Sunday, November 11, 2018

Daring to Belong

"Daring to Belong" is the title of my Presidents Message in the November issue of Golf Course Management. It begins with:  

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” 
— Theodore Roosevelt 
Recently I read the book, "Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the way we Live, Love, Parent, and Lead."   The remainder of the message can be found here: "Daring to Belong"

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Eating a Frog and Eliminating Procrastination

"Eating a Frog and Eliminating Procrastination" is the title of my Presidents Message in the October issue of Golf Course Management. It begins with:

"Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day."

I am confident that I'm not the only one to feel this way, but I've often felt slightly over whelmed by having to much to do and not enough time to do it. At times, it seems the harder I work to get caught up, the faster new tasks and responsibilities are added. The remainder of the message can be found here: "Eating a Frog and Eliminating Procrastination"

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Embracing the T.E.A.M Concept

"Embracing the T.E.A.M. Concept" is the title of my Presidents Message in the September issue of Golf Course Management. It begins with: 

Whether by coincidence, destiny or fate, I believe in the power of chance encounters. And last November, I experienced one of these encounters that ultimately set me on a path to reinforcing what I thought about establishing and being a part of a team.

The remainder of the message can be found here: "Embracing the T.E.A.M. Concept"

Saturday, August 25, 2018

It's Time to Toot Your Own Horn

"It's Time to Toot Your Own Horn" is the title of my Presidents Message in the August issue of Golf Course Management.  It begins with: 

When I was 10 years old, I played on my local peewee football team. “Play” is a loose definition for what I did, because I spent most of my time warming the bench, and by the end of the season, I was quite disenchanted.  My father could sense my frustration, so following another game in which I sat more than I played, he pulled me aside and told me a fable that has stuck with me to this day

The remainder of the message can be found here: "It's Time to Toot Your Own Horn"

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Strengthening the Lines of Communication

"Strengthening the Lines of Communication" is the title of my Presidents Message in the July issue of Golf Course Management.  It begins with:

The value and benefits of effective communications are something that I have championed throughout my career in golf course management. I'm fond of saying, "You can never over-communicate, but you can certainly under-communicate," and that expectation is something that I've instilled in my staff at Olde Florida Golf Club, and its advice I've given others in the industry when asked about how best to communicate with golfers.

The message continues with a recount of an incident that occurred early in my days at Olde Florida that helped shape my current beliefs on the importance of communications for golf course superintendents.

The remainder of the message can be found here: "Strengthening the Lines of Communication."

Friday, July 6, 2018

Still Sowing the Seeds of Knowledge

"Still Sowing the Seeds of Knowledge" is the title of my Presidents Message in the June issue of Golf Course Management. It begins with: 

“The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next generation.” 

I wholeheartedly believe in this sentiment, and I have used this quote on numerous occasions. While I and others have attributed it to Abraham Lincoln, its author is unknown. Regardless of its origin, I believe that, as it relates to our industry, educating the leaders of tomorrow will reap dividends for the future of golf course management.

The remainder of the message can be found here: "Still Sowing the Seeds of Knowledge."

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Value of a Slice of "Duich Pie"

"The Value of a Slice of Duich Pie" is the title of my Presidents Message in the May issue of Golf Course Management.  It begins with:

In order to thrive both personally and professionally, being a “team player” and having good interpersonal skills is essential. Very few succeed without possessing the ability to work effectively with others.

I learned this concept early in life through my involvement in team sports. It’s been re-inforced throughout my career, but the lesson that stands out most about the importance of interpersonal skills came from one of my mentors, the late Joseph M. Duich, Ph.D., professor emeritus at Penn State University... 

The remainder of the message can be found here: "The Value of a Slice of Duich Pie"

Friday, June 1, 2018

Cultural Practices at Olde Florida Golf Club

The first of five closed weeks, which occur every summer at Olde Florida Golf Club is coming to an end. The closures are vital so the agronomy staff can perform the necessary and beneficial cultural practices of aerification, vertical mowing and sand topdressing. Even with the above average rainfall, it was an extremely productive week!

