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July 2017

President’s Message

President Matt Urban

The Rio Grande Association has changed and evolved through its long history. The past year has been no different. As Vice President I stepped in a few months early and had no idea what to expect while serving as President. The experience thus far has been a great and busy one. Many great individuals have served this association in its 50+ years of existence. I am excited for the opportunity to serve the association as president and continue to move our association forward.

Vice President Jimmy Rodriguez Secretary / Treasurer Matt Hughes Board of Directors: Matt Alcala Roy Johnson Max Johnson Paul Kerr Caleb Buckley (Past Pres.) Vendor Representative Bryan Klock Chapter Executive Carol Cloud GCSAA Field Rep John Walker

I am proud to serve with the help of generous vendors, a strong membership, and a hard working board of directors along with our Executive Director, Carol Cloud. This group continues to work hard to improve the membership experience and to grow the association with the assistance of our sponsors and the GCSAA. As we move into the heart of the 2017 season, we invite all of you to make the time to attend one of our 5 meetings held throughout the year. From El Paso to Hobbs to Farmington, a meeting will be coming to your area soon. At meetings, our hosts and sponsors provide us with pertinent education, networking opportunities, great food, and of course golf. We sincerely appreciate all who hosted in 2016 and so far in 2017. Meetings have always been a special place to make new connections with industry professionals and to catch up with friends from the past. If I take one item away that I can use at my facility, I believe it to be worth the effort to get to a meeting. Our gatherings provide new superintendents, and those new to the area a chance to share experiences and ideas with one another and the opportunity to meet with our area sales reps. Of course, we encourage assistants, equipment managers and crew members to attend meetings as well. A big THANK YOU to our meeting sponsors and of course our directory sponsors for providing this valuable reference to our members. As always, the directory can be found on our website at As our association continues to move forward, we encourage all members to be involved by attending meetings, writing articles for the newsletter, providing feedback, hosting meetings, and providing education suggestions.

Thank you all for your continued support and involvement. I wish you all a prosperous 2017 and look forward to seeing you at future meetings.

Matt Urban RGGSAA President

Guest Article Five Reasons Why Bunkers Are Not Consistent By Brian Whitlark, agronomist, West Region

Despite the best efforts of any agronomic team, maintaining perfectly consistent playing conditions in every bunker is not possible. Although golf course maintenance teams may spend more labor hours attending to bunkers than greens, golfers will still find that bunkers are inconsistent. Maintaining totally consistent playing conditions in bunkers is not achievable, nor is it necessarily desirable. Here are five reasons why the playing conditions in bunkers will never be perfectly consistent: 1. Sand depth – The depth of sand on the bunker floor has a profound impact on playability. If the sand is too shallow, bunkers may be wet and firm. However, too much sand yields soft conditions that increase the probability of buried lies. Inconsistencies in bunker sand depth develop on a daily basis from events such as normal play, raking and wind exposure. The recommended depth for bunker sand is 4-6 inches but varies depending on factors such as the physical characteristics of the sand and the properties of the underlying material. 2. Sun exposure – Bunkers that receive more sunlight will dry faster and play softer than those that receive less sunlight. For example, east- and southeast-facing bunkers dry faster in the morning than bunkers oriented to the west or the north, causing them to play softer. 3. Wind exposure – Bunkers facing the predominant wind direction will dry faster and play softer than bunkers that are shielded from the wind or face the opposite direction. 4. Play volume – Bunkers that receive more play will be softer and less consistent than bunkers with very little play. Why? Golf shots, foot traffic and raking disturb bunker sand and soften conditions. 5. Irrigation – Many golfers wonder if irrigation systems can be designed to avoid adding water to bunkers. Unfortunately, such a design is impractical due to the shape and strategic location of many bunkers. Uniformly irrigating irregularly shaped playing surfaces such as greens, green surrounds and even fairways often places adjacent bunkers in the line of fire of sprinklers. If bunker sand is shallow, contains fine materials such as fine sand, silt and clay, or has been contaminated with organic matter, bunkers will retain moisture. Wet sand plays firmer than dry sand, so bunkers that receive more irrigation and retain more moisture will likely play firmer than those that are well drained and out of the way of irrigation. In the Southwest, where there is little rain and high water demand during summer, bunkers are often wet and firm due to frequent irrigation. The bottom line is that golf is an outdoor game with inherent variability. For example, no two lies in the rough are exactly the same and, like it or not, the wind blows on some days while other days are calm. Sometimes the wind even blows from one direction in the morning and the opposite direction in the afternoon. Golfers are encouraged to embrace variability in the bunkers and throughout the golf course as a welcome challenge. Remember the wise words of the late Payne Stewart, "A bad attitude is worse than a bad swing." For additional information on bunker consistency, please review the Green Section Collection, “Managing Bunkers,” or contact a USGA agronomist.

