Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Happy New Year

Hello everyone, 

Unfortunately we neglected the blog in the past couple of months however updates on what went on in the Fall Semester of 2013 are coming soon, however as we will be hitting the ground running heading into 2014, here's a quick update on the Olds College Turf Club

For a quick summary of the term that was:
Last semester the 2nd Year Diploma and 3rd Year Degree Students made several tours of southern Alberta courses including: Woodside Golf Club, Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club, Bearspaw Country Club and Innisfail Golf Club.

The club hosted the Halloween Howler along with the Animal Health Club, the event had over 300 attendees, building off of the success from last year.

The long awaited return of the Turf Smurfs hockey team happened. While there isn't a college league anymore (meaning the Smurfs are still defending champions), any game is a welcome addition.

Looking forward to 2014 we are excited for Olds College to be hosting the 5th Annual Assistants Panel on Thursday January 16th. The response was terrific meaning we have a fantastic panel to look forward to. Here's a transcript from last year's panel

As the year goes on several students will be heading to Vancouver to represent the college at the CGSA conference, the club has several events in our back pocket and we hope to leave things off as strong as ever.

Looking forward to an exciting Winter Term

Thursday, September 19, 2013

From St. Paul to St. Andrews: Congrats Scooter!

The Turf Club would like to send out a much deserved congratulations to Jordan 'Scooter' Collins for winning the CGSA/Toro 'Future Superintendent of the Year' Award. We couldn't be more thrilled for Jordan to head overseas and get the opportunity to work on some spectacular courses including The Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland.

Jordan made quite the impact as a Turfgrass Management student here at Olds College both academically and as President of the Turf Club, leading the Turfies to OCSA's Club of the Year for the first time since 1998. An impressive list of accomplishments by the age of 20.
 Good luck and congrats Scoot, you deserve it!

For the CGSA's writeup

Friday, April 19, 2013

Sprayer Instructional

On April 9th we had Toro bring out a Toro Multi 5800 to teach and demonstrate the in's and out's of a sprayer unit. The second year students had the benefit of having
Barry Cochrane and Dave Blanchfield bring the 5800 to instruct us how the unit works. This was a great demonstration and instructional day.

The second year students were studying all of the second semester for their Landscape Pesticide Applicators License. This is a course that gives turf students the opportunity to become professionals in another area of the turfgrass program.

We would like to thank Toro, Barry, and Dave for bringing the Multi Pro 5800.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

4th year in Turfgrass Directed Field Study (DFS)

After completing my Associate Diploma in Turfgrass Management at The University of Guelph I moved to St Andrews to be a part of the greenkeeping team who prepared The Old Course for the 2010 Open Championship. I spent 8 months working on the ancient links and took a lot away from the experience. Then I moved to Victoria, British Columbia to work for Scott Wheeler CGCS, a mentor of mine who instrumental in my professional development. While working for Scott we had many discussions on how to advance my career, we came to the conclusion that perusing a degree would greatly benefit my advancement.

I feel fortunate that I enrolled in the Bachelor of Applied Science Degree majoring in Golf Course Management in the autumn of 2011. My pursuit of higher education allowed me to gain a better understanding and knowledge of what it takes to be a successful superintendent in the golf course industry. Most importantly, the successful completion of my third year allowed me to partake in the Directed Field Study and assisted me in finding a year round position as an Assistant Superinendent at The Glencoe Golf & Country Club.

One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is being surrounded by a management team that is passionate about producing the best possible playing conditions, as well as creating an environment that is enjoyable for all of our staff. This inspires me to put my best foot forward each day and to do what is required to assist in the management team’s quest for creating the most enjoyable experience for our membership.

Completing my Directed Field Study at The Glencoe Golf & Country Club has allowed me to develop a stronger practical skill set and has acted as a catalyst in developing my professional competencies. My mentors throughout the Directed Field Study, Kerry Watkins AGS, Shawn Major AAGS and Chris Paterson, were instrumental in my success and they will continue to mentor me throughout my career.

To support the professional development that took place throughout the past season, a Student Learning Plan was created and then revised. The updated Student Learning Plan outlines and clarifies specific educational competencies that were achieved in 2012. 

