Here at GCM, it has been our pleasure to spend 2021 tracking down and telling the compelling stories happening in the world of golf course management. Our goal has been to bring you original, relevant, superintendent-focused content you won’t find anywhere else online. Below, we’ve gathered our top 12 stories — one from each month — from 2021, chosen based on popularity (website traffic) and — full disclosure — on the GCMOnline.com editor’s personal preference.
Golf course labor: Bridging the Gen Z generation gap
Employees under age 25 are part of Generation Z, a growing segment of the workforce that, broadly, possesses certain qualities and motivations. Wisconsin superintendent Jeff Heaton shared what he has learned managing his high school- and college-aged crew members, and offered advice to fellow superintendents on how they can help their own youngest staffers — and, in turn, their operations — thrive.
Editor’s commentary: This article is an apt kickoff to our best-of list, as Jeff Heaton was just named the winner of the 2021 Leo Feser Award, which is given to the author of the top superintendent-written story published in print GCM during the previous year, as voted on by a panel of superintendents. Congrats, Jeff!
Fairway on ice: NHL comes to Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course
The puck stops ... here? Nevada superintendent Brad Wunderlich chatted with GCM about the transformation of his course’s 18th fairway into an ice rink for the “NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe” two-game series.
Editor’s commentary: Don’t miss the time-lapse video of the rink construction!
Turf hack: Drip irrigation for bunker surrounds
Prompted by a switch to a pricier water source, a Michigan club pursued a more targeted approach to irrigating around its bunkers, and found healthy turf could be achieved with far, far less. Superintendent Ross Miller shared the steps the facility has taken to ensure bunker surrounds look their best with dramatically reduced water use.
Editor’s commentary: We learned about this story from the Michigan GCSA’s excellent publication Course Conditions and were delighted to connect with Ross to expound on the topic for this GCMOnline.com piece.
Mowing ’em down: MLB pitcher part of golf course grounds crew
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Taylor Widener is a key player on another roster: the maintenance team at Westin Kierland Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., led by GCSAA Class A superintendent Dan Figueras. The major leaguer has worked two offseasons as a crew member and chatted with GCM about how the golf course gig has helped his game.
Editor’s commentary: Taylor played in 23 games and pitched 70 1/3 innings in the 2021 regular season.
Women in turf: Navigating the workplace
Superintendent Ann Paulisich, who began her career in high school as a crew member, looked back at on-the-job hurdles and conflicts as well as the drive and resilience that shaped her path.
Editor’s commentary: In 2021, we were thrilled to spotlight Ann and several other women in the turf management profession. For Women’s Golf Day on June 1, five women wrote essays in which they shared their unique paths into the golf course management industry, discussed the challenges they’ve faced, and passed along career wisdom. Read their stories in Women in turf: Career journeys, lessons and advice. Also in 2021, 29 women lent their skills on The Olympic Club’s grounds crew during the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open. Take a look back at the unique initiative to assemble a women-in-turf volunteer corps in Women in turf shine at 2021 U.S. Women’s Open.
Measuring turfgrass clipping volume: How-to and FAQ
Insights gleaned from clipping volume can help guide maintenance decisions to optimize course conditions. Chris Tritabaugh, superintendent at Hazeltine National Golf Club, outlined his method of tracking clipping volume and interpreting the data, and answered fellow turf managers’ frequently asked questions.
Editor’s commentary: This article took an interactive turn after the author solicited questions on the topic on Twitter while he was writing.
Joyful noise at En-Joie Golf Club
From encased in ice to heaped in praise, En-Joie Golf Club in Endicott, N.Y., had an eventful six months leading up to hosting the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open in July. Go behind the scenes of the course recovery that had the pros talking.
Editor’s commentary: After a practice round at En-Joie GC ahead of the 2021 Dick’s Sporting Goods Open, PGA Tour Champions golfer Paul Goydos told GCM, “I’ve never seen a public or municipal course in this type of condition. It’s in as good of condition as any I’ve ever played.”
Straight into Compton: SoCal supers revive neglected course
With its proximity to an elementary and high school, the Compton Par 3 Golf Course in L.A. was perfectly poised to be grounds for growing the game — it just needed some TLC. And that’s where members of the GCSA of Southern California came in. Here’s how the chapter and other groups brought new life to the neglected course.
Editor’s commentary: Pro golfer Aaron Grimes, a Compton native, visited the Compton Par 3 Golf Course as part of the Southern California PGA’s clinic for Compton Unified School District students in 2019. Watch video from the event in the article.
Turf hack: The perfect collar
In his quest for uniform collars, Minnesota superintendent Joe Berggren found that some simple mowing adjustments provided a foolproof method for creating consistent, eye-catching definition around greens. Pulling off the once-challenging feature is now routine on Berggren’s course, regardless of who’s operating the mower, and no turf paint required.
Editor’s commentary: This isn’t the first time Joe has demonstrated his penchant for problem-solving here on GCMOnline.com. Check out how, with a common home appliance and a dash of innovation, he devised a more efficient way to mix soluble fertilizers for fairways in Turf hack: DIY fertilizer mixing setup.
A fruitful business: Southers Marsh Golf Club
Thirty acres of cranberry bogs sit among the 18 holes of Southers Marsh Golf Club in Plymouth, Mass., where turf and the Thanksgiving staple are complementary crops. Superintendent and third-generation cranberry farmer Will Stearns chatted with GCM about the course’s history, the two fruits of his labor, and how he manages both.
Editor’s commentary: Mmm, cranberries. We never knew how the fruit was cultivated until Will explained.
Potassium and turfgrass stress
Is potassium the plant protector it’s often purported to be, able to boost turf’s tolerance to traffic, cold and other stressors? This look at the findings of five studies of potassium’s effects on various turfgrass species under various stress conditions offered a clearer picture of its functions and true capabilities.
Editor’s commentary: Although she retired from writing the monthly “Verdure” column at the end of 2020, author Beth Guertal, Ph.D., has continued to share her expertise in GCM, and we’re elated to still have her contributions.
12 months of Photo Quiz
The perfect pastime for post-holiday boredom in these languishing days of 2021? Testing your turf smarts with our ever-popular Photo Quiz. See whether you can figure out what caused these 20-plus curious on-course sights.
Editor’s commentary: Photo Quiz author John Mascaro has been bringing turf puzzlers to the pages of GCM for 20 years.
From all of us at GCM, have a happy New Year, and we’ll see you in ’22!
Megan Hirt is the editor of GCMOnline.com.