August 2008

  • August 7, 2008
  • Written by Don Campbell

Golf courses around our province are rebounding after a dreadful spring. The main culprit, mostly in the southern part of the province, was desiccation. With the cool spring greens in particular had a tough time coming back. Greens at the Hillcrest in Moose Jaw were excellent this spring. Hard working superintendent Gary Cross did a fine job removing snow and hauling water to his greens early in the spring. The same was true in Swift Current where Doug Leavins and Richard Berg hauled water to their greens early in the spring also.

Just returned from a trip to Alberta and observed that most Golf Courses were in fine condition. One course caught my eye, however. The young superintendent aerated his greens late in the fall, just prior to freeze up. He probably thought that opening the soil and leaving the cores on the surface was an excellent means of winter injury prevention – big mistake! The open holes suffered from desiccation around the periphery and the cores made a hell of a mess on the green because of the difficulty in trying to clean them up. Don’t try this because there are no benefits what so ever.

Not many golf courses in our province own their own sprayer and rely on borrowing one, or they hire a spraying contractor to apply their pesticide. One important role of the green superintendent is to make sure the sprayer is clean and not contaminated by other chemical residue such as Roundup. I mention this because I know of a club that hired a spraying contractor to apply his winter fungicide. The sprayer was last used to spray Roundup … you can guess the rest! Another big reason to have a pesticide license.

Again I’ll mention that if something happens when spraying, such as the wrong chemical, too much of the desired pesticide or too little and the applicator hasn’t the proper license, it is the fault of the Golf Course, particularly the Directors. This has happened and the superintendent was fired. But it wasn’t his fault – it was, in my opinion, the fault of the Directors for not insisting the applicator had his license.

While I have my dander up
… It distresses me greatly that Clubs won’t send their superintendents to our Association seminars. Every year we see the same 40 to 50 people and guess what, these people have the best golf courses and I’ll bet they have their pesticide license too. Clubs have a responsibility to their members to educate their people. The expense is nothing compared to the eventual results.

While on the issue of pesticides
– you should avoid mixing pesticides to save time and labor. Do not mix a fungicide with an insecticide. Although some pesticides are compatible in tank mixes, most are not, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Back to Alberta for a moment.
I noticed, probably under the influence of tournament golf, a club provided their golfers or customers with “pin sheets” which show the exact location of the flagstick on the green, measured in paces. These “pin sheets” were made available on a daily basis to all golfers. They said it speeded play. I say “balls!”

Every superintendent has dual roles
when delegating tasks; a supervisor and a coach. Effective leaders successfully balance both these roles. Supervision is nothing more than almost mechanically directing and inspecting a subordinate’s work, but coaching is a more difficult form of teaching and inspiring. Although commonly viewed as a management function, effective delegation is a key to strong leadership. This was from a management seminar I attended in 1976. I took great notes in those days.

More and more Golf Clubs are starting
to construct forward tees. The forward tees are used by seniors, those players with higher handicaps, beginner players and youngsters. These tees are gaining in popularity because they bring the yardage down to 5000 yards or less for an 18 hole golf course. There are some great advantages of forward tees. They keep senior people playing and of course, having fun. It is after all, in almost all cases, the seniors which have built most of the courses in our province.

In repeated surveys regarding the skills golf course superintendents need, better communication skills continue to be mentioned at the top of the list among course officials. In numerous publications I’ve read, most superintendents state that maintaining turfgrass is often the easiest part of their job. Interacting with people is the most difficult. These statements provide a great insight into the relationship between superintendents and course officials.

This from a turf equipment technician
in Saskatoon. Everyone likes clean equipment but be careful with water. Never squirt a hot machine; shoot water from the sky and not the ground. Also, and this is important – use a biodegradable solvent to break down oil and grease. Before cleaning, spray this on the unit. It doesn’t take much. Just a light application to machine parts will do the job. You’ll get a cleaner machine and use less water which, in turn, lowers the chance of causing damage.

If you are planning on taking part in the skins game prior to the Research Tournament you should make room reservations at Jackfish Lodge immediately. The reservation number is 1-306-386-2800. Mention you plan to attend the STA Research Tournament and you’re all set. They have set aside a number of rooms but will only hold them so long, so I would reserve right away. The skins game is August 11th, starting at 4:00pm. Everyone who has played in this event in previous years has had a great time.

A well-known Golf Professional in Regina
during the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s was Fred Fletcher (no relation to Pat Fletcher). He was an excellent player despite weighing around 115 lbs and having a withered leg as a result of childhood polio. He and his wife Daisy had 4 children, appropriately named Par, Stymie, Dormie and Birdie. In 1926 the “Canadian Golfer” mentioned he was a “likeable, unassuming player, entirely free from the affectations which afflict some of the Pros”.

Unfortunately there is no room anywhere in the North American golfer’s vocabulary for the word “brown”. Grass must be green, even if it means over watering and plugged lies on fairways. There is nothing wrong with a little tinge of brown either. It’s a good sign that the course is not over-watered.

In the early days of golf judging yardage
was considered a skill and was an integral part of the game. There weren’t any yardage aids in those days and greens were purposely built without backdrops to provide a greater challenge in judging distances. This is, however, a forgotten skill with the addition of yardage markers on sprinkler heads and backdrops behind greens. The great golf course architect Allister MacKenzie once said that a hole should look tougher than it actually plays – back drops usually cause the opposite.

That’s it guys!
Please do me and the STA a favor by registering early for our Research Tournament at Jackfish Lodge in Cochin. We need a strong contingent of members so we can have fun and fellowship, and more importantly, contribute to Turfgrass Research in our province.

More in this category: « July 2008 September 2008 »

About Don Campbell

Don CampbellG. N. Don Campbell,
1933 –2016

S.T.A. Executive Director, 'Turf Tips' writer and editor of our 'TURFTALK' newsletter, Don Campbell has been an asset to our industry for decades!
A member in the turfgrass community for more than 57 years, Don started his career at Riverside Country Club in Saskatoon as a caddy, eventually becoming the course Superintendent. He finished his career as the General Manager at the very same course.

In 2004, Don was awarded the CGSA John B. Steel Distinguished Service Award, recognizing his lifetime commitment to turf care.
Don is survived by his wife Marie have three children: Sherril, Glen and Doug. 

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.