Jones’ 2019 GIS notebook

By |  February 12, 2019 0 Comments

Strange, most of my 2019 GIS notebook is indecipherable scribbles on a cocktail napkin from The Hard Rock Hotel.

So I guess I better spitball more from memory than my notes…

GIS 2019 was another great event for the entire Golfdom team. It’s a treat to go to an event and feel like you’ve got an open-door welcome at every single event being hosted in the city.

L to R: Stephanie Schwenke, Syngenta; Golfdom Publisher Craig MacGregor; Ryan Franklin, St. Petersburg (Fla.) CC; Jared Stanek, Desert Willow Golf Resort, Indio, Calif. (Photo: Golfdom staff)

L to R: Stephanie Schwenke, Syngenta; Golfdom Publisher Craig MacGregor; Ryan Cummings, Elcona CC, Bristol, Ind.; Jared Stanek, Desert Willow Golf Resort, Indio, Calif. (Photo: Golfdom staff)

Consider this: I changed my travel plans and arrived a day earlier than normal in order to attend the Syngenta Business Institute 10-year anniversary party at the top of the Hilton Bayfront. It was the one thing on my agenda on Monday. I felt a tinge of self-doubt as I got off the elevator… was it wise of me to change travel plans for one event?

This was an awesome way for me to start my GIS. Even though I’ve only been to the Syngenta Business Institute a couple times (Two times? Four? It blurs together after a while) it turns out I knew just about everyone at this party. I barely could make it from the front door to the bar, as I kept seeing old friends, new friends, even Golfdom columnist Sean Tully was there… and we were both so busy catching up with folks we barely had time to say hello! (We later caught up properly at the Golfdom booth.)

So, yeah… an early thank you to everyone who welcomed us to their parties, who invited us to their booths, who took us out to dinner and bought us drinks. You know who you are. And if I don’t mention you here? Just remember, I always save my best stuff for the print edition of Golfdom

(Side note: I hear the Bayer Super Bowl party is a fun event each year. I’m enough of an NFL fan that I typically want to be in my own element to watch the game. I might have to change that next year. But given that the Chiefs are sure to be in the Super Bowl next year, I might be such a nervous wreck that I’d actually make Rob Golembieski, Ph.D., and Frank Wong, Ph.D. angry… something none of us have ever seen before!)

Year of the scooter

Photo: Golfdom Staff

The Jersey Boys. Photo: Golfdom Staff

I’ll always remember GIS 2019 as the year of the scooter. Those things were everywhere. And I knew there was no way I was going to ride one… until Golfdom Publisher Craig MacGregor convinced me it was the fastest way to get back to the convention center. I downloaded the app, and I was then awkwardly cruising down a San Diego sidewalk in the rain…

After about two blocks of this, and watching Craig steadily widen his gap in front of me, I decided I had enough of the scooter for one day. Thankfully Rob Wagner, Trump National Bedminster, saw me from his lunch spot and hollered at me. Now I had an excuse to ditch the scooter and get back on solid ground.

Next thing I know I’m hanging with the Jersey boys (but where was Russ Harris?), sharing some laughs and hearing some stories. I got to meet Todd Raisch, CGCS at the Ridgewood CC in Paramus, N.J. All of them were kind enough to act like they didn’t see me wobble by on that scooter. New Jersey guys know how to keep a secret.

Bill Roddy, Jamie Breuninger, Ph.D.; Karan Bansal, Tom Linnen and Craig MacGregor at the Corteva party (Photo: Golfdom staff)

Golfdom’s Bill Roddy, Jamie Breuninger, Ph.D.; Karan Bansal, Tom Linnen and Craig MacGregor at the Corteva party (Photo: Golfdom staff)

The scooters weren’t all bad. I did enjoy the long ride on the boardwalk, hustling from the Simplot customer event at Fox Sports Grill in the Hilton Bayfront to the DryJect party at the Harbor House. There were five of us together at that point, all on scooters, zipping by the old folks on foot. I was still nervous about wrecking, but I had to laugh as CEO Kevin Stoltman shouted out, “This is so cool!” as we zipped along.

