Golf Central Mag- Vol 25 Issue 3

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Get ready for a pulse-racing adventure on Florida's Sports Coasd From wild safari tours tojaw-dropping Gulf (oast sunsets -there's no shortage of fun andrelaxation! ,_,_

Fox HollowGolfClub

Rolling fairways andfive sets of teesoffer new challengesevery time you drive the ball.

Lexington Oaks GolfClub

Withamultitude of lakes and wetlands addingchallenge and character to thecourse, it's hardtoforgetaroundhere.

Plantation PalmsGolfClub

Challenginggreens, rolling terrain andtight landings make this coursea true golfer's dream play.

lake JovitaGolf &CountryClub

The picturesquerollinghills and elevationchangeson Lake Jovita's twocourseswill test yourskills.


Eachholeisdesignedtobringout thebestin bothnoviceand pro golfers, with sportingfairways and well-guardedgreens.


Designed with nature's best interestsinmind, The Groves isknown asThe Longest Short Coursein Florida.

Saddlebrook Resort&GolfClub

Boasting two picturesque ArnoldPalmer-designed courses, it.'sno surprise Saddlebrook isa well-known destinationfor world-classgolf.

Seven SpringsGolf & Country Club

Withone course perfect for beginners andanotherthat will challenge thepros, the whole family willhavea great time playinghere.

Come find out why Tamahka Trails Golf Club is considered to be the best 18-hole golf experience in Louisiana...hands down.
Consistently outstanding course conditions
Unlimited golf for one green fee
Challenging layout for all skill levels
World-class practice facilities
Fully-loaded golf carts After your round, experience our exciting casino, hotel, restaurants, pools, spa, movie theater and more—all conveniently located in Central Louisiana. Call 800-946-1946 and ask about our Stay & Play packages! To reserve your tee time, visit or call 318-240-6300. TEE UP FOR THE BEST OF LOUISIANA.

If You’re On A Collision Course With Boredom, It’s Time To Change Course. To This One For Example.

Too much work and not enough play often leads to boredom. But too much play on the same golf courses can also take you there. Whatever the cause, Fairfield Glade has the cure and the courses.We’re an easy drive from anywhere in the Southeast. With 5 dramatic and demanding courses, among Tennessee’s best, according to Golf Digest, Golfweek and Golf Magazine, you won’t be bored anytime soon.

In addition to our five Championship Golf Courses, we offer miles of hiking trails, pristine lakes for boating and fishing, a world class Racquet Center for pickleball and tennis. Along with stables for horseback riding and hayrides. Stay & Play packages are available. Call and book your stay. Then bye bye boredom. It’s simply a matter of course.

Now the fun begins.

For information or reservations, call 888-334-5233 •

Grateful Life!

I can’t help but reflect on the incredible things that Summer brought my way over the years and be so bloody grateful for the milestones. Nothing charges me more than taking a moment and acknowledging the good in my life. Appreciating the good stuff has done nothing but enrich my life and invite more goodness to shine on in.  Happiness and success are about giving it your all and reflecting on the results. June 21 our first summertime milestone, a true source of good in these pages! Shannon Coates, our esteemed Editor-in-Chief, has been with us for the last twenty-two years! Shannon is the heartbeat of our publication. I describe her as a brilliant Wack Job. She is the type of person who never stops improving and never settles for — boring! Year after year, her sharp skills keep us at the top of our game and her dedication and passion for the craft has been inspiring. My genuine love and gratitude for her is never ending!

As of June 2nd We’re celebrating another important anniversary—the acquisition of the trademark for Turf Life! Turf Life has been our dedication to work beyond golf. Turf Life is about respecting the turf and the entire turf industry. We’re dedicated to honoring the people who maintain pristine greens and balance the natural beauty that makes our game possible. We’re super excited about the future of Turf Life and can’t wait for you to join us on this journey. We’re launching the new Turf Life website, featuring Printiful as our fulfillment partner for the merch side of the brand. Please like us on Insta, Facebook, send reels, feature ideas, and always nominees for your favorite Super Spotlight.

I am PROUD to work alongside Shannon and witness her dedication and expertise every day. Equally, I am proud of Turf Life and the respect it shows for the turf industry pros, which is the backbone of our beloved game. Here’s to celebrating the incredible men and women and the vibrant community that makes our world of golf and turf sports truly BeauTURFul!


Publisher: Terrie L. Purdum (

Editor in Chief: Shannon Coates (

Graphic Design: Melahn Cable

Social Media Manager: Nafanua Marlowe

Turf Pirate: Anthony Williams

Social Media Consultant & Editorial Contributor: Kennedy Lee

Editorial Marketing Writer & Multimedia Content Creator: Joseph Harmon

Photojournalist: Greg Corbo

Photographers: Lynn Pelham, Brion Price, Peter Hakansson, Tres Fenton, Mike Coonan, Becky Galloway, Madison Coates, Mac Carraway

Senior Correspondent: Rick Harris, Sr.

Contributing Writers: Jay Golden, PGA; Bob Bolton, Greg Corbo, Elisa Gaudet, Holly Geoghegan, Mike Jamison, Mike May, Anthony Williams, Tres Fenton, Ronald Malone

Editor Emeritus: Joel Jackson, CGCS Retired

Regional Partner: Doug Hollandsworth, Founder-Georgia Golf Trail

Video Visionary: Amy Fox

Business Advisor: Jim Para

Oversight Officer/Uber Driver: Rocky Miller

Media Partners: DSP Media; John Gerber, JP Peterson, Nick Geddes, Holly Geoghegan, Golf Insiders, GMS; Tony Leodora, Traveling Golfer

Golf The Wise Way: Greg and Beverly Wise, Photojournalists

Golf Central Magazine is published monthly by: Sand Hill Publishing & Public Relations 4313 Berwick Dr, Lake Wales, FL 33859

NEW PHONE: 863.875.6863


©2024 Golf Central Magazine. No portion of this publication may be reprinted without the prior written permission of the Publisher. Editorial contributions are welcome, but Golf Central Magazine assumes no responsibility for unsolicited proposals, manuscripts and photographs. All materials submitted not accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope will not be returned. Mailing, electronic mailing or faxing of contributions constitutes an expressed warrant on the part of the contributor that all material is original and does not infringe on the rights of others. Golf Central Magazine retains all reprint rights and reserves the right to edit any submitted material to meet our specifications for publishing and or use in advertising or promotion. The Publisher and staff are not responsible for any loss or grievance by any person or persons whatsoever, due in any way or in part to the content of this publication. The Publisher reserves the right to refuse to accept any material deemed inappropriate or in bad taste.

6 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 from the publisher
2009 North Florida PGA Amateur of the Year
-w ..,, IJIO.C.UIIOM6 -NANO �--....--J.1,.1.-11 9NPK-NANO -MANO Build Healthy Soilswith Systemic Carbon Technology®
Cart Girl 14 Tess Graham FEATURE 10 Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor Golf Bachelor 16 Don Haley Golf Travel 18 Gaylord Golf Mecca 28 HeliFlite 34 Monster Golf Club Growing the Game 12 Divot Dudes International Golf Travel 38 New Dehli Leader on the Links 22 Derek Sprague Stay & Play 30 Wyndham Disney Springs Turf Life 50 Sunniland Superspotlight: Kal Zaranec 52 Fish Head Farms 54 Turf Pirate 56 Flat Creek Country Club 58 Sod Solutions What's New 40 Nature Coast Golf Tour Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 2 Departments 20 Georgia Golf Trail 24 Golf Business 26 Cuisine on the Green 32 Competitive Spirits 36 Product Showcase 42 Golf Central Station 44 FSGA 46 KYPGA 47 GAPGA 48 NFPGA 49 SFPGA Feature Article Pg 10 8 Volume
25, Issue

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10 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 feature
11 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3

Filling You in on The Divot Dudes

Golf is dominated by a collective pursuit of improvement. Pros, tour players, instructors, even your buddy with a better swing adds to the pressure of perfection. As golf engulfs the digital world, tips, tricks, and swing-hacks take center stage. That is, until The Divot Dudes started recording. Adam and Conner have amassed their following by embracing the imperfections of the game. They openly admit they’re not the best

golfers, and that’s exactly what charms viewers of all levels.

The duo exudes a refreshing, up-beat, honesty from their very first video to their latest post. Showcasing daily, their natural talent of creating a genuine connection with the everyday golfer who knows the frustration of a shanked shot or a missed putt. Rather than bolstering the game with more tips, their content feels like a friendly invitation for beginners to take a swing at something that can bring real joy and camaraderie.

Their standout series, “Catching Golfers Lying About Their Carry Distance,” has become a viral fanfavorite. The Divot Dudes connect with golfers, challenging them to  reveal the truth behind oftenexaggerated claims about how far

they hit their drives. “We put our focus on our guests and showcasing their stories and abilities,” they explain. By sharing these candid moments, they inspire newcomers and build a more inclusive golf community, bringing golfers of all skill levels to share their spotlight.  Watching their game play improve and witnessing their on-course connectivity is a fun, eye-opening experience that resonates with anyone who’s ever embellished their golf game and gives newcomers a glimpse into club-house conversation. Their digital outreach of authenticity has grown the game of golf in a very real way, and we are more than ready to follow their pace of play.

12 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 growing the game
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Where did you grow up? I grew up in Dallas, GA and still live there now.

What is your favorite sport to play? Favorite to watch? My favorite sport to play is pickle ball. I’ve picked it up recently and it’s a lot of fun. My favorite sport to watch is baseball. I love going to Braves games with friends and family.

Do you enjoy playing golf?  I like to golf for about 9 holes then my patience runs out. My favorite time to play is in the afternoon.

What do you feel makes this club special? The people I get to work with is definitely what makes it special. I have fun everyday I’m at work.

What is your favorite part of being a cart girl? What is your least favorite part? My favorite thing about being a cart girl is meeting fun groups of golfers ready to have a good time. My least favorite part is that the weather decides how your day is going to go.

If you weren’t a cart girl, what would you be doing? I would probably be spending my summer in a random state out west working a summer camp or something like that.

What is your memorable moment working as a cart girl? One of my most memorable moments is when I bottomed out the beverage cart and only two wheels were on the ground. The golfers passing tried to help but I ended up having to call my boss to get me out. A very laughable moment.

What is the funniest thing you’ve ever seen on the golf course? The funniest thing I have seen on the course is someone getting chased by a duck out of the pond.

What type of music do you prefer? I listen to rap and country music.

What hobbies do you enjoy? I enjoy skiing, reading, and traveling if you count that as a hobby.

What is your idea of “the perfect date”? My idea of a perfect date would be getting sushi and then chilling by the beach.

Relaxed evening at home, or nightclub and cocktails? Nightclub and cocktails sounds right up my alley, especially if dancing is involved.