Brian S. Whitlark - Agronomist Phone: (480) 215-1958

To be hand delivered in July at the Paa-ko Ridge event!! If you can’t make it to the event, we will mail it to you!!

July at Paa-ko Ridge

Join us at beautiful Paa-ko Ridge for a great day of education and golf. Cost $50.00 Fee (golf only) Like all RGGCSA events, meeting and lunch are free and golf is only $50.00 making this event the best deal in town!

Title Sponsor

Schedule 8:30 AM – Registration and Coffee

9:30 AM – AM Business Meeting 10:00 AM – Education Session 11:00 AM – Lunch – Provided by our generous sponsors! 12:00 PM – Golf – Shotgun Start

Education Program will feature Mr. Walt Norley, Chief Executive Officer – OnGolf USA

OnLink helps you quickly manage economics, agronomics, and playing conditions to maximize your golf course efficiency, without straining your budget, or your time. Our Host Superintendent: Rob Murray, General Manager/Superintendent – Paa-Ko Ridge

Click here for more information and to RSVP!

In May, the RGGCSA visited beautiful San Juan Country Club in Farmington, NM. Our host, Roy Johnson rolled out the red carpet along with everyone at SJCC. Thanks to everyone who made the trip to join us. Our Title Sponsor for the day was Plant Nutrient Solutions. Thank you Mike Ickes and John King for your continued support of the chapter. Thank you for providing our speaker for the day, Josh Ogden of Aquatrols. For photos and golf results from our fun day on the course, visit page 16.

Thank you to all our wonderful 2017 Sponsors.

Without your support we would not have a successful association!



Submissions for the 2018 Dog Days of Golf Calendar will be accepted through Aug. 1, 2017. From the submissions, 14 dogs will be selected. Owners of the selected dogs will be notified in September, and the calendar will be distributed with the November issue of GCM magazine. Plan now to stop by the LebanonTurf booth at the Golf Industry Show in February to place your vote for the 2018 Dog of the Year. The winner's owner will receive a $500 prize and $3,000 for his or her GCSAA-affiliated chapter. A $2,000 charitable donation will also be made by GCSAA and LebanonTurf in honor of the winner. LebanonTurf has been supporting golf course superintendents and their chapters through the Dog Days of Golf Calendar for more than a decade.


Turf Trivia at the 2017 U.S. Open GCSAA tv was on hand at Erin Hills to record all the hard work and success of GCSAA members preparing the course for the tournament. They also took a little time for fun trivia with the fans. Click the logo or visit

