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January 2012

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas season, with lots of presents, good food, and lots of family around. Most of your homes were probably a beehive of activity over the Christmas season. At this time of year there isn’t much happening in the turfgrass business. With no news to this point, there isn’t any complaints about the condition of golf courses.

If you have some old equipment that needs some repairs and you don’t want to spend a ton of money on the parts, try this: There is a company in Calgary that salvages turf equipment and can supply you with parts at a reasonable cost. The company is T.E.R.F. Co. Ltd., RR#6, Calgary AB T2M 4L5. The phone number is 1-888-383-3132.

Linda Matthews, a horticulturist living in Saskatoon wrote this about pesticides for the publication called the “Gardener”. Pesticides, she says, are ancient history. Their use can be traced as far back as 1200 BC, when the Egyptians used hemlock and aconite for pest control. Homer used sulphur as a fungicide on plants in 1000 BC. The natural source of pesticides pyrethrin, rotenone, and Bordeaux mixture were discovered in the 1800’s. The first synthetic insecticides and herbicides were produced in the early 1900’s.

Golf is losing some of its popularity in recent years. I don’t know the reason, but the booming economy could have some bearing on it. People are very busy now and can’t spend five hours on the golf course, and have good quality time with their young families.

The STA continues to get solid and positive feedback about our speakers at the Fall Wind-Up. The preparation and quality of the talks were excellent. A couple of people suggested the presentations were too long. The feedback provided by those in attendance is appreciated.

I’ve been in the Golf Business all my life and have realized the industry has passed me. This observation was made stronger following the presentations at the Fall Wind-Up. This is why I encourage veteran superintendents to take part in these events which contribute so much to better maintenance practices on turf in our province.

Had a very nice email from Jon Crockett – he thanks the STA for the great hospitality and the speaker gift.
Also, he hoped everyone took home some information to help them out. Jim is the president of Jaybee Holdings Ltd. and specializes in Fertigation and Gypsum Injection, Pond Maintenance, Compost Tea Brewers/supplies and sustainable solutions. His email address is  jaybeehld@shaw.ca or his phone number 1-866-766-4241

I had many good comments about the Summer Field Day held at the Willows. The Commercial people all gave the event grade A marks despite the bad weather. All said, we should continue this event especially if it can be hosted by the Willows. This is on the agenda for the January 25th Board meeting.

One of Archie Camerons’ members at the Royal Regina told me this one.
He said the definition of a bad golfer is someone who can take strokes off his game only with an eraser. There are a lot of bad golfers at every golf course.

I was asked at the AGM to repeat the Turf Tips about geese. The same person that asked what kind of dog he should get to control them. I’ve written several so I must guess at which one. The Canada goose population in the United States is estimated to be 3.2 million. Most have lost their migratory ways. With freshly mowed grass to feed on, unhindered access to water and few predators, geese make golf courses their permanent residences. As their numbers have grown, so did their manufacture of bubble gum. A single goose can produce 3 pounds of droppings a day, which is a lot of crap. A whole gaggle of geese, each producing 3 pounds could render a green unplayable.

The most effective dog I’ve seen that controls gees, ducks, crows, and what have you is Doug Campbells’ dog “Fescue”
. Having said that, I think the only person(s) old Fescue likes is Doug and his family. This is the same dog that constantly looks for the opportunity to take a hunk out of my butt. Fescue’s home at Riverside is goose and duck free.

Some people aerate (greens in particular) at non-traditional times (October, November, March, April). There are risks involved coring at this time however. The following are the biggest risks: 1. Turf injury from coring in stressful weather. 2. An extended recovery time when the turf is not actively growing. 3. An increasing likelyhood for annual type Poa annua invasion. 4. Dessication injury.

People who are against Pesticides should be concerned
only about the real problem with respect to Pesticide use may be overlooked. This is a lack of consumer education and compliance with label instructions. Controlled products should only be used by those who are suitably trained in their safe use and handling. Licensed applicators and sales people are a must, particularly for parks and golf courses.

