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Ran Morrissett

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... under Best of Golf/Greenkeeping.

With the Men's & Women's US Opens concluded, there remains little consensus on the message from Pinehurst.
 
To me, it wasn't about single row irrigation with fairways burnt on their edges or rough that was returned to its natural state. Such things are site specifics. Rather, the message boils down to doing more with less and putting golf first. Happily, as we know from Part I with Don, that's the EXACT, FAR REACHING message that Don delivers and has acted on since 1999 when he saw Apache Stronghold and St. Andrews.
 
As you follow Don's career over this 17 minute video, certain themes emerge regardless of whether Don was located in Arizona, Texas, Oregon or Nebraska. One is about cutting maintenance expenses while focusing on making the golf better. Stop worrying about imperfect aesthetics, Dummy; it's all about the golf. Don rightly contends that the industry often thinks it knows what golfers want - and is frequently wrong. Donít fret over striped fairways and perfectly trimmed edges; focus instead on giving the golfer a clean lie in the fairway, be it on brown or green grass. No surprise, he cries FOUL on irrigation systems that cost $2m+.
 
This video isn't just about Don either. He gives a loud shout out to legend Dan Lucas and his superior work at Kingsley Club since its inception.  Don notes how the folks at Sand Hills make things work in a practical manner which helps to elevate the overall playing experience.  Down the road, Jaeger's work at Dismal also symbolizes how Greenkeepers can make a course work without overdoing things.
 
Don switches gears and points out that ultimately, the challenge of taking a child to play golf is at the heart of growing the game. No surprise to find out therefore that he is involved with both a kidís course with Andy Staples in New Mexico and a short course with Mike Nuzzo in Texas.  At the end of the video, re-branding golf as a game for wellness needs to happen too. Playing 9 holes is the perfect way to accomplish both. That's how I grew up playing the game late in the evenings with my two brothers and Dad, so I am totally onboard with Don's vision.
 
Bottom line: the concept of doing more for less has been at the heart of the game for much of its history. Yet, it went unheard during golf's period of excess, roughly defined as the two decades that ended in 2007. Itís a crucial message, one that has few sponsors, Don being a rare exception.  His words carry special meaning as they are backed up by his exemplary - and sometimes groundbreaking - in-the-dirt work over the past 15 years. Most importantly, he isnít bemoaning the state of the game; he is doing something about returning it to its simpler, more authentic roots.
 
Hope you enjoy Part II - maybe we can talk him into Part III next year!

Best,

Mark Pavy

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Re: Video Feature Interview with Don Mahaffey Part II is posted ...
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2014, 06:14:47 PM »
Amen.

Great interview, Don really gets it.


Don Mahaffey

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Re: Video Feature Interview with Don Mahaffey Part II is posted ...
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2014, 01:11:52 AM »
Thanks to everyone that watched one or both videos.

More with less isn't just about water. Check out this post below from Dr. Micah Woods at:

 http://www.blog.asianturfgrass.com/

Micah does excellent work and if you have interest in turfgrass science, especially as it relates to golf turf, I suggest you follow his blog. Last week he had an excellent post on golf irrigation, soil moisture use in scheduling irrigation, and he demonstrated how the best golf turf was grown on the low end of the soil moisture range.

Below in italics is an excerpt from his most recent post; the red highlights are mine. Just about any experienced Green keeper will tell you that he/she can "train" their grass. Of course you cannot exceed botanical  boundaries, but you can train your turf to provide good golf turf on less.

A Waste of Time and Money

I've been doing some research about turfgrass nutrient uptake in 2 dimensions at the soil surface (grams of an element harvested per square meter) and how that is related to soil nutrient depletion in 3 dimensions in the soil volume (grams of an element removed from the soil per unit of soil volume). As so often happens in these type of researches, I'm delighted to find that Wayne Kussow already studied this.

The amount of nitrogen supplied to the grass controls how much biomass will be produced. That amount of biomass then determines the amount of other elements that will be used. Kussow et al. summarized this phenomenon in their Evidence, Regulation, and Consequences of Nitrogen-Driven Nutrient Demand by Turfgrass.

