November 2012

  • November 9, 2012
  • Written by Don Campbell

The event of the year will be the Fall Wind-Up and Annual General Meeting, November 6th, 2012 at the Riverside Country Club in Saskatoon. You would be wise to attend this event especially to take in the seminar by Jim Ross—”Winter Protection” and “Take-all Patch”.

The cost of the event is $50 for STA members and $125 for non-members. This covers the continental breakfast, coffee breaks and the noon hour banquet plus the seminar. Because Riverside needs a head count for food preparation, we need to know your intentions. You can either fax me or use email to register. At this writing, we have eight registrations.

ONE THING TO REMEMBER: When you make plans to attend the 2012 Fall Wind Up and AGM, please remember the Riverside Country Club has a strict dress code. Blue jeans, jean shirts and jackets are not permitted. If you show up in this attire you’ll be asked to leave. That simple!

The STA Annual Research Tournament is looking for a home for 2013. We plan on having it the 2nd Tuesday in August. If your club is interested please contact us for further details. We would like it to be in the south east of the Province. This is a fun event and a great way to show off your golf course.

Patrick Gross, of the USGA Green Section, says the most successful superintendents have mastered the basics of golf course maintenance—water management, mowing, fertility, cultivation and pest control. It’s not boring to them, in fact, it is at the core of what they do. Every employee is trained in the basics and then held accountable to high standards. When tempted to take short cuts, the experienced superintendent reminds his staff that their job is to do things the right way, not the easy way.

I’ve had a couple of calls from people who are concerned about evergreens dropping their needles. Patricia Richardson, University of Saskatchewan, says the persistence of needles varies among species. As a result of both natural and environmental stresses, evergreens do shed their older needles. This could be a natural occurrence. Premature loss of needles is a normal defence reaction of the plant against losing moisture, so make sure your evergreens are well watered.

Earth has a long history of climate changes. The last ice age ended 10,000 plus years ago. After the earth had a warm spell which peaked 5000 to 7000 years ago. A colder period was most severe about 2005 years ago which led to a warm period in the Early Middle Ages. The warmest was about 900 years ago. The little ice age was at it’s coldest between 100 and 600 years ago. What causes these changes in climate? According to Dr. Drew Smith on Global Warming, there were three main factors. 1) Changes in the suns energy output. 2) Changes in the shape of the earth’s orbit around the sun. 3) Changes in the tilt of the Earth’s axis toward and away from the sun. The two latter factors also result in contrasts between seasons. 4) The gravitational pull of the sun and the moon on the bulging equatorial regions of the earth cause a wobble like that of a spinning top. To make everything more confusing, the last three cycles have different periods varying from 20 to 100,000 years.

I spent over forty five years in the Golf Course business and I think I’ve heard every complaint possible about a Golf Course, Pro Shop, or Club House. My all time favourite was the member who stormed in to my office complaining the water in the course coolers was too cold! It probably gave the guy gas. This past fall I heard this one from a golfer from the eastern part of the province. The beer the cart person was serving was far too cold. This complaint beat my favourite.

What causes the most stress? Some will say health problems or relationships gone bad, but the threat of losing your job causes more stress than anyone can imagine. And the threat is very real. I went through this as a superintendent and as a manager. I think everyone in the golf business has gone through this. There is always a small group of people at every golf club who think they have the answers to everything, who clamour for a guys’ head.

150 yard markers and coloured flags to tell a player where the cup is located on a green is not part of the game of golf. Golf requires a player to think, feel and observe before going through the physical motions of striking the golf ball. These visual aids eliminate a portion of the game that is still practised in Great Britain and other countries.

If you have a difficult area where seed won’t germinate, try a light straw cover over your new seed to help retain moisture and protect the seed from wind or wash outs from downpours. Another tip is take your greens aire and aerate a spot on the fairway. Spread these aeration plugs on troublesome spot and overseed. If it’s on a tee or green, do the same thing. It would be wise to role the areate plugs after they’ve been applied.

STA members will enjoy the 18th Annual Golf Course Property Managers Conference,
November 25th—27th at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Centre in Canmore Alberta. The keynote speaker will be James Duthie the host of TSN’s extensive NHL coverage. Other key speakers include Dr. Kevin Frank, Michigan State University, Eddie Konrad, Seneca College in Ontario, Marie Thorne, Senior Turf Specialist for Syngenta Crop Protection. They will join a host of other top notch speakers.

At one of the late Gord Wittiveen’s talks at a Turf Conference many years ago he told us
that of all the playing areas on the golf courses, none is more important than the greens. Fully 40% of all golf shots are played on and around the green. Golfers may tolerate mediocre fairways, poor bunkers, and sparse tees, but they expect near perfect greens for putting. Only cutting the green with a sharp mower will ensure that the golf ball rolls truly and smoothly on the green. This appears in his book also “Practical Golf Course Maintenance”.

