July 2010

  • July 9, 2010
  • Written by Don Campbell

Members of the STA must be tired of all the rain we’ve had since April. I know many golf courses aren’t going to meet their financial projections budgeted for last winter because rounds are down all over the province. Hopefully we will have good weather the rest of the season.

There is one job on the golf course that does not require committee involvment and approvals. This is drainage on the golf course. It should be started at once and when begun, little by little will be completed. There can never be too many drains and catch basins on a golf course. The result of drainage is land that can be cut without leaving ruts, and turf that can be played from, without casual water.

The season from hell continues for Pierre Vezeau at Prince Albert
. Just as his course was rebounding from a disastrous spring the course was hit by dangerous plow winds which damaged or uprooted up to 200 trees. The clean up will again tax his crew to the limit. Now is the time Pierre needs much support from the management, directors and, above all, the golfers and colleagues. I’m sure Pierre will bring his golf course back to prime condition.

Plant diseases caused by fungi or insects is very complex and requires a continuing stream of information from colleges and research centres. Add to that weed infestations, and nutritional deficiencies, and it quickly becomes apparent that superintendents, their assistants, and key personnel need to constantly upgrade their knowledge of pesticides and their applications. The winter season is ideally suited to go back to school to refresh one’s knowledge and keep up with the latest. There is an awful lot to learn.

Do you know you have to have a separate pesticide license to control biting insects?
Another one to treat lakes and ponds on your golf course. I learned that from Mike Kupchanko, superintendent at “The Wascana”.

I got this one from Gordon Whitteveen, a retired Toronto superintendent and author.
He says for many golfing establishments, the need for elaborate clubhouse landscaping is entirely superfluous. Their reason for being is to provide golf and golf only. For many private country clubs, the quality of the gardens is almost as important as the golf course. However, the all important first impression starts with the drive in and the appearance of the clubhouse grounds. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, but it must be neatly tended.

Recently I heard some heroic stories of a club superintendent
who makes do with hardly any equipment at all. The tales were spun by a couple of tight-fisted executives and endorsed by the Club Manager at a function I recently attended. Where did I hear this? In the bar of course. Grass generally and greens specifically cannot be cut satisfactorily nor maintained with broken down old mowers held together with haywire. A poorly managed golf course will eventually frustrate golfers and they will go to a course that conditioning is uppermost on the list.

The modern superintendent certainly has become much more of an administrator
than our predecessors ever would have thought possible. However, superintendents must not forget their primary function, which is to grow grass for golfers. That said, they must become better managers of time so they can wear the many hats required. Does the pay scale reflect the added duties—in some cases it does but the majority it does not.

With all the rain we’ve had you would think localized dry spots wouldn’t be a problem this year but this is not the case. They are most prevalent on sand-based greens and can be as small as a grapefruit or as big as a wash bucket. The fungus shuts off the pore spaces and prevents water from entering the soil. You can apply wetting agents to actually make the water wetter so that water can penetrate even into the smallest of pore spaces.

Prior to the Research Tournament,
Sunday August15th at 2:30 pm Prince Albert Cooke Municipal Golf Course will host the Annual Skins Game. $40.00 covers the green fee, cart, lunch, and the skins fee. This fun event is again run by Laurie Unruh.

The Tournament hotel will be the Ramada Inn in Prince Albert. The rate will be $120.00 double occupancy. There will be a free continental breakfast, a free drink at the bar. For reservations call 1-306-922-1333.

My wife and I were watching a TV show recently where the wife hired a private detective to follow her husband to see if he was “cheating” on her. I asked my wife if she would ever do that. She answered “not so much to find out who the other woman was, but to see if I could find out what the hell she saw in you”.

Sand bunkers are indeed hazards, not havens. 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 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 practise. Wasn’t it Gary Player who said “The more I practice, the luckier I get”?

I continue to read a lot of negative articles about the impact of golf courses on the environment. If these writers would only look at the active role superintendents play in conserving water through very efficient irrigation systems, recycling green waste and grass clippings, and increasing course areas devoted to native vegetation and wildlife habitat. The use of pesticides are applied by licensed professionals who must upgrade their license every five years.

Ball marks, those indentations caused when a ball lands sharply on a soft green,
have been ruining good putts since the days of Old Tom Morris. Unrepaired ball marks take two to three weeks to properly heal, leaving behind unsightly, uneven putting surfaces. On the other hand, a repaired ball mark only takes half that time to heal. Beginner or pro, it is your responsibility as a golfer to repair your own marks. If you’re truly a steward of the game, you’ll repair any others you see while your partners are putting. There really isn’t much to it.

Golf course management is a combination of art, science, and common sense. There is no need to get too tricky. It is important to keep the emphasis on basic agronomic programs rooted in good science and common sense. Dr. Robert Carrow, a turfgrass research scientist at the University of Georgia, offered these comments in a recent article regarding the importance of sound basic agronomic programs. “The foundation of all excellent golf facilities is solid, basic turfgrass management. This starts with priority attention given to the basics, good fertilization, irrigation, mowing, and pest control and cultivation programs. In the end, trick of the trade are no substitute for education, training, experience, and above all, common sense.”

To date, 76% of last year’s members have paid 2010 STA membership dues. Please get your club to mail us a cheque. In most cases the invoice has been misplaced or you’ve forgotten. This is a reminder.

Size matters in all major sports, except 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.

STA Director, Mark Mohart, informs me his golf course has 8 holes under water for the second time this year.
His front 9 holes have been open for 3 days this year, due to the water. The creek that supplies Mark’s golf course with water usually spans 13 metres and is now 60 to 70 metres. Another year from hell! By the way, Mark is the superintendent at Melville Golf Club. I imagine there are other Clubs in the province having water problems as well.

Scottish golf has a deep respect for those who care for the grass, whether it’s on the heralded courses that host the Opens or the layouts whose biggest event may be the Club Championships. The Scots see golf superintendents as craftsmen. In North America golfers view green keeping staff a little more than guys who mow grass.

Don’t forget to enter in the Research Tournament at Kachur’s Country Club, Monday August 16th. Also play in the skins game on the Sunday. We hope for a good turnout.—Until next time.

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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.