Wednesday, December 29, 2010

So What Exactly Does a Golf Course Superintendent do in the Winter?

Ahh the most famous question that we are asked in the golf industry in Canada!  To think if I had a penny for every time I heard this question.....well; I'd have a few bucks to my name anyway!

There once was a time, and perhaps there still is at some facilities, when the off-season gave a chance for golf course owners, general managers, professionals, and superintendents alike, to recharge their batteries in anticipation of another season ahead.  Simply due to the fact that golf is a seasonal business, requires any golf course employee to put in long days, weeks, and months with very little time away.  Hence, the winter months were that chance to "catch-up" so to speak!

Ahh but alas, those days are increasingly disappearing on us!  Okay, so one could argue that I'm sitting at a computer at the moment, writing a blog about how busy I am year-round, when I simply could be enjoying some time away......and you're absolutely right.....but, I want you to be informed, so we have to start somewhere, right?

So back to my question, what does a GC Superintendent do in the winter?  Well, seeing how we are approximately 6 weeks into the winter season here at Sawmill, with another 14 weeks or so to go, I can tell you we've kept quite busy thus far!

SNOW! - Okay, so we've been relatively spoiled over the last few years with a lack of snow, but what a month it has been.  On the bright side, the turf froze first, followed by a nice light snow, and then of course the now world-famous State of Emergency inducing storm we had but a couple of weeks ago.  Of course that storm is famous amongst the Resident's of Sawmill Creek as well, and I can tell you that it created quite a job for us to clean up!  Anyway, a few late nights later, and about a week of extensive snow removal, and we were able to put the community back to normal!

IPM - This is quickly becomming a four-letter word amongst Golf Course operators in the province of Ontario.  Now I could go on and on about the problems associated with this program, but let's face it, this would merely become a rant and not a productive update to you the member!  However, every black cloud has a silver lining, and if there is anything to be taken good from this, is that every golf course is now responsible for justifying the use of pesticides, and we can assure the public that there is absolutly no waste occuring.  Sure I spend an additional 6 hours a week through the season of nothing but pure paperwork, and sure I spent 6 consecutive days at a computer in December assembling this package to submit to the Province of Ontario, but as a good friend of mine says, "the rules is the rules"!  I'm sure if you stay tuned to this blog, you'll learn more and more about IPM!

MORE GOVERNEMENT REPORTING! - Okay, now I sound bitter, but in reality I truly am not.  As you are aware, we are bound by a Permit to Take Water with the Ministry of the Environment.  This PTTW, is granted to us for a specific period, and for a specific amount of water, to be used to irrigate the golf course.  Under current environmental laws, you must have a PTTW if you use in excess of 50 000 litres of water in any given 24 hour period.  Now sure this sounds like a lot, but keep in mind, if I was not bound by a PTTW, I could very easily apply in excess of 5 million litres of water in a 24 hour period!  So as a part of this PTTW it is my job to keep proper records of use, as well as monitor a staff guage daily, to ensure that there are no environmental reprocussions from our taking of water from Errol (Sawmill) Creek.  This data must all be submitted by the end of the calender year so that the MOE can monitor this data and ensure we are in compliance.

Vacation Time! - Okay, so don't get me wrong, this is the time of year when we will attempt to take a vacation, or at least vacation time of some sort; which I did manage to steal a week of time at the end of November!  Now this was a special vacation this year, as I was put in charge of being Mr. Mom to my 2 year old son Callum, and my 10 month old daughter Molly.  While my wife Erin was finishing a practicum at the Ontario Early Years Centre, I was able to spend 8 days at home performing everything that Erin does every single day!  Was I nervous heading into this week? Yes.  Was I aware that this is more difficult than any job I've ever had?  Sure.  But did I have fun?  Absolutely!  I think the crowning moment, or call it the "light-bulb moment" if you will, was around 10:00 am on the Tuesday morning.  It was a beautiful morning, one in which I would have no-doubt been getting dirty doing something here at the golf course, but rather, I was standing in the chicken coup at the Animal Farm, watching my son chase around a stray rooster, who was playfully mocking his "bunny-hop"! 

So what else will happen? - Well, there are still a lot of items to tend to (at least those not involving snow I hope!)  Our benches will receive some paint, the tee blocks restored as well.  We are approaching on conference season as well, in which I will get the chance to learn about new equipment, practices, and new laws in which we must adhere to.  Our equipment is also in the midst of repair, and beleive me, there is enough to do there to keep us going for a long while!

As we progress through the winter, I will be sure to keep you updated.  One of the benefits of using this blog as my information highway to you, is that I will be able to post some pictures of the happenings here in the Turf Department; including those of Ken working away to get our equipment prepped and ready for 2011!

So here's to a safe and Happy New Year to you, and as always if you have any questions feel free to give me a shout!

Jamie

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