Monday, February 06, 2012

Exclusive: PGA, Mangum Recant Brush Damage Statements Made During 2011 PGA Championship

Mangum addresses the media during the 2011 PGA Championship.

If the glove does not fit, you must acquit.

Or, in this case, if you can’t prove the brush did the damage, you must take it back.

That’s what has been determined by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, Delta Division. In a stipulation of dismissal filed by the court on February 1st, 2012, in a case of greens brush manufacturer GreensPerfection Inc. versus Atlanta Athletic Club, Ken Mangum, CGCS and the PGA of America, it was declared that the defendants “never determined and never intended to say that GreensPerfection brushes caused damage to any putting greens at the Atlanta Athletic Club in August 2011.”

That’s an about-face from what was stated at the PGA Championship, in both a press release and on live TV. In a press release issued by the PGA of America concerning the damage, it stated that, “damage is believed to be the result of a significant rise in the dew point at approximately 7:00 p.m., which caused the brushes on the mowers on those greens to stick in the grass and damage the turf.” In a live press conference broadcast on the Golf Channel on August 11th, 2011, Ken Mangum, CGCS, director of golf course and grounds, echoed that sentiment, saying, “the only answer I could come up with was that the humidity changed and the brush grabbed and dug into the green and caused the problem.”

But Rodney Lingle, CGCS at Memphis CC and owner of GreensPerfection Inc., manufacturer of the brush being used at Atlanta Athletic Club, refused to believe that his brushes could have caused such damage. In a statement sent exclusively to Golfdom, Lingle states, “After the statements made at the 93rd PGA Championship, we felt a responsibility to our current customer’s concerns, as well as potential customers, to make sure they knew our product was safe and effective. GreensPerfection brushes are incapable of damaging any greens in the way represented by the defendants,” the statement reads. “According to the official court document, the defendants never determined that GreensPerfection brushes caused damage to any putting greens at the Atlanta Athletic Club and the brushes are still in use at The Atlanta Athletic Club and have been since the PGA Championship.”

The statement goes on to say that the brushes have been used safely and effectively for over 2 years by more than 200 golf courses across the United States with success on greens with all types of grasses including Poa Annua, Bentgrass, Bermuda, Zoysia and Paspalum. The brushes were extensively tested for 2 years with no failures and in all type of climatic conditions, before ever being sold to the golf course industry.

“Unfortunately, we had no other recourse than legal means, as we reached out repeatedly to the defendants during, as well as after, the 93rd PGA Championship and received no corrections to the statements they made,” the statement concludes before thanking superintendents for their support.

But is the damage to GreensPerfection's name already done despite the stipulation of dismissal issued by the court? According to brand marketing specialist Ann Stephenson, CEO of Stephenson Group PR, and her 20 years of experience, GreensPerfection has little to worry about. “There will be some damage control that the company will have to do, but it will be minimal,” she said. “This isn’t a huge hit. If the company comes out with a strong statement, they’ll put it behind them.”

Mangum and the Atlanta Athletic Club declined comment on the issue. A representative for the PGA of America could not be reached.

And what about the other culprit originally implicated in the greens damage? As of press time, the dew point could not be reached for comment.


Anonymous said...

Finally the other side of the story is told. Live by the spin-- Die by spin. If you don't know you had better find out before you go on National Television.

Anonymous said...

I am glad that Greensperfection finally got their chance to prove their point. If the brushes did the damage, then why did the AAC start back using them right after the Tournament? I have been using their brushes and have had no problems at all and they are great at reducing grain and improving the texture. The brushes are 5 times safer than steel groomers. I also have been managing Champion Bermuda greens for 12 years now and have seen this exact injury on my greens and others that have Ultradwarf Bermuda and this was long before these brushes were ever on the market. It is nothing new and is caused by very low mowing and the Bedknife gouging the greens surface. Superintendents that actually understand this, refer to it as "Catching an edge" or hanging an edge. If you don't believe me, you should contact the JRM Bedknife Company and ask them. They actually make extended(wider) bedknives for John Deere mowers that are very popular amoung many superintendents for helping prevent this same type of damage. During the summer when we mow very low, we have found that grinding the leading edge on the very thinnest bedknive we can purchase to .030 inch thickness will all but eleminate the problem. These bedknife gouges occur 90 percent of the time on the outside edge of the greens (just like Atlanta) when the operators turn and drop their mowers back onto the green. When the mower is lowered onto the green there is always a slight compression of the cutting unit into the turf canopy due to the weight of the mowing unit. If the mower hits the green in a thick spot or the bedknive is not thin enough, it will not have enough clearance and it can gouge into the soil of the greens and act much like a sod cutter. I have seen this with the exact same cutting units that the AAC uses and have talked with many service technicians that have also seen this. This is why the JRM Bedknife has become a popular replacement for the standard John Deere Bedknife. The Dew point excuse was an embarassment and an insult to anyone that calls themself an Agronomist. Do you homework and ask around before you start using Voodoo science to excuse away your mistakes. Most people do not know that Mr. Lingle(Maker of the Brushes) along with some of the USGA agronomist, annually host a Field Day seminar in which he freely instructs others on his techniques for Ultradwarf management. The year I attended, I was able to learn a tremendous amount and it help me improve my greens dramatically. I also know that he hosted Mr. Ken Mangum during the summer of 2007 and freely showed him all his management practices. I manage a lower budget club and have been very fortunate to recieve free help from Mr. Lingle for several years and I have first hand knowledge that he has helped many others also. The moral of the story is-- If you screw up just blame it on the DEW Point. After all, it seems there were many people who drank the Cool Aid.