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/ / / The Approach: Volume 1, Issue 4

The Approach: Volume 1, Issue 4

Man operating golf equipment with The Approach logo on the left hand side

Volunteers at TPC Sawgrass

No Rain Delay at TPC Sawgrass


The 170 volunteers, staff and temporary workers who helped get the TPC® Sawgrass Stadium Course in shape for this year's competition knew what they were in for when they couldn't get to one of the most famous holes in golf without getting wet. With professionals arriving in a few days, the bridge to the 17th hole island green was partially submerged thanks to storms Thursday through Saturday night that dumped 10 inches of rain on the course.


Director of Golf Course Maintenance Operations, Tom Vlach told the Golf Channel that his team was pumping 95,000 gallons of water a minute out of the rain-swollen lakes.


The rain "brought everything to a standstill," said Lucas Andrews, superintendent at Dyes Valley at TPC Sawgrass. "Every bunker needed attention. We put about 200 tons of sand back in the bunkers."


By Sunday, greens and fairways were drying, debris was being removed and equipment was rolling. "Without the volunteers, it’s not going to happen," said Mark Sanford, head equipment manager. "We just don’t have enough guys on our staff to get it done."


Parker Bolt, a volunteer from Auburn University, summed up many of his fellow volunteers' sentiments: "It's a great experience," he said. "My back's a little sore though, you know they put us to work. You learn a lot."


John Deere, which sponsored the volunteer program, also provided extra mowers and Gators to help get the course ready for play.


"Without John Deere's support of the TOUR and TPC's volunteer program this year, we wouldn't have been able to pull this off," said Clay Breazeale, superintendent at THE PLAYERS Stadium Course. "We would have been delayed by days."


It was such a transformation, many players were shocked at the job done by the staff and volunteers.


"I came down on Sunday and was really impressed by the course conditions," 2012 champion Matt Kuchar told the PGA TOUR's TOUR Report. "Everything was dry, the balls were getting a little bit of roll on the fairway, which I did not expect at all. I had brought down rain pants and waterproof shoes figuring I was just going to be slopping around in the mud. But the course is fantastic. They've done a great job, what they did with doing all the drainage work, so it really looks good out there."


For a behind-the-scenes look at how the volunteers and staff pulled off such a feat, check out the videos on the TPC Sawgrass Agronomy site.

Green Start Academy

Calling All Golf Course Assistant Superintendents


Assistant superintendents can apply to be one of 50 participants selected to attend this year's Green Start Academy (GSA), which will be held Oct. 2-4 at the Bayer Development and Training Center in Clayton, NC, and John Deere’s Turf Care factory in Fuquay-Varina, NC.


Sponsored by John Deere Golf and Environmental Science, a division of Bayer CropScience LP, GSA gives attendees the opportunity to network with peers, absorb best practices from industry leaders and gain insights into key issues they can take back to their courses. To be considered for GSA, assistant superintendents from the United States or Canada must complete an application, which includes submitting a resume and answering two short essay questions.


A panel will judge the essays and determine who will be invited to attend. Panel members include:

  • Chris Condon, golf course superintendent, Tetherow Golf Club
  • Bob Farren, grounds and golf course manager, Pinehurst Resort
  • Patrick Finlen, director of golf maintenance operations, The Olympic Club
  • Ken Mangum, director of golf course and grounds, Atlanta Athletic Club
  • Bryan Stromme, regional director of agronomy – Midwest, Billy Casper Golf



"From the moment GSA attendees arrive, they're immersed in an environment to learn, network and advance their careers," said Mark Ford, marketing manager, John Deere Golf. "At John Deere Golf, we’re committed to providing educational events for the development of turf care professionals and the growth of the larger golf industry."


For more information and to apply, assistant superintendents should visit www.backedbybayer.com/golf-course-management/green-start-application. The deadline for applications is June 28.

Answer Center

Got Questions? John Deere has an Answer Center


Have you ever wondered which bedknife to use for a particular application, or the minimum diameter of your reel cutting unit? Answers to these questions and many more are available online at the John Deere Answer Center.


"If a customer bought John Deere equipment and has a question, he can ask his dealer, call our 800 number, or visit the Answer Center," says Jim Falcone, worldwide manager of Product Support for John Deere’s Commercial Mowing and Golf Products. "For repairs, customers should call their dealers who have specialized training. The Answer Center is there to help with operational and maintenance tips."


Dave Anderson, worldwide product support representative for John Deere golf products, worked at John Deere dealerships for 17 years before joining the Product Support team. He’s familiar with the common questions dealers are asked, which is one way the Answer Center is populated with information.


"For example, the minimum reel diameter and bed knife specifications are something we used to get questioned on a lot," he says. "So we created charts that answer those questions in the Answer Center."


Some of the most popular searches in the Answer Center involve how to perform preventative maintenance and optimize equipment. As a result, the Product Support team has loaded optimization guides into the Answer Center for all of John Deere golf’s major equipment models. To find them, customers can simply search for their model number. No registration is required to find answers on the site.


"The optimization guides help customers tweak their machines for the best performance," Anderson says. "They also include preventative maintenance tips to avoid downtime associated with repairs."


To create the guides and other information in the Answer Center, the Product Support team draws on its background, as well as the extended knowledge from the entire John Deere organization — from engineering to marketing. "We can pull from many different pools of information," Anderson says. "There’s a constant back-and-forth between us and the factory."


If a customer's question isn’t already available in the Answer Center, he can register and submit the question to John Deere. Ed Kennedy's team takes it from there. Kennedy is manager of John Deere’s Ag and Turf Customer Contact Center. His team answers about 1,000 customer-submitted questions per month during the busy spring season, which is about double the normal volume.


"Our goal is to reply back in one to two business days," he says. "The more information they supply, such as specific models and complete descriptions of their issues, the better we are able to answer them."


Answers to common questions are added to the Answer Center so that other customers can access the information any time of day, any day of the week.


To try the Answer Center, visit https://groundscare.custhelp.com and type in your John Deere equipment’s model number.

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