Golf Course Management

JAN 2018

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

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46 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 01.18 is based on solving industry problems, encouraging creative thinking, and using science — specifically turfgrass science — to generate sound outcomes for superintendents," says Bruce B. Clarke, Ph.D., professor of turfgrass pathology and director for the Rutgers Center for Turfgrass Science, and a 16-year GCSAA member. Superintendents have always been important to Latin's efforts. "They're very smart, very creative. I'd ask them questions like, 'How do you deal with this particular disease? What do you think of this fungicide? How do you manage resistance?' I learned where the practical knowledge gaps were," he says. "There was so much anecdotal information and hearsay out there that motivated me to look behind the curtain and see what's really going on with how fungicides work. Superintendents are inquiring people who helped me learn more." Latin's early work on dollar spot remains some of the most noted in the turf industry, and he was on the cutting edge of research on gray leaf spot when it first wreaked havoc in the U.S., says John Kaminski, Ph.D., associate professor at Penn State and a 22-year GCSAA member. "His creative, innovative and scholarly extension programming tailored to the golf course superintendent has afforded a depth of knowledge of turfgrass disease management at a level of accessibility not before achieved," says Philip Harmon, Ph.D., professor of plant pathology and extension specialist at the University of Florida. Latin's work on epidemiology is also highly regarded. "I felt like we needed to know more about the conditions that promoted infections. Let's understand the factors — temperature, moisture, nutritional, whatever — that promote infections so that we can use our chemical assets a little more efficiently and effectively," Latin says. Turfcast, a computerized system that defines connections between weather and turf disease outbreaks, was developed by Latin, 66, who isn't slowing down in the least. Currently, he's working with a company to offer a five-day advance disease threat assessment, a program that will give superintendents a look into the future. Latin has been married to his wife, Barbara, for 42 years. Their sons, Eric and David, have given them four grandchildren. Undoubtedly, Latin has written the book on a rewarding personal and professional career. His family is No. 1, but that textbook has a special place in Latin's heart. "It is a labor of love. To see that come to fruition is one of the most rewarding parts of my academic career," Latin says. Howard Richman (hrichman@gcsaa.org) is GCM 's associate editor. Golf is a passion for Latin, who has played in 49 states. He has also played the legendary Old Course at St. Andrews. That's him on the Swilcan Bridge with Penn State's John Kaminski, Ph.D. Photos courtesy of Rick Latin wasn't for me," says Latin, who cultivated an interest in biology with an emphasis on plant pathology. His instructor, Charles Bryner, Ph.D., mentored him. "He motivated us to want to learn new things." After earning his bachelor's degree, Latin continued his education by securing a master's degree and Ph.D. from Penn State. "I gained a deeper appreciation for plant pathology, really made the connection between what happens in the lab and what happens in the field," Latin says. In 1981, Latin accepted the job at Purdue. "When I started at Purdue, my assignment involved research on management of vegetable crop diseases. A lot of them are bacterial in nature, so I had to understand the nature of bacterial diseases as well as fungal diseases. I was able to make those transitions easily because I had a great foundation in plant pathology," he says. Latin's work is heralded throughout the industry. "He has helped a countless number of superintendents maneuver through a maze of disease problems that we continue to work through on a daily basis," says Brian C. Chalifoux, the superintendent at Fort Wayne (Ind.) Country Club and a 39-year association member. Latin's peers recognize his contributions, too. "His research and teaching approach Latin at a book signing for his work "A Practical Guide to Turfgrass Fungicides," which is widely recognized as the most comprehensive text on the subject. Latin has been an instructor for GCSAA education since 2009.

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