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June 2011

Summer is supposed to be here but the weather does not want to cooperate. It’s been cool here but in the south they are receiving something they don’t need—rain. The ground in southern areas must be saturated and there are a number of southern golf courses that aren’t fully playable. Some courses still have some flood problems.

There are a number of cases of Take-all Patch on Saskatchewan golf courses this year. The host is creeping bentgrass and Annual bluegrass. Symptoms of take-all patch usually recover on their own once soil temperatures rise above 18 degrees celsius. But, if there isn’t a healthy root system, symptoms will persist all summer. A substantial thatch layer is perfect for turf root diseases, which contributes to overall plant stress.

Most everyone in the turf business in our province knows Saskatoon native Paul Voykin.
Paul was the green superintendent at the Briarwood Country Club in Chicago for 45 years. Paul will soon receive his highest honour. Paul will become part of Illinois golf history as he will be inducted into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame. He had a real commitment to his golf course, was an author and a keynote speaker for many superintendents’ associations. Congratulations from your friends in Saskatchewan!

Again we urge all golf courses in our province to make sure their superintendent has a Landscape Pesticide Applicator licence. This is the golf club’s responsibility. Your superintendent will learn how to safely use pest control to protect ornamental plants and turf on golf courses and parks. He will also learn about Dutch Elm Disease control. A prerequisite is the minimum age is 18 years. The fee is $215.00 per person with the course manuals additional. Register through SIAST Wascana Campus (Regina) - call 1-866-goSIAST or 1-866-407-4278. The course is ongoing July through June.

More about Take-all patch. It is recommended a cultural maintenance plan including aerification, verticutting and topdressing. An effective method of thatch reduction is dup verticutting in the spring and fall. Another recommendation is core aerification since it opens up pore spaces and improves drainage as well as removing some of the thatch layer. Don’t do this if the disease is active.

I’m looking forward to seeing a large number of you June 21, 2011 at our Summer Field Day at the Willows Gofl & Country Club.
The interesting programs will include Exhibitors, Demonstrations, Literature and Education. Network with suppliers and your peers and find answers to your turf questions. Registration will be at 8:30 am—the program will run from 9:00 am to noon. Have lunch at noon and golf at 1:30 pm all for $50 bucks.

2011 Membership Fees are slowly coming in but I wait patiently for some to still come in. If you are one that I haven’t heard from, please take this as a reminder and submit payment as soon as possible. One real bright spot is that we have attracted some new members.

Don’t discount the danger of West Nile virus. The cool spring weather meant a slow start for the mosquitos that carry the West Nile virus, but with coming warmer weather the pesky insects will thrive in weeks to come. With the abundance of water around we must be aware of the virus and its consequences. Take precautions using insect repellent particulary at dawn and dusk. If you are having a barbecue and will be in one place try my listerine method of control. I won’t take any chances so I’ll use repellent too.

Over the past five years I’ve found that rounds of golf have decreased at what I would say is an alarming rate. Why is this happening? Time to play a round is probably number one for a person with a young family. Cost of equipment and green fees is probably another. I recently talked to a friend of mine who at one time played 3 times a week and is down now to a single game a month. He said golf wasn’t fun anymore. This game isn’t what it used to be, doesn’t score as well, and takes too long. I wonder if he move up to the forward tees if the fun would return.

Had lunch with Laurie Unruh the other day. Nice to talk to him—nice that he paid for lunch—same old BS but I enjoyed it. Laurie is playing a lot of golf and will probably attend our Summer Field Day June 21st at the Willows. He will play golf and eat a huge lunch—that’s a given. This will be an attraction—come to the Summer Field Day and see Laurie. I wonder if Jim Cote can come.

Just recently I talked to a mechanic with a large maintenance company who was replacing a leaky oil seal on an out-front mower. He told me most oil seals are trouble-free for the life of the machine. Seals that do fail such as the one he was working on gives an advance warning in the form of dripping oil or by becoming damp around the edges. There is an ocean of seals available but you are wise to install the proper one. Most seals carry a manufacturers numerical code to help ensure a proper replacement is used.

