January 2014

  • January 8, 2014
  • Written by Don Campbell

Christmas, New Year’s Eve is behind us for another year.  I hope everyone had a great holiday season—Didn’t eat too much turkey and drink too much of that other stuff.  We wish you much happiness and good health in 2014.

A couple of years ago in either a newsletter or at the Fall Wind-Up, I announced that I was pushing eighty.  Well, now, as of December 27th, I’m pulling it.  I’m an old geezer with serious heart disease.

In mid-December I developed some serious health issues, primarily with my heart.  After numerous tests, they can’t find out what really is wrong.  Later on this month I will go for further tests to see what’s causing my discomfort.

I’ve just heard on the weather channel that December and January are going to be our cold months, and after that it will be rather pleasant.  I sure hope so because winter has been a brute so far.  It’s especially tough when you get older and the cold bites the hell out of you.

Winter is the time to attend Turfgrass Conferences and an important one for us in Saskatchewan is the Canadian International Turfgrass Conference and Trade Show.  This is going to be in Vancouver, February 17 to 21, 2014.  This event is presented in partnership with the WCTA and in cooperation with the BCGSA.  There are over 40 speakers and 100+ hours of Education to choose from.

Another highlight of this event is the Golf Tournament on Sunday February 16th at the Northview Golf and  Country Club in Surrey.  The entry fee is $110.00 per person which includes free club rentals, a cart, , range balls and dinner at 5:30 pm  Bus transportation from the host hotel to the golf course is optional.  A can’t miss event, especially for the prairie delegates.

Recently read so called experts warn that the world could run out of helium within 25 to 30 years, potentially spelling disaster as liquid helium is critical to cooling.  Judging by recent temperatures, we must have a hell of a surplus of helium.  I think there is a lot more to this story.

Too much water kills grass faster than not so much water, and playing conditions on your course will suffer.  Everyone knows water is a precious commodity.  It is always good to practise being a good water manager.  One thing to remember is to stay on the dry side.  It’s not hard to add more water.

Preventative maintenance reduces or eliminates future problems whether it be changing oil in our cars or exercising our bodies on a regular basis.  It is also an integral part of successful golf course management.  One essential practice, despised by golfers when applied anywhere on a golf course especially on greens, is called aerification.  In golfers mids it takes greens out of play not for a couple of days, but weeks.  Golfers say it’s a conspiracy because its best done in mid summer and when greens are in prime condition.

According to “Golfdom” that far and away, checking the weather was the main reason supreintendents use the internet while at work.  I’ll bet they do the same in the winter and in particular, this winter.  Behind this superintendents go online to look for a new job at another golf course.

Hitting the ball into the cup is the purpose of the game of golf.  It may take Don Campbell 126 strokes and Jim Cote 78, but in the end they both need the ball to go into the cup.  Cutting a hole for a cup has changed very little in the past 175 yeaers.  However, the equipment to do the job is a lot better.

Matt Nelson told me this at our Fall Wind-Up.  Superintendents should treat collars like greens.  He says you should maintain collars with the same program you use on putting greens.  Aerate greens, aerate the collars.  Use the same topdressing, wetting agents and fertilization.  He went on to say many courses combine tee, collar, and approach mowing into one single task using a triplex greens mower.

I remember Dr. Kevin Frank told us that tee areas are an opportunity for a golf course to make 18 first impressions.  With a little time, effort and above all, not very much money, superintendents can make these initial impressions a round full of good ones.  Signs that aren’t straight, grass around trees and sign posts, dirty tee towels and smelly ball washers all lead to a bad taste in golfers minds, and consequently, the whole golf course is in bad shape.

The oldest musical instrument ever were flutes.  They were found in south western Germany, laboriously carved from bone and ivory, at least 35,000 years ago.  I always thought the harp was the oldest.  It is however the oldest stringed instrument.

Did you know—Saskatchewan has more golf holes per capita than any other province in Canada?   Saskatchewan has produced over 500 NHL’ers, more than any other province.  Saskatchewan is Canada’s second-largest producer of crude oil and third largest natural gas producer.

As I write this, it’s Mrs. Campbell’s 79th birthday.  She had birthday wishes from all over—Australia, Florida, along with a multitude.  She says you know when you are getting older when “getting a little action” means the prune juice is working.  If she reads this, I’m done, no question.

Over time, golf courses, like so many landscapes which are subjected to heavy use and to the elements of nature, require alterations and improvements in order to maintain the integrity and maximize the potential of the facility.  As such, numerous circumstances develop which might influence either a public or private facility to undertake a remodelling program.

