Golfdom Summit 2019: A class of its own

By |  February 7, 2020 0 Comments
2019 Golfdom Summit Class (Photo: Lou Ferraro, Park South Photography)

Photo: Lou Ferraro, Park South Photography

Here’s to you, Golfdom Summit Class of 2019. You couldn’t hit Sipcam Agro’s 30-foot by 20-foot Coastal banner from 60 yards, but you sure did create the memories.

There was class clown Tim Davis making bee-boop-bop noises while describing a future where robots crawl out of the maintenance shop like crabs, all for Golfdom TV. There was the most likely to break something — the formidable Alan FitzGerald and his inability to keep the LCR dice from bouncing off the table. Most likely to be a motivational speaker — Matt Cavanaugh — inspired us when he grabbed the microphone and made a presentation on native grasses, complete with a PowerPoint presentation, with only a few hours’ notice.

And don’t forget about the partners — 20 partners in all, making for the largest Golfdom Summit ever. There were the originals — Smithco and Turfco — present every year since the beginning. And there were the Golfdom Summit freshmen, companies like Aqua Vac, well known to the industry but new to the event, and Maredo, not only new to the event, but also new to the American market. It’s a Dutch company founded by the son of the inventor of the VertiDrain.

“Along the nine years we’ve been hosting this event, it feels like we’ve vastly expanded our network of people who we can trust and rely on,” Golfdom Publisher Craig MacGregor told the crowd at the opening night reception. “Thank you for your support, thank you for your trust and please … stay in touch.”

And now, a closer look at the Golfdom Summit Class of 2019.

The Andersons

For The Andersons, the Golfdom Summit was a great opportunity to share with superintendents that “we are not just a granular fertilizer company,” said Tyler Warner, territory manager. Warner said the company used the time with superintendents to walk them through the company’s Turf Nutrition Tool (TNT). TNT is a web-based and mobile-friendly platform that allows turf managers to create custom nutrition programs.

“We used our new TNT to show superintendents how to pick the right fertilizer at the right time of year to produce the results they are looking for, based upon the area of the country they are located,” Warner said. “The TNT tool takes into account the average high and low temperatures and rainfall throughout the year to model the release of our different fertilizers to help them manage their fertilizer programs effectively and efficiently.”

The Summit gave WinField United the chance to talk to superintendents about GeoTech. (Photo: Clara McHugh)

The Summit gave WinField United the chance to talk to superintendents about GeoTech. (Photo: Clara McHugh)

The company also spent time educating superintendents about The Andersons’ new Genesis Rx 5-7-5 patented dispersing-granule fertilizer. Genesis Rx 5-7-5 is developed for construction, renovation, aerification, sprigging, sodding and seeding.

As far as interactions with supers, he said the Summit “exceeded the expectations that I had with customer interaction and event planning.”

Aqua Vac

Water use and conservation is a big topic in the golf course industry. And Brian Pirl, vice president of operations for U.S. Aqua Vac, said that in one-on-one meetings, he and Sam Birchfield, Aqua Vac account representative, had discussed how Aqua Vac’s services could help superintendents conserve water on their courses.

“Many golf courses don’t have it in their budget to shut down the course to have a big mechanical dredging operation happen,” he said. “It is messy and causes a lot of damage to the landscaping. No one wants to deal with the money or deal with red tape from permits.”

Pirl explained what his company can clean, whether it’s ponds with liners or waterways with mucky sediment that could be responsible for environmental damage. This not only impacts the waterway, but irrigation systems, too.

Aqua Vac demonstration (Photo: Clara McHugh)

Water savings are top of mind for many superintendents. Brian Pirl from Aqua Vac discussed how their product can help save water on the golf course. (Photo: Clara McHugh)

“Our services reestablish a pond’s bottom and greatly reduce the number of bacteria, toxic gases, ammonia, bad odors and algae that accumulate over time, instead of using outdated, costly and less-effective drain-and-dig methods,” he said.

