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June 2015

  • June 9, 2015
  • Written by

For over 50 years, every Ukrainian, German and what have you told me not to plant bedding plants in the garden before June 1 because sure as hell, there’s going to be frost.  Being a dumb Scotsman Know-it-all I have to try my luck, saying to myself there won’t be frost after May 25.  I bust my butt covering plants, and taking pots into the garage, and most of all calling myself a dummy in my most colourful language.

Brad Konesci – John Deere’s sales representative for Guertin Equipment in Saskatchewan has resigned his position.  Brad has moved to Crows Nest Pass to take a position as Warren Gietz’s assistant.  Brad told me he really likes the area and is happy he no longer has the pressure associated with selling John Deere equipment.

Membership dues for 2015 are coming in slowly.  If you have sent your cheque I thank you.  If you haven’t or have forgotten, please look after this as soon as possible.  The STA needs your membership.

There have been a multitude of changes during the last 100 years.  However there still are golf courses that have not made the quantum leap forward.  You can find sheep grazing on golf courses in the hinterland of New Zealand and in the Hebrides off the coast of Scotland.  In Grenada they apply compost to greens which have been hand aerated with pitchforks.  The process of converting sand greens to grass is still not complete.

Just heard Laurie Unruh is in Saskatoon for about a month or so.  I’ll try and get a hold of him to buy me lunch – he owes me.  From what I’ve heard he hasn’t changed at all and is still trying to master Spanish.

About 10 years ago I watched a hockey game with a fellow who was a member of a golf club here in Saskatoon.  I remember for forty minutes I listened to a 7 handicap chirp bitterly about his club aerating greens.  I told him then that I didn’t think he was a good enough golfer to complain about anything on the golf course.  I didn’t see him after the 2nd period until I ran into him having lunch at Earls.  He reminded me about our conversation at the hockey game.  He is now a 16 handicapper.  After 11 years he remembered what I had said to him about his then 7 handicap.

Just had a talk with Mary Lou Bird, the proud owner of the Lazy K Golf and Country Club.  Mary Lou is retiring and moving to Prince Albert to be closer to her family.  Her son will run the Lazy K.  She is a long time member of the STA and always supported us in our endeavours.

Recently I had a note from Kevin Patterson the new superintendent at the Esterhazy Golf Course.  He is looking to rent or borrow a walk-behind greens mower.  The reason for this is because of flooding, there is a green that isn’t accessible by triplex.  The only option is to take a walk behind mower to the green to maintain it as if it is a typical year.  If there is a golf course in the province that is willing to supply Esterhazy with a mower it will be greatly appreciated.  You can get a hold of Kevin Patterson by email at kevin.patterson@investorsgroup.com

Mitch Davidson, the accounts manager for Consolidated Turf Equipment has written another article for the newsletter.  This one is titled “Getting the Most Out of Your Foliar Applications”.  It’s a good read and we thank Mitch for his contribution to the STA.

The Ministry of Agriculture, in partnership with the Ministry of Economy is holding an Industry Labour Roundtable in Regina on June 16, 2015.  The roundtable is scheduled for 9:30 am to 3:30 pm, June 16 in the Great Room at the Sandman Hotel.  The session will bring people together to discuss labour market issues, responses and best practices.

The province has warned that tick season has begun.  The tick season runs from early spring to early October.  Some advice from the province includes:

  • Wear pants, long sleeved shirts and shoes that don’t show your feet
  • Pull socks over your pant legs to prevent ticks from crawling up your legs
  • Use insect repellant that contains “DEET”.  Apply repellent on clothes as well as skin
  • Outside of the insect repellent I don’t think a golf course worker would follow the first two suggestions.  They may however follow the following.
  • Shower or bathe within two hours of being outside to wash off loose ticks

Do “full body” tick checks daily on yourself, your workers and pets.  By the way, deer ticks can transmit Lyme disease, but almost all the ticks in Saskatchewan are wood ticks which do not.

An article by Janet Thomson and Manmeet Ahluwalia says the collapse of bee colonies nationwide is well established and beyond dispute.  Beyond that, they say things get a bit murky.  A lot of researchers, but not all, blame the mass die off of bees on pesticides that are widely used by farmers and gardeners of fruits and vegetables in Canada.  General agreement that insecticides used are toxic to bees is being debated.  Industry argues that when the insecticides are applied to seeds which are then buried, it’s a stretch to say bees are dying because of their products.