JOHN WALKER NAMED SOUTH CENTRAL FIELD STAFF REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR GCSAA Former GCSAA board member joins national staff Lawrence, Kan. (May 23, 2017) – John Walker, who has been a golf course superintendent in Texas for the past 30 years, has been named the field staff representative for the South Central region of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA). Walker joins the GCSAA staff following four years as director of golf course maintenance at Bentwater Yacht and Country Club in Montgomery, Texas. He also served as the golf course superintendent at Blackhorse Golf Club in Cypress, Texas; Shadow Hawk Country Club and Houstonian Country Club in Richmond, Texas. Walker was chosen from a field of many quality candidates for the job, who went through a rigorous interview process. “I am thrilled to join the GCSAA staff and be able to share my knowledge and passion for the profession with other superintendents in the South Central region,” said Walker. “GCSAA is undertaking some exciting and important initiatives, and I look forward to helping implement those valuable new member services and programs with superintendents from Arkansas to New Mexico.” Walker has served on numerous national committees and was in his second year as a GCSAA board member, a position he has relinquished with his hire as a member of the association staff. Walker also is a former president of both the South Texas GCSA and the Lone Star GCSA, and he served on the board of directors of the Texas Turfgrass Association. Walker will be the GCSAA liaison for affiliated chapters in Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas. GCSAA has nine regional field staff members who maintain direct communication with 98 affiliated chapters. Walker has a bachelor of science degree in agronomy from Texas A&M University. He and his wife, Sharon, reside in Magnolia, Texas. “While I am sad to see John leaving the board, I am proud to support him as he leads by example, directly bringing superintendents together in his home region to benefit GCSAA, its affiliated chapters and the profession,” said Bill H. Maynard, CGCS, GCSAA president and director of golf course maintenance operations at St. Albans (Mo.) Country Club. With Walker leaving the nine-member national board, past president Keith Ihms, CGCS and director of golf course maintenance at Bella Vista (Ark.) Village, has been appointed to temporarily fill his vacated position until the 2018 annual meeting in February. At that time, Ihms will resign from the board and an appointment will be made to fill the final year of Walker’s two-year term, according to GCSAA bylaws. As a recent past president (2015), Ihms is familiar with current GCSAA initiatives, specific committee assignments and will provide continuity to the board for the next eight months. “I am honored to be asked to serve the GCSAA membership in this temporary capacity on the board of directors, and I thank the ownership at Bella Vista for again supporting me and GCSAA,” said Ihms. More information will be provided later regarding the board elections and appointments that will be made at the 2018 annual meeting in San Antonio.

Caleb Buckley New Mexico and El Paso Account Manager (505) 710-3477 or toll free: 800-528-4290


GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans appeared on the Golf Channel on Earth Day to talk about the environmental benefits of golf courses. Click on the photo to the left of visit the Golf Channel and search “Earth Day Rhett Evans”

National Golf Day a Success in Washington DC The GCSAA contingency joined the We Are Golf coalition April 26 on Capitol Hill for the 10th anniversary of National Golf Day. GCSAA Grassroots Ambassadors met with their legislators to share the economic value and numerous other benefits of the golf industry. Visit or click the photo to the right for a great video reviewing all of the activities of the day.



North Texas GCSA Member Don Armstrong appeared on the Golf Channel - Morning Drive to talk about his great book “Finish Your Race”. Don was the guest speaker at the May Event for the NTGCSA chapter. Great job, Don. And congratulations on the success of the book!

Syngenta launches contest to promote turf recovery, personal wellness Now through Sept. 5, golf course or sports turf professionals can submit a photo to to show how they condition themselves or their turf to perform well and recover from stress, for a chance to win one of two $2,500 cash prizes. They can also submit photos via social media by using #ConditionPerformRecover and #contest for a weekly chance to win a box of Titleist Pro V1 golf balls. “Syngenta offers a comprehensive range of products, like Heritage Action fungicide and Divanem nematicide, that treat biotic stress such as disease and insects, while also helping turf recover quickly from abiotic stress like heat and drought,” said Stephanie Schwenke, turf market manager at Syngenta. “These products can be used together in extensively researched agronomic programs to help condition turf, before and during the season to help provide unrivaled turf quality that will recover quickly from seasonal stress.” By submitting a photo, entrants will have a chance to win one of two grand prizes of $2,500 in either the Personal Fitness or Turf Fitness categories, as voted on by attendees of the Golf Industry Show 2018, visitors to or @SyngentaTurf Twitter from Feb. 1 through 9, 2018. Turf professionals can submit to either category with photos that include: • Personal Fitness: Turf professionals or their teams working hard, exercising together or recovering from a stressful day. May also include customers playing golf, doing yoga or participating in an event such as a 5K. • Turf Fitness: Turf professionals keeping their turf game ready, including maintenance, tournament preparation and recovery, product applications*, daily care and golf course or sports field shots. “We understand maintaining first-class turf quality that meets player expectations is time-intensive and taxing,” explained Dave Ravel, head of sales for turf at 8. “Turf professionals can be so committed to achieving healthy turf and team commitments, that they forget to make their own health a priority. provides a guide of daily exercise routines, local activities, stress-relief programs and more to help achieve personal health goals for a more balanced life.” To enter the photo contest, learn more about agronomic programs or gain access to tools and resources for personal fitness, visit

