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April 2012

After returning home from a wonderful holiday in Palm Springs I got kicked in the butt big time. After not being able to see and losing 20 lbs in a little over two weeks and feeling like I’d been hit by a truck, I had a visit with my doctor. After tests I found I had diabetes. It is controlled by medication and I feel better now. One thing for sure is this disease sure changes your life style, particularly your eating habits.

As I write this, the weather outside is goofy. We have had rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow this evening. To top it off, today is the first day of spring. Having said this, nicer weather is on the way and soon we will be working outside.

After you receive this newsletter, and more importantly, you’ll receive a membership letter and invoice for 2012.
Please present this invoice to your Club for immediate payment. Last year we had over 200 members – this year I would like this number to increase. With more members we can continue to support Turf Research on a greater scale and also offer education throughout the season.

Your Board of Directors had scheduled a meeting for March 20th, but had to cancel because of some serious weather issues. This important meeting will be rescheduled for early April.

I ran across this when going through some papers I saved after I had my first heart attack in 1988.
I’ll share it with you. Running a golf course can feel like a 24-hour a day job, which leaves little time for a personal life. But if you are waiting for death to take a nap, you may get that chance sooner than you wish. Research suggests that workaholics are more likely to be depressed, anxious, and angry. High stress has also been linked to high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease and heart attack.

Further to the above, it’s not impossible to maintain a healthy balance between work and home. Here are a few tips: 1. Focus on quality, not quantity of tasks 2. Get organized – prioritize your daily tasks. For every minute you spend planning, you’ll save 10 minutes in execution. 3. Don’t do it all – be a leader – delegate to your people you’ve hired Balancing work and home will take time – so stick to your plan.

Today's’ golf courses are playing shorter for the best players than ever before. Is it better equipment such as clubs, the golf ball? I don’t think anybody will give you the answer. One thing is certain however, is that most golfers on Tour today are much better athletes than before. This is the main reason the ball is going further. I came to this conclusion after watching the Honda Classic. These guys are in extraordinary condition.

Standard golf says one of the most successful products they’ve ever marketed came from a Superintendent.
It was the drag brush which came on the market in 1980. It replaced the metal drag mat. The brush did a more effective job at working topdressing into the greens while eliminating the damage the metal mat caused. It also helped control thatch, because it stood up runners prior to mowing.

When the air compressor in your shop breaks down you are in big trouble because usually the break down is preventable, but also means you probably must replace the unit. Routine compressor maintenance involves two major areas of concern: keeping the system’s exterior clean of dust, grit and chaff and removing water from the tank. This maintenance chore will take you about 10 minutes and should be done once every week. This will keep the system in tip top condition.

The season is about to start so start planning your maintenance schedule. Flags, poles, tee markers along with other golf course hardware should be ordered now in time for the opening of the season. It may be a good idea to order 2 sets of flags so you can change them in mid-season. Having additional flags and poles along with tee markers is a good idea because of vandalism. Every golf course or park is prone to night time theft or vandalism.

When I was a young superintendent, our golf course didn’t have any trees so we searched for some fast growing species. We settled on North West poplars. What a mistake. They grew quick, no question, but so did their surface roots and they were messy. I doubt if there are any left, victims of the chainsaw called “Lightning”. Now quite a bit older and wiser, I realize that all trees are fast growing and it has taken me a long time to learn that trees grow bigger and stronger as I get older and weaker.

How many superintendents have taken time to create a standard operating procedure manual? If developed properly, the manual can be a real eye opener for most golfers and boards along with the Manager, to see what you do during the course of a week, a month, and a season. It shows a level of professionalism and planning that also explains what procedures you are doing and why you do them. Two of the very best I’ve seen were developed at golf courses in Saskatoon.

In mid-April you’ll receive an STA invoice for 2012-2013 membership fees. Please give this your immediate attention and submit payment as soon as possible. Remember it’s to your advantage to belong to the Saskatchewan Turfgrass Association. I was reminded of this after receiving membership fees from two golf clubs as I write this.

Quality Oil is good insurance. With 4-stroke engines, you should check the oil every time fuel is added. Equipment owners who have the lowest repair cost per hour of equipment operation often report that they buy the highest quality engine oil available. They contend that the few cents per litre difference in cost between premium and cheap oil simply helps ensure more trouble-free operating hours.

We are looking for a golf club to host the 2012 Research Tournament, North of Saskatoon. If you want to show off your golf course to your fellow superintendents, give us a call for details on hosting this important event.

Here is a tip when preparing for a tournament or an important event. If possible, apply your last application of topdressing seven to ten days prior. This will allow time for the sand to work into the putting surface so the greens are rolling as smooth as possible. It will also provide a consistent speed. It’s a good idea your green committee is on board because you’ll get flak from some of your golfers who don’t understand why you are doing this.

