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Walnut Lane Golf Course, Home of The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia, to Host First Green Event, Thursday, October 24, 2019

For Immediate Release: Monday, October 21, 2019

(Philadelphia) – Walnut Lane Golf Course, in partnership with TFTGP and the PAGCS, will host an innovative environmental education outreach program that uses golf courses as environmental learning labs, when Golf Course Superintendent Ben Davies welcomes over 70 9th grade students from Parkway Northeast High School for a First Green event, Thursday, October 24, 2019.

First Green focuses on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) principles, where students get hands on learning opportunities in a real-life setting. First Green curriculum has been benefitting students in the Delaware Valley from 3rd grade through high school by helping them apply their classroom knowledge in an outdoor setting.


Students will participate in the follow stations:

• Soil Lab: Mike Cavanaugh, Executive V.P./Co-Owner, Floratine Products Group: Students will pull samples and analyze, as well as manipulate technology and tools used to retrieve sensitive data

• Math Lab: Chase Rogan, Mid-Atlantic Regional Director, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America [GCSAA]: Using the land and bunker features of the golf course, students will work through equations to determine solutions

• Putting Station: Rebecca Caimano, Program Director, TFTGP: Students will be able to learn the mechanics of hitting a golf ball on a putting green

• Tree Lab: Mike Kachurak, ISA Certified Arborist, Shreiner Tree Care: Students will learn the significant roles and relationships of trees, insects, turf, wildlife, and the environment while experiencing hands on training in the care of trees

• Irrigation Lab: Brad Helcoski, Senior Regional Golf Account Manager/Tim Riismandel, Golf Account Manager for Eastern PA, Ewing Irrigation: Students will witness the technology and inner workings of water use for Best Management Practices [BMP]

• Golf Swing Station: Leila/Courtney, Philadelphia Section, PGA: Students will experience firsthand the physics of swinging a golf club

• Water Conservation Lab: Lindsay Blanton, Water Programs Coordinator/Jenn Bilger, Program Director, Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association: Students will learn about the wildlife that inhabits our region’s waterways and surroundings, including the endangered species and the roles students can play as stewards of the environment

• Technology and Mechanical Engineering Station: Walnut Lane Grounds Management Staff/Jon Moraglia, Owner, The Drone Life/Creator, Jon’s Mini Golf: Students will be treated to a drone display and learn the inner workings of technology, engineering and the mechanics of the equipment fleet


Students are scheduled to arrive at Walnut Lane Golf Course between 9 and 9:15 a.m. The schedule includes a brief introduction and then students will begin rotating in small groups through the eight stations in 15-18 minute intervals, concluding around 12 p.m., followed by lunch. Busses depart at 12:30 p.m.

Media are encouraged to attend the event, and should contact one of the individuals in the contact list prior to the day of the field trip.

To learn more about First Green visit

First Green is a program of the Environmental Institute of Golf (EIFG), the philanthropic organization of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), which is the top professional association for the men and women who manage golf courses in the United States and worldwide. The association provides education, information and representation to more than 18,000 members in more than 78 countries. Learn more at


Ben Davies
Golf Course Superintendent
Walnut Lane Golf Course

Bill Hyndman
Executive Director
The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia [TFTGP]

Kristen Liebsch
Executive Director
Philadelphia Association of Golf Course Superintendents [PAGCS]


PAGCS Crowns Golf Champions

This past Monday, the Association held its annual Golf Championship at Lookaway Golf Club–a first rate host for this premier PAGCS event. With rain in the forecast, a field of hopeful contestants took a swing at winning a trophy–thank you to Turf Equipment and Supply for sponsoring.

In the end, the rain held off, the temperatures were moderate, and the wind eventually died down to create very nice playing conditions, even if the greens were rumored to be stimping at 14. Thank you to The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia for hosting our on course refreshements and to Genesis Turfgrass for being the Tee Sponsor for the day.

In the end, everyone was a winner — the reception featured some amazingly delightful selections and one of the favorites had to be the carving station, with the shrimp wrapped in bacon a close second. Thank you, Noble Turf, for sponsoring this wonderful reception and stepping up to provide the skill prizes, too! Here’s a sneak peak at the results and check out the next Bonnie newsletter for full coverage of the event. Thank you to Dave Renk and all the staff at Lookaway for a great event.


“Winning Golf” hosts PAGCS at Applecross

Watch the Episode live or check YouTube soon:
Winning Golf #11
NBC Sports Philadelphia
Tuesday, September 24 – 11:00pm (may shift due to Phillies)
Saturday, September 28 – 3:00pm

NBC Sports Philadelphia+
Friday, September 27 – 8:30pm

The PAGCS episode of “Winning Golf” began airing recently on Comcastsports/NBC Sport. The show was filmed on 9/10/19.

Winning Golf TV hosted a very special group of contestants representing the Philadelphia Association of Golf Course Superintendents. Our exciting day was held at the beautiful Applecross C.C. and was sponsored by four first-class sponsors; Turf Equipment & Supply Company, Pocono Turf Supply, Noble Turf and Arader.

Our day was hosted by Doug Rae who serves as the Head Superintendent at Applecross C.C. as well as the VP of the PAGCS. The weather was beautiful, the course conditions perfect, the camaraderie was amazing and the Winning Golf highlights were plentiful!

Find out who hits the pressure shots and takes home the Winning Golf Championship trophy this week beginning this Sunday night in prime time at 7:00 pm. on NBC Sports!


50 Years Ago: Apollo and Vietnam, from the perspective of a PAGCS Member

July 20, 1969

50 yrs ago today, Delaware Valley University grad Henry Wetzel, Jr. landed in Vietnam for one year of service as platoon leader and then had a long career as a golf course superintendent at St. Davids Golf Club. He’s one of the most generous Aggies we know. Thanks for serving our country, Henry!


