FLAGCS HISTORY – by John Collins


Finger Lakes Green Keepers’ Association of Central New York
Officers – President, Dean Darron, Country Club, Stafford, N.Y.
Vice President, Edward Smith, Country Club, Hornell, N.Y.
Secretary & Treasurer, Wilbur H. Stone, Country Club, Elmira, NY
Associate board Members
Albert Blim, Churchville Golf Course, Churchville, NY
Isaac Bucyk, Country Club, Ontario, NY
Association formed at Canandaigua, New York, April 22, 1947 with
eleven charter members, five above and six as ff; James Connaughton,
Monroe Country Club, Dilbert Dewey, Canandaigua Country Club, Jack
Ling Lakeshore Golf Club, James Reid Brook-Lea Country Club, Mike
Rybak Mark Twain Golf Club, Charles Smith LeRoy Country Club.
Order of Business at Meetings as ff; Meetings 2nd Tuesday of each
Month.
1. Call to order
2. Roll Call
3. Reading of Minutes of proceeding meeting
4. Reading of communications
5. Reports of Officers and Committees including financial report.
6. Unfinished Business
7. New Business
8. Good of the Club
9. Adjournment
Finger Lakes Greenkeepers Association of Central New York. That was the original name of
the association. The association was formed about two years after the end of World War II.
United States involvement in that war was 1941 to 1945. Wartime economy included no
automobile production. Tanks, trucks and jeeps were being built. Gas and food products
were rationed. Many golf courses folded and none were built. There were no meetings of the
Western New York Greenkeepers Association during that period. That Association
encompassed an area from Utica on the east to Buffalo on the west.
Shortly after the war some meetings were held in the Buffalo area. Auto production resumed
in 1946 but gasoline was still in short supply. Not being particularly affluent the popular car
for greenskeepers were affectionately known as “the tin lissie”. This was a model ‘A Ford’
production period 1928 to 1933. Meetings were held in the morning and adjourned shortly
after lunch. Travel to and from these meetings was truly a character test. Cars were not very
dependable; gas was scarce; roads were hazardous; flat tires were commonplace.
Rochester to Buffalo could take two to three hours each way. Due to these circumstances
meetings were few and poorly attended.
Greenskeepers in Rochester and the surrounding area were called together on April 22,
1947 at Canandaigua, NY. On that date the Finger lakes Association of Central New York
was officially formed. Officers elected at the meeting were:
President – Dean Derron – Stafford CC
Vice President – Edward Smith – Hornell CC
Secretary-Treasurer – Wilbur Stone – Elmira CC
Director – Albert Blum – Churchville GC
Director – Isaac Buyck – Ontario GC
Also attending the meeting were; James Connaughton, Monroe Golf Club; Dilbert Dewey,
Canandaigua CC; Jack Ling, Lakeshore GC; James Reid, Brook-Lea CC; Mike Rybak, Mark
Twain GC and Charles Smith, LeRoy GC.
We have no record of the minutes of this first meeting; only the above information. Minutes of
the meetings from 1947 thru 1965 were either lost or discarded. Information from those
years, contained herein, comes from notes, letters, memory conjecture or perhaps is
fictional. With that in mind we will not reveal the source, but will continue anyway.
Mr. Custer Stallman was greenskeeper at Genesee Valley Golf Course when sheep were
still used in maintenance. Custer became greenskeeper at Oak Hill Golf Course originally
located on the present University of Rochester campus. He was the construction supervisor
on the present Oak Hill Golf Course then greenskeeper at Durand Eastman Golf course
where he retired.
Mr. Jim Connaughton was construction supervisor and greenskeeper at Monroe Golf Club.
Jim was a charter member of the National Greenskeepers Association (GCSAA) formed is
1928.
Jim Reid and Jack Ling were instrumental in the formation of the New York State Turfgrass
Association. They had approached Professor Guterman at Cornell University with the intent
of promoting a turfgrass research program. Discovering that a grant from New York State
would be necessary they approached Senator Slater, a Ridgemont member. As a member of
the state board of education he helped Professor Guterman secure a grant. The grant was
directed to Professor John Cornman to establish a turf research program. NYSTA was
formed and an education, research and conference program was established.
Jack Ling was elected a director of NYSTA. After that election meeting a few holes of golf
were played. Jack made a “hole in one” during the round. Jim Reid said that was very
unusual as the ball didn’t bounce off a tree or a bench or anything else before it went in the
hole.
From the early 1900’s thru the 1940’s greenskeepers in the area seeded greens with “South
German Mix”. The mix contained strains of seaside, colonial and velvet bentgrass. Although
the name South German persisted the mix changed over the years. New strains were
introduced from the USGA turf plots at Arlington, Virginia and later at Beltsville, Maryland.
Greenskeepers from our area visited these plots in the 30’s and late 1940’s. These strains
still persist on greens constructed during that period.
