Turfgrass Talk Show returns for 10th year

Today’s panel of experts will offer insights on the effectiveness of various golf course tools and maintenance techniques.


Turfgrass Talk Show
Grab a seat and get ready for an info-packed afternoon at the Turfgrass Talk Show. Photo by Roger Billings

It’s not exactly Tonight Show “Hashtags,” and there will be no free cars for audience members, but the otherwise extremely popular Turfgrass Talk Show will return with plenty of “edu-tainment” this afternoon for its 10th-anniversary edition.

This year’s Turfgrass Talk Show, titled “If You Build It, They Will Come,” is set for 1 to 3 p.m. in Ballroom 20 on the final day of GCSAA’s Conference and Trade Show.

A panel of university experts will debate the merits of tool selection. What does the research say, but what really gets the job done? What is the observation vs. the replication?

“The industry has a whole bunch of tools at its disposal,” says Turfgrass Talk Show creator, coordinator and co-host Thom Nikolai, Ph.D. “It could be tools for measurement. It could be tools for cultural or mechanical practices. If you’ve been in the industry long enough, you’ve seen some things come and go. The premise for the Talk Show was that people build stuff and if you build it and say, ‘This is for turf,’ people will buy it. Obviously, it’s not going to last in the industry if it doesn’t really work, but it can be out there for a while.”

Perhaps you’ve seen someone use a wrench as if it were a hammer, a shovel as if it were a pry bar, or a Stimpmeter as a doorstop? The Turfgrass Talk Show aims to offer clarity on such matters of tools’ best uses. Of course, many golf course tools are far more complex than a shovel or even a Stimpmeter, so it’s especially helpful when experts weigh in on topics like aerification, irrigation and the latest in high-end mowers.

Nikolai, known as the “Doctor of Green Speed,” is the turfgrass academic specialist at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich. He worked with co-host Roch Gaussoin, Ph.D., to assemble a panel of experts whom Nikolai calls “the world’s most renowned in their individual topics.”

Gaussoin, a professor in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will be joined by Aaron J. Patton, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture and turfgrass Extension specialist at Purdue University; Brian Whitlark, an agronomist in the West Region for the USGA Green Section; John C. Sorochan, Ph.D., a distinguished professor of turfgrass science at the University of Tennessee; James A. Murphy, Ph.D., an Extension specialist in turfgrass management at Rutgers University; Jim Brosnan, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Tennessee and leader of its Weed Diagnostics Center; and Bernd Leinauer, Ph.D., a professor and Extension turfgrass specialist in the Extension Plant Sciences Department at New Mexico State University who also holds the endowed chair in turfgrass ecology at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

Each expert will give a 10-minute presentation, and the last 15 to 20 minutes of the program will be a “rapid-fire” discussion of various topics.

“Let’s see what kind of arguments we can create,” Nikolai says. “You’re going to walk away thinking that some people think what you’re doing isn’t right, or you’re going to get a sense of satisfaction that you’re on the right track.”

Formal presentations at the Turfgrass Talk Show will cover:

  • Irrigation instruments.
  • Core cultivation and aerification.
  • Tools in organic matter management.
  • Verticutting and grooming: Is there really a difference, and do they do anything?
  • Brushing: a program enhancer or a stand-alone practice?
  • Soil conditioners.
  • Fraze mowing.
  • What does the data really say about the new triplex mowers?
  • And, of course, rolling.

Nikolai expects a plethora of other topics will arise during the discussion.

The Turfgrass Talk Show will be followed by a reception from 3 to 4:30 p.m., also in Ballroom 20. The reception, sponsored by Tru-Turf, will have free alcoholic beverages and food, with live music.

No matter what a superintendent’s questions or challenges may be when it comes to tools and machinery, the Turfgrass Talk Show is a can’t-miss event.

“Sometimes it’s more confrontational on the stage than others — it just depends,” Nikolai says. “We’ll see what we battle about. Maybe nothing, maybe something. I’ve been told it’s become the most highly attended educational event at GCSAA’s Conference and Trade Show. I prefer to call it first-class turfgrass ‘edu-tainment.’”

Darrell J. Pehr is GCM’s science editor.