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May 2015

Pierre Vezeau, Accredited Golf Superintendent at Cooke Municipal Golf Course in Prince Albert and STA Board member has managed to arrange a Pesticide Applicator classroom session and exam for May 25-26 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm each day.  This will be a 2-day classroom course with an exam being written in the afternoon of day 2.  The tuition cost is $330.00, which includes the exam.  This cost is based on 12 participants and may adjust slightly based on higher or lower enrolment.  The course will be offered at Kelsey Campus in Saskatoon.  In order to register, participants can contact Arla McLeod at 306-775-7473 or arla.mcleod@saskpolytech.ca.

The registration will be kept and processed when there is enough participants to run the course.  This is a great opportunity for all members.

According to Jim Beard, more than 70% of golf course acreage is rough and non-play area.  This area includes turfgrasses, trees and water features.  Grasses, flowers, shrubs, trees and water make up secondary rough and perimeter areas.  This integrated landscape can support a diverse wildlife.

Most of our members have started their seasons with golf courses and parks are open for business.  There is still some snow around, especially in the north.  From what I’ve heard, most courses are in pretty good shape.  As is the case every year, there are some courses with winter damage.

It’s an early spring, and as is the case, we have different weather conditions.  As everyone knows, we had a recent dump of wet snow.  In my area we had 37 cm of the stuff.  After it quit, the weather took a tremendous turn for the better and most of the snow left us.  It gave our area much needed moisture.  Trees responded by budding out.  Green, tee, fairways really took a liking to the moisture and with the warm weather really responded.

Invoices for 2015 STA membership fees were mailed earlier to all golf clubs in the province.  Pass on the invoice to the proper administration people at your club for immediate payment.  Soon after I mailed the invoice the cheques (1/2 dozen) started to come in.  Jack Westwood of Westwood Turf Farm was the first.  The turf farm is located at Battleford.

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.

Soon you’ll be 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 everything is level with the undisturbed sod.

Remember this during this golfing season:  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.

Some golf courses and perhaps parks will be planting trees on their property.  It would be a good idea to 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 several 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.

With the recent dump of that wet snow, we had numerous power outages and some trees lost limbs due to the weight of the snow.  In my yard alone, three large cedars had broken branches and will have to be reshaped.   Golf courses in the area had some trees damaged.  Clean up was done quickly.

Last winter while browsing through Turf Management by Dr. Jim Beard, there was a quote that originally came from a speech given by Past President of the United States Golf Association.  “Golf is unique in many respects.  Certainly no other sport requires so many skills for the development, preparation and maintenance of the surface on which it is played.  Consider for example, what the golf course requires as compared to a football field, a tennis court, a baseball diamond, or a bowling green.  There is no other sport in which effective maintenance matters more than it does in golf.

An important tip, one which is ignored regularly, check the basket on the cutting units for clippings while the green is being cut.  Clippings tell a story, uneven distribution within the basket means the cutting unit is set improperly.  Unbalanced quantities between the baskets may indicate different heights of cut.  If there is a problem, call the superintendent.  One way to tell a perfect cut is to come back in the evening.  With the setting sun over your shoulder, every imperfection on the green is clearly visible….then you know your greens aren’t perfect.

The late Gordon Whitteveen said the beauty of greenkeeping is that for all the advances that have taken place in the profession, those who are stuck in the past still can accomplish the same purpose:  providing a field of play for golfers.

It’s amazing how many greenkeeping practices of today originated with Old Tom Morris at St. Andrews in Scotland.  Aerification practises can be traced back to St Andrews.  From topdressing with sand, to rolling greens to increase smoothness and speed, Old Tom Morris pioneered many modern practises during his 40 year tenure at St. Andrews, the home of golf.

Matt Nelson says that collars around greens should be treated as one.  When the greens are aerated, aerate the collars.  Do the same with topdressing, verticutting, pest control, wetting agent use and fertilization.  Adopting this philosophy usually will thwart many turf problems common to collars, including the development of puffy turf, disease activity, reduced density and otherwise poor playing conditions.

Remember this during the summer: researchers in Japan have found that alcohol consumption appears to attract mosquitoes and increases the likelihood of bites.  Now I suppose if you knocked off 15 or 20 beers you likely wouldn’t give a damn if the pesky little suckers bit you or not.  Probably think it was a kiss.

All members of the Saskatchewan Turfgrass Association should be proud one of our members is the 2015 President of the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association.  Kyle Kellgren, who wears many hats at Jackfish Lodge which is north of North Battleford.  Kyle will do a good job for the CGSA as he has done as a member of our organization.  We wish Kyle good luck in this endeavour.

The CGSA Fall Field Day will be September 21 – 22, 2015 in Jasper, AB.  The schedule of events includes:

  • Monday, September 21 – CGSA seminar, 9 hole tournament, CGSA Toro Reception
  • Tuesday, September 22 – Fall Field Day Breakfast, Shotgun start, Awards Dinner

To book accommodations contact The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge at 780-852-3301.  Sponsors for the event are Toro, John Deere Golf, Bayer, and of course the CGSA.

If you submit our membership fee invoice to a Board member for payment, include the cover letter with the invoice.  I’ve received two phone calls from clubs asking what membership in the STA will do for them or what is the value.  All the answers were in the letter that accompanied the invoice.  I also told each one they would get out of the association as much as they’d put into it.

There are very few people who 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 much of the food meant for human consumption.

Just read an article written by Jim Connolly called “Building the Imperfect Golf Course”.  He says all the energy expended to maintain fast greens has resulted in a decrease of one stroke per round for less than one percent of the world’s golfers.  The rest of sub golfers have not improved scores at all.  He also goes on to say “We need more course with slow greens and bunkers that yield frequent fried egg lies.”

Even before the US economy started to sour,interest in golf began to wane.  After years of growth, more golf courses closed than opened, a trend that continued every year through 2014 at a ratio of more than 10 to 1.  This is according to the National Golf Foundation.  Number of rounds played also went on a steady decline, falling to 462 million in 2013, the lowest mark in 18 years.  As the economy has started to recover so have the country clubs that survived.  This article was written by John Marshall of The Associated Press.

Another reminder to make every effort to attend the 2-day Pesticide Applicators Classroom sessions and exam.  The dates are May 25th and 26th at the Kelsey Campus in Saskatoon.  Register as soon as possible.

Scottish golf has a deep respect for those who care for the grass, whether it’s on course that host Opens or layouts whose biggest event may be the Club Championship.  The Scots see golf superintendents as craftsmen.  Most golfers in North America view greenkeeping staff as little more than guys that mow grass.

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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.