Five Gift Ideas For Your Golf Course Superintendent

All you Green Committee Chairmen need to listen up. You need to take care of the most important person at your Country Club, and not with a $5 dollar tip. The Golf Course Superintendent works day and night to make sure your course is perfect and on the right path. He deals with everything that no one else wants to deal with. Weather, employees, construction, inspectors, contractors, budgets, members, insects and the list goes on. Here are a few ideas for you to take care of your number one guy.

1. The keys to your apartment in New York City for the weekend.
2. Dump 50,000 AMEX Rewards points into his account so he can use them to travel.
3. A gift card to Sunglass Hut or Capital Grille.
4. Hook him up with your college roommate, that is a member at Cypress Point, for a round of golf.
5. Tell him thank you for everything he does and buy the entire maintenance staff breakfast at a nice place in town.

Any one of these ideas would be a big hit. So go out there and do the right thing.

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Country Club Capitalization – Are You Doing it Right?

Cooling Tower [Read more…]

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Hurricane Irene track
Just what you want to see on your computer screen on a monday morning, your course is in the cone of death. That’s right a hurricane might be headed your way. After a look at the computer models and a peak at the ocean water temps map, you have to start to make some decisions. Living in South Florida, you have to become some what of a meteorologist and keep your day job as a golf course superintendent. I have gone through at least five major hurricanes and over a dozen tropical storms in the last eighteen years. I have put together a plan and procedure booklet that lays out what to do to protect the course and employees while a hurricane is headed your way.
High ocean water temps feed hurricanes
Phase 1 – Hurricane Watch means a disturbance is approximately 24 hours away. This is used with the understanding that hurricanes are quite unpredictable and forward movement can drastically change.
– The superintendent must commence the collection and place indoors all lose objects such as trash cans, benches, flags, tee markers, etc.
– Check trees and shrubbery and remove limbs which may damage utility wires or other property.
– Remove coconuts from trees.
– Top off main fuel storage tanks.
– Fill all mowers and carts with fuel.
– Turn off all power supplies to pump stations.
– Back up the irrigation programs from your computer and take it with you.
– Go over generators and start them.
– Update your employee contact information and explain that you will call them when to report to work. Let them take care of their families and homes and you will have a better chance of them coming to work when you need them. Send them home early.
– Assist the clubhouse staff with the installation of shutters over the windows.
– Take a video of your maintenance building and each hole of the golf course. I did this at Doral, when we had hurricanes Wilma and Katrina headed our way, and the videos turned out to be worth a few million dollars. Doral lost thousands of trees and the videos showed what we lost.
– Check your chainsaws and have extra blades.
– Have your outside tree crews on stand by and expect them charge full price. They have been waiting for this storm all year.
– Make sure you have a cell phone charger for your car or truck. Cell phone towers work 8 hours on batteries, so if the storm is that bad you only have a few hours to call staff and tell loved ones that you are alive. Even if you phone is charged, it will not work them those towers shut down.
Phase 2 – Go home and take care of your family and home. If a Cat 3 or more is coming your way, send the wife and kids out of town. You will lose power for days or even weeks. They don’t need to deal with that and your attitude that the golf course is being blown apart.
Phase 3 – Comunicate with staff and members during the storm and after the storm moves through. Your clubhouse will become a safe haven for members and staff to get there life together and take a warm shower. Use Twitter to do this and get the word out if you can open the clubhouse.
Phase 4 – After the storm, take video, count the trees down, and don’t turn on your pump station. You will burn it up because the power supply will be dirty. Wait a few days to turn it on. Review the course and reach out to staff and start the clean up.

Good luck and let’s hope you don’t need to use my plan in your career.

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Collier's Reserve irrigation project
Irrigation system deterioration and reliability issues have really given Collier’s Reserve Country Club in Naples, Florida something to think about over that last few years. After 19 years of operation and weekly repairs of PVC pipe and replacing Pierce fittings, the membership stepped up and unanimously voted to replace the entire irrigation system. This 130 acre, Art Hills designed course is getting a much needed state of the art irrigation system this summer. The Club hired irrigation design consultant A. S. Altum to deliver a new system design to them. President Tony Altum had quite the task in front of him laying out a system that will help the Club maximize their water sources. The Club receives effluent water on a daily basis and it currently can’t use what it has contracted because of poor system performance. With that part of the system not working up to par they have to make up the difference with their surface water pump station. The blending of these waters with high pH, high bicarbonates and high Na gives golf course superintendent Nicholas von Hofen a challenge on a daily basis, and then throw in a few massive irrigation breaks a week and poor water quality and Nicholas stays a very busy man at Collier’s Reserve.
Colliers Reserve irrigation project
During the Spring, the Club hired Leibold irrigation to install the new system. Leibold will be responsible for installing 37,000 linear feet of main line HDPE piping, 65,000 linear feet of lateral piping, 1.2 million linear feet of copper wire and 2,237 sprinkler heads. They will be working over environmentally sensitive areas by attaching 2,100 feet of pipe to bridge crossings around the course and 4,000 feet of directional borings through easements. Nicholas selected the new Toro Lynx controllers and a Flowtronex pumping station with two 60 HP motors that will provide 1,200 gallons per minute.
Collier's Reserve new pump station
The project started in March and will be completed by September. The course is open while the work is being done. Bill Berutti, General Manager and Nicholas decided to close only one hole a day so the contractors can get the work done without having to wait for golfers. Both Bill and Nicholas tell me that the members are extremely happy with the progress and they already see improved turf quality on the holes that have been completed. When this system is done, Collier’s Reserve will have the latest technology for irrigation systems and will surely know where every drop of water is going.
Misting heads at Collier's Reserve

