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October 2011

The end of the season is fast approaching. Some of the busier clubs are aerating greens, tees and topdressing. The fungicide program is speeding up with the added frequency of applications. Shortly, irrigation line will be blown. Take your time with this important function to make sure all water is removed. If you have experienced any problems with your pump or motor, remove it this fall and have it repaired. Don’t wait until the spring. The same hold true for sprinkler heads. After removing them, make sure the openings leading to the water lines are capped for the winter.

The STA Board of Directors met in Saskatoon on September 13th. Items discussed included a date and site for the Fall Wind-Up and AGM. The date will be Tuesday, December 6th at the Royal Regina Golf Club. The night before social will again be there at a bar (I presume) to be named later. As soon as everything is settled it will be included on our website.

The Canadian Golf Superintendents Association has asked Saskatchewan to host their Fall Field Day in 2013. Mike Kupchanko and The Wascana have stepped up to host the event. The Royal Regina may consider hosting the skins game. We will keep you posted.

Saskatchewan was well represented at the CGSA Fall Field Day in Prince Edward Island. Everyone played well and had a good time. All said the golf courses were in great condition and fun to play. Pierre Vezeau and Ken Lintott took their wives and spent a little extra time in PEI enjoying a short holiday. I imagine there are a number of envious wives out there.

A tip on spraying fungicide on greens, tees and fairways this fall: make sure you have a clean sprayer and check to make sure you have the correct nozzle size. A nozzle that emits a coarse spray is not effective for a successful fungicide program, especially if you are spraying a contact fungicide. It is important you have a fine spray that will cling to the leaf.

Frost delay season will soon be here.
This is among the most contentious issue a green superintendent will encounter during the season. Communication is the key, along with educating the golfers on the dangers of damaging the turf by playing on frost-covered turf. You can do this by making yourself available for any questions golfers may have. One thing to remember is that golfers are an impatient lot.

Fall is here and although the weather is great, its going to get colder – real cold. Make sure you check coolant strength in all radiators – also check water hoses along with hydraulic lines. Replace any worn hoses this fall, not in the spring, because you’ll probably forget. Later on, when you are putting the equipment away for the winter, grease all zerks to purge any moisture away from any bearing surface. Another winter preparation tip is to change oil in all engines to prevent engine bearings from getting pitted due to the acid in dirty oil. Run the engine after the oil change to allow the oil to reach all bearing surfaces.

I had a very nice call from long time STA member Mary Lou Bird, owner of the Lazy K Golf and Country Club at Christopher Lake, Sask. She says her golf course was beautiful this summer and had a lot of play. It was a real pleasure chatting with her. She also says retirement is out of the question for now.

Many years ago when I was a young superintendent, I was extremely hard on a salesman selling turf products out of Calgary. I didn’t tell him to get off the property, but did say I’d never buy anything he sold. We’ll leave it at that but it was a lot worse. This week at our Cardiac Rehab Program I was assigned to look after a new member who suffers from heart disease as bad as any I know. We got talking and guess who he turned out to be? After got over my embarrassment, I apologized after more than 50 years. To say I felt stupid would be an understatement. I tell you this because all this guy was doing was trying to make a living. My actions were uncalled for. Treat these people with respect – it doesn’t cost a penny to be nice. Don’t be a fool like I was.

Don’t forget that we present the Dr. Drew Smith Member of the Year award at this years’ Fall Wind-Up. To qualify for the award the nominee must be:

  1. A member of the STA in good standing
  2. Dedicated to the turfgrass industry and our association
  3. Willling to help fellow superintendents
  4. Able to show the utmost in professionalism.

Send your nomination to Don Campbell
Arborist Jim McCready says leaves change colour because they need a break,
a winter of rest, after a summer of photosynthesizing (using sunlight to convert water and carbon dioxide into sugar). Sick trees often change and shed leaves too early, which means they don’t have long to live.

Pigments are responsible for the distinctive colours of leaves in the fall:
chlorophyll for green, carotenoid for yellow, orange and brown, anthocyanis for red. As sunlight decreases the tree stops producing chlorophyll and the carotenoid in the leaves shows through with yellows, orange and soft browns. Now you know all about those fall colours.

Do you know there is a difference between a golf club and a country club?

a) A golf club implies a simple place devoted to the pursuit of a game

b) A country club implies an expansive and expensive social undertaking of leisure with no focus or particular commitment to the game – Wow!

Communicating with golfers is an uphill battle. Nine times out of ten, superintendents don’t have the training, the visibility, the time, or the support from management to truly educate golfers about course maintenance. And, even if you do have a knack for schmoozing, a fancy office, say, in the Clubhouse and a Pro or Manager who worships you, there is one more teeny tiny obstacle to overcome – golfers don’t give a – no – golfers just don’t care.

