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July 2014

The most recent news is the flooding in the south of our province.  Golf courses took a huge hit as did a multitude of residents.  This comes at an awful time and to go along with a wet spring, revenues are almost non existent.  This affects a lot more than just golf courses.  Our commercial friends will suffer simply because there won’t be any money in the bank to purchase new equipment.  The suppliers will suffer also.  One superintendent told me Mother Nature is the supreme boss and there is no way you can alter her plans.  Things hopefully will get better and we will salvage a little bit in what’s remaining of 2014.

We recently held our Summer Field Day at The Willows here in Saskatoon.  To say the least, we were extremely disappointed in the turnout.  Particularly disturbing was those courses that registered and didn’t show up, not even with a phone call.  We had the Willow’s estimate the number for food, carts, and green fees based on the registration.  This is totally unfair.  Unfair to the Willows, the commercial people who showed their equipment, and the suppliers who exhibited new products.  Enough said.

Most golfers prefer Kentucky Bluegrass fairways maintained at 1” to 1 1/8”.  They like to sweep the ball from a relatively high lie on the fairway.  The number of complaints are increasing regarding extremely tight fairway lies.  The silent majority do not complain about fast greens for fear of being ridiculed but are not having any problem making themselves heard when it comes to 1/2 inch fairways.

Linda Matthews, a horticulturist living here in Saskatoon wrote this about pesticides…. They are ancient history.  Their use can be traced back to 1200 BC when the Egyptians used hemlock and aconite for pest control.  Sulphur was used as a fungicide on plants in 1000 BC.  The natural source of the pesticide pyrethrin, rotenone, and Bordeaux mixture were discovered in the 1800`s.  The first synthetic insecticides and herbicides were produced in the early 1900`s.  All this appeared in the gardening magazine called the ``Gardener`.

Being a green keeper is no easy task.  The expectations of the players increase each day.  They expect perfect conditions no matter what obstacle Mother Nature throws their way.  Besides poor pay, the other factors that drive more green keepers out of the industry is the constant moaning they hear from a small percentage of golfers.  The reason this is written is what I heard from a couple of golfers who played a course east of Saskatoon which they termed too ``soggy``.  Two days prior they had 3`` of rain, but that was the green keepers fault.

The 2014 Saskatchewan Turfgrass Association Research Tournament will be held at the Evergreen Golf Club in Nipawin.  We need a good entry to support Turfgrass research in Saskatchewan.  Entry fee is $400 per team which includes green fees, cart, prizes and banquet.  The skins game the evening prior will be at the Rolling Pines Golf Club.  More information will follow in this newsletter.

I recently ran across this while looking through old clippings I continue to save.  It wasn`t until the 1950`s that sand traps had rakes.  They were true hazards in the early days and certainly didn`t have to be consistent throughout the golf course.  Sand traps were groomed by hand once or maybe twice a week, depending on the amount of play.  At present, maintaining sand traps takes a large price out of the course maintenance budget.

I still get upset when I see excessive marking of ``Ground Under Repair``.  Too much white paint alters the paly of the game.  When I was a green superintendent, I used to boil when tournament officials would ask for the paint gun.  To me, this was communicating a less than positive message to golfers about your course`s conditioning.

The mosquitoes are like airplanes all over the province which will bring our attention to `West Nile Virus`.  Make sure your employees are well protected with spray containing sufficient ``deet``.  Also, it would be wise to put up an attractive sign at the first tee and maybe a couple more tees ``When using spray, do it on a non-turf area like a cart path``.  Last summer I found most golf clubs supplied mosquito spray for their employees.

A big reminder, If you can`t attend the Research Tournament in Nipawin, please consider making a donation on behalf of your club or company and help us support Turfgrass Research.  Whether $100 or $200, it will be well appreciated and I guarantee you will get your money through research.

I`m not sure why so many people are mortified of pruning trees or shrubs, but I would hazard that it`s linked to a healthy fear of killing or horribly mutilating one`s favourite plant.  The key to conquering this fear is a deep breath, and a good understanding of the process is a great place to start.

Some people will probably moan that the Research Tournament in Nipawin is too far to go.  Well I`ll guarantee we`ll have people from Swift Current, Weyburn, Meadow Lake, Regina.  Now the drive from those cities is a challenge but those people attend all our events.

Talked with Leo Skaluba about the recent rain that reached more than 4``.  The lower part of the golf course or nine holes, is under water.  The other nine will be playable at the end of the first week of July.

Every one of us watch golf on television, even in the summer.  These tournament golf courses are slowly brought to the events conditions and these conditions are not sustainable for more than a few days.  Less than 10% of all golfers who watch golf know this.

