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February 2013

Outside of a few days in January, it has been cold cold cold. The only thing that kept me going is lunch’s and suppers at Golf Clubs and thinking how nice Florida and North Carolina are going to be. We’ll see golf courses, 1/2 dozen ball games, buy sun tan lotion and think of everyone back in Saskatchewan.

Your STA Board of Directors met Tuesday, January 15th at the Willows Club in Saskatoon. Despite very slippery, icy roads, we had an excellent turnout. Considering Directors had to come from the very south and from the north proves your Directors are a dedicated bunch and all consider the STA extremely important.

Because of increased costs to run the Association, membership fees will increase to $100 per member. Increases in all our necessary expenses dictated a minimal $10 per person increase. Membership Fees will be mailed to all Golf Courses, our Commercial members, Parks and Cities in early April 2013.

The STA Bursary Criteria was changed by the Directors to read “The STA has one $1,000 Bursary available for a student who meets the criteria as laid out by the Board of Directors as follows:

  1. Enrolled in at least the 2nd year of a qualified turf or horticulture program.
  2. A resident of Saskatchewan
  3. Experience in the turf or horticulture industry.
  4. An acceptable level of academic achievement. Those who meet this criteria will be considered on a first come, first served basis.

Lance Wakefield’s application for a bursary meets the criteria as laid out by the STA. He is in his 2nd year of a three-year turf management course at Olds College in Alberta. Mr Wakefield will therefore receive an STA cheque for $1,000. This was done by motion and carried unanimously.

Despite the poor weather the last two years, the STA will attempt to have a Summer Field Day. Tentative dates will be June 19 or 26th at Wayne Sundstrom’s Willows Golf Club in Saskatoon. Included with the Field Day will be a seminar which will also be a backup plan in case of inclimate weather. The speaker was suggested to be from the Commercial sector.

The STA’s 2013 Research Tournament hopefully will be held in the eastern part of the Province.
We are pursuing Leo Skaluba’s Deer Park Golf Course in Yorkton. The tentative date is Monday August 19th with the skins game held the day previous starting at 4 pm. The Directors decided the format, prizes and entry fee will remain as they have been for the previous 2 years.

The CGSA’s Fall Field Day will be held at Mike Kupchanko’s The Wascana Golf Club September 23, 2013. The STA will sponsor a social activity at the event. Also being considered is attendance at a scheduled Roughrider game prior to the 23rd. Hopefully the event will have a large number of STA members playing the Field Day. Mark this date on your calendar.

The Canadian International Turfgrass Conference and Trade Show will be in Toronto January 25—29, 2013. CGSA’s Saskatchewan Representative, Kyle Kellgren, tells us there are a large number of first class speakers with many interesting topics at the Conference. As well, there are many more Trade Booths this year. Mr Kellgren reports attendance and the Trade Show is over 90% of it’s projected budget for attendance and the always popular Trade Show.

President Reeve expressed the STA’s appreciation to Wayne Sundstrom and the Willows Golf Club for hosting the meeting. He also announced the next meeting of the STA Board of Directors will be April 9, 2013 at a site to be determined.

Here is a New Year’s resolution for all Turf Managers—a big box of tolerance to deal with golfers who don’t have the common sense to repair ballmarks, replace divots, and act responsibly while on the golf course. Remember, if you talk to them, then take a deep breath and count to 10 before hand. I don’t think I ever learned this in my golf course management career.

Patrick Gross of the USGA Green Section is responsible for this one—”Golfers will tell you bunkers are always “too” something...too hard, too soft, too wet, too dry, too shallow, too deep, etc.” Mr. Gross said “too bad”, bunkers are hazards and they don’t have to be consistent. He goes on to say something is seriously wrong when courses are spending more money and time maintaining bunkers than greens—I agree.

My wife and I are part of a golfing segment affectionately known as “Hacks” and “Brutal Hacks”.
We like to play the game, but we aren’t very good at it. We are the majority of those people who try and play golf and you’d think golf courses would bid good riddance to us, but guess what? Golf needs us more than ever!

Powered back-pack blowers have become a standard piece of equipment for anyone in the business of maintaining landscapes. As a matter of fact, most landscape contractors will tell you that blowers are indispensable. Without them, cleaning up a small yard would take an unacceptable amount of time—time that could be spent getting to another job before the end of the day. No matter what kind of chore you have to do, manufacturers are making sure you can do it faster and more comfortably than ever. This is from James Mansell, Francis Tuttle Technology Centre.

The average run time per mower in Saskatchewan is between 250 and 300 hours each season. That is why winter maintenance is so important. Parts wear out, bearings and seals need replacing, wiring needs checking and replacing, motors need tune-ups and sometimes rebuilding, reels need grinding and the list goes on. Maintenance is important for dependability and for a good trade-in value. You maintain your equipment to protect the club’s investment.

It’s been seven years since I severely injured my legs. Initially, they said I may not walk again, but I passed that scare almost immediately after the casts were removed. It’s taken a long time, but I am comfortable without braces now. It was a long haul of rehab and will continue as long as I’m able. The doctors said it would take a long time for them to get comfortable and they were absolutely right. They are pleased with the result. For those that don’t know I snapped the quads in each leg as well as some other damage.