In addition to what was planned on paper, many opportunities for both personal and professional development evolved, such as, assisting Mr. Brian Vinchesi, President of Irrigation Consulting, with auditing select areas of our irrigation system, attending the AGSA and CGSA conferences, partaking in a two day heavy equipment training seminar and enrolling in a two day Arboriculture Canada tree felling course.

The Student Learning Plan played an integral role in identifying the competencies that would prove beneficial in my pursuit of professional development. Students create a report to highlight and discuss the challenges they faced while enrolled in the Bachelor of Applied Science Program. This report also discusses the completion of their learning objectives outlined in their Student Learning Plan.

I would like to point out that in my personal opinion; the Directed Field Study portion of the Bachelor of Applied Science Program at Olds College offers a unique experience to its pupils in comparison to programs that do not offer an in-depth opportunity to work within the industry.

The Directed Field Study provides chronological development. The three years of academic study prepare the foundation, allowing students to professionally develop and test their acquired skillset while employed in their respected field. You may enter into the Directed Field Study with the expectation of simply implementing the educational objectives discussed in your Student Learning Plan. However, once employment commences you must rise to the challenges of unexpected demands, changes in job description, and unplanned interruptions, all with the added pressures of real time constraints and deadlines. Quite simply, throughout the Directed Field Study, students are given the opportunity to draw upon the theory obtained from prior years’ formal education and then are required to implement the necessary competencies to successfully complete the task at hand.

Mark Kolentsis

Sunday, April 07, 2013

3rd year in Turfgrass

The third year of the applied degree is part of the highest level of education you can obtain in turfgrass management, to this day Olds College is the only institute in Canada offering this type of education for turfgrass students. My expectations where just that, gain the highest level of education to speed up my goals of becoming a successful superintendent in the near future.

 There were many aspects of learning in the3rd year that I felt would give me an edge in industry. To list a few, the IPM class provided realistic scenarios interacting with actua lclients.  We were assigned a golf course in the area and those courses appointed our group 3 key pests that they deal with day to day.  Taking all semester to complete you and your client come out with a professional document outlining a full-scale IPM plan.

 The integrated project is the pinnacle of the research component of the 3rd year. It’s a full semester of figuring out the logistics and detailing the steps of your project, carrying over into the 2nd semester you execute the research and present your results in a symposium in front of 300 people. It’s a real sense of accomplishment seeing your integrated project come together in the end. It’s a process and a large component of the program but really gives you confidence to understand data and research out in industry.

Another class that I considered the bread and butter of the degree program is Golf Course Master Planning with Jason Pick.  When you become a superintendent your role steers from being on the grounds to office work, a large fundamental is that of human resources and the budget. A daunting task but this class goes in depth on the knowledge directly associated with the future of your industry in that aspect, something that the diploma does not offer.

To summarize the 3rd year I believe it’s a valuable investment in your career that will benefit you as a manager in the future. It will defiantly separate your resume from the rest when applying for a job. Like any degree program there can be minor adjustments done to the course but I can say from my experience that the pros outweigh the cons, your managerial skills will be amplified as a result of the degree program. The links below are a few projects you can expect to accomplish while enrolled in the third year.

IPM document link:

Environmental Management Blog:

Franz Unterberger

Monday, April 01, 2013

2nd year in Turfgrass

After finishing the first year of the Turf program here at Olds, I was excited to go back to work for the season.  The job had changed from a summer job to pay for post-secondary to a career choice; a career I found myself excited to begin.  As the summer came to an end and the second year started, I found I had some pretty exciting expectations for the year.  I was eager to take my knowledge and experience to a whole new level.  I was also excited to be involved with the Turf Club executive board, a strong team with each individual bringing their own strengths. I quickly jumped at the chance when asked and I’m glad I did. Being involved with the Turf Club allowed me numerous opportunities to network and I can’t complain that it padded my resume nicely.

A quick look at the classes for the second year showed that several of them were turf specific.  Classes such as Advanced Golf Course Irrigation, Advanced Turfgrass Management, Golf Course Design, and Golf Course Construction gave us the opportunity to question why we chose to do certain practices and the possibility that perhaps there could be alternatives to the traditional line of thinking in Turf Management.