How do you recognize Dutch Elm Disease?  DED clogs the water-conducting vessels of an elm, so one of the first signs of the disease will be a branch in the upper canopy of the elm with leaves that wilt, turn brown and shrivel in early summer. They often remain on the tree for the full season.  If the disease strikes later in the summer, leaves will usually wilt, turn yellow and fall prematurely.  If you suspect Dutch Elm Disease call 1-800-SASKELM immediately.  Don’t take chances.

The 2015 STA Research Tournament will be held August 18th on a Tuesday at the Lynbrook Golf Club in Moose Jaw, SK.  Owen Morhart will be our host.  The Hillcrest Golf Club will host the skins game August 17th.  Start time at Lynbrook will be 9:00 am while the skins will be around 3:00 pm.  Get your team together for a fun day.  More details will follow in future newsletters.

Record droughts and deadly heat waves have been in the news lately.  50° heat in India would be almost unbearable while the four year drought in California is a big problem.  Golf courses have taken action however, creating numerous non-irrigated areas.  These courses are proving brown is beautiful also, and perhaps gives the courses more of a challenge.  They say none of the courses have lost any of their character.  I wonder what has happened to car washes, laundromats, etc.

Many golf courses in Scotland have high rough.  Drive it crookedly, pay the piper.  Thus inhibits all big bombers – tour players and every day golfers alike – who want to free wheel their drives.  It’s no wonder the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland isn’t worried about hot drivers.  When the US Golf Association said there was a problem, the R and A just shrugged it’s shoulders.  It doesn’t matter over there.  A 300 yard or longer drive into belly-high fescue is lost, unplayable or maybe unwanted.

They tell me the recent Pesticide Applicator Classroom Seminar and Exam, held recently at Kelsey Campus in Saskatoon May 25-26 was successful.  Some 22 people attended, primarily golf course people.  The results of the exam aren’t available as I write this.

I hear numerous conversations at the grocery store about beetles in people’s produce.  The latest was the blister beetle in packaged spinach.  The large red and yellow insect is about the length of a toonie.  The bug gives off a toxic chemical called canthanndin when stressed, which can raise blisters on our skin.  These beetles are fairly common in Arizona, especially in vegetable and barley fields.

Speaking of pests, here in Saskatoon, and I suppose elsewhere in the province, tent caterpillars are invading, mostly our green ash trees.  Experts say high pressure washers are the best defence against caterpillars, washing them off the trees.  Another defence is to spray the infected tree with “Ambush”.  Make sure you read the directions on the bottle.

Eddie Konrad, the man behind “Mechanics Corner” in the Greenmaster called it a day.  He was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, fought the disease tooth and nail, continued his passion for what he loved doing – teaching at Seneca College, offering seminars and writing articles for the Greenmaster.  In late 2014 he was told the cancer was progressing at an alarming rate and in 2015 will be undergoing chemotherapy.  Mr. Konrad thanks everyone for making his “work” a real pleasure.  All Green Superintendents in Canada thank him for helping them with all their equipment problems and wish him well in his battle.

As our trees bud out we see that trees around the golf course cause profound changes over the years, playing strategy, sun/shade relationships, air movement, frost problems, drainage problems and exposed roots also emerge as factors as trees continue and expand.  Tree maintenance as an ongoing management practice is slim or none at many golf courses.

Not many people know this one.  All the water on our planet is used over and over again and is never used up.  This means you could be drinking the same water molecules that were drunk by an ancient Egyptian or even a dinosaur or better still, my Uncle Jake.

Just visited a golf course in Saskatoon that is building a state of the art turfgrass nursery.  It’s going to be built just like a new green and maintained as a green.  The same golf course is having pump problems, an unwanted problem during a record setting dry spell.  They’ll come out of it but in the meantime it’s a hairpuller watching the course burn up.

As you get older, your balance leaves you – it has left me and I rely on support wherever I can get it. Golf improves balance.  In a 2011 study, older male golfers performed much better on several different tests of balance and physical confidence than men of the same age who did not golf.  So, while golf is not vigorous endurance exercise, it should “increase both the physical and psychological aspects of balance control”, the study’s authors concluded.

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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.