Protecting a legacy in turfgrass research and education

Michigan Turfgrass Foundation makes $1 million lead gift to Michigan State University as campaign to endow the Joe Vargas Chair in Turfgrass Pathology commences.

A $1 million gift from the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation to the Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources launches a $5 million campaign to endow the Joe Vargas Chair in Turfgrass Pathology.

“Endowed positions are a cornerstone for recruiting outstanding faculty and supporting innovative research,” MSU President Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said. “We are fortunate to have the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation’s partnership in our efforts to advance solutions to pressing challenges in turfgrass science in ways that will improve lives and strengthen communities.”

Funding for the endowed Joe Vargas Chair in Turfgrass Pathology will ensure that a strong and robust program is possible in perpetuity, and that MSU’s land-grant tradition of linking research to our region’s needs continues to advance the economic development, environmental stewardship, and improved quality of life in Michigan and around the world.

This endowment honors Dr. Joe Vargas who has dedicated his 51-year career to improving the quality of turf on every continent except Antarctica. His knowledge has been shared in over 200 articles and over 1,000 presentations. As an international expert on turfgrass diseases, he is a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.

“At the forefront of our turfgrass program are our faculty members who are global leaders in their areas of expertise,” said Dr. Brian Horgan, chairperson for the MSU Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, which houses the Turfgrass Program. “By investing in this endowed chair position, Michigan Turfgrass Foundation shows their commitment to creating new knowledge through research, while educating and inspiring the students who will become the next generation of leaders in turfgrass science.”

Established in 1957, the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation is a non-profit organization which supports turfgrass research and education. The organization’s members represent a vast portion of the industry including: homeowners, golf courses, seed, sod and stolon growers, municipalities, parks and recreation, schools, landscape and lawn care contractors, athletics and cemeteries. MTF annually sponsors the Michigan Turfgrass Conference and supports the MSU Turfgrass Field Day at the Hancock Turfgrass Research Center in East Lansing, Mich.

“The Joe Vargas Endowed Chair continues the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation’s partnership with Michigan State University that has been successful for over 50 years,” said Carey Mitchelson, Michigan Turfgrass Foundation executive director. “This initiative helps to ensure that the MSU Turfgrass Program continues into perpetuity, sustains MSU’s place in cutting-edge turfgrass technology, and furthers the advancement of turfgrass students. The combined efforts of MSU and the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation exhibit the true meaning of a land-grant university working with its partners to provide a template and foundation of future research and educational programs for generations to come.”

For over 70 years, MSU’s Turfgrass Management Program has provided significant, cutting-edge research that positively impacts practitioners and end-users, from our back yards to world-class golf courses.

The research taking place within the turfgrass program not only serves to positively affect our campus community and the state of Michigan’s economy, but also the U.S. and the world. Greenspace and turf are valuable for communities, as these spaces provide positive ecosystem services including stormwater management, pollinator friendly habitats, urban cooling and environmental protection and preservation.

Designed by Karl Litten and redesigned by Jim Fazio, the course has hosted Champions Tour events won by Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.
Troon has been selected to manage Boca Grove, an exclusive, members-only golf, tennis and country club in Boca Raton, Florida. Troon Privé, the private club operating division of Troon, will manage golf, tennis and club operations, food & beverage, golf course agronomy, and membership marketing and programming.
Boca Grove’s original Karl Litten-designed golf course opened for play in 1982 and hosted the Quadel Senior Classic, a Champions Tour event won by Arnold Palmer in both 1983 and ’84, and by Gary Player in 1985. The course was redesigned in 2011 by Jim Fazio. The 6,808-yard golf course plays to a par of 72.
“Boca Grove has experienced two tremendous years with record home sales, completion of a new building and a merger of our club and POA,” said Boca Grove Property Owner’s Association board president Marc Gillman. “We are stronger than we have been in over a decade and wanted to give ourselves the best chance to remain on top regardless of what the future holds. We feel Troon offers a strong support system through best practices at over 500 properties worldwide, leveraged buying power and, most important, a culture that cares about the members of our club as well as our personnel. It is the right choice for us at the right time.”

“Boca Grove is a first-class private club and community with incredible amenities,” said Ricardo Catarino, Troon VP of operations. “Our Troon Privé team is excited to enhance and push the member experience to new heights through engaging programs and outstanding service. We appreciate the opportunity that the board has provided us to partner with an engaged and dedicated team at Boca Grove as we collaborate on the long-term plans that will further provide members with the lifestyle they expect when joining a top-tier club and community.”