During the first semester Ian Morrow taught us how to audit irrigation systems in Advanced Golf Course Irrigation.  Combining this new knowledge with what Jason Pick taught in Advanced Turfgrass management, we quickly learned that simply irrigating the whole course based on the fact that that’s how it has always been done, may not necessarily be the best practice.  Golf Course Management focused on developing our personal management philosophies and gave us strategies to deal with different and unique types of conflict.

A few key benefits to these classes, besides the hands on training and key industry information being taught, include the fact that as second years, we walk away with several manuals and programs that can be easily implemented into any golf course with only a few tweaks required to personalize each manual. Advanced Turfgrass Management saw us end the course by building a manual that included a complete cultural calendar, a winter protection manual, and a fertility program for not only greens, but also tees, fairways and rough. Golf Course Management saw us build an employee manual that included employee etiquette standards, best management practices for all areas of the course, and a functioning job board that meets all of the described best management practices. Dave Moroz taught Advanced Golf Course Soils and had us build our own Turf Fertility Calculator. This calculator allows us to input a wide range of information and show us the best way to attend to the turf and the soil on our courses.

All of these manuals are going to be a major asset to me as I enter the industry as a manager. I know and trust these manuals and calculators and firmly believe that I will continually use them throughout the years.  The fact that I am walking away from my second year fully equipped with several tools that I have developed, has allowed me to fully appreciate even more the effort and direction all of our instructors poured into us over the last eight months. The second year of the Turfgrass Management program goes over and beyond to ensure that you are able to leave Olds and enter the industry as a fully equipped professional.

Jay Green

Saturday, March 23, 2013

1st Year at Olds in Turfgrass

When I started out in the golf course industry it was just a summer job for me as I was enrolled in the Bachelor of Education majoring in Biology. As I came around to my second summer, I realized that Education was not the field for me.  I visited my sister here at the college and she gave me a tour around for open house. The atmosphere here was amazing. Everyone was so friendly. I enrolled in Turfgrass Management and was very nervous as I did not know what to expect coming to Olds.  Coming here I was another bewildered face completely lost.

The guys, not only in my class, but in all the years here have been supportive. This was my first time living away from my family and my first time living on my own making first week was difficult. Walking around not knowing anyone and feeling more alone without your family was hard. My classmates are great people and we all bonded quite quickly, which is good because these are the people I see for 8 hours a day for the next two years. My classmates make it easy being here and make Olds feel like a home. 

Going to school here is completely different than any other post-secondary institution I have visited or gone to. You are no longer just a face in the crowd.  It was nice to be recognized and to have the teachers help you one on one.  All of the teachers that I have encountered here have been beyond helpful. They are personable, engaging and are truly interested in your success. My favorite courses in my first year were Ian Morrows Introduction to Turfgrass Management, Gord Gilchrist CAD, and Ian Morrows Introduction to Irrigation. Ian Morrow is a fantastic teacher. Probably one of the best I have ever had.  His class is the one class that no one wants to miss. Whether we were identifying grasses, or learning how to fix irrigation heads, we always had fun. CAD was a different class. For someone with zero computer skills it was difficult. Gord was very good with making sure everyone was feeling confident with the material we were learning and you could always contact him for further help. He made it fun.

The great thing about, not only these classes, but this school, is that they take the material you learn in class and turn it practical. Whether in Gord’s class when we learned laser levels and had to take it to the College wetlands to see if we could find the volume in each pond or in Irrigation gluing PVC pipe and designing our own irrigation loops, it practical training. Olds went beyond the expectations that I had.

Morgan Creighton
1st year Turfgrass Student

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Recapping the 50th Annual WCTA Conference

Greetings everyone,

March has begun, and instead of sitting in the classroom the last few days, I've been in Penticton, BC attending the 50th Annual WCTA Conference. I was graciously chosen by my peers to present a topic at the conference in front of some of Canada's most decorated professionals. My presentation was titled "The Top 10 Values I've Learned Working at a Small Town Course and How They Will Each Benefit My Career Development." The topic was popular and many of the attendees were able to relate to my presentation, as they almost all started off their careers like I did. This blog will highlight my experiences I had over the past few days.

