The Official Publication of the MGCSA
2021 University of Minnesota Turfgrass Field Day
Awesome Picture Spreads 2021 Wee One Pages 22 - 23 2021 The Scramble Pages 38 - 39 Turfgrass Talk-about Pages 48 - 49 UMN Field Day Pages 54 - 55
On the cover: pages 50 - 53 The University of Minnesota Golf-centric Turfgrass Field day was taylor made for golf course managers. Great information presented in a short and easy to digest session at the Turfgrass Research Outreach and Education Center. It was such a “hit”, the UMN Turf Science Team plans to conduct two events in 2022. Events Ahead: Professional Turf Forum Outreach Education Series Northern Green Page 2
Hole Notes (ISSN 108-27994) is digitally published monthly except bimonthly in November/ December and January/February by the Minnesota Golf Course Superintendents’ Association, 10050 204th Street North, Forest Lake, MN 55025. Jack MacKenzie CGCS publisher. Please send any address changes, articles for publication, advertising and concerns to email@example.com.
Hole Notes Magazine Vol. 56, No. 9 October, 2021
Featured Articles MGCSA Vision Discussion and Survey
8 - 30
By President Scott Thayer, Various Past Presidents and Current Board
Where Do Ideas Come From? Developing a Better Method to Blend Soil mixes pages 32 - 36
By Ron Bloom, Retired Affiliate, and Jack MacKenzie
Get To Know ‘em: Joe Berggren
pages 40 - 47
By Joe Berggren, Superintendent at The Wilds
Recap: The 2021 UMN Turfgrass Field Day By Dr. Eric Watkins, UMN Turfgrass Science Team
pages 50 - 53
Presidential Perspective pages By Scott Thayer
By Jack MacKenzie
pages 56 - 59
Joe Berggren JBERGGREN@GOLFTHEWILDS. COM
Presidential Perspective by Scott Thayer, Legends Club
A warm dry fall is an extension of the pattern we have come to expect with this very dry 2021 golf season in Minnesota. The MGCSA has been active over the last couple of months preparing for 2022, but really busy the start of October with the Wee One and the Scramble. Both events went off without a hitch. Brackett’s Crossing Country Club, where the Wee One was hosted by Tom Proshek, was a great day. Sunny, warm and not much wind; it was a perfect day for all of us to enjoy the beautiful golf course that Tom and his crew had provided. Kudos on the perfect conditions! It was exceptional for our group to come together to have some fun, play some golf and, most importantly, peers helping peers with the Wee One foundation. The money for this tournament goes to a great foundation that, especially this
year, helped a couple of our own who needed assistance. Thank you to all that came out or gave to this great cause. It really is a wonderful foundation. One week later, the Scramble for research and scholarships at Baker National was hosted by Kyle Stirn. Although a little cloudy day, it was a great day. Kyle’s team had Baker looking incredible and playing exceptionally well. If you have never played there, you should because it’s a fantastic golf course with wonderful views. Outstanding job Kyle and thank you for hosting. The Scramble is another very important event where the money goes to UMN research and MGCSA Scholarships. With the help of Baker National Golf Club providing golf, carts, range, and facility free, we were able to have a very financially rewarding fundraiser. The UMN team was out at the event, and it is always nice to see them. I know they work hard on the Research
and give us monthly updates in The Hole Notes magazine as to what they are working on and how it is going. Eric Watkins shared more about the International Winter Study that they began last year and the process of working for a grant to be able to do more of this study globally! Once the grant is awarded, which I think is going to happen, the funds will allow them to put more sensors in the ground throughout the US and Europe. With all those sensors gathering information over the next few years they most certainly will get some data for winter kill! Perhaps there will be enough data to extrapolate why grass (poa) declines in the winter due to ice, snow cover, temperature anomalies, or anything unusual. Don’t forget to register for the Pro-fessional Turf forum at the end of November at Mendakota Country Club. The next day is the Golf-cen-tric Pesticide Recertification if you need to recertify or maybe, if you don’t, you just want some valuable information and networking time with your peers. This is the first
time we have done a forum prior to the recertification instead of conducting a MEGA Seminar. The Education Committee felt that there was plenty of annual educational opportunities through the winter for all to experience and reduced the Mega from two days to the oneday Professional Turf Forum. There are going to be amazing presenters and, like always, great info about reduction in pesticides. Some courses in the Cities have been required to reduce or remove pesticides, but for the rest of us, a good BMP practice to have to help protect the environment. I will be at both, I must recertify, and hope to see you the middle of November. There will be some good content we all can use next season.
Are you interested in hosting a metro or outstate event next season? Contact Jack at jack@ mgcsa.org.
JANUARY 11-13, 2022
TOGETHER AGAIN TO CONNECT + GROW
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IT’S TIME TO RECONNECT.
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PESTICIDE RECERTIFICATION WORKSHOP
Pending approval by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), this workshop meets Commercial Pesticide Applicator Requirements for Category A (Core) and Category E (Turf and Ornamentals). Licensed applicators with Categories A and E who last attended a recertification workshop in 2020, and newly-licensed pesticide applicators in 2021, must attend an MDA-approved workshop by December 31, 2022. By attending the Pesticide Recertification track and scanning in and out onsite with staff of the Department of Agriculture, applicators will obtain recertification credit.
LANDSCAPE DESIGN CHALLENGE
Design Leaders: Jason Rathe, Field Outdoor Spaces; Alyson Landmark, Southview Design, and Michael Keenan, Urban Ecosystems Inc. Coordinator: Julie Weisenhorn, University of Minnesota Time for some design fun! The Landscape Design Challenge brings MNLA designers together to flex their creative muscles! Design leaders will offer up a series of diverse design challenges, and teams will be putting marker to paper to develop and present their solutions. Leaders will share the real-life solution that was implemented. This is an opportunity to stretch your design skills, learn how challenging problems can be solved, and have some fun with fellow designers!
