June 2013

  • June 8, 2013
  • Written by Don Campbell

Early June and we finally have some good weather. Golf courses and parks are busy, which will make a lot of the management happy. From what I hear, every venue is in good condition which makes the Turf Management happy and their jobs much easier.

I have a feeling we are going to have an abundance of mosquitoes this summer. The little suckers are out and hungry. I say this because of the many sloughs and standing water, especially in the bush and ditches. With this we must be aware of West Nile Virus. What ever you do, don't take chances, cover up and use insect spray. There are many good products on the market. Spraying yourself could save you from serious illness.

Agriculture is the biggest user of water and golf course irrigation is one of the smallest, but still gets hammered in the media, even though Turf Managers manage and recycle water much better than John Q Public. In Florida, where I read this, the public sector uses 30% of the water available, golf courses use a little over 3%.

With golf in full swing across the province, slow play will raise its ugly head. Players will get upset and yell at anyone (usually the golf professional) who is close, about the problem. No one will have an answer but enclosed with this "Newsletter" are a number of tips to help solve the problem. It may be a good idea to post these tips in the ProShop, Clubhouse, or at the 1st tee. Most of these tips are common sense. Good players with strong golf course etiquette do these things without thinking.

I wonder if golf courses were easier and a little shorter, 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. Everyone will enjoy the golf course if you 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 the par 5's in 3 shots. I'm sure there are a slug of golfers that don't know that.

Straight cutting lines on greens are essential. I say this after visiting a couple of golf courses near Saskatoon. Cut with a triplex the lines looked like an "S". A hint for the first pass, is to pick a tree or some other feature in the horizon and keep looking at it as you mow a strip across the green. The line should and probably will be straight. Focus on this straight line as you complete each pass. At the end, admire your work.

In many repeated surveys regarding the skills golf course superintendents need, better communication skills continue to be mentioned at the top of the list among course officials. In numerous publications that I have read, superintendents state that maintaining turfgrass is often the easiest part of their job. Interacting with people, particularly those on the board, is the most difficult. These two statements provide a great insight into the relationship between the superintendent and course officials.

And this is from Bill Gates. Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes, and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

My Uncle Jake always told me to be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one. Uncle Jake knew where it was at.

Someone sent me this quote some time ago. The quote is from Nick Price who is involved in golf course design and has a good view of Golf Course Superintendents. He says "Let a superintendent do his own thing without micromanaging. There is no way that any member—unless he's with a turf nursery or is an agronomist or is a Ph.D—is going to tell the superintendent what to do with the greens. That is his expertise.

The foundation of all excellent golf facilities is solid basic turfgrass management. This starts with priority attention given to the basics—good fertilization, irrigation, mowing, pest control, and cultivation programs. The extra 5 to 10% enhancement in quality from the incorporation of new products or technologies can not compensate for the missing 90% of good basics. This is from Dr. Robert Carrow, turfgrass research scientist at the University of Georgia.

I just found this out—only buy or fillup your car or truck in the early morning when the ground temperature is still cold. Remember that all service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground. The colder the ground, the denser the gasoline—when it gets warmer, gasoline expands, making your litre not exactly a litre when you buy in the afternoon or evening. This is probably why we get better gas mileage in the winter especially if the car was stored in a warm garage.

Just had a call from an STA member who wants to reshape some of his greens and asked if this is a good time of year to do this. The answer is "NO". The time to do it is in late April or very early May. This will give the grass time to rejuvenate and grow back green. Cutting into the fringe now will leave that part of the green looking scalped and will look awful for most of the summer.

Another thing I just learned is that there is a hidden risk when chemically killing tree stumps. Roots of adjacent trees frequently form natural grafts permitting herbicides applied to one to move through an unseen root graft into it's neighbor. Thus, root grafts have been known to cause the sudden and "inexplicable" death of a neighbors prized tree about a week after the stump next door was chemically poisoned. This was interesting to me because this very thing happened on our block a few years ago.

As I write this, I received an e-mail from a golf course official (not the superintendent who is a member) on how far the flag should be from the edge of the green. I should have said, "ask your greens superintendent". Instead I told him about 15 feet or 3 paces. This isn't right. Generally the green flag should be located at least five paces from any edge of the green. If a bunker is close to the edge or if the ground slopes away from the edge, the distance should be greater, especially if the shot is more than a pitch.

At the start of this Newsletter I wrote that golf courses in our Province were generally in good shape. However, I heard today that is not the case. Some golf courses east of Saskatoon have had issues with greens not coming through the winter. In times, these will come back, but in the mean time, this is a big headache for the greens superintendent and his crew.

Long hours for Greens Superintendents are here for another year. Most of you will be at work and hard at it before most people crawl out of bed. Everyone wants you to rise and shine. To do this consistently means you must have a good night's sleep. This isn't easy because most guys usually have a beer or a cup of coffee prior to bedtime. There is a whole list of things we shouldn't do but I'm not going to go there—the wife won't like it.

I hear from my sources several golf courses in our Province have a goose problem. Not only do they spread bubble gum all over greens, but they make holes in the turf and some can be down right dangerous. Their natural predator is the coyote. I wonder if you had 6 or 8 coyote decoys in an area the geese congregate in, would the geese leave? You probably wouldn't be able to find coyote decoys. My uncle Jake used to bring them down with a shotgun at any time during the summer. He'd cook the odd one for himself.

There is an abundance of ticks this year. Philip Curry a zoonotics disease consultant with the province says despite being delayed by a long winter and cool spring, we in Saskatchewan have entered tick season, and it is important we protect ourselves against these blood suckers. They have survived the winter in leaf litter and dead grass under the snow. Curry explained people are more likely to contact the American dog tick rather than deer ticks which can carry Lyme disease. The important thing is to protect yourself. At night after work it is also important to remove your clothes and do a tick check. Along with this Newsletter we will publish a Tick Fact Sheet presented by the Sun Country Health Region.

Here is something about drinking water. Drinking water at a certain time maximizes it's effectiveness on the body. 2 glasses of water after waking up—helps activate the internal organs.

  • 1 glass of water 30 minutes before a meal—helps digestion.
  • 1 glass of water before taking a bath—helps lower blood pressure.
  • 1 glass of water before going to bed—avoids stroke or heart attack. I wonder if beer in place of water would do the same thing? - Certainly make you happier.

Along with this Newsletter there is a Registration Form for the 2nd Annual STA Summer Field Day. Please fill it out and fax it back to me or e-mail me or call me. The date is Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at the Willows Golf and Country Club. Registration is at 8:00 am. This is your chance to see new equipment, try it out, meet suppliers, and what is coming in the future. See you there.

The 47th Annual CGSA Fall Field Day will be at Mike Kupchanko'sWascana Country Club, Regina SK, on September 23rd, 2013. A brochure is included with this Newsletter. An important reminder is if you are a member of the STA and not the CGSA, the pre-registration fee is the same. One of the highlights is a CFL football game which is available with registration. The price is $79 plus GST, which includes bus transportation from the host hotel and of course the game ticket.

Heard again today some courses didn't come through the winter very well. The main problem seems to be greens and tees. When these aren't good, the whole golf course in the eyes of some players is rotten. Everything will improve in time, but in the meantime it's a big headache for the superintendent. Have patience, everyone watch for ticks and now mosquitoes.

In closing, I hope to see a large number of you at our Summer Field Day at the Willows. It would be a good idea if you brought along three of your Directors to look at the equipment, talk to the dealers, and play a good golf course.

 

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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.

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