Aside from executing a speech in front of a couple hundred people, the focal point of this opportunity was to engage in networking. British Colombia boasts some of the most lucrative pieces of golf property in our country, so I was thrilled to meet folks from this province. Paul Robertson of Victoria GC, Brian Youell of Uplands GC and Assistants hailing from Tobiano, Capilano and Whistler are some of the fine people I met, to name a few. Brian, the 2013 CGSA Superintendent of the Year, is especially inspiring because of his ability to overcome a near tragic event. He always loved to sit down with me and we got to know each other very well. Brian epitomizes professionalism and serves as one of great role models for fellow students and I.

To quickly summarize the speakers, my favourite was by Dr. Schad of McGill University as he simplified turf science and brought a new meaning behind "chemicals" we use in our industry. It was very interesting. Other speakers included Brian Youell, Doug Carrick, the controversial Paul Tukey and my instructor Jason Pick, amongst many more. If you're curious about any of these presentations, contact me and I'd be happy to share insight from my viewing pleasures.

I strongly encourage more students to make a presentation next was another amazing opportunity for exposure. I'd like to thank Penticton for the warm hospitality and to the WCTA for hosting this great event.

Best Regards,

Jordan "Scooter" Collins
Turf Club President

Monday, February 25, 2013

OC Turf Club wins 2012/2013 Club of the Year

Greetings Turfies,

It's amazing how quickly a year can pass by. Over the course of a year, the Turf Club has accomplished so many goals because of the hard work displayed by our dedicated members. As previously mentioned in past blogs, we, as a club, are committed to provide our Turfgrass program with an enjoyable atmosphere where students can communicate, develop skills and learn the importance of investing in yourself as you develop in to a successful professional.

As a result of achieving so many of our goals, along with our ability to excel in providing our program and the rest of campus with fun events, we have received the 2012/2013 OCSA Club of the Year Award. What an outstanding accomplishment! The last time the Turf Club brought home this prestigious honor was amazingly back in 1997/1998. I was five years old at the time, if you can believe that! Over the past few years, several passionate students became heavily involved with the club and together we have provided the best club the college has to offer. Well done and Congratulations, everyone!

I'd like to thank everyone who has made such an incredible impact on the club this year, and to those in the past who have helped me set up for success. We've worked extremely hard for this and we definitely deserve it! I'm looking forward to see what Brian Thomas, the incoming Turf Club President, is able to do next year. Brian has shown tremendous leadership abilities this year and his passion towards club success is clearly demonstrated by his continuous involvement. He has a strong nucleus of fellow students to work with next year and everyone is excited to continue this winning tradition. He and his classmates have already outlined new ideas to make the club even better.

The responsibility of club President this year has amplified my career development and personal growth. At only 20 years old, I've been fortunate enough to experience the challenge of managing people, delegating tasks to members, planning and executing club meetings and much more. My "Four Pillars For Success", being leadership, communication, organization and motivation, have drastically improved this year and as a result I feel more confident in my ability to succeed in the industry. My résumé has taken off to the next level and I'm looking forward to applying these skills I've learned at The Fairmont Banff Springs this summer. I will always encourage everyone to become as involved as I was with the Turf Club, as it is truly an opportunity of a lifetime.

Best Regards,

Jordan (Scooter) Collins

Turf Club President

Friday, February 15, 2013

4th Annual Assistant Superintendent Q and A Panel

On behalf of the Olds College Turf Club we would like to thank and welcome Duane Epp from Stewart Creek, Evan Olauson from Silvertip, Mike MacKinnon from Priddis Greens, Ryan Cassidy from Heritage Point, Adam Champion from Greywolf, and Cameron Watt from Kananaskis Country, in taking part in the 4th Annual Q and A panel.

Cameron Watt has been working in the golf industry since he was 16 starting in back shop then moved intothe turf side at Sunset. Pursued his turfgrass management from Kwantlen, BC in 2002-2004. Worked at Predator Ridge in Vernon then in 2007 went to Two Eagles Golf Course as his first assistant role. 2012 started at Kananaskis as an assistant superintendent.

Adam Champion started in the golf industry at 15. Per sued the Turfgrass management in 2002-2004 at Olds then worked at Banff Springs for 2 years. He then worked at Glen Eagles, Chocrane, and now Greywolf for 6 years as assistant and has 15 years experience.