In an article written by Patrick Gross, USGA Green Section, says “Brown” is a dirty word when it comes to Golf Course Maintenance. There is no room in a golfers vocabulary for the word “Brown”. Grass must be green, even if it means over-watering and plugged lies on fairways. However he says that there’s nothing wrong with a little tinge of brown either. It’s a good sign that the course is not over-watered.

When planting trees on your golf course think or visualize how big and tall they’ll get in a very short time.
All trees are fast growing. Chances are your club won’t have enough money for pruning and maintenance. If you get rid of it, members will squeal bloody murder. The best time to remove trees is after a thunder and lightning storm. Just say “lightning” got it. Remember that’s the name of your chain saw.

Applying chemicals may seem like routine work for anyone employed in any type of grounds care. Yet, some applicators may be overlooking the need to wear the right persoanl protective equipment to reduce exposure to contaminants. Choosing the correct type of clothing, golves, footwear, eye protection, and respiratory protection is a necessity when using chemicals of any toxicity level. Disposable wear is available.

At the top of the world—almost 400 miles north of the Arctic Circle—
golfers need to be on top of their games when playing the Drambuie World Ice Golf Championship. Described as “like playing on the moon” this tournament is played in March. Temperatures hover around 15 degrees below zero Farenheit. Putting surfaces are naturally called “whites” and are shaved prior to the event for true, fast putting. I wonder if they have a beer cart!

All golfers at all golf courses (private or public) are quick to judge putting conditions on greens, and in their eyes this assessment often determines the standard of the course and whether they want to return. Turf Managers know that to achieve a good, even and fast putting surface the grass growth must be vigorous, dense and even textured—this surface can only be achieved and maintained when the stress levels within the green are reduced to the minimum.

The water on our planet moves in a continuous cycle called the “water cycle”.
Surface water is evaporated by the sun and rises into the air as water vapour. The water vapour eventually falls back to earth as rain or snow. Most of this moisture falls into the ocean, but some will fall on land. Water that falls on land will form into rivers and slowly makes its way back to the ocean. About 97% of the world’s water is in oceans.

Saw this on a sign at the first tee at a nine hole golf course west of Saskatoon.
It said “Before teeing off, tell your foursome to hit when ready. The first player that is ready should be the first to tee off and so on. If your fairway and approach shots are about the same distance from the green, the player who is ready should go first. If you insist on playing honours, then make sure your’re the first person to be ready. I asked my wife’s cousin if their group follows this and found not one in the foursome ever read this. The sign was there most of the summer.

Manitoba golf course superintendents are concerned that new regulations before the Province will ban pesticide use on their golf courses. Their Association wants to make sure the government has all the facts before deciding to go ahead. Here is one fact the government should take into consideration: the provinces 65 golf courses account for only 6 percent of pesticides for weed and fungus control. And another—all Manitoba superintendents are IPM certified.

When things go wrong at your golf course and the superintendent is under fire from the Board or Members, a good manager should serve as a buffer and take the heat. Keep the pressure off the superintendent and his staff so they can do their jobs and solve any problems that have arisen. When managers shift blame to the superintendents and employees, they lose trust and respect. They also lose an important one—loyalty.

You’ve heard me say numerous times that communication may be 80 to 85 percent of a superintendents job. Communication may be the single most important contributor to employee longevity and enjoyment. In many cases or most cases your employer and other constituents (golfers, members, committee members, etc) are not especially knowledgeable about golf course maintenance. It is up to you to keep them informed about your cultural practices—why you are doing what you are doing and when you will be doing it. The last thing you want to do is surprise your members. This came from a publication from the “Golf Course Superintendent Association of America”, called Communication.

Do you want to avoid a hangover or a terrible headache after too many drinks at a Christmas Party? Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, Vitamin B, and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and a headache.

According to a survey in 2010 done by Golfdom re: managing height of cut on putting greens, nearly 600 golf course superintendents responded.12 percent said they continued to lower the height of cut to achieve faster greens. 69 percent said they were rolling greens more often.

Every Golf Course including nine-hole layouts should have a Maintenance Policies and Procedures Manual. They are set up to give all greens staff a cursory view of the grounds operation. Golf course maintenance is a detailed job requiring a vast number of skills to be successful. One of the best I’ve seen is at Doug Campbell’s Riverside Country Club in Saskatoon.

I’m done guys. I hope to see you at our Fall Wind Up November 6. Register by fax so I can give the Riverside Country Club an accurate number for set up purposes and most importantly for the meal service. Thanks for your cooperation.

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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.