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Departments - Notebook

Lee Carr reflects on her wonderful experiences interviewing and writing about the great people in the golf industry.

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November 8, 2021

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In 2019, I walked into the Golf Course Industry office, met editor-in-chief Guy Cipriano and, in a nutshell, asked him to take a chance. I had never written about golf. I had worked course maintenance in high school, had a background in editorial work, published a children’s book, fell innocently in love with all things Adam Scott golf and was totally into everything about the game.

Everything.

The tournaments, the tours, the history, the architecture, the courses, the equipment, the global appeal and even the sometimes-confounding rules. I wanted to justify my golf habit and I wanted to do something beyond volunteering as a marshal (though I enjoy that, too — hello to the crew on Firestone South, Hole No. 6!). I wanted to somehow give back to golf.

Fast forward a few months and I’m sitting at Buffalo Ridge at Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri, meeting with three outstanding professionals — Steve Johnson, Todd Bohn and Curtis Keller — who were beyond kind and patient with my questions during my debut Golf Course Industry interview. I stuttered, stumbled and blushed. I really tried to understand “the grasses” and their work. Even though I had done my research, it would be impossible for me to match their expansive agronomic knowledge and I knew their time was valuable. My connection with Golf Course Industry could have been brief. But being born in Springfield, Missouri, and raised as an adoring fan of Payne Stewart, I really wanted to write about Payne’s Valley, and they helped me.

My father has always enjoyed golf, various members of our family play and my paternal grandparents were charter members of a nearby club. So, I fished for information and put something together. It turned out OK and next I wrote about industry authors and the turf program at Brenstville High School, where there are students who are young, eager and thriving. Then I wrote about the joint internship at Sand Hills and Ballyneal, and turf education options. I was learning about the labor supply, recruiting, and the pros and cons of working in turf management.

I continued covering various topics, including fitness, tees, turf selection and course renovation, and spoke with industry leaders. Big thanks to all of them. People respond quickly to calls and emails. I ask everyone to please volunteer some time to answer a few questions and maybe to send a few photos because I want to learn more about their work. They tolerate my curiosity and, at the risk of conveying a low sense of self-esteem, I find it remarkable that everyone makes time for it. The people I have worked with in this industry are incredibly giving, hard-working and justifiably deserving of praise.

Technology and advances in the field never stop and they fascinate me. There are hydronic systems to adopt and GPS machines to test. The benefits of biochar and nanowater are being researched in conjunction with universities and new cultivars are being created. Pollinator gardens, bioswales and even a farm and apiaries are all topics I have had the pleasure of exploring. I have three sons and I show them photos of a green struck by lightning, sunblock footprints, drainage line patterns in melting snow and healthy environmental indicators. It’s interesting, scientifically, and a joy to discuss. There is always something. They ask questions and we figure out the answers.

But what I started to learn while working on that first story, and what has become apparent in the time since, is that the people leading these maintenance teams are even more intriguing than the agronomic conditioning I was writing about. There are common characteristics you all share, and possibly a few imperfections — you know you have a hard time stepping away — but blended together, they are endearing and inspiring.

I love hearing about your day. I love hearing about what you do. I love your passive-aggressive Twitter threads and your adorable dogs and even the occasional slow-motion coring or time-lapse construction video. I love the way you solve problems and help each other.

This is your work and it is a privilege for me to learn about it. I relish the opportunity to cover this industry more than you can imagine and I can’t do my work without you being willing to share yours. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for welcoming me and working with me, thank you for being you, thank you for all that you do for golf and for all that you do for those enjoying your properties. Your work may not always be appreciated or respected in the way that it should be, but you are accomplishing amazing things.

Please know that every single day, I very much appreciate working with you.

Lee Carr is a Northeast Ohio-based writer and frequent Golf Course Industry contributor. No, this isn’t her last article. She’s still just getting started!

TARTAN TALKS No. 64

Kemp

Hills, deserts, flatland, wetlands. Bentgrass, Bermudagrass, zoysiagrass.

Trey Kemp finds an abundance of divergent work projects and golf experiences in his home state. A native Texan based in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Kemp joined the Tartan Talks podcast to discuss life as the newest ASGCA member. In Kemp’s case, it means constant visits to Texas golf courses.

Kemp estimates he’s played or visited around 400 courses in the state. Texas supports 834 courses, according to the National Golf Foundation’s 2021 Golf Facilities in the U.S. report.

“I have a long way to go, but I have seen quite a few,” Kemp says. “Texas is such a big state. Some people have asked, ‘Where are most of your projects?’ And I’ll say, ‘90 percent of the work is in Texas.’ But one job can be in Amarillo and one can be in McAllen, and that’s a 13-hour drive to get between those two spots. It’s a big space. The variety of terrain and climates in the state just make the golf courses unique and different.”

The ASGCA elected Kemp to become a member earlier this year and he attended his first annual meeting last month in Cleveland. He describes the experience on the podcast as well as the encounter that inspired him to pursue a career in golf course architecture. Download the episode on the Superintendent Radio Network page of Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other popular podcast distribution platforms.