In the late 1930’s turf plots and turf schools were established notably Penn State,
Massachusetts, Rutgers and Rhode Island Universities. Greenskeepers from this area
attended school and or conferences at these universities. There were many bentgrass
strains developed by the U.S.G.A. and the Universities, which were seeded or established
with stolons from this area. Some varieties were Washington, Metropolitan, Congressional,
Toronto, Arlington, Cohansey, Collins, Old Orchard and Norbeck. Additionally there were
some 52 strains known as C-strains developed at Penn State. These were poor seed
producers; however some greens were established by stolon production. Penncross was
developed at Penn State in the 1950’s and still sets the standards for the many new cultivars
available in the 1990’s. Rutgers concentrated on Ryegrasses and developed most of the
Perennial Rye’s used today. Massachusetts developed many Bluegrasses and Fescue’s and
Rhode Island is responsible for a number of velvet and colonial bentgrass strains.
Greenskeepers in this region depended on these schools to gain knowledge of grass
varieties, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, fertilizers and general maintenance practices
The following men, not a complete list were greenskeepers in the Finger Lakes area when
the association was formed. Dean Darron, Stafford; Wilbur Stone, Elmira; Ed Smith, Hornell;
Albert Blim, Churchville; Isaac Buyck, Ontario; Jim Connaughton, Monroe; Delbert Dewey,
Canandaigua; Jack Ling, Lakeshore; Jim Reid, Brook-Lea;
Mike Rybak, Mark Twain; Charles Smith, LeRoy; “Doc” Charles Earle, Breamar; Warner
Featherly, Sodus; Harry Boyce, Locust Hill; Elmer Micheals, Oak Hill; Bill Lyons, Genesee
Valley; Les Bixler, Seneca Lake. There were also members from Auburn, Syracuse and Utica
prior to the formation of the Central New York Association in 1950.
It is believed the second Tuesday of the month was established as the meeting day in 1947
and has been the tradition ever since. The first social event was a family picnic held in the 40’
s at Durand Eastman Park. In the 50’s the picnic moved to Canandaigua Country Club and
Roseland Park. Then sometime in the 60’s to Churchville Park.
The 60’s began to produce change in the membership as new golf courses were being built
and older members retired. A list of Members, not including charter members, thru 1970
follow’s, with affiliation and year joined.
August Aman, Irondequoit 1949
Carl Lawrence, Durand Eastman 1950
Berten Hart, Midvale 1952
Elmer Micheals, Oak Hill 1957
Jim DeBattis, Country Club of Rochester 1957
John Collins, Ridgemont 1957
Thomas Pender, Genesee Valley 1959
Steve Williams, Monroe 1959
Hap Reiflin, Happy Acres 1960
Bill Goulet, Latta Lea 1960
Lorne Sanges, Penfield 1961
Lynn Kellogg, Oak Hill 1962
Joe Hahn, Braemar 1963
Edwin Brown, Midvale 1963
Dick Grill, Elmira 1964
Joe Baran, Bath 1965
Cliff Hensen, Lakeshore 1965
Clearance Johnson, Monroe County Parks 1966
John Moore, Skaneatles 1966
Jim Strain, Binghamton 1966
Lee Redford, Auburn 1967
Ed Benoit, Craig Hill 1967
Ray Corcoran, Highland 1967
Jim Mills, Brooklea 1967
Bill Brown, Penfield 1967
Dale Wohlers, Salmon Creek 1967
Henry Cerep, Seneca Falls 1968
Les Futrell, Corning 1968
Al Smith, Chili 1968
Al Deporter, Clifton Springs 1968
Peter Hahn, Penfield 1969
Wayne Lamb, Canandaigua 1969
Ed Reiflin, Happy Acres 1969
Grant Wideman, Green Hills 1969
Robert Fiendt, CC of Rochester 1970
Joe Baidy, Oak Hill 1971
Sam Battaglia, Livingston 1971
Gary Kuhn, Clifton Springs 1971
Thomas Cone, Elmira 1971
Roger Cox, Ontario 1971
Russel Hill, Twin Hills 1971
Undoubtly this list is not complete, but it’s the best that memory and records thru 1971 can
produce.
The major golf course supply houses in this area in the 40’s and 50’s were the following.
Grass Cutting Equipment Co. Parcells Ave. Rochester. Owned and operated by Ralph
Richardson and Elmer Micheals. Distributor of Worthington, Jacobson equipment.
Purchased by Steve Moffett and presently S.V. Moffett Co.
Haverstick Toro Co., Ford St. Rochester, represented by Chester White, Purchased by
Eaton Equipment Co. and then by present owners Grassland Equipment Co.
High Point Mills, Lehiegh Station Rd., milorganite and mixed fertilizer distributors, owned by
the Linter Family.
Crossman Seed Co. East Rochester, Seed distributor represented by Bill Swijn.
Lynn Kellogg was elected president of the New York State Turf Association in 1960. he
received a letter from the state legislature stating no money would be available for the horse
industry that year. Lynn suggested and the executive committee adopted the name change
to New York Turfgrass Association. Bill Brown was director at large from Western New York
during that time.
Lynn was instrumental in separating NYSTA from control of Cornell causing it to become the
independent association we know today in the 1990’s.
