Respected golf industry legend Bill Bengeyfield passed away at the age of 97 on June 3rd. Bill worked in the golf industry for 35 years. He started in 1955 with the USGA Green Section, where he worked as an agronomist, before leaving to become Director of Golf Courses and Park Maintenance at Industry Hills Golf Club in 1978. In 1982, Bill returned to The Green Section, serving as the National Director until his retirement in 1990.
Many people remember Bill for more than the legacy he left behind, but for being a mentor, and helping to guide the agronomy industry to where it is today. Kimberly Erusha, who works as the Managing Director of the Green Section, remembers Mr. Bengeyfield as a strong leader with “loud opinions” who wanted to ensure all work being done was doing right by the game of golf. “He was a staunch supporter of the USGA’s research program to ensure that the information provided through the Turf Advisory Service (now called the Course Consulting Service) was based in science.”
Off the course, Bengeyfield was a gifted writer who worked as the Publications Editor for the Green Section Record for almost two decades. Erusha spoke highly of Bengeyfield’s writing and the esteem it has in staff members’ minds, “He himself was a prolific writer who had a gift of the pen to craft a clear and compelling message. Internally, rumor has it his staff memos were legendary.”
Mr. Bengeyfield’s much discussed memos were not fiction, as USGA Green Section’s former West Region Regional Director Pat Gross confirmed coming across many of them while working at USGA. Gross echoed Erusha’s sentiments about Bengeyfield’s talent for writing, and finding find the famous memos throughout their files. “Our files were filled with his peppery memos (most of which I still have…). Legendary! I always admired his leadership, his writing, and most of all his candor.”
Gross went on to describe one of his fondest memories of Bengeyfield, that not only shows a more playful side to his personality, but that his agronomy knowledge was literally down to a science. “He had a very precise prescription for fertilizer application for the Pencross putting greens. As Mike Huck tells the story, there was an application of lime followed one week later by an application of ammonium sulfate (A fatal combination resulting in ammonium gas). Well, that ended up burning the heck out of the greens, and Bill was convinced it was due to misapplication.”
“As usual, Huck did the deep dive into the agronomy. Bengy assembled the superintendents and assistants at the practice green to show them how to properly apply ammonium sulfate. He went down the line of young Turks and asked them how this demonstration was going to turn out. Most agreed with Bill with a few dissenters (Huck – typical). Well, the ammonium sulfate went down, they turned on the water, and the smell of ammonium gas filled the air! Bill was reported to say, ‘I will be taking all of you out to dinner tonight, I and I will be eating an appropriate portion of crow.’”
Funny business aside, Bengeyfield is consistently regarded as being a genuinely warm person bound to positively impact anyone who had the pleasure of talking or working with him. Steve Carlton, a retired golf course superintendent and a friend of Bengeyfield’s for forty-nine years, summed up how most felt after getting to know Bengeyfield: “A smarter, kinder, gentler man would be hard to find. He had a profound effect on how I grew turf and managed golf courses and I feel a great sadness at his passing.”
Despite retiring in 1990, Bengeyfield has left long lasting effects on the golf industry. Bill was a founding figure in establishing the USGA Turfgrass and Environmental Research Program, which currently remains impactful on how golf courses are maintained. His legacy also reaches those who follow in his footsteps today. Each person who had the pleasure of learning from and spending time with Mr. Bengeyfield may have a different memory about their time with him, but what remains unanimous in each person’s thoughts is the acknowledgment that golf agronomy is where it is today in part because of Bengeyfield’s career of dedication and hard work.
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Dear California Golf Industry Members:
Understandably, there is tremendous confusion over what is allowed and what is not following last night’s order by the governor, which appears to be at odds with directives and decisions being made by local governments. Industry leaders are working hard to find answers that will help guide you as you decide whether or not to remain open for business, and what level of customer service, golf play, and course maintenance is allowed.
At this time, our best guidance is that these decisions should be handled on a course by course basis. If you are considering staying open to the public or uncertain which activities can continue at your course, we encourage you to contact your county Public Health Department for clarification of their interpretation of the requirements and the county’s planned enforcement actions, as enforcement will occur at the local level. A comprehensive list of county health departments, with links to their websites and contact details, may be found here.
If your county indicates that golf play and maintenance may continue, please communicate that message to me, along with any specific restrictions and health and safety measures, as I will maintain a database of local policies, and will update other members on those details.
IMPORTANT: If your county indicates that golf play and/or maintenance are not allowed, or they are indecisive (we know of one county health office that told one person that golf was allowed and another that it wasn’t), please email me immediately, and I will work with other industry stakeholders on a coordinated effort to assist in resolving the situation in your county. It is very important that the messaging is consistent, appropriate and accurate, so you are urged to work through the allied industry associations (CGCOA, GCSA chapters, NCGA, NCPGA, SCGA, SCPGA) to enable a coordinated effort at the local level.
If you decide to advocate to your health department directly, please coordinate your efforts with other courses in your county to keep the message consistent and limit the burden on local health officials, then communicate the outcomes of those efforts to your neighboring courses and to me. For guidance on appropriate messaging about the importance of ongoing course maintenance, courtesy of GCSAA, please visit here.
For best management practices for those courses that conclude that golf play is allowed at their course, please reference the following documents:
NGCOA – PARK and PLAY Program: Making Your Course Social Distance Ready (Reviewed and approved by physicians with the Infectious Diseases Society of America)
Additional GCSAA resources related to management of the COVID-19 crisis at your property may be found here. All resources have been vetted by GCSAA legal counsel.
