February 2008

  • February 10, 2008
  • Written by Don Campbell

One of my pet peeves when I was a green superintendent was the excessive marking of “Ground Under Repair”. Too much white paint alters the play of the game we all love. I used to boil when tournament officials would ask for the paint gun. To me, this was communicating a less than positive message to golfers about course conditioning.

Just returned home after a month in North Carolina where we visited our daughter in Chapel Hill. We also visited Georgia, Hilton Head Island, Myrtle Beach and Wilmington. The weather wasn’t nice and to top it off, I caught one helluva cold. We saw and explored a lot of territory and the trip in that respect was a success.

Although I complained about the cold while away, I understand it was a lot colder here. Also, there certainly is a lot more snow when I returned. In the north of our province, there is close to a record amount of snow which could lead to flooding this spring.

On our trip north of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, I passed three golf courses that had been abandoned. They were residential golf courses as there where homes on the property. I suppose the owners had some financial reverses and had to close-up shop. On all three properties there was only one sign stating golf carts and golf course turf equipment was for sale. It was sad and I can only think there is going to be a lot more golf course closures in the future.

Spike marks on the greens… I read this article in a golf newsletter while at Hilton Head Island. The move to spikeless golf shoes was one of the most beneficial and controversial changes for golf courses during the 1990’s. The move away from steel spikes has improved golf in many ways. These include – Smooth greens – Less wear on the clubhouse carpets and golf cart flooring – Improved golfer comfort – Better traction and safety on concrete surfaces. There are, however, some negatives among them – Less traction on steep, wet slopes and slipping on wood surfaces.

One of the words that should not be mentioned at a golf course is “Aerification”. Of course, the commonly heard scenario is “Just when the greens started getting good, they plug them and mess them up”. You would think green superintendents aerify just to upset golfers. The truth of the matter is if you want healthy grass, you need to aerify. This process removes thatch, relieves compaction, stimulates root growth and improves air and water movement within the soil.

Golf Courses and Parks are tremendous economic assets as well as vital greenspaces for communities. They employ hundreds of thousands of people, enhance local economies through tax revenues and tourism and provide many ecological benefits. For example, golf courses help filter air pollutants and create fresh oxygen, they are excellent groundwater recharge sites and most importantly, they are critical wildlife sanctuaries in urban and suburban areas.

Here is a fact that relates to some golf courses in the province that have a lot of sand traps. A successful sand-maintenance program is built on selecting quality sand grains, adjusting maintenance practices according to the inherent properties of the sand and weather, and gaining the understanding of those who play the course. Many times, that takes just a simple reminder to a golfer that a bunker, after all, is a hazard meant to impede the player from reaching the hole.

All turf managers should maintain an inventory of all their equipment and machinery. It is important you record the make, model and serial numbers. Also, record the year it was purchased, whether new or used and the cost. You should also keep a record of repair costs and an estimated replacement cost as well as its overall condition. The equipment people can help you with this whether it’s John Deere, Jacobson or Toro.

Saw this tidbit in a golf course bulletin
at a public golf course in North Carolina. It is part of the golfer’s creed. It says: “I will follow the rules of the golf course and take responsibility for all my actions on the course, including the safe operation of a golf cart and the responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages”. It goes on to say: “Golf has been good to me so as a golfer, I will respect and be good to game of golf.”

You may have heard my displeasure with Golf Course ratings or who is #1. They don’t tell you how much they spend each year on course maintenance, how old the golf course is or what part of the province they are in. Golf should be a game where you can have fun. Who is #1 is worth “Diddly-Squat”.

A lot of people are surprised to find 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 in the medical industry to treat a variety of illnesses. Warfarin is one … it is used to kill rats … it keeps me alive!

There are those, particularly in the United States that believe 150 yard markers and multicoloured flags on the greens telling you where the hole is should be removed from the game. They are not part of the game … golf requires the ability to think, feel and observe before going through the physical motions of striking a golf ball. These visual aids eliminate a portion of the game that is still practiced in Great Britain.

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 factors that drive more superintendents out of the industry is the constant moaning they hear from a small percentage of golfers.

I’m often asked why golf courses aerate greens.
I answer with this, although not as defined – when golfers by the hundreds walk on greens every month, the traffic, along with equipment, causes the soil near the surface to become hard and compacted. The soil particles are pushed closer together until water and air have a difficult time moving to the miles and miles of small root hairs on every grass plant. When this happens, the turf becomes weaker and disease and other problems appear. Aerification pulls plugs from this compacted soil, allowing for an infusion of air and water that brings a resurgence of growth.

And this from Terry McNeilly. You know you are getting older when “getting a little action” means the prune juice is working.

Did you know – Saskatchewan has more
golf holes per capita than any other province in Canada – Saskatchewan has produced 425 NHLers, more than any other province – Saskatchewan is Canada’s second-largest producer of crude oil and third-largest natural gas producer.

Keep in mind the CGSA and the STA, along with Oakcreek, will be sponsoring seminars March 18th and 19th at The Willows in Saskatoon. Be sure to attend! Consider this one – If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 750 million people in the world.

Keep this in mind too. The 2008 Research Tournament will be held at Jackfish Lodge Golf Club in Cochin, SK on August 12th 2008. Stay at the Lodge overnight because we want you in the Skins game to be held later in the day on August 11th.

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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.