TOCATalk – Summer 2015





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From Fenway Park to Infamy…

GCSAA 2014 Board and Staff PhotosBy Scott Hollister
TOCA Board Chair

My first trip to a TOCA Annual Meeting came in 1999, a little more than a year after I had begun my career in the green industry. When my boss at the time, Ed Hiscock, asked me to join him in Boston for that year’s event, my response was a quick and emphatic “sure thing.”

I wish I could tell you that response came from a deep and unrelenting drive for pursuing knowledge and professional development in any way, shape or form. But truth be told, my primary motivation to attend at the time was, 1) I would get to go to Boston, a city I had visited only once before, and 2) I would get to tour Fenway Park.

And TOCA ’99 delivered on both of those fronts. We stayed in a hip downtown hotel that sat hard along the edge of the Charles River. I took a stroll along the Freedom Trail during my stay. I even got that insider’s tour of Fenway, complete with a peek inside the Green Monster and a chat with Fenway’s crusty longtime groundskeeper, Joe Mooney.

But that year’s annual meeting also delivered on a few other unexpected fronts. Even if I hadn’t necessarily been looking for it, the professional development opened my eyes to what a career in green industry communication could potentially offer. I made connections with others in this business that I still rely on to this day. And maybe most unexpectedly, I found a home in an organization that would play, and continues to play, a prominent role in my development as both a professional and as a person.

Jacqui RoundtableI thought of that trip often during the 2015 edition of TOCA’s Annual Meeting in Milwaukee this past May, because what the 70 attendees who gathered there experienced closely resembled what I went through in Boston, minus the date with Fenway Park. There were fantastic educational opportunities — it’s not often you get four hours to devour writing tips from a former Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist such as Jacqui Banaszynski. There were unmatched networking opportunities, whether on the golf course at Brown Deer Park, on a tour of Miller Park or in the hotel bar to wind down an evening. And there was the opportunity to celebrate our industry and the excellent work that takes place in it every day during the annual awards banquet.

Through its 26 years, the TOCA Annual Meeting has become a significant mile marker for the Green Industry. It provides an opportunity to take stock of where we are as an industry, where we have been and where we are going. It gives us a chance to celebrate people such as Jose Milan and Steve Trusty, TOCA’s 2015 Hall of Fame inductees, professionals who have helped make our organization and our industry what it is today. It gives us a chance to recognize professionals such as Brian Horgan, Ph.D., and GCM’s Howard Richman, winners of TOCA’s Environmental Communicator of the Year and Plant Health Writer of the Year awards, respectively, for the contributions they have made to our industry.

And it gives us a chance to look forward to TOCA’s future, both at home and abroad, and to welcome the 22 members who made this Annual Meeting their first. If those first-timers’ experiences were anything like mine during that trip to Boson in 1999, I’m sure they have found in the TOCA Annual Meeting another valuable tool they can use to nurture their continued growth in the green industry, both personally and professionally.

And who knows? Maybe one of those newbies might someday become the president of the TOCA Board of Directors. If it can happen to me after my somewhat infamous beginnings in Boston, it can definitely happen to anyone.

To all, welcome aboard the TOCA train. It should be a great ride in 2015 and beyond.


Made in Milwaukee – The 2015 TOCA Annual Meeting is in the Books as Organization Looks to Next 25 Years of Green Industry Communications

By Den Gardner, Executive Director

Well, we thought we were seeing the ghost of Chris Farley, but it turned out we really were seeing his spirit in the form of inspirational speaker Matt Foley (otherwise known as impersonator Matt Kissane). We had a Harley biker protecting our awards to keep out any unwanted purveyors of our quality Green Industry communications. Those on the Lakefront Brewery Tour Wednesday night swore they saw LaVerne and Shirley bottling beer and their friends Lenny and Squiggy waiting outside by the bus after TOCA’s evening dinner and reception.

As TOCA embarks on its next 25 years with the 26th annual meeting “Made in Milwaukee” now history, it’s time to reflect on the brilliant job done by the TOCA program committee who now can be called: “The TOCAites who made Milwaukee Famous!”

Thanks to Dave Harding and Lyle Orwig of Charleston Orwig; Sara Bojar and Alane Saphner of Bader Rutter; and Nicole Wagner and Jim Cutting and many others in the crew of EPIC Creative. The local support was second to none this year. We appreciate all the great work. TOCA is its members. You personify what’s great about this organization.

I still recall the words recently by Pat Jones about what TOCA means to him (and we hope many others: “The beautiful thing about TOCA is that it’s the one place that allows us to grow our relationships with each other without all the noise, distractions and deadlines we face every hour in our jobs. Most of us spend our days trying to educate and help readers and customers. TOCA allows us a chance to recharge our batteries, learn new things and become better people and better friends. That’s indispensible.”

