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Woodward tabbed as
A former GCSAA president and longtime golf administrator has been tabbed to take the reins of the association as its new chief executive officer.
Mark J. Woodward, CGCS, the association’s president in 2004 who is currently the golf operations manager for the city of San Diego, is the choice to replace Steve Mona, CAE, who became the chief executive officer of the World Golf Foundation March 3. Woodward is the first golf course superintendent to serve as GCSAA’s permanent chief executive.
“We were extremely pleased with the quantity and quality of candidates that were interested in the position. Without a doubt, Mark presented the best fit for the association,” GCSAA president David S. Downing II, CGCS, said. “He is a talented individual with a myriad of skills and abilities that will serve him, the membership, the association, the industry and the game well. He has a strong track record of service to GCSAA and success as a golf course superintendent and an administrator. His efforts have earned him rave reviews in bolstering golf operations for the city of San Diego.”
In his current role in San Diego, Woodward has been crucial in preparing city-owned and operated Torrey Pines for this June’s U.S. Open, to be played on the facility’s South Course. After those duties, Woodward will transition to his new role at GCSAA
“It is important to him and to GCSAA that he sees to completion the U.S. Open,” Downing said. “It is a wonderful celebration of the game, and it is only fitting that he finishes his integral role in conducting the event.”
A familiar face to GCSAA, Woodward has been actively involved as a committee participant, a member of the board of directors and 68th president of the association. He is in his 30th year as a GCSAA member and first achieved the status of certified golf course superintendent in 1986.
Woodward has a strong golf course management background. He began his career as an assistant golf course superintendent at Mesa’s Dobson Ranch Golf Course, helping to construct the layout. Two years later he assumed the superintendent position and then in 1987 assumed the additional duties of managing Mesa’s Riverview Golf Course. His grandfather Jay is one of only three superintendents to have been inducted into the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame and was recognized as one of 11 GCSAA members to be recognized for outstanding service at the association’s 50th anniversary celebration. Other family members to have served in the superintendent profession include his son Matt; son-in-law Cody Swirczynski; a cousin, Mike Pock; and Pock’s sons, Ernie and Jay.
In addition to his past volunteer service to GCSAA, Woodward is active in the National Institute of Golf Management sponsored by the National Golf Foundation. He joined the NIGM board of regents in 1992, serving as its chair in 1999. He was a trustee for the Environmental Institute for Golf, serving as secretary in 2004.
In his capacity in San Diego, Woodward developed a five-year business plan that has resulted in generating an additional $3 million in revenue from 2006 to 2007, including the implementation of the Advance Tee Time program that added $500,000 in revenue in the first year. His department has hosted numerous high-profile events, including three junior world golf championships, three city amateur championships, three PGA Tour events and the upcoming U.S. Open — on top of the three golf facilities annually hosting 260 golf outings. His plan resulted in creating 20,000 additional tee times available for the public golfer. From a golf course standpoint, Woodward has implemented a management plan that has produced drastically improved course conditions and enhanced environmental stewardship.
Woodward was named to his position in San Diego in January 2005 after serving 31 years in various capacities with the Phoenix suburb of Mesa, Ariz. His last position there was parks and recreation administrator, which included the oversight of two golf courses, a tennis facility, the Chicago Cubs spring training home, a minor league baseball training site, a park ranger program and a cemetery. He is a 1974 graduate of Arizona State University with a degree in environmental resources and holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix.
In the wake of its merger with Lesco last year that has expanded its offerings and distribution points, John Deere has changed the name of its golf division from John Deere Golf & Turf One Source to simply John Deere Golf.
Fertilizer costs ballooning
Talk about your perfect storms.
The emerging fertilizer crisis looming ominously over the agriculture and green industries is a result of one such alignment of forces. Rooted in America’s dependency on foreign oil, wholesale and retail fertilizer prices have skyrocketed recently in the wake of the country’s quest for alternative fuels — specifically ethanol.
The current ethanol boom is fed by a burgeoning U.S. corn crop, requiring more fertilizer. Meanwhile, several developing countries, China and India chief among them, are spurred by fears of losing American foodstuffs in the wake of the ethanol craze and their desires to grow their own crops to feed their hungry billions, also requiring more fertilizer.
