September 2015

  • September 11, 2015
  • Written by Don Campbell

The STA had a very successful Research Tournament at Lynbrook Golf Course in Moose Jaw mid-August.  82 players enjoyed a great day on the golf course which they tell me was in great shape.  The skins game the night prior was a fun event for those attending.

The STA appreciates the members and staff of Lynbrook for hosting the 2015 Research Tournament.  A big thank you to superintendent Owen Morhart for his help and cooperation.  Golf was great and the food service was second to none.  Thanks to all for a successful day.

Different areas of the province were well represented from Nipawin, Meadow Lake, Yorkton, Weyburn and Swift Current.  Thanks guys for making an effort to attend.

Because of some on-going health problems, I was unable to attend the Research Tournament.  I and the STA were extremely lucky to have Marc Robert step up and run the event.  From what they tell me, he did an excellent job.  Thanks a million Marc, I appreciate your effort.

Dean Hildebrandts Wakaw Team captured 1st place, while Lach Reeve’s team finished 2nd.  3rd place went to Brandon McCormack’s Oakcreek team.  Host Lynbrook, headed by Owen Morhart finished 4th.  The long drive title went to Chad Fawcett.  Closest to the pin #5, #7, and #14 went to Blair Demontarnal, Tyler McComas and Kevin Simpson, respectively.  The participation trophy went to Swift Current’s Chinook Golf course headed by Doug Leavins.

I noticed a couple of golf courses aerating greens in early September.  I always thought this was a good time of year to do this.  Everything will be grown in by the end of the season and chances are they’ll come through the winter in good shape.  It may be a good idea to let them grow a little higher also.

The golf industry is still concerned the real problem with respect to pesticide use may be overlooked, namely a lack of consumer education and compliance with label instructions.  Controlled products should only be used by those suitably trained in safe product use and handling.  Having said this, most golf courses have licensed applicators.

It is almost fall, and spraying fungicides on greens and tees must be on every turf managers mind.  A couple of things come to mind.  Make sure you have a clean sprayer and check your nozzle size.  A nozzle that emits a course spray is not effective for a fungicide program, especially if you are spraying a contact fungicide.  It is important that you have a fine spray that will cling to the leaves.

We are rapidly approaching Frost Delay season.  This is among the most contentious issue a greens superintendent will encounter during the season.  Communication is the key, along with educating the golfers on the dangers of damaging turf by playing on frost covered areas.  You can do this by making yourself available for any questions golfers may have.  Remember golfers are an impatient lot.

They say there are some poisonous and painful plants in Saskatchewan.  They can burn skin, blister skin and shut down kidneys.  They say there are some extremely toxic plants in the province, but accidental poisonings are extremely rare.  Some of the plants are native to Saskatchewan, while others are invasive species.  Some wild mushrooms, stinging nettles, poison ivy are a few.

Earlier we talked about aerification in early September.  Why do we do it? Aerification achieves three important objectives:  it relieves soil compaction, it provides a method to improve the soil mixture around the highest part of the green’s roots, and it prevents the accumulation of excess thatch.  More on aerification later.

Every day we hear more about climate change.  The late Dr. Drew Smith said earth has a long history of climate changes.  The last Ice Age ended more than 10,000 years ago.  After this we had a warm period which peaked 5,000 to 7,000 years ago.  The Little Ice Age was at its coldest about 350 years ago.  We are at the tail end of this period.  There are some causes for these cyclic changes of climate—1. Changes in the sun’s energy output.  2. Changes in the shape of earth’s orbit around the sun from circular to elliptical. 3. Changes in the tilt of the Earth’s axis toward and away from the sun.   The two latter factors also result in contrast 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.  The last 3 cycles have different periods varying from 20 to 1,000 years.

You’ve gotta consider this one.  If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation—you are ahead of 750 million people in the world.  We are a fortunate and lucky group not to suffer from the above.

Why is it important to walk when playing golf?  Randy Wilson, a US Superintendent says rhythm and timing benefits from the walk; the tempo of your swing is inexplicable linked to the tempo of your walk.  You become naturally adjusted to the flow of the ground, instead of separated from the playing surface.  Your body senses whether the turf is firm or fat, wet or fast, and elevations are most apparent.  He goes on to say the golf car distances you from the feel and touch of golf and turns the experience into numbers, cold hard yardage and maps.

