Tennessee Turfgrass Association’s 56th Annual Conference and Trade Show was held January 10-12 at the Embassy Suites in Murfreesboro. After hosting a virtual conference in 2021, it was a priority of the TTA Board of Directors to bring our membership back together for an in-person event to kick off 2022.
Much thoughtful planning was put into coming back and more than 400 turf professionals from across the state were registered for the event! As always, our Education Director, Dr. Jim Brosnan, put together a phenomenal lineup of speakers covering topics from infield mixes to GDD and Zoysiagrass greens. In non-technical sessions, attendees learned why “It’s Good to be in the Tennessee Green Industry” directly from those who lead at UT. Kraig Kann brought an impactful perspective to the Professional Development session with a simple question: Can You Get Our Attention?
Opportunities for networking were plenty: the Awards luncheon on Monday; Tuesday kicked off with prayer and fellowship, followed by an afternoon on the trade show floor and the Top Golf event in the evening. As always, CEUs, pesticide certification and examination were available for those who needed them.
Each year, TTA honors members who go above and beyond at their facilities. These awards honor the efforts and dedication of not just the individual turfgrass professional, but also their crews, employers and the communities that support them. We are proud of the top-notch professionals who represent our association and our industry so well!
Environmental Stewardship – University of Tennessee, Knoxville TN
Over the last five to six years there has been a tremendous amount of growth and building all across campus. During these construction projects, the University has worked passionately for conservation of natural resources and to reduce their impact on the environment. Specifically, the Knoxville campus has installed several cisterns in the past five years to collect rainfall to be recycled for irrigation. During the recent construction of buildings such as the Student Union, Strong Hall, and the Orange and White Dormitories cisterns were installed to capture and hold storm water. Combined simultaneously, these cisterns can collect up to 200,000 gallons of water. Stormwater is captured and filtered through a biofiltration system before being held in the cisterns for later use. This prevents the water from going to waste through natural runoff, which leads to erosion and contamination of our local watershed. Each cistern is connected to an irrigation system that is closely monitored to fit local weather patterns. These systems reduce pressure on our city’s limited freshwater resource and save energy in the process. The energy conservation combined with the benefits of the natural filtration help provide the green spaces you see throughout the campus. Over 1.5 million gallons of water every year has been saved after the installation of the cisterns. Water is now being naturally cycled by the plants and soil as it is collected, filtered, and then used for irrigation. This award was accepted by Curtis Pique.
Private Course of the Year – Troubadour Golf and Field Club, College Grove TN
Troubadour was opened in the fall of 2019. It is a Tom Fazio designed course that features Zeon Zoysia fairways and 007 Bentgrass greens. The club is part of the Discovery Land Company portfolio of properties. Discovery has 26 courses all over the world with new ones being built in Portugal, Hawaii, and New York. The club is positioned as a place for the entire family with many amenities for kids and adults alike. Troubadour was awarded Golf Digest’s best new private course in 2020. In 2022 they will be building a new short game practice facility with 6 greens and 3 acres of hitting area. This award was accepted by Jason Sanderson.
Public Course of the Year – Egwani Farms, Rockford TN
Egwani Farms was built in 1991 as a family project and remains today as a family owned and operated business. Prior to the course being built in 1991, Egwani was used as farming land. The name Egwani derives from Native American culture which means “little river”. This name was chosen due to the fact that the river runs alongside the golf course and can be seen from at least seven holes from the golf course. The links style course provides a beautiful natural setting with seven holes that run along the Little River and more than 40 acres of natural fescue areas. The course received major renovations in 2017 and has continued to improve with each passing year. It is always in phenomenal shape and hosts countless events. It has become a hub for growing the game hosting numerous Junior Events including the Egwani Junior Invitational, Sneds Tour, Hurricane Tour, Champions Jr. Tour, as well as multiple TSSAA District and Regional Tournaments. Egwani is also home course for a number of schools including Maryville College, Webb School of Knoxville and Alcoa High School. Egwani Farms is regarded as one of the most enjoyable golf courses to play in the greater Knoxville area as you can always count on a first-class golf experience. This award was accepted by Gary Southerland.
