November 20, 2011

Trip to Alabama

I was invited recently to participate in a trip with a number of local ND/MN superintendents to a facility in central Alabama called The Experience at Farmlinks.  The trip was entirely sponsored by a company called BASF that makes a variety of turfgrass pesticides, some of which we used on the course this summer.

Farmlinks is a very unique property in the golf world in that it was built with the sole purpose of being a research and demonstration facility for golf course superintendents across the globe.  The course was built in 2001 by the Purcell family, whose idea was to use the facility as a research and demonstration site for their line of fertilizers.  The Purcell's eventually partnered the facility with a number of top names in the golf management business including Toro, ClubCar, BASF, and Agrium Technologies (who bought out Purcell Fertilizer in 2006).  These companies continue to utilize the Farmlinks golf course to research and test their latest and greatest products before they are available to the golf market.  They also use the facility to host golf course superintendents from around the world to educate them about their newest turf products.

According to the Farmlinks website:  "Described by golf course superintendents as “the most beneficial three days of the year,” The Experience at FarmLinks is the nation’s premier source for “hands-on” course maintenance information, offering an unmatched opportunity to gain firsthand insight into the latest and greatest materials and methods available to the industry. The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) has approved The Experience at FarmLinks’ programs for continuing education units through their distinguished External Education Program...."

While there from Wednesday-Friday, our group had the chance to tour the site, meet with industry representatives, see a few new products, and view some of the latest research taking place with some of BASF's pesticides.  Most importantly, I had the chance to spend 3 days with some of the best superintendents in the area and hear about some of the challenges they are facing and what kind of success they have had dealing with them. 

Oh yeah, and I also squeaked in 36 holes of golf!

I must say I was very impressed by the terrain in central Alabama, must have been just at the foothills of the Appalachians.  It was a little odd playing on some of the dormant warm season grasses, but overall the course was in fantastic shape.  You could see the difference from hole to hole with different grasses planted, different fertilizer and fungicide test plots, and so on.  

All told it was a great trip and definitely was an intense 3 days.  For any members at GFCC interested, you all are now eligible for a fairly large discount should you wish to go down and play at Farmlinks this winter.  They have wonder cabins on site that we stayed in, as well as a 5 stand clay shooting setup, and wonderful southern food.  I think I saw somewhere that Farmlinks is the number 1 or 2 rated course in Alabama, so it is definitely a trip worth taking sometime!

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