Favorite type of movie? I love a good Rom-Com, especially the older ones like How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days.

Favorite charity to support? I love getting to support any charity that focuses on helping sick children.

If your not at the golf course working where would you most likely be? I would be laying out by the pool or traveling to somewhere new.

cart girl
14 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3

Don Haley

Where were you born? Did you grow up there? Born in Falmouth, Kentucky. I grew up all over Kentucky. My Dad was a tobacco farmer so we moved where ever work was.

What do you do for a living? Retired. Was a avionics technician.

What would you like to do for a living? I like being retired.

Aside from golf; what do you prefer for fun and relaxation? Traveling and spending time with my family.

Whom do you most admire for their inner and outer beauty? My four daughters.

Tell us about your first kiss? First kiss was to the woman I would end up marrying for 60 years at the age of 15.

Tell us something about yourself that only your closest friends know. I almost killed myself in the service in Bangor, Maine drinking and driving drunk.

What three things would you need to survive on a deserted island? Food of some sort, my health, and a martini.

Who would you like to have with you on the same deserted island; and why? My wife, who passed away.

What do you find to be the most annoying habit people demonstrate on the golf course? Talking too much garbage.

Name the three most important things to you in this world. My health, my family, and freedom for this country.

Given the choice; would you select love, success, or money to keep yourself happy? love!

What do you fear the most? I fear the country is losing its way. I fear for the way my grandchildren are going to have to grow up.

What are some of your great accomplishments? Living to be almost 92 and my family.

Last time you spewed something through your nose from laughing so hard? My martini when my granddaughter tasted an olive and hated it so bad and spit it out.

Favorite comedian? Bob Hope

Last book you read? A documentary on WWII

Favorite charity to support? Saint Jude.

What else would you like for us to know about you? I feel like I just tried to live a good live and do the right things. Sometimes I made mistakes But, life just keeps going on. I moved from Kentucky with my wife to Florida all alone no other family. Now I look back and know it was the right decision. My life feels very fulfilled.

16 header Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 golf bachelor

MECCA MAGIC: Gaylord Golf Mecca Produces Perfect Golf Packages

Whethergolfers are looking for the best option for one round or a stay-and-play group getaway, the Gaylord Golf Mecca has the experience, experts and options to help make magical golf happen.

The 20 lodging partners and 16 golf courses in the Gaylord Golf Mecca are in full booking mode for the 2024 golf season, with new packages still popping up on their comprehensive website –

At, golfers can pick a package that works for their unique group, including the courses they covet playing and the perfect place to stay. All the courses, resorts and lodging members work together. It’s as simple as contacting the experienced Mecca people who take care of the details.

Consider the Otsego Resort with 80 guestrooms in lodges with an Alpine log-cabin feel, the Duck Blind Grille and two golf courses. This is the resort that started Gaylord’s connection with the Alpine theme and Swiss architecture you’ll see throughout the community. The comfortable

room options are offered at comfortable price points. If you’re looking for luxury, groups rave about the Hilltop Lodge and its aptly named Great Room in the center and the spacious modern units all around. It’s perfect for group gatherings and celebrations.

As for the golf, there are two courses, including The Tribute, one of the top courses in the Mecca.

The Gary Koch/Rick Robbins design

takes golfers up and down the picturesque acres of the Sturgeon River Valley. The Classic, the original course on site, provides a historic golf experience and is friendly for family golf, seniors and juniors. Otsego Resort has built a reputation for having some of the most knowledgeable package specialists in the Mecca.

Meanwhile, the experience promised at Treetops Resort,

18 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 golf travel
Treetops Fazio Hole #11 Green Beaver Creek

with five golf courses and the area’s largest variety of lodging options, is an all-inclusive study in quality and quantity.

Amenities, gorgeous views and more can be found at Treetops Resort’s Lodge, Inn, condominiums and the Jones cottages. If golfers can’t find their optimum choice of lodging at Treetops, then those choices can’t be found.

When it comes to golf, the resort is home to 81 holes of elite golf, and 90 if you count the ninehole putting course called The Himalayas. The Masterpiece by Robert Trent Jones and Premier by Tom Fazio, along with Rick Smith’s Signature, Tradition and Threetops par 3 make for an unmatched collection over 1,500 acres of green. The packages and possibilities

don’t end there. That’s just two resort examples and just two of the 20 lodging partners. Baymont By Wyndham and the Quality Inn are among the many area accommodations that are package partners in the Mecca. Or choose a package that includes the log cabins at Beaver Creek Properties, charming and packed with amenities.

Black Lake Golf Club, home to the award-winning Rees Jones designed championship golf course, also has golf packages. The beat goes on with packages involving Gaylord Golf Club, Indian River Golf Club, Lakes of the North Golf Course, The Pines at Michaywe and Garland Lodge & Golf Resort, which is home to four courses (Fountains, Monarch, Reflections, Swampfire).

19 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3
options can be accessed through the website
All package
It’s magical.
Otsego Resort Garland Swampfire Hole #9

Where Nature Awaits your Arrival

Geographically diverse destinations with visually stimulating sights and scenes. That descriptive phrase is the best way to summarize the appeal of making pitstops along the Georgia Golf Trail which stretches from the Sky Valley Country Club in northern Georgia to The Lakes Course at the Laura S.Walker State Park in southern Georgia. As it turns out, many of the golf courses along the Georgia Golf Trail are located within Georgia state parks, which are filled with a long list of natural attractions and entertaining options such as fishing, boating, swimming, hiking,

horseback riding, bird watching, bicycling, and backpacking, among others.

“In Georgia, we have more than 60 state parks, of which nine of them have golf courses, all of which are part of the Georgia Golf Trail,” said Georgia Golf Trail Founder Doug Hollandsworth. “The state park system in Georgia does a great job of catering to the recreational needs and demands of its visitors, whether they play golf or not.”

The best way to highlight the dynamic diversity of what Georgia state parks have to offer is to provide an editorial snapshot of a few of my best memories while

traveling around the Peach State in pursuit of ‘Old Man Par’ and fun in ‘The Great Outdoors.’

Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge (McRae, Georgia)

The Wallace Adams Golf Course –nicknamed Little Augusta -- reminds golfers of what the Augusta National Golf Club looks like. This golf course is dominated by loblolly pines which divide many of the fairways from one another. Here, visitors enjoying spending the night in one of 60 air-conditioned rooms in the lodge, swimming in the outdoor pool, and taking bike rides around the park.

BTW: Here, the sweet ice tea is delicious.

Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa

(Young Harris, Georgia)

The atmosphere at Brasstown Valley is refreshing, relaxing, and re-energizing. The golf course

20 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 georgia golf trail
Sight seeing opportunities abound in Georgia Fishing is a popular pursuit Visitors enjoy access to canoes

is very well maintained, cleverly designed, and entertaining to play. Outside of golf, you can go horseback riding, book a massage at the Equani Spa, play tennis, or enjoy hiking around the surrounding North Georgia Mountains. BTW: Brassie’s Grill has great burgers, salads, and sandwiches.

The Creek GC at Hard Labor Creek State Park (Social Circle, Georgia)

While golfers enjoy the beauty and the appeal of The Creek Golf Course, boaters and fishermen are attracted to Hard Labor Creek State Park because of the presence and access to Lake Rutledge. A day on the water of Lake Rutledge is time well spent. BTW: Golf Digest Frugal Golfer has listed The Creek as the “4th sweetest deal in the USA.”

Arrowhead Pointe Golf Course at Richard B. Russell State Park (Elberton, Georgia)

The Arrowhead Pointe Golf Course is one of the more popular destinations along the Georgia Golf Trail. Many park visitors spend their nights in campers or motor homes, which can be perched along Lake Richard B. Russell. This park also has a large swimming beach along the lake which is a popular destination for families with children who enjoy a day at the beach and frolicking in the water. Lake Richard B. Russell provides some of the best boating and fishing opportunities in Georgia. Canoe and kayak rentals are also available. BTW: This park is known for its first-class disc golf course, which is free to play.

Unicoi State Park (Nacoochee, Georgia)

Located on the outskirts of Helen, Georgia, the Unicoi State Park and Lodge is located in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest in North Georgia. At Unicoi, you can canoe, paddle-board, fish, and kayak on Unicoi Lake. Here, the hiking trails are another popular recreational choice. BTW: Unico is also an 11-minute drive from the scenic Anna Ruby Falls and less than a ten-minute trip from the Valhalla Resort and Golf Club, a Georgia Golf Trail destination, in nearby Helen.

You now have great reasons to make a trip to the Georgia Golf Trail and visit the more than 60 state parks scattered around Georgia. If it’s your first visit, I can guarantee you that it won’t be your last.

21 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3
The Georgia Golf Trail ( and Georgia’s 60+ state parks ( await your arrival. 21
One of many observation decks Vogel Lake Waterfalls are in plentiful supply in Georgia

PGA professionals all across the nation are changing the game day by day. It takes persistence, passion, and an overall hope for a better future to obtain the achievements that this man has. There is not a better personification of the PGA of America’s core values, than Mr. Derek Sprague.

I first met Mr. Sprague at the 2024 PGA Show. I had the distinct pleasure of joining Mr. Sprague for lunch, as he was a guest speaker at an “Industry Mentors’’ luncheon. The first thing I noticed about Mr. Sprague was his ability to engage those around him. Surrounded by timid students, he fostered a learning environment where students felt free to ask him questions about his life and career. He indulged our curiosities about his time as President of the PGA of America as well as his current position at TPC Sawgrass. His impressive resume was a hot topic to say the least. As aforementioned, Mr. Sprague served as the PGA of America’s president for the years of 20152016. His presidency was spent leading the 28,000 male and female PGA of America professionals into the future of the golf industry. In 2019 he was inducted into the PGA’s Hall of Fame with the class of Davis Love III, Annika Sorenstam, and Karsten Solheim. To rank him amongst these industry shapers is no mistake. Derek Sprague is the living embodiment of what it means to be a game changer. It’s easy to forget that Mr. Sprague’s career in the golf

Derek Sprague A Lifetime of Achievements

industry started long before his time in office. He spent over 27 years at Malone Golf Club in Malone, New York. During this time there he “ Quadrupled revenue and returned company to profitability after near bankruptcy”. He says that his time at Malone Golf Club “ laid the foundation for the leader I am today”. After his impressive stretch at Malone Golf Club he was appointed to run Liberty National by the PGA Tour. He spent two years at the facility continuing to elevate an already prestigious course. After his time as President, you might think “where could he possibly go from here”? With his ambitions still impossibly high, Mr. Sprague turned his eyes to Ponte

Vedra Beach, Florida.

