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June 2012

Make sure you register for the 2nd Annual STA Summer Field Day. Wednesday June 27th, 2012 is the day at the Willows Golf and Country Club in Saskatoon. Registration is at 8:00 am. The tradeshow on the driving range will start at 8:30 am and continue to 11:00 am. We’ll have lunch at 11:00 am and golf at noon. It will be a shot gun start.

So far this spring cool temperatures and rain have kept the golfers off the golf courses. I think this is general throughout the province. Every golf club gets hurt financially due to lack of play, but things will get better. From what I’ve heard, most of the golf courses are in pretty good shape. Some suffered snow mould damage but will recover quickly with warm weather. Nothing much will happen at 6 to 8 degree temperatures.

The STA membership fees for this year are coming in slowly. For those that have submitted cheques I thank you, and I pass on a reminder to those who haven’t sent their cheque to me. You can pay by credit card if you desire. Call me at 343-8142 or email me at  soupyd@sasktel.net. The more members the easier it is for the STA to reach our goals in promoting turfgrass research and education in our province.

If you have a small area on your golf course where seed just won’t germinate – try aerating an area on the fairway and spread the plugs on the damaged area. Mix some seed with it, keep it moist and you will be happy with the results. They do this in some areas all the time in June.

Over the years we’ve heard golfers complain about the lack of consistency on a golf course.
Inconsistent bunkers, lies on the fairways, green speed or my favourite is the idea that the course should play consistently from the same yardage from the distance markers on the tee. This would be pretty tough on the turf and would make a round of golf boring after a period of time. Markers should be moved widely over the teeing surface mainly to distribute traffic. Yardage lost on one hole can be made up on the next.

More about our Summer Field Day June 27th. Your attendance will enable you to network with suppliers and your peers. See what’s new for 2012 and find answers to your turf questions. Visit all the exhibitors and try out new turf equipment on the Willows practice facility.

They go up and come down, so you don’t have to be a physicist to classify golf balls as flying and falling objects. If you agree with that – and you work on a golf course while hacks like me are at play – then you should be wearing a hard hat. If you’re not wearing a helmet on the course, you could be cited for breaking the rules in the eyes of Workers’ Compensation. Having said that I don’t think many workers are wearing hard hats.

Michael Dougherty of Tree Management Co. says treat trees right during their formative years and they will become the upstanding specimens you’ve always hoped for. This means pruning, fertilizing and watering. Trees must be inspected regularly for disease and insects.

About five years ago a faculty member of the North Dakota State University by the name of Dale Herman literally changed the landscape in his area. He developed a paper birch resistant to bronze birch borers and to drought stress. It is single or multi trunked with a semi-pyramidal to upright-oval form, snow white exfoliating bark and dark green leaves that become golden yellow in autumn. It makes an ideal specimen tree.

Here is something you can post on your Club’s bulletin board.
There is no scientific evidence that golfers face any chronic health risks from pesticides used to maintain golf courses. Once a liquid product is applied and the turfgrass is dry, or the product has been watered in, there is very little chance of exposure to golfers or others who enter the area. It is worth noting however, that a small percentage of people may be allergic to a particular product, just as some people are allergic to soaps, perfumes, or household cleaners. When applying a product it’s a good idea to post the ingredients of the chemical used at the first tee. This will protect golfers who have chemical allergies.

Recently I received an email from a golf course official asking
what a golf course can do to speed play or how they can educate golfers on how they can play more quickly. I called an old course marshal who worked at my old course and was excellent at getting players to play at a good pace. “Increase your pace of play without rushing” “Your pace of play depends more on your readiness than the number of shots you take. No one likes to be considered a slow player” nor do they want to feel rushed while playing a round of golf. Hit when ready.

The City of Winnipeg’s municipal golf courses are in financial trouble.
Operational losses have now exceeded $1 million per season. The city is considering plans to contract out or lease out at least 3 of their golf courses and perhaps the sale of any of the 9 golf courses the city owns. Competitive forces lead to declining customer base, rates fail to keep pace to inflation, discounts given to retain customers all cause revenues to fall. Golf courses in the USA are suffering the same fate.

With the arrival of summer we will have electrical storms
. Every year more people are killed or injured by lightning than by tornadoes, floods or hurricanes. In fact it is estimated that in the United States as many as 300 people are killed by lightning each year. Because they are open areas with scattered individual trees, golf courses are dangerous places during a thunderstorm. A lightning bolt will take the shortest route between the cloud and the ground, which means a golfer standing in the middle of a fairway or huddled under a tree is a prime target for a strike.

It’s almost mosquito season.
They will soon be attacking and golfers as well as golf course employees are spraying themselves for protection. The same can be said about ticks that are in abundance this year. When spraying, do so on a cart path or somewhere besides over the turf so as to avoid damage. Signs should be installed at high traffic areas indicating how insect repellent damages the turf and suggest to them where they should spray.

Most of the plants we grow on our golf courses and in our parks are beneficial and harmless.
There are, however, a few that are a cause for concern. They are invasive and one that comes to mind which I’m familiar with is Purple Loosestrife. It is a fast growing and aggressive plant which has no predators or diseases in North America and has turned wetlands into Purple Loosestrife monocultures. In 2010 there were over 100 Purple Loosestrife infestations in our natural areas within Saskatchewan.