Golf Course Architects main goal is to balance golf course design so that the average or even the poor player can enjoy a hole, and the scratch golfer or professional still face a challenge.  The most obvious way to accomplish this goal has been to create an array of teeing grounds.  The down side is that each year millions of people try golf for the first time.  Many soon leave the game behind.  That’s why Golf Course Architects strive for the right course design which will reduce frustration and keep novices coming back.

According to the Associated Press dated September 2, 2015, more than 3 trillion trees now grow on earth, seven time more than scientists previously thought.  But it’s also trillions fewer than there used to be.  It was also found that 15 billion trees are cut down each year by people with another 5 billion trees replanted.

When golfers by the thousand walk upon a green every month, the traffic causes the soil near the surface to become hard and compacted.  The soil particles are pushed closer together until water and air have a difficult time moving to the many miles of small root hairs on every grass plant.  When this happens, the roots decline and the turf becomes weaker.  Aerification pulls plugs from this compacted soil, allowing for an infusion of air and water that brings a resurgence of growth.

This if very important—you gotta know wood frogs can be frozen solid and then thawed and continue to live.  They use the glucose in their body to protect their vital organs while they are in a frozen state—it’s a fact!

Did you know?  The importance of maintaining dark skies within urban and natural environments has been shown to improve the biodiversity of ecosystems and improve human health.  A variety of nocturnal species rely on natural darkness for continual mating rituals, migration patterns and feeding habits.  Even small changes to the illumination of these habitats can negatively affect these behaviours in numerous species including Northern Leopard Frogs and Great Horned Owls.  This is from the Meewasin Explorer.

The next big STA event will be the Fall Wind Up and Annual General Meeting, held in Saskatoon in mid-November.  Think about nominations for member of the year.  Last year we had excellent nominations.  Any one of which would have been a worthy recipient of this Annual Award.

A ball mark repaired immediately will heal smoothly in two to three days.  However an unrepaired ball mark will heal unevenly in two to three weeks.  Golf superintendents will tell you unrepaired ball marks are the single most breach of golfer etiquette.

There aren’t many golf course superintendents or golfers for that matter who like to see ropes, stakes and signs on the golf course, however these continue to be integral tools for traffic control.  Ropes and stakes can detract from the golf course natural beauty and interfere with maintenance operations and play.  Properly placed cart paths and curbing, and the use of painted lines can reduce the need for ropes in controlling traffic.  It is, however, likely that ropes and stakes will continue to be used as long as there are golfers.

Older golf course used to maintain Kentucky bluegrass fairways at one inch or higher.  They are now mowed at 5/8 inch or lower.  Now referring to these playing surfaces as Kentucky bluegrass is wishful thinking because Poa Annua dominates the stand of turf within a year or so after the older varieties of blue grass thin out.

The reel type mower was invented in 1832.  At first it was used to trim carpets in woolen mills in Britain.  This mower quickly became adapted to cutting grass on the estates of the wealthy and on golf courses where the wealthy played.  Greens were then expanded from just a few square yards around a rabbit hole that served as a cup to much larger areas where putting skills determined winners and losers.  At the same time, the small pedestrian mower was modified into a larger unit that was horse drawn and used to clip fairways.

More history—the early greens were often located by choice, in low lying areas where there was plenty of moisture to ensure survival during hot summers.  When additional water was needed, it was provided by a horse drawn water wagon that quickly proved to be inadequate.  Some golf courses installed elaborate iron piping systems, with faucets near greens and tees.

In preparing this newsletter I ran across a note to myself about an event I attended.  It told me on how a club superintendent who makes do with hardly any equipment.  The tales were spun by a tight fisted owner.  His golf course wasn’t that bad despite broken down equipment which obviously was not maintained.  Years later you could hardly tell this was a golf course.  Under new management this summer it’s coming back, but will take time and a lot of money.

More in this category: « August 2015 October 2015 »

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.