Ryan Cassidy began his golf industry in Ontario. Switched from broadcasting to pursue turfgrass management. Worked at Harvest Hills, Elbow Springs and then enrolled into Olds in 2004-2006 Ryan was an assistant at Rivers Edge, then moved to Heritage Point in 2008 and is currently a second assistant.

Evan Olausen started in industry at 14 years of age at Stewart Creek, then over to Canmore Golf Course for 6 years.  Atteneded Olds College 2004-2008 and completed his Direct Field Study at Silvertip and has now been an assistant for 7 years now.

Mike Mckinnon worked at Cold Lake during the summer for work in high school then moved onto Waskesiu Golf Course then decided to per sue a career in the golf industry with 2 years at Grant MacEwan then moved to Calgary.  He attended Olds, and has spent 2 years as a superintendent then changed and is now an assistant at Priddis Greens for 6 years now.

Duane Epp began at the Willows in the construction side then attended Fairview college. He was the at Bearspaw as a Foreman for 5 yrs. Worked with Puddicombe Golf Course Design and Construction building golf courses. Then moved onto Stewart creek as an assistant.

The panel has an exceptional range of experience along with over 100 years of experience.

Beginning of the questions towards the panel.

With having the experiences you have had, would you find it more important to mover around or stay in one location to gain experience?

Ryan - You are given different opportunities to advance at a single course and to also move courses to advance as well.

Importance of having a title? or learn from strong leader?

Ryan - look for the opportunity to learn and go where they give you the chance to learn.

Evan - being realistic with knowing the opportunities and case by case basis on what you are looking to do.  When working for someone that gives you chances to learn and balance life it is good to stay.

Mike - learning from small/large, public/private all have great learning curves. Gaining resources from all to better yourself to be able to become superintendent.

Cam - i moved around and had many mentors from each of the courses. Better skills with taking what all the supers do and making things your own.

Adam - if you are not learning something new every day its time to find somewhere else to work.
Titles are not that important compared to what you are learning.

Cam - Having a small crew you have less turnover and more chances of rounding out skills and to also gain the experience of high end course

Experience and length of holding a position as assistant and not making the move to super?

Adam - had opportunities to become superintendent, and is holding out to make sure he is ready and not in a rush to have a title.

Evan - first assistant at 21 and wanted to become sup real quick. Lifestyle is of importance and making sure you decide for yourself to make sure the fit is right for yourself. Had chances to be super but hasn't fit his lifestyle.

Desire for golf wained from working the hours you do?

Adam - my passion has grown from being fully involved in industry but doesn't play as much. tries to play once a week to help sample your own product.

How many hrs a week of work?

Cam - shoulder seasons really busy with 14-16hr days. More routine through main season with around 10hrs a day. Passion more developed for the turf side.

Mike - importance of golf and golfing to know rules, handling yourself on course, respecting the game to bring that forward to show members.

Evan - passion has stayed but tougher to play, try to play every couple weeks.

Duane - got into industry because of love for the game. Plays every month and self is worst critic about own course. Get out to see and better the course.

Mike - get out with industry golf outings and get new ideas and away from your own courses.

Preference for other courses or own?

Mike - love to see other course to see projects asking questions from other supers.

Ryan - more relaxed to play other courses and enjoy the game.

What were you scared most about coming out of school?

Ryan - managing staff and members, I had the knowledge of all turf care standards. Dealing with different personalities, and disciplining.

Evan - believes in taking the management courses in school a little more serious to be able to apply once out in industry.

Mike - you know your own skills, but make sure you are setting goals. Manageable and accountability to succeed.

Adam -  research and read to better yourself in the managing of people and situations.   Good read is First, Break All The Rules.

Social media - positive or negative? How do you use it and for what audience?

Mike - using blog, twitter, facebook, and youtube, for educating staff and members for notification. Cell phone usage with staff is a positive use to communicate.

Cam - following other courses to see what they are doing, and making sure to be safe with sending or posting.

Duane - good way to communicate to members instead of meeting with all 250 for issues on the course. Keeping it up to date to make it beneficial.

Mike - everyone of the management has the responsibility to post whats happening and informing members.

