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October 2015

  • October 6, 2015
  • Written by

Fall is here and for most superintendents it’s not only a difficult time, but a very important time of the year.  The difficult time is the shortage of labour to do very important work in preparing the golf course or park for the winter months.

Blowing irrigation lines is the most important task you’ll encounter this fall.  Because of the construction boom in our province, air compressors are hard to come by.  It’s always wise to arrange rental for these machines early in the summer.  Another chore is to make sure your pumping equipment is in good working order for a smooth start-up in the spring.

Recently I read that Fairy Ring has been around a long, long time.  A popular belief during the Middle Ages was that a ring of mushrooms appeared in a pasture after fairies danced on that spot the night before.  In Scotland, it was bad luck for a farmer to till the land where rings of mushrooms appeared, but in England it was considered good fortune to build a house on land where fairy rings were observed.  My friend Jim Cote verified all of the above using his middle age wisdom.

More about the close of the season.  Fall is here and colder weather is right around the corner.  Make sure you check coolant strength in all radiators – and another reminder – check all water and hydraulic hoses.  Replace any worn or cracked hoses this fall, not in the spring because you’ll probably forget.  Later on, when you are storing the equipment for the winter, grease all zerks to purge any moisture away from any bearing surfaces.  Another preparation tip is to change oil in all engines to prevent engine bearings from getting pitted due to the acid build-up found in dirty oil.  Run the engine after the oil change to allow the oil to reach all bearing surfaces.

Here something you don’t know.  Of the nearly 1.4 trillion of the planet Earth’s trees , most are in tropical and subtropical forests.  The sad thing is that this is where the rate of loss is the highest.

The Marines have a great definition regarding leadership.  They say leadership is the art of influencing and directing people in such a way as to obtain their commitment, confidence, respect and loyal cooperation to accomplish the mission.  This definition defines clearly what it takes to be a leader as well as what will result when good leadership is practiced.  However, it’s embedded in this definition is the idea that leadership must be earned.

Doug Campbell, the long-time superintendent at the Riverside Country Club here in Saskatoon says that the secret to good golf is to hit the ball hard, straight, and not too often.

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 still one more obstacle to overcome.  Golfers don’t give a – no – golfers just don’t care.

In the early days of golf – Jim Cote’s era – caddies were club carriers and coaches.  They were the forerunners of the modern pro.  A professional meant a professional caddy and the rules permitted only the caddy to give advice to the side he was caddying for about clubs to use and shots to play.

I just read that many exercise programs fail because they are discontinued, not because they are ineffective.  Golf, as a recreational sport, has a high rate of compliance, and appeals to all ages and both sexes.  Under a physician’s guidance, walking the golf course can even become a valuable part of an exercise recovery program for cardiac patients.

The practice of using multicoloured flags to indicate hole locations and 150 yard markers, these are the worst visual plagues introduced into golf during the past three decades, says the media and golf officials who study golf rules.  They say they aren’t part of the game.  Agree or disagree, but golf requires the ability to think, feel and observe before going through the physical motions of striking a golf ball.  These two visual aids eliminate a portion of the game that is still practiced in Great Britain.

Golf courses throughout North America are having big problems with geese.  They are trying to control them by using dogs.  The dog of choice seems to be the Border Collie.  Doug Campbell’s dog (a crazy German Shepherd) does a good job keeping these bubble gum machines off the golf course lake.  The best breed however is the “Jindo” a native of Mongolia.

I had a couple of nice calls from golf courses in our province about how much they enjoyed the last newsletter.  In particular they liked the article on “Preparing golf course turf for winter”.  The interesting part about the calls, they came from the Greens Superintendent, not from an interested member of the executive.  The second article “Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get” had some favourable comments as well.