“There’s a huge new worldwide market for fertilizer after decades of over-production,” says Lat Varn, director of purchasing for Harrell’s Turf Specialty out of Lakeland, Fla., and a veteran of three decades in the fertilizer industry. “The mining companies that supply fertilizer inputs — the MPK (nitrogen, phosphate, potash), as well as sulfur, magnesium, zinc, copper — are enjoying a new era of demand and supply and are allocating by price.”
The price for fertilizer has increased by $600 or more per ton on the production level, and the blending manufacturers have no choice but to pass on the hike. Both Varn and Mike Sisti, marketing manager for LebanonTurf in Lebanon, Pa., say their companies are advising buyers to put in their fertilizer provisions now.
“Everything is extremely volatile right now,” says Sisti. “We’re recommending to our customers and golf course superintendents to try to plan ahead the best they can. In past years, we’d pretty much be OK with one price list, but now we’re trying to keep a short leash on that so we can be as close to the market as we can. We don’t know what’s going to happen in two or three months, let alone in the fall.”
Both manufacturing executives also worry that the limited mining industry will soon — if not already — face supply shortages.
The caveat for the golf course industry is that it’s been mired in a bit of a recession for some time now, and the companies such as Harrell’s that cater to the industry are somewhat between a rock and a hard place.
“Our customer base is getting hit with increased costs for fertilizer inputs and at the same time many are having to slash their budgets. We’re informing and educating our customers to not skip a fertilizer application per se, but to change their input ingredients to save price, labor and fuel costs,” Varn says.
Sisti notes that his company, like other blenders, tries to minimize price hikes through minor ingredient changes and products that last longer and require fewer applications.
Keith Einwag, CGCS at the Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club in Palm Harbor, Fla., knew dramatic increases in fertilizer prices were coming long before he worked up his budget at the 72-hole facility. Nevertheless, the 17-year GCSAA member had to cut the 2007 outlay anyway and will continue to cope with the fertilizer crisis through austere turf management.
Einwag has run what he calls a “lean and mean” maintenance program ever since he came to the resort in 2001 and has prepped for eight PGA Tour events. Like other Florida superintendents, he has to present a green, lush facility in the fall and winter, but the rest of the year fertilizer applications are generally limited to the “short grass.” He’s limited his nitrogen count and has dabbled with some organics, especially on the greens, along with foliar feeding.
“Maybe it’s a good thing — it’s forced more people into better IPM programs,” says Einwag, who has seen superintendents lose their jobs recently wrestling with the dilemma. “I think everybody is trying to manage differently ... cutting back, eliminating some practices. Some of it works, some doesn’t.”
Soaring fertilizer prices caught veteran Houston superintendent Jerry Takushi somewhat off guard in the midst of the growing season this spring, but like a lot of his colleagues in the region, he’s scrambling to make things work.
“It used to be you could kind of lock in a price for the year, but now the vendors can’t even give price quotes on fertilizer for 10 days or two weeks ahead. That’s how volatile this has become,” says Takushi, a 29-year GCSAA member and Class A superintendent at Westwood Country Club.
Takushi, who came to Westwood CC four years ago after a 21-year stint at Houston CC, says many superintendents in the area are making adjustments and seeking options, such as going with cheaper products and slower releases. Most, he adds, are willing to cut back now in the shaky Houston golf economy and hope to be able to adjust their budgets next year or the year after.
“When it comes to fertilizer needs, that’s something we’re not going to cut back on. We can’t hide. We’ll adjust and budget accordingly,” he says.
Varn doesn’t like to be an alarmist, but it is what it is.
“I’ve been in this business 30 years and a lot of my cohorts have been around a long time too and no one has ever seen this phenomenon before. It’s an unprecedented fertilizer event,” he says. “We won’t ever see the prices of 2006 and 2007 again. Our (Harrell’s) predictions see it well into 2009 before there’s a plateau and then maybe it’s (going to) come down slightly.”
