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December 2014

The 2014 Fall WindUp and AGM is now in he history books.  The new format was a success in terms of added attendance and improved education value.  I had very good comments about the two day event.  At our February Board meeting everything will be reviewed and any changes will be incorporated in the 2015 event.  For those who attended, your ideas and comments are welcome.  Email me at soupyd@sasktel.net, or use the comment area below.

The Social on the first night was most enjoyable with old friends and new discussing the year just passed. Everyone enjoyed the “toonie” bar drinks.  I know because I just paid the bill.  Even the speakers enjoyed this night and mingled with the delegates freely.

A big thank you to the Saskatoon Golf and Country Club for hosting the Fall Wind Up.  The staff went out of their way to serve all our needs.  Actually, both days were informative and educational and we thank our speakers for a job well done.

Every year I remind members they are welcome to invite their manager, green chairman or President to attend.  We do this every year, but so far I have yet to meet one.  I guess they fail to realize these seminars benefit their golf club.

In Saskatchewan, we don’t have to worry about fire ants, but in the south-eastern United States and California they are a source of major concern.  A Florida golfer died as a result of massive fire ant stings and a bed ridden elderly lady was bitten more than 500 times in a Texas nursing home.  In Texas alone, 48 million dollars are spent annually on insecticide treatments.

Cucumbers, the kind you grow in your garden, are amazing plants, but their fruit is even more amazing.  Want to avoid a hangover or a terrible headache?  Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free.  Cucumbers contain enough sugar, vitamin B and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache.

In this letter you’ll see advertisements for superintendents at two Saskatchewan golf courses, both 18 hole layouts.  At both clubs the position is year round.  As always this is the time of year I get calls re: remuneration for their superintendent and the length of the season.  It seems none want to hear my answer.  I tell them the wage should be in the $5,000 per month range and the term should be 7 to 8 months.  There should be benefits as well besides breakfast and lunch.  By the way, all the calls I’ve received this year were 9 hole golf courses.

Recently I’ve had some calls from superintendents regarding a thin layer of ice on their greens.  In all cases fungicides have been applied along with a topdressing of sand.  The ice in the low spots is pitted and will not come off with any type of shovel.  This is the very thing that Katie Dodson talked about in her second seminar.  If the ground is frozen under the ice, it’s going to be difficult to poke holes in it—any work done to remove the ice will probably cause more damage than its worth.  Bent greens will probably be alright, but the PoaAnnua greens could suffer.  Probably the best advice was to sit back in your easy chair, feet up, with a case of beer and in the end everything will be fine.

I continue to remind Golf Courses the importance of retaining a superintendent for a long period of time.  Take top dressing for instance: it requires more art than science.  Turf researchers tell us about particle size distribution, percolation and moisture retention, all very good information, but tells very little about the quality of putting, ball hold or very little about compatibility with existing green mixtures.  Superintendents must develop a material with all of the above criteria in mind.  After developing a top dressing material, he must decide when to topdress, how much to apply and how to work the topdressing into the turf so as to provide the least interference with play.  These decisions on topdressing are part of the “art of green maintenance”.  Watering and fertilizing are other arts.

It’s a sad fact that over-greasing kills nearly as many machines as under greasing.  Excess grease blows out the rubber seals on bearings, letting the grease out and the dirt in.  This is why many machinery makers have shifted to using permanently sealed bearings that have no zerk fillings.  Using the proper grease and clean zerks use your eyes, ears and sense of touch to apply the proper amount of grease to the various fittings found on machinery.  Remember a little grease everyday to each joint on the machine is the best strategy.

I have a strange feeling we are going to see a lot of snow this winter and to top it off, a rotten spring, to make that start of the golf season well into May.  I say this after seeing muskrat houses just about three feet out of the water and worse, in the middle of a slough.  If their homes are close to shore it will mean an early spring.  Some of you will say I’m nuts, others like Ron Dagert will say I’ve had too much of Uncle Jake’s sipping whiskey.

The Canadian International Turf Grass Conference and Trade Show will be held February 2-6, 2015 at the Telus Convention Centre in Calgary, Alberta.  The headquarters hotel is the Fairmont Palliser Hotel which is attached to the convention centre.  The CGSA has done a lot of good work in putting together their program for this event.  The speakers all have interesting topics and are first rate presenters.  For more information and up-to-date conference news at www.golfsupers.com/calgary2015.  You have the opportunity to hear over 40 speakers and 100+ hours of education to choose from.

Now here is one I find hard to believe.  All of the water on our planet is used over and over again and is never used up.  This means you could be drinking the same water molecules that were drunk by an ancient Egyptian or even a dinosaur.  Water is the only substance on earth that can be found naturally in three different forms: solid (ice), liquid (water) and gas (water vapour).  More than 70% of the planet Earth is covered with water.

Something to think about this winter.  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 dealer who services your equipment can help you answer that question.  You will want to consider equipment age, overhaul cost and parts availability.

