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September 2008

The STA 2008 Research Tournament as a successful event. The Jackfish Lodge’s people treated us very well and deserve a huge thank you for their kindness. Kyle Kellgreen looked after all our needs and contributed to a great event. Everyone who attended commented on not only the fine facility but the fine condition of the golf course as well.

The next event for the STA members will be our Annual Meeting in late November or early December. The Board of Directors will meet in late September to decide a date and location. We need your presence and participation at this event.

Work is underway on planning the STA’s Turf Conference and Trade Show. This will take place March 22nd to March 24th at T.C.U. Place, Saskatoon’s Arts and Convention Centre. The Conference Hotel in Saskatoon will be the Hilton Garden Inn across the street from T.C.U. Place. More information will be forwarded to you shortly. This is an important event for you to attend. It’s more important that your Club insists on your attendance by sending you.

I recently received a letter from former member Nelson Quevillon regarding Pesticide Storage Facilities. In previous newsletters I’ve talked about pesticide use, proper application and the need to be licensed, but I’ve neglected the importance of a secured pesticide storage facility. This doesn’t mean a locked facility with the key hanging on the shop wall. It means that the superintendent and his assistant have the key. This didn’t happen at a Park in Regina where the key was available to numerous employees. When it came time to spray around trees with dormant oil, unknowingly to the licensed applicators, Glyphosate (Sharpshooter’s) was mixed with the dormant oil. It turned out that a member of the staff deliberately did the mixing. Since there was thousands of dollars worth of damage, the police were called in to investigate. Because they have so many staff and keys to the facility, it will be almost impossible to find the culprit. The lesson from this is to have pesticides secured in a facility. Access should be limited to key personnel only.

This was emailed to me by a former member who is now 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, you don’t get to ride around on a cart, drink beer, eat hot dogs and fart if you’re performing brain surgery!”

In 1744 the first record of payment to a greenkeeper by the Royal Burgess Golfing Society amounted to 6 shillings per quarter and a change of clothes, mainly to cut new holes. In 1828 Edwin Budding invents a machine for cutting nap off wool carpets that becomes a lawn mower and is patented in 1830.

It was nice to observe superintendents discussing problems at the Research Tournament Banquet. One table in particular was having a valuable discussion on problems they encountered during the summer. An exchange of ideas came forward as superintendents came together to help each other. Another discussion was the lack of help and how each coped with the problem. The idea of the Research Tournament is to raise money for Turf Research, but just as important is the exchange of ideas and how it can help superintendents in problem solving at their course.

Fall is here and now is the time to check the coolant strength in all radiators. Also, grease all grease zerks to purge and moisture away from any bearing surfaces. This past summer while visiting golf courses I observed lots of poor cutting quality, not only on greens but tees and fairways as well. When cutting greens, check the basket for clippings … they will tell you a story. Uneven distribution within the basket means the cutting unit is set improperly. Also, empty the basket before it becomes too full. A heavy basket affects the height and quality of cut.

Over the years I’ve found rough means different things to different people. I believe Gord Witteveen describes it best. He says the golfers and superintendents rarely agree on what rough should be like. Rough is never static because it changes with seasons, it changes over the years with natural growth encroaching and it always changes as a result of our interference with nature. Whatever form or shape rough takes, it usually provides character and contrast on a golf course. If rough provides challenges as well, then most players will be happy.

Next to growing and maintaining grass, communication is probably the most important skill green superintendents need to master. You can start by contributing to the Club’s newsletter. If your Club doesn’t have one, suggest to your Directors that they start one. Communication skills help to improve one’s self-confidence in dealing with people. If you are lacking in this area a Dale Carnegie course is suggested. I guarantee this will help you.

The Poa Annua you find on today’s golf courses is highly variable. It consists, they say, of many different strains. 20 to 30 can grow on a single golf green. This is what gives the patchy appearance to old Poa Annua greens. However, a true Poa Annua green that is well managed is beautiful and rewarding to the superintendent. Many U.S. Open golf tournaments were played on Poa Annua rather than Bentgrass greens.

I bet you didn’t know this one – All the energy expended to maintain fast greens has resulted in a decrease of one stroke per round for less than 1 percent of the world’s golfers. The rest of us sub golfers have not improved our scores at all.

I had a call from a fellow who wanted
information on how to maintain sand greens. As I didn’t have a clue, I directed him to a person who had the best sand greens in the province in the late 1940’s and 1950’s. If any of you have any information on the maintenance of sand greens could you please forward it to me. By the way, the person’s name who was the sand green guru is Bill Turner. He went on from a sand green course to green superintendent and later head professional at the Saskatoon Golf and Country Club.

Now is the time to seriously start thinking
on how you are going to put your course to bed for the winter. Trees should be thoroughly watered as should the turf, and by now your fungicide program should be in place and more importantly started. Another program is protecting the greens and tees from winter’s bitter winds, thus eliminating desiccation problems that so many encountered last year.

Another tip is to carefully examine your pumping equipment. Pumps are much easier to repair during the winter than it is in the spring when water on the course is needed. The electric motor should be inspected by a qualified electrician before closing it down for the winter. Failure to do any of the above could lead to all kinds of problems in the spring.

“Syngenta” has a new product called Instata
which they claim takes the uncertainty out of snow mould protection. Instead of trying to predict the proper tank mix for potential pathogens and particular weather conditions, superintendents now have a stress free way of controlling pink and grey snow mould. This sounds great doesn’t it! Ron Dagert from Early’s can give you more information on this product. If you have a tank mix that works for you, however, I wouldn’t change to a product you haven’t tried on your course.

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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.