IT’S TIME TO RECONNECT
JANUARY 11-13, 2022
Attend a full-day Master Class at Northern Green, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. CREATING A CULTURE OF SERVICE AND ENGAGEMENT
Facilitator: John Kennedy, John Kennedy Consulting Join international speaker, strategist, and author John Kennedy as he explores the right ingredients needed to build a workplace culture that supports the needs of the customer and the wants of its employees. John’s morning session will address the four stages of building a strong service culture and the systems needed to drive that culture each and every day. From vision, values and volition to rewards, recognition and respect, John will set the right balance of both to drive alignment and engagement into 2022 and beyond. The afternoon will take a deeper dive into creating standards of excellence for an exceptional customer experience. Topics will include the four reasons customer’s buy, the top expectations of your green industry clients, how to deal with difficult customers, and the six steps to delivering a consistent customer experience.
NCMA SEGMENTAL RETAINING WALLS INSTALLER COURSE – LEVEL I/BASIC
Presented by: Frank Bourque, Landscape and Hardscape Business Consultant The one-day classroom Segmental Retaining Wall (SRW) Installer Course teaches installers fundamental SRW installation guidelines, material and system component properties, soils and compaction, the effect of water, and site practices. The SRW basic installer course is intended for contractors new to the business and for new employees of established installer companies who want to become NCMA certified. Those who successfully complete the classroom training and pass a written examination become certified as a Certified SRW Installer (CSRWI). This credential is highly valued by consumers, and the program includes a wealth of valuable course information and reference material which attendees take back to work for implementation as money-saving and profit-making ideas.
DOING MORE WITH LESS
Turf and grounds managers are constantly faced with the challenge of providing a high quality product with the least amount of resource and labor inputs. As the price of fertilizer, plant health products, labor, and irrigation (to name a few) continue to increase, a focus must be placed on “Doing More with Less.” In this Master Class, attendees will learn about some of the most important maintenance practices for tree and turf care. Attendees will leave with a list of strategies that they can implement to improve their bottom line, while improving plant health and playability.
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MGCSA Vision Discussion and Survey In anticipation of the retirement of current MGCSA Executive Director Jack MacKenzie, President Scott Thayer reached out to active past presidents and the current Board of Directors for their input. Part of the process included a review of historical initiatives and reflection on where the MGCSA should focus on in the future.
Sixteen responses were received of the twenty-two invitations sent to participate in the survey. The following pages include the survey’s intent, a review of a decade of MGCSA history, select results that reflect both sides of the collected responses and a general trend determined from each question. All results of the survey will be posted in the member’s only section of the MGCSA.org home page. The current Board plans to post and publish a member satisfaction survey in the weeks ahead for your participation. Thank you for following along in this important process
A complete compilation of all the responses can be found at the MGCSA.org web site in the Member’s Only section. Page 8
Introduction Hello Recent Past Presidents and Current Board of Directors, As you are all likely aware, following a decade of exciting leadership of the MGCSA, our Executive Director, Jack MacKenzie CGCS, will be retiring after he fulfills his contract December 31st, 2022. He has led our group of professionals to become one of the most respected GCSAA Chapters in the country. Although he will be missed, we cannot dwell on his leaving and must begin planning for the future of the Association and its membership. Today, I seek your sage advice and support of the current Board as we begin the process of selecting a new ED. Now is the time to consider all the possibilities so that the Request for Proposals presented to future leadership, whether an individual or management company, meets our needs. Roughly ten years ago the Board conducted their first Retreat and under the guidance of GCSAA Director Steve Randall, reviewed and recrafted the MGCSA’s Objective, Mission and Vision Statements to be: OBJECTIVE The objective of the Minnesota Golf Course Superintendents’ Association is to advance the art and science of Golf Course Management, to collect and disseminate among other member Superintendents practical solutions to problems with a view to more efficient and economical maintenance and production of golf courses, and to promote the welfare of the Superintendent and the profession. MISSION STATEMENT Advancing the art and science of Golf Course Management, promoting the welfare of its members and the profession. VISION • Provide top-notch quality education • Be an organization encouraging input and quality information exchange • Provide responsible environmental leadership • Be leaders in advocacy and outreach within our profession Page 9
Promote and support research efforts to benefit the game
The pillars of our institution were Advocacy, Education and Research. Over the next few years, the MGCSA pursued and strongly supported these mainstays. Following a brief discussion of our “foundations” and accomplishment since 2012, will be a simple question asking if you feel we should continue keeping this component in the MGCSA Vision Statement and a component of the RFP. Advocacy Participation upon Agency committees, attendance at legislative hearings and meetings, engagement with other like-minded groups during workshops and conferences and inclusion within groups who may not support our goals has introduced the “face” of our industry sector to many. We have gained a place at the tables of both champions and one-time naysayers. The MGCSA is a presence. Under your direction, Jack created the BMPs associated with golf course management and water efficiency. He encouraged the development of the MDA’s BMPs on nutrient and pesticide management. These documents are critical in telling our good story. Legislatively we continue to push assurances to irrigation in exchange for conservation and drought management as well as pull the industry of golf off the “nonessential” businesses list. While traction has been limited, the message has been heard on “the Hill” and in 2021 we had a Bill introduced that would meet our needs. Although not passed into law last session, we have learned that it takes several years of positioning for any Bill to be approved by all parties involved. Due to our advocacy and relationships with legislative committees and agencies, we have been successful in passing laws to reduce pesticide liPage 10