North American golfers are spoiled. This has major ramifications on the game here and to future development of golf courses. As golfers continue to demand perfect conditions, the cost of playing golf continues to increase and could be the reason we are losing players. We have stripped designers of a major tool of their craft – freedom. Freedom to be fun and quirky. If you hit a ball 30 feet off centre you shouldn’t necessarily have a good lie and a good shot. We are overgrooming our golf courses. Let’s get back to the old days the way the Brits groom their golf courses.

Grantland Rice said golf is twenty percent mechanics and technique. The other 80 percent is philosophy, humour, tragedy, romance, melodrama, companionship, camaraderie, cussedness and some times, conversation. Bob Hope added to this by saying golf is a game that needlessly prolongs the lives of some of our most useless citizens.

I got this from Peter Semko while in Palm Springs. While we were watching golf he said when one is lining up a golf shot one should concentrate on a target rather than any hazard that’s out there. The reason I mention this is Johnny Miller said the same thing during the recent Honda Classic.

Speaking of the Honda Classic, did anyone notice the bunkers had little rocks in them. Actually I thought it was pea gravel. I didn’t hear any of the players, caddies or the announcers complaining about bunkers having bad sand, being unfair or inconsistent. If bunkers at private clubs in our province were like this, you would know what would hit the fan and it would not be rocks.

Robert Stack said tennis is like shotgun shooting; golf is like rifle shooting. One is precision, one is reactive. Golf is precision like tennis is reactive.

The late Gordon Witteveen told me this one while in Regina courtesy of the STA. He said smell your grass! Just as you stop and smell the roses, you should smell your grass. Get down on your hands and knees, pick a little tuft, hold it up to the sun and then bring to your nose. He went on to say, one should do this on the 18th green, with golfers watching from the clubhouse, which will lead them to think you’re nuts. Witteveen said it isn’t a joke. If your grass smells like fish, get ready to spray.

Speaking of Gord Witteveen, who passed away in 2010, was recently inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame in the builder category. Witteveen was a founding Director of the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association and was a career golf course superintendent with 50 years of service at golf clubs in Ontario. He was also a renowned golf writer, author, featured speaker and educator. He made significant contributions to golf course turf management in Canada and around the world.

The growth of trees around a golf course causes profound change over the years. Playing strategy, sun/shade relationships, air movement, frost problems, drainage problems and exposed roots also emerge as factors as trees continue to grow and expand. Tree maintenance as an ongoing management practise is slim to none at most golf courses.

Applying chemicals may seem like routine work for anyone employed in any type of grounds care. Yet, some applicators may be overlooking the need to wear the right personal protective equipment to reduce exposure to contaminants. Choosing the correct type of clothing, gloves, footwear, eye protection and respiratory protection is a necessity when using chemicals of any toxicity level. Disposable wear is available.

You can keep your 4-cycle gas engine running smoothly with regular preventative maintenance, periodic tune-ups and careful troubleshooting. Start the spring season with a new maintenance program. Besides daily inspections of your gas engines, you need to set up a regular schedule for more thorough inspection and maintenance. A preventative maintenance schedule is organized by operating hours.

Do you know a golf course or park is the fifth most likely place where cardiac arrests may occur; almost 20% of all golf and park facilities will have a cardiac emergency and it is now the number one cause of death at golf facilities world wide. When you consider hospitals and home are numbers 1 and 2, the number 5 ranking at golf courses and parks is surprising.

What causes the most stress?
Some will say health problems or relationships gone bad, but the threat of losing your job causes more stress than anyone can imagine. And believe me, the threat is very real. There is always a small group of people in any work force, but particularly golf clubs, who think they have the answers to everything. They continually clamor for a person’s head. Managers could put a stop to it, but don’t.

There are certain words that should never be mentioned on a golf course. Among those words is “brown”. Grass must be green, even if it means over-watering and plugged lies in fairways. There’s nothing wrong with a little tinge of brown. It’s a good sign that the course is not over-watered.

A consulting service is provided by Jim Ross and the Prairie Turfgrass Research Centre in order to assist managers with turfgrass problems and deficient areas within their management program. The need for this important service is necessary as greater demands are placed on your turf. Problems that we have not encountered before, such as decreased mowing heights have increased stress on turf. If you need help, give Jim Ross a call. If you want to know more about this service, give me a call.

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About the STA

  • Saskatchewan's Turfgrass Association, founded in 1979, is a non-profit organization. The S.T.A. was organized by a group of Turfgrass Professionals which has grown to include people from Parks, Golf Courses, Sod Growers, Cities and Commercial Companies.