Sprague became the General Manager of TPC Sawgrass in January of 2018. The year 2024 marked his seventh Players Championship as well as the tournament’s 50th anniversary. It was at this year’s Players Championship that I met Derek Sprague for the 2nd time. He took time out of his Saturday, third round, schedule to meet me. He might have been the busiest man on property at the time and was still kind enough to meet a student writer. This is just one firsthand example of how he inspires the next generation. During our interview I asked Mr. Sprague, “With this being your seventh year

22 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 leader on the links

here, do things seem to get easier each year?” to which he responded “Yes and no. Certainly to a degree things can go smoother” He went on to explain that the goal is to

improve the tournament every year. This means new vendors, new employees, new ideas to execute. He says he never knows what “fire’s he will have to put out” year to year. He

emphasizes that TPC Sawgrass and the PGA Tour rely on the integration of each other to succeed in hosting an event this large. Sprague compares the unification to that of a well oiled machine. He says, “we’re (Sawgrass and the Tour) one in the same”. I was curious about how such a busy individual manages to find moments of downtime. I asked him “How are you going to relax once this tournament is over”? Sprague gave a little laugh and stated, “We draft off the success of the tournament. April (the month after The Players) is our busiest month. We have lots of corporate events coming up and are proud hosts of the PGA Works Collegiate Championship.” There is never a quiet moment at a club of this level. Finally I asked the most significant question of the day, “What does the 50th Players Championship mean to both you and to TPC Sawgrass?” He stated,“It means everything.”

I would like to extend my gratitude to Mr. Derek Sprague for dedicating his time to meet with me and generously sharing his remarkable story.

23 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3
Mr. Sprague and Kennedy

Orion Golf Pioneered the Business of Golf Management Solutions

Orion Golf Management Solutions got into the business of golf management with just one goal in mind – to provide quality management solutions without the cookie-cutter approach of other national companies.

Orion first learns what the goals are and then works tirelessly to achieve those goals.

Orion, based in Leawood, Kansas, tailors its service packages much the same way it tailors its approach to customers, giving facility owners what they need. Some owners require more supervision, while others simply need periodic assessment of their short- and long-term strategies and programs.

Orion can be contacted to develop a business plan with an

existing staff or can assist with the daily management of a facility or event. Either way, the purpose is always to make sure the client is satisfied and understands the direction the facility needs to take to achieve the owner’s goals.

Orion Golf has a variety of individual packages to choose

from that best suits their facility and needs. The people at Orion Golf can help with daily course management, business plan development, evaluation of course operations and staffing.

Orion Golf also offers consulting for pro shop operations and other organizations needed assistance with buying and purchasing. Their staff can help a business whether its purpose is to manage a retail shop, an annual charity fundraiser, golf tournament or other promotional event. Orion Golf will source gifts, prizes, logo gear and merchandise based on specific needs of the client.

Orion Golf is a proud sponsor of the “From the Rough” Golf podcast heard on and your favorite podcast app.

24 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 golf business
How can Orion Golf Management Solutions help you? Click or call (913)428-0633 today to find out!


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A Fresh Approach Pays off at Tennessee’s Fairfield Glade

A vital and flourishing golf and resort lifestyle community founded in 1970 and located about an hour from Knoxville, Tenn., Fairfield Glade now has 9,100 residents, 5,800 homes, five golf courses, and 18,000+ members who live all over the country. Aside from golf, there are 11 lakes, three swimming pools, an indoor racquet center, pickleball courts, and 20-some miles of walking trails. One thing that stood out as an area of need was the quality of food service at one of the property’s most high-profile food and beverage

venues, the Stonehenge Grille.

In March of 2023, Bobby Jones Links (BJL) was hired to manage food and beverage operations at Fairfield Glade, aiming to improve financial performance and member engagement at Stonehenge Grille and four snack bars.

“We hired Bobby Jones Links for two primary reasons,” says Bruce Cox, one of the board members at Fairfield Glade. “One was fiduciary – we needed to turn around the subsidy of our F&B department. The other was member satisfaction and improving our members’

26 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 cuisine on the green
Stonehenge Grill by Oliver

experience. We wanted people to come to our restaurant, have dinner, enjoy themselves, think it’s great, and want to come back. We did a survey before Bobby Jones Links got here, and a lot of people said they’d been to Stonehenge, didn’t like it, and had no intention of coming back.”

After Bobby Jones Links took over, visitors and revenue increased at Stonehenge, as did the member experience. This year, menu prices reflect the improved food quality and offers, which has helped profit – but Fairfield Glade members also receive a generous 20-percent discount. Visitors pay a higher price for food and members don’t complain because they enjoy the perks of belonging.

“We did our homework on the menu at Stonehenge, keeping the most popular items and adding some newer options and a rotation of specials that have become big hits. We also employ a seasonal menu so we’re always offering in-season ingredients and keeping the menu options fresh,” said Bobby Jones Links Senior Vice President of Operations Mike Nolen. “The other aspect that improved service was walking the staff through what we call the Customer Journey, so they’re anticipating a customer’s expectations and they’re in a position to exceed them. Then from a presentation standpoint, we’re making sure Stonehenge has a consistently inviting feel for its diners.”

The results have been significant. Stonehenge saw a surge in patrons served of more than 20,000 and improved its NOI (Net Operating Income) by 24 percent. Overall, the total food and beverage income at the Stonehenge venues has risen 28 percent with positive cash flow in the six figures.

The process of training staffers has helped, according to Cox. “We

have a few long-term food and beverage employees at Stonehenge who have benefitted from the fresh ideas and training provided by Bobby Jones Links,” says Cox. “It’s definitely helping people notice the difference. People are coming in and they’re coming back. On Next Door, there’s been nothing but accolades about how great the food and service have been. People recognize that the quality of food is better, and the menu offerings are better. It’s been a very positive impact.”

Overall, Cox says he’s been very impressed with the training Bobby Jones Links has given the food and beverage employees.

“Bobby Jones Links has the right leadership,” he says. “Several senior people and support staff in F&B came in and not only did the training, but they’ll come in and do assessments as well. They give their feedback, too. All that combined improves the performance of our restaurant and snack bars.”

Turnarounds like the improved dining experience at Fairfield

Glade’s Stonehenge are common with Bobby Jones Links at the helm. Nolen says while there are certainly business formulas that work at properties like this, it’s the process of making the people behind the service invested in a better product and a better experience that carries the day. “Things as simple as letting servers know they’re empowered to solve any issues that will bring more customer satisfaction make a difference in the flow of the business and everyone’s overall satisfaction,” he said. “When things are operating efficiently, we can do things more creatively like adding more special themed dining nights. The fish fry night has become popular at Stonehenge and we can build on the creativity and special feel that’s coming together here.”

Nolen adds that improving the speed of service and elevating the food options at the club’s snack bars is the next work in progress and adds that “it’s really promising to see food and beverage operations improve across the board at Fairfield Glade.”

27 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3

For those seeking a seamless and luxurious travel experience between the vibrant locales of the Northeast and Florida, HeliFlite offers an exclusive solution. With over 25 years of expertise, HeliFlite provides premier helicopter services, ensuring private, convenient access to key destinations throughout the Northeast and South Florida, bypassing the usual travel congestions of road or commercial air travel.

Anchored by the largest selection of twin-engine, dualpilot helicopters on the East

Coast, including the Sikorsky S-76, and Leonardo AW139, HeliFlite emphasizes personalization and flexibility, allowing clients to craft travel schedules that fit their unique needs for charters servicing up to 8 passengers. Whether it’s a quick hop from Manhattan, a business meeting in downtown Miami, or a weekend getaway to the serene beaches of the Hamptons, HeliFlite ensures your journey is both comfortable and efficient.

Flight times from Manhattan to East Hampton are just 40 minutes, while trips to popular destinations in Connecticut, Philadelphia, or

Boston can also avoid the typical traffic and delays. For added convenience, HeliFlite also offers private helicopter transfers to major airports including Teterboro, JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark, ensuring a swift and stress-free journey to and from your flights. Their service is anchored by a fleet of twin-engine, helicopters, renowned for their safety and comfort, piloted by experienced professionals dedicated to providing a superior travel experience. All helicopters in the fleet are operated by HeliFlite and offer quiet, comfortable, luxury cabins.  HeliFlite provides their clients with exclusive access to events and places like the Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix, Watson Island Seaplane Base in Miami, East Hampton Airport’s Executive Terminal, and their favorite golf course.   HeliFlite has a travel solution to meet your needs.  They will customize a program based on your usage and offer introductory programs that provide cost-effective options with guaranteed availability.

With HeliFlite, each trip is not just a travel necessity but part of a luxurious lifestyle where every journey underscores the height of convenience and exclusivity, catering to those who value time and comfort when traveling.

28 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 golf travel

Ideal location, great value and multiple options available for hotel guests at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs® Resort

First-time and frequent visitors

to the Walt Disney World Resort need look no further than the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs® Resort Complex as their top choice their criteria is value for price paid, proximity and multiple planning options.

The Wyndham and Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs® properties are both official Walt Disney World Resort hotels and they are located just a short walk away from Disney Springs®, which offers an abundance of shopping, dining and entertainment options.

And if your main reason for being in Orlando is the Walt Disney World Resort, then as guests of the hotels, you can take advantage of hourly shuttle service to the Walt Disney World Theme Parks as well as 30-minute early access into all four of them.

“We offer value and so many options,” said Jay Leonard, who is now in his 17th year as General Manager. “We’re two hotels on one resort, so you have such an advantage. We look at ourselves as a value resort and a mid-scale resort so, from a price point, you have two choices and I think that’s important for customers planning their next visit.”

Guests at the Wyndham and Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs® hotels can take advantage of many

shared amenities. A recent room renovation includes 394 newly reimagined garden-themed rooms for the value-minded guest, plus another 232 rooms in the upscale 19-story Wyndham LBV overlooking Disney Springs®, which features a lake house motif.

If you fancy an evening of musical entertainment at the House of Blues, a wide array of dinner options or you want to take in Drawn to Life presented by Cirque du Soleil & Disney, then you are perfectly situated for all that and more at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort Complex.

“And we’re ideally located here on Lake Buena Vista, with Disney Springs® just minutes away on

foot over a pedestrian bridge out in front of our hotel lobby,” said Leonard. “It is estimated that well over 20 million visitors go to Disney Springs®. Its food experience is probably second to none in this community.”

In fact, the many attractions in Disney Springs® are more than enough for many visitors.

“There are people who come here, especially around the holidays, who don’t go to the park,” said Leonard. “Especially over Thanksgiving and Christmas, when they start thinking about doing their holiday shopping. I have had people stay at our hotel just because there’s a concert happening over at the

30 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 stay & play
Disney's Lake Buena Vista Photo by Russell Kirk Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs® Resort

House of Blues - they’ll come here, spend the weekend, and maybe go to The Boathouse, Wolfgang Puck or STK for dinner.”