In 2015, the STA Research Tournament will be in the south of the province.  If your club is interested in hosting the event please contact me.  We will present your offer to the Board of Directors at their first meeting in 2015.  Show off your golf course to your peers.

At our AGM the even numbered zones along with Commercial North were up for election.  The following were elected for a 2-year term:  Zone 2 Doug Campbell, Zone 4 Kyle Kellgren, Zone 6 Dean Hildebrandt, Zone 8 Lach Reeve, and Commercial North Kevin Bloski.  The following board members will serve one more year:  Zone 1 Mike Kupchanko, Zone 3 Pierre Vezeau, Zone 5 Richard Berg, Zone 7 Leo Skaluba, Commercial South KirtBlatz.

The 2015 CGSA Fall Field Day will be held in Jasper Alberta, September 21, 2015.  Mark this on your calendar as we in Saskatchewan want a strong contingent participating in this event.

I hope everyone carefully examined their pumping equipment this past fall.  Pumps are much easier to repair during the winter than it is in the spring when water on the course is needed.  The electric motor should be inspected by a qualified electrician before closing it down for the winter.  Failure to do any of the above could lead to all kinds of problems in the spring.

I just read this one—it takes over 3000 cows to supply the National Football League with enough leather for a year’s supply of footballs.  I guess I’m missing something here, because I always thought they called the football the “pigskin”.

Here is a tip when preparing for a tournament or an important event at your golf course.  If possible, put your last application of topdressing on seven to ten days before your event.  This will allow time for the sand to work into the putting surface so the greens are rolling as smooth as possible.

A speaker I enjoyed at the Fall Wind Up was Allan Bakke, the province’s pesticide investigator.  One thing I thought was real interesting is that he isn’t out to get anybody, but to help people in the proper way to handle pesticides.  He also suggests an old chest freezer is ideal to store pesticides.  The chest would contain any spills and could be locked to store the inventory.

In January, February and March there won’t be a mailed newsletter.  Turf tips for each of these months will appear on our website  www.saskturf.com.  About our website, it appears Turf Tips are more popular than I thought.  For my part, that’s good.

This past summer believe it or not, I didn’t hear many complaints in regards to course maintenance.  I never had one call regarding “aerification”.  This has got to be a record of sorts.  Perhaps one of the reasons is we have written repeatedly about aerification’s agronomic importance and perhaps golfers in Saskatchewan are reading Turf Tips online.

Here is one that caught my eye.  Cup cutting requires intangible skills.  It isn’t too hard to teach an employee to cut cups,  however it’s a matter of whether the person will do it with the care you want it done.

Two thousand US golfers who play more than 25 rounds a year were surveyed by Golf Magazine.  8% had sex on the course (figure rises to 18% for low handicappers) and 16% have broken a club in anger , 43% have thrown a club.  59% have improved their lie when fellow players weren’t looking.  37% said if they could ban one thing from the golf course it would be slow players.

During World War II the rules of golf changed somewhat, particularly in Great Britain.  A couple are:

  1. Players were asked to collect bomb and shell splinters to save causing damage to the mowing machines.
  2. In competition, during gun fire or while bombs are falling, players may take cover without penalty for ceasing play.

Remember this one:  Your best round of golf will be followed by, almost immediately, your worst round ever.  The probability of the latter increases with the number of people you tell about the former.

One of the big problems facing superintendents this winter will be the budget process for the 2015 season, the most influential part being the decreased revenue in 2014.  To be sure, cost of maintenance will go up...how much I haven’t a clue.  To top it off, golf courses will want to hold the line on green fees, cart rentals, etc.  Some strong advice, however, when presenting a budget is to treat it as a business plan.  Very few golf courses do this nor do they see the importance of it.  A stated objective in the forward of your budget is a good idea.  Always have it typed neatly and include charts, graphs and pictures if possible.  The more professional the presentation, the more likely it will be taken seriously and passed as required.

The University of Guelph is again offering a Turf Managers Short Course.  They advertise it as Canada’s most successful and highly valued Turf Management short course.  The date is January 26th to February 20th, 2015.  It is expensive at $2,995, which includes course tuition, manual, source publications, hand magnifying glass, soil test, refreshment breaks, class photograph, welcome reception and closing banquet.  Participants are responsible for paying their own meals and accommodation.

Here is some advice for effective verti-cutting.  Don’t think verti-cutting is a substitute for aerification.  Set your verti-cutting blades to a uniform depth of cut to avoid scalping.  Topdress lightly afterwards to smooth the greens, and brush or water the sand in afterwards.

If you are going to celebrate New Year’s Eve, don’t forget to eat that cucumber before going out to prevent that awful hangover New Years Day.

President Lach Reeve and his Board of Directors along with myself wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  We hope everyone gets plenty of presents and enjoys good health in the coming year.

That’s it gang!  I’m out of here.

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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.