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Grey Goose, Ketel One and Belvedere Vodka's
Had a rough day at the golf course? Well, being a golf course superintendent, you might have said “yes”. Sometimes you need to knock the edge off and relax a little after mother nature has kicked your butt up and down for most of the day. I usually hit the gym to blow off some steam but sometimes only a nice vodka and soda will do the trick. I’ve tried them all, and below is my top five list:
1.Ketel One
2.Grey Goose
4.Roberto Cavalli
5.Hanger 1

Don’t try these at work. At home only. Remember don’t drink and drive your car or your golf cart.

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Assistant Superintendent position
Riviera Country Club in Coral Gables, Florida is looking to fill an open assistant golf course superintendent position. Riviera is a 1925 Donald Ross designed course. The Club is located one mile from the University of Miami in historical Coral Gables. Riviera is on the list of Top 100 Platinum Clubs in America. This is a full service five star Club. We have 1,100 members with 575 of them being golf members. The golf course will be going through a re landscaping project this summer. More details on the Club:

Course Type: Private Membership
Annual Rounds: 26,000
Open Year Round: Yes
Primary Grasses: Tifeagle Greens, Paspalum Tees and 419 Bermudagrass Fairways
Staff: Crew of 23
GCSAA member: Preferred
Education: Bachelors or Associates Degree in Turfgrass Management
Experience: Must have three years of golf course experience. Warm season grass experience is a plus.
Salary: $40,000 to $42,000 per year.
Benefits: Health insurance, annual vacation, meals, dues paid for GCSAA membership, golfing privileges, and 401(k)
Duties: Golf course maintenance, payroll, record keeping, fertilizer/pesticide applications and irrigation management.

Send resumes to: Eric J. von Hofen at

Postion available immediately. Application deadline is April 29, 2011
Eric von Hofen and Riviera CC #13 fairway bunkers

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College Roommates Prep Courses For Back To Back PGA TOUR Events

Ten years ago, Kurt von Hofen and Lukus Harvey were sitting next to each other in Turfgrass Management class at The Ohio State University. This month they are competing again, now on a national stage. Kurt, Golf Course Superintendent at El Camaleon, will be hosting the PGA TOUR’S Mayakoba Golf Classic on February 21, 2011, in Riviera Maya-Cancun Playa del Carmen, Mexico. On February 28, 2011, Lukus, Director of Agronomy at PGA National Resort & Spa, will be hosting The Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Kurt von Hofen at the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico

Kurt von Hofen at Mayakoba

Both Kurt and Lukus took similar but different paths to get where they are today. They both graduated from The Ohio State University, moved to Florida, worked hard and took some chances.  Kurt built his experience while holding the following positions:  2007-2010, Golf Course Superintendent, Jupiter Hills Club, Jupiter, Fla.; 2002-2007, Assistant Superintendent, The Bear’s Club, Jupiter, Fla.; 2001, Intern, Muirfield Village Golf Club, Dublin, Ohio. His pervious tournament preparation consists  of  the 2008 Florida State Golf Association 91st Amateur Championship, Jupiter Hills Club, Jupiter, Fla.; 2007-2008 U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier, Jupiter Hills Club, Jupiter, Fla.; 2001 Memorial Tournament, Muirfield Village Golf Club, Dublin, Ohio.

Lukus Harvey, Seve Ballesteros and Eric von Hofen at Doral

Lukus Harvey, Seve Ballesteros and Eric von Hofen at Doral

Lukus built his background while holding the following positions: 2005-2010, Golf & Grounds Superintendent, The Ritz Carlton Golf Club, Jupiter, Fla.; 2003-2005, Golf Course Superintendent, Doral Resort & Spa (Blue Course), Miami, Fla.; 2002- 2003, Assistant Superintendent, John’s Island Club (West Course), Vero Beach, Fla.; 2001-2002, Assistant Superintendent, Calusa Pines Golf Club, Naples, Fla.; 2000, Intern, Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Ga.; 1994- 1999, Intern/Crew, Walden Golf & Tennis Club, Aurora, Ohio.  His previous tournament preparation consists of the 2004-2005 Ford Championship, Doral Resort & Spa, Miami, Fla.
The world will be watching, so I hope these two guys take some time to smell the roses and realize just how far and fast they have travelled together.  Best of luck boys and I will see you both at your events.