In a paper I hadn't seen before, from 1995 in the Wisconsin Soils Report (for more from this excellent column, see here, and here), Kussow wrote about manipulating creeping bentgrass nutrition. What did he find?

    By going from 2.0 to 8.0 Ib N/M/season [10 to 40 g N/m2/year], there was a substantial increase in shoot growth. This, in tum, altered the nutrient demand of the turfgrass and clipping concentrations of several nutrients changed accordingly. Without this change in nutrient demand, uptake of nutrients such as P and K remained unchanged even when the nutrients were applied.

And then this choice quote:

   How many more times do I have to say that applying nutrients to turfgrass growing on soil already well supplied with the nutrients is a waste of time and money?

I'm studying this, of course, as part of further development and research related to turfgrass nutrient requirements and the MLSN guidelines. One of the innovative approaches we have taken with the MLSN guidelines is to relate the 2-dimensional harvest of nutrients to the 3-dimensial stock of nutrients in the soil. Then we account for that relationship in the resultant fertilizer recommendations
« Last Edit: July 01, 2014, 08:45:17 AM by Don Mahaffey »

Jaeger Kovich

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Re: Video Feature Interview with Don Mahaffey Part II is posted ...
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2014, 04:22:25 PM »
Ran - Thanks for the shout-out, but I believe you meant Jagger Mandrell, the super for both Dismal River courses. I was just lucky enough to be a part of the whole thing running that enormous hydro-seeder for Don and Jagger, amongst other jobs.

One thing that wasn't mentioned in the video was how hands on Dan Luca and Jagger are. These guys don't just manage budgets and assign daily jobs, they are out mowing, watching water and more when everyone else has already gone home. It is no accident they provide some of the best playing surfaces in the game.

I'm just lucky enough to get to pick their brains on occasion about Fescue! ... good luck in Hobbs, Don, I'm looking forward to seeing pics of how it turns out.

Sam Morrow

Re: Video Feature Interview with Don Mahaffey Part II is posted ...
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2014, 10:53:31 PM »
Great stuff but I expect nothing less from Don.

Donnie Beck

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Re: Video Feature Interview with Don Mahaffey Part II is posted ...
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2014, 09:14:35 AM »
Good Stuff !!!!!... I really enjoyed the video's and agree wholeheartedly with everything Don said !!!

Rees Milikin

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Re: Video Feature Interview with Don Mahaffey Part II is posted ...
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2014, 03:22:52 PM »
Loved these two videos and the information that is presented. 

Dave McCollum

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Re: Video Feature Interview with Don Mahaffey Part II is posted ...
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2014, 07:50:18 PM »
Nice job Don.  My own evolution as a course owner is less advanced more recent than yours.  However, the one part of your interview that amazed me was that your golfers didn't complain as you cut back on maintenance.  As you know, we have always taken more of an affordable, sustainable, and, perhaps, minimalist approach as dictated by our market.  Our golfers are great and for the most part understand that this keeps their golf within their budgets.  So, maybe that is what you are talking about in saying that a lot of golfers just want good golf and aren't interested in what I call "opulent" golf.  Yet here, and I suppose everywhere, there is a small vocal pack of complainers.  In my experience, golfers hate change and hold dearly to a set of expectations about how a golf course is presented even if those expectations make no practical sense in terms of agronomy or even their own games.  I guess that I've taken my lumps as a evangelist for a simpler version of the game and now mostly just shut up and give them what they want as well as we are able.  We do keep it simple, so maybe we've always been a downsized version of the game.  Whatever, there are lots of versions of the game and it is indeed a big world of golfers and preferences.  I do admire your leadership in speaking up and putting your ideas forward.       

Don Mahaffey

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Re: Video Feature Interview with Don Mahaffey Part II is posted ...
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2014, 08:57:25 PM »
Dave,
It is not like we announced we were cutting back, and we never sacrificed turf conditions, or at least tried hard not to.
But we did cut back on hand labor type work like edging bunkers, walk mowing greens and we changed our mowing patterns.
The biggest change was cutting way back on overseed by doing a target overseed instead of wall to wall.