Let’s get on to the highlights (not necessarily in chronological order):

  • Congrats to all the golfers at Brown Deer Golf Course. No one got hurt and everybody was a winner. First place went to the team of Joe Rogge, Lyle Orwig, Steve Castle and Den Gardner. They eagled the last hole to win by one stroke over the team of Dave Harding, Russ Warner, Fuzz martin and Brian Horgan. Thanks to Briggs & Stratton for its sponsorship.
  • The tour of Miller Park and the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory was well-received by the attendees.  Guided tours of each facility brought a special flavor to Miller Park Tourthe inner workings of two very different types of “green” spaces.
  • Recognition of Dr. Brian Horgan of the University of Minnesota for being selected the winner of TOCA’s Environmental Communicator of the Year Award, sponsored by Project EverGreen.  Previous winners have included: Mark Welterlen, Bill Love, Tim Doppel, Doug Fender, Allen James, Rod Dodson, Jeff Gullickson, Kevin Trotta, Helen Stone, Allied Golf Associations of Colorado, Drs. Larry Stowell/Wendy Gelernter, Christopher Gray, Anthony Williams, Dr. Frank Rossi, Phil Fogarty, and Dr. Brandon Horvath.  (LINK)
  • Recognition of Howard Richman of Golf Course Management magazine for being named the Plant Health Writer of the Year, sponsored by Bayer. This was the third year of this program. Larry Aylward of Moose River Media and Dr. Karl Danneberger of Golfdom magazine are previous winners. (LINK)
  • Welcome and recognition of Jenna Hay of Texas Tech University for being selected our TOCA scholarship winner. She was provided a $2,500 scholarship for the 2015-2016 school year. “This was an incredible learning experience,” Hay said.
  • Keynote speaker Jacqui Banaszynski of the Poynter Institute and the University of Missouri energized the crowd with her presentation on “creating writing for b-b audiences.” Remarked TOCA member McGavock Edwards: “She was one of the best speakers we’ve ever had at TOCA.” Many agreed.
  • A new workshop at the TOCA meeting each year will focus on local issues involving the Green Industry. Thanks to Chris Kujawa, president KEI Landscaping; Bryan Bergner, Westmoor Country Club; Linda Beattie, Schiller Grounds Care; and Roger Blair, Jasperson Sod Farm, for their insight on the future of the green industry – from a local perspective.
  • For the second year, a series of roundtables on pertinent communications issues was presented. Thanks to Banaszynski, creative writing; Jones on social media metrics; and Anna Baxter Kirk of Bader Rutter on agile marketing feedback loops. Each 30-minute session was well attended as members moved from one table to another during the 90-minute format.
  • TOCA members also took one hour to attend organization committee meetings to better understand the “from the ground up” philosophy of TOCA through its various committees.
  • To close out professional development, horticulturalist and media personality Melinda Myers focused on enlightening members how to better understand consumer perceptions of the Green Industry.”
  • The afternoon program on Thursday concluded with the business meeting

Highlights of Major Activities by the TOCA Board Include:

