October 2010

  • October 10, 2010
  • Written by Don Campbell

The highlight for the month of September for one, at least, was the inaugural induction ceremony for the Saskatchewan Golf Hall of Fame. The STA was a big part of this event. I would like to thank the golf courses who sponsored various tees for the golf tournament. Your participation was appreciated. Peter Semko, an STA honourary life member was inducted this first year.

As everyone knows, Oakcreeks’s Laurie Unruh is soon to be retiring. The retirement celebration held September 23 was a real fun affair. There was a good crowd at “Sports on Tap” here in Saskatoon. People from all over the province made a special effort to be here to say goodbye to Laurie. The STA awarded Laurie with a “Member of the Year” plaque. I, among many others, will miss Laurie for all his help, his volunteerism, and his always happy enthusiasm.

Some sad news just heard, Warren Churchill or “Kooter” passed away early this morning (September 30).
Warren was a fixture at Waskesiu for many years. Although he was a different sort of fellow, I, along with many others, liked him. “Kooter” suffered from cancer for about seven weeks before it finally brought him down. Warren was a long time STA member. Our condolences to his family and especially to those co-workers at Waskesiu.

Finally we are having a little bit of summer. Although it is too little too late, we hope it will help club’s finances a bit. Clubs report a disastrous financial year, the wet weather being the main culprit. Remember next year will be better and golf clubs will rebound. We all will learn from it. I will give you some tips I used when we had less than desirable years.

There are lots of definitions about leadership, but this one is probably the best. “Leadership is the art of influencing and directing people in such a way as to obtain commitment, confidence, respect and loyal cooperation to accomplish the mission”. Being a leader is a challenging assignment because it requires that leaders live according to a specific list of personal characteristics. First and foremost in honesty. Next comes competency. Leaders are also people who have a sense of motivating people in such a way as to obtain their commitment, confidence, respect and loyal cooperation.

As the tools for maintaining putting greens have improved over the past decade, superintendents have gained the upperhand in the daily battle against unwanted weeds, fungal pathogens, and nuisance pests. However the war against bumpy putting conditions has yet to be declared over. Despite the advances of modern technology greens still look like battlefields because of unrepaired ballmarks. Golfers still refuse to repair their ball mark before walking off the green. Repairing ball marks is proper golf etiquette.

Just finished an article by Dr. Everett Koop, the Surgeon General of the USA from 1981 to 1989. The title reads “Scare tactics on Pesticides Mislead the Public”. There are many interesting facts in the article, among them: with coffee it takes 96 cups to deliver a toxic dose of caffeine, and with turkey 3.8 tons to deliver a toxic dose of formaldehyde.

More from Dr. Koop. He says there is a risk in everything we do, so we need to concentrate on the differences. The chances of your being killed in a motor vehicle (1 in 6000) are much more real than are threats from pesticides. Yet that doesn’t keep us off the road, either as passengers of as pedestrians.

Glancing through an old old daytimer, I read a note about shower towels in the locker rooms where I worked. I thought it was splendid idea to have all the towels monogrammed with the Club crest. Some questioned the unnecessary expenses, but most liked the idea so much that we lost about 75% of them the first six weeks. It was not a good idea and it was the last time I did anything like that.

Sparrows, those pesky birds most people say are useless, first came to North America in 1860.
They were brought from England to help control the insects in the United States. The reason there is so many is that they haven’t any predators. Crows are the closest, but they haven’t the quick agility to catch them.

What causes the most stress? Some say health problems, others say relationships gone bad, but the threat of losing your job causes more stress than anyone can imagine. And the threat is very real, and unfortunately it is prevalent at many golf clubs. There’s always a small group of people in a lot of golf clubs who think they have the answers to everything, who clamour for a guys head.

Daniel Rauckman, the Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Golf Association has submitted his resignation to the SGA effective October 15, 2010. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Daniel and found him very well organized to go with his tremendous work ethic. This dedication to the SGA and his work will be missed.

The Fall-Windup and Annual General Meeting will be held November 23, 2010 at the Willows Golf and Country Club here in Saskatoon. The seminar will feature Bruce Williams who will speak on the future of Course Maintenance in these tough economic times.