— Terry Ostmeyer, GCM senior staff writer
The PGA of America is providing GCSAA members and accompanying spouses complimentary daily admittance to the Senior PGA Championship May 19-25 at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., and the 90th PGA Championship Aug. 4-10 at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield, Mich.
Former GCSAA exec dies
John M. Schilling, GCSAA’s executive director from 1983 to 1993, died in his sleep April 6 in his Lawrence, Kan., home following a history of heart complications. He was 56.
Before being promoted to the position of executive director in September 1983, Schilling had served GCSAA in several other positions, including associate executive director, director of communications, editor of Golf Course Management, manager of informational services, director of marketing and sales, and director of conference and show.
Upon becoming executive director, Schilling said, “I have always been proud to work for the golf course superintendent and the golf course industry. I’ve had a keen respect for the position that every member of GCSAA holds in the golf world.”
Schilling told GCM readers in 1983 that he was eager to advance the membership’s mandate to set new standards in program development, membership services and fiscal management.
“John was masterful at improving GCSAA’s financial condition,” said Dennis D. Lyon, CGCS, manager of golf for the city of Aurora, Colo., and GCSAA president in 1989. “Many of the reserves enjoyed today are a result of John Schilling’s efforts.”
Lyon pointed to the construction of the current GCSAA headquarters building in Lawrence as the most visible accomplishment during Schilling’s tenure as executive director.
“While the board gave the approval and signed the legal documents, John and his staff were given the job of actually getting the building built,” he said. “In retrospect, they did a wonderful job.”Added Stephen G. Cadenelli, CGCS at Cape Cod National Golf Club in Harwich, Mass., and GCSAA’s 1991 president, “GCSAA was more than a job to John. He believed in it and took great pride in seeing the organization grow.”
Dave Fearis, GCSAA’s director of membership, who was the association’s president in 1999 and came onto the board during Schilling’s last year as executive director, recalls meeting him when Schilling visited his chapter in Illinois.
“He traveled quite a bit, doing early outreach like what we do now with the Speakers Bureau,” Fearis said.
In recent years, Schilling had operated an Internet-based business.
Born Nov. 23, 1951, in Hiawatha, Kan., Schilling received his bachelor of science degree from Kansas University and his master’s in business administration from Fort Hays State University. He is survived by his wife, Pamela; two sons, John M. Schilling II and James A. Schilling and wife, Audrey; and two grandsons, Jackson and Maxwell Schilling, all of Lawrence.
Condolences and memorials may be sent in care of the Chapel Oaks Funeral Home, 124 S. Seventh St., Hiawatha, KS 66434 (www.chapeloaksfuneralhome.com).
Carolina chapter lands new headquarters
Superintendents in the Carolinas GCSA now own their own headquarters. Staff moved into the nearly 2,200-square-foot offices in Liberty, S.C., in March, and the new elbow room has been a revelation, according to the chapter’s executive director, Chuck Borman, CAE.
“It had gotten to the point where we had so much to do in so little space that we couldn’t do one thing without having to move three others first,” Borman said.
The purchase, $140,000 plus a $60,000 renovation, more than doubles the size of the former rental space for the association’s six-person staff. It also makes the Carolinas GCSA the first GCSAA-affiliated chapter to own its headquarters. The total investment represents less than half the Carolinas GCSA’s reserve funds at the end of 2007.
Fortunately for the chapter, which was founded in 1954 and currently has about 1,800 members, the operational success that prompted the need for more space also meant it could make the buy outright. That in turn meant a strong negotiating position and no ongoing interest payments.
The new headquarters includes six offices, a conference area, kitchen and lobby that will house awards, historical material and association memorabilia. The decorative cinder block structure, which sits on a quarter acre, was built in 1995. The town of Liberty is about 20 miles west of downtown Greenville in upstate South Carolina.
“Owning our headquarters is another milestone,” said Carolinas GCSA president Mitchell Wilkerson, CGCS. “Every member, past, present and future, should be proud of how far we have come.”
— Trent Bouts, editor, Carolinas Green
Witteveen keeps the green north of the border
Canadian superintendent Gordon Witteveen may be officially retired from keeping the green, but that hasn’t stopped him from passing on his passion for the profession.