  • Debbie Clayton was named TOCA Volunteer of the Year. Debbie’s tireless efforts in professional development and information through TOCA Talk was recognized, along with her decades of work for the organization. Lacy Ravencraft received the first award of this type last year.
  • Membership continues to be a major effort. The goal is 250 members by the TOCA meeting in Milwaukee was reached as the number was 253 and growing. TOCA has grown from 170 members in 2012. Thanks to all those who assisted in membership recruitment. The new membership committee of Patty DiMucci, Russ Warner, Linda Beattie, Jake Yarbrough, Fuzz Martin, Jose Milan and Steve Castle (international) is geared toward reaching a goal of 250 members by May of 2019.
  • Election and re-election of the board. They include the following: Scott Hollister, TOCA Board Shot 2015president; OPEN position, vice president; Jason Schmaderer, past president; and directors Marisa Palmieri, Patty Dimucci, Larry Aylward, Linda Beattie, Russ Warner, Brian Schoenthaler, Debbie Clayton, Cindy Code, Mark LaFleur, Felicia Gillham and John Reitman. New board members are Adam Slick and Fuzz Martin.
  • TOCA’s annual revenue for 2015 will be about $113,000 and expenses approximately $112,000. In addition, TOCA maintains a healthy investment portfolio of approximately $89,000.
  • The TOCA writing, photography, design and new media contests had 396 entries (down from 425 entries the previous year). The program was still the third largest in TOCA’s history.
  • The TOCA communications contest also went entirely online with entries, judging etc. This was accomplished predominantly through Kristy Mach’s efforts, with support from Barb Ulschmid.
  • The GCSAA Breakfast reception at the Golf Industry Show (GIS) in 2016 will be in San Diego Wednesday, Feb. 10.
  • The Green Industry and Equipment Expo breakfast reception is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 23, 7:30 a.m., in Louisville. Bayer is the sponsor of this breakfast.
  • The 2016 meeting will be May 3-5 in Omaha. For 2017, staff is investigating St. Petersburg, Denver and Austin.
  • New media activities will continue to be enhanced in 2015 and beyond. Facebook actions will be more timely and efforts will continue to make Twitter more prominent.
  • The board agreed to continue its contribution to Project EverGreen, at the $2,500 level. This national alliance of end-user associations, companies and Green Industry suppliers educates and inform consumers about the benefits of well-maintained green spaces. TOCA publications and agencies are active in this 501c3 non-profit. Project EverGreen sponsors TOCA’s annual Environmental Communicator of the Year award program.
  • The new TOCA Foundation (a proposed 501c3 public foundation) was active in 2015. Among its activities were:
  1. Revenues and expenses of approximately $22,000.
  2. Full funding of the publishers’ scholarship program and the naming of Jenna Hay as the 2015 recipient of the $2,500 scholarship.
  3. The intern is Melanie Krawczyk from Illinois State in Normal, IL. She is interning with Total Landscape Care magazine this summer.
  4. As noted earlier, Dr. Brian Horgan of the University of Minnesota was named Environmental Communicator of the Year.
  5. Also noted earlier, Howard Richman of Golf Course Management magazine was named Plant Health Writer of the Year.
  6. The foundation will continue receiving a $15 voluntary contribution from membership renewals in TOCA. No member declined a contribution to the foundation.
  • The International TOCA chapter initiative had great success in 2015. Among its activities were:
  1. A workshop at the BIGGA show in January in England got the international efforts underway, with staffer Kristy Mach joining Scott Hollister, Chuck Bowen and Jason Schmaderer in executing a half-day workshop. Then, those TOCA folks worked the trade show. The result: eight members of TOCA.
  2. The international communications contest had about 30 entries – the most ever.
  3. The TOCA foundation provided a grant so Steve Castle from BIGGA could attend from England as a lead person on the international TOCA efforts.
  4. Subsequent to the TOCA meeting, other details have been determined: TOCA will be at BIGGA again in January 2016; and organization will investigate a stand-alone TOCA professional development/membership meeting in early September 2016. Many details to be rolled out during the rest of 2015.

Awards Banquet

To close out the 2015 meeting, the Awards Banquet featured:

  • Installation of two new TOCA Hall of Fame inductees: Jose Milan and Steve Trusty. Those two join Jerry Roche, Cindy Code, Pat Jones, Owen Towne, Bob Tracinski, Margaret Bell and Den Gardner in the hall of fame.
  • The communications award event – thanks to the EPIC Creative team  — was another raucous affair.

 The TOCA board also commended Barb and Kristy for their tremendous work on logistics and audio visual creativity for the meeting. Also, evil twin Dan Gardner was recognized for assisting with logistics for most of the organization’s 26 years.

TOCA thanks all of its sponsors for making the meeting possible. We look forward to a great meeting in Omaha in 2016 – hosted by Steve and Suz Trusty. Please let the staff know how else we can serve you in making TOCA your organization. Thanks for the privilege of serving you.



The passing of a beloved TOCA Member

It’s with great sadness that we announce the death of Matt Shooner, a long-time Matt ShoonerGreen Industry communicator and TOCA member. Son Joe, Matt and wife/mom Irene have been staples in TOCA and Project EverGreen (which I was fortunate enough to manage for eight years and work closely with TOCA) for a long, long time.

To me, Matt was the consummate professional and friend. He was a great communicator with a gravelly voice and one who probably should have been in radio. As a great comedian once said (and I think Matt would agree): “He had a great face for radio had he chosen that profession.”

When I first began working with Matt for Project EverGreen, we were just two “old” guys trying to figure out how Focal Point could help it get off the ground with that youngster son Joe at the head of the table with his ideas on web site communications and new media. It was pro bono in those early days as Matt saw a vision for Project EverGreen (and TOCA for that matter). He wanted to be part of it and, as you all know me, I was eager to tap into his company’s strengths (for the right price). Matt’s probably laughing about that right now. “You want us to do that for free?” he asked back in the early days. “Not a problem,” he said.

