May 2014

  • May 5, 2014
  • Written by Don Campbell

I read more and more that visual aids have no reason to be on a golf course.  One is 150 yard markers, whether it is a tree or a post.  The other is using multi coloured flags to indicate hold locations.  These two are the most mentioned.  Speed of play is usually used as the general reason why the flags and 150 yard indicators are used.  There are some negatives.  Without going into detail, I’ll mention a few:

  1. They are not part of the game
  2. They require extra maintenance
  3. They pen the maintenance staff to unnecessary criticism
  4. They can become severe hazards for shots barely off line

This was written by Larry Gilhuhy who also says all signs are that these indicators are very well accepted.

I wonder how farily new product Talpirid Mote Bait is working? The reason I mention this is I saw it displayed at either WalMart or Peavy Mart.  I remember people telling me  this stuff was so effective that moles would soon be a thing of the past.  Mole hills on a golf course or park are certainly a pain, but this worm mimicking bait could make mole hills history.  I always thought moles diet consisted of roots, grains,  or vegetable matter, but apparently that’s not the case.  Earth worms are 90% of a moles diet.

Most golf course products (fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, etc) are petroleum based and their costs continue to increase.  The cost to bring these products to the golf course is increasing too.  Fuel costs and surcharges affect delivery costs for virtually everything a golf course uses, including the direct fuel cost needed for the maintenance operation.  I don’t think this is going to improve anytime soon, so we must continue to tighten up our purse strings.

Golfers in Great Britain love to play golf courses that are dry and unmanicured.  They believe it is more challenging and fits with golf being a game board.  Golf at most of the courses in Great Britain is formed around 3 points—the strategic, heroic, and penal aspects.  In North America, most golfers don’t know this exists.

Just recently you received an invoice for the 2014 STA membership dues.  Please act promptly n this and submit it to your golf club for payment.  We have the ability to take credit cards.  We haven\t a credit card machine, so we need all the information on the card.  Please phone to make arrangements to pay by credit card.

It hasn’t been a very nice spring so we’ll have another late start to the golf season.  I’ve seen some of the golf courses in the Saskatoon area and they look in pretty good condition, particularly the greens.  However with less than desirable weather conditions, golfers are going to stay away.  This has to be a real financial blow for golf courses that rely on green fees.

Why should you join the Saskatchewan Turfgrass Association?  The mere sharing of knowledge at meetings, seminars, conference golf events are probably the most important reasons.  Also important is the friendship that binds everyone together.  This all takes participation and will in the end, make you a better turf manager.

With the onset of spring and the anticipation of the coming summer, it may be a good idea to go over some fundamentals to get back on track. Number one is to stay focused, plan, and prioritize.  There never is a time when you should stop learning about your craft, so read, study, ask questions and talk to your peers.  Your industry contacts will be your most valuable asset.  This is why you should make it a top priority to attend STA events, like the Summer Field Day at the Willows in mid-June.

Just read this in an old golf magazine.  The most valuable natural resource in the world is water.  This really caught my eye—the total amount of water found on earth is about the same as when the planet first formed.  The vast majority of water—97 percent—is sea water.  Of the remaining 3 percent, 2 percent is locked up in the ice caps, which leaves only 1 percent f the world’s water available for human use.

The General Manager has a lead role in a golf club’s success, says Bradley Klein with Golf Week Superintendent News.  A good, modern manager is something of an empire builder.  He knows how to share the club’s resources, whether in the form of praise, respect, budget allocations or salary.  Not that successful club operation is simply a bottom-line enterprise.  But without solid business practice and a sound captain at the helm, a golf club is a free-floating ship of fools.

For about 10 to 12 years, an application of flax straw was a must to bring greens and tees through the winter.  At least one superintendent is questioning this practice.  With newer fungicides on the market which are better than in former years and a solid application program before putting the tarps down, he doesn’t think the labour intensive chore of applying flax straw is necessary.

You’ve gotta know this one because it’s important and my Uncle Jake says it’s true.  Wood frogs can be frozen solid and then thawed and continue to live.  They use the glucose in their body to protect their vital organs while they are in a frozen state.  Instead of glucose, my Uncle Jakes’ use of sipping whiskey allowed him to thaw out after 6 months.

I don’t want to spread doom and gloom, but I believe golf courses are in for a difficult summer.  Summer staff will be difficult to find, costs will continue to go up, as will the demand for perfect conditions; some clubs don’t have a Golf Green Keeper,  and chances of finding a qualified one are slim; the price of turf equipment is more than a lot of clubs can afford.  Some clubs will have to look carefully at leasing equipment.

There are all kinds of tips when filling up your vehicle or machine with gasoline.  One of the most important tips is to always will your tank when it’s half full.  The reason for this is the more gas you have in your tank, the less air occupying the empty space.  Gasoline storage tanks have an internal floating roof.  The roof serves as zero clearance between the gas and the atmosphere, so it minimizes evaporation.  Unlike service stations, T

Try telling this to a school teacher or more specifically, a retired one.  Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not.  In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as many time as you want to get the right answer.  This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.

When should I remove the tarps from my greens?  I get this question often, and it is a tough call.  Even long-time experienced superintendents ponder this.  If it gets consistently warm, take them off or if they are extremely dry, the tarps need to come off so greens can be watered, even if you have to haul it.  The decision you make will be difficult because golfers and boards have all the answers.