Witteveen recently published the third installment of his trilogy on golf course management, “Keeping the Green in Canada.” The Canadian Golf Superintendents Association asked him to pen the book because of his extensive involvement with the association since its founding 42 years ago.
The well-researched book chronicles everything from the arrival of the first greenkeepers in the Great White North to forecasting the future of the profession by profiling nine up-and-coming superintendents from across Canada. Witteveen also traces the growth of the CGSA from just 49 superintendents in 1966 to more than 1,600 members today.
The sage superintendent is proud that he’s been able to educate future generations through his writing.
“Very few superintendents in Canada and the United States have written one book,” he says. “I have written several, plus hundreds of articles. I don’t think there’s a sequel to this trilogy, but I will continue writing about the golfing scene from a superintendent’s perspective.”
So, what else is the veteran superintendent doing in retirement besides writing?
“Watching my golf score go up and staying healthy by remaining active,” he says. “I have learned that a game of golf, no matter how poorly played, is far more beneficial to one’s health than a doctor’s medication.”
“Keepers of the Green in Canada” was distributed to CGSA members and other interested parties this month. Go to www.golfsupers.com for more information.
— David McPherson
The National Golf Course Owners Association recently donated $25,000 over the next five years to GCSAA’s Environmental Institute for Golf for research and education. Also, Charlie Birney, head of three family-owned golf courses in Maryland, was elected president of NGCOA during the association’s annual meeting in February.
GreenCare for Troops blossoms
Now in its third year, Project EverGreen’s GreenCare for Troops program has helped more than 4,500 military families across the country.
Utilizing thousands of professional and community volunteers, the program offers free lawn and landscape care for military families whose major breadwinner is serving in the Middle East. Project EverGreen has set a goal to help 8,000 families in 2008.
Web site warns golfers of course work
Golf course maintenance alerts for golfers are available from cyberspace, thanks to a novel Web site, www.greenskeeper.org, which posts notifications of such practices as greens aerification, overseeding and renovation work that might affect the playing
Greenskeeper.org reportedly is one of the largest and fastest-growing social networks in the Southwest with about 30,000 members and 150,000 visits monthly. Driven by its motto, “Know Before You Go,” the site posts hundreds of maintenance practice alerts up to two months in advance at golf courses in California, Arizona and Nevada. It’s expected that more than 2,000 notifications will be posted by the end of this year.
The alerts provide detailed information regarding the type and scope of the work and when it will take place.
Tour honors Nicklaus’ lifetime commitment to golf
Jack Nicklaus received the PGA Tour’s Lifetime Achievement Award during the week of the Players Championship at TPC
Nicklaus won 73 professional tournaments during his career, including a record 18 majors. He also runs his own PGA Tour event, the Memorial, and has served as the tour’s Presidents Cup captain four times. In all, seven Tour events this year are being played on courses he has designed.
“… Whether it is being fortunate to serve as captain of the Presidents Cup, or being active in golf course design in emerging markets all over the world, or lending a hand to the growth of The First Tee and other junior golf programs, I enjoy staying connected to the game,” said Nicklaus, who received GCSAA’s 2005 Old Tom Morris Award. “More importantly, I enjoy finding ways to give back to the game that has given my family and me so much.”
KC-area chapter chips in for charity
The Kansas City area’s Heart of America GCSA and some allies to the industry combined their efforts recently to spruce up the city’s historic Elmwood Cemetery, the resting place of 36,000 souls, including many well-known Kansas Citians, Civil War veterans and relatives of two American presidents.
HOA superintendents and staff members from seven courses — Country Club of Blue Springs, Creekmoor Golf Club, Hallbrook Country Club, Hillcrest Country Club, Meadowbrook Country Club, Mission Hills Country Club and Shadow Glen Golf Club — participated in the project to restore the 136-year-old cemetery to its former beauty.
The effort was aided by three area tree companies — Arbor Care, Professional Tree Care Inc. and Urban Tree Specialists. Also providing help were John Deere Golf and Van Wall Equipment Co.
