styles, Hoiana Shores has so far spent more than $300,000 rehabbing and outfitting the college.

The first class of 24 students arrived in October 2018, in the course maintenance curriculum. They will transition directly to their work at the golf property, where the grassing is underway.

Hoiana Shores superintendent Rob Weiks is the turf expert who supplied an international-standard syllabus for the course maintenance curriculum at GOMVC. His HSGC colleague, director of golf Kelly Nguyen, did likewise on the caddie and operations front. Each graduate will receive the first accredited degrees for golf operations and maintenance in Vietnam.

“Without those degrees accredited by the Vietnamese government, golf course workers in Vietnam are not recognized as professionals with legitimate wage-earning positions,” Styles says. “That may sound like a bureaucratic fine point, but it’s not. Right now, golf course workers are not so recognized, by the government, and so they cannot do things like go and get a bank loan, for example. This accreditation is a huge development for VN nationals who work in the golf business.”

Tartan Talks No. 31


Mike Gogel isn’t afraid to work in the dirt – or on turf.

Hailing from a Midwest golf family, Gogel has successfully transitioned from golf course construction to architecture, an accomplishment he proudly discusses on a Tartan Talks podcast. Gogel worked alongside Tripp Davis and John Fought before moving forward with his own firm, Mike Gogel Golf Design, in 2012. “I’m a one-man band,” Gogel says. “Every project is meaningful and that allows me to be more hands-on.”

A pair of projects with deep personal meaning for Gogel will enter the spotlight this year. The Jayhawk Club, a collaborative effort with this brother, Matt Gogel, a former PGA Tour player and Golf Channel commentator, will reopen this spring after an extensive renovation. Formerly called Almavar Country Club, The Jayhawk Club is the home course for the University of Kansas, men’s and women’s golf teams. Matt is a former Kansas golf standout and Gogel’s parents play the bulk of their golf in Lawrence, Kan.

Then, in September, the Sanderson Farms Championship at Country Club of Jackson (Miss.), a course Gogel helped renovate, moves to a more favorable date on the PGA Tour schedule. Volunteering on superintendent Stanley Reedy’s tournament agronomy team represents one of Gogel’s annual highlights. “It’s a great opportunity to be involved in the event,” Gogel says.

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West Coast water guru Mike Huck is the recipient of the 2019 USGA Green Section Award.
Photo: Kohjiro Kinno/USGA

USGA honors Huck

The USGA named Mike Huck, a turfgrass and irrigation specialist from Orange County, Calif., as the recipient of its 2019 Green Section Award.

Currently a principal at Irrigation and Turfgrass Services in Southern California, Huck is widely recognized as a visionary in water conservation and water use efficiency. He has authored nearly 50 articles and continues to share news and insights on water regulations, supply issues, and the future of golf course irrigation to a worldwide audience. He also regularly works with regulators, golf facilities and allied associations on developing best practices and policies.

“Mike’s continued dedication to elevating the topic of water conservation in golf and advocating for education and dialogue has benefited courses across North America and the world,” says Dr. Kimberly Erusha, USGA Green Section managing director. “His innovative approach, matched with his ability to communicate very complex science in a relatable way, has provided game-changing leadership that helps golf courses and communities.”

Huck has more than 40 years of experience in the golf industry, including 12 years as a golf course superintendent and six years as a regional agronomist for the USGA. His expertise lies in irrigation water quality assessment, saline and recycled water management, irrigation system auditing, and sprinkler uniformity. Huck also has served on several golf water task forces in Los Angeles, San Diego and the Coachella Valley in the wake of water restrictions imposed on golf courses during periods of extreme drought.