I see people in Saskatoon pruning their trees this past week. This is the least desirable time to prune because new growth has just recently developed. A great amount of stored food within the plant in roots and stems has been used in the development of new growth and this food should be replaced by new foliage before it is removed. If not, considerable dwarfing of the plant may occur.

Earlier I wrote about Club’s responsibility in their green superintendent having a Pesticide Applicators license. In the last newsletter we included information from Parkland College in Yorkton which offers a SIAST Pesticide Applicator license with their 60 hour Turfgrass Advanced Course. This is worthwhile to look at. For more information call Darrel Landels in Yorkton at 1-306-786-2761.

In the last Newsletter I talked about spraying Listerine on your deck floor to keep the mosquitos away. I had six calls from members to tell me this really works. A couple suggested I add some vinegar to the listerine—another suggested I add lemon juice. I tried the straight Listerine on my deck and guess what—it worked. The only thing that went wrong is my wife developed a sore throat and gave me supreme hell for using all the Listerine—to make matters worse, I told her to find the spray bottle and use what was left on her throat. That didn’t really go over.

Got any questionss about Pesticide storage, obtaining your license, or the rules pertaining to the application of Pesticides, call Allan Bakke on his cell at 306-631-0500 or email him at  abakke@agr.gov.sk.ca. He is the provincial pesticide investigator. If he hasn’t visited your golf course, don’t worry—he will.

I continue to be impressed with the job “Instrata” does in the control of snow mould. Above all, Instrata takes the uncertainty out of snow mould protection. Instead of trying to predict the proper tank mix for potential pathogens and particular weather conditions, superintendents now have a stress-free way of controlling pink and grey snow mould. It is the three-way product a superintendent needs—so your course is the utlimate in playability in the spring.

Mike Jiggens, the very good editor of my favourite magazine “Turf and Recreation” has played very little golf this spring because of the wet and inclement weather in Eastern Canada. He feels sorry for Courses that rely on green fee revenue, golf courses that are flooded, and seniors who have to use a cart and can’t because of soggy fairways. I’m going to use his quote which I agree with “Golf course superintendents are a thick-skinned breed. They’ve overcome some of the worst calamities by remaining cool-headed during these stressful periods and then have put their professionalism to use to resolve these setbacks.” Well said!

Not too long ago there was a popluar, though erroneous, belief that courses must have trees to be classified as good courses.
As a result of this belief and golfer’s general affinity for trees, many golf courses have become over-planted. The truth is, trees are not essential to most courses, and they drive up the cost of golf course maintenance tremendously. The cost of planting a tree is merely a small down payment on a bill, for some courses. Runs into mega dollars annually. Pruning, shade, roots on the fairways, spraying are just a few of the costs.

I spent most of my life on a golf course and never saw a tick or even heard of them. The only thing we watched for was poison ivy and stinging nettles. In recent years we are seeing an over-population of ticks. They are not insects, they are parasites and members of the Arachnida calss which includes spiders, scorpions, mites and some women I knew when I was much younger. 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 and not by a hot match, nail polish or petroleum jelly.

More about last months “Newsletter”. I wrote about eating cucumbers to avoid a hangover after drinking 20 or 30 bottles of beer. Well here is another one given to me by a lady that agreed with the mosquito killer Listerine.—Feeling tired in the afternoon, put down the caffeinated soda pop and pick up a cucumber. Cucumbers are a good source of B vitamins and carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.

This is one of my favourites. There are two things you can learn by stopping your back swing at the top and checking the position of your hands: how many hands you have, and which one is wearing the glove.—and this: It takes longer to learn to be a good golfer than it does to be a brain surgeon. On the other hand, you don’t get to ride around on a cart, drink beer, eat hot dogs and fart if you are performing brain surgery!!!

I want to see a whole bunch of our members at our Summer Field Day June 21 at the Willows Golf and Country Club
. I’ll be at the registration table at 8:30 am. I will guarantee everyone will have an enjoyable day. I hear that Jim Ross, Old College in Olds Alberta will be there, which is a big bonus for us.

Derf Soller, USGA agronomist for the Northwest Region will be in Saskatoon around June 7th, was Terry McNeilly's roommate at the U Mass Turf School. His article appears in this Newsletter.

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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.