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Nakatsukasa’s keeping it green


As Clarence Nakatsukasa approaches his 80th birthday, he is closing his latest career, presumably so he can play more golf.

Fittingly, the Hawaii Golf Course Superintendents Association awarded its executive director a Lifetime Achievement Award at February’s annual golf Ho‘olaulea. Nakatsukasa will retire as ED the end of this year.

He will retire again. The award was given for his service to Hawaii golf, his country and community. There have been several retirements.

Nakatsukasa graduated from the University of Hawaii in 1959 with a degree in history. Then he set about making some.

His Army career covered the next 20 years and he retired — for the first time — as a major. Military awards included the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious and Commendation Medal and Vietnam Campaign and Service Medal.

His golf game also was impressive.

“Golf gave me a lot of opportunities,” Nakatsukasa recalled about his military days. “I met a lot of people, played courses all over the world — on the mainland, in the Far East and Hawaii. The game really helped me in my career so I’m trying to give back. That’s why I’m still doing it.”

When he came home, Nakatsukasa was a Personnel Management Specialist with the Army Corps of Engineers and at Pearl Harbor Naval Base, along with Administrator for COMSAT, a satellite communications company.

His golf career — basically his third career — wouldn’t start until 1988, when his kids were out of school. He was a starter at Ala Wai and Golf Operations Assistant at Ted Makalena, then at Pali.

In 1994, the history major accepted the position of Golf Course Superintendent at Ala Wai, one of the busiest courses on the face of the earth. A year later, he began serving on the HGCSA board of directors.

Nakatsukasa’s training for his new position consisted of a huge course load ahead of time and hours of reading course maintenance material. He talked early and often with his new peers, along with suppliers of everything from equipment to fertilizer.

“I learned a lot from them,” he recalls, “and experienced a lot on my own.”

There was a lot to experience, with his assistant by his side. They usually showed up at Ala Wai at 4:30 a.m. and finished between 2-3 p.m. Nakatsukasa, who worked Pali simultaneously for eight “overwhelming” months, would be back on the weekend to play, and keep an eye on the place.

Along with the crowds, the flat course also has to deal with an abundance of salt in the soil, which causes bare spots. Its greens, which can be surprisingly good for a municipal course, are immensely difficult to maintain and nurture.

Along with everything else — for a multitude of reasons some courses face, and many do not.

“We’d be trying to do things to the golf course, but we’ve got so many people on it that it’s really hard to work around them,” Nakatsukasa recalled. “We had a lot of unhappy people when we’d close certain sections of the golf course. I always tried to talk to them and said, ‘Look, we’re trying to make it better for you guys,’ so they kind of understood.”

Ala Wai, with its legendary six-somes, not only deals with massive numbers on the course. It has relatively few maintenance workers, particularly in comparison to resort and private courses.

“The difficulty was not having the resources,” Nakatsukasa says. “Meaning primarily people and money and equipment. We have to make do with what’s available. We had to work hard and you had to get your workers convinced about what the job was all about, and why it was important to do the best you could.”

He sometimes still speaks about Ala Wai in the present, but he retired — again — 10 years ago. He quietly became the HGCSA’s first Executive Director. “For me,” he admits, “it’s a volunteer position.”

Golf must be a passion. He has worked too hard for it to be anything else.

“Maybe I’m crazy,” Nakatsukasa says. “I always felt along the way that golf was really good to me so I’m always trying to give back to something that did a lot for me.

“When I was playing and in the military I was a pretty decent golfer. A lot of people, I’m talking about generals and officers and members of Congress, I’ve gone out and played with them because I was involved in the game. That helped me in my career. Once I was done with that I needed to give back so that’s what I want to do now.”

Sounds like yet another career might take him into his 80s.


Curtis Kono Featured in Star Advertiser Article

It’s a walk in the park for golf groundskeeper Kono

Curtis Kono has an intriguing way of describing the rarefied air at The Masters. It is colored by his life as a horticulture major, Manoa Cup champion, keeper of the greens at one of Hawaii’s most venerable golf courses and pineapple carver extraordinaire.


By Ann Miller Special to the Star-Advertiser

Kono calls Augusta National “a walk in the park.” Or, in his case, a ride on the mower as the sun comes up and goes down every April. He will serve as a volunteer greenskeeper for the 17th time at next week’s Masters.

