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April 2015

I’m tired of winter as never before. As I write this it is snowing heavily. They say we are going to get up to 10cm of wet snow. I used to like winter, but as one gets older you could do without. I have to stay here because I can’t get health insurance and my doctors will not let me travel. That’s life I guess.

I’ve had some calls from members wondering why they haven’t received their newsletters for January, February, and March. I imagine there is some more who wondered what happened. In at least two fall newsletters I explained the newsletters for January, February, and March would appear on our website. I guess I didn’t make myself that clear. In all fairness, some members who called didn’t have access to a computer.

Several courses in our Province have new superintendents this year. I wish them all much success this coming year and may you all become STA members. Your membership will be rewarding. Participate in all our programs, especially to exchange ideas with your fellow superintendents.

This past winter we had a number of superintendents wanting to hire an assistant. Most didn’t receive a single application. The superintendents that I know are excellent Golf Turf managers and young person’s wanting to improve his knowledge re golf course maintenance are missing a big opportunity to learn from these veterans in the industry. I guess most young people coming out of Turf College think they are ready to be a superintendent. I’ve got news for you.

I see a large number of geese are back after spending the winter in the South. It is not uncommon for a goose to produce a half pound of fecal matter each day. These droppings often contain microorganisms that cause gastrointestinal illness. This infection can be fatal for old geezers like me. Precautions against this infection includes washing hands, clothing, and equipment in important because disinfectants mean the parasites are going to be dead.

This month you will receive an STA invoice for 2015 membership fees. Please give the invoice to your Club manager or in some cases the Club treasurer for immediate payment. If you wish to pay by Credit Card, phone me (306) 343-8142. Do not send Credit Card information by email. It isn’t safe.

For those of you who missed this on our website, Joe Bloski’s 50 year career with Early’s Farm and Garden Centre has come to an end. Joe has retired. Mr. Bloski was a great supporter of the STA, leading many committees and chairing numerous events. These events were always successful. Our association will miss Joe, but in retiring his efforts have made the organization better.

Tree stumps remaining after a tree is removed often pose landscape problems. A felled poplar not only generates shoots from the stump, but also along the entire length of its root system. You can use chemical treatment such as Round-up or Ezject, but there is a downside to using these chemicals. Roots of adjacent trees frequently form natural grafts permitting the chemical applied to one to move through the grafted root into its neighbor. This has been known to cause the sudden and inexplicable death of a neighbor’s prized tree about a week later. I know of a case on our block where this happened to each side of him.

Here are a couple of quotes from one Clubs’ newsletter from Donald Trump. “I can tell right away if a guy is a winner or a loser just by the way he conducts himself on the golf course.” And from Lee Trevino- “All rough should have tall grass. When you go bowling they don’t do anything for landing in the gutter, do they?”

While on the subject of trees, avoid the temptation to plant a fast grower that will have instant effect. This type of tree usually is soft wooded, messy, and has surface roots and a shorter life span. A better course of action is to choose an appropriate variety for your area that has the proper growth characteristics and few pest problems.

The late Gord Witteveen offered this analogy of fast greens, he said: television golf and the stimp meter have combined to put pressure on superintendents to provide fast greens, greens so fast, according to some tour players, that a dime left as a ball marker would slide off the green. Greens are being cut to the quick, rolled and left to dry all in the quest for speed. In some cases it’s a miracle that the poor grass manages to survive.

One of the most important tasks on the golf course is cup cutting. Some will say it is the most unappealing chore. Nobody, golfer or greenkeeper, wants to see a flag stick leaning like the tower in Italy. It’s one of the most important jobs in the course right behind keeping up the greens.

The STA Board of Directors are meeting April 13th here in Saskatoon. A number of important events will be reviewed by your directors.

  1.  Overview of the 2014 STA Fall Wind up and AGM
  2.  2015 STA Research Tournament
  3.  STA Summer Field Day

Once considered a costly alternative to establishing turf grass, sodding is increasingly winning favour as a visible method on new landscapes. Home and business owners along with golf courses are embracing sodding because it takes less time to establish, allowing them to show off their property sooner.

