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January 2011

I hope everyone had a great Christmas with lots of presents and especially good cheer. All the best to everyone in 2011 and especially good health. I hope we have a better summer than last year, with great conditions and lots of golfers.

We finished our year with the Fall Wind-Up and Annual General Meeting. The seminar presented by Bruce Williams, “Looking Into The Crystal Ball” was interesting and informative, especially for turf managers who experienced bad economic years the last couple.

The day after the Annual Meeting, I headed to North Carolina to relax and visit with our daughter. When we arrived, the first days were beautiful with temperatures in the mid 20s (celsius) and lots of sun. Then the weather went in the tank with cool temperatures, lots of rain and then snow. We did, however, get to Myrtle Beach for a few days.

I read in the Myrtle Beach newspaper that golf courses in that area suffered major financial reverses in 2010. The economic downturn took its toll in South Carolina. While golf and real estate were hit the hardest, restaurants in the Myrtle Beach area, especially those that catered to college students, had a tremendous financial year. I guess it's easier and cheaper to buy breakfast, lunch or supper than it is to pay $100 to $150 for a green fee.

S.T.A. director Doug Campbell and his partner Kim Larsen put together the December newsletter.
As far as I can tell, people enjoyed the change, and I must congratulate them on a job well done. As I will be away in February and March, I will try and find another director to prepare one or, if any members are interested, give me a call. I asked Doug Campbell if he wanted to do another and I can't print the response. Anyway, I thank Doug and Kim for their effort – it was a good one.

There is a golf course in Death Valley, California, that is the second lowest spot on the planet, 282 feet below sea level. During the summer months, temperatures rarely dip below 120 degrees fahrenheit. In case you want to play it some winter, its name is Furnace Creek – appropriate, I'd say.

While I was away, I learned a couple of important facts. Can anyone remember the old two-dollar Canadian bill? The flag flying over the Parliament Building was an American flag. And this one, which everyone should keep in mind – peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite. So, if you eat a couple of bags of peanuts, you could ...........

Bruce Williams told me that a common time waster is regular staff meetings. If you insist on having one, say, once a month, he suggested a couple of things that could make significant improvements to a meeting. Firstly, set an agenda that be handled in an allotted time. Secondly, eliminate any discussion that doesn't include everyone at the meeting.

We still hear a lot of negative comments about the impact of golf courses on the environment.
If those people would only look at the active role superintendents play in conserving water through efficient irrigation, recycling green waste and grass clippings, and increasing course areas devoted to native vegetation and wildlife habitat.

One area we have to be concerned with is pesticide use.
We urge everyone to take some time to get their pesticide license and keep it up to date. Another is to practice integrated pest management.

And here is one of great importance because it puzzles me. It takes 3000 cows to supply the National Football League with enough leather for one year's supple of footballs. I think I'm missing something here, because I always thought they called the football the “pigskin”.

Here is another that Doug Campbell missed in the last newsletter – the King of Hearts is the only king in the deck without a moustache. Here is another I did know; oak trees produce acorns only after they are 50 years of age.

After celebrating New Year's Eve and the New Year, I'm off to Toronto on behalf of the S.T.A. To attend the Canadian Turfgrass Research Foundation strategic planning session with members of the C.T.R.F. Board. For those that may not know, the C.T.R.F. is now under the umbrella of the C.G.S.A. The Royal Canadian Golf Association handled the C.T.R.F. prior to this.

A United States federal study has failed to show any connection between high rates of breast cancer in Long Island, New York and pesticides that were widely used in that area. The study by the National Cancer Institute also found the correlation between cancer rates and other pollutants, such as our exhaust and cigarette smoke, was only very slight.

Read this while in North Carolina. American golfers are spoiled. This has major ramifications for the game and future development of golf course, says architect Damien Rascuzzo, a California based architect. As golfers demand perfect conditions, the cost of developing golf has increased, its affordability has decreased and golf courses are losing players. Clearly, he says, we must build simpler courses.

Look at our career postings on this website if you are looking for a career change.
There are about 6 advertisements for assistants, superintendents, mechanic positions... All appear to be first class clubs. Don't hesitate, go for it!

After my trip to Toronto, it's on to Ottawa for meetings with the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, again representing Saskatchewan. When I return home, I'll get ready to go to Florida to get a tan and, after that, rent a car and drive to the east coast to North Carolina. While in Florida, I'll find out more about those big 6” long grasshoppers called “Eastern Lubbers”. They are causing mega damage to almost all plant life in the central part of the the state. They are about as ugly as Jim Cote.

The former Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Everett Koop, loved to drink the soft drink Fresca and was distressed when they removed cyclamates from all soft drinks, especially from his beloved Fresca. These substances were banned because of experiments on rodents. It was found that high doses of cyclamates caused cancer in rats. Translating these scientific studies to someone his size, Dr. Koop would have to drink four bath-tubs of Fresca daily for about eight years to have the equivalent dosage.

I reported the above because the public does not have a very good grasp of the relationship between the dose of a toxic substance and its risks to human beings. Their information comes from those who revel in using scare tactics instead of science to warn the public about the dangers in the food supply. These scare tactics lead us down the wrong path. We end up creating concern where it isn't necessary and ignoring concerns that are real.

Included in this newsletter is an excellent article written by member Chris Marchiori, assistant superintendent at the Wascana Country Club in Regina. Its title is “Life After Quintozene”. It is well written and a very good read. Besides, it is written by one of our own.

Sorry to hear about the passing of Gordon Witteveen long time superintendent at golf courses in the Toronto area, most recently at the Board of Trade golf club. He is best known as the co-author of the “Magic Of Greenkeeping”. As well, he presented seminars all over Canada with his friend and co-author, Mike Bavier. Gordon had been not well for a number of years. He will be missed.

Had a nice Christmas greeting from Laurie Unruh,
along with a photo of himself, Donna and his dog Barclay. It was taken at their favourite beach in Costa Rica. Donna looks good, as does Barclay, but Laurie looked like he could use some ribs or wings.

Besides the career posting on the S.T.A. website, I understand there are at least six more openings for golf course superintendents in the province. I don't know the reasons for the openings, but all good golf courses should look at their job descriptions and especially renumeration. A good, happy green superintendent is a golf club's (either 18 or 9 holes), number 1 asset!

Do you know the water on our planet moves in a continuous cycle called the “water cycle”?
Surface water is evaporated by the sun and rises into the air as water vapor. The water vapor eventually falls back to earth as rain or snow. Most of this moisture falls into the ocean but some will fall on land. Water that falls on land will form into rivers and slowly make its way back to the ocean. About 97% of the world's water is in oceans. All this is “recycling”.

Speaking of water – a human body is about 65% water. Also, the average person will consume more than 40,000 liters of water by the time they reach 50. Further, the average person in North America uses about 380 liters per day for activities such as bathing, cleaning, cooking, drinking and that all-important, and certainly necessary exercise, flushing.

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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.