Evan - at Silvertip no members with a resort course,  do use to engage clients or customers.

What were you unprepared for by becoming a superintendent to soon?

Mike - discipline, budgeting, managing staff and such a broad scope of work with full responsibility to represent turf care.

How do maintain the life/work balance?

Adam - commit to extra curricular activities outside of work to socialize.

Ryan - helps to get the mind out of work to keep you sane.

Mike - what you do for a living does not define who you are. make an effort to stay busy outside work.

Evan - maintains an outside lifestyle and has always committed to enjoying other stuff than just work. Making sure to not get burnt out and keeping a balance to enjoy life

Duane - 12 on 2 off, day 11 burnt out, changed to 6 on 1 off supervisors, 5 on 2 off for staff is great to keep the staff motivated, and to also take a week off to refresh yourself. Knowing that you need to go home as it will be there the next day.

We had the opportunity to communicate with Pebble Beach with some questions that were asked to their assistants within the corporation.  We also asked the panel some of the same questions.

Biggest surprise taking on the role of assistant?

Mike - time commitment to open and finish projects, and with this industry it comes with the job

Ryan - level of communication with the entire course, staff, management departments. Being on the same page on a daily basis.

Adam - to avoid surprises.  Pay attention to fine details of what the positions above you do so you are prepared and learn from them, on what they do.

What advice would you give to help future assistant to prepare for moving up?

Ryan - your learning wont stop when out of school.  Be prepared and open minded coming out of school.

Cam - network and meet and great with fellow colleagues, reps, suppliers.

Mike - personal growth to better yourself by reading and continuous improvement.
Do not procrastinate because things will build up.

Evan - find someone that can mentor and lead you for your personal growth. Do research to find a fit to help you develop. Having someone mentor you that is respected in the industry.

Adam - to add to Evan, learn from more than just a super, learn from the assistant and know them as well.

How do you view the asst. positions and the sup position?

Adam - superintendent has a long range process and assistants are more daily operations.

Mike - role as assistant changed to more responsibility.

Any part of your job that you truly hate?

Duane - anything septic!

What is your role in budgeting? and size?

Evan - no hands on in capital budget, but have the responsibility to control labour and on course costs. Budget has come down over past 5 yrs.  800,000  not including capital. 18 holes.

Mike - given three accounts to develop. It is your duty to source out quotes to compile and responsible for those accounts. 2.1mil. 36 holes.

Ryan - not involved in setting or creation, but discussed on what is allowed and know what to do and where to spend. 1mil for 27holes.

Cam - again not direct dealings but are responsible to out source what the costs are. approx 1.2 mil 36 holes.

Adam - communicated what the budget is all year .7mil 18 holes.

What is an average day? mid season. full staff.

Duane - starts at 5am. 5:30 2 employees to key up equip. Do a loop of course for irrigation and bears and other wildlife. Come up with full job list on paper around a 20 person table. Out to talk with workers at 5:32 and on course at 5:37.   Try to stay 2 holes ahead of golfers. Radio communication daily with bears present for all staff. 5 hr morning to do course then lunch, with light duty in afternoon. Crew ends at 1.  Own day ends around 2:30pm.  Light watering in some evenings. Also always in and on course with employees to gain respect with staff as you are working side by side with them.

Evan - 5am - 2nd assistant gets equip prepared for day. Schedule is done day before on board. 5:35 crew out the door. Out making sure of quality control of crew work. 5 hr morning lunch then in shop doing reel mower set up for next day and doing schedule for next day.  Shut down 3 3:30.

Mike - plan the night before and do job board. 5 am start, and to make changes as nothing stays the same. 5:30 morning meeting with the crew, then supervise all day with quality control, get in and rake and mow along side the crew. Do challenges with crew.  Lunch at 10, 11 out the door. Tee times for shut down for extra cultural practice opportunity on Maintenance Mondays. 10 hrs for crew and 12 hrs for self.

Ryan - begins and ends with a meeting, to prep for the days.  Morning begins 5:30 and crew starts at 6.  Supervise staff, spray, and communicating with staff and current conditions. 7 hr day no lunch or coffee, but take food with and take self breaks to eat and go. Large property to come back to shop is a waste of time. Lots of returning staff with this policy of work. Work 7hrs paid for 8. Try to provide private course conditions for public golf.