Meetings with superintendents in the Northeast, in particular, proved to be extremely helpful to both Aqua Vac and the superintendents. Pirl said they discovered there are unique problems these superintendents face, but they often assumed the problem was beyond the realm of what Aqua Vac could do. However, he said, the solutions the company provides could be quite beneficial.

“We found out that we can save them big money,” Pirl said. “In one situation, maybe even a savings of $100,000-plus.”

BlueBird Turf Products

BlueBird Turf Products is launching a new battery-powered equipment line this year, and the Golfdom Summit provided a great opportunity to discuss new and existing equipment.

BlueBird Turf Products showed off existing equipment at the Summit and talked to attendees about its new battery-powered equipment line. (Photo: Clara McHugh)

BlueBird Turf Products showed off existing equipment at the Summit and talked to attendees about its new battery-powered equipment line. (Photo: Clara McHugh)

This new battery-powered line includes walk-behind aerators, power rakes, hover mowers, a self-propelled 22-inch walk mower, a detachable string trimmer with a pole saw and hedge clipper attachment, a standard rear-handle chainsaw, a top-handle chainsaw, a handheld blower and a standard rear-handle hedge clipper.

As the company unveiled its plans during the Golfdom Summit, Chris Durig, vice president of sales and marketing, was heartened to learn that some superintendents are readily seeking out battery-powered equipment.

Superintendents took an interest in the line, as it could reduce noise from equipment in use, cut down on maintenance or equipment downtime and reduce the need for oil changes, air filters or spark plugs.

“It allows the crews to work much closer to the players on the course, and throughout the day, it reduces their downtime and work stoppage as people play through,” he said.

BlueBird’s four-wheeled gas-powered sod cutter, Durig said, was another of the company’s offerings that superintendents took notice of because it holds hills well.

“With our four-wheel unit in weather-damp areas, sod doesn’t get sliced at all, and it also makes it a one-person job to get the four-wheel-drive over and walk right through the weather-damp area,” he said.

Durig said the sod cutter’s threaded-pin depth adjustment feature also hit home for the superintendents.

“Once they set it at the depth they want, it’s impossible for it to come out of alignment,” he said.

FairwayiQ

Managing employees and equipment can be a tedious job for superintendents, no matter the size of the operation. FairwayiQ’s sensors track equipment-use hours and can be paired with systems such as taskTracker, a digital job board, to track man-hours.

FairwayiQ reps (Photo: Clara McHugh)

FairwayiQ’s technology allows users to track equipment-use hours and man-hours, allowing them to calculate dollars spent on the property. (Photo: Clara McHugh)

“Superintendents now have actionable data that they can make decisions off of,” said Dave Vanslette, CEO. “It’s not so much guesswork anymore; it’s real-life information based on what’s happening on their property.”

One question Vanslette and Christopher Benevides, business development manager, said superintendents asked is how to justify the cost to employers.

“Because we do collect a lot of information related to quantitative data, how long it takes to mow fairways, how long it takes to mow tees or rake bunkers, we’re able to translate that information into dollars being spent on the property,” Benevides said.

Vanslette acknowledges that superintendents often ask how people react to being monitored, as FairwayiQ can pair employees with equipment used.

“What we usually point to is the fact our cellphones today track so much of our behavior — that we’ve made pretty common choices to allow these to track us,” he said. “We’re not doing that extensive of tracking, but we’re doing something that’s been around for a few years, at least on mobile.”

FMC

At the Golfdom Summit, attendees had the chance to learn about FMC’s new demethylation inhibitor fungicide, Rayora, which can be used to treat dollar spot. During one-on-one meetings with superintendents, the company also highlighted its Fame fungicide, which incorporates the active ingredient fluoxastrobin and targets brown patch, summer patch, fairy ring and Pythium dysfunction.

Ryan Swilley, Sam Wineinger (Photo: Seth Jones)

Ryan Swilley, left, superintendent at Gulf Stream Golf Club, with Sam Wineinger of Sipcam Agro. Swilley was the winner of Sipcam Agro’s chipping contest. (Photo: Seth Jones)

One of the specifics of these products that struck home with attendees, said Mike Sisti, FMC golf and lawn care market manager, was that the company has pledged to donate a percentage of purchases back to local GCSAA chapters.

