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December 2011

The 2011 Fall Wind-up and AGM are now history. We would have to say this was a successful event despite the low attendance. Our seminar speakers were excellent. Chris Marchiori (maintenance practices at The Wascana), Mike Bullard (My experience working at 2 US Opens) and Jim Crockett from Jaybee Holdings Ltd., who had numerous subjects such as the advantages of Gypsum. All were first rate speakers with interesting presentations.

The odd numbered zones and Commercial South were up for election. Nominations director presented a block of nimination for the vacant zones. The following were elected by acclamation:

  • Zone 1 – Mike Kupchanko – The Wascana
  • Zone 3 – Pierre Vezeau – Cooke Municipal
  • Zone 5 – Richard Berg – Elmwood Golf Club
  • Zone 7 – Mark Mohart – Melville Golf Club
  • Commercial South – Kirt Blatz – Clarks Supply and Service

All these people are dedicated, hard working STA members.

For the past few years I’ve worked closely with President Doug Leavins who is now Past President.
I cannot say enough about his dedication to the STA. We communicated on a regular basis and there was never a time when he couldn’t talk to me in regards to STA business. I thank Doug for his effort while President.

The STA’s new president is Mark Mohart from the Melville Golf Club.
Mark has been a valuable Board member for the last four years and his enthusiasm and commitment will be an asset to the STA.

Again this year I’ve received some calls, particularly this past month about what Clubs should be paying their superintendents.
All the calls came from 9 hole public golf courses. I told them superintendents should be paid between $4,000 and $5,000 per month and the tenure should be at least 8 months. Some said they were in the range pay-wise, but were short on the tenure. Some said they could afford that kind of remuneration for a person looking after their number one asset. What’s worse is they didn’t seem interested in paying the superintendent a decent wage. Benefits for these people were almost nil. The main benefit seemed to be breakfast and lunch.

Recently I was in Walmart browsing through the Garden Section and ran across some “Bed Bug” spray.
I found a person who said he was in charge of the Garden inventory. He also said for the last year it’s been difficult to keep this insecticide on the shelves. Later, I visited “Giant Tiger” and saw the stuff again and, like Walmart, they said they can’t keep it on the shelves. Why have we “Bed Bugs” or a re-surgence of malaria? The tree huggers banned a completely safe insecticide calld DDT. Instead of returning to a procedure that has proven its worth, we are left with prescriptions for fighting bedbugs that are lame and laughable really – the planting of mosquito-repelling trees, such as oak.

Most beginners and mid-handicap golfers prefer Kentucky bluegrass fairways maintained at 1” to 1 1/4”.
They like to sweep the ball from a relatively high lie on the fairway. An increasing number of complaints are being heard regarding extremely tight fairway lies. The silent majority do not complain about fast greens for fear of being ridiculed but are not having any problem making themselves heard when it comes to ½ inch fairways.

Do you know many exercise programs fail because they are discontinued – not because they are ineffective?
Golf as a recreational sport, has a high rate of compliance, and appeals to all ages and both sexes. Under your Doctor’s guidance, walking the golf course can even become a valuable part of an exercise recovery program for cardiac patients.

I saw this on television recently – golf courses in Great Britain are modest and simple, yet some of the best in the world.
Very few have water hazards. Three-hour rounds are the norm and most golf is match play. Intelligent design by architects will give us pleasureable courses to play and won’t cost anyone an arm and a leg.

I’ve heard this before but heard this again recently while flipping through television channels
– I heard a comedian quote “Never have so many poorly skilled people spent more money on an activity that makes them swear and hate themselves.” This is probably true at every golf course in North America.

Even with regular maintenance and periodic tune-ups, engines don’t last forever.
You can overhaul most engines up to three times to get a new lease on life each time. But when should an engine be overhauled again and when is it wiser to replace it? Your mechanic or the dealer who services your equipment can help you answer that question. You will want to consider the equipment age, overhaul costs and parts availability.

There still is no scientific evidence that golfers face any chronic health risks from the pesticides used to maintain golf courses.
Once a liquid product is applied and the turfgrass is dry or the product has been watered in, there is very little chance of exposure to golfers or others who enter the area. It is worth noting that a small percentage of people may be allergic to a particular product, just as some people are allergic to household cleaners, soaps, or perfumes. Golfers with possible chemical allergies are always encouraged to contact the superintendent to find out what products might be in use.

Ron Carl of Golf Course Management wrties 3 million people take up golf each year. The problem is the same number quit each year. Many golfers who quit find the game takes too much time. Promoting nine-hole packages and lessons with three or four practice holes of golf may fit these golfers needs best. Similarily, for those who feel a round of golf takes time away from family, golf facilities should develop programs for all family members so golf becomes a shared family activity. And keep this in mind – the best practice facilities incorporate challenges for all skill levels of golfers.

It’s always a temptation by golf course officials to ask a superintendent to plant a fast-growing tree that will have an instant effect,
usually in a strategic location. This type of tree usually is soft-wooded, messy, and has surface roots and a shorter life span. Stay away from this guys.

Ideally a good greens chairman should serve the Club for at least 5 years.
Yearly terms usually create problems. A real asset would be to have the next chairman serve at least one year on the committee under the leadership of the existing chairman. This overlap can improve the transition.

Golf course superintendents and golfers for that matter do not like to see ropes, stakes, and signs on their golf course,
and yet these continue to be integral tools for traffic control. Ropes and stakes in my opinion can detract from golf course’s natural beauty and interfere with play and maintenance operations. The ropes and stakes require constant attention and can be dangerous. Properly placed cart paths and curbing, the use of painted lines or perhaps marker posts can to some degree reduce the need for ropes in controlling traffic. Having said that, I don’t think we’ll see the end of ropes and stakes as long as there are golfers.

Bob Frame writes that the rules governing the game of golf have their origin in two basic concepts. They are 1) Play the course the way you find it, and 2) play the ball where it lies. There are times, however, when in fairness, portions of the course should be maked as Ground Under Repair. However, all too often the marking of GUR is excessive. You should think about it! Is it really Ground Under Repair?

Brown is one of several dirty words of Golf Course Maintenance.
It seems there is no room in the golfer’s vocabulary for brown. Grass must be green, even if it means over-watering, and plugged lies in fairways. There is nothing wrong with a little tinge of brown either. It’s an excellent sign that the course is not over-watered which also means healthier, stronger grass.

While in Regina at the Fall Wind-up, I heard people talk about bunkers.
They assumed bunkers are among the easiest parts on the golf course to maintain. It requires little more than a quick daily run-through with the raking machine. This is probably true at all private and semi-private clubs anywhere. They complain about colour, depth, hardness, softness and the big one “They lack consistency”.

The CGSA Fall Field Day will be held in British Columbia in 2012
at a site and date to be determined in the next couple of months. Also the CGSA’s annual turf conference and trade show will be in Calgary in early February. Let’s have a good number of STA members in attendance.

The majority of golfers in our province are surprised to find most superintendents have education experience
in Turf Colleges such as Olds Alberta. After receiving a diploma they continue their education by attending programs offered by associations like the STA and CGSA.

Golfers in Great Britain love to play golf courses that are dry and unmanicured.
They believe it is more challenging and fits with golf being a game board. Golf at most of the courses in Great Britain was (is) formed around 3 points – the strategic, heroic and penal aspects. In North America most golfers don’t know this exists.

Most golf courses have a resident dog, most likely the superintendents’.
These are not only pets for the whole crew, but working dogs as well. Almost all are guard dogs, but some are used to control goose problems on golf courses. The dog of choice seems to be the Border collie or German shepherd. Another breed however, and hard to come by in Canada is the “Jindo”, originally from Mongolia. They are said to have a natural instinct to chase geese, even in water.

More about trees – people love to see trees on golf courses.
Trees are beautiful; they are challenging obstacles, and provide a degree of safety. But trees and turf just can’t seem to get along. Excessive shade, root encroachment interference with irrigation and blocked air movement are just some of the problems caused by trees. It is unfortunate that courses have suffered with terrible turf at the expense of trees.

Most of the people who are opposed to pesticides will not believe that the majority of the pesticide products used by Golf Course Superintendents are identical or closely related to those used by homeowners. As well, some close relatives are used by Medical people to treat a variety of illness. I take a rodenticide daily to keep me going. It’s “Warfarin”.

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
May 2012 bring everyone much happiness, good health and prosperity. As for me, I’m heading to our daughter’s home in North Carolina for Christmas and New Years and then on to Florida for a holiday. Doug Campbell will write the next newsletter. See you all.

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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.