Kono says the same about all the classic courses he has visited. The elite list includes a British Open at Royal Birkdale and U.S. Open at Shinnecock. He worked both as a volunteer with the grounds staff and will add Hazeltine later this year when he helps prepare it for the Ryder Cup.

He will be one of 30 “out of state/foreign” volunteers in Minnesota. He is one of 75 at Augusta, getting called in the first time he inquired in 2000, with his impeccable resume helping him leap over a waitlist that is reportedly thousands long.

“I’ve always enjoyed experiencing different venues and playing top-ranked courses all over our country and the world,” Kono explains. “I’ve been very fortunate that this game of golf has allowed me to meet a lot of good people and visit a lot of beautiful places over the five decades I’ve been connected with it. How gorgeous many of these places are … a walk in the park.”
Continue reading ‘Curtis Kono Featured in Star Advertiser Article’

Ninety chapters send delegates to meeting at GCSAA headquarters

From the GCSAA Website Chapter News

Two-day session provides superintendents the opportunity for learning, feedback and community

2015-delegates-meetingLawrence, Kan. (Nov. 3, 2015) – More than 100 members from 90 chapters visited GCSAA headquarters last week to cover topics ranging from a final look at the revised members standards proposal, to a chance to hear from candidates nominated for the 2016 board of directors. In addition, delegates participated in constructive dialogue on association issues such as committee structure and marketing initiatives for the association’s 17,500 members.

For some of the new attendees, it was a chance to learn more about their association.

“I now have a new appreciation for how the association is run and the true value that we receive by simply getting involved,” said GCSA of New England representative Greg Cormier, a certified golf course superintendent (CGCS) and director of golf course operations at Nashawtuc Country Club in Concord, Mass.

Jake Snyman, golf course superintendent at the Palmer Lakeside course at Barton Creek in Austin, Texas, was equally impressed: “I got more out of this than anything I have done in the last 12 years I have been a member,” said Snyman, a 40-year-old from South Africa who has been a superintendent at Barton Creek for three years and was in Lawrence representing the Central Texas GCSA.

Russ Dooge, CGCS, thought it was time well spent, too, even though he has been connected to GCSAA leadership as a chapter delegate annually since 1996.

Dooge, a longtime superintendent and now general manager with golf course management oversight at The Dunes at Maui Lani Golf Course, traveled nearly 4,000 miles from Hawaii for the opportunity to spend 48 hours talking with fellow members and GCSAA staff.

“We talked about member standards at my first chapter delegates meeting in 1997,” recalled Dooge, a member of the Hawaii GCSA. “It is important. But what we are doing in advocacy for the profession and the golf industry as a whole is huge. That is something I can’t do, and it helps me stay in business.”

GCSAA President John O’Keefe, CGCS, gave an overview of the member standards proposal that will be presented for membership approval at the 2016 Golf Industry Show in February. That proposal, developed after more than a year of discussions with chapter delegates and other members, will slightly increase the education points needed for Class A renewal as well as modify the requirements for eligibility, which will continue to be based on a combination of formal education, experience and earned education points.

“While there was some discussion about what will qualify for service points in a strong education platform, I am pleased that we have the full backing and direction from our delegates to move forward,” said O’Keefe, director of golf courses management at Preakness Hills Country Club in Wayne, N.J. “Class A member standards are important for defining who we are, both individually and collectively. They frame a member’s professional identity.”

In addition, GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans shared with delegates a brief snapshot of their association’s priority programs, an overview of how the association has been strengthened in recent years, and a preview of plans for the 2016 Golf Industry Show in San Diego. There was also time devoted to a free-flowing Town Hall session.


Please CLICK HERE to Download the full agenda of the 2015 Chapter Delegates Meeting

Rover Ant (Brachymyrmex sp.) control at Hualalai Golf Course/Resort, Hawaii

Please CLICK HERE to Download a printable version.

Report prepared by
Zhiqiang Cheng1, Earl Sanders2, and George Nakashima3


The rover ant, Brachymyrmex sp. (Figure 1), alate swarms have been a seasonal nuisance at some of Hawaii’s golf courses for the past several years, especially at Hualalai Golf Course / Resort on Big Island. Colonies are mainly formed in soil underneath turfgrass, bases of trees, and in leaf litter, etc. Alate swarms, attracted to objects in bright colors such as white/yellow shirts, throughout the warm summer months drive golfers off the course, as mating flights usually occur from May to August.