This is important!  Every member mark the Fall Wind Up on your calendar.  Again, by demand, the event will be at the Saskatoon Golf and Country Club, November 10, 2015.  The format will be like the one in 2014.  November 9th will see registration 2:30 pm.  Speakers will start at 3:00 pm and go until 6:00 pm.  Social will start at 7:00 pm.  The next day, November 10th, will see speakers 9:00 am to noon.  The banquet will start at 12:00 noon.  The AGM starts at 1:15 pm.  We would like a good turnout.

It’s been said golfers have stifled designers’ creativity and deadened their work.  Therefore we’ve lost for ourselves the opportunity to golf in North America as it’s played on the links courses on the British Isles.  Here, architects haven’t any freedom.  Freedom to be fun and quirky.  Freedom to place bunkers in other than orderly places.

There isn’t a lawn care company in Saskatoon that hasn’t a back pack blower.  These machines are some of the easiest equipment to handle and operate.  Most of them are relatively lightweight, weighing in at around 20 pounds.  Just about every golf course in the province has one of these units – the bigger clubs up to three with a big air volume.  The norm however is a smaller engine (about 40 c.c.) that is capable of blowing air at 170 mph.

Its fall, and time to get some equipment put away for the winter.  Most will give each piece a good cleaning.  Be careful of water.  Never squirt a hot machine.  It’s wise to use a biodegradable solvent to break down oil and grease.  Before cleaning, spray this on the unit.  It doesn’t take much.  This method will give you a cleaner machine using less hot water.  There is also less chance of causing damage with the water.

Got this one via email from one of our members.  He says golf is like a game board.  The game was formed around three points – the strategic, heroic, and penal aspects.  That’s interesting, but I will bet over 90% of golfers don’t know they exist.

Does anything look worse than seven yards of rough between the fairway edge and an important bunker?  Expanding fairways to the edge of bunkers not only looks more aesthetically natural, but it brings the trouble into play as intended.  That’s from the internet.

Another email, only this time from a former member who is lucky enough to still be working in the oil-patch.  “It takes longer to learn to be a good golfer than it does to become a brain surgeon”.  On the other hand says my Uncle Jake, you don’t get to ride around on a cart, drink beer, eat hot dogs and fart if you are performing brain surgery.

One glaring fault I found this summer around the Saskatoon area – the greens mowers cutting heads being out of adjustment.  In some cases the bedknife to reel setting was at fault and more often, one side of the cutting head was lower than the other.  On some triplex mowers, all three cutting heads were set at different heights instead of a uniform height.

At our Annual Meeting in November, the STA will announce its Drew Smith member of the year award.  To qualify for this award, the nominee must be:

  1. A qualified member of the STA in good standing
  2. Dedicated to the Turfgrass industry in Saskatchewan
  3. Must play an active role in our industry and Association
  4. Willing to help fellow superintendents
  5. Show the utmost in professionalism

Forward your nomination ballot to Don Campbell by email at soupyd@sasktel.net.  Nominations will be reviewed by 2 STA board members.

At this year’s Annual Meeting the odd numbered zones along with the Commercial South are up for election.  These include Zone 1 Mike Kupchanko, Zone 3 Pierre Vezeau, Zone 5 Richard Berg, Zone 7 Leo Skaluba, Commercial South Kirt Blatz.

I think I’ve used this one in a former newsletter.  Do you know there are 51 references containing the word “grass” in the bible?  These references cite conditions that range from flourishing to withering.  When studied more closely, the biblical reference to grass underscores something we all know, but don’t like to think about.  Like grass, our days are numbered.  In Peter 1:24 we find these words “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like flowers of the fields: the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.”  That means life whether it is grass or our own is a precious gift.

In the early 1930’s a serious drought hit the United States.  Many of the larger and richer clubs had decided to install sprinklers throughout the golf course.  Roughly speaking, an expenditure of $10,000 to $15,000 would be required to water an 18 hole course.

Guys, I’m out of here.  Please mark the Fall Wind-Up dates on your calendar November 9 & November 10.  To register, contact me by email at soupyd@sasktel.net.  Please support your Association by attending.


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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.