All areas of the golf course (greens, tees, fairways and rough) were aerified. Aerification is the mechanical process of removing a core, creating air space in the soil, which promotes a healthy rooting system. 

Turfgrass on a golf course endures significant stress and compaction from golf play and equipment traffic. Aerification brings a resurgence of growth and helps to keep turfgrass durable during stressful conditions. Aerification is vital to maintaining a healthy stand of turfgrass and failure to perform sufficient aerification often results in poorly drained soil, thin turfgrass stands, and problems with disease and insects. Below is aerial footage of fairway and rough aerification this week at Olde Florida. 

The core that is removed during the aerification process contains a significant amount of "thatch". Thatch is a loose intermingled layer of dead and living shoots and stems that develops between the turfgrass and the soil. It’s usually made up of the harder to decompose parts of the turfgrass plant. Thatch can be beneficial... and detremintal. The detrmining factor is the amount and composition of the thatch. For example, a thin layer of thatch provides insulation against temperature extremes and fluctuations in soil moisture. Thatch also provides the much-needed resiliency of the playing surface. However, excessive thatch causes numerous problems including a “puffy” or “spongey” playing surface, poor rooting, scalping and pest problems. Thatch build-up occurs when turfgrass produces organic debris faster than it can be broken down. Aerification and topdressing are vital in the management/reduction of thatch.

Removing Aerification Cores #1 Green

Fairway Aerification #1

Topdressing Practice Green

Topdressing Practice Green 

The fairways at Olde Florida Golf Club were also vertical mowed this week. A vertical mower, also known as a “verticutter" has a series of revolving blades that cut into the surface of the turfgrass. The vertical mowing on the fairways "cuts and lifts" the lateral growing parts of the bermudagrass (stolons and rhizomes). It is an important process that reduce “graininess” and promotes an upright growth habit.

Fairway Vertical Mowing #1

Fairway Vertical Mowing #1

Monday, May 7, 2018

The 11th Annual National Golf Day

On April 25th I attended the 11th annual National Golf Day in Washington DC. It was my seventh time attending the event, which is coordinated by We Are Golf. We Are Golf was created in 2009 as an advocacy initiative designed to communicate to members of Congress and other federal policy makers the significant impact of golf on the nations economy and way of life. The ultimate objective is to ensure that laws and regulations impacting the golf industry are appropriate to an $84 billion dollar industry, which impacts close to 2 million American jobs and generates nearly $4 billion annually in charitable giving.

The We Are Golf coalition is managed by a board of directors comprised of a representative of the Club Managers Assocaition of America, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, the National Golf Course Owners Association, The PGA of America, the PGA Tour, the United States Golf Association, The U.S. Golf Manufactures Council and the World Golf Foundation.

At this years National Golf Day, the 2nd annual community service project was also held. The focus was on the beautification and preservation of the National Mall. This years project saved the National Park Service approximately $30,000 in contracting costs.

Darren (second from the right) mowing the National Mall
A first for the event, this years attendees were provided an informative and entertaining keynote presenattion by FOX Chief Political Anchor, Bret Baier. Baier provided an insiders perspective on the current political climate on Capitol Hill.

Darren with FOX Chief Political Anchor Bret Baier 

My congressional meeting schedule this year included appointments in the offices of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, Congressman Francis Rooney, Congressman Ted Deutch and Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart. The message I provided was, since its emergence as a spectator sport in the 1920's, the game of golf has provided recreation and enjoyment for millions of Americans. But, it is much more than a game, it is a major contributor to the American economy. Beyond its entertainment value, golf courses are small businesses that generate jobs, commerce, economic development, and tax revenues in communities across the country. Golf brings visitors to states, drives new construction and residential development, generates retail sales and creates demand for a myriad of goods and services. And, although Olde Florida Golf Club is a private club I also informed those I met with that of the over 15,000 golf courses in the U.S., more than 10,000 were open to the public. Furthermore, 8 out of 10 golfers play public golf courses with a median green fee of $38. In addition to the business aspects of golf, I also detailed the numerous positive environmental attributes of golf courses and touched on the health and social benefits of the game.