Included with Turf Tips is a short article written by Gord Moore, Ken Poure`s assistant in charge of Regina`s city operated golf courses.  The title is `How Did Your Turf Handle the Winter of 2013?”  You can contact Gord if you have any questions or comments.  We appreciate Gord taking the time to prepare this article for us.

There are over 50 million golfers in the world.  The average score is 107 and 80% of all golfers do not achieve a  handicap of less than 18.  Jim Cote told me this along with some golf history.  He remembers when irons were not numbered as they are today.  He lovingly referred to every club in his bag by name.  He says a 2 iron was a mid-iron, 3 was a mid-mashie, 6 iron was a mashie niblick, and a 9 iron was a niblick.

Cote also gave me this information.  He says water is the only substance on earth that can be found naturally in three different forms—solid (ice), liquid (water), and gas (water vapour).  More than 10% of the planet Earth is covered with water.

There is an abundance of ticks this year.  They`ll be out in force with this warm weather.  It`s a good idea to do a ``tick check`` after work each day.  Embedded ticks should be removed using fine tipped tweezers—not by a hot match, nail polish or petroleum jelly.  Ticks are not insects—they are parasites and members of the same family that gives us spiders, mites and scorpions.  There are two types—`deer ticks`` carry Lyme disease and the much bigger dog or cattle tick that we see.

Bradley Klein writes that green keepers and golfers should walk the golf course to enjoy the design and landscape of the course.  Confining golfers to mandatory cart paths affords them no chance of appreciating design.  Walking reminds us that golf is an outdoor engagement with nature.  He also writes far more important than how one scores is how one experienced the play of images, emotions and sensations of a few precious hours outdoors.

Here is a tip I wrote down while attending a turf seminar many years ago.  Plan your work and then work the plan.  Make a list of projects to do and post it in the staff room for everyone to see.  Cross off each job as it is completed.  With this list, everyone can remind themselves not to postpone until tomorrow what can be done today.

Mike Bavier wrote this many years ago that green keeping common sense is the knowledge passed on from boss to apprentice and from father to son for at least a hundred years or more.  Much of what was true in the beginning is still true today, and much of what we do today is based on how we did it yesterday.  Technology may have changed, but the fundamentals of green keeping have remained the same.

The very best green keepers are effective communicators.  They instruct their staff by both the written and the spoken word.  They make information available to their golfers on a regular basis, informing them through newsletters, meetings, and by email.  They listen to sensible golfer complaints and respond to letters, return phone calls, and email messages.

Golf courses in Britain are modest and simple yet some of the best in the world.  None that I`ve seen have water hazards.  Three hour rounds are the norm and most golf is match play.  Intelligent design by architects gives them pleasurable courses to play and don’t cost an arm and a leg.

Backpack blowers are some of the easiest equipment to handle and operate.  Most of them are relatively light weight, weighing in around 20 pounds.  It would be wise to look for models that offer adjustable throttle controls  that lock into position for easy starting.  Also a must is a padded harness that will reduce vibration.  Harness design and comfort will vary, so be sure to try on the blower and make sure it is comfortable to you before you buy it.

One from Matt Nelson at last year`s Fall Wind-Up.  He said smoother greens are also truer.  An aggressive rolling program provides an extra 6 inches to 1.5 feet to a regular Stimp meter rating.  Rolling can also be helpful if you have a green under repair or one you`ve recently aerified.  In this case, you can avoid some golfer complaints by creating a smooth surface for them to putt on.

How many people know there is a hidden risk in chemically killing tree stumps?  Roots of adjacent trees frequently form natural grafts permitting herbicide applied to one to move through an unseen root graft into it’s neighbor.  Thus, root grafts have been know to cause the sudden and inexplicable death of a neighbors  prized tree about a week after the stump next door was poisoned.  This happened in our neighborhood to a friend of mine.  After his neighbors tree suddenly bit it, I showed him the article written by Brian Baldwin, a horticulturist with the University of Saskatchewan.

I recently visited a golf course here in Saskatoon where the tri plex mower used to cut greens was badly out of adjustment.  Each of the three mowers was cutting at a different level.  Needless to say, the green wouldn’t putt very well.  The late Gordon Witteveen would call this one of the deadly sins.  This certainly didn’t make the superintendent look very professional.

Entry forms for the STA Research Tournament will be included with the August newsletter. The event will be at The Evergreen Golf Club in Nipawin, Wednesday August 20th .  It will be limited to the first 100 entries.  The Skins game will be at Rolling Pine Golf Club August 19th, in late afternoon.  There are some rooms on hold at the Northern Greens Resort.  Get your team together and have a great time at this event.

More in this category: « June 2014 August 2014 »

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.