censure requirements and endorsing the employment of 16- and 17-yearold youth. And, for the last five years we have hosted the Minnesota Golf Industry Day on The Hill event, an opportunity that several Board members feel helped secure “golf” as a responsible destination during the pandemic in 2020. Advocacy over the last decade has made the MGCSA a leader in Minnesota Golf government affairs. Question #1 Should Advocacy remain a component of the MGCSA Vision statement? Comments for current Board discussion. (*two or more points of view are presented following each question. All responses can be viewed on line at mgcsa.org under the Member’s Tab) Absolutely! The statement above is keenly accurate in it’s assessment Page 11
that while some May sat that progress has been slow, however there has actually been quite a bit of progress when you consider where we start-ed. Our goals should remain the same in terms of getting golf courses off the “non essential” business list. This past summer demonstrates that we most likely will have a drought in the future that will threaten our water sources for irrigation. We must keep our foot on the accelerator if we are to continue making progress in this area. Another example is our leader-ship in getting legislation that allows golf courses to hire 16 and 17 year olds. This was huge because the labor shortage will get even worse, most golf courses can’t afford $15.00/hour or more for seasonal help. Addition-ally, some of these young people will undoubtedly follow into the profession for a career, which will help supply AGCS’s , technicians and GCS’s in the future. Jack’s hard work and the support of MGCSA, has positioned this chapter as a leader in our profession which reflects positively on all MGCSA members. Advocacy work is hard and often does not receive the recognition it deserves. I hope the next Executive Director has a passion for it like Jack Mackenzie because we cannot afford to our progress wasted. What is our Vision Statement? I see above that advocacy is part of the Vision bullet points and is also one of our 3 pillars. Is there a specific vision statement I’m missing? While I feel that advocacy is an important part of what the MGCSA is and needs to be to stay present otherwise we’ll lose the footing that we’ve made over that last decade. I think that lately Advocacy has trumped the other two pillars and I believe Education, Out-reach and Research should be higher priorities than Advocacy. Education The last decade has witnessed a dramatic change in the way that education is pursued, developed, shared, and consumed. Zoom meetings, twitter, virtual college courses and the increase in affiliate hosted educational opportunities has caused many members to pause and consider the expense and justification of educational conferences and conventions. Page 12
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Although the MGCSA doesn’t mange the Northern Green directly, support generated from this annual event is critical in the research conducted at the UMN. The quandary is, if our members falter in participation, then the income necessary for turf studies at the TROE Center will evaporate. For several years the MGCSA hosted successful outstate programing in the offseason through a series of Outreach Education programing. With the loss of Sam Bauer, our solid UMN connection two years ago, the momentum slipped, and participation declined rapidly. The “On the Road” show will begin again this winter with a new format including Sam’s replacement Maggie Reiter. The push will be to provide relevant and easy to implement information for every budget, as well a s a bit of MGCSA promotion. Unfortunately, the strong UMN support Dr. Brian Horgan provided the MGCSA softened when he vigorously pursued the Science of the Green project and lost sight of his biggest fan base. While following his personal interest, he lost backing from many MGCSA members. However, he did build an amazing destination upon the St. Paul UMN Campus, the TROE Center, which continues to generate turfgrass research for golf and the whole green industry. Currently our “go-to” is Dr. Eric Watkins, a turfgrass breeder. While not as golf centric as Horgan or Bauer, Eric is a very strong supporter of the TROE Center in general and, for our interests, has been promoting a multi-national study reflecting on winter stress and turf damage/death. There is great interest in this project from many institutions. Besides offering out-state education, the MGCSA Education Committee has vacillated on what, how much, and where to present metro-based education to be relevant and attract participation. Due to the many educational formats available today, the MGCSA has reduced the Fall MEGA Seminar to a one-day event prior to the Pesticide Recertification event in Page 14
November. And although our assistant and equipment manager events were well received when first introduced, they both waned after a couple of years. Question #2 Should Education remain a component of the MGCSA Vision statement? Comments for current Board discussion I believe so but I also think education can be different from the traditional listening to a college professor talk about science and research. The best presentations I’ve ever seen and learned from were by fellow superintendents. Those small tid bits you can learn from a fellow grass grower are invaluable. I think this was why Sam was successful for the U as he had done our job and could relate the research so well to what we do on a daily basis. I feel there are very few in academia who can do that. More round table discussion seminars at Northern Green or at different locations around the state I think are awesome educational
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opportunities. I know attendance hasn’t always been the greatest. Not sure what the silver bullet answer is to that. Yes. The education component is entirely around us...the hole notes are mostly educational in nature, as are the stimpmeter blasts and other communications. We get too narrowly focused on the in-person format of MEGA and NG and the perceived drop in participation. I think the pan-demic has had a profound impact and obviously has made us all frus-trated at the difficulty/change in consumption. I do feel the membership needs to take more ownership in the planning regard, revitalize the edu-cation committee, and get them to work closer with the new ED. Continue to work with MNLA and MTGF to make NG a desirable or otherwise “must attend” event once again. There is unlimited potential to reinvigorate, adapt and provide new programming and deliver relevant information to the membership in a multitude of formats. I think it should, to what degree is the $100 question. I think where I am today has to do with continuing education. I like doing that in person, however, the virtual Northern Green and GIS was very handy. Events that are easy accessible are desired. Research Research boils down to TROE Center support. Often, the question from members is, “What is the return on our investment”? A valid inquiry. Currently the Board is supporting UMN Research with an annual gift of $50,000. Two years ago, the Board chose to dedicate all the dollars to Eric’s Winter Stress Studies to create industry interest and increase the likelihood of additional Grant support. Although “earmarked”, the funding does go for current TROE Center support as well as developing the foundation for the Winter Stress Studies project as a “match”. Historically the TROE Center has also received funding from the MTGF annually and the MGA occasionally. Otherwise, it is up the UMN to generate Page 16