Darren with U.S. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart. Diaz-Balart represents a large portion of Collier County, including Olde Florida Golf Club 

Friday, April 20, 2018

Olde Florida Golf Club "Gives a Hoot"

50-75 species of birds make Olde Florida Golf Club either their seasonal or year-round home. With the combination of 95 acres of turfgrass, 30 acres of lakes, and 90 acres of upland and wetland forest, the terrain on our property provides terrific habitat for both migratory and non-migratory species. 

Although significant natural habitat and nesting structure is available, two species we try to attract and assist in nesting are Purple Martins and Screech Owls. Recently I wrote a blog entry "Olde Florida Golf Club is for the birds" , which detailed our efforts to attract Purple Martins to Olde Florida, and this entry, Olde Florida Golf Club "Gives a Hoot", will provide insight on our successful Screech Owl nesting program. 

The Screech Owl is widespread and fairly common, but thought to have been gradually declining. However, the decrease has been helped in some areas by the installation of nest boxes. Screech Owl’s are a robin-sized night bird. They are common in city parks and suburbs, where many human residents are often unaware they have an owl for a neighbor. The owl spends the day roosting in holes, nesting boxes or in dense cover and become active at dusk. Despite the name, Screech Owl’s do not screech. The voice of this species features whinnies and soft trills. 

The Screech Owl hunts at night by watching from a perch and swooping down to take its prey. It can also catch flying insects, which it locates by sound as well as sight. The female Screech Owl generally lays between 4-5 eggs annually and the incubation period is about 26 days. Fledglings leave the nest about 4 weeks after hatching. 

Screech Owl Fledglings on #17, April 20, 2018

Screech Owl Fledglings on #17, April 20, 2018
Since 2014, each year all four of the installed Screech Owl boxes have been utilized to fledge young, and this year is no exception. As of this morning, three of the four boxes have two fledglings each, and in the fourth, the female Screech Owl was on top of her eggs. 

Screech Owl with Fledglings at the Clubhouse, April, 20 2018 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Golf Course Management Industry is at a Crossroad

Matthew Klein, Assistant Golf Course Superintendent, myself and Andy Polzin, Assistant Golf Course Superintendent, Olde Florida Golf Club   
Throughout my career I have strived to surround myself with quality people and practice good delegation skills, and in my 25-year tenure at Olde Florida, I have been blessed with numerous talented assistant golf course superintendents. My current assistants Matthew Klein and Andy Polzin are no exception and I am fortunate to have them on my team. Unfortunately, through no fault of their own, many of my peers around the country are not as fortunate.

Skilled labor has become a challenge, and this has the golf course management profession at a crossroad. During my travels around the country as a representative of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), I've heard numerous stories about labor shortages, in particular the challenge of finding motivated and qualified assistant superintendents. And while I don’t claim to have all the answers to the complex societal and generational issues at play, I believe it is up to all of us — the GCSAA, individual superintendents and the golf industry as a whole to take the initiative to introduce young people to this great profession. Furthermore, it is my hope that, once introduced to the industry, many will become as enamored as I was when I stumbled on the profession and they will want to make it a career.

My presidents message in the April issue of Golf Course Management provides more detail on this subject. 

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Katrek and Maginnes on Tap

Brian Katrek and John Maginnes chat about everything in the world of golf on XM Channel 92 and Sirius 208. They debate topics, take calls from listeners and discuss the events of the day with players, professionals, and media members. 

Recently Brian and John interviewed me to ask about my role with the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and my position at Olde Florida Golf Club. 

