Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Process

I love the Philadelphia 76ers.  Arguably more than any other team in Philly.  I could make a case as to why I love the Phillies equally as much (or more) because baseball does rule, and those Fightens' are such lovable losers. (1*)  The Eagles kind of annoy the hell out of me, and the NFL is pretty lame when you truly think about it. (*2)  And hockey.....I think the game itself is pretty awesome, particularly when it's played on a street in a pair of Chuck Taylors and Toughskins, while strapping on those plastic Mylec goalie pads, and attempting to block an orange ball from whistling by you into a beat ass Franklin net.   Unfortunately hockey fans, your sport has always ranked last among the 4 major American sports in my book, and as youngsters growing up in shithole, middle class suburbia, just a hair south of the City of Brotherly Love, we diligently played all four, imagining ourselves as Mike Schmidt during wiffle ball battles,  the Polish Rifle, while chucking the Duke Junior around, and you better believe we all wanted to be everyone's favorite toothless ginger, Bobby Clarke, when ripping wrist shots against the garage door (*3).   But I think the argument that spurned more fights when I was a kid, was who got to be the greatest Philadelphia athlete of all time, Julius Erving, when balling in some kid's driveway.  Despite the fact that we were all lily white, with hair straighter than Joni Mitchell, and no hope of ever growing up to be six foot fucking six with a banging ass afro, we all wanted to be Doctor J.   He was the absolute best, and we were all more than willing to,"drop the gloves" over who got to imagine themselves as number 6.

I was 11 years old in 1983 when Moses Malone came up one loss short of predicting a "fo, fo, fo" through the playoffs, which fitfully ended, with a parade down Broad Street.  (*4) And since that last championship season in, "83", the Sixers have been mired in mediocrity, with the exception of the aught one season when A.I.  carried a bunch of bums all the way to the finals before inevitably losing to the team I hate most in all of sports, those lame ass Los Angeles Lakers. (*5)  For 30 years, the Sixers have totally blew it, although they came oh so close to stealing a dynasty away from the Chicago Bulls during that legendary draft of 84.  My number one team actually attempted to trade their aging superstar, and every kid's favorite basketball player within a 100 mile radius of the Spectrum, Julius Erving, for the third pick in the draft.  And every basketball fan knows who was taken 3rd that year, and if you don't, let me remind you.....it was, Michael Jordan, and if you think I'm fabricating this shite hit the link ↓


I can't even fathom the idea of Air Jordans being red, white and blue instead of their patented red, white and black.  And if Chicago would've agreed to that trade, the Sixers still would have kept their fifth pick, which ended  up being that non role model being, husky ass, throwing dudes through bar windows, gambling degenerate, rebounding maniac, Charles Barkley.  Check out this starting five.....

PG: Maurice Cheeks
SG: Andrew Toney
SF: Michael Jordan
PF: Charles Barkley
C: Moses Malone
6th man: Bobby Jones (*6)

I'll make a safe assumption here and guess that Jordan wins more than six championships if he's a Sixer.  Unfortunately, this dream line up never happened, and I , along with all of my boys were stuck watching a bunch of scrubs for the next 3 decades.   All I have to say is, Shawn Bradley.

It's been tough sledding for the Sixers since that glorious 83 season, but nothing has challenged our mettle as fans quite like when our Dark Lord, Sam Hinkie took over as GM, and began what is known throughout the tri-state area as, "The Process" (*7).  Basically it involved, gutting the roster of the likes of Jrue Holliday, Evan Turner, and perhaps the biggest white stiff in NBA history since Greg Ostertag, Spencer Hawes, in exchange for ,"assets".  Old Hinks got rid of everyone, including Kwame Brown, Swaggy P and the best bowler over seven feet tall the city of Philadelphia has ever seen, Andrew Bynum (*8).  "Tanking" is how the media dubbed it, and those curmudgeon beat writers from the Daily News, and The Inquirer were fucking irate at the Dark Lord.  How could anyone purposely lose they furiously opined ad nauseam.   But despite those grizzled scribes being totally pissed, most fans understood the direction, Old Sam was taking our beloved Sixers.  He inherited a roster, that at best, might squeak into the playoffs every year as a seven or eight seed only to get swept out the building, then be totally stuck picking in the middle of the first round of the draft, which in all likelihood gets you another fucking, Spencer Hawes.  Basically they were mired in basketball purgatory, and our Dark Lord sent us to the outer reaches of hell with lineups featuring, Tony Wroten, Ish Smith, Hollis Thompson and that Turkish sensation, Turkan Aldemir.  They lost, and lost tough, and to be completely honest, it was really difficult to root for a team to actually lose in hopes of lottery balls bouncing our way.  The last three seasons have been pretty rough, but it does seem like the Sixers are finally on the upswing.  Unfortunately, our Dark Lord, Sam Hinkie won't be in the fold to witness, what he coined "The Process" come to fruition (*9).