Seasonal room rates in the complex range from $109 to $229 per night and the two hotels on Walt Disney World property are located just 17 miles from Orlando International Airport. Paid transportation options to and from the airport include ride-share services Uber, Lyft and Mears Connect, which is available 24 hours a day.

“Then you have people coming here for bridal shower festivities at Disney Springs®, or for the AMC theater where they do movie introductions for Marvel and stuff like that,” said Leonard. “Then you have Cirque that people are coming in to see. So, there are lots of good reasons why you can come to our hotel.”

The dining options at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort Complex are also plentiful.

The Lakeview Restaurant, where Mickey Mouse waffles are a star attraction, offers an All-American breakfast buffet in a relaxed atmosphere while the outdoor Oasis Restaurant and its newly reimagined poolside eatery features a delicious chef-inspired menu as well as refreshing beverages.

Located in the hotel lobby, the

Eclipse Lounge is a favorite place to meet for daily happy hour and cocktails as evening begins or to celebrate the

end of a fun-filled, action-packed day at the theme parks. Here guests can enjoy some of Florida’s finest spirits and craft brews, handcrafted cocktails prepared to order, and light bites which include cheese boards and flat breads.

Other options in the hotel lobby area are The 24/7 Sundial Restaurant, which offers a wide assortment of light, self-service food and beverage items, and Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company, providing barista service, unique pastries and breakfast sandwiches.

“We offer so many options to our guests,” said Leonard. “Also, I believe we have the nicest pool experience and the nicest pool restaurant

experience around here. We have transportation to and from the parks on the hour, so guests don’t have to worry about being tied down to going to one park and then moving their cars over to the next park. You can just go through the transportation system that’s existing. We’re just a great location. It’s all about location, location, location.

The resort is also 5-minute drive to Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Club for those who want to tee it up during their stay.

“I remind everybody that we’re the third hotel ever built in Walt Disney World but, more importantly, we’re the first hotel ever built in the Disney Springs® Resort area,” said Leonard. “If you play off of what the Springs is supposed to be as a turnof-the-century community, we were the first hotel in that community. Once people get here and see our proximity to Disney Springs® and what Disney Springs® has to offer, they keep coming back.”

31 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3
Oasis Pool Wyndham Garden One Queen Accessible Guest Room Wyndham Lake Buena Vista


Black Currant Whiskey Old Fashioned

Cocktail Recipe

❧ 2 oz Von Payne Black

❧ 2 Dashes Aromatic Bitters

❧ Luxardo Cherry

❧ Splash of Water

❧ Orange Peel


Black Currant Whiskey Mule

Cocktail Recipe

❧ 2 oz Von Payne Black

❧ 4oz Ginger Beer

❧ 1/2oz Key Lime Juice


Currant Whiskey Sour

I ngredients:

❧ 2 oz Von Payne Black Whiskey

❧ 1 oz fresh lemon juice

❧ 1/4 oz simple syrup

❧ 1/2 oz egg white or Fee Foam (optional for texture)

❧ Lemon twist and black currants for garnish





❧ 4oz Fresh Lemonade

❧ 2oz Ginger Beer

❧ 2oz Von Payne Black Whiskey

❧ 4 Mint Leaves

❧ Lemon Wheel

❧ Rocks Glass

❧ Rocks Ice

❧ Cocktail Umbrella

32 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3

Bushwood Blackberry

Bourbon Smash Recipe:

■ 2oz Bushwood Bourbon

■ 1oz Simple Syrup

■ 1oz Lemon Jc.

■ 3 Blackberries

■ Fresh Mint

■ Shaken

■ Top with soda

Bushwood represents an unbridled lifestyle, free of the constraints of convention. Our products are approachable, combining premium quality and affordability. The Bushwood story is unique and entertaining, and our name inspires humorous anecdotes the world over. Our carefully crafted, custom bottles are almost as beautiful empty as they are before the celebration begins, and the award-winning liquid inside each and every bottle speaks to the care and craftmanship born of the quest for perfection. You’ll find both our story and yours with every sip you take.

Available at: King & Prince

competitive spirits

Nestled in the Catskill Mountains lies the Monster golf club, a golfer’s haven. Crafted by Rees Jones, this 18-hole, par-72 championship course is a masterpiece. Impeccable conditions and top-notch service promise an unforgettable round. With six sets of tees, players of all levels enjoy the challenge, especially from the formidable “M” tees. Check-in at the Monster Pro Shop in Alder Hotel at Resorts World Catskills. Complete with a full casino, Resorts World Catskills casino provides unparalleled gaming like no other in the region. The casino showcases over 150 live table games that include Blackjack, Craps, Baccarat, and Roulette, along with 1,600 slot machines. Multiple dining options are available on property to please every appetite. Indulge in a succulent steak from Celebrity Chef

Be Friends with the Monster

Scott Conant’s Cellaio, experience authentic Chinese delicacies at Lotus, or visit Dos Gatos Cantina at The Alder for classic Mexican fare with a fresh twist. With two unique hotel tower options, there’s something for everyone at Resorts

World Catskills. Rest up in the all-suite main tower or opt for a more boutique vibe at The Alder, serving as an extension of the existing casino resort campus. The Monster is the ultimate “Stay and Play” destination in the region.

34 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 golf travel
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Ballistic Golf

Ballistic Golf shot into the club-making scene in July of 2019. Founder Kyle Carpenter had a clear mission: to create clubs that suited his own preferences and playing style while also considering the needs of other golfers. Carpenter said, “Simply put, I wanted to create clubs that looked great in the bag, were easy to look down at, and most of all performed to people's expectations.” Carpenter started Ballistic Golf out of his basement in Southeast Iowa, carefully designing each club to meet the Ballistic Golf standard. His passion and dedication paid off, and he has now expanded the business internationally to South Korea.

The Ballistic Golf arsenal includes both cavity back and muscle back irons, forged wedges, as well as blade and mallet putters. Golf Central Magazine tested the Forged Muscle Back Irons. Ballistic Golf iron sets can be custom built with 3-PW and 4-PW options. When selecting your iron set, you can choose from four shaft companies: True Temper, KBS, Project X, and Nippon. Throughout testing, we noticed the iron design provides a slim appearance, while the forged head offers significant forgiveness on mishits. Upon setup, each iron is appealing to the eye and gives a boost of confidence before each swing. Ballistic Golf irons are crafted with traditional lofts, enabling players to achieve more spin and higher attack angles into greens. This combination of features ensures that players can perform at their best on the course.

In addition to their performance, Ballistic Golf irons are built with meticulous attention to detail, ensuring durability and consistency across every iron set. The combination of aesthetic appeal, playability, and craftsmanship makes Ballistic Golf irons a strong choice for golfers at all levels. For more information and links to the online store, you can follow @ballisticgolf on social media.

Blue Tees Golf


— Blue Tees Golf custom golf products elevate any golf event to produce an unforgettable experience —

Blue Tees Golf, the market leader in golf technology, is happy to present its custom logo program, designed to help companies, golf courses, and organizations elevate their gifting and create unforgettable events.

“We’ve added the award-winning Player+ touchscreen GPS speaker and Player Go audible GPS speaker to the Blue Tees Golf custom products portfolio, something we’re proud to be able to offer our customers,” said Patrick Cummings, Business Development Director at Blue Tees Golf. “Both of these golf speakers provide an impactful gift for charity tournaments, member-guest events, corporate outings, and more.”

The Player+ touchscreen GPS speaker combines smart technology with premium audio to create an immersive sound experience. Not only does it serve as a highquality speaker for music, but it also provides audible distances, thanks to its sleek touchscreen display. The Player+ GPS Speaker can be paired with multiple speakers simultaneously, boasts an ultra-strong magnet for easy attachment to any golf cart, includes a built-in USB-C power bank, and is fully IPX7 waterproof.

The Player Go audible GPS speaker is the most compact speaker in the Blue Tees Golf speaker line, and it produces a rich and premium audio experience. It provides audible distances to the nearest hazards, as well as distances from the front, center, and back of the greens. When paired with the Blue Tees Game mobile app, Auto-course recognition helps to show where the closest course is. With over 40,000 courses mapped, the Blue Tees Game app provides access to the course’s data, like distances and hazards.

Reach out to the Blue Tees Golf team at orders@ to collaborate with them as you plan your next unforgettable event.

Web: / Instagram: @blueteesgolf

36 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 product showcase


• 061
** * *

Golf with Gurus in New Delhi, India

From the moment I arrived, I knew that the sights, sounds and senses were psyched to experience one of the most exotic destinations in the world.

Okay, granted, New Delhi may not be foremost on golfers’ minds but for me, playing my favourite

sport in India was an awesome opportunity to combine two of my favourite passions – travel and golf.

When you travel this far, though, you simply must take in the numerous historical sites of Old Delhi including the Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Humayun’s

Tomb, the Lotus Temple and the diplomatic enclave that includes Parliament House, India Gate and the President’s Estate.

“With a thousand years of history, it is a city of contrasts that combines a unique ambience of ancient and the modern,”

38 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 international golf travel
ITC Grand Bharat & Classic Golf Course photo courtesy of ITC President's Estate in New Dehli

my host Bharat Bedi of Eastern Sojourns so eloquently stated. It was a theme that resonated with me for the rest of my brief stay.

Did you know that India has a long history with the game. In 1829, Royal Calcutta was the first club opened outside of Great Britain - a full 44 years before the game reached the shores of North America. Now there are 430 golf courses. I got to stay and play at three of the nearby resorts.

Jaypee Greens Golf & Spa Resort is surrounded by 450 acres of lush green space, villas, townhouses, and towering condominiums, it felt like I was in an “oasis in the city.”

The Greg Norman Signature course, built in 2000, holds the title of India’s first ever 18-hole golf course. Norman’s team transformed a flat, featureless piece of property into a gently rolling terrain with 14 manmade ponds and 88 bunkers.

ITC Grand Bharat is light years away from the hustle and bustle of the city. This luxury retreat is built on 3000 acres of secluded property and possibly the most opulent resort you will find anywhere in India.

Their Classic Golf Resort is the first Jack Nicklaus signature course ever built in South Asia. The 27-hole layout offers three distinct nines. I found The Ridge to have gentle rolling fairways with substantial bunkering. The Valley has plenty of water, and The Canyon Course serves up craggy views of the

DLF Golf & Country Club has two championship 18-hole layouts.

The original parkland-style Arnold Palmer Course has consistently been ranked as one of the best courses in India. It also features nine holes where you can play night golf under the lights. However, in 2015, the Gary Player Course opened and may have taken Arnie off his pedestal. His team excavated the rock quarries and brought in indigenous dholpur stone to form

unique stone pillars that define the dramatic deep-faced bunkers.

Golf in India has certainly come a long way! Bharat summed it up the best. “The Indian heritage and cultural experience, modern India, now coupled with a choice of golfing destinations make for an irresistible travel package.”