What really made us connect, however, were two important and most favorite things of my life: cookies and music. When I’d come home from GIE+EXPO each year, there wouldn’t be a hug from my wife Sandy. The first thing she’d say is: “Where are the Shooner cookies?” The second thing she’d say was: “What new music were they talking about? Does Joe have some new artists he’s watching closely?”

This Green Industry is about friendships, both professionally and personally. We’re gonna miss ya Matt. But there is some good news in the sadness. My dearly departed dad (almost 13 years now) loved chocolate chip cookies and gave me my love for green spaces with his miraculous lawn and landscape on our farm (thanks to all the work his two sons put in the yard each week growing up). He’s probably been waiting for Matt’s cookies and discussions about shrubs, grass and ball fields for a long time. Well dad, your wait is over. Look for the guy with the cookies and a hankering to talk about green!


 TOCA Across the Pond – International Update

 Editor’s Note: This issue begins a new column in TOCA Talk that will deal with our international efforts to create a chapter in Europe. TOCA currently has about 10 members in Europe since it began its efforts about six months ago. It hopes to double its size in 2015-2016 and hold a stand-alone two-day professional development meeting in late summer, early fall 2016 in a central England location convenient to current and prospect members. This first effort is being led by Steve Castle, communications executive for the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA). TOCA will again have a presence at the BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition in Harrogate in January. Steve recently attended the TOCA annual meeting in Milwaukee, Wis., through a grant provided by the TOCA Foundation.

Steve CastleBy Steve Castle

Communications Executive for the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA)

And it all began in a North Yorkshire postroom.

Little did I know that when I was invited to join a conference call twelve months ago, it would lead to my first visit to the United States, one of the most enjoyable weeks of my 34 years and a real desire to boost industry relationships across the pond.

BIGGA Head Office was particularly busy that day, so my colleague Sami Strutt and I found a spare telephone in our ‘postroom’ where I spoke to Den and Kristy about TOCA.

Fast forward to January and our flagship show – The BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition in Harrogate – and I met the TOCA guys for the first time during their Monday morning seminar programme. Just hours later, quite apart from the enlightening and thought-provoking seminars and proudly becoming a TOCA member, I felt I had made several new friends.

As the dust settled after another busy show, it began to dawn on me that the UK does not boast an equivalent organisation to TOCA. Our education programme at Harrogate (called ‘Continue to Learn’) furthers the continuing professional development of our greenkeeper members on an unimaginably wide range of subjects from ecology to neurolinguistic programming, soil analysis to people management and health and safety to beekeeping. Yet no such programme exists for the small yet well-established band of turf industry communicators in the UK.

Therefore, it seemed that TOCA may be the answer, and following TOCA’s wonderful invitation to attend their 26th Annual Meeting in Milwaukee, I became convinced this was indeed the case. After an unforgettable week of unrivalled warmth and hospitality, marvellous speakers (in particular the captivating Jacqui Banaszynski), passionate debates, hugely inconsistent golf and inedible cheese at the baseball game, it all began to make sense.

Just like TOCA, BIGGA is first and foremost a “Members’ Association,” and retaining then recruiting members remains our principle goal. It was fascinating to see TOCA’s strategy for addressing this, and humbling to realise that hopefully, I will be able to play a small part in it.

Following the varied discussions in Milwaukee, and a couple of subsequent chats, plans are underway to host another series of TOCA seminars on Monday 18 January at BTME ( My colleagues in the turf media, and the various public relations and communications professionals who work for many of our closely valued industry partners, need to attend this programme. One morning with the TOCA representatives will be enough to convince them of the value of becoming a member of such a unique (unless anyone can tell me otherwise) organisation.

This should lead to the creation of an exciting new chapter not only in TOCA’s history, but in the turf industry.

Foursome at GolfAll that remains is for me to thank everyone at TOCA for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime to head to the States, to all the Delegates for their good humour and fascinating views…and to Lyle Orwig for rescuing our fourball with some terrific golf!

Watch this space for more on TOCA’s international phase…


Jose Milan and Steve Trusty Inducted into TOCA Hall of Fame

By Kristy Mach

Jose Milan and Steve Trusty, two long-time active and prominent members of TOCA, were inducted into the TOCA Hall of Fame at the annual meeting in Milwaukee. The mission of the Hall of Fame is to promote TOCA’s most outstanding past and present members, amplify and enhance its ideals; advance the professional standards that TOCA champions; as well as to preserve the historic achievements that TOCA members have accomplished.  The two honorees exemplify those principles.

IMG_0960Jose Milan is the head of business operations, turf and ornamentals for Bayer CropScience.  He has been a member of TOCA since its birth in 1990, and continues to be an ardent supporter of the association.  Jose was a board member for the first seven years, serving as vice president.  Throughout his career, Jose has been a leading proponent of professional development for TOCA and been at the forefront of maintaining financial support through sponsorships to TOCA.

