Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Donalda Greens Trip

For our class trip this past week, we headed back to Toronto, to Donalda Golf and Country Club. Our host was the Superintendent of the grounds, Scott White. When we first arrived it was quite noisy as major construction throughout the course was underway. Donalda was having problems with thier old push up greens, so Scott sold the idea to the membership and GM, to re-do 14 out of 20 greens. The tour started on a putting green or rather where the putting green used to be. It was essentially a big hole in the ground, after all the turf had been ripped up and an excavator had torn out the original parent material. this was neat because we could see the soil profile of the green to about two feet below the turf. we then carried on out to the first green where Scott showed us a green after it had been ripped up, new drainage put in, new gravel layer, and new sand formed on the top of the green waiting for sod. We also got a look at a green that just had the gravel on it waiting for sand and sod. We basically got to see all of the steps in progress when renovating a green. One really cool part of the day is when we walked up to the approach of a green, there appeared to be what looked like an irrigation hole, however when we got up to the hole there wasn a strange contraption in the ground, that none of us had seen before. After no one could figure this thing out Scott finally told us what it was. He called it "a poor mans SubAir system". Basically he has an attachment in the ground that he can hook up a backpack blower too and use it like a SubAir system. I thought that was the coolest thing I was going to see all day until we got to the club house. It might be sad to some turfgrass guys that my favourite part was not all the machinery and turf, but it was infact the golf simulators that where situated in the clubhouse. The golf pro went on to explain one of my ultimate fantasys that the members get to experiment daily. That fantasy is Playing a round of golf at Augusta, eating fine food, drinking beer, and watching the leaf game all at the same time!!! The golf simulator was most definatly my favourite part of the tour. The rest of the tour was really good and informative as well. It was really cool to see all of the major renovations and now I know what I can expect to feel like if I ever have to do major renos, just by observing Scott running around, taking phone calls, and making decisions all while taking 40 student on a tour.

Joe Atkinson

Check out Scott White and Donalda on twitter @DonaldaGrounds

Thursday, 3 October 2013

BMO Field Trip

Today we had a very exciting field trip, that I imagine will be hard to be for the rest of the year. Today was the day that we got to visit BMO Field where the TFC play in Toronto. The day started off rocky as our bus had a flat tire so we had to wait around for about a half hour for the new bus to come, however when the new bus came we had no problems getting to the big smoke (Toronto). When we got off the bus in the parking lot we were greeted by the grounds master at BMO Field, whom was a former U of Guelph graduate named Rob Heggie. Rob took us out onto the field right away and gave us some information on height of cut and rolling techniques. he also talked about the politics of taking care of such high profile turf, such as dealing with soccer teams and coaches. It was only a short while before Rob invited us all to eat! while eating lunch we were able to look at the latest and greatest machines from Turf care as they were on display there for a field day. After lunch we were lead into a small room with lot of pipes and generators. This is where the underground heating system and sub air system were situated. A neat fact about the heating system is that Rob can have all the snow off his grass by mid February just by heating up the ground underneath the turf. We then jumped back on the bus and headed downtown to the Kia practise facility, this too was a really cool place but with just a little less glamour. It too had a sub air system, but not a heating system. We also got to see the shop in which they work out of and keep machines, however it was pretty empty as Rob rents most of the equipment he uses. All in all it was a great day and an amazing facility to visit. It really changed my perspective on the sports field industry, seeing I am mostly golf orientated. It impressed me so much that I would actually consider a career at a football, baseball, or soccer field one day...maybe.

Joe Atkinson

 (top) BMO Field
(bottom) Heating and sub air system


Monday, 30 September 2013

Other Things (part two)

