Dr. Dave Minner’s final Q&A column from SportsTurf magazine

Dr. Dave Minner’s final “Q&A” column will appear in SportsTurf magazine’s February issue. For nearly 20 years, Dave has shared his research, experience, and plain old know-how with our readers through his answers to questions about maintaining cool-season grass fields. Here’s an early look at his swan song:

“To everything there is a season.” I closed the October 2014 “Q&A” column with this Bible verse quote made even more famous by a song from my second hero, Pete Seeger. As soon as the one ran into the zero I knew the end of my playing season had come. Not knowing which came first, sorrow or relief, they both settled into a crooked smile of agreement; the time was now.

The sports turf industry is full of hardworking, salt of earth people who are talented and creative problem-solvers. Somewhere in the past, sports influenced you and somehow along the way you learned to take care of the natural things around us that we all love. I have been blessed to call so many of you friends and there are far too many to mention here, but I wanted to recognize a few who have helped my sports turf path through mentorship and friendship: George Toma, Mike Andresen, Dale Getz, Jeff Wendel, Dana Robes, Kevin Mercer, Andy McNitt, Ross Kurcab, Linda Wightman, Bill Daniel, Vince Patterozzi, Joe Wagner, Abby McNeal, Jackie Butler, Johnny Bryan, Steve Wightman, Skip Gardner, Jim Watson, Kevin Trotta, Jeff Salmond, Trey Rogers, Bill Shirk, and Zac Reicher. Thank you all for your questions, advice, and mentorship that stayed with me throughout my career. Do you recognize anybody that we share in common? Take a minute to make your own list. If you are new to the sports turf world you’ll find a network of people, some in your neighborhood and some across the country, who are willing to help you along the way; a good place to start is membership in the Sports Turf Managers Association at www.stma.org.

The diversity of your problems and concerns over the years has truly kept me engaged and entertained and whether you liked it or not I have written about it a time or two. Thanks also to all the conference planners who have invited me over the years to speak to your constituents. There are so many people I have come to recognize even though I can’t remember a name; I’m so bad with names!

There is a fellow from Colorado named Roger who always waited patiently for me to finish a seminar and then would ask the big questions. When I see myself giving turf talks over the years he always pops into my head, representing all your wonderful ideas, thoughts, goals, and passion that you’ve shared with me.

It is comforting to know that Pamela Sherratt of The Ohio State University will be jumping on the mower to stripe the field after me. Well known and respected in the sports turf industry, Pamela and her colleagues bring a wise blend of research and problem-solving that will keep you turning to the last page first when you settle into this magazine.

If you email me I will try to respond or maybe I’ll be fishing. If you ask me a complex question maybe I’m too busy because I’m showing a kindergartener how worms turn food scraps into garden soil. If you want to find out what I’m doing now, please read Eric Schroder’s column in the January 2015 issue on page 6. If you want to come visit be ready to work in the garden or on the most abused athletic field in the Caribbean; I do need help.

It just wouldn’t be a “Q&A” if I didn’t give a little advice and observation so here’s a few:

  • Determine first if you have a grass problem or a people problem and then act accordingly; solving the people problem usually solves the grass problem.
  • Expand your potential job market by embracing the concept of pesticide-free fields even if this mandate has not yet been forced on you. As an industry we should have been in front of this issue and we were not. This new knowledge base makes you a more vital entity to your employer’s sports management team.
  • The greatest form of flattery is when someone uses your ideas to their advantage; give freely of your information and congratulate those who steal your ideas because they are really paying you a compliment . . . and boy have I complimented many of you over the years. Thanks again.

Well, I’m growing different plants now but there is not a single day that passes without recognizing a friendly clump of grass, or weeds that I would manage differently, or some turfy thing that makes me stop the EARTH truck and jump out for a closer look. I’ll never stop looking down, jabbing my dull knife into the ground and wondering, Why? It has been oh so much fun sharing those mysterious few inches with you that covers our greatest playground: sportsturf.