support through matching. Our dollars, while providing direct funding, go quite far as Eric finds matches or match multipliers to maximize the income used at the TROE. Yet the fundamental question remains, although the MGCSA has built and supported the UMN and TROE Center over the last two decades, are the members getting a return on their investment? The great number of reports generated by the Turfgrass Research Team would indicate that science is being done on the MGCSA’s behalf. But would the $50K be better spent somewhere else. It should be mentioned that without our industry support the TROE Center may have a difficult time surviving. Without the TROE Center would we have an extension turf educator available to our group? Would the turf department go away completely? Question #3 Should Research remain a component of the MGCSA Vision statement? Comments for current Board discussion. I would rather see $50,000 somehow be invested into developing a program to help high school kids get into the superintendent business. Buy and run a small golf course? That might be pie in the sky but somehow investing in the next generation of grass growers. Yes. The problem is that most MGCSA members think they understand how research and researchers work...The hard fact is, the members don’t understand, but it is okay that they don’t understand. The research being conducted at the University of MN is the envy on all Turf research pro-grams and many of the MGCSA members fail to see this. Continue to do-nate and trust the best of the best in the Turf research industry. We are lucky to have them. These are all good points for consideration. There has always been a Page 17
reluctance to change anything about our commitment to U of M and the TROE Center fearing a reduced commitment to golf centric turf in return or worse a collapse of the TROE Center and turf research in MN all together. But we have also seen a slow migration or shift to support neighboring research programs (example UW) that appear to be more golf turf centric or have more interesting research going on. At the same time we have seen an up and down flow of research and information since the “Science of the Green” project seemed to suck the air out of most of the TROE Center activity. The subsequent loss of Sam Bauer and Matt Cavanaugh left a pretty big void. Only through the success of Dr. Watson in securing some large grant funding we’re we able to avoid some real problems. Hopefully the addition of Maggie Rieter will be able to double down on some of that and see some resurgence of activity. Research funding should continue to be a part of our Vision Statement because if MGCSA members want access to the best research and advice for their region, they will need to support those programs whether at U of M or any place else. Maybe in addition to supporting TROE Center, MGCSA sHould also send money to support relevant research at other regional universities. GCSAA Initiative: Individual Golf Course BMP Manuals Now that all fifty states have completed their general Best Management Practices manuals, the GCSAA has begun pushing the development of individual golf course BMPs. This overall effort will take time and resources at the state level, like the State BMP manuals. Unfortunately, the creation of golf course specific BMPs will not grant any assurances from our agencies. Rather the documents will only be another personal feather in the cap of the individual golf course. However, individual facility BMPs may eventually be the “good story” of community environmental stewardship. As you are aware, many cities are looking at their own pesticide and nutrient regulation practices. Having strong Facility BMPs in place could protect individual courses from excesPage Page 18
sive and unreasonable scrutiny. Question #4 Are you in favor of the MGCSA creating and pushing individual golf course Best Management Practices? Comments for current Board discussion No. This should be up to the individual course. The format has been created to individual courses to copy if needed. As a leading chapter, MGCSA should work hand in hand with accomplish-ng goals and initiatives set forth by GCSAA. Facility adoption is the obvious progression after state wide BMP’s. I imagine a template set up and distributed by MGCSA as an approved format that the superintendent adjusts to her unique facility...something that can be completed in a reason-able amount of time, maybe a 3-4 hour project. The completion is beneficial to the facility by creating instant credibility. Talk about
an opportunity to self advocate by delivering a copy to the membership, city council, soil and water district, etc. GCSAA Initiatives: First Green promotion and Audubon Certification Currently the ED supports these programs in a passive fashion of encouragement to participate. Question #5 Should the new position include a more aggressive approach to supporting GCSAA and other initiatives? Comments. No, I don’t believe the new position needs to be more aggressive. Help facilitate, yes as they see fit. Anything that can promote our industry to young individuals should be looked at. We have failed as an industry at getting young people to enter and then stay in our industry. It is up to use to do this, not the schools. A no to the Audubon, that thing is a money grab and hollow. Yes, the MGCSA should expect and compensate an ED to support GCSAA initiatives. I personally feel like Audubon Certification is something more on the facility, but when you mention the apprentice program below you need a feeder program and the First Green is how you capture imaginations at a young age. I only know of one facility in MN that has hosted a First Green event, we can do a helluva lot better in that regard. MGCSA Certified Industry Apprentice Program Currently our industry is suffering greatly from the lack of individuals in the employee pool. This then translates to limited selection for assistants and eventually superintendents. While a great deal of blame can be placed on the Department of Labor insistence that 16- and 17-yearold youths could not work on golf courses as well as the collapse of the National Golf Foundations push for “one golf course open each day for a decade” in the 1990’s, the cause doesn’t matter. The combined effect has led to a vacuum of institutions to teach turf management and the promoPage 20