High School Field of the Year – Ensworth Baseball Field, Nashville TN
Ensworth is a private school in Nashville with a campus that sits on close to 100 acres. With a student body of around 1000 students, Ensworth has multiple natural turf fields for various sports. The Ensworth high baseball field is primarily used for the high school baseball season daily beginning in February through the Spring. The field will also host games for the 7th and 8th grades teams along with practice. Once baseball season ends the field is even converted to a practice football field. This award was accepted by John Clintsman.
Collegiate Field of the Year – Olympic Field at Lee University, Cleveland TN
Olympic Field was built in the summer of 1996 and named in honor of Lee University being an Olympic Village hosting the white-water events on the Ocoee River for the 1996 Summer Olympics. The field is built on a sand base, covered with Tifway 419 Bermuda that is annually overseeded with perennial rye in mid-October. The coaching staff handles all daily maintenance of the facility with assistance on larger projects such as aeration, fertilization, and seeding from the University physical plant staff directed by Larry Berry. The facility hosts all Lee University collegiate baseball team practices and home games, and also hosts Ocoee Middle School 6th, 7th, and 8th grade teams’ home games, along with some practices. In addition, the facility hosts several prominent summer and fall tournaments and has hosted the TSSAA State Baseball Championships when the spring fling was in the Chattanooga area, before being relocated to Murfreesboro. In the Spring of 2019, a major renovation was completed on the stadium with the addition of 400 chair back seats and a complete rebuild of the facility. The facility was renamed the Larry Carpenter Stadium at Olympic Field. This award was accepted by Mark Brew.
Municipal Sports Field of the Year – Camp Jordan, East Ridge TN
Camp Jordan was pasture and farmland until 1975 when the city of East Ridge purchased the property recognizing a need for a larger recreational facility. Development began in the form of two ball fields in 1978 and has grown into what we know as Camp Jordan Park today. The park has grown to 275 acres hosting multiple outdoor activities. Currently the park has 13 baseball / softball fields along with 14 soccer fields. These fields host numerous events all throughout the year for all levels of players. This award was accepted by Andrew Jacks.
Professional Field of the Year – Smokies Stadium, Kodak TN
They were the host site last year for the South Atlantic Conference Championship. This was a five-day event with four games a day to crown a Champion. Throughout the season the field played host to over 200 baseball games and will even host a concert on occasion. This year the field was host to a concert two days before opening in which the crew had five hours to flip the field and have it ready for team practice that afternoon. Through it all with a game day crew of six, Duncan Long and his staff faced many challenges and still provided an exceptional field for play time and time again. This award was accepted by Duncan Long.
Legacy Scholarship –
The Legacy Scholarship offers financial aid to children or grandchildren of active TTA members in good standing. Scholarship applicants are not required to be pursuing education in a Turfgrass related field to be eligible for the Scholarship.
This year’s Legacy scholarship is awarded to Hannah Carter, daughter of Paul Carter, Superintendent The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay and Director of Agronomy Tennessee Golf Trail. Hannah is a freshman at Florida State University currently majoring in Political Science. Hannah graduated high school as an Honors Diploma Recipient and is a member of the National Honor Society, National Beta Club, and Mu Alpha Theta. While in school she was involved in several activities and held many leadership roles such as Senior Class officer, Girls State representative, Varsity Soccer and Theater to name just a few.
Ernest Hardison Memorial Scholarship –
The Ernest Hardison Memorial Scholarship offers financial aid to students pursuing a career in turfgrass management.
This year’s Ernest Hardison Memorial Scholarship is awarded to Luke Bennett. Luke recently changed his concentration of studies at the University of Tennessee to Turfgrass Science and Management. In March of 2020 during the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Luke took his first position as member of a maintenance crew at Franklin Bridge Golf Course in Franklin, TN. It was during this time that he really found his passion for the golf industry, and he decided to change his college path and work toward a turf degree and his ultimate goal of becoming a Class A Superintendent. Luke is currently a Chancellor’s Honor student which requires a 3.5+ GPA and 25 hours of Volunteer Service, and he has served as a leader in his Fraternity Kappa Sigma.READ THE ISSUE