The big show, anchored by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), was held Feb. 23-Feb. 26 in San Antonio, with most activities occurring at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Here are some of the things we saw and heard at the show.
It was a cold, blustery morning to spend on a turf farm, but that didn’t stop the “Zoysia as a Game Changer” event from happening on Monday, Feb. 23, at Bladerunner Farms in Poteet, Texas, about 30 miles from San Antonio. Many presenters at the event, including Milt Engelke, Ph.D., professor emeritus at Texas A&M University, dressed for the occasion. In this photo, Engelke holds up a tuft of zoysiagrass and explains that it has a very high lignin and silica content, which can dull a mower’s blade similar to sand.
In the afternoon, the event moved to the clubhouse of the Golf Club of Texas in San Antonio, which recently underwent a wall-to-wall conversion to zoysiagrass under golf course architect Roy Bechtol, who calls zoysia “the best playing surface you can have as a golfer.”
Neil Cleverly, superintendent of the Olympic Course in Rio de Janeiro, also was on hand at the event to talk about the course’s fairways, which feature Zeon zoysia.
Texas hold ’em, beers, brisket and a rockin’ country band … those were just some of the happenings that occurred at John Deere Golf’s Showdown at Sunset Station customer appreciation event during the show. As evidenced by the crowd, Deere has a lot of customers.
We also touched base with Dave Plaster, North American sales manager for John Deere Golf, who said he’s beginning to see “money flowing again” at golf clubs in pockets of the country to attract more families. That’s good news for growing the game.
Anthony Boone, vice president of communications and marketing for Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies, said he has been hearing more and more from superintendents about the sustainable aspects of nutrients. Ostara markets Crystal Green, a slow-release fertilizer made from recovered phosphorus and nitrogen from municipal and industrial wastewater streams. Incidentally, wastewater recovery in the wastewater treatment sector is growing as Ostara’s business attests. In the next 18 months, the company will open six more plants to go with the seven it already has.
Jacobsen, keeping with its theme of past years, continued its “orange is everywhere” campaign in full force at the show. But this time, since the show was in the Lone Star state, Jacobsen went big, as in Texas-sized.
Its booth, of course, was decked out in orange. There was also a marching band dressed in orange outside the convention center. Jacobsen-branded riverboats cruised the San Antonio River.
“Our increased presence at the Golf Industry Show is a reflection of our continued business strategy of building relationships,” said David Withers, president of Jacobsen.
Jacobsen also held a Texas-sized party for its customers at Pedrotti’s North Wind Ranch, which featured an outdoor rodeo and an inside bucking bull, the latter of which Rod Wilkinson (above) of D&K Products took for a ride.
For Bayer Environmental Science’s Mike Dempster, it was a first — as in first Golf Industry Show. Dempster, Bayer’s apiary manager/research apiarist at its research facility in Clayton, North Carolina, was on hand to talk about Bayer’s involvement with bee research, including pollinator health. Dempster was showing off a live beehive from the Alamo Area Beekeepers in San Antonio.
Dempster said several superintendents had stopped by to talk beekeeping with him.
“I’ve talked to a lot of superintendents who are thinking of getting hives or expanding their hives,” he said.
Floratine and Grigg Bros. have been competitors for years. But don’t think Ohio State-Michigan when it comes to these two companies, as evidenced by this photo of Kevin Cavanaugh (left), president and CEO of Floratine, with his arm around Gary Grigg, who helped found Grigg Bros. They may be competitors, but they respect each other. And they’re friends.
Incidentally, Cavanaugh said he was feeling bullish about golf this year.
“I think people are literally sharpening their golf spikes at this point to get out and play,” Cavanaugh said, noting the long winter in several parts of the country, including in northern Florida where he lives, has led to an outbreak of spring fever. “It’s going to be a good year for all of us. I’m bullish about it.”
You couldn’t have missed Syngenta’s #FacesofASuper campaign if you tried. It was front and center at the show, including on the windows in the lobby of the vast convention center. Syngenta also built its booth around the theme.
Golf course superintendents, assistant superintendents and turfgrass management students could visit the Syngenta booth and have their photos taken and caption their portraits with the role they are most proud of, such as mentor, environmentalist, communicator, financial adviser, innovator and agronomist. Their photos were posted to social media using the hashtag #FacesofASuper and were also added to the rotating screens in the booth.
“It was one of my favorite booth concepts [that we’ve had over the years],” says Mark LaFleur, communications manager for Syngenta. “It’s an important message that will live beyond the show.”
Legendary golf writer Dan Jenkins (above), recipient of the GCSAA’s Old Tom Morris Award, also visited the Syngenta booth to sign copies of his latest book, “His Ownself.”
Matt Pauli, director of marketing for Standard Golf, shows off the company’s new foot golf accessories with a smile and a simulated kick. The accessories feature dimple markers, flags and flagsticks, and directional stakes and arrows.
BASF’s booth featured a little bit of everything, including a Twitter-activated vending machine that dispensed Jackery portable smartphone chargers (far right) when superintendents tweeted their stories behind how they used the company’s Lexicon Intrinsic brand or Xzemplar fungicides.
“We’ve had so many great responses to the products since they were introduced — this is one way to thank people for sharing their stories,” said Nick Tresslar, BASF’s marketing manager of turf and ornamentals. In the afternoon on exhibiting days, BASF rolled out the brats and beers for show goers.
E-Z-GO’s Jo Uhles, the marketing communications manager for golf, holds up a social media guide that was given out to superintendents at the company’s booth. The guide features tips for using Facebook and Twitter, among other social media platforms.
It was apropos that Keith Ihms, who grew up on a Texas farm, concluded his GCSAA presidency at the show in San Antonio. Ihms also graduated from Texas A&M University.
Ihms is the golf course maintenance manager at Bella Vista Village in Bella Vista, Arkansas. He was honored during the show for his tenure. Ihms endured personal hardship during his time on the board. His wife died away a few years ago. Ihms also lost his job as director of grounds maintenance at the Country Club of Little Rock (Arkansas) shortly after his presidency began.
“You have been steadfast,” GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans said in his remarks during the tribute. “You should feel a sense of accomplishment.”