Thursday, February 25, 2010

GCSAA Conference & Golf Industry Show Review

Earlier this month I attended the Golf Course Superintendent's Association of America annual Education Conference and Golf Industry Show in San Diego. It's a tough job traveling all the way across the country, sitting through hours of lectures and topics about grasses, bunkers, irrigation, trees, and such, and walking a trade show exhibiting nearly every conceivable product in the golf industry, for a full day and a half, but somebody has to do it!

Before you begin to feel sorry for me though, (I know you don't!) I do have to say that, with the exception of one day with a little rain, the weather there was beautiful and a far cry from this seemingly perpetual winter grip we've had here at Skokie CC! It was a bit tough being indoors during the days, while in seminars, forums, and on the trade show floor, but it sure was nice being able to spend time outdoors in the evenings.

Prior to the conference, I did in fact spend a few days outdoors and  participated  in our associations golf tournament, called the GCSAA Classic, and actually experienced what it was like to swing a golf club again!  It was challenging, but thoroughly enjoyable and educational, and I managed, with the help of my partner in one event, and my teammates, in another event, to "bring home some hardware"! My partner and I finished a respectable 5th place in the two man event, and my chapter team, competing in a four man combined score event, finished low net! A couple pewter plates, which we affectionately call, pickle dishes, and a small trophy should arrive soon!
Indian Wells -Celebrity Course, Palm Desert
Being so enamored with the view, I hit my ball into the waterfall. Twice!

 Playing is great, of course, but the opportunity to visit other courses, see various course conditioning methods, view course furnishings, and share ideas with other golf course managers around the country, is where the real benefit lies.

At the conference I attended a full day seminar on; Establishing and Managing Native Grasses, where I learned about some new establishment methods, possible species to incorporate, and new weed control methods. On another day I attended several short sessions such as; Budget - Stretching Ideas, Making the Most of your Water, and Ideas for Building / Modifying Equipment to do More. Another day of education was the USGA Green Section Program which, as always in year's past, was excellent. Great topics were presented such as; Promoting Fast and Firm Conditions, Communication Ideas, In-House Renovations, and a particularly enlightening presentation, The Hidden Costs of Trees.
One of Several  Educational Opportunities 

 At the Golf Industry Show (trade show) which comprised two floors of the San Diego Convention Center every exhibitor from Ace Golf Netting to Zhenjiang Copius Chemical Co. was present. This year I met with several manufacturers about putting green mowers (which we're planning to replace), saw an innovative and cost saving battery filling system (for use on our battery powered rollers, utility vehicles, and golf carts), and visited with many of the manufacturer's of products we use every day to see their most recent additions.
The Golf Industry Show - If you can't find it here, it doesn't exist!

It was a very productive conference and show and I really look forward to being able to get out on the course and... play golf...just kidding! I'm really anxious to try out some new techniques and put some of the ideas learned, into effect. Looking forward to seeing some green grass again soon!

*Photos in this post, courtesy of Indian Wells, and GCSAA.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dog Walkers Beware

I know that the golf course is a great place for dogs to run and this is especially true this time of year when they (like all of us) may be getting a little cabin fever.  I don't know what the Club's exact policy is concerning having dogs/pets on the property (I think that throughout the golf season pets are prohibited), but I suspect that the rule is relaxed in the winter, in terms of them being on the golf course, since there are no players or staff present. I do know, however, that there are concerns that I want to caution you about and two recent incidences that I want to bring to your attention.

First of all, I'm told by Glencoe Animal Control that there is a Cook County Animal Ordinance that apparently takes precedence over the fact that this is private property that states that Dogs/Pets Must Be Kept On a Leash when not on their owners private property.  I don't pretend to know about all the legal implications in this matter.  It would seem to me that, as a member of a private club, you could in fact be considered a partial owner, and this then should excuse you from this ordinance, but I'm not an attorney and I'm not making a judgment. For now I'll assume that the Ordinance applies. 

What's most important, however, and what I really want to get across and have you tell other members about, is that your pet could be severely harmed, or worse, and you can be fined.  A few incidences have recently occurred of which you should be aware.
In just the past week or so, on two different occasions, dogs were trapped in the open water areas on #13 pond.  One, a Labrador, after a long struggle, had to be roped and pulled to safety, the other, a smaller Spaniel, got out on his own but not until after a traumatizing struggle and when finally out, was nearly hypothermic.
Open, aerated areas on #13 Pond - Inviting but potential very dangerous!
The open water on this pond, and others throughout the course, are aerated for several reasons but primarily to prevent fish kill due to their shallow nature. Often this water is just above the freezing point and at the edges the ice may be very thick. Also, many times there are ducks or other fowl present.  The open water and the ducks may be very inviting to your pet, but the near freezing water and the thick ice can make it nearly impossible for them to get out.

Fortunately this story had happy endings for both these pets and their owners (not without a lot of stress though, for both owners and pets, and a citation for one) but it could just as easily been a tragic ending.

This should be reason enough for keeping your pets on a leash but there are other dangers on the course, and becoming more prevalent, and that is coyotes.  There apparently are a couple packs present, in areas adjacent to the course, and these packs have been known to send a female coyote out to exhibit play behavior with  unsuspecting dogs that may be roaming about.  These females then "lure" the unsuspecting dog, perhaps your pet, into the woods where other coyotes are present, at which time they will attack and kill it.  Again, I think it should be pretty clear, but for the safety of your pet and peace of mind for yourself, for the remainder of winter, Please Keep your Pet on a Leash when on the Golf Course!
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