Bill Spielman writes in Grounds Maintenance, a publication for golf and green industry professionals about making a case for renovation. The irrigation system is the heart of a golf course – without one, the course will suffer. A systems life expectancy varies from 10 to 30 years, depending on the geographic location, but no one knows better than the golf superintendent when the end is near and a new system must be considered. Ironically, because the superintendents job is to maintain the aesthetics and playability of the course no matter what irrigation problems exist, the true condition of the system often isn’t evident to the green committee and board members responsible for approving upgrades. This fact, combined with financial and logistical concerns, can make selling the concept of a new irrigation system a real challenge. There are ways to overcome this challenge however.

Our planet is in the recycling business and in this case we will talk about water. The water on the planet earth moves is a continues cycle called the “water cycle”. Surface water is evaporated by the sun and rises into the air as a 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 make it’s way back to the ocean. About 97% of the world’s water is in oceans.

Congratulations to Jason Thorhaug, the very good greens superintendent at Willow Bunch Golf Club. In early September he was down in Scoby, participating in a Par 3 golf tournament. On one of the holes he canned it and won $5,000. Way to go Jason!

Your golf course manicured fairways, greens cut and rolled and fast, traps groomed to perfection, but still something is missing and as you try and find the reason why it hits you – your tee markers are shabby, ball washers have seen better days. Flags are tattered and the poles have seen better days. If this is the case, it’s time to accessorize your course again for next year. This will keep it looking sharp. The importance of course accessories may seem small compared to overall course conditioning, but as golfers perceptions of value become more important, little touches like elegant tee markers and tastefull trash receptacles and ball washers can enhance a course’s image.

Again, congratulations are in order. Most everyone knows Mike Kupchanko (The Wascana) is an accomplished archer, but his son, 18 year old Michael Jr is much better probably due to his Dad’s mentoring. Michael Jr and his team (Cris Perkins, Athens ON; Kennan Brown, Winnipeg MB) won the world archery youth championship in Legnica Poland in mid-August. Besides the gold medal in the team event, Michael Jr. finished seventh in the world in the individual event. I know his Dad is extremely proud of his son’s accomplishments and will continue to encourage and support his endeavours in this difficult sport.

And this from Chris Marchiori, assistant superintendent at The Wascana:
he tells me about an article written by Nick Price and his involvement in golf course design. His quote is the view of golf superintendents “Let a superintendent do his own thing without micromanaging. There is no way any member – unless he’s with a turf nursery or is an agronomist or is a Ph.D. – is going to tell the superintendent what to do with greens. That’s his expertise. If I had to do another club and I found out it had a greens committee it would be my No. 1 priority to disband it.” Again, this was a quote by Nick Price, passed on to me by Chris Marchiori.

Earlier in this newsletter, I wrote about making a case for irrigation and the challenge associated with it. Whether your issues are obvious (leaks, broken wires, out of sight maintenance costs) or more subtle (wet or dry spots caused by lack of individual head control, or increased water costs due to inefficiency) documenting and visually demonstrating them can be the most important part of the approval process.

I just returned from the 2nd Annual Saskatchewan Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony at The Wascana in Regina. The Hall of Fame is for those people who have provided outstanding contributions to the game of golf in Sasktchewan. There were four inductees in 2011: Pat Lawson, Terry Meier, Bill Wallace and Danny Jutras. Jutras was the golf professional, manager at the Cooke Golf Club in Prince Albert and served on the STA Board of Directors for four years, his last as President.

Mark Twain said “One should not worry because some of the worst things in your life will never happen”.
I learned not to worry but be concerned. Also Herm Albright says a positive attitude may not solve all your problems but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.

Mark on your calendar and reserve December 5 and 6 for our Fall Wind-Up.
The Royal Regina will host the event. The seminar program will include Chris Marchiori (Maintenance Procedures at The Wascana), Mike Bullard (My experience on the maintenance crew at 2 USA Opens) and Pat Crockett of JeeBee Dynamics who Mike Kupchanko tells me is an excellent speaker. After the traditional banquet we will have our Annual Meeting. This will be a great event, so make every effort to attend.

During this past summer I’ve had some inquiries about Superintendent Education. You’ll see this in the newsletter. Take this seriously and if you have any questions call the number provided. Your Club cannot afford not to send you or your assistant. Take advantage of this – it will pay for itself with new and refreshed expertise in maintaining your golf course. Also the time is right. Dennis McKernan is the instructor for this 2-day event.

I am sure everyone knows Aspen Links in White Cityjust outside Regina recently lost their clubhouse. The fire started in the kitchen in mid-afternoon and destryed the building in a very short time. Thankfully, everyone who was inside got out safely and without any injury. The owners and members will no doubt rebuild, but in the meantime its going to be an inconvenience.

Had a call from Ron Lyons who has a collection of antique golf cars in Edmonton. He wanted to know if I know anything about 2 cars that he thought were manufactured in Estevan SK. One was called the Kendall and the other the Canadian Badger. Danny Jutras had three of the Kendall’s that he rented out in Prince Albert. I remember the Canadian Badger as we had one at my old Club in Saskatoon. It was owned by three Jewish chaps and when all three showed up to play at the same time there was a helluva argument.

That’s all folks. I was on a roll with this one and consequently have good start on the next one. Remember our Fall Wind Up and consider the education opportunity in early November. I think I’m getting one of those juicy colds.

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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.