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New research revealed by The R&A and Sports Marketing Surveys shows that golf has enjoyed a significant increase in popularity worldwide since 2016 with more than five and a half million additional participants taking up the sport.

The number of total golfers globally has increased from 61 million to 66.6 million in a five-year growth period, surpassing the previous high mark of 61.6 million set in 2012. The measure includes club members and non-member independent golfers playing nine or 18 holes and users of driving ranges in markets where course availability is limited.

The new figure reflects a positive trend in golf in which participation levels are now rising worldwide after a period of decline.

“Golf is enjoying a real boom in popularity at the moment and we are seeing substantial increases in participation in many parts of the world, particularly in the last two years when the sport could be played safely outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic,” R&A chief development officer Phil Anderton said. “The new figures are very encouraging but we need to work together as a sport to make the most of this opportunity by retaining those people who have returned to golf or tried it for the first time.”

SMS collected participation data reported by national federations in different regions around the world, using nationally representative studies and expert estimates to calculate the global number of total golfers.

Regions experiencing the largest rises include Asia (20.9 million to 23.3 million), Europe (7.9 million to 10.6 million — driven largely by Great Britain and Ireland, where the number increased from 3.6 million to 5.7 million), and North America (29.9 million to 30.6 million). In Great Britain, the number of adults playing a nine or 18-hole course began to gradually increase before the onset of COVID-19, rising from 2.5 million in 2017 to 2.8 million in 2018, then to 3 million in 2019, before surging to 5.2 million in 2020.

The research also outlined recommendations clubs can take to retain new players, including feeling welcome and valued; a friendly culture and relaxed atmosphere; participation options based on ability and experience; good customer service; having an efficient booking system; the quality and maintenance of the course; and, importantly, playing in an encouraging environment.

With The R&A governing the sport worldwide outside of the United States and Mexico, the data from the United States was taken from the 2020 National Golf Foundation Participation Report, where SMS completed the fieldwork for the NGF and was involved in producing the report.

© Courtesy of American Phytopathological Society Press

Still studying fungicides

Dr. Rick Latin releases second edition of book designed to help turf managers better understand the disease control products they are applying.

By Guy Cipriano

Dr. Rick Latin moved to Pinehurst, North Carolina, following a 38-year run on the faculty at Purdue University. He quickly learned he needed a pursuit beyond experiencing the region’s splendid golf courses.

“I have a lot of time on my hands, because I can’t play golf seven days a week,” he says.

Latin stays busy by remaining connected with the turf industry and plant pathology. He speaks at industry events, consults with courses, participates in select research trials, reads current literature, and is on a team developing a software program for superintendents interested in establishing site-specific fungicide programs.

“Basically, I’m doing my favorite parts of the job from working at a university for 38 years and don’t have the administrative areas that I once had to deal with,” Latin says. “I can do as much as I want. For those of us who have that option, it’s a labor of love.”

Increased work and personal flexibility allowed Latin to complete a project he started in 2017: updating “A Practical Guide to Turfgrass Fungicides.” He released the first edition in 2011 and numerous advancements convinced Latin a second edition was a worthwhile effort. The American Phytopathological Society Press published the book and sells it on its website (https://my.apsnet.org/APSStore). The 353-page guide helps superintendents and turf managers better understand and utilize disease control products.

Sixty-three percent of United States golf courses spend $30,000 or more annually on fungicides, according to a Golf Course Industry “Turf Reports” survey of 250 superintendents published last November. The same survey indicated 51 percent of courses are projected to increase their fungicide spending in 2022 compared to 2021 and 47 percent indicated spending levels will remain the same.

Fungicides are critical parts of disease control programs. And there have been significant changes to the marketplace since 2011.

“The second edition was a result of new active ingredients being introduced into our industry, new information being revealed by my colleagues and myself, and new knowledge about how resistance is developing and how we can use these tools most effectively and efficiently,” Latin says. “The book keeps pace with the current advances in turf science. The first edition’s value would be reduced without an update.”

Options in the SDHI class, for example, have quickly expanded since 2011. Latin details the intricacies of the active ingredients within the class that have entered the turf market in the past decade, including benzovindiflupyr, fluopyram, fluxapyroxad, isofetamid, penthiopyrad and pydiflumetofen, in the second edition.

“In 2011, we basically had boscalid and one product called Emerald that was almost specific to dollar spot and a related SDHI called Prostar, flutolanil, that was just remotely related,” he says. “We have had a number of different related products and active ingredients come out since then that have different strengths, different weaknesses and different advantages. It’s a challenge to understand where they fit in terms of controlling specific diseases and where they fit into the overall agronomic program.”

Fundamentals are introduced — or reintroduced depending on applicator experience levels — early in the book and Latin then shifts into investment-maximizing chapters on factors that influence performance and disease control scheduling. The potential audience ranges from students to proven superintendents. Anybody remotely connected to using, purchasing, selling and studying turfgrass fungicides will learn something from the words, images, charts, research and graphics Latin presents.

“Fungicides are great tools, but they don’t always meet our expectations and there are many factors that affect fungicide performance,” he says. “The more we know about these, the more we can manage diseases from an informed perspective and use the fungicides to their greatest advantage. Understanding the how and why — and the why not — will help superintendents use and benefit from these fungicides in the future.”

