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Where turf masters meet: 2018 Golfdom Summit recap

By |  February 26, 2019 0 Comments
Superintendents at 2018 Golfdom Summit (Photo: Lou Ferraro, Park South Photography)

Smiles all around at the Golfdom Summit. Forty of the country’s top superintendents and representatives from 20 turf industry companies assemble before hitting the links at Orlando’s Reunion Resort. (Photo: Lou Ferraro, Park South Photography)

The eighth annual Golfdom Summit was the largest yet, combining 20 industry vendors with 40 top-level superintendents from around the country for three days of meetings, networking and troubleshooting.

Yes, there were speakers (Thom Nikolai, Ph.D., and Golfdom’s Clark Throssell, Ph.D.), and yes, there was golf (18 on Reunion Resort’s Arnold Palmer course). But the focus of every Golfdom Summit is making connections within the industry … so now a superintendent in Texas knows a plant protection company in Canada, or a marketing manager at a Philly chemical company can dial up a couple Washington state supers on his or her speed dial.

“The Golfdom Summit means relationship building,” said Chris Benevides, growth development manager for FairwayiQ. “It’s one of the few opportunities I’ve seen in golf that generates quality time among people. It provides a chance to shake hands and learn about people and what they care about.”

To learn more about the Golfdom Summit and to apply to attend (only qualified superintendents are accepted, and we must limit the field to 40 each year), visit As a service to our readers and our 20 partners, we offer this recap of what those 20 cutting-edge companies were discussing with the superintendent attendees.

Bluebird Turf Products

2018 marked Bluebird Turf Products’ first appearance at the Golfdom Summit, and it made sure it had plenty of equipment to show off to superintendents gathered in Orlando.

Bluebird Turf Products demo area (Photo: Kelly Limpert)

Bluebird Turf Products’ demo area was humming all day long, with superintendents testing out the company’s hover mowers, edger, chipper and wheeled mower. (Photo: Kelly Limpert)

Bluebird has been in the turf renovation business since 1960. It changed ownership in 2014, and the new owners are former engineers and executives from the automotive industry. The new leadership intends to bring automotive design and manufacturing to turf care products, said Chris Durig, vice president of sales and marketing for Bluebird.

The company offers a wide range of commercial turf equipment, and Bluebird arrived in Orlando with a lineup of equipment specially selected for golf course superintendents, including hover mowers, bed edgers, sod cutters and chippers.

Bluebird’s service experience was one of the major factors the company emphasized during the Summit. “Customer service has been our No. 1 focus; we’ve really brought in what we feel is a quality service team,” Durig said.

The service experience encompasses the equipment itself, with features such as Bluebird Assist.

“Bluebird Assist is tech support that travels with the machine,” Durig explained. When operators use their smartphones to scan the QR codes included on each piece of equipment, Bluebird sends them how-to videos on how to use the product and information such as short checklists of maintenance tasks for that piece of equipment.

Scanning the QR code also allows superintendents to look up parts from their phone, and any parts ordered by 2 p.m. will be shipped the same day.

“That fast parts shipment, as well as our highly trained customer service and technical support staff, has quickly gained us a lot of loyalty in the industry,” Durig said.


FairwayiQ is a system designed to help superintendents manage labor and equipment by tracking equipment usage and labor efficiency in real time.

“We’re a technology company, but don’t let that scare you,” said Dave Vanslette, CEO of FairwayiQ. “The value we bring with this information will augment how you work and tell you some smart stuff during the day that helps you be better without hiring more people.”

To take advantage of the technology, superintendents can place FairwayiQ sensors into their maintenance equipment, then track when and where equipment moves, how long it takes to complete a task and the amount of downtime between tasks.

Vanslette also clued Summit attendees into an interesting partnership at FairwayiQ — the company is working with Toro to create a sensor that generates even more information: engine temperature, torque, speed, fuel levels and more. All of this information is then sent to the cloud and entered into taskTracker, a digital job board.

