Monday, February 22, 2010

What’s Your Best Modification?

Those of you familiar with the 1999 film “Office Space” can recall the infamous “Jump to Conclusions” mat. The mat was the brilliant idea of Tom Smykowski, the disgruntled and paranoid Initech employee. Tom came up with his own invention after being inspired by the creator of the pet rock. After all, that guy made like a million dollars.

The GCSAA trade show is a great place to see the latest and greatest in turf equipment and tools. And while there were many new products, some of the best inventions come from turf managers themselves. Inventions can be as simple as improving an existing product through modification. For example, a Superintendent in California modified his Buffalo blower in order to create a misting system which he could use to syringe greens. The full article with a list of the parts used for the modification can be read here.

I want to hear about your best invention or tool/equipment modification. Images with a description can be e-mailed to Comments are also welcome.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Big Finish to a Big Week

Conference season is always a whirlwind of meetings, educational seminars, and trade shows as far as the eye can see. Last week I was in San Diego attending the GCSAA Conference and Trade Show. I participated in the Golf Course Irrigation Auditor program which kept me busy the first two days of the conference. We performed an actual audit at a local golf course and learned how auditing can be a useful tool to fine tune an irrigation system for peak performance.

Wednesday night the Iowa/Nebraska GCSA reception was hosted at Zagarella, a great Italian restaurant in Little Italy. Jon Christenson (Superintendent, Monarch Bay Golf Club, Santa Clara, CA) was presented with the 2009 Iowa GCSA Distinguished Service Award.

Thursday morning brought the much anticipated event for the students who made the trip as they were preparing for the 2010 Collegiate Turf Bowl Competition. This year’s competition consisted of 67 teams from 31 colleges and universities. John Deere sponsored the competition and awarded cash prizes to teams who placed in the top 10. A team from Iowa State University which included Nick Dunlap (Iowa City, IA), Tyler Dykstra (Sibley, IA), Bryan Huinker, (Lakeville, MN), and Caleb Swanson (Nevada, IA) took first place and the $4,000 cash prize.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What a Difference a Day Makes

Some people say that experiencing winter makes you appreciate the summer months more. While Iowa is recieving yet more snow, I am in San Diego to attend the GCSAA Education Conference and the Golf Industry Show. The weather here is spectacular and it's hard not to have a smile on your face. While I am here, items on the agenda include participating in a Certified Golf Course Irrigation Auditor course and assisting a group of Iowa State students who will be participating in the Collegiate Turf Bowl.

ISU will be trying to recapture the title after finishing second to Purdue University last year. Updates will follow later in the week.

Marcus Jones
Graduate Research Assistant

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Japanese Beetle - Reported Distribution

By the end of 2009 the Japanese beetle had been reported in 46 counties within the state of Iowa. The beetle is still primarily an eastern Iowa pest with a smattering of reports in the western half of the state. The updated distribution map is above.

Please keep us in mind next summer and send specimens or photographs from counties with no reports.

Thanks. Donald Lewis, Extension Entomologist

GREEN GRASS AND HIGH MARKS: Kirkwood students place well in national turfgrass competition

A group of Kirkwood Community College Ag Science students made a good “first impression” during a recent national competition. The students in Kirkwood’s Golf Course and Athletic Turfgrass Management competed in the National STMA Challenge in Orlando, Fla. The mid-January events gave students in both two- and four-year college programs a chance to prove their knowledge and skills in a variety of competitive events.

A group of six students and Ag Science Instructor Troy McQuillen competed in the competition at the Sports Turf Management Association Conference in Orlando. This was the inaugural year for Kirkwood’s involvement in the competition.

A total of 125 students from around the nation participated in the event, with six students and McQuillen representing Kirkwood. McQuillen called the students’ work “terrific, especially for their first year” in the contests.

“We had had two teams out of 36 competing in the competition. We were pretty proud of their performance, plus it gave the students a bigger view of the industry and their job prospects,” McQuillen said.

The teams were divided between two-year degree and four-year degrees. The Iowa competitors were divided into three-man teams: Kirkwood Team 205 included Michael Burkle of Monona; Brandon Cooper, Tama; and Brandon Vogt, Marion. Team 204 was made up of Paul Swafford, Fairfield; Tyler Janssen, Ackley; and Adrain Rubey of Danville.

Team 205 placed third out of 15 two-year teams and Team 204 placed eighth. The students competed at the Disney Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando. Each student had two and a half hours to complete a 100-question, multiple-choice test, then conduct 40 live-sample identifications of grasses, weeds, diseases, and insects. Finally, students had a write an essay on a turf-related topic.

“It is notable that first place honors went to Penn State University’s diploma program, second place was Virginia Tech University’s diploma program, and third place was our own Kirkwood Community College Team 205. Another truly successful thing about the event is that we placed first against all other community colleges,” McQuillen observed.

In order to attend the competition, the Kirkwood students conducted fund-raisers over the last year to pay for travel expenses.