The parties

San Diego has great party locations. Nufarm’s party at Tin Roof was a great location, large, with an upper deck good for viewing the band. The PBI-Gordon party at Union was a cool spot with a great selection of microbrews (and their own limited edition Pedigree Lager, commemorating the first liquid flutolanil formulation… at least that’s what it looks like it says on my cocktail napkin). My team raved about the Koch party at Rustic Root. And I’m biased, but I enjoyed the Irish pub where we hosted the Golfdom party, the Field.

view from the Corteva party. Photo: Golfdom staff

Not too shabby of a view from the Corteva party. Photo: Golfdom staff

But a special shout out to the folks at Corteva for getting such a big group out on the open-air rooftop of the Marriott Gas Lamp. The views up there were great and thankfully the weather was cooperative. It was memorable looking around the city and down into Petco Park. It was announced that longtime industry veteran Tom Linnen was retiring at that party… and if I’m Linnen I’m calling that my retirement party, and telling all my friends about the hundreds of people who came to wish me well on the rooftop of the Marriott Gas Lamp! (And happy retirement to you, Tom — congrats!)

What about the show?

Oh yeah! Sorry about that. You know me.

First, two honors for the magazine: Golfdom was invited to host two panels; “Women in Golf,” at the Bayer booth (learn more about the panel discussion in Abby Hart’s GIS recap). Our own Bethany Chambers moderated the panel and did an excellent job (and thank you for the shout-out, Bethany!); And I was asked to moderate Anuvia’s “Legends Initiative” which honored Ted Horton, CGCS. Matt Shaffer, CGCS and Bob Farren, CGCS, were also guests of the panel.

Our very own Bethany Chambers leading the Bayer Women in Golf Panel. (Photo: Golfdom staff)

Our very own Bethany Chambers leading the Bayer Women in Golf Panel. (Photo: Golfdom staff)

Again, I’m saving the very best stuff for the magazine, including the above two panels. We’ll have more in the March issue of Golfdom on both, and thanks to our friends at Anuvia, soon you’ll be able to watch the whole panel and hear Ted’s amazing story about working for the King of Morocco.

Aside from tooting our own horns, there was some really cool stuff on the trade show floor. The folks at Rain Bird impressed me with how they’re making all their equipment smart, and how it can all communicate together — they call it “total system solutions.” The joke in the booth was that eventually, the irrigation system will be able to pre-heat the oven for you if you want it to. What they’re emphasizing is that they want the irrigation system to be the brain of the golf course. And they have big brains…

Rodney Lingle. (Photo: Golfdom staff)

Rodney Lingle. (Photo: Golfdom staff)

I got to talk grass with my old friend Rodney Lingle, CGCS. He was at the Modern Turf Inc., booth, celebrating the launch of Mach 1 Ultradwarf Bermudagrass. This grass is his baby, and Rod knows his bermudagrass. He’s been studying and growing this grass for 20 years and now he’s ready to share it with courses looking for a premium stand of turf. Rod tells me the grass has a great response to PGRs, it’s dark green and provides a superior putting surface. His photos have me believing, I’m looking forward to putting on this grass soon.

The Anuvia Legends dinner, featuring familiar faces such as Bob Farren, Ted Horton and Matt Shaffer. Photo: Golfdom staff

The Anuvia Legends dinner, featuring familiar faces such as Bob Farren, Ted Horton and Matt Shaffer. Photo: Golfdom staff

Seeing is believing and I was impressed with how the researchers at Bayer are showing off the benefits of Stressgard. Chenxi Zhang, Ph.D., and Paul Giordano, Ph.D., did a useful demonstration of what was on display at the Bayer booth, showing off the roots of a few sample cores, as well as aerial photography showing treated and non-treated fairways. But it was the roots of the test plots that used Indeminfy nematicide that was most shocking… taken from a course in Texas, the root system of the cores without Indeminfy? They were all but gone. Imagine the water it took to keep those greens alive with hardly any roots in Texas!

There were a lot of other visits — John Deere, Pursell Agri-Tech, Amvac, Koch, Toro, Textron Golf, The Plant Food Co., Quali-Pro, Aqua-Aid Solutions… but right now I’m blowing out my word count and my digital editor tells me it’s time to hit “send.” So I’ll come to an abrupt end now, and remind you that I’ll have more from my cocktail napkin notebook — including an exclusive sit-down with a chemical company that I think is really turning heads in the industry — both here on as well as in the magazine.

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About the Author: Seth Jones

Seth Jones, a 25-year veteran of the golf industry media, is Editor-in-Chief of Golfdom magazine and Athletic Turf. A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Jones began working for Golf Course Management in 1999 as an intern. In his professional career he has won numerous awards, including a Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) first place general feature writing award for his profile of World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman and a TOCA first place photography award for his work covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In his career, Jones has accumulated an impressive list of interviews, including such names as George H.W. Bush, Samuel L. Jackson, Lance Armstrong and Charles Barkley. Jones has also done in-depth interviews with such golfing luminaries as Norman, Gary Player, Nick Price and Lorena Ochoa, to name only a few. Jones is a member of both the Golf Writers Association of America and the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association. Jones can be reached at

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