In our market, there were plenty of $150+ green fee courses that supplied all the demand for opulent golf. We did better when we could give a decent product, and make a profit, at $50 a round.

 

 

Dave McCollum

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Re: Video Feature Interview with Don Mahaffey Part II is posted ...
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2014, 06:03:41 PM »
Thanks Don,

Hopefully, we'll get to $50 greens fees some day.  We're close to that including a cart.  Around here most folks ride.  That's changing as our course is a very easy walk and many younger players are walking.  I've also noticed a few of the older, life-long riders walking.  I agree with you about the health & exercise benefits of the game.  I'm a geezer and do both as many of my friends can't walk at this point.  Personally, I tend to play during slow spells and play quickly.  Four hours for a round feels really slow.  I often play with staff and we don't have a lot of time for golf.  When we get the chance, we zip around.  Most of the staff are young and have little kids.  Not uncommon to play 9 holes in an hour or less.  Some golf is better than no golf.  You know how it is around a golf course.
         

Michael Goldstein

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Re: Video Feature Interview with Don Mahaffey Part II is posted ...
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2014, 11:51:23 AM »
Another reason why this website is so cool. Thanks Ran & Don.

"Golf is good for you"...
@Pure_Golf

Bill_McBride

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Re: Video Feature Interview with Don Mahaffey Part II is posted ...
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2014, 10:39:56 PM »
Thanks Don,

Hopefully, we'll get to $50 greens fees some day.  We're close to that including a cart.  Around here most folks ride.  That's changing as our course is a very easy walk and many younger players are walking.  I've also noticed a few of the older, life-long riders walking.  I agree with you about the health & exercise benefits of the game.  I'm a geezer and do both as many of my friends can't walk at this point.  Personally, I tend to play during slow spells and play quickly.  Four hours for a round feels really slow.  I often play with staff and we don't have a lot of time for golf.  When we get the chance, we zip around.  Most of the staff are young and have little kids.  Not uncommon to play 9 holes in an hour or less.  Some golf is better than no golf.  You know how it is around a golf course.
         

Dave, maybe if you could buy and rent some Sun Mountain speed carts, you'd have more walkers.   

Tim_Weiman

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Re: Video Feature Interview with Don Mahaffey Part II is posted ...
« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2014, 02:13:42 AM »
Ran,

Wow! What a great addition to GolfClubAtlas. I don't know how it could be better than this Interview with Don Mahaffey.
Tim Weiman

William_G

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Re: Video Feature Interview with Don Mahaffey Part II is posted ...
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2014, 05:01:40 PM »
Well done Don, "golf is good for you"!  ;D
It's all about the golf!

William_G

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Re: Video Feature Interview with Don Mahaffey Part II is posted ...
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2014, 12:18:26 PM »
Well done Don, "golf is good for you"!  ;D

equally impressive is that not once did Don smile in the vids  ;D
It's all about the golf!

Don Mahaffey

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Re: Video Feature Interview with Don Mahaffey Part II is posted ...
« Reply #15 on: July 10, 2014, 12:30:34 PM »
You sound like my wife ;D

William_G

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It's all about the golf!

David_Tepper

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Re: Video Feature Interview with Don Mahaffey Part II is posted ...
« Reply #17 on: July 11, 2014, 04:38:51 PM »
Two excellent interviews, which should be required viewing for every greens committee chairman in America.

Dave McCollum

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Re: Video Feature Interview with Don Mahaffey Part II is posted ...
« Reply #18 on: July 12, 2014, 04:08:40 PM »

Dave, maybe if you could buy and rent some Sun Mountain speed carts, you'd have more walkers.   
[/quote]

We do have them.  As I have said many times, it's a cultural thing and yet another example of Tom Paul's Big World Theory.  Golfers around here like to ride, drink beer, and are addicted the chlorophyll.  The type of golf that I personally prefer comes in many forms.  However, I have learned the hard way to share these opinions carefully.  Our golfers think they know golf, but in reality, they only know what they've experienced and, in my view, it is mostly a provincial version.  For awhile I tried to be an evangelist for a broader point of view.  It proved to be bad for business.  Now I try to be tolerant of all views and what's fun for me isn't everyone's cup of tea.   

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