REGISTRATION OPENS FOR CAN AM CUP GOLF EVENT Canadian and U.S. golf course superintendents face off in October at two top New Jersey clubs Registration is now open (June 20) for golf course superintendents from Canada and the United States who want to compete in the Can Am Cup. The point-quota competition will be held in New Jersey, Oct. 22-24, at two championship golf clubs: Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield and Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit. Bayer Environmental Science is the presenting sponsor of the event. “We are thrilled to offer this first Can Am Cup competition, where we will bring together golf course superintendents from the national associations of these two countries in the spirit of fun and unity,” said Rhett Evans, CEO of GCSAA. “We appreciate the support of many of our loyal business partners, and we also thank everyone at Baltusrol Golf Club and Canoe Brook Country Club for their support.” Registration opened online at 1 p.m. (Eastern) for members of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) and the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association (CGSA). For more information and to register, visit The $525 USD cost covers two rounds of golf and many extras. Space is limited and will be capped at 120 players from each country. Participants will be paired according to USGA or Golf Canada official handicaps and will enjoy two rounds of golf and have the opportunity to earn continuing education points on Monday and Tuesday before play. “This is our first event joining superintendents from both Canada and the United States in competition. There is excitement to participate from those on both sides of the border,” said Jim Flett, AGS, CGSA president. “We look forward to all of the experiences available for Can Am Cup registrants.”

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Golf was a blast on the beautiful San Juan links. Our tournament winners for the day from left to right (top row) 1st Place - Josh Ogden, Jimmy Rodriguez, Randy Hisly and Paul Tratechaud. 2nd Place - Matt Dusenbury, Johnathan Ipiotis, Paul Kerr and Max Johnson (not pictured). 3rd Place Roy Johnson, Henry Martinez and Larry Suzuki. Proximity winners were left to right (second row) David Salas, Laurie Meredith and host-est with the most-est Roy Johnson. The golf course was in outstanding condition thanks to Roy Johnson and his staff. Everyone enjoyed a cool sun shiny day in Farmington. We look forward to heading North again soon. Thanks to everyone at San Juan Country Club for a special day.

Are you following? We are! Bernd Leinauer Ph.D. @NuMex_Turf Turfgrass Specialist New Mexico State University

Jun 29 Week 25 2017, highest temperatures and highest #ET recorded at #NMSU #Turfgrass Research Center

Jun 9 #USGA #NTEP drought study. 9 days in, 111 more to go. Temperatures in the 100s and signs of stress. Don't think grasses will make it Jun 13 - 4 hours from trenching for @NetafimUSA drip syst for tee to sod back on ground #LasCampanas @matteoserena1 @whitlark @WendellEgelhoff

Added @NetafimUSA to #USGA @ToroGolf @RainBirdCorp sponsored irrig research #LasCampanas @matteoserena1 @WendellEgelhoff @whitlark

ROUNDS 4 RESEARCH MAY AUCTION RAISES $217,000 FOR TURFGRASS STUDIES The 2017 Rounds 4 Research fundraising program to support turfgrass studies, managed by the Environmental Institute for Golf (EIFG), sold more than 1,080 rounds and yielded in excess of $217,000 in its May online auction, making it the most successful in the history of the six-year program. The EIFG is the philanthropic organization of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA). The Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association raised $50,000 and was the leader among more than 70 GCSAA affiliated chapters and turfgrass organizations that received proceeds from the auction to support turfgrass research at the local level. The Georgia GCSA was next with nearly $20,000 raised for its association.