“During the day, you’re tracking everything happening on the golf course. You’ve got an air-traffic-control view,” Vanslette said. “You can get all the data you want if you’re a data junkie. You get a better idea of where you’re spending your dollars and you can adjust the effort and equipment levels.”

FMC team with superintendents (Photo: Abby Hart)

The FMC team met superintendents from all over the country, including Kyle Johnson (Carolina CC) and Steve Wilson (Pinehurst). (Photo: Abby Hart)

FMC Professional Solutions

FMC Professional Solutions, based in Philadelphia, sees a major opportunity within the golf course industry.

“That’s why we’re here today,” said FMC Marketing Manager Kevin Laycock to Summit attendees. “We participated (in the Summit) in 2014, and we’re excited to be back … FMC is here to stay in the golf course industry.”

The company started in the pest control space, expanding into the turf and ornamental sector about 15 years ago.

The jump into the golf course market has, in part, been fueled by the company’s new research facility, which has played a crucial role in bringing new formulation technologies to the market, particularly for herbicide and fungicide products.

“It’s changed the game for FMC,” Laycock said. “This’ll give us a library of more than 1.8 billion molecules that will potentially be new products to the market and new modes of action.”

FMC soon will introduce three new fungicides to the market: a stand-alone fungicide and two combination fungicides.

In the meantime, Laycock urged attendees to focus on FMC’s foundational fungicide, its Fame portfolio. The Fame SC fungicide includes the active ingredient of fluoxastrobin, which helps provide increased leaf systemicity and uniform leaf distribution.

Sipcam Agro

“We’ve been your source of chlorothalonil and you just don’t know it,” said Sam Wineinger, Sipcam Agro’s Turf & Ornamental marketing and formulator business manager.

With brands like Echo 720, Echo Ultimate, Manicure 6FL, Manicure Ultra and Armor Tech, many attendees in the room had used a Sipcam product at some point during their careers.

Enhanced Turf Quality (ETQ), one of the products Sipcam spoke with supers about during the Summit, is the company’s branded version of a value-added fungicide. Downforce ETQ, a new addition to the ETQ family in 2018-19, is fluazinam plus ETQ. The new product is a multisite contact fungicide that can control multiple turf diseases, including dollar spot.

Another new product, Coastal Herbicide, is a pre- and post-emergent southern herbicide. It is a three-way combination herbicide that uses sizamine, prodiamine and imazaquin. And the new products just kept coming. Two other herbicide concepts from Sipcam currently are in the works.

“We are continuing to find new things and bring up new solutions,” Wineinger said. “We value your opinions and thoughts on where your struggles are, what you need to do to tackle the next hurdle. If we can come up with a product that fits that niche, that’s what we’re looking to do.”

Smithco team showing off greens rollers (Photo: Kelly Limpert)

Smithco has been a Golfdom Summit partner since the first event. Here, the team takes the time to show off what’s under the hood (or seat) of its greens rollers. (Photo: Kelly Limpert)


Smithco President Don Smith told the group that his company was one of the first to sign on to be a partner for the inaugural Golfdom Summit eight years ago, and he is proud to have participated in every Summit since.

“We really like this event and the format. We get to spend a lot of time one-on-one (with superintendents) in a relaxed atmosphere,” Marketing Manager Emil Miller said.

He adds, “One of the things we think we do best is interact with superintendents and end users of our products.”
Since its inception in 1967 as a “one-man, one-product” company, Smithco has diversified its portfolio to include bunker rakes, greens and fairway rollers and spikers, sweepers and dedicated sprayers.

Of that array of products, it showcased five during the Summit’s boardroom presentation: the XXL 70 Greens Roller, the 15-foot fairway roller, the 10-foot fairway spiker, the 5200 Spray Star and the Star Command 2.0.

Smith was especially excited about the Star Command 2.0, a GPS sprayer created through a partnership with TeeJet. The sprayer can control the droplet size on the fly for greater efficacy, independent of rate or speed. Smith added that on a $50,000 budget, the machine offers a return on investment of about $16,250.