TOCA Executive Director Den Gardner said “Jose has been the best kind of friend to TOCA. He is the true example of what it means to be part of a non-profit, giving his time, talent and treasure to make TOCA better every day. As a decades-long friend, Jose’s elevation to our hall of fame is also tremendously gratifying.”

Steve Trusty prides himself on only missing two TOCA annual meetings.  The first, he says, “because Jose didn’t tell him about it.”  The second was due to a family obligation.  Steve has been a member of TOCA since 1991 and has served the board of directors for many years, including a two-year term as board chair.  He has also served as a membership coordinator, recruiting many new members to the organization.

Steve’s career in the green industry spans four decades, and he continues to IMG_0957promote TOCA at every turn.  He and his wife, Suz, are excited to play host to the 2016 annual meeting in Omaha, near their hometown of Council Bluffs, IA.  “Steve has wanted to host a meeting in his home area for more than a decade, Gardner says. “The point: He had a dream and worked until it became a reality.  Persistence pays and it’s been a hallmark of his career.”

Jose and Steve join Bob Tracinski, Owen Towne, Margaret Bell, Den Gardner, Cindy Code, Pat Jones and Jerry Roche in the Hall of Fame.

The next selection of TOCA Hall of Fame recipients will be at the annual TOCA awards banquet, May 2016, in Omaha. For more information, contact the TOCA office at: or 952/758-6340.


Horgan Named TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year

Dr. Brian Horgan, turfgrass professor at the University of Minnesota, accepts the Environmental Communicator of the Year award from Cindy Code, Project EverGreen.

Dr. Brian Horgan, department of horticultural services at the University of Minnesota, has been named the 2015 Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) Environmental Communicator of the Year.

IMG_0435Horgan was named at the annual TOCA conference held in early May in Milwaukee. The program, sponsored by Project EverGreen is in its 17th year of recognizing individuals in the Green Industry for outstanding communications efforts regarding environmental issues.

“Brian, through his daily work with students and industry stakeholders in the industry, epitomizes this award,” said Den Gardner, executive director of TOCA. “His commitment to environmental communications to consumers across the country and beyond helps spread the word on the importance of preserving turf and ornamentals for generations to come.”

Horgan’s research interests focus on the fate and transport of pesticides and nutrients, water conservation strategies and low-input turfgrass systems. He also was the impetus behind the creation and development of TROE Center (Turfgrass Research, Outreach and Education) research facility on the U of M St. Paul campus and a new initiative referred to as “Science of the Green.”

Horgan said he was honored by the award. “I feel blessed to work in such a wonderful industry.  I truly have the best job in the world.”

Horgan was nominated for the award by Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen. “Brian has extremely good insight on the benefits of green spaces,” Code said. “Through his work at Minnesota and through various industry speaking opportunities, he shares research with audiences nationwide and communicates the environmental benefits of turf, trees, shrubs, sports turf and so on in an intelligent and meaningful way. He’s a true ambassador for the green industry.”

Previous winners have included: Mark Welterlen, Bill Love, Tim Doppel, Doug Fender, Allen James, Rod Dodson, Jeff Gullickson, Kevin Trotta, Helen Stone, Allied Golf Associations of Colorado, Drs. Larry Stowell/Wendy Gelernter, Christopher Gray, Anthony Williams, Dr. Frank Rossi, Phil Fogarty and Dr. Brandon Horvath.


Richman Chosen Third TOCA Plant Health Writer of the Year

Howard Richman (center) is honored with the 2015 Plant Health Writer of the Year Award. Scott Hollister, Editor-in-Chief of GCM Magazine, and Patty DiMucci of Bayer present the award.

Howard Richman, associate editor of Golf Course Management (GCM) magazine, has been named the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) Plant Health Writer of the Year. This is the third year of this program.

Howard Richman (center) is honored with the 2015 Plant Health Writer of the Year Award.  Scott Hollister, Editor-in-Chief of GCM Magazine, and Patty DiMucci of Bayer present the award.

Howard Richman (center) is honored with the 2015 Plant Health Writer of the Year Award. Scott Hollister, Editor-in-Chief of GCM Magazine, and Patty DiMucci of Bayer present the award.

Sponsored by Bayer, the program is provided annually to an outstanding writer for excellence in plant health issues to the appropriate green industry audience through writing, including New Media, for a publication or publishing company. The winner of this program must be a TOCA member.

