August 2009 Archives

Article in Philadelphia Inquirermatt.jpg

Matt Shaffer, Merion Golf Club superintendent, will play host to about 50 colleagues from other courses at next month's international Walker Cup Match. "It's our version of the Amish barn-raising," he says. read article

Posted by Pete Landschoot

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If you're seeing brown spots and melting-out on your ryegrass of late, keep in mind that there are other late-summer leaf spot diseases of perennial ryegrass besides gray leaf spot.  I recently observed a case in central PA in which a contractor suspected gray leaf spot was taking out his newly-seeded perennial ryegrass.  In fact, the disease turned out to be a different leaf spot disease.  The spores appeared similar to descriptions of Drechslera siccans.  For the record.....I was fooled as well.  I could have sworn it was gray leaf spot when I looked at the turf in the field.  When garden-variety leaf spot diseases get rolling on susceptible hosts during extended periods of high humidity, they can resemble early stage symptoms of grey leaf spot.  Some common leaf spot diseases of perennial ryegrass include net blotch and leaf blight (Pyrenophora dictyoides (sometimes referred to as Drechslera dictyoides); Leaf spot, leaf blight, and foot rot (Drechslera siccans), and leaf blight and crown rot (Drechslera catenaria).   Only your diagnostician....using a microscope.....knows for sure. 

ssrc.jpgIndustry authorities on sports surface research launch website at to help accelerate safety within the sports surfacing community

On the heels of the groundbreaking announcement introducing the FieldTurf and Penn State University partnership to the athletic community, the two pioneering organizations have launched the 'Center for Sports Surface Research' website, located at the following address:

The website is the first of its kind and will serve as a valuable resource for customers, consultants, architects, engineers, and members of the sports surfacing industry, when it comes to safety and the most recent breakthroughs involving synthetic turf, running tracks, and indoor sports surfaces.

The newly launched website includes research by Dr. Andy McNitt and his staff on synthetic turf and its safety. Check back for updates as the latest developments in the industry will be published on the site. The center and its website will provide the most comprehensive research with credible fact-based research on the latest advancements in sports surfacing.

First printed at Penn State Live


University Park, Pa. -- It has been said that the sun never sets on Penn State-developed turfgrass varieties because they carpet so many golf courses around the world. Similarly, many of the best golf courses on the planet are under the care of Penn State-educated turfgrass professionals.

Another high-profile example will be on display Aug. 13-16 when the best professional golfers descend on Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn., for the PGA Championship. James Nicol, Hazeltine course superintendent, who earned a certificate in Turfgrass Management from Penn State in the early 1970s, has polished the historic gem for another major tournament.

A St. Cloud, Minn., native, Nicol is in his 13th year at Hazeltine. Prior to arriving there in 1996, Nicol worked 19 years at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids, Minn., where he hosted four Senior Tour events. Before that, Nicol spent five years at Lake Geneva (Wis.) Playboy Club, first as an intern, then foreman of the Briar Patch Course, and then as assistant superintendent.

"My turfgrass management certificate from Penn State has put me in a position to get noticed for opportunities," Nicol said. "The education that I received was based on theory but practical. We were taught to think problems through and identify the differences, because every golf course/turfgrass problem is different."

Nicol noted that he still benefits from continuing education and research done at Penn State.

"Networking with former classmates and educators as an alum keeps me abreast of current trends," he said. "Our greens were sodded with Penncross [a Penn State variety] and our tees and fairways are a combination of Penncross and Poa annua. We are renovating Hazeltine's greens and fairways in July of 2010, and Penn State turf varieties again will be used."

The family of Penn State turfgrass professionals is large, highly respected and continues to grow, Nicol said.

"Joe Maloney and Blair Hawkins, two of my key crew members, are Penn State graduates, and Cole Besser is interning this season and will graduate from the four-year turfgrass science program in the College of Agricultural Sciences this December. Our staff continues a 20-year tradition of attending the Pennsylvania Turfgrass Council's Fall Meeting at the Nittany Lion Inn.

"We always take away something that can be used and some of this information has been implemented for the 2009 PGA Championship," Nicol said. "Here at Hazeltine, we are Penn State proud!"


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