“Rayora has a strong performance on preventive and curative dollar spot and early activity on brown spot, which could eliminate a tank mix, which helps budgets. That was also appreciated,” Sisti added.

The unique format of the Golfdom Summit allowed superintendents to give instant feedback about FMC’s products and offer their perspectives on the brand, the products it currently has in the market and new products it will bring to market.

“The intimate setting allowed for direct conversations, and a wide array of geographical and turfgrass species and cultivars allowed us to hone our approach going forward,” Sisti said. “It allowed our end users to speak directly to marketing in a real-time format and communicate real versus perceived obstacles.”

Frost

The message Frost shared with attendees of the Golfdom Summit was a fairly simple one: the value of GPS technology in spray applications and the return on investment that comes from implementing it.

“The evidence of application seemed to be a pretty big message, and having that record to show immediately after the job was something we talked about quite a bit,” said Tyler Geissler, sales and marketing specialist for Frost.

Ken Rost, CEO of the company, said that one of the benefits of the format was that some of their current customers attended the event and “wouldn’t shut up about how excited and pleased they were with working with us.”

Nate Bolhous (Photo: Seth Jones)

Voted most likely to join a motorcycle gang? Nate Bolhous, who looks comfortable on a Skooza. (Photo: Seth Jones)

He added that those conversations spilled over to other attendees and that it validated that the company is doing the right thing in the market.

Jacobsen

Textron Specialized Vehicles’ product range has grown beyond E-Z-Go and Cushman in the last 10 years.

On the golf and turf side, the company’s products include E-Z-Go and Cushman, as well as the Ransom brand, which is based in the U.K. “When you think about Textron vehicles, we’ve got a huge array of different vehicles for different applications,” said Kevin Boocock, corporate account manager.

The message Textron shared during the Golfdom Summit was that it wants to be a one-stop shop for anyone in the golf industry with Jacobsen, Cushman and E-Z-Go, but also with a product called Textron Fleet Management.

“Everyone calls it GPS, but it’s so much more than that now,” Boocock said.

The product has applications on the player and the agronomy side, giving superintendents the ability to track every vehicle on the property in order to measure productivity.

The company also emphasized its Growing Greens initiative, which is now four years old. “For every unit purchased by a superintendent, $50 is donated back to (his or her) local association,” explained Neil Perez, director of sales, North America. “We are appreciative of what you do, and you’re important to the industry, so that’s how we show our appreciation.”

Kafka Granite

Kafka Granite reps (Photo: Seth Jones)

For Kafka Granite, the one-on-one nature of the meetings at the Summit gave the company a chance to address superintendents’ specific questions. (Photo: Seth Jones)

Kafka Granite was a new partner at the Golfdom Summit this year, so the company’s focus was introducing itself and its products ­­— which include erosion-resistant crushed stone pathway materials and bunker sands — to the superintendents who attended, said Tiffany Koss, director of sales and marketing.

“We started each conversation with understanding what the supers had been using already and what some of their challenges were with walking paths, cart paths or bunker sands,” she said. “Once we understood what they currently used and what their struggles were, we talked about what might be a solution for them.”

The one-on-one meetings gave Koss and owner Glenn Kafka a chance to hone in specifically on the superintendents’ struggles and finding solutions. According to Koss, one message that resonated with superintendents was the amount of time savings the product could afford them by freeing crews up from having to maintain cart and walking paths.

A lot of the questions Koss and Kafka received were common sense questions about how the product is maintained, how it’s made and how it’s installed.

“The great thing about working with supers is they have a lot of common sense because they’re in the field with their guys. They understand products on a deeper level than some of our other customers,” Koss said.

Klingstone

For Klingstone, a veteran-owned business that manufactures bunker liners, the Golfdom Summit was an opportunity to build relationships and find out information that was more helpful than that typically found at trade shows, according to John Ammons, vice president of the company.

“No one had classes to attend or old friends to catch for a meal,” he said. “We were all there together with no distractions, and we had the undivided attention of each attendee for a portion of the event.”