Richman, a graduate of Kansas State University, has spent the past couple years delving into the important arena of plant health. From his signature piece – “The dirt on plant health,” a definitive piece on plant health – to his focus on the aftermath of the environmental concerns from Imprelis herbicide on trees on golf courses, Richman has focused on plant health in much of his writing.

A sportswriter for nearly two decades before arriving at GCM, Richman’s article on plant health was called “the most informative and comprehensive publication covering many aspects of plant health from various perspectives…” by Dr. Bingru Huang of Rutgers. “This article does not only clarify our understanding of the plant health concept, but also the long impact on golf turf management for superintendents to develop sustainable practices utilizing this concept.”

Scott Hollister, editor-in-chief of GCM and TOCA board chair, called Richman a “writer of unquestioned talent who leaves few stones unturned in his preparation — with sourcing that is unequaled in our industry.”

Richman said after the presentation that he was humbled by the award. “I am honored to be recognized for this award. There are so many wonderful and talented people in this industry, and each and every one of them has been a help and inspiration for me.”

A stipend of $1,000 was provided to Richman to be used for professional development in the green industry. He was selected by a committee chosen by the TOCA Board of Directors.


Jenna Hay

Subject: One Gigantic Thank You


Thank you so much for such an awesome time at TOCA’s annual meeting! Getting to know everyone was so neat – talking about their accomplishments, sharing viewpoints on the turf industry, and joking around during the tours made this trip so incredibly worth it. And it is all because of you, Barb, Steve, and others who believed me to be worthy of your scholarship. I am honored to be a part of this organization!

The 5k was a lot of fun, and I am glad I was able to balance both the run and getting to the airport on time. Great idea!

I hope the photos I took are usable. Do not feel obligated on using any!

Travel safe today and please keep in touch. You are all my friends now and I want to know how TOCA does in the future.

Thank you again.


Jenna Hay


TOCA Communications Contest

For an complete listing of ALL the TOCA Award Winners, click here.

Domestic Awards International Awards


A Brand New Batch of Gardner Award Winners!

 (In each issue of TOCA Talk, the Professional Development committee features several current Gardner Award winners.)

 First, we have a Q&A with McGavock Edwards, vice president at IMRE, about the IMRE JD AwardIMRE/John Deere win for New Media — Marketing Communications “2014 Golf Industry Show Turf Bowl Tweet Rally.”

 How would you describe your winning project?

At the 2014 GCSAA Collegiate Turf Bowl, teams of students from 71 universities and colleges across the nation competed for the chance to win a cash prize for their school’s turf program, and first place bragging rights. GCSAA and John Deere announced the team from University of Maryland as the 2014 winners of this challenge. John Deere and the GCSAA awarded the team the traveling trophy and $4,000 first-place prize.

Leading up to GIS, a “Tweet Rally” was added to generate excitement and engagement around the GCSAA Collegiate Turf Bowl. Competing teams were invited to share Tweets to show support for their school’s team by including the #GIS14_TurfBowl hashtag and mention of their school’s name.

Each tweet counted as a vote, and the team with the most votes, which was Michigan State University, was awarded a $650 check for displaying their school spirit. Participating teams shared the hashtag with their alumni and peers, and key industry influencers and members showed their support for the future superintendents by tweeting as well. The campaign saw strong viral use of Turf Bowl content with more than 1,000 unique tweets published using the #GIS14_TurfBowl hashtag.

 What was your strategy in developing this project?

Utilize social media and school spirit to engage industry professionals, elevating TurfBowlawareness about the Collegiate Turf Bowl and John Deere’s sponsorship of the program.

 What were your results?

The campaign created strong viral use of Turf Bowl content and fostered positive conversation and support of the Turf Bowl among student participants, media, peers and key industry influencers. It was successful enough to warrant a second Tweet Rally in 2015.

What surprised you most about the outcome?

 We knew superintendents were increasingly using Twitter and that they are a competitive bunch, so we really weren’t surprised by the results of the Tweet Rally. Rather, we were pleased the program was so well received, and that the students were able to get more recognition from the industry they’re entering.

 What do you think helped you win this year?

Originality. Preparation. Results.

We believe the Turf Bowl Tweet Rally is the first of its kind for the golf industry, so its likely that originality played into its success. The Tweet Rally was thoughtfully planned and executed by an integrated team, originally built from research insights into our target audience. And, because we created goals and metrics in our planning, we were able to show measurable results at the end of the program.


Next up, Seth Jones, of North Coast Media, answered a few questions about Golfdom’s Gardner Award for New Media – Publishing for “The Golfdom Daily.”Seth Mark Gardner Award

 Could you please describe your winning project?

 The Golfdom Daily is our blog. It used to be updated daily, now we only promise to update it “regularly” but don’t worry, we won’t change the name to “The Golfdom Regular.”