Latin plans on attending the GCSAA Conference and Trade Show in San Diego next month and will be available to sign copies of the book. The GCSAA awarded Latin the Col. John Morley Distinguished Service Award in 2018.

“Writing a book is a long process,” he says. “But it’s a labor of love, because I enjoy writing, I enjoy learning and I enjoy translating research results into practical terms. At times, it’s frustrating. At times, it’s tedious. But I’m always interested in completing a project and making a contribution.”

Guy Cipriano is Golf Course Industry’s editor-in-chief.

Tartan Talks No. 66


Marion Hollins will become the seventh golf developer inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame later this year. Her story might be the most captivating and overlooked of the group.

Jan Bel Jan and Forrest Richardson joined the Tartan Talks podcast to discuss how Hollins influenced golf course development and design. Hollins played a major role in the creation of four heavyweight courses:

  • Women’s National Golf & Tennis Club
  • Cypress Point Club
  • Pasatiempo Golf Club
  • Augusta National Golf Club

Born in East Islip, New York, in 1892, Hollins, the 1921 U.S. Amateur Champion, moved to California’s Monterey Peninsula in 1922 and established relationships with many notable golf figures, including Pebble Beach developer Samuel Morse, architect Alister Mackenzie and American golf’s first megastar, Bobby Jones.

“What impressed me most, and I think what has influenced me the most, was that she was respected by the men and women with whom she played golf, and as importantly and maybe more importantly, the men who hired her and the men she hired,” Bel Jan says.

Hollins died Aug. 27, 1944, in Pacific Grove, California. The WGHOF selection is one of several recent decisions to bring more awareness to her vast contributions. The American Society of Golf Course Architects made Hollins an Honorary Member during a ceremony at Cypress Point in late 2021. An effort has been established to raise funds to build a memorial honoring her achievements close to her modest gravesite at Cementerio El Encinal in Monterey, California. Tax-deductible donations to building the memorial can be made at www.marionhollins.org.

Visit the Superintendent Radio Network page on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other popular podcast distributions platforms to learn more about Hollins through the thoughtful words of Bel Jan and Richardson, a pair of ASGCA past presidents.

“She crossed the socioeconomic divide,” Bel Jan says.

Take good care

By Lee Carr

Self-Care Day. Sounds fantastic even without further explanation, right?

“The idea was mine, but the concept reflects the mindset of the owner and manager,” says Greg Austin, superintendent at Sunset Ranch Golf & Country Club. Located in Kelowna, British Columbia, and owned by the hands-on Jhajj Family, who “give 100 percent to their businesses,” according to Austin.

Sunset Ranch demonstrates an excellent top-down work culture. Jeff Richard, the general manager, “gives me the freedom to make decisions. He provides the direction but how we get there is my call,” Austin adds. Hard work, leading by example, trusting each other and caring for one another is a recipe for success and Self-Care Day is one ingredient.

With winter quickly approaching, the forecast filled with rain and the course closed, rather than send everyone home, Austin turned the time into Self-Care Day. With two mechanics leading the way, the maintenance crew worked together to maintain personal vehicles. Brakes were checked, headlights and taillights were aligned, oil was changed and snow tires were put on. At that time of year, “the staff is putting in long hours for the course. Fitting in car care is harder because personal time is limited,” Austin says.

The offer was extended to and gratefully accepted by spouses and some other employees on property. Everyone covers their personal expenses for oil and parts, but the labor is donated. Taking it one step further, the mechanics became instructors if someone wanted to learn to do the work, cultivating capability. “Our hoist and the shop are always available as long as people leave it the way they found it,” Austin says. “There’s a risk to that,” he adds, but they trust one another.

With vehicles cared for, people are more likely to be able to get to work when the weather turns nasty. With some of those personal errands checked off the to-do list, there is more time for rest or activities with family and friends. Self-Care Day helps ease pressure on local garages, which are extremely busy at this time of year, helping the community. Word gets around and this aids retention and recruiting. Plus, working for and with each other is also good for team building and creating loyalty.

Industry buzz

© courtesy of tpc summerlin

TPC Summerlin, host of the PGA Tour’s Shriners Children’s Open, announced renovation plans that are set to begin April 15. Work involves converting greens to Dominator bentgrass and fairways to Bandera Bermudagrass. The suburban Las Vegas course is scheduled to reopen for the start of the Shriners Children’s Open Oct. 3-9.

Rivermont Golf Club’s Mark Hoban and Cateechee Golf Club’s Buck Workman were inducted into the Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Hall of Fame.

Albaugh and Rotam have entered into an agreement under which Albaugh will acquire all outstanding shares in Rotam through a merger between the holding company of Rotam and an entity in the Albaugh group of companies. The combination of the businesses will create a global crop protection company with total sales exceeding $2 billion.

Tanto Irrigation added Chase Cameron to its management team. Cameron was the superintendent at the Country Club of Waterbury in Connecticut for the last 16 years and will oversee the service aspect of the business.

Yamaha Golf-Car Company unveiled its YGC Specialty Vehicle & Distribution Center-Palmetto. Located about 10 miles northeast of YGC’s original facility — Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation in Newnan, Georgia — the new location provides more opportunity for future business growth.

Prime Source announced EPA registration of new Bifen 2EC Select and Bifen G/N 2EC Select insecticides.