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August 2011

The 2011 S.T.A Research Tournament is three weeks away. Make sure you mark August 21st (Skins) and August 22nd on your calendar. Help us promote Turfgrass Research in our province. Another plus is the exchange of ideas with your colleagues. Richard Berk at Elmwood and Doug Leavins at Chinook will have their golf courses in prime shape for the events.

Some golf courses are still dealing with flooding which is causing major damage to the financial picture but to the course as well. I recently visited a golf course in out province which suffered considerable damage due to seepage. The river running by the property was higher than the fairways thus causing the seepage. You pump the area in the morning, come back after lunch and these’s as much or more water in the same area. Back to the pumps and start all over. A note to all managers – Remember, Greenkeepers are well trained individuals who continually upgrade their turfgrass education through seminars, provincial conferences, newsletters and the internet. These people are the number one asset at any golf course or park. Managers and Superintendents, along with the Golf Professional should work together to attain a common goal. “The best possible conditions within the parameters of the organizations financial plan.”

Please remember if you plan on playing in the “Skins” game at Doug Leavins, Chinook Gold Course in Swift Current give Ron Dagert at Early’s a call. His phone number is 306-931-1982. This will help him organize the event on August 21st starting at 4pm.

This past summer I’ve noticed a drop off in play at a number of golf courses around Saskatoon. Weather conditions have something to do with it but I haven’t a clue about any other reasons although I’ve heard of a couple of reasons for the downhill slide. One is the cost per round, the time it takes to play and golf courses are getting tougher to play.

More about the drop off in golf. Thirty-seven percent of women golfers are 50 or older and their average score is 108. Thirty-two percent of male golfers 50 and over have an average score of 96, these numbers are ten years old and since then golf courses are harder to play (longer rough, narrower fairways and unreasonably fast greens.) The average scores for men and ladies 50 and over have gone up significantly since. Golfers are older also. Eighty percent of all golfers don’t achieve a handicap less than 18.

During my long career at the Private Club here in Saskatoon the most common complaint I heard was about sand traps – too soft, too hard, too deep, inconsistent, not enough sand, unfair and so on. The second complaint was about the on course washrooms. We need water, we need hot water, we need a real toilet, how do we wash our hands, it smells, its dark, why don’t you clean out the pit, why do you use lime? That’s just a few. After hearing these complaints we built a real washroom and shelters in the middle of the course. The next round of complaining was the expenses, we don’t need that, its a castle. Members have the cost at $50,000. It cost just under $18,000. Members complained – the wrong tissue, they are dirty, there’s paper all over and on and on. They are still yapping – The members make the mess, they want the workers to have it shiny. They don’t complain to the superintendent, they generally go to the Pro Shop.

Linda Mathews, a horticulturist living in Saskatoon says Pesticides are ancient history. This can be traced back to 1200 B.C when the Egyptians used hemlocks and aconite for pest control. Sulphur was used as a fungicide on plants in 1000 B.C. The first synthetic insecticides and herbicides were produced in the early 1900’s.

Green Superintendents, greens chairman and other club executives would do well to enter a team in the S.T.A Research tournament in Swift Current August 22nd. You can have a lot of fun, interact with fellow Superintendents and course executives and play a very good golf course. Enter a team immediately.

In preparing this “Newsletter” I ran across this message I wrote to myself after visiting a golf course in our province.
I didn’t think it was ever done – a green that was built over an irrigations line. You guessed it – there was a break and after many tries couldn’t match the existing grade. Perhaps they should have rerouted a new line around the green.

Mark Mohart told me this one. No matter how bad your last shot was, the worst is yet to come. This law does not expire after the 18th hole, since it has the supernatural tendency to extend over the course of a tournament, a summer and eventually a lifetime.

Quotes from Jim Cote: “I was three over today: One over the house, one over the patio and one over a swimming pool.” And another more recent one of Jim’s golf wisdom: “The greens are so fast I have to hold my putter over the ball and hit it with the shadow.”

Larry Gelhuly says there are two visual aids on the golf course he would like to see eliminated. The first is the prolific and accepted use of multicoloured flags to indicate hole locations. The second is 150 yard trees, shrubs or posts. He says they do nothing to improve the golf landscape and in many cases can be distracting. The general reason why these are used is it’s supposed to speed play.

My daughter and her husband are visiting from North Carolina. My son in-law tells me at his golf course they have gotten rid of the coloured flags and 150 yard markers. They have also gotten rid of the beer cart and ball washers. Drinking water on the course (fountains) have also been eliminated. You buy water and take it with you. He tells me the game is a lot more fun without yardage markers.

Job burnout is a serious situation that progresses gradually over a period of time and affects your state of mind and health. It is often characterized by physical, emotional and mental exhaustion. Because burnout gradually builds up over time, identifying the problem is often difficult. It is good to look after your career but it’s just as important to have a life away from work. One way to cope with burnout is to take some time off once in a while and do other things you enjoy. I learned this the hard way – with a heart attack.

Parents of school age children should remember this: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bare the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.

Dr. Robert Carrow, a turfgrass research scientist at the University of Georgia offered these comments regarding the importance of sound agronomic problems. “The foundation of all excellent golf facilities is solid, basic turfgrass management. This starts with priority attention given to the basics – good fertilization, irrigation, mowing, pest control and cultivation programs. The extra 5 % to 10% enhancement in quality from the incorporation of new products or technologies cannot compensate for the missing 90% of good basics. Tricks of the trade are no substitution for education, training, experience and common sense.”

This was written in 1870 describing the attributes needed to be a Greenskeeper. “The greenkeeper, engaged by the club at a certain annual salary to look after the ground, arrange the tees, and read the Riot Act to small boys, who play off the greens with their irons, and generally act as a custodian. He will also be the overseer of one or more hornyhanded sons of toil who, under his directions, roll sweep, and mow the greens, and fill up iron-scalps and other wounds in the ground, at discretion. And he will need to have a thorough knowledge of the theory and practice of the game of golf, so as to be able to tutor the right idea.

And while I’m at it – Being a green Superintendent is no easy task. The expectations of the players increase every day. They expect perfect conditions no matter what obstacle Mother Nature throws their way. Besides low remuneration the other factures that drive more superintendents out of the industry is constant moaning they hear from a small percentage of golfers.

In the early days it was common for a greenkeeper to push a wheelbarrow loaded with tools and topsoil over the golf course. Richard Berg will remember this. When crews increased in size, supervision became paramount and it was not uncommon for the greenkeeper to ride a horse across the links. Next came bicycles on flat courses and motorcycles on hilly terrain. After World War 2, Jeeps were used, followed by utility vehicles, golf cars and tricksters. Bergie has experienced all of the above.

I haven’t heard one complaint this year about slow play on any golf course. This could be due to less players or perhaps golfers are playing faster or are playing “ready golf” (first player ready hits the ball).

Once again make every effort to participate in the S.T.A Research Tournament in Swift Current.
You’ll get to play a first rate golf course, meet old friends and be able to discuss any problems with your colleagues. The only downside I can see is Swift Current hasn’t got a “Sharks Club”. Regardless, enter a team right now.

If you are planning to play in the skins game at Chinook Golf Club August 21 the tournament hotel is the Holiday Inn. Make your reservations as soon as possible. President Doug Leavins tells me the “Skins” starts at 4:00 pm with a mini shotgun. I hope to see you at the Research Tournament.

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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.