Figure 1. Brachymyrmex sp. alate (winged male) (photo by Hara, A.)

Figure 1. Brachymyrmex sp. alate (winged male) (photo by Hara, A.)

Several entomologists and ant experts have been consulted to review the situation. Major observations and findings prior to this research are briefly summarized as below:

  1. Brachymyrmex sp. appears to infest all turf areas throughout Hualalai Golf Course / Resort.
  2. Alate (attracted to light) swarms throughout the warm summer months drive golfers off the course.
  3. Standard treatments (neonicotinoids, chlorpyrifos, bifenthrin) have not been very effective.
  4. A bait manufactured on sugar and protein base may be attractive to Brachymyrmex sp.

This research aims to identify effective means to control rover ant, Brachymyrmex sp., at Hualalai Golf Course / Resort, which has been negatively affected by this nuisance turf pest. The golf course superintendent at Hualalai golf course received many complaints from golfers over the years, and is positioned to resolve this situation. In recent observations and communications with several other golf course superintendents, golfers, and home owners, it became apparent that this nuisance ant pest had affected several other golf courses in Hawaii, possibly at Ted Makalena Golf Course, and more. Therefore, this research will not only benefit the superintendent at Hualalai Golf Course / Resort, but will also bring broader benefits to other affected golf courses in Hawaii.


The overall objective of this research is to test the efficacies of several newly developed granular ant baits against the rover ant, Brachymyrmex sp., both in the lab and in the field. Specifically,

Objective 1: To determine which ant baits to be included in the field trial, based on lab tests.

Objective 2: To determine the efficacies of selected ant baits against the rover ant, Brachymyrmex sp., in field trial at Hualalai Golf Course / Resort.

Materials and Methods

Several relatively new granular ant baits were tested in this project, including Maxforce Complete (by Bayer), Advance 375A (by BASF), Sieta (by BASF), and Intice (by Rockwell Lab), with and without sugar amendment.

Objective 1: To determine which ant baits to be included in the field trial, based on lab tests.

Seven baiting treatments were tested in the lab to determine which were to be included in the field trial. These were Maxforce Complete (MC), Advance 375A (Ad), Advance 375A + Sugar (AdS), Sieta (Si), Sieta + Sugar (SiS), Intice (In), and Intice + Sugar (InS). The ratio of bait to sugar amendment was 1:1. A control without any bait was included in the lab test. There were 4 replications for each bait and the control. Therefore, 32 petri-dishes were used in the lab test. Five active Brachymyrmex sp. individuals were placed in each petri-dish. Some soil collected together with Brachymyrmex sp. was placed in each petri-dish to mimic the field environment. Attractiveness to baits was observed, and dead ant numbers were counted right after setup, and then at 18 hours, 30 hours, and 48 hours after these ants were exposed to the baits.

Objective 2: To determine the efficacies of selected ant baits against the rover ant, Brachymyrmex sp., in field trial at Hualalai Golf Course / Resort.

Based on lab test results, selected baits were included in the field trial at Hualalai Golf Course / Resort on Big Island, Hawaii. These were MC, AdS, and In. The field plot layout, including the check/control, was as below:


Each plot was 20 ft by 20 ft, and there was a 3-ft buffer area between any 2 adjacent plots to avoid cross-treatment contaminations. Baits were applied at manufacturers’ recommended rates, and irrigation in the field trial area was ceased for 3 days after baits were applied.

Four random spots (1.5×1.5 sq ft, 1 ft deep) were dug in each plot to evaluate Brachymyrmex sp. population density on the scale of 0-3, 0 being no ant at all, 3 being extremely populated with ant eggs, pupae, workers, and alates. Three people evaluated at the same time, and the average of three people’s ratings was considered the final evaluation for each spot. Initial Brachymyrmex sp. population density was evaluated prior to treatments. The same three people did post-treatment ratings at 2 weeks after treatments. Data were subject to appropriate statistical analysis.