“Not only does the system pay for the technology, but it starts to pay for the sprayer,” Smith said.

Textron showing off UTV lineup (Photo: Kelly Limpert)

Textron demoed its UTV lineup, including the Cushman Hauler 800 and the 4×4. The Hauler 800 features a lithium battery. (Photo: Kelly Limpert)


Many of the Textron products attendees saw at the Golfdom Summit were recently redesigned to remove redundancies.

Superintendents took a look at the new product initiatives for Jacobsen, which included the updated TR and AR series mowers. The new TR series features increased visibility and maneuverability, with three or four wheels depending on psi necessity. The new AR series has an enlarged deck size and improved contouring capabilities.

Both the TR and the AR series have 24.8 hp and have adapt-a-shift, which allows users to offset both cutting heads — whether wheel or rotary — by 12 to 18 inches, according to Neil Perez, national turf and utility sales manager for Textron.

Attendees got the chance to test out the new Cushman Hauler 4×4 series on the Reunion Resort driving range. The model has up to 50 hp and comes in diesel or gas models. The company also showed off the Hauler 800, which is the first Cushman on the utility side to be powered by a lithium battery.

To help manage all of the equipment, Textron Fleet Management demonstrated its new Shield Plus, which can lock onto any 12-volt battery and give utilization data. It also allows for geofencing and customized orientation. Superintendents can see where people are and what they’ve completed, Perez noted.

Turfco's Scott Kinkead showing Turfco Torrent debris blower (Photo: Kelly Limpert)

Turfco’s Scott Kinkead adjusts the angle on the Turfco Torrent debris blower for maximum efficiency. (Photo: Kelly Limpert)


It was all about the Es for Turfco this year at the Golfdom Summit: efficiency, effectiveness and ease, that is.

With those goals in mind, the company demonstrated equipment — the fourth “E” in their arsenal — that would help attendees and their crews perform topdressing, seeding and debris-blowing tasks easily, effectively and efficiently.

“No. 1, our products need to be focused on helping you all with the labor challenge,” said Scott Kinkead, Turfco executive vice president.

Attendees learned how the 1550 topdresser, with an 80-inch hopper and straight-line edge-to-edge spreading, reduces the number of passes on the green, saving time and resources. The equipment also saves preferred settings and allows employees to switch between heavy, medium and light application at the push of a button.

“Whatever you want, you can dial that in and get exactly what you want; but most importantly it’s done, sorted and you don’t have to think about it,” Kinkead said.

Turfco’s CR 15 fairway topdresser has the same guiding principles. The machine is designed to make fairway topdressing quick, effective and easy on supers and their staffs.

Attendees also got to take a look at the Triwave seeders, which supers can use for tees, driving ranges and fairways and have a 30 percent higher germination rate than traditional seeders. The nice thing about them, Kinkead added, is that you don’t need a tractor or a PTO. You can just hook it up the back of a cart and go.

Another efficiency hacker attendees got to peek at was the Turfco Torrent, a blower with an optimized angle and three times the rotation speed on the nozzle. It also has an idle down and resume button, which reduces fuel consumption.

“What we’re focused on is taking some of these items and making them, and you, as effective as possible,” Kinkead concluded.


When Cam Copley, Nufarm’s golf national accounts manager, started with the company seven years ago, the company had seven sales reps throughout the United States. Now Nufarm has 12 territory managers, a manufacturing plant in Greenville, Miss., in the works and has expanded its Chicago plant, where most of its products are made.

Nufarm has growth on its mind, as did superintendents at the Summit: growth regulators, that is.

Anuew, the plant growth regulator that Nufarm launched three years ago, came up in most of the one-on-one meetings. “There was a lot of interest,” Copley said. “People were trying to grasp how to use it, and it commanded probably 70 percent of our conversations.”

Copley estimated that about 30 to 40 percent of the superintendents at the Summit used Anuew and 40 percent were extremely interested in trying it.