Adam - starts at 5 and have breakfast talk about job board and make changes. 6 staff in and meet and give on course jobs, cover small details on TV and discuss problems or how things need to be done. Golf begins at 8am with frost everyday. Checking moisture with meters to know where to water. Doing quality control and communicate with staff and give continuous improvement tips.  Lunch will set up the job board, and more quality control of staff and on course. Wash up at end of day with crew out at 2.   Leave around 4 or 5 in afternoon.

Cam - 2 assistants jobs setup previous night, do course tour around 5, on course for crew by 5:30. Do a quality control check with helping and guiding staff in morning. 5 1/2 hr morning then lunch, and then job board touched up.  More quality control in afternoon.  Staff out at 2pm with encouragement on way out. Decide schedule after, for next days. 10 hr days.

Other things in industry in the unknown/new/up and coming?

Mike - moisture meters, buffalo blowers(Toro), and the "stand up". All of management in one room all standing and discuss what they are doing right now to brainstorm and to improve on course.

Ryan - towards IPM great to be aware of and know what may be coming your way. Not surprised by any changes.

Evan - not easy to make money for golf courses right now.  Changes could be coming with 12 hole courses to help ease of play. Make it more accessible and sustainable for all.

Adam - budgets will be decreasing, new ways may come in with example less irrigated fairways, firm and fast, and people to be more accepting of dryer courses.

Ryan - avoid this wall to wall green, such a high maintenance standard.

Human Resources related. Whats the hardest part of managing staff?

Ryan - motivating staff daily. With around 40 staff and most staff not golfing, finding ways to keep people motivated, changing routines and daily jobs.  Talk with staff daily.

Cam - near the end of summer staff showing bad habits and showing complacency. Continue to re assure what they do is great. Scheduled BBQ and events to get away from work environment. Keeping things fair.

Duane - praise in public and discipline behind closed doors. Outings with staff. Letting them do different stuff daily.  Usually 1 or 2 people tough to talk with but must meet head on and redirect and do the changes needed to get on with the issue. Do no let the issues fester and build.

Evan - to not shy away from conflict, and its way better to deal with as soon as possible.

Mike - create a culture to bring people back day after day and year over year. Make it fun, and when its time to get it done its go time.

Adam - when times aren't going well you must find a way to motivate and show leadership. Relaying your positive attitude to staff. Play games after the tough times are done.
"Turf Marine - improvise, adapt, and overcome." - Darren Reddekopp

Three fundamentals learned from the panel.

Lead by Example

Continue to Learn

Communication is Key

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Olds Turf Students get Publications

Over the past couple years we have had a few articles written by some Olds College Turfgrass students getting published on the Western Canada Turfgrass Association website.

Here is the link to have a read of these great articles.


Friday, February 08, 2013

Upcoming Events for Turf Students

Spring Break is probably on the top of the minds for all students in the near future. This week the Turf Club board has been conducting interviews with some of the first year turf students who are showing interest in the Presidents position for next year. All candidates were excellent to interview and this shows the strength of the Turfgrass students and the program. Thanks to those who showed interest in running for the Presidents position.

Monday February 11 the second and third year Turf students will be coming together for personal speeches and nominations from students to represent Olds College Turfgrass Program at the WCTA Conference in early March. They will be accompanied with Instructor and WCTA Director Jason Pick who will also be presenting at the conference.

February 14, we are welcoming some assistant superintendents from around Alberta to come and share there expertise as an Annual Assistant Panel Q & A. The assistants that will be here are Cameron Watt from Kananaskis Country Golf Course, Ryan Cassidy from Heritage Pointe Golf and Country Club, Mike MacKinnon from Priddis Greens Golf and Country Club, Evan Olauson from Silvertip Golf Course, Dwayne Epp from Stewart Creek Golf and Country Club, and Adam Champion from Grewywolf Golf Course. At the assistants panel the Turf Club will also announce the new President for the 2013-2014 school year.

Enjoy the spring break February 16-24th!!

