New England Regional Turfgrass Conference

This week was spent in Providence, RI where continuing education was the main theme. I took two 1/2 day seminars on Monday. The first was titled Back to Basics: Strategies for Managing Turf in Extreme Years. It was interesting but a lot of these seminars are repetitive and it feels like preaching to the choir. As superintendents we have learned what it takes to maintain healthy turf: Good soil, good drainage, good air movement and plenty of sunshine. Of course proper water management and plant protectant and fertilizer usage is very important as well. To have the first things listed is not always the easy part and these talks need to be directed to committee members and governing boards. Sometimes they cost lots of money to acquire, say you have really heavy (clay) soils for instance. Other times it requires cutting down trees which always seems to be difficult when they are the number one culprit for most bad turf. See the root pruning post and you will get a clear picture of what I am talking about. The second talk was titled Maximizing Disease Control with Modern Fungicides. It was the first time I saw this professor from NC State University speak and he was very good. I also sat through a talk he gave on Fairy Ring prevention during the USGA session Tuesday. We took a pretty good hit on the nursery from this disease last year so that was also very informative. Another talk Vineyard Golf Club Revisited was of a local nature as Certified Superintendent Jeff Carlson gave an update of 8 years of organic golf course maintanance. Jeff gave his first talk a couple years ago after the course opened so this was a nice follow up to see how things have progressed.
The key note speaker was Mike Eruzione the former captain of the 1980 gold medal winning hockey team. Kevin is from Winthrop and went to school with some of Mike's family.
Winthrop Boys
After the keynote speech the trade show is open and the speaker is lead around to meet attendees. The rest of the conference is made up of educational talks and the trade show. On Wednesday there are three sets of talks one for golf, one for sports turf and landscapes and one session for equipment technicians. The topics cover all things turf and the three speakers in the afternoon session which I moderated were: Dr. Bingru Huang, Rutgers Univ.; Dr Prasanta Bhowmik, UMASS and Dr Geunhwa Jung also a  UMASS professor. Needless to say I was intimidated by my first chance to be up in front of a potential crowd of several hundred people and have to correctly pronounce these names. There were several special functions I attended: Opening Reception see picture with the golf bag ice sculpture. Nice informal gathering with a chance to see old friends.

opening reception
 A tribute dinner to Joe and Lonnie Troll. Joe happened to be a graduate of URI but was a longstanding fixture in the UMASS turf program. He and Lonnie resurrected a defunct education session started at the univ. and added a vendor display component that they ran for decades every spring in Springfield, MA. This Show eventually morphed into what is now the New England Show. These shows were started to raise funds for turf research at the local universities. The New England Regional Turfgrass Foundation funds approximately $100,000 in projects each year and has since its inception in 1996. Another event I went to was the Breakfast with Researchers where the foundation gets to have a one on one with researchers involved at the local universities. This year we had a presentation from someone involved with the Carolina Superintendents Chapter. The two main universities for that area are Clemson and NC State. They started a unique fundraising program that we are trying to join into. Their concept was simple: How can we get the end user of our product (turf) namely the golfer to support turf research. They have clubs in their area donate rounds of golf and they are then auctioned off on-line with the proceeds going to support turf research at the two universities. This program has been very successful and the hope is that it can be spread to all parts of the country and the universities in these areas will get much needed funding. We are developing the idea and hoping to have a site that would highlight the research much like the link posted above for the NERTF. So until we have it local check out the sites and maybe you could support research in the area you are in now and get to play a nice course you may not otherwise have access to. the last function I attended was the RI Turf Foundation luncheon. This is a gathering for URI alum and friends and it gives the University personnel such as the new Dean of the College of Resource Development a chance to meet industry people and alum.

URI luncheon
Always a fun Conference and a great kick start to a new season. A very productive event that allows us to attain the continuing education credits we need to maintain our pesticide licences or in my case Certification as well.

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