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March 2008

I’ve attended seminars on trees for almost 50 years. All were very informative and worthwhile, but I’ve never heard a speaker with more information than John Ball, Wednesday's headliner at the STA's 2008 Spring Seminar. He is a dynamic speaker that will captivate the audience. He has spoken at numerous conferences in North America on the subject of tree management.

Plan on attending the Saskatchewan Turfgrass Association’s Spring Seminar Wednesday March 19th and Thursday March 20th, 2008. The cost for STA members is $125, while non-members will pay $295. There will be a reception after Dr. Ball’s presentation Wednesday. The first speaker on Thursday will be Allan Bakke, Provincial Pesticide Investigator with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture in Moose Jaw. This will be followed by a service seminar sponsored by Oakcreek. This will run until 4:00pm. All meals and coffee breaks are included at no charge.

Oakcreek’s seminar will naturally deal with Toro equipment and has 2 top notch speakers. Included in the presentation will be: Grinding and Reel Adjustment, General Daily Maintenance, Parts Ordering and Yamaha Golf Car Maintenance and Troubleshooting. You can’t miss this presentation.

I have lost some respect for Stephen Ames after his whining about the Canadian Open Course conditions at Angus Glen in Markham Ontario. The conditions weren’t just right. He blamed the RCGA, the PGA Tour and the green superintendent. Ernie Amsler, the course superintendent, died days before the event after a long illness. Ames should have taken the high road and said nothing.

The following is a reason why I don’t endorse volunteers operating equipment on a golf course. This past August, an elderly man died while cutting down trees at Sylvan Lake Golf & Country Club. The man was using a chainsaw when two trees to be cut down became entangled with others that had been uncut. He tried to use a rope and pulley to fell the cut trees when one landed on him, killing him instantly.

Phil Tralies, President and CEO of Club Car decided to offer his company’s employees free golf lessons which they have embraced. Tralies feels it is his responsibility to do his part to grow the game, especially in a market where new player growth has been essentially flat the past few years.

A quick tip from John Deere (Brad Konecsni & Jim Benoit) — Ants have become one of the most troublesome pests in golf course management. Their mounds of soil disrupt the playing surface of putting greens and can dull mower blades. Using an insecticide can effectively rid you of this nuisance.

Cutting greens on a golf course is very important
in maintaining golf courses to perfection. Topdressing, fertilizing spraying, aerifying and watering are wasted unless the green is cut to perfection. If not, golfers will condemn the green and much work is wasted.

Another tip –
Check the basket on a cutting unit for clippings while the green is being cut. Clippings tell a story; uneven distribution within the basket means the cutting unit is set improperly. Unbalanced quantities between the baskets may indicate different heights of cut. If there is a problem call the mechanic or superintendent. One way to tell a perfect cut is to come back in the evening. With the setting sun over one’s shoulder, every imperfection on the green is clearly visible … then you know your greens aren’t perfect.

At my daughter’s golf course in North Carolina each green has an alternate green which is smaller in size. It is used on frost delays, when the regular green is aerated or when it’s undergoing general work. On busy mornings the pin is moved to the alternate while the regular is being cut. Alternate greens are cut three times per week and are in play when not used. It must be noted that this is a public golf course where green fee revenue is important. The owner says the alternate greens get him about 15,000 more rounds per year.

I’m currently reading a book by Thomas Nikolai, titled “The Superintendent’s Guide to Controlling Putting Green Speed”. It’s available at Early’s Farm & Garden Centre. The book is designed to serve as a guide for the golf course superintendent on most every topic pertaining to green speed. I’m about half was through it and find it a good read. One thing I’m finding out it: “Speed does not kill grass!”

There is nothing worse than a smelly ball washer
, usually because they were forgotten when the person was changing the water. When I was a young guy I decided I would make the ball washers smell nice and do a good job cleaning the golf ball by adding Javex to the ball washers. It worked! The only problem was some golfers rubbed the ball on their pants and shirts. Some others splashed the liquid on their clothes. Golfers, needless to say, got upset with the bleached stains that appeared.

Some golf courses, particularly in the United States, are removing trees from their properties. One of these is the Oakmont Country Club, home of the 2007 U.S. Open. They removed about 5,000 trees, most planted in the 1960’s. They say with the removal of the trees, turf is much healthier and therefore they use less pesticides and fertilizers, even less water. They don’t tell you the good effects trees have on a property.

While in North Carolina, I read where Congressman Howard Coble said to the Green Industry folks: “I don’t care what those people at Augusta say, Pinehurst is the golf course capital of America.” Obviously, golf writers had a field day with this, most wondering where the good congressman got his information from or who he was trying to please.

Why are bunkers an essential part of golf? They add challenge to the game. They frame and define golf holes. They provide contrast and accent. They also drive a green superintendent nuts! If a player misplays a sand shot it’s never his fault. It’s the green superintendent because the sand “lacks consistency” … the most popular of all blames.

Listen to this – no other practice but topdressing has such an immediate and positive impact on the health of grass. Whether one topdresses with straight sand or with a mixture of sand, soil and peat, the grass responds almost at once. As the topdressing particles filter down between the grass blades, the plants get a welcome reprieve from the pounding feet of golfers and the shearing action of the mowers.

STA members are invited to the Saskatchewan Regional Parks Association’s Annual Trade Show. This will be held Friday April 4, 2008 in Saskatoon. It will be at the Saskatoon Inn – Ballrooms A & B. The Trade Show will be from 10:00am to 4:00pm. It’s free so take some time to relax and chat with Park representatives and Booth Occupants.

Registrations are coming in for the STA’s Spring Seminar. Enter quickly by fax or email. Attending these interesting seminars is a must – they’re bound to help your operation and benefit your golf course, park or town.

Oakcreek has an interesting pair of speakers who will not only present some valuable information but answer any questions you may have. As spring start-up is just around the corner this is more reason to attend the seminar.

I hope to see you at the Willows Golf & Country Club March 19th and 20th. I, along with STA President Doug Leavins, will meet you at the registration desk.

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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.