I will always remember this date, not for the Apollo 11 moon landing, but for Butch [me: Henry Wetzel] landing in Vietnam. I spent a year in the country as a platoon leader of a combat engineer platoon. To say the effort of the United States in Vietnam was a failure is beyond belief: We lost 58,300 plus of our brothers and sisters and between 2 and 3 million Vietnamese. I just can’t stop thinking of those lives lost.

I only ask that when you stop today to remember the Apollo 11 crew, please also think of our fallen comrades.

PAGCS Scholarships Available to Turf Students: Apply Now!

PAGCS Scholarship Application Process Now Open Through August 30: Click here

scholarship 2018
The PAGCS is proud to offer scholarships to current turf students employed or previously employed by a PAGCS golf course superintendent. These scholarships are funded by the generosity of benefactors Frank T. Shuman, George E. Ley, and PAGCS members and supporters via the annual PAGCS Scholarship Tournament. Deadline is August 30, 2019.

Click here for full information and application process.

New Event: “Bluegrass, Buffet and Baseball”

Wednesday, July 24, 2019 – “Bluegrass, Buffet and Baseball” educational and social event at FirstEnergy Stadium, Reading, PA.

Education (pesticide credits awarded) – 10:00 – 11:00a.m.
All you can eat lunch (cash bar) – starting at 11:00a.m.
Reading Fightin Phils vs. Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Mets) game- 11:35a.m.
Post game – Q and A on the field

$30 per person includes the education, ticket to game in a private group area and lunch.

All are welcome: family, friends, co-workers, clients, etc. Event is presented by the Reading Fightin Phils.

Agenda and to order tickets: Bluegrass, Buffet & Baseball

I hope you can join us.
dan at reading phils

PAGCS Earns Grant for a Third Time

In the Spring, the PAGCS applied for a GCSAA Chapter Outreach Grant to further the Association’s efforts to promote the industry and our sponsors. The GCSAA announced recently that the PAGCS was among 15 chapters awarded a grant for 2019. Click here for release.

The PAGCS was awarded a grant in 2018, as well. The grant helped fund the PAGCS partnership with the show “Winning Golf” and enabled the PAGCS to promote the profession of the superintendent, as well as our sponsors. You can view that show by clicking here.

The 2019 grant will enable the PAGCS to continue to partner with “Winning Golf” to promote our sponsors, the industry, and the golf course superintendent. The PAGCS also applied for and won this grant in the mid 2000s to help fund the partnership with Tony Leodora’s “Superintendent’s Corner” feature on his show “Inside Golf.”

A First Tee Student Feature: Proof that the First Tee Program is Making a Difference

Please join us on Monday, April 15, as we celebrate and support the future of golf with the First Tee. The PAGCS partnership with the First Tee is only possible with your help and support. Click here for full details, registration, and ways to support.

Before we get to the feature story below, did you know: The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia [TFTOGP] is growing every year. Of special note is the First Tee’s National School Program here in the region. “The program helps elementary students learn about the basic skills of golf through safe and fun activities. By also incorporating The First Tee Nine Core Values and Nine Healthy Habits, we’re putting students on course to a healthy and active lifestyle.” [Courtesy of the First Tee website:]

Also of note is TFTOGP’s expanding satellite locations. Programs are available at Applecross Country Club, Abington Club, Bensalem Township Country Club, City Line Sports Center, FDR Golf Course, Warminster Township Five Ponds Golf Club, Flourtown Country Club, John F Byrne Golf Club, Rossi Golf & Sport Center, Valley View Golf, as well as Walnut Lane Golf Club.

Below is just one highlight that proves the program makes a difference in students’ lives.

Student Experience: Saving the Golf Team — and Other Ways I Learned to Lead
by Victoria Wajda

tftogp photo student author

If you’re thinking about playing golf for the first time, here’s what you need to know:

It doesn’t matter if you’re good or not. You just have to be ready to get frustrated. That’s not a bad thing, because golf will teach you to persevere — so when you do succeed, you get a huge boost of confidence.

That sense of accomplishment is one of the things I love most about golf. So when I found out my team at John W. Hallahan Catholic High School for Girls was getting cancelled due to low membership, I didn’t give up. Instead, I took action.

We had three members, but we needed six. I started attending school open houses to share my love of golf. I encouraged girl after girl to think about playing. After months of conversations, my efforts paid off. We doubled our membership — and saved the team! And three short years later, we’re setting literal records.

In October, our team — now with eight members — won the Philadelphia Catholic League Girls’ Golf Championship. The year before, I won first place individually in the Philadelphia Scholastic Athletic Association District XII Golf Championship.

TFTOGP photo 2

It was our school’s first team championship title in 22 years — and the first time a Hallahan student won that title in the history of the school. I’ll never forget how the whole school went wild.

That’s the kind of place Hallahan is. Our community is small enough that everyone gets a chance to speak up and take on new challenges. When you succeed, people see it — and celebrate. No good deed goes unnoticed.

Having that support and sisterhood has made me a stronger leader. I always feel comfortable voicing my opinion and pushing for change — whether as a school ambassador, a participant in my forensics class (my favorite!), the captain of the golf team, or as a member of SpeakUp!, a program where students can discuss tough topics with adults and one another.

I’m excited to use those skills next year when I start college. I haven’t decided on a school yet, but I am grateful to have scholarships to my top picks — which, of course, all have golf teams.
Part of me is looking forward to a new adventure. Another part of me is nervous. But if I’ve learned anything, it’s that even if things get difficult, I can persevere — and win big.
Victoria Wajda is currently a senior at John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School located in Philadelphia. This article was originally posted at as well as on TFTOGP Facebook page: