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August 2013

As I start to write this Newsletter, we haven’t received one entry for the Research Tournament to be held in Yorkton at Deer Park Golf Course, Monday August 19th at 8:30 am.  The skins game—separate from the Research Tournament will be August 18 at 3:00 pm.  Register in advance by calling Deer Park Pro Shop at 306-786-1711.

The mosquitoes are ornery this year.  Some days it’s pleasant to be outdoors—other days you get eaten alive.  I just read an article called “State of Fear” written by Michael Crichton.  He had interesting things to say about the once popular insecticide DDT.  He wrote that arguably the greatest tragedy of the 20th century was the removal of DDT for control of mosquitos.  DDT was the best insecticide on the market.  Despite reviews to the contrary, no other products were as efficient, or as safe.  Since the removal of DDT, it has been estimated that up to 50 million people have died unnecessarily from the effects of malaria.  Before the removal of DDT, malaria had become almost a minor illness with only about 50,000 deaths per year throughout the world.

Speaking about mosquitoes, West Nile virus is here.  Make sure your workers are well protected with a spray containing DEET.  Also it may be wise to put up a sign at the first tee to spray for bugs on a non-turf area like a cart path.  Not many golfers do this.  I find most golf courses supply mosquito spray for their employees.

Irritating golf habits?  Most are related to golf cart use, followed by not repairing golf ball marks on greens and not raking sand traps.  Golf carts not following directional signs, driving over thin turf, driving through standing water and parking right up against the green are the main irritating habits related to golf cart use.

Few people worry about health threats posed by insects.  That’s because pest populations are held in check by pest management programs, which include responsible use of specialty pesticides.  A pest-free living environment protects the food supply.  Without pest control, rodents and insects would dine on much of the food meant for human consumption.

Fresh water lakes and rivers, ice and snow, underground aquifers hold only 2.5% of the world’s water.  By comparison, saltwater oceans and seas contain 92.5 percent of the world’s water supply.

I have a tough time with this one.  Wood frogs can be frozen solid and then thawed and continue to live.  They use the glucose in their body to protect their vital organs while they are in a frozen state.  My uncle Jake wouldn’t believe it.

A long time greens superintendent and a friend of mine says that having long grass around trees, signs and posts is an advertisement of incompetence. You can put tee benches in this category also.  Regular trimming is probably the most appealing, but labour intensive and costly.  An alternative is occasional applications of growth retardant.

Dale Carnegie asks if you have ever seen an unhappy horse?  Have you ever seen a bird that has the blues? One reason why birds and horses are not unhappy is because they are not trying to impress other birds or horses.  We as people could emulate this and we’d all be better off.

Phil Leaderhouse, the great blind golfer from Prince Albert, on how he hit the ball so well for being sightless.  “You think it’s hard for me to hit that little white ball?  I can hit it just fine, but you should see me try and find the little sucker.”  Mr. Leaderhouse is in the Saskatchewan Golf Hall of Fame having been inducted in 2010.

If your Golf Course is planning some changes to the course in the near future, it would be money well spent to hire a golf course architect.  The biggest mistake will be having the Club’s best golfers designing greens, bunkers, etc.  While these people mean well, they tend to forget the mid and high handicapper, old and young players.  Length and difficulty isn’t better than just plain fun.

Hazard—the very word suggests danger, risk, and a place to avoid.  In the “Rules of Golf” a bunker is a hazard consisting of a prepared area of ground, often a hollow, from which turf or soil has been removed and replaced with sand or the like.  Nowhere in the Rules does it state or even suggest that playing conditions within the bunkers must be firm, uniform, and consistent from hazard to hazard.

The Canadian Geese population in the United States is estimated to be 3.2 million.  Most or all have lost their migratory ways.  With freshly mowed grass to feed on, unhindered water and few predators, Canada geese make golf courses permanent residences.  As they began to grow in numbers, so did their manufacture of bubble gum.  A goose can produce 3 pounds of droppings a day, which is a lot of crap.  A whole gaggle of geese, each pounding out 3 pounds could render a green unplayable or as my Uncle Jake would say, “shitty”.

The Augusta National, home of The Masters is a seasonal club.  It is closed in May and remains closed until October.  This is the time when maintenance is done to the course and grounds to keep them looking as beautiful as people have come to expect when they see Augusta National.

There are 200 golf courses in Wales, including some of the world’s top links courses.  Many of these golf clubs have quirky facts related to the club.  For instance, Lianymynech Golf Club, located on the Wales border with England has 15 holes in Wales and 3 holes in England.  On the fourth, you tee off in Wales, putt in England and return to Wales three holes later on the seventh tee.

The legendary Arnold Palmer had this to say about the Golf Course Superintendent Association of America and all Golf Course Superintendents.  They are probably the most important single entity that we have in golf.  The conditions and the golf course beauty, the environment, the wetlands, everything depends on their perseverance and their knowledge and the work they do to maintain the golf courses.

Golf courses have a cooling effect during the hot summer months.  The average temperature on the golf course is typically 5-7 degrees cooler than a residential area and 7-15 degrees cooler than an urban downtown setting.

Size matters in all major sports, except for golf.  Taller and stronger golfers do not gain a significant advantage over their shorter counterparts by swinging longer shafted drivers.  The optimum combination of shaft length and clubhead weight has little relation to the size, strength and sex of the golfer.  Instead, it depends solely on a golfers swing velocity.

I’ve read a truck load of material regarding the facts about Golf Course pesticides and this always comes to the forefront—it is very important to note that pesticides and fertilizers are not used primarily for aesthetic reasons.  First and foremost, they are tools that help ensure a healthy playing surface for the game.  Furthermore they help protect a valuable and ecologically important piece of land.

Michael Dougherty of Tree Management Co. says treat trees right during their formative years and they’ll become the upstanding specimens you’ve always hoped for.  This means pruning, fertilizing and watering.  He reminds us to inspect trees regularly for disease and insects.  Remove diseased and broken branches before they fall.

Frequent light topdressing has become the norm for many superintendents.  It’s a great idea.  We should, however, stop topdressing programs during the hot days of summer.

A common misconception is that the earth is further from the sun in the winter than in the summer.  Actually, the earth is closest to the sun in December which is winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

If you can’t attend the Research Tournament in Yorkton, please consider making a donation on behalf of your Club or Company and help to support Turfgrass Research in our Province.  Mike Kupchanko and Doug Campbell, unable to participate this year, have done this.  Their gesture is appreciated.  Whether it’s $100 or $400, we thank you in advance.  I guarantee you will get your money back through research done in our area.

Speaking of this year’s Research Tournament, August 19th, I need your entry.  I have to let the Deer Park Golf Course know how many we can expect for the banquet at least 3 days in advance.  We want to fill all the tees.

The STA, and golf clubs in general across the Province have an obligation to support Turfgrass Research.  Without research we wouldn’t have any of the benefits we as superintendents have today.  Jim Ross of the Prairie Turfgrass Research Centre in Olds Alberta does tremendous research work for our benefit, but has struggles with the funding he gets.  He speaks to us at our seminars without cost.  The STA needs you at our Research Tournament at Yorkton, August 19th.

And while I’m on the subject of the Research Tournament it’s a good time to discuss with your peers the problems that you may have encountered this year.  It promotes an exchange of ideas coming forward from superintendents who come together to help each other.  The idea of the Research Tournament is to raise money for Research, but just as important, is the exchange of ideas to help solve problems superintendents may encounter at their course.

The Research Tournament entry fee can be paid by credit card or cheque or the STA can invoice you after the event.  Again, if it is impossible for you to attend, please consider a donation to Turf Research in Saskatchewan.  We will be grateful for any donation amount.

The popularity between golfers and their motorized carts is leading to numerous injuries, not only on the golf course, but on public streets, on the farm and even while buzzing around hospitals, airports and malls.  Carts have more power and can go faster, leading some golf clubs to install governors on them to hold the speed down.  Falling or jumping from the golf cart was the most common injury for both adults and children.

I sure didn’t know this one:  When fueling up your car or truck, do not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to a fast mode.  If you look closely, which I never do, you will notice that the trigger has three stages—low, medium, and high.  You should be pumping on low mode, thereby minimizing the vapours that are created while you are pumping.  If you are pumping on the fast mode, some of the liquid that goes to your tank becomes vapour.  You’re then getting less product for your money.

The CGSA Fall Field Day is coming up next month. It’s a great value for registrants!  An affordable $195 gets you the Sunday seminar, the Toro reception, 18 holes of golf on Monday with a cart, breakfast and dinner.  This is an amazing opportunity to take in golf at a first class facility, learn, network, and enjoy.  The Wascana Country Club in Regina will be at it’s very best for this event.  Take a few minutes and register now.

Doug Campbells’ Riverside Country Club is about to start installation of a new water system and course renovations.  This ambitious project will help improve many troublesome areas on the golf course.  Play will continue through the construction with little disruption.  It is a well planned venture.

Calgary golf courses have had a tough summer with severe flooding.  At least 10 golf courses have been affected by flooding.  Both Kananaskis Golf Courses have been shut down for the season.  During a recent trip to Calgary I visited The Glencoe Golf and Country Club.  It was affected by flood waters on 43 of it’s 45 holes.  The maintenance staff was hard at work removing silt and debris from the courses.  Silt clean-up would be the worst job and also the most time consuming.  After a super human effort by staff, 27 holes were ready for play around July 25th.

Usually my back yard flower garden is a show case at this time of year.  I receive many visitors and with it, loads of compliments.  Not so this year.  It’s the worst show I’ve had in 25 years of gardening.  My impatients, usually a show case of colour are awfull and are dying off.  I haven’t a clue what is happening and neither has the nursery owner.  All I can say is that it is extremely disappointing.  Enough said without my bad words or language.

When I started to write this newsletter, I didn’t have one Research Tournament entry.  After getting on the phone the last couple of days we now have 11 teams.  Get a team together because you are going to get a phone call.  An interesting entry is from Doug Leavins from Swift Current who is entering two teams.  This isn’t a surprise however, because if the STA were to hold an event in the Yukon, Doug would be the first to sign up.

This troubles me—in fact it makes me dam mad.  There is a ton of money in foundation grants to support environmental activists in their complaints about golf course practices, but there is only a few dollars available for turf research grants to explain to the pain in the butt activists why our practices are safe.

Please guys—enter in our Research Tournament at Yorkton so we can fulfill our Mission which is to encourage and contribute to Turfgrass Research.  I hope to see a large number of you August 19th.

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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.