tion of the industry as a career at the high school level. What could this look like? Our current ED has considered the possibility of state-wide high school Career Launch programs (created over the last three years and called work-study two decades ago) where interested students are paired with golf courses that implement on-the-job vocational training programs. A template is being created between Dellwood Country Club and Forest Lake High School’s Career Launch program. Not just an employee position, the Superintendent will need to create curriculum and requirements of the student enrolled at their course. This format could then be used across the state in high schools that provide Career Launch or similar programs. The next step would be to fill the void of post high school education. As on right now there are no Minnesota programs for specific fine turfgrass management that are cost effective and easy to be accepted into. Students must meander their way to an out of state program which can be expensive and the MGCSA, upon having the individual go out of state, potentially loses that person to out of state interests. To limit this migration away from Minnesota, Jack has considered the idea of creating a “sellable” career track through industry recognized apprenticeships. For the youth who likely participated in the Career Launch program and enjoyed working on a golf course, the apprenticeship would include two years of ‘short-course’ education at an accredited school (Rutgers, UW Madison) sandwiched by internships designed to be educational in nature with specific criteria developed by the MGCSA Apprenticeship Committee (the TPC intern system could be an exceptional template). This idea would require buy-in from superintendents willing to be instructors as well as employers because their performance would lend credibility to the program. Graduates of the program would end up with a Page 21
2021 Wee One Golf Tournament Thank you host Tom Proshek and Brackett’s Crossing Country Club
certificate in golf course management as well as accreditation of a two-tothree-year apprentice program. The intention is to build a career path that is recognized by our state educational system. Without it, the golf course industry is being overlooked in the career options section of high school curriculum. Golf course management isn’t on the radar of the big career software programming companies because of the industry contraction and severe lack of programming available to students. Question #6 Should the MGCSA invest in, create, and implement an industry recognized Certified Apprentice Program for our membership? Comments. Yes but a hybrid perhaps. To become a Supt, they’ll still need a 2 or 4-year degree. That requirement will not go away unfortunately. But this idea of getting skilled labor through an apprenticeship on golf courses is a fantas-tic endeavor. The evolution of the lack of labor is a result of poor wages and too many hours. Evolving to not having several “university educated” staff will more than likely be the norm. Learning how to adapt and create a new wave of technical staff is critical for everyone’s success. This is a tough one. Would working superintendents have the time to do this? Great idea, but would it work for the city golf courses? Versus outer suburbs where there are more country workers who are interested in horticulture. Golf course management is rewarding and yet very demand-ing on one’s time and schedule. Definitely a topic to keep discussing, time consuming and logistics concern me a bit. I would definitely explore this more. I like this concept, but I see it as a rather large undertaking. Maybe it’s not and all we need is a pilot program to demonstrate the possibility(?) The current shortage is definitely Page 24
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a big problem...while it could be just be a natural cycle of supply and demand, the greater question is can we risk to just wait it out? I do think this initiative needs buy in from other groups, especially the owners, to be successful. The hard sell (to potential enrollees) is the contraction of golf facilities that has been happening since 2008. While it’s leveled off, I don’t see an expansion in the number of total facilities happening again in our lifetime...so while we need trained professionals, we have to be careful not to oversaturate like what happened in the nineties and early 2000s. The Hole Notes Magazine digital to hard copy conversation, or both? In 2012 the MGCSA magazine, following serious BOD consideration, went completely digital in nature. Bottom line, the magazine, as a hard copy, had become too expensive to produce and publish. The new digital format did provide the association significant savings, however there was a corresponding loss in advertising revenue, despite a dramatic reduction in the fees associated with inserting ads in the magazine. Overall, the association did experience savings and continued to publish ten issues of Hole Notes each year. Currently the Hole Notes magazine averages 52.875 % member opens/ reads upon first notification of each new issue. Since going digital the MGCSA has published 97 separate issues averaging 552 reads per issue for all time. During the last ten years, the magazine has been delivered to about 600 members each month. Recently there has been an increase in interest to change our publication to fewer issues published in both digital, and hard copy formats. Currently the Communications Committee is looking into how this opportunity can be implemented while still making money through advertising. It must be appreciated that the digital Hole Notes provides an inexpensive advertising platform and significant revenue stream for the MGCSA. To break even between the costs of publication and revenues of advertising in a hard Page 26
copy format (necessary to balance taxes from advertising revenue with expenses) fees would have to go up and numbers of issues go down. It is also appreciated that the cost of printing a magazine has been almost cut in half due to the many technological improvements witnessed in the press industry over the last decade. One idea being considered is the reduction of issues to five annually, produced as both hard and digital copies. Our advertisers would still receive ten opportunities (five of each) for their current advertising expenditures and the association could possibly garner more advertisers. This idea is only possible because of the reduced costs of publishing a hard copy magazine. Advertising fees would go up, but hard copy possibilities could draw more advertisers. What is your reaction to the idea of reducing the number of issues and publishing hard copy Hole Notes as well as digital if the budget can accommodate the change? Or should we continue to provide ten digital copies of Hole Notes annually? Comments. I like the idea of limiting the issues that are sent out to help offset some of the cost as well allowing individuals members choose whether they want to receive copies digitally or in print, similarly to the way GCSAA is doing it. Stop thinking about revenue as a guiding light to the association. That’s a major problem as it’s not one’s personal savings account. Again, if the content is good, they will read it. But with dwindling numbers, reducing the issues is a good idea, as I consistently hear more people say they don’t read it during the season, but try to play catch up in the off season. Me personally, I wouldn’t read the physical copy, I don’t want more paper, and have digitized all turf publications. But I know the older generation of membership might. Again, if you think about it from a finanPage 27
