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May 2013

What a rotten spring for golf courses, parks, superintendents, our commercial friends. As I write this it’s snowing and cold. The snow hasn’t left us by a long shot and is slowing all spring work. I imagine it’s taking its toll on summer help who are itching to get that first pay cheque.

Your Board of Directors met in mid-April with a full agenda. We are going ahead with our summer field day at the Willows here in Saskatoon. The date is June 19, a Wednesday. The format will be changed somewhat. We will have an educational seminar 1st thing in the morning and then go out to the practice range to view the products and equipment on display. Everyone will be encouraged to operate their favourite pieces of equipment. If the weather is bad, we will continue with the seminars until noon, after which we’ll have lunch. The afternoon is set aside for golf.

The 2013 STA Research Tournament will be hosted by Leo Skaluba’s Deer Park Municipal Golf Course in Yorkton Sask. This will be held August 19, 2013. The format will remain the same as previous years. Mark the date on your calendar and start putting your team together. Please help us reach our goal in raising much needed dollars for Turfgrass Research. A huge portion of the money stays right here in Saskatchewan.

Recently I mailed invoices for 2013 membership fees.
Please present the invoice to your golf club for immediate payment. Your membership is important to us and we value your ongoing support.

The CGSA’s Toronto conference and trade show was an outstanding success and exceeded all budgets. The CGSA staff worked extremely hard to attract delegates. They incorporated a new and positive format that worked. This drew many favorable comments from the attendees. Ken Cousineau and his staff are to be congratulated for their strong efforts.

STA Director Kyle Kellgren—Jackfish Lodge, was Saskatchewan Director on the CGSA. He has now climbed the ladder to Secretary Treasurer. He will continue as our Director for another year. At Vancouver’s conference in 2014 Pierre Vezeau—Cooke Municipal will take over as Saskatchewan Director. Kyle did a great job for us while Director and Pierre will do an equally good job.

Another important event coming up is the CGSA Annual Fall Field Day in September. It will be at The Wascana in Regina. The STA will host a reception on the Saturday. A seminar will be held on Sunday. We will keep everyone informed as the summer progresses on our Web site and in newsletters.

I imagine all Superintendents in the Province are looking forward to the first cut this spring.
It’s a new season, with lots of hope and expectations. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to outline greens. Greens lose some of their shape during the summer and spring is the ideal time to cut into the apron and re-outline the green the way you want it. I’ve said this before, spring is the only time to do this. At this time of year the grass plant have an inner drive to recreate and are able to recover from this severe scalping.

This spring I’ve noticed more and more golf courses are removing snow from greens and tees. This exercise is usually done in March. At one course I watched a very talented “Bobcat” operator remove snow from the top of flax straw. There was 3 feet of snow and he hardly disturbed the flax straw. Removing snow from greens and tees in mid-March is a great idea simply because you’ll get a quicker start with good conditions.

Of all the playing areas on the golf course, none is more important than the green. Fully 40% of all golf shots are played on and around the green. No matter how healthy the green, if it isn’t cut properly, golfers will condemn it. Cutting the green to perfection is icing on the cake in maintaining a golf course in top condition.

During this coming summer, your golf course will probably host a competition of some sort
and the golf course superintendent will probably be tasked with setting up the course. This is an important duty. The object of set up is to provide not a tricky test, but a strong one. You must establish the teeing area, determine hole locations and make sure everything is cut to perfection. Also make sure out of bounds and water hazards are staked defining each. Ground under repair should be checked and marked. All this will ensure the competition will be a success.

Many golf courses in our province have alternate shot couples competitions, usually Saturday evenings. They are very popular and a lot of fun to participate in. It is one way to get wives interested in golf. I used to run one of these each month at my former club and the members loved it. I used to call it the “Divorce Open”.

I continue to “bristle” when I hear people who think they are golfers complain about the condition of their golf course and that golf course maintenance is no more than cutting grass. These people and in particular managers should attend seminars to see first hand how sophisticated golf course maintenance is. While in Florida this winter I saw an advertisement about a golf course seminar for managers and superintendents. The title “Being Part of a Team” and underneath it said “How to Manage”.

Frequent light topdressing has become the norm for many superintendents. This is a good idea however you shouldn’t do this during the hot days of summer.

An old member at my old Club reminded me of this one, which happened about 40 years ago. I thought it would be a good idea to have all the Club’s shower towels embroidered with the club crest. Trouble with my great idea is after the first month we lost 75% of them. The members really liked them and that was the last time I tried anything like that.

