People always ask, “Where do you come up with ideas for columns?” The problem is often not so much having an idea, it’s having too many ideas about too many topics and too little time and space to write it all.

So, to condense a bit and cover a lot of ground in this space, let’s look back at a few months that involved too many planes, trains and automobiles.

I’ll start in August with an event I didn’t even attend … the GCBAA Summer Meeting in Charlotte. You can review our coverage online, but I have to share an important addendum. For the third straight year, a GCBAA member company bought the GCI auction package – a full-page ad.

What was shocking this year is that the ad was bought by the Aspen Golf folks. This is hilarious because they get the majority of their business via word of mouth (because their work is consistently excellent) and advertising is pointless. So, I got Donnie and Ronnie Adkins on the phone and asked them to explain themselves.

“We’ve had a saying since we got into this business in 1982: ‘One call does it all.’ You get a certified golf course builder with 35 years of experience and a certified irrigation installer. You don’t have to call nine people to get things done. We have a wealth of experience and our team is former supers, architects, heavy construction guys and other folks who just know how to get the job done. There’s not much we haven’t seen over the years.”

They bought the ad not to drum up business, but to give more back to the association.With good people like the Aspen Golf team on board, there’s no doubt GCBAA will get even better as golf continues the great rebuild era.

OK, now for October…I finally made it to Iowa to give a speech I’d promised to do in early 2016. The Iowa GCSA group was terrific and I learned Randy Robinson is steering that ship in the right direction. I’m impressed with the group and with how many young folks are part of their leadership. Keep it up!

Next was an invitation from the Koch Agronomic Services folks to visit FarmLinks. We had some fun (golf and fishing!) and shared insights with each other. The biggest thing I’m beginning to understand about Koch – and particularly the Polyon product line – is how effective it’s been for three decades. Yet there are still some folks who balk at the initial higher cost or who get distracted by nitrogen stabilizers or other similar technologies. The bottom line (and I say this as someone who’s been studying these products for 30 years), enhanced efficiency fertilizers are still a bedrock part of this business and Koch is doing an excellent job of stewarding the technology for the future.

The next week of October was a doubleheader with a trip up to Erin Hills and then down to Louisville for the Kentucky Turfgrass Council Conference at the GIE+EXPO. Erin Hills was a spectacular setting for one of the best meetings I’ve ever been part of. The folks from BASF simply wanted to learn more about what you guys are thinking. As facilitator, I did what comes naturally to me: I asked a dozen smart supers a zillion dumb questions. I’ll keep the details confidential but the fundamental answers, predictably, came back to trust, good relationships, staying on top of details, embracing innovation and having fun.

Once again, I emceed the KTC Conference in Louisville. I got to hear Josh Pope tell The Greenbrier story firsthand, which was moving, spectacular and funny all at once. And, just when I think I know everyone, I found out what an awesome human Paul Vermeulen of PGA Tour Agronomy is. Not only is he good at his job, he’s just good people.

Finally, I was back in Raleigh for the 12th Green Start Academy. This remarkable event, hosted by John Deere and Bayer, has now benefitted more than 600 aspiring turf professionals. The networking is top-notch, but the wisdom offered by folks like Bob Farren, Tyler Otero, Lukus Harvey, Andy Morris, Mike Stevens and Pat Finlen was just astounding.

I met one more person from whom I learned much. I was gobsmacked by Grant Murphy, the associate superintendent of The National Golf Club of Canada. His presentation on how to get the best (not the most) from people was just outstanding. And he added this for attendees: “You are the people who will drive change in the future. You have been called to be leaders. Lead with pride, integrity and authenticity.”

Every assistant can benefit from advice like that. Make sure the best and brightest young turfheads you know apply and attend. It’s absolutely a winner.

Pat Jones is editorial director and publisher of Golf Course Industry. He can be reached at or 216-393-0253.