cial aspect/goal, you’re losing already. I don’t understand why we keep beating the proverbial dead horse over the hard copy debate. It has been ten years and the kid in the shop is on his cell phone at break and is highly unlikely to pick up a paper magazine. It is imperative that we offer a platform for our affiliate membership base to reach the general membership. I think less copies means less engagement with the membership, 10 issues seems about right to me. Consider allowing the member to supply additional emails onto the account for distribution (assuming there is no additional cost) or at least encourage and remind them to forward to those who may be interested. What has been overlooked in this document? What has been missed in this discussion? The current Board and I are open to suggestions that would continue the MGCSA’s presence as a leader in the turf management industry. Your ideas, thoughts and concerns: Purely Social Events. I know they are hard to plan and sometimes seem sparsely attended but having events that are just about getting together and sharing stories no education involved. I am proud to be apart of such a great organization that we have here with the MGCSA. Jack, former/current presidents and board members have done a great job advocating for the association on our industry behalf. I dont think the MGCSA should take a step back from anything and continue to push forward and stay ahead of trends and issues that may arise as we look to build a strong future for the association. Hands down, the best thing previous board(s) did was re-strategize the MGCSA management from a management company to an individual passionate about the industry and representing our best interests. I’ve Page 28
always appreciated my membership knowing the high level of professionalism being delivered, ample opportunities to take in for personal growth and my employer gets a great ROI when paying for my membership dues. Past PGA pros/GMs/owners/stakeholders I’ve worked with have always complemented how professional the MGCSA is and that makes me proud to be a member. Continue the mantra Advocacy, Education, Research. Represent the membership as has been done and provide opportunities for personal growth...these two components give ROI on membership! Under past board’s vision and guidance, Jack has done an exceptional job advancing our association. He will be hard to replace. But there is also the great opportunity to reinvigorate and refresh by bringing in someone with new ideas along with the organic support that will stem from the board and membership with a new ED. MGCSA future is looking bright. Conclusion It is my hope that this dialogue will help to define the Executive Director’s Position Request for Proposals which is to be developed soon. This is a very important role in our organization. Decisions over the last ten years have made a big difference in how our professionals are represented in the state and across the nation. Help us, help the MGCSA continue the thread of exceptional leadership. Thank you for your considered responses, Scott Thayer President MGCSA Addendum: If you are a MGCSA member and wish to take part in this comprehensive survey, please reach out to Jack and he will be sure you get the form. The survey will officially close on November 15th, 2021
MGCSA Outreach Education and Open Turf Forums Winter networking opportunities accross the state Thank you host superintendents for allowing the MGCSA to utilize your fine venue for the first MGCSA Outreach Education and Turf Forum event. Potential Forum topics: water, wages and what’s next? 8:00 Welcome/MGCSA update and advocacy 8:30 UMN Update: Applicable solutions to challenges that you can use NOW 9:30- 10:45 Frost Inc: Good, Better, Best and WORST spray tech solutions for all courses 11:00- 1:00 working lunch/open turf forum: Water, wages and what’s next? Adjourn at 1:00 Dates and destination courses: November 30, Northland Country Club. Host Jake Ryan December 2, Somerby Golf Club. Host Jake Kocak December 14, Marshall Golf Club. Host Lance Tykwinski March 22, Fargo Country Club. Host Joe Rolstad
Thank you Sponsor and Educators:
$15 per guest. Bring your staff or owner. Register under events at mgcsa.org Page 31
Where do ideas come from? Developing a better method to blend green and tee mixes, the Minnesota way by Ron Bloom and Jack MacKenzie
So what does a person do when a situation requires a solution? Perhaps the current answer is simple and effective, but with changes in technology and expectations, there usually is an even “better way” to create a superior product. It takes somebody to grasp the challenge and enhance the methodology. In the “old days” of golf course construction, soil mixes were created using front end loaders scooping and dumping and scooping and dumping specific portions of sand, peat and organic laden dirt on an asphalt or concrete pad to “blend” materials to be used for greens and tees. It took diligence and a skilled equipment operator to blend these materials to specifications dictated by golf course builders and architects. While possible to accomplish, there had to be a better way to create consistently blended products that were duplicatable. One of the pioneers in the golf course soil blending Page 32
business is MGCSA retired member Ron Bloom. Ron is the former President of Fairways Inc., a Minnesota grown golf course design and building company organized in 1970. Since incorporated in 1970, Fairways Inc participated in over 86 golf course related projects, most in Minnesota and the other four states that comprise the upper Midwest. Beginning early on in his career, Ron had ideas about enhancing construction technology to create the perfect replicable custom blend of soil for green and tee construction. “In the late 1980s, I began to vision a better way of blending green mix because I had some experience mixing asphalt road mix in the 1960s with a Barber Greene Travel Plant. The actual mixing was done in the pug mill where the gravel and hot asphalt was proportionally entered into the mixing area. The mixing was completed using twin shafts that had seven sets of paddles each continuously turning. In my mind I was positive that that mechanism would blend sand and peat. I bought that mixing section off a retired travel plant from an asphalt contractor and began to build that blender. “ Golf course superintendents across the state agree that a consistent soil blend is critical in fine turf management, especially those who inherited original push up greens and tee boxes. Short of reconstruction, the only way to “fix” these playing areas Page 33
is through core cultivation, plug removal and incorporation of a high sand mix along with topdressing and more topdressing. The best option is to build from scratch using a blended soil mix. Preferably soil blended accurately with mixing machines rather than with a front-end loader. “Once the mixing screws were procured, we assembled a frame and mounted it on a tri-axel wheelbase. A 120 hp Diesel engine was used to power the material belt, the mixing screws and paddles and a short conveyor belt to deliver the mix to a stacking conveyor. All these things were powered by hydraulic motors from the main pump. The bins were divided, and the sand and peat delivered through the gates into the mixing tub and discharged on the conveyor. The gate settings were set at the rates needed or required by laboratory testing. For example, the side with the sand would be opened to 10 inches. If the mix required a 10%, 15% or 20% organic by volume, the peat side would be set at 1 inch, 1 1/2 inches or 2 inches. Pretty simple and both the sand side and peat side could be tweaked and locked in. This machine then made no mistakes. I called it a Portable Blending Plant.” Ron and Fairways Inc. were seemingly always on the cutting edge of the Page 34
