Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Social Change

On Wednesday, this past week, the Eastern PA Turf Conference hosted the first Turf Industry Social ,instead of the traditional trade show. Concluding a year long look for change, and many meetings and conversations, the vendors were able to eliminate the table top trade show that had run its course.

From rough estimates, the Turf Industry Social was a success. Will there be changes? Absolutely.
It was well received, and with anything that is new, there were lots of questions on wrist bands and how it all works. In the end, with some tweaks, it hopefully will grow.

Now comes the second half of the equation, the auction of donated golf at the Philadelphia Golf Expo. The thought that auctioning off golf to people in the golf business, never made much sense to me. We have over 30 clubs, and hopefully, some more that are pending, that have agreed to donate foursomes, including some of the big name clubs. Hopefully, with a great response at the golf expo, we will be able to justify the format change and bring more funding to the PTC.

From the Vendor side, I know that all of us involved appreciate PTC working with us to try and improve the event.


Saturday, December 31, 2016

More Than A Change Of The Calendar

With the end of 2016, coming this evening, I think the landscape of Philadelphia golf world is on the verge of a major change during 2017. It seems like the gap between the haves and the have not's is growing, with some clubs being able to invest in major club improvements, while others are looking at creative ways to just replace one piece of equipment. With additional talk of multiple management companies taking over some long standing clubs, I don't think the face of Philadelphia golf will ever be the same. Sure, the closure of Edgmont CC and the process of two public courses  becoming housing developments, over the next few years, was part of a long expected thinning of the herd, it was not the massive change that people in the industry had been predicting. Hearing of some of the clubs, that you would never expect, have a waiting list to exit the club vs. the few clubs with a long waiting list to get in, it is sadly a harbinger of what I think is coming for the future of golf in the area.
On the positive side, the growth of the opportunities with Universities, School Districts and large landscape companies seems to be a growing avenue for turf professionals to take. Some of the perks of better schedule, strong benefits and even the opportunity to continue your education, at low or no cost, makes the transition a welcome change. For most, the hard part is to look outside the golf world, which for some, it is all they have known.

I wish you and your families a Happy & Healthy New Year!


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Trust The Process

Walnut Lane Golf Club is the home of The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia. It is in the Philadelphia Fairmount Park system. The course is an Alex Findley design. Over the past two years, there have been some personnel changes, including the addition of Bob Sawicki, Superintendent, and Bill Hyndman V ,as the new Executive Director of The First Tee program. Sometimes change is good for everyone.
While the program had grown to be one of the tops in the First Tee nationally, the golf course needed some TLC. Under longtime Director, John MacDonald, the wheels had started to turn to begin the emphasis on improving the golf course conditions.
Walnut Lane, being part of the Philadelphia Fairmont Park system, limits the ability to remove trees "at will " and often makes the process of tree removal slower than most. Also, the long term lack of tree work has made the catch up even more of a challenge. Throw in equipment that has long outlived its life and a shop that needed upgrades, including roof repair ASAP, and it can be daunting.

With the help of local companies such as Arader, Shreiner and Asplundh Tree Companies, there has been an estimated $250,000 worth of tree work and stump grinding! The support of the local Philadelphia Superintendents Association volunteered days to help with aeration. Clubs donated equipment, such as work vehicles and a trim mower. People like Frank Shuman, Board Member and former owner of Philadelphia Turf Company, supported the purchase of a new sprayer to replace the much needing retirement of the old sprayer. Throw in a local church volunteering to help clear fence lines and some long overdue fence repair work and we are talking about progress!

It is exciting to see all the changes, in the last few years.
Being able to give the children of the program, a really good golf course, and as an additional bonus, giving the community, a consistently improving product, is great to see!


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Show Time

In a little over a month from now, the Eastern PA Turfgrass Conference will take place in Valley Forge. Now after many meetings, emails & calls, the show will have a much different look. As I have written about before, the trade show has been slowly fading with each year. Last year, it finally hit the bottom. A bunch of vendors have worked together to try and come with another option. The whole time understanding, that while the event is based on education, it is also a fund raiser from the Pennsylvania Turfgrass Council. The challenge was how to eliminate the trade show component and still not change the financial support while bringing the chance for vendors to have the opportunity to interact with customers. The first part of the new look was some different sponsorship opportunities, including selling a 2 minute elevator sales speech prior to each talk. The big change is the "Turf Industry Social". This will take place from 2-4 on the afternoon of the first day. The hope is for vendors to support the event and get a number of passes to the social. While the cost is the same as a table top in the past, there is an added expense to host a social vs a trade show.
So, in an effort to make up the difference, PTC will have a booth at the Philadelphia Golf Expo the next week auctioning off rounds of donated golf. The struggle with the silent auction in the past has been the idea of people in the golf business paying for something that is normally free with one phone call.
This process of changing something, that has been in place for a long time, is never easy. The ability of competitors to work together and the ability of the PTC Board to listen to vendors urging the need for a new format were all key in making this happen.
Check back in mid-January, and hopefully, I can tell you about what a big success the Turf Industry Social was and that the Philadelphia Golf Expo was a home run!
In the mean time, if you would like to donate a foursome to help the PTC or are a vendor who wants to come back to participate in being involved in the event, please let me know!


Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Power of 10

       This coming Monday, we will be delivering the largest single Ventrac purchase, since Lawn & Golf became a dealer. In a process worthy of this type of investment, the customer did his due diligence by looking at all options. This included looking at competitive units and multiple configurations of the Ventrac unit too. Then there was the consideration of what was the best way to handle the purchase from the financial side, including all financing avenues. In the end, the decision was made to go with a 3400 with a full snow package and multiple attachments.
Following came the getting all the product into our location and for our shop to get to work. Andy Barone, our factory representative of Ventrac, was with us throughout the process and made sure that inventory was ready for us.
From our shipping manager organizing the staging of the equipment for the shop, to our technicians cranking out the setups and finishing a day ahead of schedule, it was a great week for our company.
Congratulations to everyone at Lawn & Golf  and Ventrac who worked to get this process to run so smoothly, especially Jeremy Weand , who is the account manager and Andy Barone for all his support. A big thank you to Bob Dunkerely of Dunkerely Construction for choosing Lawn & Golf & Ventrac!


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Snow Business

       This past week Lawn & Golf & Ventrac sponsored an educational event with the PGMS at Coca-Cola Stadium, home of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. It was called a "Snow Symposium" The day started with a review of the products available through Ventrac.
Andy Barone, our factory representative, gave the overview of the Ventrac  product line, with an emphasis on the snow removal attachments. We then headed in for lunch and then education.
Following lunch, we had a 3 speaker lineup.
Our first speaker was John Tyrell, of Ricci, Tyrrell, Johnson & Grey, was covering the topic, "Snow Removal Liability Issues & Concerns". I was able to get John to speak at an event a few years ago and knew he would be the perfect fit. The basic things you need to address to protect yourself in today's sue everyone atmosphere was some excellent information. John's experience with what has worked to protect from having to pay a big settlement  is just using common sense and documentation. It was priceless. Our next speaker was Joshua Smilk, Owner of Eastern LLC, a snow removal contractor. Josh was playing hurt! He had fallen the night before and was pretty sure he had broken his ankle. He told me he would be there on crutches and head to the doctor afterwards. He just needed a podium to lean on. He did over a 45 minute talk standing on one leg! Cannot say thank you enough to Josh for not canceling! His talk was about brine. Josh covered some of the basic science behind it and some of the different situations for use. It was really an interesting topic.
Our final speaker of the day was Matt Brown, of Lawn & Golf. Matt's topic was "Winterizing your sprayer". Matt did a great job focusing on what is the key to all sprayers working to the optimum...cleaning it! Matt also spent a significant amount of time covering one of the most important part of chemical application, safety. Matt covered all the recommended safety precautions that sometimes get skipped to make up time.

A big thank you goes out to our corporate partners at the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs and their Director of Field Operations, Ryan Hills, for hosting us! Thanks to Andy Barone, of Ventrac, for coming into to town to support the event.
A special thanks to Bill Brown, of Turf Republic, for joining us and taking some great photos.
Also, I cannot say thank you enough to our speakers!
We were happy to partner with the PGMS and look forward to doing it again in the future.

Andy Barone, of Ventrac, talking about the Ventrac 4500

         John Tyrrell, Managing Member of Ricci, Tyrrell, Johnson & Grey, giving his presentation

Joshua Smilk, Owner of Eastern LLC, talking about the advantages of brine

Matt Brown, of Lawn & Golf, speaking about the winterization of your sprayer

For more photos, please check out the Turf Republic Flickr site:


Monday, July 18, 2016

Hail To The King!

This week, I had the opportunity to head back out to Latrobe CC. Through Jacobsen's relationship with the Arnold Palmer Group, we had the chance to get in a little more than a round of golf. We had the chance to visit the barn, where there is more golf history than you could ever believe. It is truly incredible, that someone had the foresight, to keep all of these pieces of history of Arnold Palmer's life. It is something I will never forget. A special thanks goes out to Mark Pena from Jacobsen for being such a great host!
What made the visit even more special was Doc Giffin. Doc has worked with Arnold Palmer for over 50 years! We only had a short time with him, but just in that brief period, we were able to hear some incredible stories. The part I think that I enjoy the most about Latrobe CC is that they understand the importance of  Arnold Palmer, but on the other hand, it is not a big deal having him at the next table, in the men's grill, having lunch.

Arnold Palmer's golf club collection
Arnold Palmer & Steve Stephens
Arnold Palmer's Film Library

The famous Penzoil Tractor & his Father's reconditioned tractor

Arnold Palmer's Golf Cart

Doc Giffin giving us the history of all the collection

Doc Giffin explaining the story behind the personalized golf cart