So, take the road less traveled, follow your passion and seek out the unknown. I guarantee you’ll come back with memories that will last a lifetime.

39 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3
picturesque Aravali foothills. My new friend at Ganash Chaturthi (Elephant God) Celebration DLF –Gary Player 9th hole from the clubhouse Jaypee Greens —an Oasis in the city

Am’s for the Nature Coast

The Nature Coast Golf Tour is an amateur tour playing mostly in Citrus, Hernando, Marion, Lake, Levy and Sumter Counties and including a 2-day trip to Innisbrook resort for rounds at the Island Course and Copperhead.  We’re playing 22 tournaments this season from September 7, 2024 thru May 31, 2025.  The tour is flighted for all levels of golfers.  All of our tournaments are individual stroke play with gross scoring.  No minimum number of rounds needed as players can play as much or as little as they’d like.  We’re supporting Honor Flight of West Central Florida and any veteran/current military, police/ fire or 1st responder will receive a $20 discount on our membership fee ($75 regular, $55 military, police/ fire, 1st resp).  We’re a sister tour to the Ohio Valley Golf Association (OVGA Tour) in Cincinnati which I started in 2004 and is playing their 21st season this year.

For more info:


July 20 – Preseason Open Tournament, Citrus National - $40

Aug 24 – Preseason Open Tournament, Brooksville CC - $42

Sep 7 – Opening Day, Citrus National - $40

Sep 21 – Beverly Hills Championship, Twisted Oaks - $50

Oct 5 – Marion County Championship, SummerGlen - $45

Oct 19 – Crystal River Championship, Plantation at Crystal River – TBD

Nov 2 – Golf Central Championship, Eagle Ridge – TBD

Nov 16 – The Villages Classic, The Links at Spruce Creek South – TBD

Nov 23 – Chiefland Championship, Chiefland CC – TBD

Dec 14 – The Florida Masters, Juliette Falls - $75 (MAJOR)

Jan 4 – Innisbrook Classic, Island Course - $125

Jan 5 – Tampa Championship, Copperhead - $150 (MAJOR)

Jan 11 – Wildwood Championship, Continental CC - $57

Jan 25 – Ocala Championship, Ocala National - $40

Feb 8 – Silver Springs Championship, Silver Springs Shores - $41

Feb 22 – Hernando Championship, Citrus Hills – Oaks - $58

Mar 8 – Dunnellon Championship, Preserve Golf Club - $29

Mar 22 – Sunshine State Open, Hernando Oaks - $58 (MAJOR)

Apr 5 – Summerfield Championship, Eagle Ridge – TBD

Apr 19 – Nature Coast Championship, Brooksville CC - $60 (MAJOR)

May 3 – Citrus County Championship, Citrus Springs CC - $39

May 17 – Inverness Championship, Lakeside CC - $37

May 31 – Tour Championship, Royal Oaks Golf Club - $54

40 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 what's new

SuperStroke Congratulates Davis Riley on Five-Shot Victory at The Charles Schwab Challenge

27-year-old Mississippi native finishes 14-under to claim second career win

SuperStroke, the No. 1 Putter Grip in golf and the leader in innovative Tour-proven golf grip technology, congratulates rising PGA TOUR star Davis Riley on capturing his second career win by outdistancing the Charles Schwab Challenge field by five strokes.

“Congratulations to Davis Riley on an incredibly impressive fivestroke win at the Charles Schwab Challenge with many of the game’s best players hot on his heels,” said SuperStroke CEO Dean Dingman. “To make just over 100 feet of putts on these challenging greens – with his SuperStroke Zenergy Pistol Tour grip in hand – was just a clutch performance in every way for a great young champion.

SuperStroke’s Zenergy Pistol putter grips merge a pistol-style top section that helps golfers lock in their upper hand position with “No Taper Technology” to help golfers maintain even grip pressure and boost the consistency of their stroke.

The Prestigious Deerwood Country Club Welcomes New General Manager

Deerwood Country Club in Jacksonville, Florida, is pleased to welcome C. Thayer Kern to the role of Club General Manager. After a tremendously successful career at the helm of The Lodge & Club Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, Kern will oversee the multi-million-dollar club beautification and renovation as it enters its final phases through 2026.

‘My love of hospitality for the past

30+ years has placed me in the enviable position of leading this tremendous team at Deerwood and at an extremely exciting time. I have been fortunate to work alongside and learn from the absolute best in both restaurants and private clubs and look forward to bringing that passion to Deerwood,” said Kern. “We’re proud to boast a history of member loyalty and lasting memories through multiple generations of families, who live within the gates of this incredible club-community!”

Visit for the latest club news.

42 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 golf central station
C. Thayer Kern Davis Riley

Set on a pristine white sand beach, Baha Mar perfectly balances an array of spectacular experiences with luxurious relaxation in the pure Caribbean sunshine. Exquisite dining experiences from world-renowned chefs, lush tropical pools, The Bahamas’ top golf course, and our new 15-acre luxury water park Baha Bay await.


Layla and Marley Pedrique

In the realm of sports, sibling connections are not uncommon. The Williams sisters dominated the tennis courts, the Manning brothers etched their names in NFL history, and of course, the Korda name reverberates loudly throughout the golf world. Yet, within the realms of the FSGA, another sibling pair, Layla and Marley Pedrique, are carving their own remarkable path.

Layla Pedrique, a 2025 grad, is the older of the two sisters. Layla has verbally committed to Florida State University in which she will compete as a member of the Women’s Golf team. This commitment to a top golf program comes only after hard work and success as a junior player. Layla has already captured a win on the Florida Junior Tour this season to add to her five other career wins. She also competes in FSGA Championships, and advanced to the Round of 16 at the 94th Women’s Amateur championship last season.

Marley, a 2028 grad, is following closely in her older sister’s footsteps. She has captured two Florida Junior Tour victories this season coming less than a month apart. In total, Marley has won twelve times on the Florida Junior Tour, and she was also one of the youngest competitors in the Junior Florida Cup last year. She competed as a member of the South Team, and helped her team to defend the cup for another year. Marley held a record of (2-1-1). She also holds several FJT records after her win at the 2021 Futures Championship which include, lowest final round of a 69, and largest winning margin of 17 strokes.

Layla explains how the FSGA has been a vital part of their junior golf careers, “The FSGA has done an incredible job supporting us through Team Florida. Not only does it allow us to play in their events, but also all the USGA events that we have qualified for.” Layla further added, “Playing on the FJT has really helped our game develop and it’s great to play against the best junior golfers in Florida. We are extremely grateful for everything they have done for us.”

Both sisters are members of Team Florida, which is our awards

Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3
florida state golf association florida state golf association florida state golf associ

program that identifies the top40 junior golfers around the state. These players have not only demonstrated exceptional playing ability in local, state, and national tournaments, but also display sportsmanship and etiquette. This program provides funding support to players that can be used to offset costs of traveling and competing in competitions. Team Florida members are also provided access to additional services from golf centric training programs to data analytics.

Marley is going through her first season as a member of Team Florida and she described it as, “Already so far, it has been extremely helpful and very supportive. I love seeing the emails from Team Florida every month, and it is just really cool to see how everyone else is doing.” She further explained, “Being on the team with my older sister is super cool. We are provided with financial support, but it goes further than that. The community support through Brian and Emily have put us in a lot of great connections with people, and we just feel so fortunate.”

Furthermore, Layla has played on the National stage at USGA events. She qualified for the U.S. Girls’ Junior in 2022 and 2023, as well as the 2023 U.S. Women’s Four-Ball Championship with partner, Kayla Bryant. Marley has not competed in a USGA event yet, but that is sure to come in her future. Last year, she was an onsite alternate for the Girls’ Junior, and the duo is currently preparing for qualifier season in hopes of making a National appearance this year.

When asked about her favorite USGA event, Layla described, “The Girls’ Junior in 2022. We played at

the Club at Olde Stone in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It is one of my favorite courses that I have ever played, and the whole event was just amazing.” Layla explained how her time competing on the Florida Junior Tour and FSGA championships helped her to prepare for events played on the national stage. “The FSGA has 100% helped me to prepare for USGA events. Not only do I see a lot of my friends and familiar faces that I grew up competing with, but they’re also some of the best players in the country. It helps me to feel more comfortable at the USGA events because it is a lot of the same players and competition that I have with the FSGA.”

Everyone’s ride through golf is unique, however not many are able to experience it with a sibling by their side. Having a sister to go through the ups and downs of the sport make the journey particularly special. Layla explained it as, “It’s amazing having a sister that competes at the same level as me. Going through all the tournaments, the journey, and the process together is definitely really cool.”

Marley added in, “I always have a practice partner, and a friend in the tournament. You know, there is always someone there for me, which is just really cool. It has helped my game, and helped me to grow.”

The pair played in the 94th Women’s Amateur last season and are preparing for the 95th Women’s Amateur Championship at the Bear’s Club June 13-16. They have yet to wind up in match play against each other, but that is still a possibility. One thing is for sure, even if they competed against each other, they would still be sisters at

the end of the day. Layla described it best as, “Golf is such a lonely sport, and it’s great to go through it with my sister. It is nice to always have someone on your team, even if you are competing against each other.” However, that is not the last of the Pedrique’s that will come through the FSGA. Marley and Layla have a little sister, who is preparing to start playing in Florida Junior Tour (9-12) events. The pair explained through laughter that the FSGA, “Won’t be getting rid of us for a while.” Their youngest sister, Taylor, has some great role models to look up to. Layla’s advice? “Play as many events as you can and build up your experience. Ultimately, it will build your confidence and that is really what this sport is about. Always believing in yourself. So I think that playing in a lot of events and testing yourself, proving to yourself that you can do it is critical in building up your game.”

The FSGA certainly welcomes another Pedrique to come through the organization, and we look forward to watching Marley continue to develop her game through the Florida Junior Tour. And as for Layla, who is on the tail end of her junior career, the FSGA is excited to watch her develop in college and return in the summers to compete in our championships. At every stage of a player’s career, regardless of age or experience level, the FSGA offers a tournament tailored to match the player. Witnessing players develop, and transition from one stage to the next, even stepping away only to return with renewed vigor and experience, while simultaneously watching siblings and families craft enduring memories, that is the true heart of the FSGA.

45 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3

The PGA Championship Returns to Valhalla Golf Club

The Kentucky PGA was ecstatic to have a major championship return to our home, with the 2024 PGA Championship marking Valhalla Golf Club’s fourth time as a host site. Throughout the week, it was fantastic to see PGA of America members from across the 41 Sections in the PGA Member Club. The KPGA would like to thank Corebridge Financial for sponsoring the club, which was an exceptional space for all. It was truly special to see so many PGA Professionals show the many reasons why We Love This Game!