I wonder if golf courses were a little shorter, and easier, would more people participate in the game of golf.
Numerous people get discouraged and quit golf altogether because the course they play is too difficult for them. I’ve never figured out why people won’t play forward tees to make their golfing experience more enjoyable and easier. People would enjoy their golf game if they’d play from the set of tees that gives you the best chance to reach the par 3’s in one shot, par 4’s in 2 and par 5’s in 3 shots. You’d be surprised how many golfers don’t know that.

A few years ago, an older lady told me how I could control “slugs” in my garden with beer.
You take a small saucer, find a lid to fit the saucer and cut a hole in it about the size of a loonie. Pour enough beer in the saucer to fill it ¼ of the way up. The slugs smell the hops and they ooze up to the hole in the lid, fall in and die drunk and happy. The old lady swore by this method, saying it was the only trick that worked.

String trimmers are important tools for maintaining turfgrass on golf courses or parks.
If you are buying one however, the first consideration should be the availability of parts and service. If you rely on outside service and parts sources, it’s best to select from the offerings at a nearby dealer. Remember, you’re going to need a fuel filter, starter springs and cords, replacement blade shields, air filter, etc.

The cause of compaction and the need for aeration is demonstrated
every time a footpath becomes established through repeated use. It happens on your front lawn of your home when the mailman takes the same route each day on his route to the next house, it happens in parks when people take the same route to the concession. It happens on greens, tees and fairways. The soil is compacted, the roots can no longer breathe and the grass blades wither and die. Repeated traffic, whether by foot or vehicular, compresses the soil, closes up the pore spaces, and forms a crust that shuts off the movement of water and air. Superintendents recognize these symptoms and bring out the aerifier, that hateful machine universally despised by golfers all over North America. Why should a practice so beneficial for the turf be so disliked by golfers.

The season is upon us and it may be a good to walk or even ride the course every day,
looking for little things that can be repaired for little or no cost. Something like a sprinkler that isn’t turning or a leaking irrigation pipe. I always run into these little things when I visit a golf course. Or maybe it’s a dry ballwasher, dirty towels or garbage on the golf course. With a little effort all these problems could be rectified.

Do you know 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.

The big news in the STA is the sudden resignation of President Mark Mohart.
Mark has been learning a second career as a conductor for CN Rail. He will continue as Superintendent at the Melville Golf Club. He plans to commit every available hour to both careers at this point. The Board of Directors of the STA accepted Mark’s resignation with regret and wished him well in his future endeavour.

The new President of the STA is Lach Reeve of the Weyburn Golf Club. Lach has been at Weyburn for many years and is an excellent Green Superintendent. He will serve our Association well for the next two years.

The STA Board of Directors, at their May 1st meeting, decided by motion to partner with Parkland College in the delivery of programs designed for the Turfgrass industry. The first of these programs was held this spring at Parkland College in Yorkton. It was hosted by Dennis McKernan of Lifeworks Design and Consulting. It was very successful and will be expanded upon.

Big news about the British Columbia legislative committee rejects
outright ban on Cosmetic Pesticides. They said there is not enough evidence to justify such a ban. The golf industry naturally were happy about the decision. They were lobbying against the ban of using pesticides. Needless to say, British Columbia’s health organizations, notably the Cancer Society are disappointed with the decision. They say an outright ban would protect BC’s children from being exposed to pesticides. Give me a break, this comes from someone that probably knows very little about pesticides.

Earthworms are a problem on greens. That’s because they like moist conditions, although too much moisture forces them to the surface. This is because they breathe through their skin and too much water displaces oxygen and forces them to the top where they may be quickly killed by sunlight. Cultural practices have little effect on their control as has chemicals after Chlordane was removed from the market. There is some hope however, websites of many Chinese tea oil manufacturers claim that tea seed meal can be used to control earthworms on sports turf and lawns. The product will soon be available in Saskatoon. Email me and I can give you more details about the products’ availability.

The Canadian Golf Superintendents Association’s Fall Field Day will be held September 15th to 17th at the Nk’Mip Canyon Desert Golf Course in Oliver, British Columbia. Ken Bruneski is the host Superintendent.

Scientists at the University of Guelph are cloning elm trees they believe
are resistant to the awful Dutch Elm disease, the fungus that devastated the North American elm tree population. The disease is spread by beetles that block the trees’ ability to take in nutrients. This slowly starves the tree over a two or three year period, resulting in death of the tree. The elm tree is a tremendous shade tree that hades many streets and avenues. It’s wood was once prized in the manufacture of hockey sticks.

Another reminder to attend the 2nd annual Summer Field Day at the Willows here in Saskatoon,
Wednesday, June 27th, 2012.Registration at 8:00 am. Bring a foursome from your Club at $50.0 per person. Enjoy the trade show on the driving range, the lunch, and the golf starting at noon. See new equipment for 2012 and find answers to your turf questions from your peers. This is a can’t miss event. Register Now!

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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.