Party and Trade Show Blend Proves Popular

The first Carolinas Night on the trade show floor was a hit with attendees and exhibitors alike during the Carolinas GCSA Conference and Show in Myrtle Beach, SC last night. The opportunity to combine work and pleasure – including food and beverages – helped generate traffic and keep attendees present long after their last education seminar ended at 4pm.

“Overall, folks on the trade show floor seemed very excited and happy with the changes,” Carolinas GCSA executive director, Tim Kreger, says. “And that includes superintendents and exhibitors. People were certainly positive and I even had one exhibitor ask who they needed to thank for the idea.”

Traditionally, Carolinas Night has been held off-site, which meant attendees, many of whom had spent all day in classes, made a brief visit to the trade show on the Tuesday evening before getting ready for the party elsewhere.

“Tuesday is the day when we have the most attendees on site because of the education seminars,” Kreger says. “So, we really wanted to try and maximize the opportunity to get those people engaged on the trade show floor. It will be interesting to see if the big crowd tonight will have an impact on how many people are on the trade show floor tomorrow.”

Carolinas Night, with complimentary food and beverages, was presented in partnership with Agstone, Green Resource, NanoOxygen Systems, Rapid Water Technologies, TSP and Vereens Turf Products.

Beyond the trade show itself, there is added incentive for attendees to be present today with the annual 27-Hole Challenge where more than $10,000 in cash and prizes will be given away. Presented in partnership with John Deere Golf, Greenville Turf and Tractor and Revels Turf and Tractor, the 27-Hole Challenge comes with a $3,000 grand prize with winners drawn at the close of the trade show at 2pm.






Reception and Presentation Focus on Women in Turf

Golf course maintenance remains an overwhelmingly male industry but more and more women are forging careers on and around the golf course. A number of them gathered for a Women in Turf reception at the Vereens Turf Products booth on the trade show floor last night.

Among those to visit the Vereens booth was Jamie Summers, golf course superintendent at Tara Golf Club at Savannah Lakes Village. Summers featured as the cover story of the September-October issue of Carolinas Green, which touched on the relative scarcity of women in superintendent ranks. The story cited GCSAA figures which showed of 18,500 members, only 54 were female Class A and B superintendents.

Some of the how and why of that is the case will be discussed during a presentation by Devon Carroll, Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee, at 8.15am today during general sessions. Carroll’s presentation is informed partly by research she performed analyzing barriers for women in the turf industry and also examining opportunities.

Carroll contends the industry can do a better job of addressing concerns about the future superintendent workforce by recruiting women. “The grass doesn’t know whether it’s a man or a woman managing it,” she says. “We complain about labor but we’re not employing half the people out there.”

Women golf course maintenance professionals made a huge impression working at this year’s U.S. Women’s Open Championship at Pine Needles in Southern Pines, NC. A team of 30 women volunteers came from across the country to help David Fruchte, CGCS and his staff present the golf course for the best women players in the world.

Their presence generated a lot of media attention and left an overwhelming impression that they were having fun in the job and relishing the fact that they were not in a stark minority for once.

Superintendent Fathers Show Sons Around the Show

Some proud fathers in the golf course maintenance industry have been introducing their sons at Conference and Show this week, and putting a bright light on the industry and the superintendent profession at the same time. “It’s a wonderful business to be in and, over the years, I guess my boys picked up on how I feel about it,” says Paul Rothwell, from Oyster Reef Golf Club in Hilton Head, SC.

Rothwell has two sons laying the groundwork for futures in the industry, and one of them, Harrison - in his last year of a turf degree at Horry-Georgetown Technical College - was with him on the trade show floor yesterday. Andy Ipock, from Crystal Coast Country Club in Pine Knoll Shores, NC will show his son, Andrew, around Conference and Trade Show today. Andrew, 16, is making the three-and-a-half-hour drive for the chance to get a better sense of the profession, beyond the job he has been doing for his dad at Crystal Coast on weekends and in summers.

Rothwell has long been a proponent of the superintendent profession. “We’re blessed to be stewards of the properties we get to work on,” he says. “Not everybody gets the opportunity to make their living in such a beautiful environment.”

That message, spoken or otherwise, clearly got through to Rothwell’s sons. Oldest son, Sam, will graduate with a turf degree from Rutgers in May, to go with the bachelor’s degree he has in sports and entertainment management. His resume will feature internships at celebrated facilities such as Bandon Dunes, Pasatiempo, Myopia Hunt Club and Sand Valley.

Rothwell says Harrison “cut his teeth” working for Nate Stevely at Chechessee Creek Cllub in Okatie, SC and has been working for Steve Hamilton, CGCS at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, SC while going to school.

Piper Glenís Miller Wins Turf Technicians Award

The Turf Equipment Technician’s Association of the Carolinas created some history in Myrtle Beach, SC yesterday naming the first woman to win the Turf Equipment Technician of the Year Award. Erin Miller, from TPC Piper Glen in Charlotte, NC, was nominated by superintendent, Steffie Safrit, for her outstanding performance during an exceptionally challenging time.

Miller began at TPC Piper Glen as a crew member nine years ago and worked her way through the ranks to become lead horticulturist. This year, she found herself thrust into the role of assistant equipment manager after the club’s regular equipment manager, James Penny, was injured in a freak accident.

Penny was working in his yard at home when he was hit by a car. He is still working through extensive rehab and is expected to return to work but in the meantime, Safrit needed someone who could keep his equipment fleet functioning at a high level. And at a critical time of year, entering the peak growing season and a host of tournaments including the member-guest.

“Erin was fully thrown in the fire and forced to hit the ground running in James' absence,” Safrit says. “She quickly became a master at grinding reels, daily repairs and preventive maintenance, and was able to help organize and prioritize repairs to ensure the operation never suffered or was delayed. Through good times and bad, she has shown great poise to never get rattled or discouraged and always kept herself and team upbeat to ensure the daily plan went accordingly. This year the heart of the operation lay in her hands.”

That operation included more than 125 pieces of equipment used by 25 team members across 185 acres of maintained turf that saw more than 38,000 rounds of golf. “Needless to say, without Erin this year, our operation would have come to a screeching halt. But thanks to Erin, we never skipped a beat.”

Horry Georgetown Takes Turf Bowl in Three-Peat

Horry-Georgetown Technical College extended its recent dominance in the Student Turf Bowl with a clear win at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center yesterday. But it wasn’t just the fact that the school collected its third win in a row that got Professor Ashley Wilkinson so pumped up. It was also the fact that, through the efforts of his students, he would be going out on top.

After 12 and half years at Horry-Georgetown, Wilkinson is going back into the golf course maintenance industry after taking a role with GT Irrigation. “It was extremely special to me for this team to win as I’m getting ready to leave,” Wilkinson says. “That maybe explains why I was a little more boisterous than some other years. And I was certainly really excited for those students.”

The win by Horry-Georgetown’s No. 2 team puts the school into a class of its own as the first to win three times in a row in the history of the Student Turf Bowl, which is presented in partnership with Precision Labs. The winning team members were Railey Smith, Andrew Rich, Mike Milburn and John Weeks. A team from North Carolina State University was second with a Clemson University team in third.

“Those Horry-Georgetown kids dominated,” says Bo Barefoot, longtime host of the Turf Bowl. “They were very impressive.”

Wilkinson spent four years as department chair before stepping aside with Charles Granger taking over. “I’ll miss mentoring these students very much,” Wilkinson says. “But it’s the right time for new blood to keep us moving forward.”