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Opportunity for UCONN Turf Student "Takes Off" 

When UCONNís Club Sports Department constructed two new fields on campus to support their diverse sporting activities they looked to Dr. Jason Henderson Assistant Professor of Turfgrass Management for guidance on field maintenance. High quality fields capable of withstanding a demanding mixed-use game schedule were needed. An opportunity arose for a UCONN turf student to work with the Club Sports Department to oversee the maintenance of these fields. Brian Tencza, a graduate student working with Dr. Henderson, was selected to manage the 4.5 acre facility. Tencza, graduated from UCONN in 2009 with a degree in Turfgrass and Soil Sciences, and is now pursuing a masters degree in addition to managing the athletic grounds. Tencza took over the fields in mid-June and needed them ready to host a number of fall athletic events including menís and womenís soccer, rugby, and lacrosse. At that time the fields were far from game ready. Turf density was low, weeds were numerous, and the irrigation system was in poor condition. However by mid-August, Tencza and his limited crew of undergraduate turf students had dramatically improved the field conditions. The transformation of the fields has been documented by photos taken from the ground as well as in the air; since in his free time Tencza logs hours flying in pursuit of his pilotís license. Due to Tenczaís efforts, turf performance through the first part of the season has been a huge success. His experience managing the athletic fields has been a rewarding opportunity to apply his classroom knowledge to improve and maintain athletic field conditions for his fellow Huskies.
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Fescues getting favorable environmental attention 

By Ron Hall

STORRS, CT ó An ambitious program investigating the potential for turf-type tall fescues and fine-leaf fescues to play a greater role in preserving water quality and also conserving water is getting high marks in Connecticut.

In fact, what researchers are learning about these two species in regards to producing acceptable-quality lawns and parks with less irrigation and fewer nutrient inputs (at least compared to other popular cool-season grasses) is starting to attract favorable attention from state and regional environmental agencies.

Read entire article here.
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GCSAA Selects Mendenhall & MacCurrach Award Winners 

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) has awarded scholarship money to 16 college students as part of the Scholars Program administered by the GCSAA's philanthropic organization, the Environmental Institute for Golf.

The first-place winner, David Golembeski, will receive a $6,000 scholarship as the Mendenhall Award Winner. The second-place winner, William Overly, receives a $5,000 award and is designated as the recipient of the MacCurrach Award. The MacCurrach Award is funded by the PGA Tour.

Golembeski, of New Milford, Conn., is a senior majoring in turfgrass and soil science at the University of Connecticut. Overly, who hails from Louisburg, Kan., is a senior majoring in golf course management at Kansas State University. Both of them will also receive an all-expense-paid trip to the GCSAA Education Conference (January 28-February 2) and Golf Industry Show (January 31-February 2) in Orlando.

Shane Brockhoff (Iowa State), Carole Townsend (Lake City Community College), Chris Parsons (Michigan State), Ian Gallagher (Ohio State), Meghyn Stalcup (Tarleton State), Gregory Caldwell (Virginia Tech), Christopher Skvir (Rutgers), Tyler Wenger (Michigan State), Jonathan Chase Webb (Florida) and Nathaniel Watkin (Lake City Community College) were each awarded stipends ranging from $1,250 to $2,500.

Richard Gillispie (Maryland) and Jon Cancel (California State Polytechnic-Pomona) won $500 each as Merit Winners. Luis M. Casado and Roque Buendia-Perez, international students at Michigan State, were both awarded $2,000 Ambassador Scholarships by GCSAA.

The GCSAA Scholars Program, funded by the Robert Trent Jones Endowment, was developed to recognize outstanding students planning careers in golf course management. Winners were selected to receive scholarship awards based on the final ranking in a competition judged by GCSAA's Scholarship Committee that factors academic achievement, potential to become a leading professional, employment history, extracurricular activities, the recommendation of a superintendent with whom the student has worked, and a current academic advisor.

Applicants must be enrolled in a recognized undergraduate program in a major field related to golf/turf management and be a GCSAA member. Undergraduate applicants must have successfully completed at least 24 credit hours or the equivalent of one year of full-time study in an appropriate major.

The Mendenhall Award is given in memory of the late Chet Mendenhall, a pioneer in the golf course management industry. A native of Kingman, Kan., Mendenhall's upbringing on an Oklahoma farm served him well. His career in working with the land began in 1920 as an employee of the Wichita (Kan.) Parks and Forestry Department, where he designed and built his first course despite having no previous experience with the game.

In 1928, Mendenhall accepted an invitation to become superintendent at Wichita Country Club. It was during his tenure there that Mendenhall assisted California-based golf course architect Billy Bell in designing and constructing a new course. Taken by the process, Mendenhall entered night school to learn surveying, drafting, bookkeeping and other related subjects.

He moved in 1934 to the Kansas City, Mo., area, where he served as superintendent of the Mission Hills Country Club for 31 years until his retirement in 1965. Mendenhall was a charter member of GCSAA and his service to his profession included serving as a director of the GCSAA from 1940-46, vice president in 1947 and president in 1948. He received the GCSAA's Distinguished Service Award in 1986, and in 1990 the USGA honored him with its Green Section Award. Mendenhall passed away in 1991 and was inducted into the Kansas Golf Hall of Fame in 1996.

Recognized for his expertise in the turf management field, Allan MacCurrach began his career as a superintendent at Valley Country Club in Warwick, R.I., in 1962. In 1972, he became the 45th person to receive the title of Certified Golf Course Superintendent from GCSAA. MacCurrach became the PGA Tour's first agronomist in 1974 and played a leading role in establishing a standard of excellence for course conditioning at PGA Tour events. MacCurrach was named senior agronomist in 1988 and in 1994 received the GCSAA's Distinguished Service Award. He passed away in 1997 at the age of 57.
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Reaction To Rentschler Is Natural 

By SHAWN COURCHESNE | Courant Staff Writer
September 12, 2007

STORRS - UConn athletic director Jeff Hathaway said Tuesday that Northland AEG, the company that manages state-owned Rentschler Field in East Hartford, has brought in a team of experts to help ensure the playing surface is ready for Saturday's game against Temple.

