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Viva Las Vegas: What we saw at our own imaginary GIS

By , and |  February 9, 2021 0 Comments

Staying healthy — sort of — with Syngenta

Syngenta has maintained a theme of wellness at the Golf Industry Show, a theme that continued in 2021 with an annual Health in Action 5K race sponsored by the company early Tuesday morning. We caught up with Mark LaFleur, Syngenta communications lead, at the 5K. Well, at the finish line after the race, because let’s face it, after a late night at the various chapter parties, we didn’t have the gas in the tank to get up and run.

Syngenta’s Mark LaFleur (left) with MLB Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, who signed autographs at the booth. (Photo courtesy of Mark LeFleur)

Syngenta’s Mark LaFleur (left) with MLB Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, who signed autographs at the booth. (Photo courtesy of Mark LeFleur)

Syngenta launched three new products to help superintendents in 2020, and with those new products, the company launched several new assurance programs, essentially guaranteeing control of certain pests.

“With innovation, it isn’t just products; it’s some of the tools that we have. I think one way that Syngenta sets itself apart are our digital tools, whether it be the Smith-Kerns Dollar Spot tool that we built, WeevilTrak or the GreenCast Turf app,” LaFleur said, catching his breath. “Before, it was very much just a calculator that helped people calculate how much product they need based on the number of acres they’re treating. It was also a bit of a record-keeping tool. The problem was it was not cloud based, so you couldn’t share it with other people. We’ve made that cloud based, so all of the records are backed up. It makes it so that more than one person can sign into an account.

Superintendents put together a program, and if they want their spray tech to reference it, they just go into the app. But then, there are all sorts of other added benefits that we’ve added to the relaunch of this tool.”

I asked LaFleur what he was most looking forward to on his GIS 2021 agenda, and without hesitation, he said it was the Ladies Leading Turf event.

“No matter how busy I am in the booth, I want to go out and make sure that I’m part of (that event),” LaFleur said. “I think it’s inspiring to hear what a lot of the women have done with their lives. And, I think, in order for change, you can’t just have the people that are looking to create change be part of the group. I think everyone else needs to be a part of the conversation. As a man in the turf industry, I want to help be a part of making women more inclusive, more accepted, more appreciated.”

Rain Bird’s Innovation Lab

Rain Bird’s newest series of golf rotors provides 75 percent faster nozzle changes, according to the company. (Photo: Rain Bird)

Rain Bird’s newest series of golf rotors provides 75 percent faster nozzle changes, according to the company. (Photo: Rain Bird)

We hustled from the 5K (guess Syngenta got us to run after all) back to the trade show to visit our friends at Rain Bird. We met up with Mohan Subramanian, marketing manager for Rain Bird, and talked about the GIS returning to Las Vegas and the energy of this year’s show. “The best thing about Vegas is people let their hair down, they can relax and open up more and that’s always good for business,” Subramanian told us.

He was in the middle of a jam-packed day at the booth manning the Rain Bird Innovation Lab. After the lab’s popular debut at the 2020 GIS in Orlando, the company brought it back, giving trusted superintendents the chance to see new Rain Bird product releases and upcoming technology and offer their feedback.

In addition to the Innovation Lab, the new 702/752 Series golf rotors were the other headliner at the Rain Bird booth. “The new rotor series is very easy to use and very versatile, and we’ve added new nozzles to the lineup,” Subramanian said. He explained that the rotors provide 75 percent faster nozzle changes and that it’s very easy to change nozzles on these rotors with just a screwdriver.

He added that the 702 Series covers a radius of 59 feet to 77 feet, and the 752 Series offers a radius from 19 feet to 84 feet.

We were able to get the rundown on the latest from Rain Bird, but what would a Golf Industry Show be without leaving us wanting more? “We’re going to be unveiling something pretty exciting in the next couple of months,” Subramanian said. “We’re very pumped up about what’s coming in the future.”

BASF talks DMI safety

A short walk away from Rain Bird was the BASF booth, where a packed crowd had assembled. Many were there to talk about Maxtima fungicide and Navicon Intrinsic brand fungicide, two of the company’s latest innovations … but there’s also a crowd surrounding the Golden Tee machine, trying to birdie their way to a nice prize.

We caught up with two of BASF’s Marketing and Strategic account managers: Brian Thompson and Mark Semm. Thompson said 2021 is going to be a big year for BASF, as they expect four new products to launch this year. That’s all the future forecast we could get for now, as the duo wanted to talk DMI safety and how Maxtima fungicide and Navicon Intrinsic brand fungicide have turned some heads in 2020.

“Some of the things with Maxtima fungicide, being a DMI that you can really spray at any time on any turf without regulation, there’s been ‘safe’ DMIs that maybe weren’t as safe as people thought, but this is truly one you can use at any time. The control on dollar spot — resistant dollar spot — has been great. It’s just short of a Swiss army knife,” Semm said. “I step back a couple years from when I first joined the team, and it’s interesting to see a product go from a thought, all the way to market — it’s something I’ve never seen before. To see the satisfaction on a superintendent’s face is priceless.”

Thompson echoed those thoughts and said Maxtima fungicide and Navicon Intrinsic brand fungicide have changed the perception many superintendents have of DMIs.

“(DMI) fungicides carry some negative baggage — we’ve shifted that thought process with our customers,” Thompson said. “We’ve taken that DMI class and proven to our customers, even the skeptics, you can throw the most adverse conditions that DMIs aren’t known to be utilized in … spraying a DMI in high heat, under a growth regulator program … Maxtima fungicide and Navicon Intrinsic brand fungicide perform extremely well. We have the confidence to go to a customer and say, ‘I know you’ve heard it before, but this truly is setting the mark for a new safe DMI.’”

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About the Author: Christina Herrick

Christina Herrick is the former editor of Golfdom magazine.

About the Author: Seth Jones

Seth Jones, a 18-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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