Two hundred cubic yards of limbs, tree trunks and other debris accumulated in piles were hauled away, volunteer trees around stones and walls were cut, large tree trunks that had fallen in recent years were removed and new cuttings were chipped and hauled off. The volunteers also filled in about 20 sunken graves.
“The Heart of America GCSA volunteers many man-hours each year, and this is one I’m the most passionate about,” said 10-year GCSAA member Brad Gray, superintendent at Mission Hills CC. “The feeling I get while walking the grounds brings out a great awareness of our obligations. It gives you a vision of what the cemetery should be.”
— Information and photo provided by Bruce Mathews
Show superintendents take stress survey
A survey of superintendents conducted by Bayer Environmental Science at the 2008 Golf Industry Show noted that the biggest business-related stresses in golf course management are labor, turf quality and playability, in that order.
Of the 248 superintendents who participated in the survey, almost 39 percent said that anthracnose is the turf disease that stresses them the most, while 23.7 percent pointed to dollar spot.
The respondents also indicated that the best way to reduce stress on the job was a combination of four factors — hire a great assistant, exercise regularly, use the best turf-care products available and take a vacation.
Titleist testing grounds wins safety award
The Acushnet Co.’s state-of-the-art Oceanside Test Facility along the Southern California coast between Los Angeles and San Diego recently received the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s prestigious Voluntary Protection Program Star Site status for excellence in occupational safety.
The award included recognition of the facility’s maintenance staff headed by 20-year GCSAA member Mike Greninger, CGCS. The facility is the first golf turf management operation in the country to achieve the award.
Greninger was the construction superintendent of the 11-year-old Oceanside Test Facility, which comprises 33 acres, all maintained and including such golf course features as fairway and rough turf, bunkers and greens complexes.
Acushnet owns and markets Titleist, Cobra and FootJoy golf equipment brands. The facility conducts robotic testing of golf clubs, consumer testing to provide feedback for product shakedown by the Titleist and Cobra research and development departments and club fittings for professional tour players and leading amateurs. It’s also home to the Titleist Performance Institute.
Jack Drumm, vice president of Acushnet’s test development, notes that the VPP Star Site status recognizes operations that go above and beyond normal safety regulations and practices through the efforts of their employees and associates.
“Mike Greninger and his staff have done an excellent job in the safety arena and were key contributors in us achieving the VPP award,” Drumm says, adding that the Oceanside Test Facility is now one of just 1,000 Star Sites in the U.S.
Joe Duich, Ph.D., professor emeritus at Penn State University, is the latest recipient of the Turfgrass Breeders Association’s C. Reed Funk Award, which honors an individual’s dedication to turfgrass breeding and impact on education.
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Beljan, who was a member of the West Virginia GCSA chapter, was the father of Jan Beljan, ASGCA, a lead architect for Fazio Golf Course Design.
Marriott honors Stone Mountain superintendent
Anthony Williams, CGCS at Stone Mountain (Ga.) Golf Club, is the 2008 recipient of Marriott’s J. Willard Marriott Award of Excellence. Williams is one of only nine Marriott associates to receive the prestigious award in 2008, and only the second Marriott Golf associate ever to be honored with the award.
The J. Willard Marriott Award of Excellence was created in 1987 as a tribute to the company’s founder, who held himself to the highest personal standards in regard to achievement, character, dedication, effort and perseverance. Williams, an 11-year member of GCSAA, received the award based on his track record of success in directing golf grounds operations at two distinguished Marriott Golf-managed properties, Renaissance Pine Isle Resort in Sugar Hill, Ga., and Stone Mountain.
Under Williams’ leadership, both properties have received tremendous golf industry awards and accolades with regard to environmental stewardship and overall golf course grounds operations. The company also cited the efforts of Williams to improve golf operations, enhance the work environment for his staff and donate his time and expertise to industry-wide causes.
“It is truly an honor to receive this prestigious award and be recognized for our golf organization’s contributions within Marriott,” said Williams. “This is very exciting and I would like to extend my gratitude to everyone who has supported me throughout my career.”
Three more industry partners have joined GCSAA’s Partner Recognition Program — Jacobsen, at the Gold investment level, and Andersons Golf Products and Arysta LifeScience Corp., both at the Silver level.