Tripp Davis has completed a restoration on the Oaks Course at The International in Bolton, Massachusetts.
© courtesy of tripp Davis and Associates

Course news

Duininck Golf continues its 45-hole renovation at Cragun’s Resort on Gull Lake in Brainerd, Minnesota, where the two championship courses designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. — Bobby’s Legacy Course and Dutch Legacy Course — will be modified as part of the work by Lehman Design and Duininck. “We didn’t take these decisions lightly — to undertake such a major project and, especially, to put it in the hands of PGA legend Tom Lehman and acclaimed builder Duininck Golf,” Cragun’s Resort general manager Eric Peterson says. … Nathan Crace has been commissioned by the Recreation and Parks Commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge (BREC) to begin planning renovations at historic City Park Golf Course in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Tom Bendelow-designed nine-hole course will celebrate its official 100th anniversary in 2028. … The Gil Hanse-designed Ballyshear Links at Ban Rakat Club in Thailand opened for member play after local COVID-19 pandemic restrictions were lifted, with a grand opening scheduled for early 2022. The course is an 18-hole homage and near-recreation of the fabled Lido Golf Club, a C.B. McDonald and Seth Raynor design that was considered among the world’s great courses from the time it opened in 1917 until its quiet closure during World War II. … Tripp Davis and Associates completed their restoration of The Oaks Course at The International in Bolton, Massachusetts. The renovation improvements included bunker restoration work with Davis’ signature dripping lines, the regrassing of tees and laser-leveled tee boxes, and the addition of strategic new tees. The result gives the course the ability to play firm and fast. … Troon has been selected to manage both The Golf Club at Fiddler’s Creek, a private club in Naples, Florida, that features an Arthur Hills-designed championship golf course, and the Members Club golf facility at Grande Dunes, a master planned community in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, whose course was designed by Nick Price and Craig Schreiner. … The City of New York selected Bobby Jones Links to manage Ferry Point Links in the Bronx. … KemperSports acquired the Greg Nash-designed Corte Bella Golf Club in Sun City West, Arizona, the 17th club in KemperSports’ private club portfolio.

Comings and goings

 

Straka
Jason Straka was elected president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects at the organization’s recent 75th Annual Meeting in Cleveland. A principal with Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design with Dana Fry, ASGCA, Straka is devoted to environmental golf course design, his projects with Fry having won many environmental accolades. … Jared Taylor is the new director of grounds at Mountain View Country Club in the La Quinta community in the Coachella Valley. … Clinton Southorn is the new director of construction and agronomy for Troon International, taking over from 20-year Troon veteran Robin Evans. … Landscapes Unlimited promoted Jake Riekstins and Brian Vitek to the senior leadership positions of chief development officer and chief operating officer, respectively. … Brad Davis is Munro’s new regional account manager for the Southwest region.

 

INDUSTRY BUZZ

Aquatrols announced the expansion of its portfolio to include the new pre-emergent herbicide Basilisk UniTech and the new plant growth regulator Griffin UniTech. Both products feature UniTech formulation technology. Griffin UniTech is the company's first PGR. … The GCSAA will seek data from superintendents regarding water use and conservation practices to support the profession and industry as part of the ongoing efforts to maintain necessary golf course management resources. A questionnaire will be sent electronically to superintendents at approximately 14,000 facilities. … Prime Source, a division of Albaugh LLC, announced the EPA registration of its new Quintessential Herbicide. … Profile Products acquired Florikan, a manufacturer, blender and distributor of controlled-release fertilizer to golf, turf, ornamental horticulture, agriculture and professional landscape markets globally.

Are standards for working in hazardous heat coming to your course?

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration started publishing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings on Oct. 27. Currently, OSHA does not have a specific standard for hazardous heat conditions and this action begins the process to consider a heat-specific workplace rule.

“As we continue to see temperatures rise and records broken, our changing climate affects millions of America’s workers who are exposed to tough and potentially dangerous heat,” said U.S. Department of Labor secretary Marty Walsh. “We know a disproportionate number of people of color perform this critical work and they, like all workers, deserve protections. We must act now to address the impacts of extreme heat and to prevent workers from suffering the agony of heat illness or death.”

The Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will initiate a comment period to gather diverse perspectives and expertise on topics, such as heat-stress thresholds, heat-acclimatization planning and exposure monitoring.

“While heat illness is largely preventable and commonly underreported, thousands of workers are sickened each year by workplace heat exposure, and in some cases, heat exposure can be fatal,” said Jim Frederick, acting assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “The Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings is an important part of our multi-pronged initiative to protect indoor and outdoor workers from hazardous heat.”

Heat is the leading cause of death among all weather-related workplace hazards. To help address this threat, OSHA implemented a nationwide enforcement initiative on heat-related hazards, is developing a National Emphasis Program on heat inspections and forming a National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health Heat Injury and Illness Prevention Work Group to provide a better understanding of challenges and identify and share best practices to protect workers.

Comments must be submitted at www.regulations.gov by Dec. 27, 2021.