Golf Course Management

JUN 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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26 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 06.18 Cliff Wagoner, 1920-2018 A look at the handiwork of Cliff Wagoner, CGCS Re- tired, was eye candy for Mel Anderson. "In my opinion, he had the most manicured golf course and greatest greens I'd ever seen," Anderson, a retired superintendent, says of Wagoner, who oversaw Del Rio Country Club in Modesto, Calif., for decades. Wagoner, who served as GCSAA president in 1973, died May 15 at age 97. Wagoner was a driving force be - hind the development of the association's certification program for superintendents. In fact, he was among the first class of superintendents to earn Certified Golf Course Superintendent (CGCS) status when the program began in 1971. "It is a tremendous loss to the industry, and he will be missed," says GCSAA President Darren Davis, CGCS. "All past presidents have been dedicated to the mission of our association, and as the current president, it is an honor to follow those who have preceded me to advance our pro - fession, such as Cliff." When GCSAA relocated its headquarters to Law - rence, Kan., from Chicago in 1974, Wagoner was instru- mental in supporting the move. In the meantime, he forged a career at Del Rio CC, where he helped transform and construct the property from a turkey farm into what is now a 27-hole facility. Wagoner, a 63-year GCSAA member, was the club's superintendent from 1954 to 1985. In August 2014, GCM was on hand when he was hon - ored for his career at Del Rio CC as part of an event by the Northern California, Central California and Sierra Nevada chapters of GCSAA. Wagoner received a prolonged stand - ing ovation from those in attendance, which he followed up with self-deprecation. "I won't be able to get to sleep now after realizing how good I really am," said Wagoner, who was honored with GCSAA's Distinguished Service Award in 1985. "This is nice, but I didn't do it all. I have had some very good people who I have worked with. They made it possible." Current Del Rio CC superintendent David Bermudez says he has deeply missed the opportunities to have Wag - oner sitting beside him as he drives the course. Health issues in recent years prohibited it, and Wagoner never got to see the club's recently completed 13,500-square-foot maintenance facility, which is more than double the size of what existed during Wagoner's era. "We're all going to miss him. He was a pioneer who made all of our jobs a lot easier through the years," Ber - mudez says. Wagoner was known for driving himself and his wife, Myrtle, to the Golf Industry Show in his 1930 Ford Model A Sport Coupe (in 1971, they combined the show in Denver with a skiing trip). He may be best known, though, for his focus on the advancement and promotion of golf course superintendents, and the CGCS program was a vehicle in making that happen. Since its inception, 4,514 individuals have achieved CGCS status. As of today, 1,233 are active, and there are 454 Retired CGCS members. "It's easy for people to join an association," Wagoner once said. "But we wanted to have something more, to encourage people in our association to become better ed - ucated and all the things that come with it. At first, we got booed over it. We just convinced them (members) it was something we should do." — H.R. James B Beard, Ph.D., 1935-2018 The students of James B Beard, Ph.D., had a name for him. "We used to call him 'the pope of turfgrass,'" says Johnny Walker, GCSAA South Central field staff repre - sentative. "His mind was always working on the next re- search project and was so interested in what made the plant work." Beard, 82, died May 14. Internationally renowned, Beard is considered a pioneer in turfgrass science re - search, and spent much of his career at universities, in- cluding Michigan State and Texas A&M, which is where Walker studied under him. A native of Bradford, Ohio, Beard authored numer - ous works, including the famed 1973 "Turfgrass: Science and Culture," "Turf Management for Golf Courses," and 2004's "Beard's Turfgrass Encyclopedia for Golf Courses, Grounds, Lawns, Sports Fields." Beard, who wrote hun - dreds of peer-reviewed papers and technical papers, donated his collection of turfgrass research materials in 2003 to the Turfgrass Information Center at Michigan State, where he taught from 1961 to 1975. "He is the grandfather — the godfather — of turf - grass science. I don't think anybody would argue with that," says Kevin Frank, Ph.D., an associate professor at Michigan State. "What stands out was his leadership in making turfgrass a science." The recipient of GCSAA's Distinguished Service Award in 1993, Beard earned his bachelor's degree in agronomy from Ohio State University and, later, both his master's in crop ecology and doctorate in turfgrass physiology from Purdue University. He founded the International Sports Turf Institute, headquartered in College Station, Texas., and has been professor emeritus of turfgrass at Texas A&M since 1993. "He was focused. Congenial. Respectful. He was a visionary when it came to building a strong research pro - gram across the board," says Paul Rieke, Ph.D., an au- thority in his own right on turfgrass soil and nutrition and a colleague of Beard's at Michigan State. "He was a very precise scientist. He clearly challenged the status quo." Joe Vargas, Ph.D., was a colleague and longtime friend of Beard. Vargas launched his career 50 years ago as a researcher at Michigan State. "I started Nov. 1, 1968, and by the second week, he dragged me up to Boyne High - lands (in Harbor Springs, Mich.) to put out a snow mold plot," Vargas says. "Before him, we were spray-and-pray guys. Dr. Beard was the first real scientist to understand why things were happening, such as why there is stress in the plant. He did the research. The main thing he taught me was how to be a critical researcher and not just jump into something. I would go talk to somebody, which usually was him." Never far away was Harriet Beard, who was more than just his wife, but a teammate. So much, in fact, that she collaborated with him and their son, James, on the book "Turfgrass History and Literature: Lawns, Sports, and Golf," which was selected in 2015 as the recipient of the American Library Association's Oberly Award for best bibliography in agricultural or natural sciences. Often, Beard would supply handwritten work, and Harriet, who as a youth lived on a farm that was adjacent to the Beard family's, would type it up. Beard's impact is felt still. "I met him when I had just started here (in 2010)," says Ben Wherley, associate professor at Texas A&M, "and I visited with him and Harriet at their house. For someone who was supposed to be retired (Beard taught at Texas A&M from 1975 to 1992), he was still very active, and you could see the two of them were very close. You still could see the enthusiasm for turfgrass science. It was his life. We still cite a lot of his workings and teachings." — H.R. Industry mourns loss of Wagoner, Beard

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