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David Phipps

Northwest regional representative

A former superintendent, David spent more than 20 years in the golf course management industry before joining the GCSAA staff. He resides in Oregon City, Ore.
Tel. 800-472-7878, ext. 3608.

Field staff report

Highlights from my May travels

by Dave Phipps | May 26, 2023

The month of May started with nothing less than the celebration of Enzo's 13th birthday on the 2nd. Tracy and I lost our last dog, Ryder at the age of 10, so every year after 10 for a pup is a blessing worth celebrating. Of course, Enzo was spoiled with lots of toys and treats!

The 4th was the Western Washington Annual Fivesome Tournament. This year it was held at Meridian Valley Country Club hosted by superintendent Craig Benson. This was the second year in a row I had the pleasure of playing with Rene Geyer, her pro, general manager and retired USGA agronomist Larry Gilhuly. Need I say more? It was a great time for all and a great fundraiser for the WWGCSA!

Congratulations, once again to Steve Kealy's team from Glendale Country Club, I believe this will be the tenth time he will etch his name on the trophy. 

On Sunday, May 7, I headed out for Colorado, much to Enzo's chagrin, for the RMGCSA Western Slope meeting at Iron Bridge Golf Club in Glenwood Springs. The education portion of the meeting was outstanding and very relevant to today's climate, Wildfire Preparation for the Golf Course Facilities, and was presented by the US Forest Service. It got me thinking that in some states, we should add Wildfire Preparation to their state BMP manuals.

The event was hosted by superintendent Ryan Richardson, Andrew Tenholder, Tyler Oglesby, and Head Pro Chad Hansen. They all put on a great event and even brought out the great weather, which was my first round in the sunshine for the year! I had a great time with John Feeney, Mark Krick, CGCS, and Jason Hinkley.

While I was in Colorado, the timing coincided perfectly for me to attend a couple of First Green events in the City of Westminster. Superintendents Tim Davis and Paul Sibley orchestrated back-to-back events for a couple of local fifth-grade classes. Paul hosted the first field trip at The Walnut Creek Golf Preserve and then Tim hosted day two at The Legacy Ridge Golf Course. They both enlisted their employees to help out with both events, including Anne Gundrum, a naturalist from the City of Westminster who gave the kids an up-close look at some of the native critters that can be found on the golf course.

After returning from Colorado, I hopped in a car and drove four hours down to Bandon Dunes to visit with the Director of Golf Maintenance, Ken Nice, and Pacific Dunes superintendent Jeff Southerland. It had been a while since I have touched base with them so it was great to catch up. I was also able to deliver a condolence card to Michael Breuer who just lost his son, Grady. 

Ken took me out to see the new par-3 course under construction at the resort. Having been able to be a part of the construction of a golf course, this was great to see. It's a whole new world in terms of shaping when you are working with 100% beach sand. It's truly an art and it was great to finally meet one of Bandon's artists/shaper Tony Russell. Tony began shaping at the original Bandon Dunes Golf Course and has now made an internationally known name for himself.

Jeff took me out on a quick tour of Pacific Dunes and like always, I was awestruck by the beauty of the landscape. As painfully nasty as gorse can be, it is certainly beautiful when it's blooming. Many of the native grassy areas were also blooming. Pictured below are probably the nicest camas meadows I have ever seen! 

Following the Colorado and Bandon trips, I had a week to get caught up before I headed down to Salt Lake City for the Utah GCSA's Spring Meeting.

For my trip to Utah, I decided to fly out early and fly home late so I could get in some site visits and spend some extra time with members. I took the 5:35 a.m. flight to Salt Lake on Monday which gave me most of the day for site visits. My first stop was at Schneiter's Riverside Golf Course for a visit with Jake Schneiter. Jake gave me a great tour of the golf course and gave me the history of the property, beginning as a dairy to when his grandfather built the golf course. The Weber River, which normally looks like a creek was in full run-off mode. The record snowpack is melting and the creeks are at their banks, as shown in the photo below. One other thing that stood out to me was the number of dead or dying spruce trees. Jake said that the spruce beetle is to blame. It's very difficult to contain; right now, it's just a matter of cutting them down. 

My next stop was just down the road at Hubbard Golf Course at Hill Airforce Base. After getting my picture taken and a background check, I was able to drive onto the base and go visit the golf course. Superintendent Jason Moon met me at his shop at then took me out to see the golf course. I was just a little distracted while the F-35s were buzzing all around.

Watch the F-35 YouTube clip HERE.

Like Schneiter's Riverside, Hubbard has also been hit pretty hard by the spruce beetle. Jason says he's already taken over 100 trees out and there are so much more to go. Depending on what camp you are from, losing a few spruce trees can't be all that bad...

I finished my day of site visits with Justin Woodland at The Barn Golf Course. Justin told me that if I wanted to visit, I would have to help him fertilize his greens by tending the flag sticks. Sometimes you do what you have to do to make time for a good site visit! 

The Utah GCSA Spring Meeting was held at Lakeside Golf Course in West Bountiful, Utah. Superintendent and chapter president Josh Virostko hosted the event. The education was excellent, a speaker from Utah State presented on pesticide safety, something that we all should be reviewing each year. 

It was a scramble event and I had a blast with Cary Brown, Daryl Dinkel and Brian Cloud. Also appearing in the photo below, is Dana Woodland, who has recently taken a position with Turf Equipment & Irrigation, the local Toro distributor. 

I concluded the month of May at the Oregon GCSA Annual Meeting. The meeting returned to the McMenamins Pub Course by popular demand. At the business meeting the by-laws were updated to include the EM classification then awards and scholarships were handed out. Pat Finland, CGCS, provided the education as the keynote speaker. The event concluded with an enjoyable round of golf at the 20-hole Pub Course.  

Chuck Wolsborn receives the Richard Malpass Distinguished Service Award and Kathy Hauff received the Superintendent of the Year Award. Both were very deserving recipients! 

Final selfies of the month, Andrew Mattison from Mattison Turf Works and host superintendent Curt Morgan

Oregon State's Power Couple of Turfgrass, Chas Schmid Ph.D., and Emily Braithwaite

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