The week was filled with unique events and opportunities for our PGA of America Professionals, such as Friday’s PGA Member Welcome Reception Presented by Corebridge Financial, and a raffle for a painting of Valhalla’s

18th hole by artist Cassy Tully. This one-of-a-kind piece was also signed by course architect Jack Nicklaus, and included sand from Valhalla’s bunkers in the paint. All proceeds from the raffle were donated to our Kentucky Golf Foundation, which houses our growth of the game initiatives. We are deeply grateful to Cassy for donating this beautiful painting! The KPGA would also like to

thank Championship Director Ryan Ogle, Valhalla’s General Manager Keith Reese, PGA, Head Professional Kyle Cramer, PGA, and the rest of Valhalla’s staff. Their hard work and dedication were instrumental in making the tournament a success. Thank you to all for a remarkable week, and congratulations to Xander Schauffele on his first major championship win!

product showcase PGA Kentucky PGA Kentucky PGA Kentucky PGA Kentucky PGA Kentucky PGA Kentucky PGA K Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 46

Anderson Outlasts The Field In The Yamaha Georgia Senior Open

PGA of America Life Member

Professional, Mark Anderson of Brunswick Country Club holds off a slew of five other’s, including the defending champion, amateur, Bob Royak at the Yamaha Georgia Senior Open title presented by Wilson Golf. The 42nd playing of the tournament took place at Chattahoochee Golf Club in Gainesville on June 3-4, 2024. After recording a 1-over par 73 in round 1 and down by two, Anderson fired a 2-under 70 to clinch the title. For his efforts, Anderson earned the 1st place check of $2,200. Those five others that finished at an even-par 144, one shot behind were amateurs Royak and Mark Nickerson. They were joined by Assistant PGA Professional Shawn Hodge of International City Golf Course, PGA Director of Instruction, Todd Ormsby of Canongate I Golf Club, and PGA Director of Instruction, Sonny Skinner of Spring Hill Country Club. - Michael Rakowski.

Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 PGA Georgia PGA Georgia PGA Georgia PGA Georgia PGA Georgia PGA Georgia PGA Georgia PG 47
Rod Perry, PGA and Jason Hrynkiw, PGA compete at the

2024 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship;

Perry makes cut!

Two North Florida PGA Members, Rod Perry, PGA and Jason Hrynkiw, PGA, followed John Somers, PGA by playing in another major (Somers competed at the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla) when they competed at the 2024 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores in Michigan!

Both Jason and Rod played hard against a very stout field. Jason was able to put together a strong round 2 score of +3 74, but was not able to make the cut. Rod started off the championship with a score of +5 76 in round 1. He would need a solid score the following day to make the cut, and he did just that! He shot an impressive bogey-free 4-under 67 in round 2 that included birdies on holes 3, 5, 7, and 17. The cut was at +3 and Rod’s +1 143 two-day total got him a starting

time on Saturday and Sunday. As we followed him on the weekend, he was able to finish strong in the final round with a score of +1 72. This solid finish capped off what was an exciting championship week for him.

Playing well in big events is nothing new to Perry. He has won multiple times in the NFPGA and won on the national stage when he took home the trophy at the 2013 PGA Professional Championship at the beautiful Sunriver Resort.

Having two PGA Members play in the 2024 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship is nothing short of spectacular and it was a thrill to see Jason and Rod in the field. Congratulations to Rod on making it to the weekend and his finish at this championship!

To learn more about the North Florida PGA, visit

Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 2 north florida PGA north florida PGA north florida PGA north florida PGA north florida PGA north 48
Rod Perry Photo Credit: PGA of America Jason Hrynkiw Photo Credit: PGA of America

Nearly $100,000 Raised for Local Veterans

The 8th annual PGA HOPE Classic presented by Keiser University raised nearly $100,000 to support PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) programming throughout south Florida.

This year, the South Florida PGA Foundation will conduct 24 PGA HOPE programs and impact over 400 Veterans in our local community.

north florida PGA north florida PGA north florida PGA north florida PGA north florida PGA north Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 south florida PGA south florida PGA south florida PGA south florida PGA south fl PGA south flor South Florida Section

Circling Raven Superintendent Completes Leadership Program



Recognized for Excellence in Golf Course Superintendents Association of America’s EXCEL Program

Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel

is proud to announce that Kal Zaranec, Superintendent at its award-winning Circling Raven Golf Course, has graduated from the prestigious EXCEL Leadership Program presented by Nufarm and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA).

Zaranec was one of six graduates recognized for completing the three-year program during a session, held April 15-17 in Raleigh and Pinehurst, North Carolina.

During the session, the EXCEL Leadership Program recognized Zaranec for completing the three-year mentorship and networking opportunity. Nineteen EXCEL Program participants in all learned and observed first-hand the preparation and requirements for hosting the USGA’s U.S. Open, which returns to Pinehurst No. 2 June 10-16.

The group also visited Nufarm’s new formulation development lab in Morrisville, NC, to learn about the extensive process of innovating new golf course solutions. EXCEL stands for “Educating” golf industry leaders of tomorrow; crosstraining opportunities so they can share what they have learned (“X”); “Creating” community

leaders who serve more than take; “Encouraging” future leaders through advisory boards and councils; and developing “Leaders” who will mentor others.

“Even being considered and accepted into the program three years ago was a huge achievement,” Zaranec said. “Now, graduating after three years of

Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 50
Kal Zaranec

leadership training, networking, and visits to some of the top golf courses and sports fields in the country, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience with the EXCEL Leadership Program and the opportunities that were presented.”

The program focuses on leadership in three main areas: “being a leader at home, being a leader at work, and being a leader in the community. I have become more involved with our local GCSAA Chapter, and also joined a volunteer Ski Patrol last winter.” Thanks in part to his EXCEL experience, Zaranic concluded, “We have built a stronger team at Circling Raven, not just within golf maintenance,

but with golf operations and other departments we work with.”

“Kal and his team work tirelessly to ensure that they responsibly create and maintain excellent course conditions and beautiful resort grounds,” added Circling Raven Director of Golf Christopher Runyan, PGA. “Not only did he gain industry insights and learn cutting edge innovations, but the program’s management-bestpractices focus complements his professional growth.”

Celebrating its 20th Anniversary season in 2024, Circling Raven holds widespread critical esteem including Best Public Course in Idaho, Top 20 U.S. Casino Course,

Top American Resort Courses, and Best North Idaho Course. It hosted the LPGA’s Epson Tour for three years (2021-23) through which top women golf professionals from around the world unanimously praised the course conditions and its design, the masterpiece of golf course architect Gene Bates, ASGCA. Bates’ ingenious holes and course routing at Circling Raven are extolled for their natural contours that move brilliantly through 620 acres of woodlands, wetlands, and tumbling Palouse terrain.

51 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3
For more information, visit or call 800-523-2464.
Circling Raven 11th green nested in the Palouse geographic region of northern Idaho

Maybe you’ve noticed your course is looking and playing better recently. Chances are your local superintendent has been adding FISH SH!T to his turf maintenance regimen.

Fish Head Farms, Inc manufactures, markets, and distributes FISH SH!T, the most robust beneficial bacteria product available for use in the Golf Course Maintenance and Turf Industries. With over 4,000 specific and distinct species of microbes in every bottle, and billions of microbes in every

dose, FISH SH!T is a 100% organic, OMRI, CDFA, USDA BioPreferred, and CFIA certified product.

The microbes in FISH SH!T are designed to break down complex organic and synthetic matter and release essential nutrients into the soil. FISH

SH!T aids grass development by increasing; root growth, root diameter, microbial activity, and nutrient availability. Additionally, FISH SH!T water-permeates soil, which further enhances root zones as well as improves water retention and drainage. No one else in the world provides a product manufactured from fish manure that has no available NPK. FISH SH!T’s microbes are “alive inside” every bottle, which translates to an immediate effect on grass when FISH SH!T is applied, as the product does not require (re)animation – FISH SH!T goes to work when it hits the turf! FISH SH!T has a vented cap allowing the microorganisms inside to continue to thrive as a “living ecosystem”. FISH SH!T’s robust microbial profile combined with a “living ecosystem”, provides users with a powerful combination unlike any other product available on the market.

Fish Head Farms is committed to the golf and turf markets and is establishing an annual scholarship for Golf and Turf workers who want to further their education. The Scholarship will be named after Kyle Cerilli, in honor of our friend who lost his battle with Muscular Dystrophy and is the reason our team initially came together.

For more information visit the golf and turf section of our website


Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 52


The unique combination of microorganisms in FISH SH!T provides a range of benefits to grasses and soil. The microbes in FISH SH!T are designed to break down complex organic and synthetic matter and release essential nutrients into the soil. FISH SH!T is a potent bio stimulant that aids grass growth and development by increasing; root growth, root diameter, soil water holding capacity, microbial activity, and nutrient availability.


Rescue distressed greens, tee boxes, and fairways

Increase drought tolerance

Remove seam lines due to sod installation

Improve germination rates

Enhance root zones

Boost nutrient availability

Enhance golf course appearance

Mitigate wear and tear on greens due to excessive play

Ensure compliance in areas where NPK usage is not allowed

Be safe near waterways and aquifers

FISH SH!T is 100% organic, and can be used with either organic or synthetic inputs

FISH SH!T has no available NPK

FISH SH!T should not be mixed with anti-bacterial products

For optimal results, FISH SH!T should be applied twice monthly at .25 ounces per thousand square feet


A Turf Pirate's Journal

$Telling Our Story $

Welcome Turf Pirates to some of the longest daylight days of the year! Warning there is about to be a Turf Pirate Science Nerd moment (TPSN). The summer solstice or estival solstice occurs when one of Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt toward the Sun. It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere. For that hemisphere, the summer solstice is the day with the longest period of daylight and shortest night of the year, when the Sun is at its highest position in the sky. At either pole there is continuous daylight at the time of its summer solstice. For us in the Northern Hemisphere this year’s Summer Solstice is June 20th also known as the longest daylight day of the year. The opposite event is the winter solstice also known as the shortest daylight day of the year. Now we will return to our regular programing. Thank you for supporting the science behind the scenes.

