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May 2010

Just recently you received notice that 2010 STA membership fees are due. When submitting your membership cheque please enclose the official membership application form with much needed information. I would particularly like your home e-mail address. The reason for this is to keep members up-to-date on special events and to pass on any turf tips I run across each month.

As I write this newsletter we are in the middle of some rainy weather. Most golf courses across our province welcome the rain, the downside being green fee revenue takes a big hit. The rain is welcome however to those clubs having irrigation problems. Those golf courses with PVC pipelines really suffered last winter with a multitude of breaks. I feel sorry for those with these kinds of troubles.

Some clubs are starting the season in great shape, while others suffered extensively with winter damage. Those with Poa annua got hit particularly hard. They’ll all come back but we will need warm weather both in the day time and during the night. This rain will certainly help as it will help warm the ground temperatures.

I feel sorry for those superintendents whose golf courses got hit. I imagine they are devastated. It is important they get positive backing and encouragement from their manager, the golf professional, and the Board of Directors. Negative criticism will do nothing but make things worse. I’ve never met a greens superintendent that enjoyed being kicked in the butt. One area where he won’t get much encouragement are those golfers who blame their missed shots on course conditions. Most of those players aren’t good enough golfers to criticize the golf course for their incompetence.

I prepared the last newsletter while sitting with my old mother in Palliative Care in St. Paul’s Hospital.
Her health started to go downhill 18 months ago, taking a real downturn about 6 months ago. She left us with dignity and peacefully on April 11. She was almost 100 years old and while she will be missed, we know she is at a better place.

While at the hospital, I ran across an interesting article in a golf magazine. It starts by asking if you want to know how to burn bridges. Be inconsistent with your staff. Consistency provides a reliable road map in terms of process, procedure, and outcome. Those venturing away from the road map are bound to get lost. The amount of time to get on course will drain everyone and only add to the uncertainty that such situations will repeat again.

A note to all managers and Greens Committees: Remember, greenkeepers are well trained individuals who continually upgrade their turfgrass education through seminars and provincial education programs. We as an association help superintendents with many timely tips through our newsletters. These people are the number one asset at any golf club. Managers, greens chairman and superintendents work together to attain a common goal which is “The best possible conditons within the parameters of the golf club’s financial plan.”

I recently read this little tidbit. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that bunkers or sand traps had rakes. They were true hazards in the early days and certainly didn’t have to be consistent throughout the golf course. Bunkers were groomed by hand once or twice a week, depending on the amount of play. Presently bunker maintenance takes a large price out of the course maintenance wage budget.

Not too long ago Laurie Unruh and I had lunch and again he stiffed me for the check.
You know, the bathroom trick, and out the side door. While we were eating I went through his briefcase and removed a Turf Maintenance Equipment Safety Education Program. I couldn’t find the video but got the test. When Laurie calls on you, ask for the video. It will help you when you train your staff on safety issues. The test includes multiple choice questions as well as True or False questions—this is worthwhile, believe me.

Many of you will want to dress up your Clubhouse grounds with flowers this summer. Patti Cunningham of Mother Earth Greenhouses can help you out. She is an STA member and has a very good product with lots of variety. She specializes in preparing pots of all types and urns. Her phone is 931-4133 or you can reach her by fax at 931-3285. Give her a call—you won’t be disappointed.

Just the other day driving by a golf course in Saskatoon I noticed some of the flags were old and torn, making it unsightly. This wasn’t a very good first impression. It could be that they put out last year’s flags for a short time and will change shortly. It is always best to start a new season with new flags and change them at least once during the season. It’s a good idea to keep additional flags on hand in case some are vandalized and also a good idea to have a complete set of flagsticks, pins and tee markers on hand for emergencies. Be prepared.

Nothing upsets me more when I hear a golf course has been vandalized by a motor vehicle driven by some young yahoo. It happened recently at Ken Lintotts’ golf couse in Nipawin. If they should ever be caught they should impound the vehicle and the operator should have his license taken away for 25 years. By then the operator may grow up.

Recently I visited a golf course near Saskatoon that I heard about but never had the opportunity to actually tour. The first thing I noticed from the parking lot was long grass around trees, signs and sign posts. This wasn’t a very good first impression. I know regular trimming can be expensive for a low-budget club, but maybe an occasional application of RoundUp or a growth retardant would correct this untidiness.

Every spring I’ve included this in a newsletter. During last summer, your greens may have lost their shape because cautious operators have made greens smaller. In this process, curves and shapes are lost. Spring is the time to cut into the apron and re-outline the green to it’s original configuration. The cut will have a scalped look at first, but will quickly green up. Don’t do this in June or later because the area cut into the apron won’t green up and be unsightly for the rest of the year.

The Canada goose population in the United States is estimated to be 3.2 million.
Most or all have lost their migratory ways. With freshly mowed grass to feed on, unhindered access to water and few predators, Canada geese make golf courses their permanent residences. As their numbers have grown so did their manufacture of bubble gum. A single goose can produce 3 pounds of droppings a day, which is a lot of crap. A whole gaggle of geese, each producing 3 pounds, could render a green unplayable.

This spring I received a phone call from an STA member on how to obtain information in getting a pesticide license. I believe he wanted to partake in the home-study course. To get the necessary information you can call Regina re the Landscape Pesticide Applicators license toll-free at 1-866-467-4278 or at 1-306-798-1377.

The Dutch Elm Disease program in Saskatchewan lost almost all it’s funding when the government announced it’s recently released budget. With this the prevention and control program is now in the hands of cities, towns and municipalities. They may not have the money or, more importantly, the expertise to effectively control and prevent this devastating disease. There are two excellent articles in the Saskatoon Sun (April 25 and May 2) telling us that Dutch Elm disease is worth preventing. They were written by Jackie Bantle, a horticulturist living in Saskatoon.

The 2010 STA Research Tournament will be hosted by Kachur’s Golf and Country Club,
the 2nd week in August with the Skins Game the afternoon before at Cooke Municipal Golf Course in Prince Albert. This will be a lot of fun played at two good golf courses. More information will be posted on our website in the near future.

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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.