In the home opener last Saturday against Maine, there were numerous brown spots and chunks of turf flew throughout the game. UConn coach Randy Edsall expressed displeasure with the field conditions in a conference call Sunday. Hathaway said he met with stadium officials Monday and Tuesday at Rentschler.

"The bottom line, first and foremost, we want a safe field for all the student athletes are playing on the teams," Hathaway said. "Secondly, we want a field that looks the way it should look in the newest Division I-A football stadium in the country. We have shared our thoughts with the folks at the stadium. They know where we stand on it."
There were crews at the stadium Tuesday resodding sections of the field, some of which sustained additional damage Sunday during a soccer game between Costa Rica and Honduras.

Edsall says he is focused on preparing his team and has left the responsibility of dealing with field issues to Hathaway and Jon Dahlquist, the team's director of football operations.

"As a football coach, all I'm concerned about is that they get the field in the best possible shape that they can so we wouldn't incur any injury," Edsall said Tuesday.

Hathaway joked about the e-mails and messages he has received from amateur agronomists.

"I appreciate all of our fans and supporters who have sent a wide range of advice and have reminded us we need to water the field," Hathaway said. "Let me reassure you, rain or no rain, that field is well irrigated. If it was simply turning on the faucet, I would have been willing to go down there. This is not a matter of water. I've had a number of people e-mail me about grub applications. This is not grubs. This is not irrigation problems. We have something in there that got into the root system to some degree and I'm not going to get too deep into that because this isn't what I do for a living."

An individual who would not give his name answered the phone Tuesday at Championship Turf of Harwinton, which has maintained the field since the facility opened in 2003. He said the company would not comment on the problems and said all questions concerning the issue should be directed through Northland AEG. Marty Brooks, who manages the stadium for Northland AEG, was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

Hathaway said team and stadium officials will assess the game Saturday. The third of seven home games is Sept. 29 against Akron.

"We have the stadium people working with turf farms to have us prepared in case after Saturday's game we feel it needs to be resodded in its entirety," Hathaway said. "We'll make that decision after looking at it Sunday and Monday. If it needs to be resodded, [the Office of Policy and Management] is prepared to resod it.

"At the appropriate time, we'll go back and look at what was done to this field over the past three weeks to put us in the situation we found ourselves in on Saturday."

Edsall on Sunday brought up the option of installing the synthetic FieldTurf, but Hathaway didn't want to talk about going that far.

"I think FieldTurf could always be an option," Hathaway said. "It could have been an option when we put in the natural grass. I think we've had great success with the natural grass in the first four years that we played there. Obviously, the state would have some say in whether we put FieldTurf in or stay with natural grass. I'm not sure that the FieldTurf discussion today is the one that we need to have. What we need to do is get this field back in the best shape possible."

Lansanah Nursing Ankle

Senior middle linebacker Danny Lansanah, who left the 38-0 victory over Maine late in the third quarter with a right ankle injury, said he expects to play this week.

"Just walking on it now, it's strong. It doesn't bother me that much. It just bothers me when I wake up in the morning," Lansanah said. "I feel like if I just sit out another day or so and get it stronger and keep rehabbing it, I should be fine.

"I want to play. I want to be out there. I'm the quarterback of the defense, the leader of the defense. Me being out, I think the defense would take a big hit because I take a lot of pride in [what I do] and the other guys look up to me. I feel like I've got to be out there regardless."

Contact Shawn Courchesne at


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In The Field: August 6, 2007 

After a relatively easy summer so far, the last two weeks have shown many turfgrass managers why this is such a stressful profession. A number of turfgrass disease samples were brought into the diagnostic lab in the past few days. In almost every case, the problem appears to be less related to disease issues (although Pythium may be present) and more an indication of the poor growing conditions on individual greens. The general thinning experienced throughout the region is almost always prevalent on push-up putting greens grown in areas with poor morning sunlight and limited air movement. To exacerbate the problem, drainage is limited to old aerification holes filled with sand, but no internal drainage. As you can imagine, this combination is a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, although poor growing conditions are the obvious cause of the problem, golf course superintendents are given little help in correcting the underlying problems. Thus, the problems will continue to be seen in subsequent years. Below are a few things that will likely assist in improving the overall health of putting greens grown in a poor growing environment.

The most obvious solution is to improve the growing environment by improving air movement and sunlight penetration. This is often accomplished by selectively removing problematic trees and underbrush surrounding pocketed greens. While this is often the most controversial solution, it is one of the quickest and easiest ways to improve chronic problems with pocketed putting greens. In addition to tree removal, the addition of portable fans can drastically improve air circulation. It is important to note that these fans need to be as large and as close to the putting surface as possible. Although seen as a distraction by some golfers, the ability to putt on healthy greens usually wins out when compared to putting on dirt. Finally, another factor is the poor drainage on putting greens. In a recent Tee to Green article, I mentioned some of the problems associated with push-up greens in the Northeast. Although topdressing has resulted in a buildup of sand and improved infiltration, the lack of internal drainage leaves the water at the soil-sand interface and limits its movement from the putting green. Various companies now offer a quick solution to the problem by installing internal drainage in older greens with little to no disruption to the putting surface. Taking action this year by removing problematic trees, improving air circulation and installing internal drainage should quickly result in a more durable and healthier putting surface.
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