Set the tempo by walking your golf course. Golfers were once considered athletes. The image of them as morbidly obese, beer soaked doddering fools in pink plaid arrived at precisely the same instant that those motorized benches became acceptable on our golf courses. As the golf car took us further from the classical game, standup comedians, among others, declared the game uncool and linked golf to geriatric activities like bingo. Superintendents can set an example by walking. This will get rid of stress and some say you play better when you are walking.

Most beginners and mid-to-high handicap golfers prefer Kentucky bluegrass fairways maintained at 1” to 1 1/4”. They like to sweep the ball from a relatively high lie on the fairway. An increasing number of complaints are being heard regarding extremely tight fairway lies. The silent majority do not complain about fast greens for fear of being ridiculed but are not having any problem making themselves when it comes to 1/2 inch fairways.

Golf Courses are tremedous economic assets, as well as vital greenspaces for communities.
They employ hundreds of thousands of people, enhance local economies through tax revenues and tourism, and provide many ecological benefits. For example, golf courses help filter air pollutants and creat fresh oxygen, they are excellent groundwater recharge sites, and most important, they are critical wildlife sanctuaries in urban and suburban areas.

The 16th Annual Golf Course Property Manager’s Conference will be held November 27th to 30th, 2010 at the Capri Centre in Red Deer, Alberta. This event is sponsored by the Alberta Golf Superintendents Association. The keynote speaker is Lorne Rubenstein. Mr. Rubenstein is a freelance writer and golf columnist at the Toronto Globe and Mail. This presentation will focus on where golf has gone wrong and what the game needs not only to grow but to retain those playing golf today. This is a worthwhile conference with many interesting topics and speakers.

I’ve had a small number of calls this past fall on how much a green superintendent should be paid. These calls came from nine-hole operations which were devastated financially by this summer’s wet weather. I don’t think anyone understood my answer or worse still wanted to believe it. The very worst thing a course can do is lower the superintendents’ salary. They all weren’t making a decent salary to begin with. I referred to my spring wage questionnaire in replying to their questions. None I talked to didn’t think they participated in the survey. There are other ways to adjust spending, one of which is to prepare a financial plan for the next season.

Most people know I’m an old geezer who has had 60 years in the golf business.
I remember when bunkers or sand traps didn’t have rakes. They were true hazards in my early days and certainly didn’t have to be consistent throughout the golf course. Sand traps were groomed twice a week. Individual rakes weren’t added to sand traps until the mid 1950’s. Today bunker maintenance takes a huge bite out of greens maintenance dollars.

Some hotel information if you plan on attending the Property Manager’s Conference in Red Deer.
Rooms are reserved at the Capri Centre starting at $139. Please call the Capri at 1-800-662-7197 and state you are with the Alberta Golf Superintendents Association. Rooms are also available at the Sandman Hotel starting at $99.00. Call the Sandman at 1-866-343-7263 and quote confirmation #185458. Rooms should be booked at both properties by November 8th.

This troubles me. There is a ton of money in foundation grants to support environmental activists in their complaints about golf course practices, but there are only a few dollars available for turf research grants to explain to the activists why our practices are safe.

I just read this interesting piece in a 2008 golf magazine (Canadian at that). Thirty percent of all members at private clubs can’t actually afford to be members, and continually offer resistance to upgrading or improvement for fear the changes will be costly and reveal them to be financially overcommitted. Worse, such people tend to be the ones who must use (or abuse) their priveleges in a desperate attempt to justify their memberships.

I like this nursery rhyme so much I’ll share it with you:

  • The hydraulic oil killed our green in streaks
  • The damage could be visible for many weeks
  • The golfers want the green fixed fast
  • The putting green nursery will save my …….green!

Fall is here and colder weather is around the corner. Make sure you check coolant strength in all radiators—check all water and hydraulic hoses. Later on, when putting the equipment away for the winter, grease all zirks to purge any moisture away from any bearing surfaces. Another winter preparation tip is to change oil in all engines to prevent engine bearings from getting pitted due to the acid found in dirty oil. Run the engine after the oil change to alloww oil to reach all bearing surfaces.

I’m out of here, gang. Keep in mind or better still,
mark on your calendar the Fall Wind-Up in Saskatoon November 23rd. Look on our web site for updated information.

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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.