During this same period a meeting was held at Oak Hill Country Club with the intention of
solidifying camaraderie and communication between the Northeastern, Central, Finger Lakes
and Western NY Associations. Herb Graffis, editor of Golfdom Magazine was the main
speaker. Mr. Graffis expressed the necessity of the local organizations in communicating to
the golfer and the media, the contributions of greenskeepers to the game of golf. Attendance
at the meeting was very good and began the practice of joint meeting between the Western,
Finger Lakes and Central New York Associations.
The first Scholarship Tournament was held in 1961 or 62. Hosted by Joe Checo at Island
Valley Golf Course. The intention was to raise money for scholarship and research. Several
scholarships were awarded to students at Alfred Technical School. The tournament was
very successful and continued yearly ever since.
In 1964 or 65, suggestion was made by Joe Hahn, for the association to adopt an official
emblem and blazer depicting the Finger Lakes. The emblem was designed and Lynn Kellogg
arranged for a blazer to be produced by the National Clothing Co. at a cost of $40.00.
Thru the early 1960’s there was a great deal of discussion surrounding the terms
Greenskeeper and Superintendent. The term Greenskeeper was specific to the golf course
industry. Superintendent was more authoritative and descriptive of the professional position.
After several years of discussion, Finger Lakes Association of Golf Course Superintendents
(F.L.A.G.C.S.) became our official name in 1966.
In 1968, largely thru the efforts of Lynn Kellogg, the New York State Federation of
Superintendents Association was formed. Elected officers were President Jim Manha, Long
Island; Lynn Kellogg, Finger Lakes, Vice President; Secretary Bill Smart, Hudson Valley and
John Espry Sr. Northeastern treasurer. Conferences were held each fall in the Catskill
Mountains at the Navelle, Concord or Grossingers Hotels. Participation declined after a few
years and the federation was dissolved in favor of supporting NYSTA as a formidable state
turfgrass association.
Social events in the 60’s included an evening get together, a dinner at the National
Conference; a “Spring Fling”, very informal, with a buffet, music, dancing, and sometimes a
sing along; a family picnic, dish to pass, games and prizes for the kids, great family fun;
annual Christmas party, more formal than other events, dedicated to acknowledge
contributions of our members. with the exception of the spring fling, these events have been
held annually since that time.
In the late 60’s Ed Benoit suggested and was immediately appointed chairman of the 50-50
club. This tradition has continued at all the meetings and is a good source of revenue for the
association.
In 1968 after a great deal of effort, communication, clarification by secretary Joe Hahn,
Finger Lakes became an affiliated chapter of the GCSAA. This enabled the association to
ask Lynn Kellogg to run for director of the GCSAA. Although unsuccessful in this bid the
effort garnered considerable respect for the Finger Lakes by the National membership and
officers.
The GCSAA golf tournament was held in the Bahamas in 1969. Jim Mills, Brook-Lea placed
fourth and Dick Grill, Elmira placed sixth in overall competition. Due to this impressive
showing Jim Mills was appointed golf chairman a position he still holds in 1996.
Al DePorter, Newark became our first public relations chairman in 1970. Al arranged for Joe
Hahn and John Collins to appear on the Ed Meath T.V. show to promote some
understanding of golf course maintenance. Not to draw any conclusion but soon after the
appearance Al asked for a budget for his committee. Apparently he would have to pay for
future publicity.
The 1970 Christmas Party was held at Penfield CC, Joe Hahn was honored as the first
recipient of the “Superintendent of the Year” award. This presentation became an
established tradition at our annual Christmas Party.
After many years, another hole in one at a meeting. June 1971 Roger “Buz” Cox scored a
hole in on Locust Hill’s 132 yard, par 3, number 15 with a nine iron. Attested to by Joe and
Pete Hahn.
June 1972 recommendations of a committee on dues structure and permanent plaques was
passed by membership vote. Dues would increase by $15.00 per year. Plaques would be
obtained for each Superintendent member.
February 1973, Ed Benoit reported we will celebrate the association’s 25th Anniversary, with
a spring party at the Treadway Inn, Batavia, on May 5th. The Western NY Association has
been invited to this event. Festivities include a cocktail hour, a buffet dinner at a cost of
$18.00 per couple. Reservations forms will be sent to both associations. Room rate is $12.50
per couple for those wishing to stay overnight. The celebration was a great success.
In 1973, Pete Hahn, secretary was authorized to purchase a tape recorder to assist in
accurately recording minutes of our meetings. Also John Collins, editor of “Supts Handicap”
our newsletter was authorized to purchase a used mimeograph to use in printing the
newsletter.
Bob Feindt was honored at the annual Christmas Party for his efforts and presentation of an
excellent golf course for the 1973 U.S. Women’s Open Tournament.
In 1974 Ed Brown, Midvale was elected president of NYSTA and Steve Williams, Monroe
was elected director. Membership was set at $5.00 with income dedicated to turf research.
A membership roster, listing all members including home and office phone numbers was
printed for the first time in 1974.
We would really like to complete this history. If you know of any dates, stories, etc. please
notify someone on the board.
Thank you,
FLAGCS