How did you come up with the idea for this project?

 I enjoyed blogging at my previous position with Golf Course Management magazine. When I came over to Golfdom, I wanted to keep doing it.

Blogging wasn’t a new idea by any means, but what I tried to bring to it was a voice, a personality, that I felt was unique to the industry. That voice was conversational — a behind-the-scenes, not-quite-fit-for-print method of storytelling.

It’s worked for us. Besides winning a first place TOCA for the Golfdom Daily for the fourth year in a row now, we’ve also developed a decent readership. Among the cacophony that is the Internet and the blogosphere, I’ll take that.

Golfdom DailyHow did you measure your results?

 It’s easy with the blog – hits, clicks. We can easily tell what posts do well, and what posts get crickets chirping.

What do you think factored into your success with this endeavor?

I think the voice of Golfdom’s blog is unique. It’s almost a family blog in the sense that we’re including our readers in behind-the-scenes stuff that we don’t have room for in the magazine. It might not be breaking news, heck, it might just be a beer review… but we treat the readers like friends, and I think that among friends, it’s OK to just recommend a good beer from time to time. It doesn’t all have to be about saving the game.

 Any further thoughts about working on it?

 I wonder if blogs are “jumping the shark,” in a sense – do readers still find blogs worthy, or have they moved on to Instagram, or something else I don’t even understand?

I can’t answer that question, but if the readers keep coming, we’ll keep blogging to the best of our abilities. I don’t mind saying that I enjoy looking at our own blog, going back and seeing where we visited, stories we told — stories that are still fun and interesting, just not quite good enough to make the magazine.

In some sense, those stories are my favorites.

Finally, we sat down with Laura Ory, one of this year’s 2015 Gardner Award winners, for some insight on what went into a successful campaign. Laura Ory serves as social media & digital strategist for Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply.

Laura Ory Mark LaFleur

Ory receives a Gardner Award (presented by Mark LaFleur) at the 2015 TOCA Annual Conference in Milwaukee, WI.

  • Gardner Award Winner: Laura Ory, Social Media & Digital Strategist for Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply.
  • Category/Project: 2014 Smart Irrigation Month Campaign Emails and Video Script

Here’s what she had to say:

Could you please briefly describe your winning project?

This writing project was a series of six weekly emails and four new video scripts for our Smart Irrigation Month campaign in June and July of 2014.

What were your key objectives and strategies in approaching this work? What influenced your approach?

Our key objectives were to promote the products in our Smart Irrigation Month specials, and to give our contractor customers simple and memorable explanations of how they save water, since many of these products are still new to them. We also wanted to promote our sales tools to help them convince clients to installing these products.

The teaser video and email was sent out a few weeks before July to generate interest in the specials and to allow them time to use our free smart irrigation sales tools to entice their clients.

Our intro video and email revealed our specials, and how they were a smart way to save money and water.

For the final four weeks, our emails and videos focused more in-depth on the product types each week: smart controllers, sensors, water-efficient sprinklers, and drip irrigation and AquaSmart PRO.

The emails paragraphs were kept short for easy skimming, but links to the corresponding videos were provided at the top for customers more interested in watching a video.

What was your favorite part of the project?

We happened to have some old-school irrigation controllers in the office some of us were marveling at nearby when we were working on video concepts, and it inspired us to include them in a video. They were great to contrast with the smart irrigation technology that’s available today and hopefully helped some customers realize that it’s time to upgrade!

Give us ExamplesPlease give us a few examples of what you think stood out in your winning entry.

The “We can’t show you this!” email and video that kicked off the series was a lot of fun. We teased the customers with pixilated products before revealing the smart irrigation specials in the next video. I think Warren made it pretty amusing on camera. It’s tough to make a really funny video, but I think it made people at least smile a bit.

Emails and VideosFor the emails and videos on smart controllers and sensors, we used some analogies to help explain what these products do in a more memorable way:

“A smart controller isn’t just a timer or clock…it’s the brain for your irrigation system that helps save water: about 30 percent compared to traditional controllers.”

“A sensor is like a thermostat for your landscape – it collectsa sensor data on site and tells your irrigation controller whether irrigation is needed. Sensors accurately and automatically adjust your irrigation schedule to save water, and can reduce water use by 10 to 60 percent.”



Editor’s Note:  Each month, the TOCA Professional Development Committee profiles a TOCA Member — the stories live on under the Members Tab of the TOCA Website.

Fuzz MartinMeet Fuzz!

Getting to know the board member with the most unique nickname, Fuzz Martin.

By: Kyle Brown, GIE Media

What do you do at EPIC Creative?

