Golf Course Management

JUL 2013

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

Issue link: http://gcmdigital.gcsaa.org/i/139656

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The May way Scott May knocked on door after door. Getting his foot in the door, however, was anything but easy. May, a former golf course superintendent, just knew he had something special, lightning in a bottle perhaps, with a product he developed called Turf Screen. He currently produces his product under the title of his company, Turf Max. May says Turf Screen is "absolutely a plant health product," a type of sunscreen, that scatters UV light to reduce sunburn and keep plants cooler by refecting infrared light. Hoping that lenders would see the light in terms of his product was the issue. "Out of 18 banks I talked to, I got shot down by 17," May says. "You go for a loan in 2010, right in the middle of the biggest banking crisis this country has seen since the Great Depression …" Finally, a small regional lender in Pennsylvania, Univest Bank and Trust Co., took a chance on May, offering him a line of credit. "We thought Scott came up with an innovative idea that people are going to eat up," says Nicholas Yelicanin, relationship manager at Univest. Univest's faith in May appears to be paying off. May has approximately 2,000 customers, and Turf Screen is available in places such as Australia, Canada and China. "I've been in this industry a long time, launched a lot of new products, and this is one that has been well received in the industry, i.e., the superintendent," says distributor David Oberle of Excel Turf & Ornamental in Eagan, Minn. "Those "Our No. 1 goal is to make sure we're working with the superintendents to understand how these products work, working with the superintendents to make sure that they're using our products correctly." — Howard Jaekle 54 GCM July 2013 in my region did their homework, called their peers across the country, participated in chat rooms. I'm tickled pink by the reception it has gotten." May still was in his superintendent role at Manufacturers' Golf and Country Club in Fort Washington, Pa., when he began trials. "I got 18 to 20 of my crew, took their bottles of sunscreen and went down to our Poa annua nursery," he says. "They thought I was a little nutty. But I sprayed or rubbed that sunscreen that needed to be applied in the nursery, left the bottles there and called it a day. "The next morning, my assistant calls me over, says, 'Scott, you've got to see this.' I looked at 18 to 20 plots; two weren't stone dead. I picked up those two bottles for the ones that weren't dead — and they said all-natural sunscreen." Key ingredients? Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. May, who left his superintendent job in April 2012, mixes his Turf Screen formula with green pigment. His concoction has proven to be a winning combination. "I think people appreciate that I don't have 60 employees with white lab suits, trying to split atoms and making different molecules," says May, who basically is a one-man show. "It's no magic bullet. It certainly, though, is a tool, if used properly, that gives the superintendent a margin for error, in terms of water usage and stressing the plant, that they never had before." — H.R.' their 'plant health.'" Jaekle says, "The confusing thing right now is we've got some new chemistries that are coming into the marketplace that are doing some things above and beyond, and I still think that there's a lot for everybody to learn about what the added benefits are." BASF, meanwhile, plans to launch Lexicon Intrinsic brand fungicide in the second quarter of 2014. Staal says she gets the confusion part of all of this. "I think there is (confusion) just because everybody says they have something. We have something. Bayer, Syngenta and now even some of the smaller companies claim something," she says. "I think, Howard Jaekle in the superintendent's mind, they think all these products have plant health in one form, fashion or another. It's just different companies have decided to pursue different routes of explaining what it does or what it affects." One thing is certain: The manufacturers seem to be in lock step about their attitude toward superintendents. "Our No. 1 goal is to make sure we're working with the superintendents to understand how these products work, working with the superintendents to make sure that they're using our products correctly," Jaekle says. Rees imagines the words "plant health" won't go away anytime soon. "We will provide different solutions or provide extremely advanced technical solutions," he says. Does that mean in time all the companies will be aboard the same platform in defining plant health? Golembiewski isn't so sure. "That's one of the unique challenges we as an industry face. I think plant health is

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