The New York Times says the average golf score has not changed for decades.  This led golf commentator David Feherty to say “Maybe we’re all supposed to stink at this...it’s our punishment for playing this insane game”.

Now this one is hard to believe.  A fellow in Oregon was jailed and fined $1500 for collecting rainwater.  Rain in that part of the country is considered “property of the state”.

Did you know water is the only substance on Earth that can be found naturally in 3 different forms—solid (ice), liquid (water), and gas (water vapour).  More than 10% of the planet Earth is covered with water.

Superintendents are widely considered to be amont the best-educated and most judicious users of pesticide products.  The vast majority of superintendents are using integrated pest management practices to ensure that both the turf and the environment stay healthy.  Applicators are also trained and licensed.

Good advice is never cheap and cheap advice is never good.  Outside consultants are vey helpful, especially with issues related to winter injury, tree problems and special projects.  Jim Ross’ Prairie Turfgrass Research Centre offers a consulting service to deal with the above problems.  It is also important for the superintendent to actively continue education activities and certifications.

Our 2014 Research Tournament will be held in the North this year.  We invite clubs to apply for hosting rights.  This is a good event and doesn’t disrupt member play that much.  We work with the Pro in preparing the shotgun format draw.

Remember this one—good players have low handicaps, usually hit the ball a ton, and occasionally post low scores. Good golfers on the other hand fill divots, repair ball marks and practise good golf etiquette each and every time they are on the golf course.

Researchers found that 60% of all water used in Las Vegas Nevada was for residential use and that 70% of that water was used for irrigating residential landscapes.

I just attended a meeting (not turf related) that was a complete waste of time.  I remember attending a seminar by Bruce Williams who said a common time waster was regular meetings.  He suggested a couple of things that could make significant improvements.  First set an agenda which can be handled in an allotted time and secondly eliminate any discussion that involves only two participants.  These 2 things would have turned a horrible meeting I attended into a quick and productive event.

David St. John had this to say about leadership.  “Leadership is the art of influencing and directing people in such a way as to obtain their commitment, confidence, respect and loyal cooperation to accomplish the mission.  This definition clearly defines what it takes to be a leader as well as what will result when good leadership is practised.  Also the idea is that leadership must be earned.

My daughter in North Carolina emailed me this turf tip.  Golf is a game which was formed around three points—the strategic, the heroic, and penal aspects.  Trouble is 90% of golfers don’t know they exist.

One thing to remember in the spring when you will probably have new employees is to provide them with a clear vision and direction.  Formulate a plan of action and stick to it.  Nothing is more frustrating than a boss who sets priorities and goals, only to change them later.

What do the Rules of Golf say about yardage markers?  Objects that have been placed on the course or marked to indicate yardage are permissable.  If these objects are man-made or they interfere with the lie of a player’s ball or his stance or area of intended swing, the player is entitled to relief without penalty under the obstruction Rule (Rule 6-24).  But if the interfering object is natural, such as a shrub or tree, relief without penalty is not available.  This Turf Tip is for Jim Cote.

Golfers are often surprised to find that a growing number of superintendents have college degrees in agronomy, horticulture or a related field.  Because it’s important to keep up-to-date with new information and technologies, most of these superintendents also attend continuing education offered by associations such as the CGSA, GCSAA, and the STA.

Here is one golfers sometimes forget about.  All golfers should follow the rules of the golf course and take responsibility for all his actions on the course, including the safe operation of a golf cart and the responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Water is the most common substance found on earth.  It is also one of the most precious.  Without water, all of the living things on our planet would not be able to survive.  Only about 3% of the water in the world is “fresh” that can be used for drinking or irrigation for farms, parks, golf courses etc.  Now listen to this—about three-fourths of this fresh water is frozen in ice caps or glaciers.

I`m out of here.  I hope everyone stays warm and free from the flu and colds.  Have a good month.


More in this category: « December 2013 March 2014 »

About Don Campbell

Don CampbellG. N. Don Campbell,
1933 –2016

S.T.A. Executive Director, 'Turf Tips' writer and editor of our 'TURFTALK' newsletter, Don Campbell has been an asset to our industry for decades!
A member in the turfgrass community for more than 57 years, Don started his career at Riverside Country Club in Saskatoon as a caddy, eventually becoming the course Superintendent. He finished his career as the General Manager at the very same course.

In 2004, Don was awarded the CGSA John B. Steel Distinguished Service Award, recognizing his lifetime commitment to turf care.
Don is survived by his wife Marie have three children: Sherril, Glen and Doug. 

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.