Results So Far

As briefly mentioned in Materials and Methods, Maxforce Complete (a.i. 1% Hydramethylnon), Advance 375A + Sugar (a.i. 0.011% Abamectin), and Intice (a.i. 5% boric acid) showed the best overall baiting effects in the lab tests. Maxforce Complete, Advance 375A + Sugar, and Intice resulted in 60-90% mortality at 48 hours. Therefore, these 3 granular baits were included in the field test.

In field trial, however, we did not observe similar results as in lab tests. Figure 2 below shows the ant infestation reduction 2 weeks post treatment. Only Intice shows minor efficacy compared to the untreated control. This result is somewhat unexpected, but not unusual as sometimes lab test results do not match well with field test results due to uncontrollable factors in real world situations.

Figure 2. Field trial results

Figure 2. Field trial results

Next Steps

With additional support from GCSAA, we will continue exploring possible means to control Brachymyrmex sp. issues. Some additional granular ant baits will be tested, such as Distance (by NuFram), and modified Intice (with different a.i.), and others. A granular ant bait with fipronil as active ingredient (such as Top Choice by Bayer) will also be tested if permission from Hawaii Dept. of Agriculture is obtained. The research approach will be similar, i.e. conducting lab test first, and then field trial. Repeated applications of selected ant baits may be conducted and field efficacy tested.

In addition, we will explore the possibility of suppressing mealy bugs in the turf area and test if that will result in lower Brachymyrmex sp. population. For this approach, we will include popular insecticides for mealy bug control, such as TriStar, and others.


Funding from HGCSA, GCSAA, and Z. Cheng’s Hatch and Smith-Lever projects at CTAHR UH Manoa made this research possible. We also thank staff members at Hualalai Resort for help with field trial, and graduate student in Z. Cheng’s lab for help with lab test.


Arnold H. Hara, Cas Vanderwoude, Susan Cabral, and George Nakashima, 2012. Rover Ant, Brachymyrmex obscurior, at Hualalai. DRAFT COPY (05/02/2012). Unpublished data.

Personal communications with Mr. Earl Sanders (Hualalai Resort),Mr. George Nakashima (Crop Production Services), Mr. Art Guzman (Rockwell Labs), and others.

1Zhiqiang Cheng – Assistant Extension Specialist/Professor (Turfgrass and Landscape Pest Management), Dept. of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii
2Earl Sanders – Hualalai Golf Course / Resort, Kaupulehu-Kona, Hawaii
3George Nakashima – Crop Production Services, Hilo, Hawaii

Landscape Industry Certified Technician (LICT) 2015 Training

lictrIf you or know someone that is interesting in becoming a Landscape Industry Certified Technician (LICT), classes for training starts in early June! Registration is limited, so please sign up early. Any questions, please contact Madeleine Shaw at 597-0708 or

Turfgrass education available through the University of Hawaii, Windward Community College on Oahu


A few courses which may be of interest to the professional turf industry; Windward Community College has the only educational program on Oahu dedicated to helping develop turf professionals.

We have a 3 hole par 3 facility to enhance the learning experience.

AG 182 Turfgrass Management meets Wed. 1:30-3:45pm, 1/12-5/13, 3 credits
Identification, maintenance, and planting of turf grass for home, Park, and golf course areas. Discusses irrigation, fertilization, species, and pest control.

AG 40 Turfgrass Equipment meets TH 5-7:45pm 1/13-2/11 1 credit
Teaches the operation and maintenance of equipment used in turf grass operations.

AG 36 Pesticide Safety meets T 5-7:45pm, 2/14-3/18, 1 credit
Pesticide application, formulation, toxicity, transportation, storage, disposal, and rules and regulations governing their use.
This course is worth 17 DOA recertification credits

AG 235 Irrigation Principles and Design meets W 5-7:45pm 1/12-5/13 3 credits
Fundamentals of irrigation principles, plant, soil, water relationships,
soil moisture sensing devices, delivery systems, set up of drip,
sprinkler. Use of chemigation

Registration is now open. Here is a link to the on line application:

The cost is roughly $100 per credit.