Today I am am going to talk about something that I'm sure most people in the turfgrass industry have had to deal with, and it is one thing  that I find extremely annoying. Its is only one simple question
" You have to go to school for that?". I dont know how many other "turfies" get this question, but when I tell people what my program is, they always tell me that they have never heard of it and wonder why somone would need a university/college education to simply grow grass. I understand how un important it may sound to some people when compared to somthing like bio medical engineering, however to the 30-40 guys and gals that are in the Turfgrass management program here at U of Guelph, it is very important and it is also hard work that we are all extremely passionate about.  When I first moved into my room at Guelph, my 5 roomates asked me about m y program and I was able to explain to them what it was and why I need school for it. They all seemed to understand, until one night. The six of us were sitting around in the common room studying, when all of the sudden my one roomate yells " UGH!!! this math is so difficult! why am I not doing somthing easy, like studying plants!". At first I just laughed because I thought she was joking. Then she gave me a second look and said " im serious, all you have to do is learn about plants and grass, its so easy". As anyone would be, I was a little offended by her basically telling me I was dumb, so I went on to explain that, yes I am learning about plants, and yes maybe I dont have as much math as her buisness program, however I am in class for over 32 hours a week, I have just as much or more home work/ projects than she does, and amongst those classes are things like the turf industry and communications which are like buisness classes themselves. In taking turf we are not just learning how to grow and treat grass, we are learning how to be good communicators, how to be good bosses, how to be good mechanics, how to be better gardeners... etc etc. The material that we are learning also directly applies to the field that we are going into. I think what people think is exactly what my roomate thinks and that is we are "just growing grass". Well at the end of the day, they are right, when you really break it down we are just cutting and growing grass, for people to tear up with thier golf clubs or football cleats, but what they dont realise is that turfgrass is so much more than cutting grass.For example  most turfies are Arborists, Plumbers (irrigation), mechanics, managers, pest controlers, heavy equimpment operators, gardeners, chemists, hosts, and all around  good buisness people. This is all before they go home and have to be parents, friends, and  beer leauge team mates. Now I am  not saying that it is the hardest job in the world, I just think it is a job that could be a little more respected. Obviosly not as respect as say the Prime Minister of Canada, but maybe next time that kid is rushing around trying to get the greens syringed, you can give him a courtisy wave or a nice hello instead of bitching at him for holding up play for 45 seconds, when all he is trying to do is keep your golf course alive. I have gone somwhat off topic and more into a personal rant, however that is how I unintentionally write, but to get back on track and sum things up (as I have to go to class now), In the future I would like to see more apreciation and understanding for the hard working men and women of turfrass,wheather you work on a golf course, sports field, or for a municipality, I hope more people understand that there is alot more too it that just growing grass.

Joe Atkinson


Friday, 27 September 2013

Burlington G.C.C Trip

This Thursday for our weekly field trip, we visited Burlington Golf and Country Club. After an odd bus ride filled with detours and bumps we had finally made it to the golf course. The first thing you see when you step off the bus is a big beautiful club house with an amazing view of Lake Ontario. It was there when we got to meet the legendary superintendent Dean Baker. Dean was the superintendent at Glen Abbey for many years and has hosted many Canadian Opens. He started off by telling us about the inner workings at Burlington and also introduced his assistant Jeff Lockheart. Dean went on to tell us about the course and could not have said anything negative about the place. He was a great host. We then started out onto the golf course. We walked a short distance to a couple of tall silver maples. Here Dean and Jeff went on about their tree removal plan where they plan to remove over 300 trees. They also explained how these big trees can take away from the turf because they produce to much shade so the grass cant get the sunlight that it needs. However even tho they were taking out over 300 trees they had already started planting new trees for the next generation. After talking about the trees we headed down the fairway a little bit to see part of their 1.4 million dollar bunker and cart path renovations. It seemed to be alot of work that they have planned for the next three years, but they are moving along quite well, and the money that is going to be put into the project is going to be completely worth it. We headed back towards the bus, making a stop at the shop. The shop was extremely nice, equipped with a mixing room, two bay garage, and even an indoor wash pad. I really enjoyed every minute of this trip because I was able to learn so much from Dean and Jeff. They both had some great advice and new ideas that I will carry with me throughout my career.

Joe Atkinson

(below View of the skyway bridge from the Club house)

Monday, 23 September 2013

Other Things (part one)

Even though this blog is mostly for school, Today I would like to go off topic of turf or school.. (other things). And if you have read my first post I stated that I would be talking about things like the Toronto Maple Leafs. Well today is one of those days. The reason for this is because of the game that was played between the leafs and the sabres last night. Normally if I were to write about a hockey game it would be mostly be on the outcome of the game, however today the outcome is my least concern (even tho the leafs won!). My attention is directed to the third period. with over 205 penalty minutes dived out in the game 92 of them were in the third period! it all started with leafs prospect Jamie Devane knocking one of the sabres light out. This forced the sabres to put on their tough guy Jon Scott for the next shift. however before they dropped the puck, Jon Scott and Toronto Sniper, Phil Kessel, started to shove, and without notice, the six foot 7 Scott dropped his gloves against the five foot 11 Kessel. (hardly a fair fight) Obviously the rest of the leafs on the ice stepped in and a line brawl in sued. After the lines were tired out, the fighting did not stop there. The most exciting and rare event in hockey happened...I'm talking a GOALIE FIGHT! Jonathan Bernier and Ryan Miller took off the helmets and gloves and started going at it. The main thing to remember is that this is only pre season, and that is why I am writing this post today. I am so fired up for this upcoming hockey season I didn't know where to direct my energy, but i felt like i had to write it down somewhere.After last nights kerfuffle and victory I felt like running down the halls screaming Go Leafs Go! however I kept my cool and had a mini celebration with my roommates who are also leaf fans as well. Even though I have not received any comments yet im sure people are thinking that the "leafs suck" or they are "dirty" but that is also one of my favourite parts of the game. The trash talk with other fans and just talking hockey. so please feel free to comment or send me a message, Love to talk puck!

Joe Atkinson

(Above) Jonathan Bernier pounding Ryan Miller

STA Feild Day

As you may know, my turf industry class participates in a weekly field trips to local, turf related Establishments. For example if you have read any of my earlier posts you would have read about our trip to Green Horizons sod. Well this past weeks trip was to Mississauga Ontario for the Sports Turf Association Field Day. Upon arrival it seemed to me that it was going to be more of a trades show with many vendors and booths and people selling equipment. However I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was a line up of speakers to talk about various subjects related to turf. The first speaker was actually one of our professors, Sean Jordan, who talked about optimising fertility by properly using and calibrating a fertiliser spreader. the main point i took away from his speech was that the spreader is only as useful as the person operating it. I liked this point the best because it can be related to any machine, not just a spreader. The next speaker was another professor from Guelph University and that man was Dr. Eric Lyons. Dr. Lyons talked about different wear patterns on sports turf, and also touched on how sports participation is dropping in young children in Canada. His main point was how to avoid these wear patterns simply by communicating other ideas on how to use fields for drill, events ect... with the coach or coordinator of the event. He made a good suggestion and i found him to be quite entertaining. Our finale speaker was Jeff Fowler from Penn State. His presentation was on 8 steps to managing a better sports field. The steps were: Soil Testing, Lime and Fertilising, Aeration, Over seeding, Topdressing, Transition Areas, Mowing, Playing surface. He also added a 9th step which was communication. Jeff went into good detail on all of his steps, mostly tieing in with baseball fields, but his presentation held good knowledge that can be used for all types of turf situations. He was also very funny and did not have a hard time holding every ones attention. When Jeff was done speaking we were all treated to an amazing pulled pork and chicken lunch, it was a really nice way to end the seminar. After we had finished eating we got to walk around and talk to some of the vendors, such as Toro, Green Horizons and RainBird. I really enjoyed that part because I got to meet new people and learn a little bit more about some of the new equipment that is out there. In the end it was a great experience and a nice day away from campus.

Joe Atkinson

(Above) My name tag for the day
(Below) Jeff Fowler, Talking baseball diamonds


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Behind the Scenes at Local Sod Farm

   This past week, My classmates and I went on a field trip to Green Horizons Compact Sod farm in Cambridge Ontario. Before we got to the location I did not expect to see much more than a couple of big fields filled with acres of green grass. It was not 5 minutes after we got there that I realised how enormous of an operation it really is. Our tour guide was the owner Ron Sheidle, he could not have done a better job, he was full of great information about his company and was more than happy to answer any question we would ask him. When Ron started the tour he took us into the shop and began to tell us about all of their equipment. It was at that point where it really hit me that this is a multi million dollar operation. He went on to tell us that they have 40 trucks delivering 200-400 skids of sod a day! He then went on to show us the giant pile of soil that they have prepared for their big yellow bag division. I have never seen so much dirt in one place, it was amazing to see the amount of soil the tractors were adding to the pile, even in the short time that we were standing there watching. However my favourite part of the trip was at the very end. This is when we all got on the bus and went out back to one of the sod fields. He took us to see a machine called the auto stack. This is the machine that cuts, rolls, and stacks the sod and leaves a full skid to be picked up and put on the truck. When I saw how this machine operated I could not believe that such technology existed. The auto stack is true a revolutionary piece of equipment. That being said, the entire time we were watching this machine work I was truly blown away by the concept of the machine, However  I couldn't help but think to myself  " Now all we need is a machine that will lay the sod for us!". At the end of the day it was a great trip, and I am looking forward to our trip this week to The Sports Turf Association Field Day in Mississauga Ontario.
                                                     (Above) Massive soil pile
                                                     (Below) Auto Stack Machine