August 2013

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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Facility&Operations | By Hal Phillips GREEN, unadorned open space is the soccer field at UWisconsin. Golf to sports turf management: not always smooth transition Editor's note: Hal Phillips, a writer for Mandarin Media, wrote this article for his client, Lohmann Sports Fields. J ERRY KERSHASKY left Westmoor Country Club in 2011, after decades as a golf course superintendent, to assume stewardship of all the sports fields at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It was a natural hire, as part of his job involves overseeing the maintenance of University Ridge Golf Club, the 18-hole course owned, operated and maintained by the state's largest university. Not long after he arrived in Madison, Kershasky presided over a renovation of 16 SportsTurf | August 2013 the UW football practice field. It was then he got a healthy taste of the differences between work in the golf world vs. work in the sports field world. "I was called in after the whole thing was let out to bid," Kershasky recalls. "But I could see right away the sand particle size wasn't going to work. The specs were all wrong. The contractor was a landscape guy who didn't understand theses things"—specifically, the field wouldn't drain properly if the sand materials specified for the renovation don't match the sand in the existing subsoil, so far as particle size is concerned." The way Kershasky tells it, the contractor who had secured the bid was none too pleased, and part of his distaste stemmed from the idea that some former golf course superintendent was lecturing him, condescending to him, actually, on the "basics" of turf drainage. "We get a bit of that, but generally we see acceptance of new practices when the desired results are achieved, which is how it should be," says Jim Lohmann of Lohmann Sports Fields (LSF), a division of the Illinois-based Lohmann Companies, which includes both a course architecture division (Lohmann Golf Designs) and a course construction division (Golf Creations). While golf business has bottomed out and looks to have begun a slow recovery, the 20year course-building boom that started in 1985 created a glut of course superintendents and course contractors. The golf industry declined when the national economy declined, circa 2008, and many of those superintendents and contractors have migrated into the sports turf management and construction industries. "We got into the sports field business in 2003, when it was already catching up to golf in terms of agronomic sophistication, technology and professionalism—and by that I mean the prequalification of contractors and such," Lohmann says. "There's still a gap, but the more firms with golf backgrounds get into sports turf, and the more those techniques are adopted and/or adapted, the more that gap is closing." Most agree that golf industry training is a plus with its emphasis on promoting subsurface drainage and overall plant health, and that sports turf management is generally better for this injection of agronomic and drainage expertise. "I never think it's a bad thing to see a well educated group descend on another area of the turfgrass industry," says Sports Turf Managers Association President Michael Goatley, PhD, a professor and extension turfgrass specialist at Virginia Tech University. "There are

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