Even with regular maintenance and periodic tune ups, engines don’t last forever.  You can overhaul most engines up to three times to get a new lease of life each time.  But when should an engine be over hauled again and when is it wiser to replace it?  A good mechanic or the dealer who services your equipment can help you answer that question.  You will want to consider the equipment age, overhaul cost and parts availability.

Some golf courses will be planting trees this spring and forget how it will affect play and turf in 10 to 15 years.  That is why you should avoid the temptation to plant a fast grower that will have instant effect.  This tree usually is soft wooded, messy, and has surface roots as well as a shorter life span.  A better course of action is to choose an appropriate variety for your area that has proper growth characteristics and few pest problems.

A tree cutter in Pennsylvania survived getting a chainsaw lodged in his neck.  Needless to say, he is one lucky sucker.  The chainsaw snapped and cut two inches into his skin eventually getting lodged between his collarbone and neck.  He still managed to turn the saw off and climb down the tree under his own power, with the saw’s teeth still in his skin.  They say he was never in critical condition and was released from hospital within three days.

Canadians drink almost 10 billion cups of tea a year, but what else is steeping in those cups? It’s been revealed that some teas contain levels of pesticides that exceed Canadian standards.  Environmental lawyer David Boyd says “the presence of so many pesticides that exceed the maximum residue limits for pesticides, suggests that we’re seeing very poor agricultural practises in countries, which poses a risk to the environment where these products are being grown, and to those farm workers who work with these crops.  It also poses a risk to Canadians who are consuming these products”.

Mother Nature has brought us winter again with an abundance of snow in some parts of the province. Whether this will cause any winter injury is debatable.  One thing in our favour is temperatures won’t get too low, and if the sun does come out, the snow will leave quickly.  One thing for sure is our maintenance calendars will have to be adjusted based on the weather.

Chris Hartwiger writes in the USGA Greens Section Record that a Turfgrass plant is 80 to 85 percent water by weight.  Also, water is continuously lost through its leaves and absorbed by its root system.  Keeping water at the proper balance within the plant is one of the core functions of a golf green keeper, who relies on a water system and rainfall to meet turf’s water requirements.  Making the decision on how much water to apply and where embodies both the art and science of Turfgrass management.

The word golf does not mean “Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden” - this was an internet myth.  It is believed to originate from the Dutch word “Kolf” or “Kolve” which meant “club”.  This in turn, over time changed by the Scots to “glove”, “gowl” or “gouf”….by the 16th Century, the word “golf” emerged.

Spring isn’t here yet as far as I’m concerned, but when it does come, soon after ticks will be showing their heads.  A school nurse has what she believes is a perfect method on how to get rid of them, particularly on children.  She say you apply a glob of liquid soap to a cotton ball, cover the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball and swab it for a few seconds (15-20), the tick will come out on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball when you lift it away.  You then lay it on concrete or a large stone and hit the little sucker with a hammer.

Very soon we are going to hear how we can speed play at our golf course.  Walking doesn’t slow play as much as architecture and learned behaviours from television.  Stalking putts from every angle, pacing yardage, searching for markers as if one could actually hit the shot if only the exact yardage were known, and endless pre-shot routines consumes more time than admitted.  Huge distances from green to tee and deep rough bordering narrow fairways all result in longer rounds.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I think it’s worthwhile to put in “Turf Tips” again.  “State of Fear” written by author Michael Crichton had interesting things to say about the once popular insecticide DDT.  He wrote that arguably the greatest tragedy of the 20th Century was the removal of DDT for control of mosquitoes.  DDT was the best insecticide on the market.  Despite reviews to the contrary, no other products were as efficient or as safe.  Since the removal of DDT it has been estimated that 30 to 50 million people have died unnecessarily from the effects of malaria.  Before the removal of DDT, malaria had become almost a minor illness with only 50,000 deaths per year throughout the world.

A tip for all green keepers.  Keep a tidy golf course.  Good housekeeping means picking up trash, bottles, cans, wrappers etc., and have waste containers on hand at selective tees.  The same for your maintenance building—keep it tidy.

Advances in science and technology as well as legislative changes means that green keepers are constantly updating their education.  These guys attend seminars, study online, travel to 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 wait for the grass to grow.

Membership Fees for 2014 are coming in which makes me happy.  Remember we can take your credit card, but we need important information:

  1. Exact name of the credit card holder
  2. Exact mailing address for credit card account, including postal code
  3. 16 digit credit card number
  4. Expiry date
  5. Security Code (3 digits on back of card)

Please phone me with the above information, as email is not a secure method for providing credit card information.  306-343-8142.

With all that guys and gals, I’m done, out of here, going to bed, sleep 2 hours, go to the bathroom, sleep another 2 and so on until 5:30 am.

More in this category: « April 2014 June 2014 »

About Don Campbell

Don CampbellG. N. Don Campbell,
1933 –2016

S.T.A. Executive Director, 'Turf Tips' writer and editor of our 'TURFTALK' newsletter, Don Campbell has been an asset to our industry for decades!
 
A member in the turfgrass community for more than 57 years, Don started his career at Riverside Country Club in Saskatoon as a caddy, eventually becoming the course Superintendent. He finished his career as the General Manager at the very same course.

In 2004, Don was awarded the CGSA John B. Steel Distinguished Service Award, recognizing his lifetime commitment to turf care.
 
Don is survived by his wife Marie have three children: Sherril, Glen and Doug. 

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.

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