During the event, Klingstone showcased its bunker liner product.

“All the attendees were curious about our bunker liner,” Ammons said. “Some had liners they weren’t satisfied with, others had none. Their interest showed us that even the attendees who had tried other liners hadn’t found a solution they were happy with.”

Ammons said the company’s message at the event was that while bunker maintenance and renovation can be an expensive endeavor, Klingstone’s product is cost effective and boasts a successful 20-year history.

Maredo reps (Photo: Seth Jones)

Maredo was a first-time partner at this year’s Summit. The company introduced attendees to its myriad attachments for triplex greensmowers. (Photo: Seth Jones)

“Customers that trusted us 10, 15, 20 years ago are happy they did,” Ammons said. “Cost is always an early question, and we’re happy to be very competitively priced. Longevity is another, and with our 20-plus year track record, it becomes clear that the product pays for itself over the long term for someone willing and able to invest in their course.”

LebanonTurf

One major benefit of being a partner of the Golfdom Summit is the instant feedback from the superintendents on all aspects of a product, according to Christopher Gray Sr., golf channel manager for professional fertilizers at LebanonTurf, headquartered in Lebanon, Pa.

“This feedback allows us to understand what part of the market positioning of the products is regarded as valuable and meaningful and which ones aren’t,” he said.

Of all the one-on-one meetings, Gray recalls a few where attendees were in the process of reverting back to granular fertilizers after primarily using liquid products.

“These guys were interested in some in-person follow-up site visits to help them choose what specific products would work best for their individual golf course,” Gray said. “This type of lead is, by far, the most valuable because it creates a solid follow-up action plan to help expand our current customer base.”

Throughout the Summit, LebanonTurf touted the message that each year it offers new products that help superintendents successfully manage their courses easier and more effectively, according to Gray.

Additionally, the company primarily showcased two product lines during the event: Emerald Isle Solution products, which are designed to get into the plant with smaller components, make them more efficient and deliver a better value; and Country Club MD products, which include stress-buffering biostimulants that are incorporated into homogeneous granules to help manage plant stress and provide premium nutrients to deliver healthy, playable turf all season long.

Maredo

Maredo, a Dutch company that develops and sells turf maintenance machines, joined the Golfdom Summit as a partner for the first time in 2019.

“I really liked the concept and decided to join,” said Marinus Reincke, president of Maredo. “Because we could talk to all of (the superintendents) personally, we could explain all these new technologies in detail.”

The company’s main goal was to spread the message that it offers a solution to make turf maintenance machines more versatile: the GT Series heads, which can be attached to triplex greensmowers. The heads can transform a triplex greensmower into an interseeder or corer.

Oregon reps (Photo: Seth Jones)

Oregon’s Joe Amalfitano, left, chatted with Summit attendees about the company’s new commercial-grade battery-powered mower. (Photo: Seth Jones)

“Most of the attendees didn’t know about these heads and were very interested,” Reincke said. “This was a great opportunity for them to ask me all kind of questions about these innovative Maredo heads.”

At its booth, the company demonstrated its VibeSpike-Aerator head, which relieves compaction in stressed turf because the vibrating spikes crack the soil and punch holes to get air into the ground, according to the company.

Reincke said attendees also were interested in the company’s HiSpeed Corer heads, which attach to a triplex greensmower and turn it into a coring machine to remove thatch; the VibeSpike Seeder, which plants seeds and helps yield a high germination rate; and the VertiDrain, which can help aerate greens, tees and fairways.

“People were impressed,” Reincke said. “During my brief introduction, I told the people that my father invented the VertiDrain and that I have been the chief engineer for many years.”

Nufarm

Meeting with the superintendent attendees proved to be a highlight of the Golfdom Summit for Nufarm, according to Cam Copley, golf national accounts manager for the company.

“The goal of our meetings was to get to know the superintendents better and learn more about their properties,” Copley said. “We looked to be of help to them for any issues they may have. We knew superintendents were giving up their valuable time to be at the Summit, and we wanted to discuss things that were of value to them. Superintendents were eager to share their Nufarm experience and give us feedback on things they needed from our company.”