Additional Resource Links
Below are additional resources for course owners, operators and employees:
Paid Family Leave
Paid family leave is available for those who stay home because they need to take care of someone who has contracted the virus (COVID-19) or who has been quarantined (must be certified by a medical professional). Learn how to file a Paid Family Leave Claim here.
Disability Benefits/Paid Sick Leave
Disability benefits /paid sick leave are available for those who have actually contracted the virus themselves or who have been exposed to it and are quarantined (must be certified by a medical professional in the case of Disability Benefits). Learn how to file a Disability Insurance Claim here.
Unemployment benefits are available to those whose hours have been reduced or who have lost their job due to coronavirus measures (and it also applies to those who choose to stay home due to underlying health issues making them more vulnerable). The Governor has waived the 1 week wait time and the person may not be required to be actively looking for work (as is usually required). Learn how to file an Unemployment Insurance Claim here. Unfortunately, this benefit is not available to undocumented persons whose hours are reduced or lose their job for reasons related to COVID-19, etc.
If your child’s school is closed and you have to miss work to care for them. You might qualify for Unemployment Insurance benefits. Learn how to file an Unemployment Insurance Claim here.
We will continue to monitor this rapidly evolving situation, and will provide you with new information as it becomes available.
Marc Connerly, Executive Director
Congratulations to GCSANC Member Gary Ingram, CGCS!
Gary Ingram, CGCS, director of agronomy at Metropolitan Golf Links in Oakland, Calif., has been selected by the GCSAA Board of Directors as the recipient of the 2020 President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship.
Ingram will officially receive the award at the 2020 Golf Industry Show in Orlando, Fla., during the Opening Session, presented in partnership with Syngenta, on Wednesday, Jan. 29 at the Orange County Convention Center.
The Board of Directors and staff of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of Northern California (GCSANC) are very pleased to introduce to you the new GCSANC Preferred Partner Program here, replacing the GCSANC Annual Sponsorship Program. Not only does the program have a new name, acknowledging the important relationship between Affiliate members and the association, but it also includes a wide array of added benefits intended to provide you with maximum value for your investment in GCSANC, including complimentary event attendance, the opportunity to bring superintendents or assistants as your guest, GCSAA education credits for holding a qualifying event at your facility (Titanium level or higher), and more.
The program was designed with the intent of providing “one-stop shopping” for vendors seeking exposure to GCSANC members throughout the year, and eliminating “going back to the well” for additional event sponsorships on top of the annual contribution.
A great deal of effort went into the creation and refinement of this document, both on the part of the Board and GCSANC staff, and we believe it is a big step in a very positive direction. In part because the effort was led by GCSANC Affiliate Director Coby Byers of Turf Star, we believe the new Preferred Partner Program captures the needs and desires of our Affiliate members. We appreciate Coby’s efforts to this initiative.
On a final note, you should have already received your 2020 Affiliate dues invoice. All of the Partner levels include one or more Affiliate memberships, so if you have paid your 2020 Affiliate dues and would like to upgrade to an Annual Partner level, simply call the GCSANC office at (916) 485-6364 and we will adjust your Partnership invoice to reflect a credit for the Affiliate membership. If you have not yet paid your Affiliate invoice, simply register online as an Annual Partner, and we will activate your Affiliate membership and void the current dues invoice.
Please let me know if you have any questions about the new GCSANC Preferred Partner Program, and thank you for participating in the Golf Course Superintendents Association of Northern California.
Marc Connerly, Executive Director
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently reaffirmed its finding that glyphosate, the world’s most popular herbicide, is not a cancer risk to users.
“There’s no evidence that glyphosate causes cancer,” said Alexandra Dunn, an EPA assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention. “There’s no risk to public health from the application of glyphosate.”
Check out the below article in Golf Course Trades featuring GCSANC Member Denis Kerr, Quail Lodge Superintendent and winner of the 2017 GCSANC Excellence in Turfgrass Management Award (Public)!
The immaculate playing conditions of our 18-hole golf course is often what draws people to play at Quail. But our golf course doesn’t simply grow that way. Behind the scenes is a team of dedicated greenskeepers – scratch that – scientists, led by a man of whom deserves far greater recognition, yet asks for none. An unsung hero who commits his life to ensuring that our golf course is second to none. He is dedicated, passionate and handsome (albeit self-proclaimed) beyond compare. To those within the world of Golf Course Superintendents, he is referred to as “the man,” “the myth” and sometimes even “the legend.” But to us here at Quail Lodge & Golf Club, we simply refer to him as Denis. Our appreciation, admiration and respect, however, fall nothing short of in line with the aforementioned references.
It is with great sadness we inform you of the passing of John Grant, Retired-Class A Life Member who passed away on March 10th at the age of 91.
John attended Norte Dame and graduated from the University of Minnesota. He was a pilot in the Navy and was still serving in the Navy Air Reserve at Alameda into the 1980’s when he started work in the Bay Area with The San Francisco Examiner. Following his tenure with the newspaper, John began work with the William Sherman Company—Golf Course Consultants in San Rafael as a Western Representative for the National Golf Foundation. He then worked for the City of San Francisco as the Golf Director before moving to San Mateo Golf Course where he became the golf course superintendent in 1981. John worked for San Mateo until 1994 when he became a Retired-Class A Member of the association.
John was a longstanding member of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of Northern California and also served on the GCSANC Board of Directors.
John’s retirement was spent with his family, and in his free time he attended GCSANC meetings and made time for golf.
We send our condolences to the family of John during this time.