Darren’s Interview on Katrek & Maginnes on Tap

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Olde Florida Golf Club is "For the Birds" ... Literally, not Figuratively

Five years ago, at the start of the 2013 winter golf season, we installed a Purple Martin house at Olde Florida Golf Club. The house was located behind #2 championship tee next to the lake that separates holes two and ten. In our first winter with the house, we successfully fledged three Purple Martins. In 2014, the house was field to capacity and over a dozen Purple Martins were fledged. Therefore, prior to the 2015 season we added an additional house.  
One of the two Purple Martin houses behind #2 tee
Purple Martins migrate each winter to South America. However, they remain incredibly faithful to their colony (nesting) sites each year, often returning to the United States about the same date. This has been the case at Olde Florida with both houses being fully utilized each year. 
Purple Martins are quite friendly and prefer to nest in close proximity to people, which make golf courses a perfect location for the bird! Interestingly, Purple Martins are the only bird species that is totally dependent on human supplied nest boxes. Qualities that make the martins desirable are they nest in colonies and have fascinating social behavior. Their vocalizations are also quite beautiful, they are extremely graceful in flight and they consume vast quantities of insects.

The Purple Martin houses at Olde Florida are lowered for the summer to avoid damage from strong winds. 

Friday, March 9, 2018

"Passion Play" Golf Course Management, March 2018

It's truly humbling to have been elected the 82nd President of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA).

It's a tradition that the cover story in the March issue of Golf Course Management be on the incoming President. This is a link to the story: "Passion Play."

Cover photo shot on the practice green 
Montana Pritchard, who is based in West Palm Beach, Florida shot the photos on November 16.

Below are a few that were not selected.
Mr. Kukk, Club President and I

Inside my office at the golf course operations facility 

On hole 12 with Matthew Klein, one of my assistants

Friday, February 2, 2018

USGA Specification Greens at Olde Florida Golf Club

In 1992 we constructed the greens at Olde Florida Golf Club to specifications established by the United States Golf Association (USGA). Although we resurfaced the greens in 2000 to a new grass variety, TifEagle, the original subsurface was not changed.

#2 green at Olde Florida Golf Club, January 2018

The greens at Olde Florida are still performing well today. This link will provide you with an understanding of the USGA construction method.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Hurricane Irma Still Creating Challenges at Olde Florida

Last week, with the assistance of an outside contractor, we removed several dozen dead pine trees at Olde Florida. The pine trees died as a result of damage sustained from Hurricane Irma. When Irma moved through Southwest Florida on the evening of Sunday, September 10th, her powerful winds broke off numerous large branches, snapped trunks and shifted trees, disturbing the root system. 

When a pine tree receives severe physical damage it becomes extremely susceptible to pine bark beetles and borers. The insects usually enter the tree at eye level and above, and once they infect the tree, tiny holes, dribbles of sap or little dried mounds of sap can be seen on the bark. 

Pine Bark Beetle/Borer Damage on a Pine Tree at Olde Florida 

Pine Bark Beetle/Borer Damage on a Pine Tree at Olde Florida 
The pine bark beetles and borers rapidly attack weakened trees killing them. When this happens, it is best to remove the infested tree(s) quickly so the insects do not move to nearby trees. The dead trees can also pose a safety hazard for golfers. 

Once the insects attack a tree there is nothing that can be done, but on healthy trees, bark sprays with an insecticide can reduce the incidence of attack. My staff has, and will continue making bark sprays on specimen pine trees that border our golf holes. Unfortunately, we will probably lose a few more trees at Olde Florida, but I am hopeful that the worst is behind us. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Darren J. Davis, Candidate for President of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America

It has been an honor and a privilege to serve on the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) Board of Directors since 2012.

GCSAA is the professional association for the men and women who manage and maintain the game’s most valuable resource - the golf course. Since 1926, with a focus on golf course management, GCSAA has been the industry's top professional association. It provides education, information and representation to its nearly 18,000 members in more than 72 countries. 

Today, I find myself humbled at the thought of becoming the 82nd President of the GCSAA. The following is a link to my Candidate video and a Questionnaire  that provides some background information. 

The mission of GCSAA is to serve its members, advance the profession and enhance the enjoyment, growth and vitality of the game. I embrace this mission and I look forward to continuing my service to GCSAA members, promoting the profession, and with help from our allied associations, help grow the game of golf.