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Germany And The GLC Berlin Club Have Been Faced With A Severe Winter

Eric J. von Hofen
Long time certified golf course superintendent, Joseph R Swing, of the GLC Berlin Club in Germany gives Turfunderground some dirt. As with many parts of the U.S., Germany has had a very early and severe winter. Many areas of the country that rarely have snow cover more than a few days, and when only just a few inches, had over a 30cm (1 foot) of snow for several weeks. Many parts of the country had record breaking snow fall amounts and duration of cover. We are now in an extreme thaw period. You may have heard of the flooding. The temperatures have been in the 50´s, with heavy rain for several days now. By the end of the weekend there will be no snow left any where, other than in the Alps. The winter here in Germany usually is at its strongest in January and February, so the worst may still be to come. For sure, there will be wide spread and record Snow Mold damage as a result of this winter.
eric J. von Hofen
The golf course is holding up well with the snow fall. We have seen no effects of snow mold so far. We are lucky enough (said ironically) to be the first course in Germany to experience Waitea Patch; Waitea circinata var. circinata. I had it start up in early May and dealt with it for some five weeks before I could get a positive I.D. from a lab in England. Since then it has been verified genetically by Dr. Frank Wong at Cal. Davis. Waitea was unheard of here in Germany, at least identified as Waitea. When we get back into the growing season this Spring, I will be able to tell if the Waitea is active again. Until then Guten Tag

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Past Champions play von Hofen’s Mayakoba course today

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, México — Today the Mayakoba Golf Classic celebrated the fifth year as México’s only PGA TOUR event. The past four tournament’s champions competed in a nine-hole Skins Match at El Camaleón Golf Club. All of the money earned by each Mayakoba Golf Classic champion was donated to tournament charities. PGA TOUR players Fred Funk, Brain Gay, Mark Wilson & Cameron Beckman played the back nine of the Greg Norman designed course with a good crowd of media and locals on site to see the battle unfold.

“It is extremely rare for a tournament to be able to host all of its champions for a special event such as this,” said Larson Segerdahl, Tournament Director. “Winning here had a special meaning for each of our champions and we are not only grateful but excited they all agreed to participate in a special charity event and help us celebrate our fifth year.” Gay had a total of four birdies during the nine-hole match played on the back-nine at El Camaleón Golf Club. Gay won all four of his skins late, with a 25-foot birdie on the par-four 16th and a 20-foot birdie on the par-4 18th. His first two skins were worth $4,500 USD at 16. After a carryover on 17, the two skins on the final hole were worth $7,500 USD. Gay’s 7-iron approach shot hit the flagstick and he made the putt for the victory.

Golf Course Superintendent and member of the GCSAA, Kurt von Hofen, has the course in great shape according to Fred Funk who commented on the course conditions at the opening dinner to the event on Monday night. “We finally have some rough here,” said Funk. “I played a quick practice round and met Kurt on the course and told him the place has never looked better. I’m going to tell the rest of the guys on Tour to get them to come down and play in the event. ”

The PGA TOUR’S Mayakoba Classic will be held on February 23-27, 2011

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Golf Course Superintendent job wanted!

I’m going to dip my toe into the water again about this topic and explain some of my findings and help some people out. Some of you might have already read my side of the story in Golfdom, September Issue page 24, where I debate the topic of hiring superintendents for assistant superintendent jobs. It has been over 6 months since I posted that job posting heard around the world, “current and past superintendents will not be considered”. I’m not going to debate that anymore but today I’m going to give you some direction on where to look for job openings.

I have tracked the job postings for Golf Course Superintendent positions on GCSAA, Turfnet and on a great application on the the Iphone and web called Indeed. It is very interesting on what I have found. It seems like large employees like Troon Golf, American Golf, ClubCorp, Hyatt, and Century Golf never post a job on the GCSAA site. Why is that? Cost or the type of candidate they are looking for. They all want a Certified Golf Course superintendent but won’t post a job on the GCSAA site. These jobs are mainly posted on their companies web site and you have to dig thru many pages to find the job listed. Turfnet gets a 3 to 1 ratio over GCSAA for the jobs posted on the internet. They do a great job and it’s easy to find the information. Now we have another tool called Indeed. This application picks up all the jobs posted on the internet except the GCSAA postings. Indeed is a great tool, you can just search once and let it do the work for you. It will remember your last search and you can come back two days later and see how many new jobs have been posted.

Another thing I noticed is the large pay scale gap between the sites. GCSAA gets superintendent posting from a low $40,000 range to just under $200,000. Granted their have not been many of those lately, but there are still some out there. Turfnet is good for the $40,000 to $75,000 jobs and Indeed is about the same as Turfnet. So keep your head up and use this tool to refine your search. Follow Tim Moraghan’s advice and get your resumes up to date and on the launch pad. Good luck out there.

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