When the days get longer it also means we can experience drought and heat issues that impact turf and the people who grow turf. This month’s photo taken in 2008 during a stage four drought is of me doing a television interview with local Atlanta meteorologist David Chandley. It went great but as with all things it took me a long while to understand the importance of golf course superintendents telling our story. I took the interview with little notice, but I felt like I had something worth saying and the opportunity was NOW not later. Most golf course superintendents and Turf Pirates are introverts. We are happiest when we are doing the job standing just outside the spotlight. That said, we need a few heroes to rise up and tell our story to as many people as possible. Who better than you to speak on any subject impacting the golf course? Start small if you

are not comfortable speaking in public but while we have some long days to work with schedule some time to work on telling your story in both print and on the stage. Find a mentor or perhaps a local Toast Masters group but get the skills needed to step into the spotlight. It will make a difference not just in your career, but it will help improve awareness of just how important our job is and just how great the overall stewardship is in our profession. I am sure you are familiar with the term Elevator Speech. It is the term for a two- or three-minute grab the listeners attention and deliver the key notes to your pitch (sales or otherwise). Every Turf Pirate that is worth their salt can throw a mighty elevator speech out at a moments notice. They can do this because it comes from the heart, and they have rehearsed the delivery and reception of the material at least 1,000 times. I was ready that day in 2008 because I had worked on my pitch, listened, and learned from some great speakers/superintendents. So, Turf Pirates here is this month’s rub, with a few extra hours of daylight and knowing one day you may be called upon to tell our story, your story. Will you be ready to stand and deliver? I bet my lucky penny you will, because when the going gets tough it is the inner Turf Pirate that says, “Hold my beverage and watch this”! Wishing you all a safe and productive Summer from the Galactic Headquarters of the Ancient and Honorable Tribe of Turf Pirates.

Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 54
Williams, CGCS, CGM, MG

Sunn 28-0-0 N-SURE

ITEM #160031


Total Nitrogen ..........................28%

20.2% ..........Slow release Nitrogen

7.8% .........................Urea Nitrogen

Sunn KTS


Item# 160041


Soluble Potash (K2O) ..............25%


Minors Blend


Total Magnesium (Mg) ..........0.50%

Soluble Magnesium (Mg) ....0.050%

Soluble Iron (Fe) ...................3.40% Chelated Iron (Fe) .................1.60%

Total Manganese (Mn) ..........0.25%

Soluble Manganese (Mn) ......0.25%

Soluble Zinc (Zn) ..................0.10%

Sulfur (S) combined ..............3.50%

Derived from: Manganese Sulphate, Zinc Sulphate, Iron Glucoheptonate, Iron Sulphate, Magnesium Sulphate.

Sunn 6-0-0 Blend

Sunn 12-0-0



ITEM# 160021

Derived from:
Total Sulfur
.........................17% 17% combined sulfur 0% free sulfur
potassium thiosulfate
PRO LIQUID FERTILIZER Item# 160010 GUARANTEED ANALYSIS Total Magnesium (Mg) ..........0.50% Soluble Magnesium (Mg) ......0.50% Soluble Iron (Fe) ...................3.40% Chelated Iron (Fe) .................1.60% Total Manganese (Mn) ..........0.25% Soluble Manganese (Mn) ......0.25% Soluble Zinc (Zn) ..................0.10% Sulfur (S) combined ..............3.50% Derived from: Manganese Sulphate, Zinc Sulphate, Iron Glucoheptonate, Iron Sulphate, Magnesium Sulphate.
GUARANTEED ANALYSIS Total Nitrogen ..........................12% 12% Urea Nitrogen Chlorine not more than ..............2% SECONDARY PLANT FOODS Iron as Fe ...................................6% Manganese as Mn .....................2% Derived from: Urea, Iron Glucoheptonate, Manganese Glucoheptonate
Manufactured by SUNNILAND CORPORATION PO Box 8001 Sanford, Florida 32773-8001 Share your photos & videos
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After nearly 37 years as Superintendent at Flat Creek Country Club in Peachtree City, Georgia, Harold Ammons knows the land, water, and sky–and the richness of life they sustain–as well as anyone. He and his crew work hard to make sure their golf course is complementary to its natural environment possible. It’s a philosophy that led to Flat Creek’s first Audubon Certified Sanctuary Program Certification in October 2017, its recertification every three years since–-and to Ammons himself earning an Environmental Leader award by the Georgia Golf

Georgia’s Flat Creek Country Club Puts Stewardship Front and Center

Environmental Foundation.

Operated by Invited Clubs–a strong Audubon International partner, with more than 140 ACSP for Golf-certified courses–Flat Creek Country Club initially opened with 18 holes in 1968. Nine more were added in the early 1980s. One of five courses in the Clubs of Peachtree City & Newnan collection, it hosts tens of thousands of rounds a year and treats members not only to a solid Joe Lee-designed layout, but an exemplary “in nature” experience on every hole.

As the son of a golf course superintendent, Ammons spent much of his childhood working summers on the course doing small jobs. “I never envisioned

making the golf course my career at that point,” he says. “But as I got older it became for evident this is what I was supposed to do.” He applied for the assistant superintendent position at Flat Creek in 1987 and in June 1988 was appointed superintendent. He’s been a tireless advocate for environmental stewardship ever since, with Flat Creek living proof that golf is indeed a force for good.

“We need people to see golf superintendents as people who care about the land,” he says. “It’s good to be able to prove that and show that through Audubon International certification.”

Ammons acknowledges the rigor of attaining and maintaining certification, but just as quickly touts its value. “It’s pretty entailed and detailed, which is fine. That’s why we carry the certification. If it was that easy, everybody would have it. And there’s the prestige also–[Invited] is very well thought of as an environmental leader.”

As with all certified courses, Flat Creek employs best practices in every core area of concern, from turf and water management to wildlife habitat. “We’ve always been water conscious because Georgia goes through drought at different times,” Ammons says. “Over the years, the Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association has implemented BMPs for golf courses. When we are in severe drought, that may include watering just greens.”

Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 56

In terms of wildlife habitat, Ammons, his crew and his volunteers are always looking for ways to welcome and coexist with more species. “This year we’ve gotten our honeybee program going, which we’re pretty excited about. The next one will be Purple Martin bird houses. I love the little purple Martin birds that just fly along with you early in the morning, catching all the little bugs that are jumping up out the grass.”

He calls out the many other animals living on or near the course, including deer, muskrats, and turtles. “The [Environmental Leader] award I got was mostly for our turtle nesting program,” he adds. “We have an area down by the creek that we just leave alone, let it grow, leave it natural. It’s like a sandbar in our wide creek. We’ve had turtles come up from that area and lay eggs in our sand traps. It takes about 60 days for them to hatch. We mark them off, keep people off of them, and when they hatch we’ve got 25 little tracks running all over the place, across the green. One of the little turtles that was heading back toward the creek fell into one of our cups, so I rescued him.”

While Flat Creek members respond favorably to Ammons’ sustainability efforts, some go the extra mile to help the cause. “One of my members I call my ‘blue bird whisperer.’ I buy the materials help her hang the blue bird boxes where she wants them. She will document how many eggs are in each one and how many are actually hatched and survive. We’ve raised over hundreds of new blue birds in the last several years–I’d say we’re at probably 500 new blue birds.”

As a participant in Audubon International’s Monarchs In the Rough program, Ammons originally planted about 10,000 square feet of wildflowers with milkweed mixed

in–the habitat Monarchs need to lay their eggs. Another 5,000 square feet was recently planted with the same mixture, and yet more are planned for next year. He’s also considering a few fox dens to support the “two or three” he’s seen on property. “It’s about supplying habitat for those animals that are already here–that’s really the most important thing that we can do.”

To help keep folks apprised of his efforts, Ammons maintains a Flat Creek Turf Maintenance page on Facebook. “I have a group there that I’m going to give out the first jars of honey from our honeybee program,” he says. “My group’s about 238 now and I’d like to do a little something for them. And then, for the club, I’m going to put labels on little jars and make it Flat Creek Honey.”

Being a respected and active steward–and dedicated Audubon International partner–is clearly a labor of love for Ammons, and a healthy source of meaning. “I don’t have a big crew, so I do a lot of this myself, with maybe one other helper here and there. And then my volunteer folks. So, it really doesn’t take away from the golf course financially, as far as labor.

“I take a lot of pride in getting it going, and keep it going well,” he concludes. “It gives me a drive.”

To learn more about how your local golf course can gain recognition for your environmental efforts and learn how to expand your initiatives through Audubon International’s numerous environmental certifications, visit

Audubon International, an environmentally focused non-

profit organization, offers members numerous certifications and conservation initiatives to protect the areas where we live, work, and play. Their certifications are designed to increase environmental awareness, encourage sustainable environmental efforts, and educate both their members and their communities.

57 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3

Sod Solutions Celebrates 30 Years: From Kitchen Table to Around the World

As Sod Solutions celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2024, it’s essential to look at the key moments that have shaped the company, the people who have played pivotal roles in its success and the vision that has guided its growth throughout the past 30 years. What started as a company with one product and two employees has grown into a longstanding company within the turfgrass industry. Sod Solutions’ commitment to innovation, diversification and relationship-oriented business style has driven its remarkable success within the industry.

Tobey Wagner, President of Sod Solutions, started his journey into the turfgrass industry shortly after graduating from Auburn University in 1987. Following graduation, Tobey took a job at Martin Marietta

Aerospace and moved with his wife, Lee Ann to Orlando, Florida. Taking after his father’s and grandfather’s interests, Tobey spent most of his time off work outdoors, gardening and tending to his backyard. Like most people in Florida at the time, his lawn was made up of Floratam St. Augustine, and he was having trouble caring for it. “I had a neighbor right up the street with one of those yards that was just a beautiful tropical paradise of palm trees, bananas and citrus fruits. He taught me a lot about general landscaping and I learned from him about the equipment and how to maintain the yard. That’s when I got interested in the caretaking of plants, which led to lawns and grass,” Tobey said. Tobey’s fascination started to grow as he learned more about the emerging opportunities and

developments that the turfgrass industry had to offer, propelling his interest forward and eventually changing the trajectory of his career path. Through his love of learning and meeting new people, Tobey formed many relationships with growers and other turfgrass professionals in Central Florida. “Tobey came home one day and said, ‘Grass for lawns is being sold as a commodity’ Lee Ann shared. “There’s an opportunity to sell it as a value-added product and get patent protection. That way, you manage the people who grow, get a higher quality product and put forward quality control guidelines. We could create a brand with enough added value to earn a royalty on that brand. We started to think about that idea and over time it developed until ultimately, we decided to try it.”

Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3 58
Sod Solutions now Tobey Wagner 1990s

It took a little while for Tobey’s vision to grow into reality. From contacts in Florida, Tobey met a researcher at the University of Florida named Dr. Phil Busey. Dr. Busey taught Tobey a lot about patenting grass varieties and introduced him to a grass variety he was breeding called FX-10. At the time, this grass was only in Florida and was touted to revolutionize the industry with its drought and disease tolerance. Tobey proposed bringing FX-10 to the Southeast coast to see how it would grow outside of Florida and eventually sell it to growers in South Carolina.

The Wagners formed a strong business relationship with a farm in Central Florida called Kirkland Sod, run by Elmer Kirkland. Around the same time Tobey was working on spreading the word about FX-10, Kirkland came to him with another grass variety that he believed had improved characteristics that would help the grass “take off” outside Florida.