When I became the head greenkeeper at Newark Country Club last summer, I honestly felt akin to Sam Hinkie.  Much like my boy, Sammy inheriting a roster full of stiffs, with no shot of ever winning a championship, I inherited a course with a roster full of greenkeeping stiffs.
  • aging single row irrigation system with no central computer or radio control ✓
  • craptacular bunkers penally placed without any subsurface drainage ✓
  • invasive plants inundating weak ass flower beds while obstructing crucial airflow adjacent to greens & teeing areas ✓
  • Bountiful species of acer saccharum, platanus occidentalis, pinus strobus , liriodendron tulipifera, and a plethora of awful scrub trees with the only thing cool about them are their killer latin binomial names.  ✓ (*10)
  • Poa annua as the predominant turf type on greens, fairways and tees ✓ (*11)
Green keeping purgatory?  Most definitely, and you better believe I was pointing out the inadequacies like a madman.   We needed to  upgrade the irrigation system, obliterate all the dated flower beds, fell trees like my man Saruman the White, and definitely smoke the hell out of all that goddamn poa annua.  The green committee chairman politely agreed with my aggressive onslaught, but the problem was money.  The club just wasn't too flush with the duckets so none of the shite I suggested was going down....at least anytime soon.

It was frustrating.  So frustrating in fact, I seriously flirted with the idea of, dare I say, "tanking".  The basic premise of tanking for tougher turfgrass was to let everything go to hell, leaving the club no other choice but to pony up some dough for some serious upgrades.  Visions of pallets laden with 007 bentgrass seed waltzed through my head as the idea of purposely fucking up grew stronger each and every time I rolled around setting up irrigation at the satellite boxes (*12).   I figured it would be pretty simple, based on the premise of, "its easier to ask for forgiveness than permission", and lest we forget, that I was totally in the infancy stages of my tenure as head greenkeeper at old NCC.   Would they fire me for tanking tough during my first season?  Perhaps, but despite my wonting of the tank, I just couldn't find the gumption to go through with it.  It just seemed way too sketchy and low brow.  So instead of purposely fucking everything up, I came up with an alternative plan which I have deemed, "The Process".

"The Process" began with coming to the realization that I had been a pretty sorry greenkeeper for a lot of years.  Hit the link ↓for the full scoop.


This season I have simplified things by adhering to the MLSN guidelines, while using Growth Potential to time nitrogen applications.  I am also applying plant growth regulators based on growing degree day intervals, and really trying to manage irrigation, "from rain event to rain event" (*13).  And I must say, the results from implementing these very simple, yet very thought out, greenkeeping fundamentals has produced noticeable results.  For the first time ever, I have greens that are legitimately firm, even during periods of wet because I have purposely held off the water, which in turn, enables our push up constructed greens to accept natural rainfall.  Growth has been stupendous and I honestly feel we are in the wheelhouse of Micah Wood's spot on definition of greenkeeping......

"greenkeeping is managing the growth rate of the grass to create the desired playing surface for golf." (*14)

We're mowing greens way less, and our clipping yield has been alarmingly consistent (*15).  Last year we'd be hurling baskets into the rough after tri-plexing every other green, where this season, we can cruise through an entire cut, dumping clippings like two to three times total.  Black algae has become an afterthought, as well as putting surfaces inundated with spongy footprints.  But more importantly, the performance of our greens has been downright sick.  I kind of liken the conditions of our surfaces to waves when it comes to surfers.  When the swell is kicking,  word gets out, and the line up gets crazy packed.  (*16).  And I can honestly say the word is spreading throughout the golfing community in our small state.  The greens at NCC are rolling like glassy, double overheaders, and it's been tough not to notice the uptick in play.  Particularly amongst the finer players in our area.

And I attribute all of our early success as a maintenance staff to a full on change of philosophy pertaining to the art of greenkeeping.  My wagon is no longer hitched to an insanely cost prohibitive spoon feeding fertilization program where I'm constantly applying either a foliar or soil spray every fucking week.  "The Process" is about control and saving loot.  It's about melting down Ag grade urea and ferrous sulfate, which is costing the club around twenty five bucks per greens spray, and making applications when I deem it necessary.  It's about regulating growth on growing degree intervals, and applying pesticides soley when environmental conditions are favorable for a full on pest onslaught.
"The Process" is about the simplicity of MLSN, and knowing if the soil has enough of any one nutrient, the turf will perform.  "Balanced" soils are all but an afterthought and it's been such a weight off my greenkeeping shoulders knowing I no longer have to worry about having calcium levels in the ballpark of 68 fucking percent.  And water.....I have finally learned that our number one, most precious resource can be used in such a manner that can be beneficial for both plant health and playability.