Just received an article on “Take All Patch in Saskatchewan” written by Josh Seibel, superintendent at Mainprize Golf Course in Midale, Sask. This very good article is too long for this newsletter, so it will appear on our website. It’s a good read and worthwhile taking a few minutes to go over it.

Just attended the “Gardenscape” here in Saskatoon. The STA was well represented at the show. Shellview Sod Farms and Westwood Turf and Landscape took part in the show with booth space. Early’s Farm and Garden were represented. Kevin Bloski was a speaker talking about the ABC’s of lawn care. Kevin did a good job. Barry Agarand and Bob Hockness were there with C&F irrigation. I observed lots of people at these booths, asking questions about their products.

Ideally, a Green Chairman should serve five years. Yearly terms can create problems as well. A real asset would be to have the next Chairman serve at least a couple of years on the committee under the leadership of the existing Chairman. The overlap can improve the transition.

Christy Morrissey, a University of Saskatchewan avian toxicologist is concerned about the drop in the songbird population. Barn swallows have declined 70 to 80% since 1975. Also, you used to see meadowlark’s on just about every fence post. They are now increasingly rare to see or hear. Research continues and is focused on a common insecticide used in agriculture.

I got this one from the Learning Network. The best way to enhance a career is by participating in professional or trade Associations. This is according to about 55% of executives who participate in an employment survey.

I saw this notice at the Saskatoon Fieldhouse where I work out every day as a member of the Cardiac Rehabilitation group. It says in bold print that many exercise fail because they are discontinued- not because they are ineffective. For instance golf, as a recreational sport, has a high rate of compliance and appeals to all ages and both sexes. Under a physician’s guidance, walking the golf course can even become a valuable part of an exercise recovery program for cardiac patients.

“What is good golf course maintenance worth?” You will consistently find that better playing conditions increases the desire to play the course, hence higher green fee revenues. Courses that spend more on maintenance are those that command higher green fees.

A lot of people are surprised to find that the majority of the pesticide products used by golf course superintendents are identical or closely related to those used by housewives. As well, some close relatives are used by medical people to treat a variety of illnesses. I have taken Warfarin for over 10 years to ward off another heart attack or a stroke.

It is important that superintendents know the rules of golf. One should take a rules seminar at least once a year and apply the rules to course marking and maintenance. Use the proper terms - flagstick not pin, bunker not trap, through the green, not waste bunker or grass bunker. Television commentators continually use the incorrect terms listed above. When you play your course, let it be known you understand the game and you appreciate the rules.

Professional golfer, Nick Faldo says it is ironic that the most strategic golf course he ever played is the only one that wasn’t designed by man. He is talking about the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland.

This summer, walk your golf course. First, as every green superintendent knows you cannot asses the course from your truck or golf cart. Greens and tees look pretty good from 50 feet while you’re driving about 10 kilometers per hour. Walking the course will improve your attention. It isn’t a bad idea to walk with your greens chairman once in a while also.

Grant Sawchyn, superintendent at the North Battleford Golf and Country Club sent me an article about “Golf’s Unsung Heroes” written by Rick Young. One of Grant’s directors gave this article to him at a recent Board meeting.

Earlier, I wrote that Songbirds are declining in numbers, but here is another story certainly amazing, it’s a tiny Blackpoll Warbler flies 3 days nonstop in record migration. This little sucker weighs just 23 grams- less than two loonies. The new tracking study shows it is capable of flying up to 2770 kilometers over the Western Atlantic Ocean over three days without stopping to rest. You may question this long flight, but it is known that in stormy weather the warbler will land on ships to wait out bad weather.

This spring when you walk your golf course for the first time is a good time to inspect the trees on the property. You may find some are in danger of seriously injuring people. Broken branches are real dangers and most likely will fall in the spring. If you do this it will demonstrate your concern for the people who are enjoying your facility.

Soon after receiving this newsletter you will receive an invoice for 2015 STA membership fees. When you receive it, please present it to your Club for prompt payment. I thank you in advance for your attention.


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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.