Seth Jones shares the highlights from the 2024 GCSAA Conference and Show in Phoenix

By |  March 11, 2024 0 Comments

A sold-out trade show floor that spanned 325,000 square feet. 6,600 seminar seats sold, the most since 2008. 470 exhibitors displaying their cure for anything and everything that ails a superintendent.

The return to Phoenix was pretty good all-around for the nearly 11,000 turf professionals who made the trip to the 2024 GCSAA Conference and Trade Show.

Our team captured more than 20 videos with exhibitors in an effort to spread the word about the many new tools available to the industry.

Here’s a short recap of two highlights from the show. Also, check out a quick report from our advice columnist, Thad Thompson here.

It was all smiles at the Golfdom booth as Chris Navin received his Herb Graffis Businessperson of the Year award at the 2024 GCSAA Show. (Photo: Golfdom staff)

It was all smiles at the Golfdom booth as Chris Navin received his Herb Graffis Businessperson of the Year award at the 2024 GCSAA Show. (Photo: Golfdom staff)

Rees Jones presents Herb Graffis Award

For the 12th consecutive time, Rees Jones, ASGCA, one of only three people to win the Old Tom Morris Award (2004), the Donald Ross Award (2013) and the Don A. Rossi Award (2014), was on hand at the Golfdom booth to present our own award: the Herb Graffis Businessperson of the Year, named after the magazine’s World Golf Hall of Fame founder.

“I’m definitely a friend of Golfdom magazine. Herb Graffis was a dear friend of our family. He is one of the most humorous people I’ve ever met in my life,” Jones told the audience. “I met him as a young man. He was a friend of my father’s, Robert Trent Jones. He and Joe Graffis started Golfdom magazine, that’s why this award is so appropriate and so significant; it’s annually given to a participant who does something special in his career.”

The recipient was Chris Navin, superintendent at the Golf Club at P.B. Dye in Ijamsville, Md. We profiled Navin in the August 2023 issue of the magazine. In Phoenix, we officially recognized him for his hard work restoring the Club at P.B. Dye to its former glory.

“What Herb Graffis decided to do years ago, starting Golfdom, writing about what goes on on the golf course, really has paved the way for a lot of great publications to highlight what we do,” Navin said. “Everything from the guy on the course running the string trimmer to the people at the universities doing research and everyone in between. We get to see through Golfdom, all the research, all the hard work. And it’s because of Herb Graffis.”

That’s so (turf) rad

Over at the taskTracker booth, we saw something new. What was the purpose of that big rectangle attached to the back of a fairway mower?

Lars Horvat, chief technical officer of TerraRad Tech, was in from Switzerland to explain.

“We invented a new kind of soil moisture sensor that can measure soil moisture without touching the soil,” he said. “It’s measuring 4 inches deep in the soil and it’s doing it with microwave technology that is normally used in satellites. We just made that technology cheaper and much smaller.”

It’s known as turfRad (visit to learn more and yes, the lowercase t pains us). Last year was the product’s pilot year, with 16 American golf courses trying it. This year, they’re ready to roll it out to the entire industry.

“Our goal is to save water, but you can improve your playability a lot,” Horvat says. “It’s used by the PGA Tour Agronomists and Thomas Bastis. They use it in the week leading up to the Tour event. Our data can drive irrigation decisions — where to water, how to send out hand waterers, to have the most uniform (course) and the best playability. If you have great playability and uniformity, you’re also going to save water.”

One of the 16 pilot courses is Longboat Key (Fla.) Club, where John Reilly is the director of agronomy. Better known as @turfmonkeyboy on X, previously known as Twitter (and yes, that also pains us), Reilly tells Golfdom that when he first saw it, he thought it was meant for California, or for superintendents who have to buy water. Then he saw it in action at Muirfield Village and was “instantly hooked.” He adds that turfRad shows him what really needs to be watered, while also giving him bouncy conditions on sticky Paspalum grass.

“We’ve long been an early adopter of technology-based data collection to make turfgrass management decisions. We started with point-of-reference measurement devices like meters and soil sensors, and made global decisions,” Reilly says. “The turfRad is the exact opposite with instant information to make point-of-reference decisions, which turns out to be much more impactful. We save exponential watering with accurate point management.”

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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