This one is absolutely true: If there is a gasoline truck pumping into the storage tanks when you stop to buy gas, do not fill up. Most likely any sediment in the holding tanks is being stirred up as the fresh gas is being delivered, and you may pick up some of that sediment that would otherwise settle to the bottom. I was told this by the owner of the garage I take my car to.

Some of the best golf courses in the world and particularly Great Britain
weren’t planned on the drawing board, but laid out in a few days. They selected natural green sites, plotting holes to these sites and then arranged the holes into a circuit. Little contruction was undertaken, for the contours of the land were seldom altered. Existing hazards, including roads, hedgerows, and even some stone walls were incorporated and existing turf was utilized. Except for assuring that a supply of sand for top-dressing was close at hand, these designers rarely considered future maintenance. This is the reason maintenance costs for these courses in Scotland aren’t nearly as high as ours here in Canada.

I am part of a committee that is planning a celebration for the 100th anniversary of the Riverside Country Club in Saskatoon.
My family, namely myself and Doug Campball have been part of Riversides’ rich history for the last 60 years. I find searching for the history at the local library etc very interesting. We are currently focusing our attention on preparing a book on the club’s history.

The original 18 hole layout of the Riverside Country Club was done by William Kinnear,
a professional golfer and clubmaker born in Scotland. While serving as the Club Professional-Manager at the Saskatoon Golf and Country Club, he designed and revised a number of golf courses in Western Canada. His best work was at Riverside and the Saskatoon Golf and Country Club.

While on my history kick, I must tell everyone about the early days of golf, when caddies were club carriers and coaches. They were the forerunners of the modern pro. A professional meant a professional caddy and the rules permitted only a caddy to give advice to the side he was caddying for clubs to use and shots to play.

Do properly applied chemicals pose a threat to groundwater lakes and streams? The answer is a big NO! 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.

Golfers who belong to country clubs value having a famous architect designing their golf course and also they want nothing but the best quality and service in the clubhouse, golf shop and restaurant. It has to be inexpensive also. They also dislike aerated greens and cart restrictions. This isn’t much of a surprise. High on their list of aggravations are dry ball washers and overfilled trash containers. This makes their blood boil.

Something to think about this winter: during the golf season, walk or even ride the golf course every day, looking for little things that can be repaired for little or no cost. Something like a sprinkler that isn’t turning or a leaking irrigation pipe. I ran into this on numerous occasions last summer visiting golf courses in the province and just with a little effort, these problems could be rectified.

This winter many golf clubs will ponder and discuss changes to their golf courses. It would be worth your while to call on someone who is familiar with golf course renovations. This will save you time and money. If you think you can do it yourselves cheaper you’re not going to get the job done and are better off leaving everything alone. Getting good or low-handicap golfers to design the renovations will be the biggest mistake you’ll make. While thse people mean well, they haven’t the proper experience to do the job right.

In 1894, the United States Golf Association was formed including St. Andrews, Brookline, Newport, Chicago and Shinecock Hills. By the summer of 1900 the United States had 982 courses. 66 were 6 holes, 715 had 9 holes and 91 were 18 hole lengths.

I’ve got to share this with you: The biggest selling Christmas song of all time is Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”,
the greatest snowfall ever in a single storm was 189 inches at the Mount Shasta Ski Bowl in February 1959, or Canada has more doughnut shops per capita than the United States.

It wasn’t too long ago that golf was a resource-wasting toxic polluting, wildlife destroying, even racist and generally pointless activity for a wealthy and uncaring elite. During droughts, misguided “worst first” watering bans killed golf courses while car washes happily dumped millions of gallons a day into sewers. In the 1980’s it began to turn around. Research found golf courses posed very little threat to the ground water and especially to wild life. What really changed attitudes was the Audubon CoOperative Sanctuary Program. This enabled a way for courses to toot their environmental horns.

I imagine every one of you watch a ton of golf on television in the winter. Have you ever seen a Pro Golfer, a caddy, or a staff member replace a divot, repair a ball mark or rake footprints from a trap? Television could do us a favour by showing us this is done by someone during a high profile tournament.

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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.