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June 2008

It’s June and we need rain badly throughout most of Saskatchewan. Golf Courses in parts of the province suffered from the wrath of last winter and perhaps this spring. From calls I’ve received and people I’ve talked to, conditions are the worst they’ve seen in years. This is not to say all courses got hit because there are some in excellent shape. Time will bring good things and everything will return to good shape.

The membership renewals for 2008 are coming in at a good pace, which is encouraging. What is really good is almost all payments have been made by the Club or Company. A few years ago this wasn’t the case as the mix was about 50-50. If you haven’t submitted your cheque by the end of June we will assume you aren’t joining the STA and your name will be removed from our mailing list.

Now may be a good time to think about what precautions can be taken to minimize the risk of West Nile Virus for yourself and your staff. Measures include: (1) Eliminating areas of standing water, (2) Applying insect repellent to your skin and clothes, (3) Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants whenever necessary and (4) Consider wearing mosquito netting head gear.

Again this summer we’ll hear a lot about Pesticides and what they can do to you. People who worry about pesticides fail to realize or don’t want to believe that cancer rates have actually dropped over the last 40 years. Stomach cancer has dropped more than 75% while rectal cancer is down more than 65%. People who are concerned about pesticides killing songbirds should know that since the late 16th century, the songbird population has increased.

A lot of our province is suffering from draught conditions so it’s important that you don’t cut greens, tees and fairways too short. You may get some complaints about these heights but in the long run your turf will be much healthier, especially if you have a water shortage.

Be careful when cleaning your equipment at the end of the day.
Avoid using a pressure washer because you’ll not only ruin seals, but you will end up replacing bearings too. Not under any conditions should you put water on areas which are hot. My neighbour found out the hard way. Cost him four hundred bucks for a new mower.

It is at this time of year that the guys who think they are good players complain about aeration, particularly on the greens. A proper aeration program is one of the most important cultural practices that can be performed on the golf course. Aeration is important on all soils, but is critical on soils that have a heavier clay texture. The amount of oxygen and water that can infiltrate into the soils is crucial for root development and survival.

Only a few shots are played from bunkers during a typical round of golf, but nowhere are golfers more critical of course conditions than when it comes to the sand in the bunkers. When golfers fail to execute a perfect golf shot from a sand bunker it’s rarely the fault of the person swinging the club. The blame invariably lies with the sand in the bunker. It’s either too soft or too fluffy, too hard or too dry, too coarse or too fine, or even more politically correct – the sand lacks consistency. Sand and bunkers are a very emotional issue. A normally rational person can become quite unreasonable when discussing sand bunkers. So why not get rid of them. Bunkers, as it turns out, are an essential part of golf! They add challenge to the game, frame and define golf holes and provide contrast and accent. Enough said.

More and more often we hear complaints about inconsistent playing conditions. Golf courses say there isn’t anything wrong with the goal itself, but golf for the most part is played on a natural area. It should provide a test of skill and a golfer’s abilities to adjust to varying conditions in the field. The better golfer will be the player who has the skill level, can recognize the varying conditions and can adjust to those conditions.

Mosquitoes are out again and attacking golfers and, of course, golf course and park employees. When spraying themselves, people should be reminded to do so on a cart path or somewhere other than over turf so as to avoid damage. Signs should be displayed at the 1st tee or a strategic area indicating how insect repellent damages the turf and suggest the areas where they should spray.

Agriculture is the biggest user of water. Golf courses and parks are one of the smallest but still get hammered through the media and by the public. Turf managers manage and recycle water much better than John Q. Public. In Florida, for example, the public sector uses 30% of the water available. Golf courses and parks use a little over 3%.

The National Golf Foundation – for what it’s numbers are worth – says
the average female player drives the ball 140 yards. Fairway woods average about 120 yards. That’s about 75% of the average male’s distance. In this day and age, 7000 yards barely clings to its place as a “championship standard”, meaning the better female player will play a course “as it is intended” if it clocks in around 5250 yards. The average male would probably like his golf in the 6400 yard range. So this means the average lady, older man or a youngster should be teeing off from a cumulative 5000 yards, depending on the terrain and hole design.

A long time superintendent and friend of mine says
that having long grass around trees, signs, and on banks and slopes is an advertisement for incompetence. Regular trimming is probably the most appealing, but could be expensive. You could also use occasional applications of growth retardants. Try this during the summer months.

No doubt some of your courses will have problems with slow play.
Here is one you can post at the tee: “Increase your pace of play without rushing.” Your pace of play depends more on your readiness than on the number of shots you take. No one likes to be considered a slow player, nor do they want to feel rushed while enjoying a round of golf. Hit when ready!

I tell you this every year.
Now is the time of year to walk around your Park or Course to inspect what trees are potential dangers to your public. Falling branches are a real risk and most likely will fall at this time of year. Doing this will express your concern and may get the public involved as well.

Just received… Health Canada’s final release
re: evaluation & decision on 2,4-D. The Health Canada Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), the federal body responsible for the regulation of pesticides in Canada, has concluded its re-evaluation that 2,4-D meets Canada’s strict health and safety standards and as such, can continue to be sold and used in Canada. Health Canada understands that the public may have concerns over the use of pesticides and would like to convey that all registered pesticides undergo a thorough science-based risk assessment and must meet strict health and environmental standards before being approved for use in Canada.

Recently, while reading “Golf Canada”, I came across this little tidbit:
“You hit it as far as you think”. This is wacky but true. On most shots between the tee and green, most golfers chronically under-select clubs in the desperate hope for a repeat of that one time when the planets fleetingly aligned and they caught it perfectly clean. No one said golfers were smart. Or if they did, they obviously never picked up a club. This, written by I.J. Schecter, appeared in the June edition of Golf Canada.

More in this category: « May 2008 July 2008 »

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.