Any questions call me at 236-9265 or email

A quick update from the chapter Delegate Meeting in Lawrence, Kansas on October 14-15, 2014


  • The Board of Directors were proposing to reduce the size of the Board from 9 to 8. The main reason being that the Past President did not want to travel as much. After hearing from the delegates, this motion was tabled.
  • The Equipment Managers have an association that has roughly 300-400 members worldwide. They have approached GCSAA to join GCSAA with an Equipment Managers Classification. This was not met with open arms. Cost to GCSAA was a big reason even with it being said that the equipment companies would likely have classes for them. This motion was tabled to dead with the membership standards.
  • Membership standards was the big talk. The PDI program has not worked out the way it was supposed to. To make it easy, the BOD is asking to go back to how the classifications were in 2000, which is A, B and C classes. A new Superintendent is a class B member until they have been a Superintendent for three years, then they become a Class A member. There was some opposition to this where some members felt that a pesticide license is needed. The BOD will go over this and come back next year with a recommendation to vote on in 2016.
  • The last thing that was brought to the delegates was a dues increase of $10.00 for A/Superintendent members and $5.00 for C members. These dues increases are brought forward every 2-3 years and are based on the CPI. This is done so as not to have a $50.00 raise every 5 years.

There were a few other items that were presented to us and I will post those later but I did want to tell everyone about GCSAA Government Relations. Chava McKeel and her staff have done some wonderful things for GCSAA in Washington. They were helpful in getting MSMA back as well as the extended use of Nemacur. Right now they are working on meeting with the EPA regarding the Waters of the U.S. Proposed Rulemaking.

Russ Dooge
GCSAA Hawaii Chapter Delegate

Photos of the 2014 HGCSA Golf Tournament and Seminar have been Published

CLICK HERE to view more GREAT pictures!

Extension of the Fenamiphos (Nemacur) End-Use Date has been Granted

Dear GCSAA members,

Often when I reach out to you, it is to give a status report on the association or to make you aware of a change at GCSAA. But, today I have the opportunity to share some significant news that has resulted from GCSAA’s dedication to advocating on your behalf.

unnamedYesterday afternoon we were contacted by the EPA to let us know that GCSAA’s request for the extension of the fenamiphos (Nemacur) end-use date has been granted until Oct. 6, 2017. We have been given a three-year extension of use of existing Nemacur stocks. Nemacur is used to control the major genera of nematodes attacking turfgrass. This includes root knot, root lesion, sting, lance and ring nematodes. The EPA plans to publish a notice in the Federal Register on the extension next week. We greatly appreciate the EPA’s understanding of the needs of our industry.

Our advocacy efforts are a team effort and are making a difference for superintendents and their facilities. A large part of GCSAA’s advocacy efforts take place behind the scenes, with meetings in Washington or in statehouses around the country or in countless phone calls to stakeholders and decision makers. But it is not just GCSAA staff or the Board or the Government Relations Committee who are championing the cause. Outcomes such as this one would be impossible without an engaged membership playing a vital role. Continue reading ‘Extension of the Fenamiphos (Nemacur) End-Use Date has been Granted’

From the August GCM-Derrick Watts and the Prince Golf Club

The scenery alone at Prince Golf Club on the Hawaiian island of Kauai makes for experiences usually seen in watercolor paintings or on the big screen.

There is a rain forest on the property. Jungle. Rivers. The waterfall that comes out of a lava tube behind the 13th green by itself is breathtaking. For director of agronomy Derrick Watts, being able to work at a location most others would call a vacation destination is quite the perk.

“It is unbelievably beautiful and an architectural marvel,” says Watts, a 14-year GCSAA member. “For those who play the course, it is more a journey than a round of golf.”

Prince GC, on Hanalei Bay in Princeville, may look familiar. More than 50 years ago, its beauty was amplifed in scenes shot on location for legendary duo Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s musical “South Pacifc.” If anything, the flm served as a launching point for the island being viewed as the place to be for romance and charm.

In his own way, Watts has helped make the golf experience a land of enchantment.

A player development program that was initiated 16 months ago at Prince by a combined effort from the management team has been a big hit. As of June, more than 600 people have tried the program, which consists of a six-hole pitch and putt. Each afternoon, the driving range is cleared to make way for the Mini Prince Par-3 that opens at 4 p.m. Holes on the family-friendly course range from 48 to 91 yards and include an 8-inch-diameter cup to try to increase playability and enjoyment. It takes about 30 minutes to play, allowing each guest a chance to play six, 12 or 18 holes.
Continue reading ‘From the August GCM-Derrick Watts and the Prince Golf Club’

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