After living and working in Florida for a few years, Tobey and Lee Ann relocated to South Carolina and eventually settled in Charleston. Tobey brought both grass samples back to South Carolina and tested them throughout the cold winter months. Kirkland’s grass was the one that survived the extreme winter cold of 1993. FX-10, “the grass which was supposed to take over the world”, froze out, died and is no longer on the market. To this day, Kirkland’s grass, which we now call Palmetto® St. Augustinegrass, is the most sold patented turfgrass in the

world, with over 3 billion square feet sold. It is sold across the United States and in multiple countries. Palmetto® St. Augustine was the first Sod Solutions product and remains an industry legacy product.

The early days of Sod Solutions looked a lot different than they look now. As the Wagners got to work on establishing Sod Solutions, they worked out of their kitchen and dining room while simultaneously starting and raising their family. They didn’t have the money to hire a big staff, so Tobey and Lee Ann did most of the work.

Tobey traveled a lot, focusing on building relationships in the marketplace with farms and landscapers. At the same time, Lee Ann anchored the business from home, working on administrative, accounting and communication matters, making sure everything was running smoothly on the back end. Lee Ann learned much about running a business from working for and watching her parents run their business. “As an entrepreneur, it brings a lot of flexibility to your life, but you also work very hard. You get to decide where you want to invest your time and money,” Lee Ann said. Juggling parenthood and starting up a business can be difficult, but the Wagners overcame this challenge by integrating the values of family into their business matters from the very start. Business trips consisted of Turfgrass Producers International (TPI) conferences and trips to different farms, with their children tagging along. “Many farms we worked with were family businesses that were also raising children. So, it wasn’t unusual for Tobey to take the kids with him to the farms in the summer. We integrated it into our lives. We raised our family and did our work. It was very commingled but in a healthy way. Our family was very involved in our business from the beginning,” said Lee Ann.

As business and clientele grew, they started looking to bring on employees to help them out, one of whom still works for Sod Solutions today, Brenda Roberts. Tobey and Lee Ann approached Brenda at a school fundraising event shortly after the start of Sod Solutions, asking her to join their team, and she eagerly accepted the invitation. Brenda recalls Tobey

going to Jennie Moore Elementary School, where both of their children attended school, and speaking to the classes about his trips to international sod farms, showing the students photos and samples of the signature grass, Palmetto. With no marketing department or official employee titles, Brenda picked up any work that needed to be done, whether taking licensing agreements to get signed, organizing files or making phone calls. Brenda describes the Sod Solutions work environment at this time as quiet and relaxed, where she would come to the house, have breakfast in the kitchen with Lee Ann and then head into the dining room to get the workday started. Brenda is grateful for the family atmosphere Tobey and Lee Ann brought to their business. “I was able to do so much more with my kids and for my kids than I would have ever been able to do in any other job. If one of the kids was sick, or if there was a school field trip, I was given the ability and flexibility to be here for my kids and work too,” she said.

Very early on, Tobey was interested in diversification, and he saw that happening geographically. Most of what Sod Solutions was doing started in Florida, but after some consideration, Tobey decided to check out improved varieties in

59 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3
Lee Ann on the phone at the desk in their kitchen during the early days of running the business Sod Solutions President Tobey Wagner holding a slab of Palmetto® St. Augustinegrass almost three decades ago.

other parts of the world. Although expensive, Tobey began investing in international travel, looking at varieties in other countries that had succeeded. He arranged to bring them back here to license for the US market. The money and time spent on these international ventures paid off, as this is how Celebration® Bermudagrass and EMPIRE® Zoysia, the company’s two other legacy brands, found their way into Sod Solutions portfolio.

The story of EMPIRE Zoysia began with a simple yet transformative international email exchange between Tobey and an agronomist in Brazil named Roberto Gurgel. Through an advertisement in a TPI magazine, Roberto was introduced to Palmetto and became interested in growing it on the farm where he worked. During that time, the internet was starting to take the world by storm and the most common forms of communication were by email. So, Roberto reached out to Tobey to inquire more about Palmetto, and to his surprise, Tobey answered that very same day, saying, “Hey, it’s Tobey Wagner here! This is exciting because this is my very first international email exchange!” The two continued to communicate back and forth, eventually planning a trip for Tobey to visit Brazil and see the production going on there. Tobey spent 10 days in Brazil, visiting several farms and securing the contract for Palmetto. But the Palmetto contract wasn’t

the biggest blessing from Tobey’s trip to Brazil. During this time, Roberto was also researching and working towards developing a new grass variety. After showing Tobey this variety, which we now call EMPIRE, Tobey immediately liked it and knew it would succeed due to EMPIRE’s coarser-bladed look. Before they knew it, a contract was signed to have EMPIRE brought to the US, where over time, it became wildly successful, especially in Florida, Texas and across the greater Southeast. This deal started a solid international partnership and lifelong friendship between Roberto and Tobey. “I call that calculated risk by prayer,” said Tobey. “When I think about the trip to Brazil, I think about God putting me where he wanted me. At first, I thought I was wasting time and money, two things we didn’t have, making that trip. I ended up bringing back one of the most successful products we’ve ever had and it continues to grow.”

Three years later, Tobey asked Roberto to join the Sod Solutions team as the Executive Director of Research to oversee producers in the Central Texas territory. Moving across the world was a big move for Roberto and his family. Now 21 years later, Roberto still works for Sod Solutions and remains an integral part of the company’s success.

Celebration Bermudagrass

originated from Tobey’s desire to enter the sports and golf markets, which meant finding an improved bermudagrass over widely-used Tifway 419. After a business trip to Australia, Tobey was introduced to the Celebration variety by Rod Riley, turfgrass breeder and Keeper of the Greens for Australia’s national sport, Lawn Bowls. Celebration thrived on the Lawn Bowl courts, rapidly recovering from heavy wear and tear. Tobey acquired international licensing rights and eventually brought the grass back to the US, where Celebration continues to succeed decades later.

Tobey explains that what motivated him throughout the company’s significant growth years was seeing new places and meeting new people. His spirit for adventure and building relationships brought the company success not only across the country but also around the world. Sod

Solutions continues to develop new and successful products, but to this day, Palmetto, EMPIRE and Celebration continue to perform. After solidifying these initial three grass varieties, Tobey wanted to get more organized and bring more science behind the work Sod Solutions was doing. “Our commitment to innovation is one of our biggest growth factors,” said Chief Operating Officer Christian Broucqsault. “We are never satisfied with what we currently have. We’re always asking how we can be better. That’s what’s brought us down this research path. Otherwise, we would have just had three grasses and focused on those.” Through industry networks and relationships with several breeders and farms, programs were started in Florida, Texas and North Carolina, directly involving growers in targeted, grass-specific programs with university turfgrass breeders. The goal was to get the growers

60 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3
Roberto Gurgel at Itograss with the first EMPIRE® Zoysia breeder block in 1996, seven years before joining Sod Solutions as Director of Research. Paul Grose, Tobey Wagner, Katia, Pedro, Mario and Roberto Gurgel - Itapetininga Brazil 1998 Roberto Gurgel and Tobey Wagner inspecting Palmetto® St. Augustinegrass field together in 1990s

grasses with specific traits they needed in their geographic areas.

Tobey is confident that Sod Solutions has many products needed in the industry and said the company is focused on educating customers on what those products are.

Sod Solutions has advanced to multiple business units outside turfgrass licensing. “We built new businesses because of our commitment to innovation. We have a software technology division. We moved into online sales, which developed into our Lawnifi brand. We have Sod Home, which was born from our education process of helping homeowners. And Sod Solutions Professionals, which came from the desire to build deeper relationships with professional clients,” Christian said.

With Tobey and Lee

Ann involving their family within the company from the very start, it wasn’t much of a surprise when their oldest, Drew Wagner and now Sod Solutions Chief Technology Officer, developed an interest in the family business. As Drew traveled with his dad to farms, he met producers and learned much about the industry and the sod-growing business early in his childhood. Drew graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering, and it didn’t take long for him to start contributing his ideas to his parents’ company.

Drew’s first contribution started with Turf Logistics®, a software management tool to help aid Sod Farms with organizing orders, invoices, harvesting and deliveries. “I would go with Dad to see these producers, and it’d be a trailer or small building on the side of a farm. We would walk inside, and they would have a whiteboard or stacks of paper scattered over their desk. I would always think there must be a better way. You’ve got people that are running multimillion-dollar businesses with paper. There’s software for every other industry, and every other company digitizes its paperwork. So we saw this opportunity to create something to help with that,” Drew said.

Merging his knowledge of the turfgrass industry and software technology, Drew continued

contributing ideas that have strengthened the company from within, including Sod Solutions’ new business unit, SatQuote. Drew’s ability to recognize needs within the turfgrass and landscaping industry inspired his idea to create this software to measure, design and quote landscaping work. Drew feels confident about where the company is now but is eager to find more ways to expand the business and promote success in the future. “Our team is always looking for new ways to leverage the expertise we have built across agronomy, technology, and marketing. What’s fun for me is finding unsolved problems, investing in solutions and seeing how our products and services help our customers. That’s what gets me up in the morning and gets me excited. We’ve got a group of people here who are passionate, share our vision and are really invested in our mission.”

Tobey and Lee Ann have other members of their family working for the business as well. Their son-in-law, Addison King, is the Chief Financial Officer and he works alongside Lee Ann with the financial department. Their sonin-law, Whit Jacobs, worked as Sod Solutions South East Territory Manager and is now working on new projects for Innowave, a new division of the company’s Software Technology business unit. “If you would’ve asked me 10-20 years ago if we would have so much family in this business, I would have told you no way! We’ve been very fortunate that our son, Drew, has always

been interested in the business and our daughters have married just incredible men who are working for us. If you combine that with our leadership team in the company, all these people have made huge contributions to our team. Both family and non-family employees really matter to us. Over time, the non-family employees become more like family,” said Tobey. Maintaining culture when you’re a growing company can be challenging. However, Tobey and Lee Ann have cultivated a company based on family values, even as they continue to grow. “We believe in a good, healthy work-life balance. Having a work environment that also allows you to have a healthy family life. With that in mind, we’re always including our family in the business, so there’s always been kind of an invitation to include our employees’ families,” Lee Ann said. She and Tobey feel that Sod Solutions employees are an extension of their own family, and their employees feel the same way.

Sod Solutions’ success isn’t just defined by its profitability but by the determination, unwavering passion and employees that Tobey and Lee Ann have behind their company. In this ever-evolving business landscape, Tobey and Lee Ann express that they are excited about this 30-year milestone and are confident about the people they will leave the business to. “We feel very blessed to be where we are,” Tobey said. “We’re excited to celebrate our 30th anniversary in 2024 and I truly think the best is yet to come.”

61 Golf Central • Volume 25, Issue 3
Tobey and Drew Wagner pictured together visiting a Texas sod farm in the 1990s.


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