Deal expands professional pond and lake product lines.

Outdoor Water Solutions has acquired Air-O-Lator, a water and wastewater equipment manufacturing company located in Kansas City, Missouri.
Started in 2005, Outdoor Water Solutions, is a pond and lake equipment manufacturing company located in Springdale, Arkansas, that provides high-quality products to the industry. The Outdoor Water Solutions product line includes electric and solar bottom diffused aerators, electric and solar display fountains, microbes, dyes, docks, and more.

Founded in 1961, Air-O-Lator offers display and aerating fountains, surface aerators, de-icers, aspirators and submersible mixers.
“This new combined company will offer one of the broadest product lines available in the professional pond and lake industry,” Outdoor Water Solutions President and CEO John Redd said. “The brand Air-O-Lator is known for its high quality, dependability and ease of service.”

Roy Watkins, formerly President of Air-O-Lator, will continue as general manager and operate the Kansas City location. “Roy’s knowledge of their products and the industry is invaluable given his 42 years with Air-O-Lator,” Redd said. “He has been instrumental in developing products known for their outstanding performance and dependability.”

Roy added, “I feel this is a win-win situation for everyone. With Air-O-Lator’s 60 years of manufacturing experience in the water and wastewater industry and with the outstanding products and customer service of Outdoor Water Solutions, our customers are in good hands moving forward.”

“In a business where impeccable communication helps us manage within tight margins of error, Judd’s leadership and involvement shine time and again.”
Golf course developer and construction company Landscapes Unlimited promoted Judd Chatelain to senior construction estimator.
A 22-year Landscapes Unlimited veteran, Chatelain is widely regarded as one of the golf industry’s more experienced and respected project estimators. In working closely with golf course architects, vendors, property owners and Landscapes Unlimited field managers, he constructs budgets and workflows for high-quality builds and renovations of golf courses, country clubs, resorts and communities, as well as sports fields.

“Internal collaboration between our estimators and regional field teams builds tight-knit relationships and breeds outstanding execution,” Landscapes Unlimited chief development officer Jake Riekstins said. “And in a business where impeccable communication helps us manage within tight margins of error, Judd’s leadership and involvement shine time and again.”

Scheduling the economics of public and private projects from $20,000 to $20 million, Chatelain weighs in on myriad aspects of the company’s project management framework, including activity and resource planning, organizing and motivating project teams, monitoring time management and progress, cost estimating and budget development, analyzing and managing project risk, and ultimately realizing client satisfaction.

“Without detailed roadmaps, budget development and project look-ins by our estimating core, our field teams would have to rely on gut feel during the execution phase, which would’ve been arduous given weather volatility and supply chain challenges nowadays” Chatelain said. “The involvement of our estimating team from project inception through close-out lends stability and reliability to precise execution and Landscapes Unlimited’s ecosystem as a whole.
“What also makes me proud are the relationships cultivated with our construction superintendents and suppliers who help to manage costs, increase efficiencies and overall quality — all key to exceeding client expectations.”

Much of Chatelain’s immersion is on the west coast where he is integral to the success of projects at Rancho Santa Fe Country Club, San Luis Obispo County Club, The Reserve Club, The Vintage Club — all located in California — and Red Rocks Country Club in Colorado. He also played a key forecasting and facilitation role in Landscapes Unlimited’s work for the City of San Diego around its Torrey Pines South Course for the 2021 U.S. Open.

Outside of work, Chatelain is heavily involved in civic projects and coaches youth sports teams in and around Lincoln, Nebraska.
Photo mosaic, Health in Action 5K, women in turf panel among offerings in San Diego.

Syngenta announced its theme of Bringing the Best Together at the 2022 GCSAA Conference and Trade Show. From Feb. 7-10 in San Diego, Syngenta is celebrating bringing the turf industry together with an opportunity to participate in a photo mosaic, as well as recognition ceremonies, industry networking, the annual 5K fun run and opportunities to learn about innovative turf solutions.