“platinum age” of golf course construction; the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. They worked very hard to keep up with new technologies and incorporate them in their design/builds. “We were the first company in Minnesota to install flushing or clean out tile intakes at the head of the green drainage systems. We were the first company to initiate vapor barriers at the green perimeters. This reduced or stopped wicking the sand mix moisture into the surrounds. It also kept disease and foreign grass from creeping into the putting surface. It was just a good thing that no other architects specified at that present time.” The first complete course Ron used his Portable Blending Plant on was Rutgers Bay Lake in 1990. This application was soon followed at: Cannon Falls Country Club 1990, Minnewaska Golf Club 1991, Wildflower Golf Course 1992, The Meadows at Moorhead 1992, Village Green at Moorhead 1992, Sugar Brooke at Grand Rapids 1993, Pokegama golf at Grand Rapids 1993, Grand National at Hinckley 1994, Kimbal Golf Club 1995,
Oakmarsh in Oakdale 1995, Eagle Valley in Woodbury 1996 & 97, Whispering Pines at Annandale 1998, Pioneer Creek at Independence 1999, The Fairways at St Cloud 2000. Now the Territory Golf Club. Highland golf at So. St Paul, 2002, Balaton Par 3 2004, Pomme de Terre at Morris 2005, Gwinner Golf Club in Gainner, North Dakota 2006, Miltona Golf Club at Miltona 2007. Upon retirement from the construction industry, Ron sold his big rig on a new technology, the Internet! Throughout his years as a golf course co-designer (with Joel Goldstrand) and builder, Ron was always interested in soils, how blends worked and the importance of creating soils mix to meet design specifications. Fairways Inc even built their own soils lab that included a small oven that could be heated to 1700 degrees. High enough temperatures to burn the organic matter out of the mix which, by using weights, allowed them to determine the percentage of peat to sand. Ron was not a proponent of soil in any mix and stopped adding it in 1973 when they built the greens at Owatonna Country Club. According to Ron, Fairways eventually tested all their products with a set of brass screens, purchased from the USGA, to determine the sizes that they recommended for testing sand. Soil blending technology has come a long way since Ron developed his own Portable Blending Plant as most soil is manufactured off property and then delivered to the construction site. However, for almost twenty years and across the upper Midwest, Ron’s idea was put into practice. How many times have you worked on a project and thought, “there must be a better way”? Unfortunately, too many simple concepts dissipate in the winds of life. Fortunately for many golf course superintendents, however, Ron and Fairways Inc. stuck with that sniggle of a thought, that aha moment, that design enhancement and created a precision tool for blending soils mix specific for golf course construction. Page 6 Page 36
2021 The Scramble for Research and Scholarship Thanks Host Superintendent Kyle Stirn and Baker National Golf Club
Get to Know ‘em Superintendent Joe Berggren The Wilds Golf Club by Hole Notes Editor, Joe Berggren
Name: Joe Berggren FACILITY INFO Golf Course: The Wilds Golf Club Public or Private: Public Number of Holes: 18 Full time employees: 2 Seasonal employees (not including full time): 23-ish Number of employees of entire facility at peak season: 150 Types of grass: Penncross greens, Penn links tees, Penn Trio Fairways
Total course acreage: 250 ac Greens acreage: 4 ac Tee acreage: 4 ac Fairway acreage: 35 ac Rough acreage: 50 ac Driving range acreage: 15 ac Range tee acreage: 3 ac
Personal Turf Facts: How many years have you been in your current position? 2021 is my 4th season at The Wilds Golf Club. How many years have you been in the turf industry? 20 ish Where else have you worked? Montgomery National Golf Club - Superintendent (7 years), Way back when… Whistling Straits, The Pines at Grand View Lodge, Minnesota Valley Country Club, The Wilds Golf Club, Lone Pine Golf Course Turf School Attended (if any)? Rutgers- 2 Year Turf Certificate -Graduate 1999 Penn State Online- 2 year AS- Graduate 2020
Joe makes it an evening out with his family, from left to right, Braden, Carter, family friend Emily and wife Gina. Page 42
All work and no play makes Joe a dull superintendent. Here he is with part of his “gang” enjoying some summer sunshine.
Industry thoughts: What is one “master plan” thing you would like to change at your golf course? I have concerns that The Wilds Golf Club is reaching the age of significant infrastructure expenditures. (Irrigation upgrades, bunker renovation, cart paths. (5 miles!) Those are big ticket items and tough to afford and tough to get accomplished. What concerns do you have the turf business and the future of golf? The lack of labor is a significant concern, and the cost of maintenance continues to rise. The cost per round has not matched the increase in the cost of maintenance. What is needed to bring more young professionals into the industry? I don’t know if its possible right now. Many of these kids are so busy with school and activities that work takes a back seat. I think it will change down the road but right now it’s tough to find staff.
Thank you annual MGCSA Supporters
What piece of equipment do you want? Not a need, a want. Skid loader forestry mulcher In terms of industry costs (equipment, pesticides, labor, etc.) are they too low, too high or just right? Costs are continuing to rise but my concern is that the cost of golf hasn’t moved that much or enough to match the rising costs of maintenance. FUN FACTS: Have you ever met a celebrity? Who? I’m not a big celebrity person anymore. They are just normal people like us with a cool job. What is your favorite vacation spot? Hawaii What is your favorite memory of starting your turf career? Learning irrigation repairs from Lucian Greeninger while I’m covered in mud and he was clean, camaraderie between turf guys, picking apples with Dave Swift, hearing F-bombs from Barry Provo at the age of 16 (that ‘s scary!) What is your favorite job on the golf course? Spraying- it’s the only time that I can see the whole course and not be pulled away to another challenge. What is your least favorite job on the golf course? Cutting cups Have you played any famous golf courses? Which ones? Whistling Straits, Black-wolf Run, Torrey Pines Who is your dream foursome? John Daly, Tiger, Jason Bateman, Adam Sandler Page 46
2020- What a year! Would you like to comment on it? 2020 was quite a year but I think this year has been more difficult! I am concerned about the next 5 years. Hopefully, people will be able to stop being so opinionated, work together, help one another and try to get back to what will be our “new” normal.
Aloha, from Hawaii!