The top bid was $5,200 for a round of golf for four donated by Sage Valley Golf Club in Graniteville, S.C. Other high bids included $2,650 for four players at East Lake Golf Club outside of Atlanta, and $1,600 for four players at The Stanwich Club in Greenwich, Conn. “I made the decision that this was for a good cause and it was something I wanted to do,” said Dr. Christian Clark, a gastroenterologist in the Tulsa area who placed the top bid to play at Sage Valley. “It will be well worth the price to be able to play with several friends. I used to live in South Carolina, and I am looking forward to making the trip.” "We are thrilled that Rounds 4 Research had its most successful year ever," said Rhett Evans, GCSAA chief executive officer. "This is a wonderful program that allows golfers to help support the future of the game through important turfgrass research while playing the courses they love." The national campaign is supported by a $50,000 donation from The Toro Co. The Golf Channel, Golf Advisor and GolfNow provided promotional support. Nearly 60 golf course management companies donated more than 350 rounds to the auction, including Billy Casper Golf, ClubCorp, Marriott Golf, the PGA Tour TPC network of courses and Troon Golf. The program has raised more than $782,000 since launching in 2012.

When Golf Goes to Washington A golf course is not a massage parlor, hot-tub facility or tanning salon. No one who has seen these respective establishments would ever confuse them, or worse yet, equate the former with the latter. And yet, since at least the early 1980s, the federal government and specifically the tax code has in fact done just that. There it is in Section 144, dealing with tax-exempt state and local bonds and what kinds of facilities are restricted from such funds. Specifically, the law of the land reads: “No portion … is to be used to provide (including the provision of land for) any private or commercial golf course, country club, massage parlor, hot tub facility, suntan facility, …” This kind of mischaracterization, which also has appeared in federal disaster relief bills over the years, illustrates in a simple and direct way golf’s problem with those who govern the country and the decisions they make that impact the golf business: Golf quite simply cannot rest in getting its message right in the halls of government. Last month’s National Golf Day, the annual industry surge on Washington, D.C., to spread the economic, environmental and charitable good news of golf, has done its best over the last decade to curb this lingering sentiment. And it’s done well. Inspired in fact by similar language that denied Katrina disaster relief specifically to golf courses by equating them with its ill-matched sin tax brethren, National Golf Day and its We Are Golf lobbying coalition have kept such language out of subsequent legislation, codes and policies on Capitol Hill. The blind belief that golf is the exclusionary domain of the rich and white and environmentally uncaring is a familiar refrain, perhaps, but golf’s answer to government is facts and numbers and persistence. Indeed, the We Are Golf coalition was founded in 2010 as “an initiative to change the face of golf,” and that change is still a work in progress. “We’re going to keep rowing this boat even if it feels like it’s upstream at times,” said J. Rhett Evans, CEO of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. “And that water continues to flow. Golf in my view is always going to be met at those headwaters. “Having said that, how fast can we row this boat upstream to slow it down or have people understand where we’re coming from?” It starts with presenting golf as a big business, or even better as a vast collection of small businesses. And small businesses translate directly into a legislator’s constituents. Those small golf enterprises unite at National Golf Day to make the case that golf isn’t just the idealized entertainment, over-fertilized playing fields and celebrity athletes you see on TV. It’s more than just clubs and balls and shoes and shirts. It’s everything from cooks and busboys to cart repairmen and clubfitters. We Are Golf estimates that the total size of the golf economy is $68.8 billion, or 10 times that of the tennis industry and more than five times that of skiing and video games. The total impact on the economy from golf, both directly and indirectly, amounts to $176.6 billion. Based on International Monetary Fund figures, that’s higher than the gross domestic product of 136 countries. As a kicker, golf will also point to its fitness benefits and the nearly $4 billion in charitable impact in 2016. That message of golf’s truth, as it were, is the calling card of National Golf Day, which resulted in some 175 meetings with legislators, staff and federal agencies. Golf Digest had the opportunity to sit in on a dozen of those meetings with coalitions representing Florida and Massachusetts and the takeaways seemed nearly as obvious as they were confounding: 

Government is hard. * Getting in the door matters. * Perception is everything.

Even though our view of the meetings showed them to be pleasant enough exchanges where talking points were shared, some golf common ground was occasionally found but no deals were made, golf’s advocates came away from the proceedings in the Senate and House office buildings with satisfaction and confidence. To continue reading this article, CLICK HERE to go to the Golf Digest website

RGGCSA 2nd Quarter 2017