Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The goodness that is Golf Day (2 of 3)

National Golf Day 2011 Report
Part 2 (of 3)
By Tim Connolly, assistant superintendent, TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm

Everyone knows golf is big in Florida. “We employ 167,000 people, about a $4.5 billion direct economic impact,” said GCSAA President Robert Randquist (pictured, center, along with Rafael Barajas, left, and Rhett Evans, right), director of golf course and grounds at Boca Rio Golf Club in Boca Raton. “So for us to get that message across to our local representatives is very important.” Randquist, just 2 months into his term, shared his thoughts regarding a relevant federal law and its effect on superintendents. “NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) is a major concern for us, we’d like to see that put back in the jurisdiction of the different legislation that we’ve been under for years, so that’s a real key point for us.”

For Jon Lobenstine, Director of Agronomy for Montgomery County Golf and superintendent at Falls Road Golf Course in Potomac Md., having NPDES on the horizon is not good. The NPDES is a part of the Clean Water Act. For over 30 years, superintendents have applied pesticides under the umbrella of FIFRA (Federal, Insect, Fungicide, Rodenticide Act). Wording in NPDES trumps FIFRA. “The NPDES is going to make it difficult for a property with a certain amount of acreage of water. It will require extra paperwork per application simply because there’s a body of water on your property. The legislation is redundant because you’re already filling out application records to satisfy state laws. It’s extra work for superintendents that are already doing a responsible job managing their properties.” A House Resolution to amend FIFRA and prevent additional permits under the Clean Water Act has passed the House but has stalled in the Senate.

Before coming to Montgomery County Golf seven years ago, Lobenstine worked for Dean Graves at nearby Chevy Chase Club. Graves is the recipient of the 2011 GCSAA President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship. Working for Graves opened his eyes to the importance of being a voice for the profession. “You realize what these people do and you just feel like you want to give back. I enjoy being involved with stuff like this.” Lobenstine’s main goal for the day in Washington was “to help reverse the negative stereotype that golf courses have, as far as the environment. You know, anytime you see a lush green golf course, people think it’s over-watered and over-fertilized. And it’s really the opposite. We’re spoon-feeding nutrients, we’re hand-watering. We’re using less everywhere. I think just getting that word out is pretty big.”

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