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March 2012

Just returned from Palm Springs after a wonderful visit with Peter and Sherril Semko. They are wonderful hosts, the weather was excellent. The Semkos were the proud owners of the Greenbryre Country Club in Saskatoon and Peter Semko is an Honourary Life Member of the STA.

The real purpose of our trip was to bring our granddaughter home after holiday with son Doug and his partner Kim. Doug and Kim went on to Las Vegas to attend the Golf Course Superintendents Association Turf Conference and Trade Show.

Heard this one from Peter Semko on the definition of good players and good golfers. Good players have low handicaps, usually hit the ball a mile and post low scores. Good golfers fill divots, repair ball marks and practice good etiquette each and every time they are on the golf course.

The first mechanical hole cutter was invented in 1774 by an unknown person,
but a metal plate on its wooden crossbar is inscribed “Musselburgh Golf Club A.D. 1774”. Remarkably, the diameter of the cutting blade was four and a half inches, just a bit bigger than contemporary cutters. The device was duplicated, used by other clubs in the area, and became widely used. Jim Cote as a young superintendent used this device also. Hole cutters have improved immensely since the early days.

About seven or eight years ago, Jacobsen said they will show off it’s new Mag Knife reel changing system, a concept that relies on 11 heavy-duty magnets instead of the 13 screws that hold traditional Jake cutters in place. The units which the company says will fit all Jake reel models will be commercially available for about $300.00 per reel. I ran across this in an old Turf Tip file. Does anyone know if this concept came into being? Let me know if anyone has any information.

Golf is 90 percent inspiration and 10 percent perspiration; a fine relief from the tensions of the office, but we are a little tired of holding the bag; the hardest game in the world to play and the easiest to cheat at; and income tax has made more liars out of more North Americans than golf.

In 2003, the National Golf Foundation had an avid golfer survey. Not all of the golfer’s responses were helpful. They name 20 conditioning complaints. Joel Jackson of Golfdom listed these along with his comments: Number 1 is unrepaired ball marks on greens. Golfers are essentially complaining about their inability to clean up after themselves. Number 2 and 3 are, of course, inconsistent bunkers and recently aerified greens. These are from avid golfers and not necessarily good players. The same survey in 2012 would probably get the same results.

Golf Course Technician Eddie Konrad says doing scheduled maintenance and adjustments will prolong the life of your equipment, help prevent expensive downtime and give the best possible quality of cut and performance. Problems developed over time can be prevented by adjustment, lubrication or other required maintenance. Proper training of operators helps to keep equipment runnning without repairs.

Konrad also goes on to write the engine is only part of the equipment. Hydraulic and electrical parts, gearboxes and drive trains have special needs during the upcoming season. These components are often sealed and forgotten until they fail. This and the above “tip” appeared in the January issue of the Greenmaster. A very good read!

I was recently asked what Integrated Pest Management was.
I answered IPM is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. That’s all I said, but there is more. IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.

This is another tidbit I picked up while in Florida:
Do you think humidity hampers ball flight? Do you think that the ball has a harder time pushing its way through dense air? This is simply not true. Hot, humid air actually is lighter than dry air, so on a humid day the air is actually less dense, providing less resistance. That means a golf ball will fly longer on a humid day – but not enough that you’ll notice a difference. My conclusion: don’t sweat it.

An American dentist by the name of Dr. Coburn Haskell ran some experiments to try to improve on the gutta percha golf ball. He tightly wrapped a liquid rubber core with strips of elastic, and then covered it with gutta percha casing. North American golfers began to take the new ball seriously when Walter Travis, originally from Australia, won the 1901 United States Amateur Championship using the Haskell ball. Alex Heard won the 1902 British Open using the Haskell ball, and golfers everywhere dropped the gutty. Modern balls have a more durable cover of balata or surlyn and various solid-core balls with new synthetics have become popular.

The first step in repairing ball marks is to take your ball mark repair tool and insert the prongs into the turf at the edge of the depression. Push the edge of the ball mark towards the centre, using your ball mark repair tool in a gentle twisting motion. This step is usually where a lot of golfers mess up. They insert the tool at an angle then push down on the tool raising the depression upwards. This tears the roots, and kills the grass. This is wrong. The right way is to work around the depression, pushing grass towards the centre of the depression.

Architect Geoffrey Cornish passed away last Friday in Amherst Mass at the age of 97. Cornish was a member of the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame, was born in Winnipeg, did some work at St. Charles and worked under Stanley Thompson on such projects as Capilano and Highlands Links. I knew Mr. Cornish well and found him to be a real gentleman and always interested in ones’ golf course. Also I found him to be a great story teller. His contributions to Golf Course Architecture and the golf industry will live on for generations.

Arsenic has been found in baby formula, cereal bars and other foods that use organic brown rice syrup as a sweetner. Arsenic is considered toxic and potentially carcinogenic. Long term exposure to high levels of inorganic arsenic can increase risk of lung, liver and bladder cancer. Rice is among the plants that are efficient in taking up arsenic from the soil.

The Golf Expert tells me this. Too many golfers want to hit the ball as far as they can regardless of the dangers and difficult situations that result. It is always a good idea to think at least one shot ahead. When faced with a par 5 with lots of trouble, play it like a par 5. Don’t always try and make a birdie the hard way, more often than not you will probably make bogey or worse.

The best time to spray, particularly fairways is at the crack of dawn when wind is usually absent. With dew on the grass, it’s easy to see what has been covered and what was not. It is often possible to complete at least a dozen holes before anyone tees off. Another tip is to partially fill the tank with water the night before to gain precious time in the morning. I have numerous pesticide application tips which I’ll share with you over the summer.

I don’t know if sod growers in our province can supply you with washed sod. It’s a recent innovation that I haven’t seen. As the name implies, the soil has been washed away from the roots, and the mass of roots topped with green grass is simply laid on its destined surface, and rolled. It begins to grow right away. The obvious advantage is that no foreign soil is imported into the soil mix. The lightness of the washed sod makes it easy to handle. During the height of the golfing and growing season the greens are usually cut on a daily basis. Why not skip a cut especially on a slow day. There are benefits to this practice. It can be compared to not shaving one’s face for a day after routinely doing so every morning. The skin immediately improves after a day of rest. It feels softer and healthier. The same is true with greens after being give a rest from daily mowing.

Do you know that some golf clubs in North America don’t want any part of fast greens? These courses take pride in having slow greens. They are usually cut at ¼ inch and stimps at 5 to 6 feet. At this height however there is the potential of a heavy layer of mat or thatch. Groomer attachments on the mowers must be used on a regular basis and frequent top dressing becomes important as well.

I wonder if the Earth Liberation Front or ELF is still in existence in the United States.
The ELF is an international underground eco-terrorist group that has focused their destruction on those profiting from the destruction and exploitation of the natural environment. They were active in the early 2000’s damaging golf course greens in the Omaha Nebraska area. These idiots view golf courses as infringing on Mother Earth. To date this group has carried out terrorist acts resulting in 100 million dollars in damages to golf courses and related industries such as seed companies.

Bobby Weed, a golf course architect, says that an architects’ biggest design issue
is trying to design strategic golf courses that will challenge the top players and not unduly penalize the lesser players. Also, green speed should be fast enough to challenge the better players – but not so fast that it intimidates high-handicap players.

The days are getting longer and the day time temperature warmer and soon green superintendents in our province will have to deal with the ravages, if any, of a very unusual winter. Some courses will have to deal with ice damage or crown hydration problems caused by the warm temperatures and then the freezing cold. It all proves Mother Nature is in control, but golfers really don’t want to believe that.

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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.