This from the CGSA. Golfers are not at risk to Pesticides. There is no scientific evidence that golfers face any chronic health risks from the pesticides used to maintain golf courses. Once a liquid product has been watered in, there is very little chance of exposure to golfers or others who enter the area. It is worth noting that a small percentage of people may be allergic to a particular product, just as some people are allergic to household cleaners, soaps, or perfumes. People with possible chemical allergies are always encouraged to contact superintendents when spraying will be done and what products might be in use. It is a good idea also to post a sign at the first tee telling golfers and people when spraying will take place, the name of the product and it’s ingredients. This could save you a lot of grief.

The Turfgrass Advisory Program (T.A.P.) is a consulting service provided by the Prairie Turfgrass Research Centre (P.T.R.C.) in order to assist green superintendents with turfgrass problems and deficient areas within their management program. This service has helped many golf courses and turfgrass facilities to develop long term solutions to technical problems that many have existed for some time. These long term solutions will help to improve turf quality which will, in turn, have an impact on the bottom line. Jim Ross heads this program.

Every once in a while you hear or read about the negative articles about the impact golf courses have on the environment.
If these people would only look at the active role Superintendents play in conserving water through very efficient irrigation systems, recycling green waste and grass clippings and increasing course areas devoted to native vegetation and wildlife habitat. The use of pesticides are applied by licensed professionals who must upgrade their license on a short term continued basis.

Each year people throughout the US plant millions of trees through the National Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree for America program.
These new trees provide vital benefits to the environment. Fresh air to breathe life giving oxygen.Pure water in our rivers and streams.Protection from soil erosion. Shade in the summer and windbreaks in the winter. A home for songbirds. Most golf courses that I know have a tree program that provides for the above.

Advances in science and technology as well as legislative changes mean that greenkeepers are constantly updating their education.
These guys attend seminars, study online, travel to Turf Conferences, and network amongst colleagues just like most other professionals. It’s not like a lot of golfers think that it’s just a matter of turning on a sprinkler and waiting for the grass to grow. This was given to me by one of our members who didn’t want his name published.

Bradley S Klien, editor Superintendent NEWS wrote this after attending a seminar at Pinehurst Resort in 2002. The name of the sminar was “Rating Golf Courses”. The trick in course rating is to understand and analyze without becoming paralyzed. In fact, it’s entirely possible to rate in such a way as to enhance one’s enjoyment of the golf course and even to improve one’s play. Rating courses isn’t some abstract, armchair exercise. It’s a form of golf instruction. The trick is never to rate on the basis of score.

I recently read this article regarding bunkers in an old Green Section Record written by Robert Vavrek. He says bunkers are hazards not havens. A considerable amount of time and effort is wasted at many courses in the futile endeavour to provide the same conditions in every bunker. Shade, drainage, irrigation coverage, bunker design and a myriad of other factors vary throughout the course and influence the playability of bunkers. Instead of complaining about bad luck in the sand, take a lesson or two and practice. Wasn’t it Gary Player who said “The more I practice, the luckier I get.”

Phil Lederhouse, the great blind golfer from Prince Albert Saskatchewan competed in many blind tournaments in North America.
If he didn’t win he was always near the top. He was asked one time on how he hit the ball so well for being sightless. He replied “You think it’s hard for me to hit that little white ball? Hell I can hit it fine, but you should see me try to find it!”

I recently read that not being able to keep your mouth shut is nothing but a bad habit. Not only do you say things you shouldn’t, you also (1) wreck your reputation, (2) are labelled as untrustworthy and (3) hurt others badly in the process. Where did I read this? My wife gave it to me. I wonder why?

Architect Donald Ross said this “Putting greens constructed with relation to the length and topography of the hole are the making of a real golf course.”

My uncle Jake told me this one about a man and a woman who never met before, found themselves assigned to the same sleeping room on a transCanada train. Though initially embarrassed and uneasy over sharing a room, the two are really tired and fall asleep quickly; he in the upper bunk and she in the lower bunk. Around 1:00 am, the guy leans over and gently wakes the woman, saying “Ma’am, I’m sorry to bother you, but would you be willing to reach into the closet to get me a second blanket, I’m freezing”. “I have a better idea” she replies, “Just for tonight, lets pretend we’re married.” “Wow! That’s a great idea” he exclaims. “Good” she says “Get your own damn blanket!” That stunned the guy, so he farted—My uncle Jake has a couple more, but you’ll have to wait till later.

Included with this newsletter is Part Two of Chris Marchiori—Fairway Aeration and Topdressing Program.
Chris is Mike Kupchanko’s assistant at The Wascana Country Club in Regina.

I’ve run out of paper, so I’m bailing out.
Besides our sewer is backing up, our basement is flooding and my computer is again on the fritz and it’s windy and cold outside—I’m not a happy camper.

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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.