July 2015

  • July 11, 2015
  • Written by Don Campbell

Talk around golf courses these days is no doubt the drought conditions most of the province is dealing with.  If this continues water reservoirs will start drying up and we’ll be in real trouble.  That being said I think, somehow we’ll get through it.

I’ve heard also some golf courses have had serious pump problems.  This can be disastrous.  I’ve always said in many September newsletters to examine your irrigation pumps and foot valves in the fall.  If not sure about a problem, bring in an expert to help you.  The winter is the time to do any repairs.

With the heat we’ve had, West Nile Virus  will be an earlier hit this year.  Take precautions guys, use lots of spray and cover up.  Just because we haven’t had any rain doesn't mean there isn’t a threat.  Remember to remind your golfers to spray themselves on a cart path.  A sign at the first tee saying Bug Spray Kills Grass.

The last couple of days haven’t been pleasant, with all the smoke from the forest fires in the north.

My neighbour learned a valuable lesson by not following this simple rule:  Always install a new spark plug in your mower by hand.  This way you can make sure the threads are smoothly engaging.  The neighbour tried to install a new plug with a tool and he cross threaded the hole.  He tried to buy a new head for his mower to no avail, instead he had to buy a new mower.

I continue to read articles regarding the skills golf course superintendents need to be successful.  Better communication skills continue to be near the top of the list, particularly among golf course officials.  These articles often say that maintaining turfgrass is often the easiest part of the job.  Interacting with people (golfers, etc) is the most difficult.  These two statements provide a great insight into the relationship between the golf superintendent and particularly golf course officials.

Some golf courses in our province suffered severe winter injury to their greens.  I don’t think it was ice damage.  They’ll come back with aerification, topdressing etc, but being July 1st, it could be a long haul.  This is another reason a golf course should have a well maintained bent grass nursery.  Very few golf courses have the luxury of having one.

Linda Matthews, a horticulturist living in Saskatoon, writes this about pesticides: they are ancient history.  Their use can be traced as far back as 1200 B.C., when the Egyptians used hemlock and aconite for pest control.  Homer, (Dean Kachurs’ great uncle) used sulfur as a fungicide on plants in 1000 B.C.  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.  I reviewed this in an old copy of the “Gardener”.

The removal of large trees on a golf course or in a park should be left to professional arborists.  Their training and liability insurance make them the best people for the job.  However, for smaller trees that have died, or dying, you may want to do the job yourself.  Make sure you use common sense and do the job in a safe manner.

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

To this date, I’ve received about 75% return on the membership fee invoices I mailed in late April.  2nd billings have gone out, so please present the invoice to your club for payment.  This is not the norm because in former years we were 90% or better by July 1st.

One of my pet peeves when I was a greens superintendent (many years ago) was the excessive marking of “ground under repair”.  Too much paint alters the game.  I used to boil when tournament officials would take out a paint gun.  To me, this was communicating a less than positive message to the golfers about course conditions.

I’ve read a truck load of material regarding the facts about golf course pesticides and this always comes to the forefront—it is very important to note that pesticides and fertilizers are not primarily for aesthetic reasons.  First and foremost, they are tools that help ensure a healthy playing surface for the game.  Furthermore, they help protect a valuable and ecologically important piece of land.

Now this one, in 1894 the United States Golf Association was formed with 6 golf clubs.  By the summer of 1906,  the USGA had 982 courses.  66 were 6 holers, 715 had nine holes, and 91 were 18 hole lengths.

And while we are in history mode, let's talk about green superintendents.  These pioneers wanted more knowledge in performing their craft, so talk of an association started to take place.  The National Association of Greenkeepers of America began in 1926 with a membership mainly from the Mid-West and Mid-Atlantic.  It’s first national conference drew 75 attendees to Chicago, a year later, 350 attended the convention in Detroit.

How many golfers know the secret to good golf is to hit the ball hard, hit it straight, and above all else, not too often.

And this from the New York Times.  Golf does not provide much of a workout, especially if you use a cart to transport yourself around the course.  According to estimates by Stanford researchers and other groups, golfing with a cart requires slightly more effort per minute than shuffleboard but less than archery or juggling, neither of which is known for making people sweat.  The golf motion just does not demand much energy.  According to the same calculations, practising shots on the golf range uses about the same amount of energy per minute as tai chi, whatever that is.

Be sure you make an effort to play in the STA’s annual Research Tournament August 18th in Moose Jaw at Lynbrook Golf Club.  It’s going to be a shot gun start at 9:00 am.  A steak dinner and prizes will follow golf.  You can enter as a team or individually at $100 per person.  By playing in this event you will help us in our commitment to Turfgrass Research in our province.

It’s no news that golf course maintenance is a pressure-packed profession.  Soon, the superintendents profession will be near the top for “the most stressful jobs in America”.  The pressure and stress is directly related to golfers increased expectations for the courses they play to be wall to wall green without any brown whatsoever.  Golfers, and there are a lot of them, are getting this crazy notion by watching PGA Tour events on television.  There must be an article on the above somewhere.  I will research it and have it in another newsletter if I have any luck.

Some golf courses have suffered severe winter damage which has caused a lot of worry among superintendents.  Worry causes problems instead of solutions.  It leads to procrastination instead of action.  Many years ago after my first heart attack, my doctor gave me some solid advice which was “instead of worrying about everything, be concerned.  By being concerned you will go into corrective action much quicker and more effectively.”  Believe me, this works.

There seems to be an abundance of ticks this year.  They are not insects, they are parasites and members of the Arachnida class, which includes spiders, scorpions and mites.  There are “deer ticks” that cause Lyme disease and the much bigger dog or cattle ticks that we see.  Embedded ticks should be removed using fine tipped tweezers, not a hot match, nail polish, petroleum jelly, or goose grease.  I have had them on me twice this year, neither time at a golf course.

Do you know 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 water 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 and glaciers.

Laurie Unruh was in Saskatoon earlier this year, but I never heard from him.  He owes me lunch.  The old geezer welched out again.

Patrick Goss of the USGA Green Section said this “Golfers will tell you bunkers are always too something —- too hard, too soft, too wet, too dry, too shallow, too many rocks, too deep and on and on.” Mr. Gross says too bad.  Bunkers are hazards and hazards don’t have to be consistent.  He went on to say something seriously wrong when courses are spending more money and time maintaining bunkers than greens.

Do not forget the Research Tournament at Lynbrook in Moose Jaw August 18th.  The skins game will be at Hillcrest August 17.  Your $100 fee will include cart, green fee, prizes and banquet.  Superintendents are encouraged to bring a team of players to include your assistant, green  chairman and President.  Between now and August 1 make your plans to attend.  We need your entry.

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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.