First impressions. When I visited the UMass turf team in Amherst last fall, I’d hoped to visit a person I had communicated with via email a couple of times. He lives a few miles west of Amherst, but he was out of town when I was there. Jim Ricci’s name came to me through several sources – Mel Lucas, Peter Cookingham (TIC) and several USGA staff. All told me he was a premier collector of mowers, and this was around the time I was lamenting the lack of a real museum where I could donate my meager collection before my wife and daughters tossed them. The conversations were all nearly the same: “You won’t believe how much Jim knows about grass cutting machinery and how magnificent his collection is!” Well, now I do. James B. Ricci has written a book: “Hand, Horses and Motor: The Development of the Lawn Mower Industry in the United States.” I was stunned when the book arrived. It is a magnum opus, thorough and complete and a tremendous addition to the history of turf management. The book is loaded with facts, everything from patents to product literature from companies that have built mowers in our country. The author puts it this way: “This is a book in which I attempt to document my discoveries of all the companies that made lawn mowers in the USA, with some anecdotes and points of interest included as well.” It is a reference book, to be sure, but I really enjoyed the side notes and pictures and artwork, as well. You can learn more about the book and order it through reellawnmower.com.

The Masters seems a safe harbor, for a few days, from what can be an ugly world. I live close enough to Chicago to get reports on the obscene and increasing gang violence there.”

Second Thoughts. Years ago, when management companies were first showing up on the scene, many were angered by their methods. Too often we saw a management outfit move in to a course and either replace the superintendent or reduce his pay. Assistant superintendents were sometimes thrown overboard as an unnecessary expense, and good equipment mechanics were given their walking papers. The workload left for remaining staff significantly increased and sometimes the benefit and pay packages were lowered. It was ugly.

I have not entirely changed my view, but since the big turndown in golf, some of these companies have helped numerous courses survive. Some golf course superintendent positions have been improved by adding responsibilities and some commensurate pay.

I’ve seen staff that never had the chance to attend educational meetings now going to the GIS. Equipment consolidation, the use of individual qualified staff across several golf course facilities (to their benefit), some sharing of expensive but little used machinery, and numerous other money saving practices work to the benefit of those courses under a management company umbrella. I have also seen the career of top-notch superintendents rehabilitated, giving them more time in the profession well suited to them.

At my age I can attest to the truth in the old saw, “the only constant in life and work is change.” This development may qualify.

Third Degree. I attended the Masters Tournament again this year. It was a fantastic experience as it always has been. The course was beautiful, the players truly honored to play Augusta National, and the weather cooperated.

The Masters seems a safe harbor, for a few days, from what can be an ugly world. I live close enough to Chicago to get reports on the obscene and increasing gang violence there. We are all subjected to – in my view – a thoroughly disgusting presidential campaign. There has been extensive flooding down South in places this spring, and there is worry about another season of forest fires out West. And I have even read that NASA has measured a change in the earth’s wobble due to melting ice sheets.

What is this world coming to?

This is why, for a brief time, it is so refreshing to attend the Masters. Everyone is polite, the meals and refreshments are very affordable, the club welcomes superintendents and golf pros, and every effort is made to maintain its status as the world-class affair it is.

Many of us rush in, set up our Masters folding chairs at a place we want to watch from later in the day, and head out to explore the golf course. I set up at the tee blocks on the 10th tee and watched some of my favorite players come through.

At a break I walked down the 10th fairway and over to the spot near the confluence of the 11th, 14th and 15th holes, hoping to see Tenia Workman. She is the executive director of the Georgia GCSA and a longtime volunteer at the Masters. After a brief chat, I trekked back to the 10th tee, my folding chair and more golf.

When I arrived there, my chair was gone. Stolen! Swiped! I couldn’t believe it. I had it clearly identified, so I scouted the area with another disbelieving Masters patron. It wasn’t to be seen anywhere.

The incident hasn’t changed, in even a slight way, the way I feel about the tournament, the golf course and the wonderfully generous club. But it does make me ask the old Vince Lombardi question, “What the hell is going on here?”

My suggestion is that when the HWW Book Award is given and it’s clear that it will be a difficult purchase to make, the USGA should have a few hundred copies available for online purchase. You can order a U.S. Open shirt or a ball marker, but not the most recent USGA book award winner.”

Third Degre N0. 2. When the USGA announced its 2015 Herbert Warren Wind Book Award Winner, Roger McStravick really wasn’t a surprise. Roger spent several years researching and writing the book “St. Andrews: In the Footsteps of Old Tom Morris,” and I anticipated its publication. The writing, the photos and the design promised it would be a great one, and I was anxious to add it to my library.

And I would, if I could figure out how to buy a copy. No help from bookstores, no real straightforward way on the Internet, and — despite several calls and messages — no help from the USGA.

My suggestion is that when the HWW Book Award is given and it’s clear that it will be a difficult purchase to make, the USGA should have a few hundred copies available for online purchase.

You can order a U.S. Open shirt or a ball marker, but not the most recent USGA book award winner. Just a suggestion. GCI

Monroe Miller retired after 36 years as superintendent at Blackhawk CC in Madison, Wis. He is a recipient of the 2004 USGA Green Section Award, the 2009 GCSAA Col. John Morley DSA Award, and is the only superintendent in the Wisconsin Golf Hall of Fame. Reach him at groots@charter.net.