As the director of PR and social media at EPIC Creative, I’m in charge of all things content related. I direct a team of 15 copywriters, PR managers, and social community managers, as well as the media department.

What made you decide to join the TOCA board?

Board member Linda Beattie made a very compelling argument as to why I should join the board. She’s pretty hard to say “no” to, though it didn’t take much arm twisting. I’m proud and honored to be a member of the board. TOCA is an important part of the turf industry, and I will do my best to make sure others – especially industry newcomers – are aware of this tremendous resource.

How did you originally get involved in the turf industry?

My first job in the turf industry came at 13 years old as a lawn maintenance operator for Achtenhagen Services in Muskego, Wis. I worked there in some capacity every summer and winter (snow removal) until I was 21. The business side of the industry fascinated me and really helped develop my entrepreneurial skills. It’s also where I earned the name “Fuzz.”

How did you come by your nickname, anyway?

I have a really big head. So, at age 13, in order for my football helmet to fit, I would regularly shave all my hair off with a clippers. One day, after practice, I was at work running a Scag hydro walk-behind. Usually, I could run right over the top of city water/utility caps without any problem, but one day we were running the mowers a bit shorter. I ended up hitting a water cap and shooting a metal chunk through our client’s neighbor’s siding. I shut off the mower and my foreman shouted from the truck, “FUZZY! GET YOUR ASS OVER HERE!” My friends overheard him, and it stuck. After that, I used “Fuzz” pretty much all of the time – including 15 years on the radio. “Fuzz” is a lot easier to remember than “Mike.”

What do you do for fun?

I’m really big into cycling. I participate in century rides (100 miles) each year, and we live near Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine State Forest, which is great for mountain biking. Most of my time away from the office, however, is spent with my wife and two daughters. That and making sure I have the best looking lawn in the neighborhood — our retired neighbors put up a good fight, so I have to stay on top of my game.



By Dan Gardner, TOCA Special Running Correspondent

It’s a good day to get a run in!!  That should be your attitude if you want to be healthy and fit.  Of course you will certainly need the approval of your physician (especially if you’re an “old” runner) . . . but that is simply a phone call away.Runners Group

Here are some tips for those of you interested in starting a running regiment and becoming an official member of the TOCA Running Club.

  1. When buying running shoes, take advantage of expert sales personnel at a sporting goods store.  The rest of your clothes should be breathable material – like cotton.  Women should consider buying a sports bra – a good one reduces breast movement by 55% (that’s what my wife tells me . . .).
  2. Do a five-minute walk before and after you run. Regarding stretching before or after, the evidence is mixed. Use your own discretion.
  3. For recreational runners, avoid striking the ground with your heel or forefoot first. Landing on the middle of your foot is the safest way to land.
  4. You want blood to be in your muscles (not in your digestive system). Therefore, avoid a large meal within two hours of your run.  Take along a water bottle while running – if you get thirsty, drink – just not too much.
  5. Keep on a regular schedule. That doesn’t mean you have to run EVERY day . . . but certainly often enough to keep committed.  I hope these tips will lead to a successful running system.

Finally, be thinking while you run about all the ways to make TOCA the best membership association it can be and how YOU can play a part in making TOCA the best it can be. Until next time, be well, be smart, be healthy and be TOCA!


 Calendar of Events



Calendar of Events | 2015

October 21-23, 2015

Green Industry & Equipment EXPO (GIE + EXPO)
Kentucky Exposition Center
Louisville, KY

October 21, 2015
TOCA Board Meeting – 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Louisville Marriott Downtown, Room: TBD
Louisville, KY

October 23, 2015
TOCA Breakfast Reception – 7:15 a.m. to 8 a.m., Bayer Media Conference – 8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.
Kentucky Exposition Center, Room: C105
Louisville, KY

November 12, 2015
Irrigation Association Lunch – Noon
Long Beach Convention Center – Room: TBD
Long Beach, CA

January 18, 2016 – TOCA at BIGGA
BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition 
BTME show runs January 19-21
Harrogate, England

May 3-5, 2016 (Tues-Thurs)
27th annual TOCA Meeting
Magnolia Hotels, Omaha, NE


New TOCA Members – Welcome!

Sarah Ellen Baker, Archer Malmo
Scott Covelli, EPIC Creative
Marcia Gruver-Doyle, Randall Reilly Publishing
Kimberly Huston, PadillaCRT
Danielle Lanning, Moose River Media
Amy Leonardi, Jacobsen
Timmothy Merath, EPIC Creative
Amy Perkins, GIE+Expo
David Rountree, Randall Reilly Publishing
Natalie Zamanksy, Martin Williams