As for products, Nufarm aimed to discuss Anuew, a plant growth regulator that’s designed to save time with less mowing and fewer clippings, while improving the overall playability of greens, tees and fairways, according to Nufarm.

“Superintendents were either using or are interested in using Anuew,” Copley said. “We were able to discuss how it would fit into what they need from a growth regulator.”

Copley said he particularly enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere surrounding the one-on-one meetings with superintendents.

“While the meeting times were fairly short, they were in a comfortable environment,” he said.

Oregon Outdoor Power Equipment

It’s fair to say that Oregon Outdoor Power equipment made an impression at the Golfdom Summit this year — even on the Reunion Resort turf itself.

“(The battery-powered mower) has so much power and torque, if you go back to Reunion Resort, there’s tread marks on the ground,” said Joe Amalfitano, business development manager for Blount International, the company that owns the Oregon brand. Weighing in at 124 pounds, the new commercial-grade, self-propelled mower was one of the top draws for Oregon at this year’s event.

“When we put (the mower) in high speed, it literally peeled out — the superintendents weren’t expecting it,” he recalled. “The guys said, ‘This thing’s a tank!’”

Oregon has a motto for when it presents to a new group of superintendents. “We’re always trying to debunk the stigma that battery-powered equipment lacks power, it lacks durability, it lacks run time,” Amalfitano said.

Sipcam contest player (Photo: Clara McHugh)

As part of its launch of Coastal herbicide, Sipcam held a contest to see who could hit a banner sporting the product’s logo. It was tougher than it looked. (Photo: Clara McHugh)

During the Summit, a few superintendents said they used battery-powered equipment, and one mentioned using a 48-volt blower that just didn’t have the velocity he needed.

Amalfitano and Blount National Accounts Manager Izzy Rodriguez looked to blow those perceptions out of the water while demoing the 120-volt professional lineup, which includes the aforementioned mower, as well as a string trimmer, edger, hedge trimmer, handheld blower and backpack blower.

The handhelds are lightweight, have longer run times (90 minutes on the handheld blower and on up to seven hours on the string trimmer) and run off the same battery, Amalfitano said. The charge time for the batteries is three or five hours depending on the battery size.

Amalfitano said once superintendents use the tools and get comfortable with them, what’s needed to charge and maintain them is next on their minds. “You can take a standard wall outlet and charge up to five batteries on a 15-inch circuit,” he said. “Most golf courses only need one or two circuits.”

PBI-Gordon

Between meetings, keynote speakers, meals and golf, three days flew by fast for attendees of the Summit. To keep meetings flowing and ensure that superintendents were able to get their questions answered, PBI-Gordon did a bit of reconnaissance before touching down in Orlando.

The results of the company’s pre-Summit questionnaire to attendees showed that Pedigree and native areas were top of mind for superintendents — specifically, the efficacy of Pedigree’s liquid formula on brown patch and fairy ring, as well as weed control for native areas.

A former superintendent himself, Jim Goodrich, product manager, appreciates that the Summit allows superintendents to spend 20 or 30 minutes to discuss their specific challenges with companies.

A superintendent had questions about Vexis, a granular sedge control product that doesn’t have to be applied to wet turf. Aside from the ability to throw bags of the product into the hopper of a spreader, the product also comes in a 2-pound shaker can.

“(Superintendents) can just throw the shaker can on the cart and as they see spots, they can spot treat,” Goodrich said. In addition, Vexis does not have to be watered in right away.

Union fungicide, a premix formula to treat Pythium, also was a popular product.

Goodrich appreciated the conversations and the attendees’ general curiosity about the products and how they might help solve their challenges. “We’re talking about the top-tier golf courses and the top-tier guys in a one-on-one setting — it’s invaluable,” he said. “It’s a mission for us to thank superintendents that we do business with, and for those who may have been customers in the past, to regain their trust.”

Pogo Turf Pro

Despite being in the golf market since 2013, Pogo Turf Pro has battled the same misconception for years.