The product’s active ingredient is prohexadione calcium, and Copley noted that it’s yielded promising results on ultradwarf bermudagrass greens. “We’re also seeing a lot of good results as far as Poa seedhead suppression, Poa regulation, bentgrass regulation, ryegrass regulation,” he added.

Growth regulators require a bit of hand holding, said Copley. “You have to work with them to figure out what works best for what (the superintendent) wants to do,” he explained.

Because growth regulators can slow down the rate at which a plant grows, there are other implications as well. “It can save time on mowing and save cleanup from mowing,” Copley said. “They do a lot of regulation for plant health and aesthetics and playability, but also, it can save time mowing fairways, rough or greens. It can save a lot of time, money, effort — and labor.”

Golfdom Summit Class of 2018

  • Tyler Andersen, University of Texas Golf Club, Austin
  • Nick Bisanz, TPC Southwind, Memphis
  • Scott Bordner, Chicago Golf Club
  • Alan Brown, Timuquana CC, Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Cory Brown, Overlake G&CC, Medina, Wash.
  • Mickey Brown, Pro Turf International, Henderson, Nev.
  • Kyle Callahan, Victoria National GC, Newburgh, Ind.
  • Mike Chrzanowski, Madison (Conn.) CC
  • Ian Daniels, Teugega CC, Rome, N.Y.
  • Alan Davis, Willow Creek CC, Sandy, Utah
  • Davis S. Downing II, CGCS, Golf Maintenance Solutions, Aynor, S.C.
  • Parker Ferren, St. Andrews Club, Delray Beach, Fla.
  • Kevin Frost, CGCS, Ballen Isles CC, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
  • Edward Gasper, Whiskey Creek GC, Ijamsville, Md.
  • Jeff Girard, StoneRidge GC, Stillwater, Minn.
  • Dan Grogan, The Sagamore Club, Noblesville, Ind.
  • John Gurke, CGCS, Aurora (Ill.) CC
  • Bill Irving, Wolf Creek Golf Links, Olathe, Kan.
  • Aaron Johnson, CGCS, Dacotah Ridge GC, Redwood Falls, Minn.
  • Kyle Johnson, Carolina CC, Raleigh, N.C.
  • Tony Kalina, Kalina Turf Consulting, Winfield, Ill.
  • Ben LaBarre, The Legend at Bristlecone Pines, Hartland, Wis.
  • Ben Larsen, Green Bay (Wis.) CC
  • Joel Larsen, North Shore CC, Mequon, Wis.
  • Bill Lewis, Shaker Heights (Ohio) CC
  • Mike Manthey, Midland Hills GC, St. Paul, Minn.
  • Greg Matz, Inglewood GC, Kenmore, Wash.
  • Andrew Morris, CC of Peoria, Peoria Heights, Ill.
  • Mark Newton, CGCS, Canyon Farms GC, Lenexa, Kan.
  • Ken Nice, Bandon Dunes Resort, Bandon, Ore.
  • Shane Omann, Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte, N.C.
  • John Reilly, The Resort at Longboat Key Club, Longboat Key, Fla.
  • Dave Schlagetter, Indian Hill Club, Winnetka, Ill.
  • Scott Schurman, Mohawk Park GC, Tulsa, Okla.
  • Jesse Shannon, CGCS, Manhattan Woods GC, Orangeburg, N.Y.
  • Jason Tharp, Glen Arven CC, Thomasville, Ga.
  • John Thompson, Sycamore Hills GC, Fort Wayne, Ind.
  • Robert Wagner, Trump National Bedminster, Bedminster, N.J.
  • Nick White, Bellerive CC, St. Louis
  • Steve Wilson, Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst, N.C.
  • Deron Zendt, Jupiter Hills GC, Tequesta, Fla.
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About the Author:

Sarah Webb is Golfdom's former managing editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Prior to her role at Golfdom, Sarah was an intern for Cleveland Magazine and a writing tutor.

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