I'm a competitor.  And just like my boy, Sam Hinkie I want to win.  Unfortunately I don't have the luxury of a fat television contract to back up a three or four year tank job, so I have to make due with what I have.   Sure, our dated irrigation system is a total pain in the ass.   I wish our bunkers drained better, and nothing would make me happier than to throw down, Paul Bunyan style and get rid of all the goddamn trees I deem fit to fell.   It would be cool if money wasn't a concern,  and it would be so rad to slay 007 creeping bentgrass all over the goddamn place.  But in all honesty, fuck all of those lame ass excuses.  Golfers don't really give two shites about budgets, irrigation systems, , and trees that totally inhibit ideal growing conditions.   I can't make our club's budget a million bucks, and a tank job for tougher turf is a novel idea, but isn't really too cool ethically speaking.   I know the upscale club up the way has a budget that's nearly triple mine, but I'm up to task to challenge those one percenters any day of the week.  Why?  Because I'm working, "The Process".....and I'm full on trusting, "The Process".


1) Phillies: W-9,035 L-10,162  World Series Tiltes: 2
    Yankees: W-10,120 L-7,671  World Series Titles: 27
    Puts things into perspective doesn't it?

2)  I could write a whole other blog about how beat the NFL has become, but I'll keep it simple for this footnote.  Commercials out the ass, watered down talent, a domestic violence case involving an NFl player what seems to be like every other day,  fantasy football, and that total jerk Roger Goodell running the entire show.  How would you like to get paired up with that dork in a foursome?  I think I'd die.

3)You probably know him as, Jaws, or by his surname, Ron Jaworski.  But in 1979, he was, "The Polish Rifle".

4) Hit the link ↓ to read about the Moses Malone. "Fo, Fo, Fo" story.


5)  I go back and forth between the Los Angeles Lakers & St. Louis Cardinals as my most hated squad in all of sports.  It's a tough choice but nothing says douche quite like Tony Larussa or Kurt Rambis.

6)  Bobby Jones is the third best white basketball player of all time behind Larry Bird, and Pistol Pete Maravich.

7)  I really wish I knew who nicknamed, Sam Hinkie, "our dark lord".  If I ever meet this person, I will gladly buy them many drinks.

8)  Doug Collins who was the coach during that illustrious Andrew Bynum era, had the audacity to ask everyone to, "pray for him" during a news conference.  No wonder he got fired.

9)  I was near tears when my beloved Sixers "forced" our dark lord to resign.....most likely by the NBA.  If you want a good read, hit the link ↓.....warning.....dictionary needed!


10)  Common names of trees in order:  Sugar Maple, Sycamore, White Pine, Tulip Poplar.

11)   I don't mind managing poa annua on greens.  In fact, I quite like it as a surface for greens.

12)  I really shouldn't bitch, but I will.  When I'm out with my boy tipping back a few pints, and a thunderstorm rolls through our area, he can shut off his irrigation with his iPhone.  I can't.

13)  Rick Slattery uttered this line about managing water, from, "rain event to rain event" during a podcast with Dr. Frank Rossi.  It has really stuck with me as well as other things, Mr. Slattery mentioned concerning our craft.  He absolutely rules and if you haven't heard this particular podcast you're totally missing out on getting schooled by one of the all time greats.  I love that man and his approach to greenkeeping.    And If I was a captain choosing a greenkeeping team,  you better believe I'm picking Rick Slattery first!  Hit the link ↓ to listen.  If you don't you're a total kook.


14)  When I picked up, 'A Short Grammar of Greenkeeping', by Micah Woods and first read his definition of greenkeeping, it's really hard to describe how stoked I felt.  Throughout all my years as a greenkeeper, not one single person ever put what we are trying to accomplish in such simple terms.   Not one superintendent, vice executive of agronomy (remember....new title for assistants), spray tech, USGA consultant, golf pro, my dad, Barack Obama....not even any of my instructors from turf school gave me this knowledge.  Thanks, Micah! (**1)

15)  Mowing 3x a week, rolling other four.  Measuring clipping yield off one green and averaging about 2 quarts per mow.

16) I suck so bad at surfing, but have a ton of friends who rip.  That's how I understand the importance of swell.

Footnote from footnotes

1)   I do love, 'A Short Grammar of Greenkeeping' by, Micah Woods, but like surfing, I totally blow at  math.  And converting everything from metric is honestly tough for me.  Even with the help of Google.  With that said, it would be awesome if anyone who posesses an above average skill set in math to translate his awesome work for all of us dumb Americans.   I would truly appreciate it....and if you haven't read Micah's book....you should.  Hit the link ↓ to purchase a copy.  Perhaps the best fifteen bucks I've ever spent.





  1. You might be pleased to know that the forthcoming 2nd edition of the Short Grammar has an appendix in which I will give my advice on easy conversions between metric and U.S. standard units.