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February 2012

After a nice Christmas with my daughter in North Carolina, and beautiful warm weather, it was on to Florida for nicer weather and some real rest and relaxation. The US economy isn’t that good, so there was a distinct lack of tourists at least where we were. It has been this way for the past three years and shows no sign of letting up.

Just recently your STA Board had a meeting to deal with a number of important topics. We had an excellent attendance despite freezing rain in the southern part of the province. Among agenda items discussed was the poor attendance at our Fall Wind-Up. Among suggestions was a date in early November or a spring meeting. After discussion it was agreed November 6th will be the date for 2012. Also up for discussion was the summer field day, the venue for the 2012 Research Tournament and a review of the STA by-laws.

As I have mentioned in previous Newsletters, I’m on a committee reviewing the 100 year history of my former Club.
In the March 1928 issue of the local paper it stated the Riverside Country Club was ready for play with good conditions. Roads to the club were in good shape, but members were advised to use chains for the last two miles into the club. There was still some snow around, but was melting quickly. On the course there was some ice covered sloughs, ice on a few fairways and #14 green.

The bat population has taken a big hit. Up to 6.7 million bats are dead as a result of White-nose syndrome, a fungus causing bats to fly erratic outside during daylight hours in freezing temperatures. The disease is in 16 eastern states and our eastern provinces. Bats provide tremendous value to the economy as natural pest control for farms and forests every year, while playing an essential role in helping to control insects that can spread disease to people. The fungus will eventually spread across the USA and Canada.

Florida has a real problem with Pesticide use among 300,000 agricultural workers, working on 40,000 agricultural operations in the state. Lax enforcement of federal pesticide regulations are of great concern to farm worker advocates. There are only 40 inspectors statewide to monitor and enforce regulations. If violations are found, the penalty is often just a warning. The article appeared in the Tampa Bay News and will appear in a future Newsletter in it’s entirety.

Plans are underway for another STA Summer Field Day in Saskatoon most likely at the Willows practice facility. We will follow the equipment dealers’ suggestion that demonstration of their equipment start earlier. Superintendents will be encouraged to operate the equipment. Kevin Bloski will meet with Willows superintendent Wayne Sundstrom to go over what format we will use for the day and report back to the Board at the March 20th meeting.

This little note was on a bulletin board at a public golf course I visited in North Carolina this past December. It said “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 especially 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 the game of golf”. They had about ½ a dozen of these tidbits on their bulletin board.

I read this one in a Newspaper while in Florida.
Golf courses and parks are tremendous economic assets as well as vital green spaces for communities. They employ hundreds of people, enhance local economies through tax revenues and visitors, and provide many ecological benefits. For example, golf courses help filter air pollutants and create fresh oxygen, they are excellent ground water recharge sites and most importantly, they are critical wildlife sanctuaries in urban and suburban areas.

A greens superintendents’ job is no easy task. The expectations of the players increase every day. Golfers or members expect perfect conditions no matter what obstacle Mother Nature throws their way. Besides low remuneration, the other factor that drives more superintendents out of the industry is the constant moaning they hear from a small percentage of golfers and members.

The State of Florida is concerned about the population explosion of sparrows. These birds first came to North America in 1860. They were brought from England to help control insects in the USA. The main reason there’s so many is that they haven’t any predators. The use of pesticides in Florida doesn’t bother them. Their closest predator are crows, but they aren’t quick enough to get them.

The Mountain Pine Beetle in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is worse than originally thought.
This is the same beetle that has infested forest land in British Columbia and is rapidly spreading eastward. It has destroyed millions of hectares of pine forests in BC. The Saskatchewan government budgeted $200,000 to survey two areas last year. In the northwest they did not detect any beetles. However in the southwest where they already knew the beetles were present, surveyors found more than they were expecting. As a result of this new information, $100,000 has been alotted for additional work between now and March 31. The company that has the survey contract will verify all infested trees and mark them for removal.

Brent Kelley says Golf Course maintenance isn’t just the job of the superintendent and grounds crew at a course. Golfers have an obligation also and that is to repair ball marks and replace divots properly. Raking bunkers the right way is a golfer’s responsibility as well. Too many golfers complain about petty problems on the golf course and at the same time ignore their responsibilities in keeping playing conditions top notch. Remember golfers this is golf etiquette.

Consider this fact: PGA tour legend Tom Watson shot a record 58 at his then home course Kansas City Country Club just days after the greens had been aerified. Consider also aerification is merely a short-term disruption that has long term benefits for golf courses. When you see them, remember that without those little holes, the greens would eventually die. Preventative maintenance is an integral part of successful golf course management.

In the May 12, 1932 edition of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix,
they say that midget golf courses were responsible for golfs great gain in popularity in the City of Saskatoon. Many of the players who are now taking the great game seriously received their first taste of the pastime on the midget golf courses. Midget golf courses were, of course, “miniature”. In the same article, golf lessons were $1.00 per lesson, golf oxfords were $5.00 per pair, golf pants (plus fours) sold for $3.95.

Some people say multicoloured flags and 150 yard markers should be eliminated from the game. The reason they are there is it’s said they speed the pace of play. That’s not a bad reason, but what about the negatives? 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. The visual aids eliminate a portion of the game that is still practiced in Great Britain and other countries.

Do you know there are 51 references containing the word “grass” in the Bible? These references cite conditions that range from flourishing to withering. When studied more closely, the biblical references to grass underscores something we all know, but don’t like to think about. Like grass, our days are numbered. In 1 Peter 1:24 we find these words “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field: the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” Truly, life whether it is grass or our own is a precious gift.

What do the rules of golf say about hole locations? In reality, there are several factors to consider when determining a hole location, but if it is cut on the putting surface, it is legal. Another read from a newspaper in Florida about golf clubs and how some are trying to attract seniors to play more. Clubs, particularly the public courses, are constructing forward tees. They are trying to bring the yardage down to 5,000 yards. The forward tees are gaining in popularity among all golf courses and are working to increase green fees. The article goes on to say shorter golf courses enable higher handicap and senior players to have fun and enjoy the game most seniors have played all their lives.

Now is probably time to look at your trees on your golf course.
If you are thinking of removal of especially large trees it would be a good idea to get a professional arborist to do the job. Their training and liability insurance make them the best people for the job. However, for smaller trees that have died, are dying or are interfering with the growth of desirable, adjacent trees, you may want to tackle the job yourself. Make sure you have a good sharp chainsaw. Follow common sense rules and be careful.

Do you know whats going to attract people to golf? Quality, affordable golf will do it. Affordable golf means building a golf course that is fun to paly and doesn’t charge $60.00 a round. Rounds played are down again at many courses mainly due to very expensive green fees. They say Alister McKenzie made golf an art form, Robert Trent Jones made it a business, and Jack Nicklaus among others, made golf expensive.

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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.