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Turfgrass Talk-about at Olympic Hills Golf Club
Thanks Host Superintendent Jake Schmitz
Do you want to host a Tuesday Talk-about in 2022? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org and get it on the calendar
Recap of the 2021 UMN Turfgrass Field Day BY Maggie Reiter, University of Minnesota,
Our Turfgrass Field Day for golf took place on September 9 at the TROE Center in St. Paul, organized in collaboration with MGCSA. The 2-hour event featured research projects and a lineup of UMN speakers including: 1. Managing turfgrass under shade stress—Dominic Petrella 2. WinterTurf sensor demonstration—Bryan Runck 3. Green and fairway cultivar evaluations—Eric Watkins and Gary Deters 4. Mycorrhizae and biostimulant product testing—Florence Sessoms 5. Digital image analysis of seed shattering—Joan Barreto Ortiz 6. Update on minimal-to-no mow fine fescues—Ryan Schwab 7. Introduction of turfgrass decision-making dashboard—Maggie
Dominic Petrella discussing research about turfgrasses in shade.
We hosted 28 attendees; the group consisted of golf course superintendents and assistants, sales and manufacturing representatives, and a golf course architect. Post-event survey respondents said the event was excellent, organized, and informative. Over 90% of respondents said they increased their understanding of managing turfgrass during drought, WinterTurf sensor technology, and managing turfgrass in shade. Several said they would change their management practices around no-mow fine fescues and study NTEP cultivar evaluation data closely when selecting grasses. Page 51
Gary Deters presenting the NTEP creeping bentgrass putting green trial. We will do this again next year. In fact, we are considering doing multiple field days with a golf-centric theme. Stay tuned for announcements about a springtime field day (in April or May) where we will showcase research related to winter injury and recovery, and review how golf course fared through the winter. Thank you to everyone who attended, and to all our supporters and funders over the years!
Ryan Schwab showing minimal-to-no mow fine fescue plots under different mowing regimes.
The MGCSA membership wishes to thank our partners in turfgrass research at the University of Minnsota for their diligence in providing relevant and timely studies to benefit turf managers in the upper midwest. Page 53
A great day at the UMN Golf-centric Field Day
The MGCSA and University of Minnesota, partners in success.
In Bounds by Jack MacKenzie, CGCS
Recently, I had the pleasure of engaging high school students in discussions about careers in the turf industry, more specifically, golf course turf management. The first, a career fair where the industry net was cast upon a large audience of Forest Lake High School students, between the ages of 16 and 18, and their parents. And the second, while on an MGCSA organized field trip for Career Launch participants to the UMN’s TROE Center, followed by a private tour of the TPC Twin Cities turf management center. Both opportunities provided me access to some very engaged students.
sentation I shared included brief stories about the job of golf course superintendent, the challenges of the position, how one can pursue the career and the benefits of growing fine turf for a living.
Although not as popular as Famous Dave’s, they were giving out food, my booth was active with interested young men and women stopping by to hear my pitch. It was rewarding to see their mind “gears” working as they considered the options of limited college, immediate As a representative of your placement, and the potential for a industry, I went to the College and long and rewarding career. The parCareer Fair armed with University ents of the youth were also interof Minnesota education options ested to know their kids could begin and materials about the University work on a golf course, develop a of Wisconsin short programs. Upon low cost fast-track into managemy laptop I ran the GCSAA video, ment and begin a real career just “Welcome to My Office”. The pre- a few years after graduating high
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career, who will?
It seemed surreal to realize no one in my limited audience really considered the golf course turf manager a viable job. Talk about a flash-back to the late 1970’s when I first considered a career as a superintendent. Simply put, where are the promoters of our industry? Are they stuck complaining in their pity-pots about lack of quality and/ or interested employees? I suppose my words are threatening to many who are reading this column, but come on, if you don’t promote your
Back in the “old days”, one needed to fall into the position accidently. There are career software programs tracking high school students today. Unfortunately, the turf management industry is severely underrepresented. Although I could expand on the flaws of the system, it won’t fix the problem. Only you can do that through participating in local school career fairs. I did and the impact on the TROE Center/TPC Field Trip a few days later reflected a registration spike from 13 to 20 individuals immediately following the fair. We couldn’t have asked for a better day to check out the turf plots at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Eric Watkins and Maggie Reiter were
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on hand to “talk turf”, research, career opportunities and, of course, the UMN horticultural program. The presentation was fun! Most of the kids were interested. And some even approached me asking about the industry.
sitions, Mark hammered home the demand for equipment managers too. This caught the attention of the Career Launch Counselor who indicated that the Ag Industry instructors would be excited to hear about that career option. The bulk of the captive audience was literally The group then moved on for a captivated and several asked about visit with Superintendent Mark Mi- summer jobs on golf courses. chalski at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine and a brief tour of his course and The take home message of turf management center. Mark’s this brief recap following two great fine articulation of the industry in- experiences is that there really are spired even more interest in the high school youth interested in your career. Beside turf agronomist po- business. Some are interested in
the game and others are focused on working outside. But how are YOU going get them through your doors to apply for a job? I boldly suggest you go to your local high school(s) and offer a vocational field trip to the career counselors. They are obligated to share viable venues with their students, especially when the career track is so obvious. Summer job, short or long course college level programing, apprentice, or internships at a variety of courses, and then onto management full time.
Career Fairs must also be on your radar. For every dozen kids that just walked by, I had one stop by to hear about the turf management industry. They appreciated the opportunity to learn about a never considered outside career. If I were still a superintendent, I bet I could have positioned half of my summer crew and likely at least one future intern or assistant just by hanging out for a couple hours in the high school gymnasium. They are out there; you just need to know where to look!
Special thanks to Dr. Eric Watkins and Maggie Rieter at the University of Minnesota and TPC Superintendent Mark Michalski for making this first ever Career Launch opportunity take place. It was a fantastic introduction to our industry!