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May 2008

Most of our members have now started their seasons. Courses and Parks in the province are now open for business. There is still snow in the Northwest and flooding in the Northeast. The South generally is suffering from draught conditions. Most courses are in good shape and, as is the case every year, there are some who have had some winter damage.

With the maintenance season starting, I remind you that a sharp blade on a rotary mower is critical. Sharp blades reduce the load on mowing equipment. The engine doesn’t have to work as hard and bearings and belts don’t have to transfer as much power. The result is a longer-lived machine that needs less frequent crisis-repairs. A mower with sharp blades can also maintain a higher ground speed while producing a high quality mowing surface, which means less time mowing.

One of the forgotten areas of regular maintenance is foot paths and cart paths. These need to be maintained on a regular basis. Pot holes need to be repaired immediately and if possible, edges need to be trimmed. Too often we have seen paths with ruts that are bumpy. This leads to traffic, either walkers or carts, using the side of the path which, in turn, wears the grass thin.

Remember this during the summer. Ask yourself: “What is good turfgrass maintenance worth?” You will find that better playing conditions increase the desire to play which, in turn, allows for higher green fee revenues. Courses that spend more on maintenance are those that command higher green fees.

Many of you are thinking about starting up your irrigation system
and invariably there will be breaks. We often have seen areas where irrigation breaks have been repaired and the finished area leaves a lot to be desired. First off, place a piece of plywood next to the area to be excavated. Cut the sod and remove it carefully. Dig down to the pipe, being very careful not to cut any electrical wires. Place all the excavated material on the plywood. After the repair, replace the material and tamp it down. Replace the sod and topdress, making sure you are level with the undisturbed sod.

Dr. Ball told us this at our Spring Seminar:
With regards to your tree program, avoid the temptation to plant a fast growing tree that will have an instant effect. This type of tree usually is soft wooded, messy, has numerous surface roots and a shorter life span. A better course of action is to choose an appropriate variety for your area that has the proper growth characteristics and fewer pest problems. Due to the cold spring we’ve had, especially in the North, Saskatoon has seen an abundance of Robins. Recently I counted over 50 on one of my mountain ash trees. They are eating the tree’s berries and releasing the remnants out the other end on my driveway and car. The weather has improved recently, and just as quickly as they appeared, they’ve disappeared… probably to Nipawin.

More about birds – Sparrows first came to North America in 1860. They were brought from England to help control the insects in the U.S.A. The reason there are so many is that they haven’t any predators. Crows are the closest but they are like me… not nearly quick enough. However, my bird watching friends say the sparrow population is on the decline due to disease. One thing is certain – it’s not due to pesticides as some people would like to believe.

As we start our maintenance season, make sure you check the coolant in the radiator and all fluid levels. Check and replace any worn or cracked hydraulic hoses. An important chore is to grease all grease zerks to purge any moisture away from any bearing surfaces.

Your club will probably have a tournament this summer
and they’ll want a circle on the green around the pin. Try using cornstarch. It is cheap and washes off overnight via the irrigation system. Use a rope tied to the flagstick, a funnel with a ½ inch hole and a metal rod to tap the side of the funnel to get the cornstarch to fall out. It works well, is highly visible and a player can putt through it without disruption to the ball’s roll.

Did I ever receive a nice letter from Mary Lou Bird
, the owner of the Lazy K Golf Course at Christopher Lake. She is looking forward to a great 2008 after a not so good year in 2007. Very bad roads brought on by huge logging trucks kept a lot of golfers away. Mary Lou, always the optimist, says 2008 will be better. What a great lady!

Recently you would have received an invoice
for your 2008 STA Membership dues. I tried to send the invoice to your Club or Park office. I do this so the business will pay the dues and to make them aware their Turf Manager is a STA Member. Please take a moment to suggest your Club or Park prepare a cheque for your fees. To date, I’ve heard from about 20% of my 200 member goal.

Put this on your calendar right away – The 2008 STA Research Tournament, to be held at Jackfish Lodge August 12th. Start time will be 11:00am. The Skins game will be August 11th, starting later in the afternoon. We have reserved rooms so make your reservation early. Rooms will be held one week before, and will be let go after that point. This is an important tournament and your participation greatly assists with our contribution to Turfgrass Research.

Remember this one –
Trees aren’t all bad on a golf course or in a park as they save energy. One large tree has the same cooling effect as 15 medium sized air conditioners. Mature trees shading homes cut energy costs by 20% to 50%. That’s not bad!

Very few people worry about health threats
posed by insects. That’s because pest populations are held in check by pest management programs, which include responsible use of specialty pesticides. A pest free living environment protects the food supply. Without pest control, rodents and insects would dine on food meant for human consumption.

Here is one I like. American Society of Golf Course Architects former President John Lafoy says: “I’ve seen more golf courses improved by hurricanes than by Greens Committees”.

I learned about half way through a long career in the Turfgrass maintenance business, managing people involves building relationships with fellow human beings. It means getting work done, motivating workers and often delegating certain tasks to assistants. One should always remember that workers are often not very well rewarded for their work they do on the golf course. When they perform extraordinarily well, it may be because they are treated with respect and kindness by the green superintendent.

More in this category: « April 2008 June 2008 »

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.