“Almost everyone came into the room thinking Pogo is a moisture meter,” said Carmen Magro, vice president, business development/agronomy of Pogo Turf Pro. “Pogo is not a moisture meter, it’s not a GPS tool, it’s not a salinity analyzer, it’s not a mapping device,” he explained. “It’s really an extension of everything the superintendent is trying to do — a complex system of collecting the most important information that they’re already trying to capture anyway.”

The Pogo Turf Pro system measures a variety of data, including soil salinity, temperature, moisture, as well as ball speed and firmness — and helps superintendents understand how those factors interact.

“Once people realized what it does, there were six or seven (attendees) who bought it right on the spot,” Magro said.
“When they start talking about what it is they want to do — to improve irrigation or reduce members’ complaints about conditioning — then I explain that Pogo works kind of like your brain. It takes in a lot of information, applies it to what you’re trying to achieve and in the end, gives you the confidence you need to do what you’re trying to do.”

Superintendents who are curious about the Pogo Turf Pro but are concerned about major changes to the system can rest easy. “We decided to stabilize the hardware for the next couple of years, and we built this latest model last February to be expandable into the future,” Magro explained.

Smithco reps (Photo: Clara McHugh)

Smithco’s primary goal while at the Summit was to show attendees what the future of its product offerings might look like. (Photo: Clara McHugh)

“Even though the Pogo is fairly new, the sensor’s been around for 40 years,” Magro said, noting that the technology has been used for years by governmental agencies and NASA. That could explain why the Pogo Turf Pro isn’t just becoming more popular in the United States; it’s now the standard monitoring system for The R&A’s tournament and preparations.

Quali-Pro

Quali-Pro is a longtime Golfdom Summit partner, but even veterans can be surprised by what they learn at the event.

In addition to the typical diseases superintendents want to discuss, Nick Strain, Quali-Pro’s business director, said there was a new popular topic this year. “With the talk that Matt (Cavanaugh) did on native areas, the conversations were sort of building on themselves,” he said. “All these guys have some type of native areas that they’re dealing with — and mosquitos and ticks on those areas.”

Those conversations brought the company’s Proflex product into the spotlight. Though the product isn’t intended for turf, it’s effective for mosquito and tick control in native areas. “We intended to talk about Proflex, but we didn’t think it would be as big as it was,” Strain said.

Quali-Pro also played up Negate for Poa control, and according to Strain, it’s cost effective and treats a broad spectrum of golf course weeds.

As in past Summits, dollar spot was a prevalent topic. Quali-Pro’s Enclave works on dollar spot, snow mold and a range of other diseases, and it can be applied on cool- and warm-season turf.

“For Enclave, we have data from Jim Kerns, Ph.D., at North Carolina State University for spring dead spot and Paul Koch, Ph.D., at University of Wisconsin for snow mold — so it really shows that (the product) really does travel north and south,” Strain said.

Aside from the new findings that native areas are a big concern for superintendents, Strain said that the Summit was also an opportunity to educate superintendents on the business behind Quali-Pro.

“It was a chance for people to learn more about Quali-Pro as a brand and Control Solutions Inc. (CSI) as a company,” he said. “None of the superintendents knew anything about CSI as a pest control company.”

Sipcam Agro

2019 saw a major product launch for Sipcam Agro, one that the company was happy to ballyhoo in style at the Golfdom Summit.

“For our southern superintendents, we were introducing Coastal — bringing awareness to our 2019-registered herbicide,” said Sam Wineinger, manager, turf and ornamental marketing for Sipcam Agro.

Turfco reps (Photo: Clara McHugh)

Scott Kinkead, executive vice president of Turfco, demonstrates
the company’s blowers to a Summit attendee. (Photo: Clara McHugh)

“This is the first new season of Coastal as a Poa annua resistance management tool, with pre- and postemergent weed control to use as a rotational product in weed resistance management. It’s extensively researched and demonstrated at southern universities, with the overarching message that it is the most economical Poa annua control product on the market.”

Sipcam Agro even celebrated the launch of Coastal with a golf challenge.

The company made sure that the northern superintendents didn’t feel left out.

