The Value Of Education

By Stanley J. Zontek, director, Mid-Atlantic Region
November 10, 2011

Great golf courses don’t just ‘happen.’  It takes an educated staff to make an informed decision on how that golf course should look, play and be maintained.  A view of Aronimink GC’s Eleventh hole, including some of their work to convert parts of their rough to lower-maintenance fine fescue turf.  Clearly, the program is working just fine. 


I just heard the following comment, “I don’t have time to attend turf conferences.  I’m just too busy.”  Ironically, this was stated at a turf seminar!  Here is the point. 

I would argue that you should MAKE TIME to attend that conference, and further, bring along your assistant superintendent, general manager, green chairman, golf chairman, and anyone else in the club who would benefit from such a meeting.  Here’s why.

Although the “basics” of golf course turfgrass management never really change --- balanced and adequate fertility, growth of roots, management of water effectively, control weeds and diseases, control thatch, aerate and topdress --- it is the fine points of turfgrass management that are so important to learn and re-learn. At the very least, you can make an informed decision on what is best for you and your course. 

With all of the stressful weather that most regions of our country have experienced this year, it is essential that you listen and learn about what worked and what didn’t work.  We are in a period of weather extremes, and the best way for your turf to survive is to grow healthy grass. 

What’s the new research on whether or not bacteria can actually affect golf turf?  Is this a new problem to worry about?  What’s the latest on control of Poa annua?  What about crabgrass and goosegrass control?  Weed control in general…did you fight more weeds this year than past?  If so, then you might need to change something or add something to your program to resolve the problems you now have.  Clearly, what you may have done in the past may not work.  Think about it, do you really NOT have the time to learn ways to solve the problems you have, for a better golf course next year?  I would wager that you NEED to find time to attend these meetings. 

Education is an ongoing effort.  I have been with the USGA for more than forty years and I value the time I spend sitting in the audience and listening to all the comments about everything on the agenda.  The older I get, the more time I spend being educated.  It makes me better able to answer the questions I am asked, while staying current with all that is happening in our field.  Sadly, I see and know about superintendents who no longer attend conferences and lack that thirst for information.  It can change a productive turf manager into one that is less effective.  Think about it. 

Are you really too busy to sit down and listen to lectures on the industry that we all share?  If you think about it, you need to attend those conferences, lectures and seminars.  For that matter, bring a colleague, someone else who would benefit. 

In our region, we are fortunate to have numerous educational opportunities:

November 15-17, Penn State Golf Turf Conference, University Park, PA 

December 6-8, New Jersey Green Expo, Atlantic City, NJ 

January 3-5, 2012, Eastern PA Turfgrass Conference & Trade Show,

Valley Forge, PA 

January 3-5, 2012 Northeast Weeds Science Society Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA 

January 9-10, 2012, Maryland Turfgrass Conference & Trade Show, College Park, MD 

January 16-19, 2012 Virginia Turfgrass Council Conference & Trade Show, Frederick, VA 

January 26, 2012, Northeastern PA Turf Conference & Trade Show, Wilkes-Barre, PA 

 February 7-9, 2012 Western PA Turf Conference and Trade Show, Pittsburgh, PA 

February 27-March 2, 2012 Golf Industry Show, Las Vegas, NV 

March 2, 2012  USGA Green Section program at Golf Industry Show, Las Vegas, NV

March 20, 2012, USGA Green Section Regional Meeting at Oakmont CC, Oakmont, PA

March 27, 2012, USGA Green Section Regional Meeting at DuPont CC, Wilmington, DE

Mark your calendars!  While you may not be able to attend all of these meetings, you need to attend some of them.  Hope to see you there!

The Mid-Atlantic Region agronomists are part of your agronomic support team.  If you have a question or concern, give us a call or send an e-mail.  You can reach Stan Zontek ( and Darin Bevard ( at 610/ 558-9066 or Keith Happ ( at 412/ 341-5922.


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