From Jan. 24-Feb. 10, turf industry professionals can upload a photo to the Bringing the Best Together Photo Mosaic at or at the show in booth #3222. Participants are encouraged to share a photo that represents why they are excited to be back at the show. These photos could showcase whom they are excited to see, what they want to learn about or just why they are glad to be back together in person. And if someone is not able to join in person, they can still participate online by sharing a photo of how they are connecting with colleagues and participating in the conference from home.
By uploading a photo, participants will be entered for a chance to win one of five Solo Stove Yukon fire pits. Syngenta will award:

“Our name Syngenta means ‘Bringing People Together’. In fact, our mission goes beyond bringing people together. We are committed to bringing together the best products, programs and technology to support our customers,” said Stephanie Schwenke, turf market manager at Syngenta. “Our team has missed their friendships and the great people in this industry, so this year, we wanted to celebrate our name and the opportunity to be back together. We look forward to reconnecting with everyone in our booth and at our events throughout the week.”

During the show, Syngenta will support numerous events, including the conference welcome reception, the Ladies Leading Turf panel discussion and networking reception, a happy hour and the Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards in the Syngenta booth, and the Certification Luncheon.

Additionally, Syngenta will host the sixth annual Health in Action 5K to promote the importance of superintendents’ personal health. There are opportunities to participate in-person, virtually or both, and participants will get a $5 discount on the registration fee if they sign up for both at the same time. This year, there will be nearly $2,000 of prizes available with all proceeds benefitting the GCSAA Foundation. Online registration is now open. Register by Jan. 7 for the best price.
Below is an overview of all the Syngenta highlights at the 2022 GCSAA Conference and Trade Show:

Bringing The Best Together Photo Mosaic
Syngenta Booth #3222 and
Jan. 24-Feb. 10
Share your photo that represents why you are excited to be back at the show or how you are participating from home. Everyone who uploads a photo online or at an in-booth kiosk will be entered for a chance to win one of five Solo Stove Yukon fire pits. See Official Rules at

Welcome Reception
USS Midway Aircraft Carrier
Feb. 7, 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Join us for this memorable celebration as Syngenta and the GCSAA host the 2022 welcome reception onboard the USS Midway aircraft carrier. We’re excited to bring people together for networking with industry professionals from across the country while enjoying complimentary appetizers and cocktails.

Opening Session
Ballroom 20
Feb. 8, 8:30-10 a.m.
Help us kick off the show and reconnect with fellow attendees at the opening session. Lauren Thompson, from GolfNow and Clubhouse Solutions, will host, as achievements of members and award winners are recognized, including the new Col. John Morley Award and Outstanding Contribution Awards. Mike Parkin, global head of Professional Solutions at Syngenta, will provide a special welcome to attendees.

Syngenta Bringing People Together Happy Hour
Syngenta Booth #3222
Feb. 8, 5-7 p.m.
Join us during the Tradeshow Tee Off in booth #3222 for complimentary drinks and to toast being back together for the 2022 GCSAA Conference and Trade Show. Attendees who participate in the Bringing The Best Together photo mosaic during this inaugural event will receive a special gift.

Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards Presentation
Syngenta Booth #3222
Feb. 8, 6 p.m.
Join us in booth #3222 as we honor the winners of the 2021 Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards.

Health in Action 5K
Starting at the Marriott Marquis on the Embarcadero side
In-person: Feb. 9, 7:30 a.m.
Virtual: Feb. 12-28
Syngenta and the GCSAA are hosting the sixth annual Health in Action 5K. Register now to participate in-person, virtually or both. Follow and join the conversation on social media using #GCSAA5K.

Certification Luncheon
Ballroom 20
Feb. 9, 12:30-2 p.m.
At this luncheon, Syngenta and the GCSAA will celebrate the 2021 class of newly Certified Golf Course Superintendents and provide special acknowledgements of 25- and 40-year CGCSs in attendance.
Ladies Leading Turf Discussion Panel and Networking Reception
Room 28
Feb. 9
3-4 p.m. – Mentoring Women panel discussion
4-5 p.m. – Reception
Syngenta, Ladies Leading Turf and the GCSAA have partnered to host this annual diversity and inclusion discussion for the fifth year in a row to celebrate women in the turf industry. In this inspiring session, you’ll hear from leading women in turf on their mentorship and mentee experiences. Then don’t miss an opportunity to network with your peers.

Schwenke will provide welcoming remarks, and the session will be moderated by Jan Bel Jan, ASGCA, golf course architect at Jan Bel Jan Golf Course Design, Inc.
From 4-5 p.m., attendees are invited to the outdoor terrace adjacent to room 28 to network and socialize. Complimentary drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be served.


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