The public doesn’t have a very good grasp of the relationship between the dose of a toxic substance and it’s risk to people. Their information comes from those who revel in using scare tactics instead of science to warn the public about dangers in the food supply. Like this one—coffee takes 96 cups to deliver a toxic dose of caffeine and with turkey, 3.8 tons to deliver a toxic dose of malonaldhyde. Selling food untreated by pesticides would not only leave storekeepers with rotting food, but would also fail to protect the consumer against molds that, in high enough concentration, can be lethal. All that was from Dr. C. Everett Koop, Surgeon General of the United States during the 1980’s.

More about golf course bunkers—they are not havens, they are hazards. A considerable amount of time and effort is wasted at many courses in the futile endeavour to provide the same conditions in every bunker. Shade, drainage, irrigation coverage, bunker design, and a myriad of other factors vary throughout the course and influence the playability of bunkers. Instead of complaining about bad luck in the sand, take a lesson or two and practice. Wasn’t it Gary Player who said “the more I practice, the luckier I get”.

Just talked to a couple of guys who are planning a golfing trip to Ireland.
They were looking forward to playing “Links” golf courses. Little do they know, links golf causes headaches. It denies players optimal conditions. True, the turfgrass is tightly cropped and allows for crisp contact on the clubface, but the ball is often sitting in a crappy lie. More times than not, the golfers’ feet are uneven. Uncertainty reigns. The ball lands on ground that has some slope or pitch to it. The sandy playing surface is usually rock hard, so that the angle of approach the ball takes, continues after it touches down and kicks and bounds along the ground. I found this explanation of links golf on the internet and am going to copy it for my two friends.

Size matters in all the 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 club head weight has little relation to the size, strength and sex of the golfer. Instead, it depends solely on a golfer’s swing velocity.

John Zumerchik tells us that left-handed golfers are “wired” differently, so widespread speculation is that they inherently excel in sports. Statistics seem to show that the number of left-handers in sport closely reflects the 9 to 10 percent found in the general population, but in some sports—especially those that require quick reflexes, such as boxing, fencing and tennis—there regularly are much higher percentages of lefties found among the top ranks.

Melissa Rayner tells us the least desirable time to prune trees is immediately
after new growth has developed in the spring. A great amount of stored food within the plant in roots and stems has been used to promote new growth, and this food should be replaced by the new foliage before it is removed. If not, considerable dwarfing of the plant may occur.

So sorry to hear the sad news that long-time STA member Dave Desmond has passed away after a brief struggle with cancer. Dave was very supportive of our Association and continually offered tidbits to our Newsletter. David had been the manager of Eljay Irrigation since 1986 and was well respected in our industry. He was both honest and trustworthy as well as being simply a good guy. He will be missed. Our sympathy goes to Dave’s wife Hilda and their family as well as the employees at Eljay.

Just heard a person from the Cancer Society telling everyone that listens to talk radio that Pesticides are polluting rivers, lakes, streams, and ground water and guess what, golf courses are the culprit. Properly applied chemicals do not pose a threat to the above. Studies consistently show that a well-managed golf course can actually improve water quality on and around the facility. Research also shows that when pesticides and fertilizers are used properly, they do not tend to seep into groundwater or run off into surface water. Modern products and practices allow superintendents to manage so efficiently that there is little chance of harm to our precious water resources.

While on the subject of pesticides, I again hear some rumblings that our city should ban them. Most are just simply scare tactics. If we ban chemicals, we should ban hair spray, perfume, or cologne. Some people react to these products, and are they really necessary? What about underarm deodorant? Maybe it does cause breast cancer, even though there isn’t any evidence to that effect. What about perms—chemicals strong enough to curl your hair.

People ask continually what superintendents do in the winter time as well as greenkeepers, pro’s, etc. The Riverside Country Club in Saskatoon encourages it’s staff to take part in seminars related to their position. The Club pays for this and their wage continues. Every year key employees take an Automated External Defibulation (AED) course, as well as updated courses on CPR. Just recently they completed a Standard First Aid Course. At each seminar they send between 6 and 12 people. This is really great and shows the Club’s professionalism in looking after their members and employees. Every Club could benefit from this whether it’s a 9 hole or 18 hole facility.

Here is one of the many little articles sent to me by the late Dave Desmond. A human body is about 65% water. Also the average person will consume more than 40,000 litres (10,600 gallons) of water by the time they reach 50. Further, the average person in North America uses about 380 litres (100 gallons) of water each day for activities such as bathing, cleaning, cooking, drinking, and that all-imoirtant and certainly necessary exercise called “flushing”.

Gary Cross, Superintendent at Waskesiu Golf Club is accepting applications for the position of grounds foreman. There is an opportunity for the successful candidate to advance to assistant golf superintendent. The successful applicant must be highly motivated, goal oriented and interested in achieving success in the turf grass industry. For more information go to our website www.saskturf.com, or email  info@saskturf.com

Included in this Newsletter is a brochure from Parkland College announcing upcoming courses for golf course and parks. In conjunction with Dennis McKernan of Lifeworks Design and Consulting Ltd., Parkland College is pleased to offer two certificates. To register simply call Charlotte at 1-866-783-6766. They will accept credit card, cheque or money order. The cost per course is $495 and the course length is 2 days. Golf Clubs, Parks, and Towns would be wise to send their turf manager to Parkland College to expand their knowledge in the culture of fine turf.

In mid-February our planned trip to North Carolina and Florida will take place.
We were going to go in mid-January, but plans changed. We won’t be home until the end of March. With this, there may not be a March Newsletter unless I get off my butt and pre-write one and email some of it to our publisher in very early March. In closing, stay warm and healthy.

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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.