“For our northern superintendents, we spent a great deal of time talking about ETQ, our Enhanced Turf Quality products and the benefits of them,” Wineinger said. “How — scientifically — it’s not just a dye or a pigment; it’s actually a turf-quality enhancement product. That’s backed by university science and research.”

Smithco

Golf equipment manufacturer Smithco is one of two companies that has participated in all nine Golfdom Summits. With this much experience, the company has figured out how to get the most out of the event.

“Our primary goal is to show superintendents products we’re working on in terms of futuristic ideas and the behind-the-scenes development of products,” said Don Smith, Smithco president. “We want to make sure (the products) aren’t something we’re wasting our time on, that they’re something (superintendents) want.”

The two products that Smithco was demonstrating for attendees at the 2019 Golfdom Summit were a 500-gallon capacity sprayer and an electric bunker rake. And according to surveys Smithco distributed at the event, superintendents liked what they saw.

“We try to create things that the competition doesn’t have,” Smith told Golfdom. “Our 500-gallon sprayer gives us that, and it puts us in a class all by ourselves. For multicourse operations like Reunion Resort, (the sprayer) makes sense. It cuts their time down, in that they don’t need to go back and refill the sprayer once they get out there.”

Smith said the electric bunker rake is something the company has been “knocking around” for years. He said now is the time to finally bring it to market.

“A golf course is supposed to be a quiet, peaceful place,” Smith said. “This machine is about noise control. The crew can be working right next to golfers, and the golfers won’t even notice. With other bunker rakes, the operator is obligated to stop and turn off the engine, let the group hit their shots, then turn it back on once they’ve moved on. We also made it operator friendly; this drives more like a car or truck. We really think we’re on to something, because the superintendents loved it.”

Turfco

The other company to have participated in every Golfdom Summit? Minnesota-based Turfco, manufacturer of topdressers, blowers, overseeders and more.

“Our mantra is ‘The beauty of productivity.’ We’re creating products that will help the staff be more productive and free up the superintendent so they can create the beauty that they want to create at their facility,” said Scott Kinkead, executive vice president of Turfco. “How do we help them with the labor challenge … how do we free their time up so they can move on to other tasks? All of our equipment is designed to live up to that.”

Turfco explained to superintendents that the company has looked at the whole job of topdressing, not just the topdresser itself.

“The task of topdressing needs to be more productive,” Kinkead said. “We can help a superintendent reduce the number of passes on a green — up to 720 passes a year — by ensuring they get even, edge-to-edge spreading. Also, a superintendent can save their preferred settings for greens, approaches, tee boxes or different widths at the same rate. They can save those like the way they save a radio station on a car stereo. So now, they don’t have to take time to reset the topdresser or even be involved in the setup of the topdresser.”

The Kinkead family celebrated 2019 as the 100th year the family-owned company has been in the golf business. Scott Kinkead said his company gets satisfaction in helping superintendents find “a better way.”

“It’s great to hear guys say that they appreciate us trying to help them with their labor challenges. We had one guy come up and say, ‘You brought up problems I didn’t even realize I had, but now that I look at it from that standpoint, wow, there’s another way we can approach our productivity challenges.’” Kinkead said. “I think a lot of superintendents have figured out how to make it work. Our task is to actually make it better. That’s what’s fun for us — to say, there can be a better way.”

WinField United

For superintendents who dream of having an eye in the sky to look down and monitor their golf courses, meeting with WinField United was an eye-opener.

“Most of the superintendents were really interested in GeoTech, because most are thinking about variable rate sprayers, or GPS-enabled sprayers, have them or are looking at them at the Summit, so it’s a very easy jump into GeoTech,” says John Smith, director of marketing for WinField United. “GeoTech is a satellite site management tool, we’re using satellite imagery to measure NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index). So essentially the plant health of the turf, the light reflectance of the turf demonstrates how much photosynthesis is taking place in the plant.”

Smith says superintendents can use the information to manage future applications. The data from GeoTech can be exported to the company’s GPS-enabled sprayers to variable rate apply products on their golf course, whether it’s nutrition, wetting agents or fungicides.



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