Monday, February 04, 2013

Another Turf Club Party Success

Super Bowl Sunday!! The turf club hosts a party at the campus bar "the Crossing" and has yet another huge turnout. The party was "lights out" perfect with the turf club raising more money to help the club set up a Scholarship for a turf student in the future.

One of the main goals for the school year is to have the turf club set up a scholarship that in the future will be given to a turf student who is fully involved in school, turf club, and represents the Turfgrass Management Students with professionalism.

Over the year the Turf Club has hosted and participated in many events that have helped gain funds for the turf club students, and to also pay way for things such as guest speakers. The Turf Club hosted a Halloween Party known as "The Halloween Howler". The club also participated in the classic car wash which is a fundraiser for the schools 100th year. The club also did a bottle drive and a trick or eat run to help with community involvement for the hungry.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Toro University

In December the 2nd year Turfgrass Management class were taken into Calgary to Oakcreek and was given a full day of reel grinding and maintenance. The students were given a half day of theory on how the reel is assembled, how it cuts, and maintaining a sharp and efficient reel.

For the afternoon the students took part in disassembling and assembling reels. They also learned and set up height of cut, reel to bed knife setting, and sharpening and grinding. This was part of the Turfgrass Equipment Maintenance class which is in the second year of the diploma program.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Olds College Degree is now available online.

Starting this September the Olds College will be making the Degree in Golf Course Management available online. For full information you can visit

Another great advancement to the improvement for the turf industry.

Guest Speakers bring Motivation to Turf Students

The Turfgrass program at Olds College is continuously advancing and improving. Bringing in guest speakers with past experiences in the industry continue to motivate the students. The majority of the speakers are Olds College alumni from the Turfgrass Management Diploma and Golf Course Management Degree programs.

This past fall the students were treated to a highly motivating and refreshing pair of speakers whom both have fantastic international experience. The first speaker was Mark Kolentsis who is currently finishing his Direct Field Study this winter, for the degree program. Mark has worked at golf courses in Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, and across Canada. Mark's humbling insight into working abroad opened the eyes to many students in the turf program to expand there horizons with the possibilities that are attainable.

The next speaker was Jared Speake who is working at Glencoe Golf and Country Club along side Mark Kolentsis. Jared is from Perth Australia and has worked at a couple TPC courses in the States, with one being the TPC Scottsdale course.

In the early part of the second semester we were treated to a discussion on investing in yourself from a brilliant young superintendent from Dinosaur Trail Golf and Country Club, Mitch Davidson. Mitch brought a strong leadership tool to the students to become successful in their careers, and in life.

Fall Field Trips for OC Turf Students

This fall the Olds College students were treated to some amazing field trips to some of the finest golf courses in Southern Alberta. The second year diploma along with third year degree students toured Banff Springs Golf Club, Glencoe Golf and Country Club and Dinosaur Trail Golf and Country Club in Drumheller. The third year degree students also travelled to a couple extra courses, being that of Priddis Greens, and Springbank Links.

For these field trips the students were given full tours of the maintenance facilities, the golf course, and also specialized areas on course. The specialized areas would be such things like poor agronomic areas to grow turf, poor and amazing design features, and even the signature hole at Banff Springs, hole 4 Devil's Cauldron.

The students had the exceptional opportunity to discuss and ask questions to some of the great challenges to becoming a successful greenkeeper. Students were well educated in all areas of managing different types of golf courses from the major private to public tracks. The superintendents and assistants at these courses are great leading examples of professionalism, and we would like to thank them for the insights and styles of there leadership.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Guest Speakers

This past week has been a busy one for the first, second, and third year Turfgrass Management Students. We have been fortunate enough to have numerous Guest speakers come to Olds College to talk to us about the Turfgrass Industry. Guest speakers can be very beneficial to us as students. They present us with new ideas, they offer a new perspective, and they can give us insights on what to expect in the future of the Golf Course Management.

The first speaker that we were lucky enough to have speak to us was Dale Miller, the Lead Agronomist for Brett Young. We should give Dale some credit as he travelled all the way from Texas and faced the -40 degree temperature just to speak to the Turf students. You could tell right away that he was passionate about our Industry and that he had learned so much from his 30 plus years of experience. He talked about the benefits of Carbonates over Sulfates in terms of fertilizers, and he showed us that we can be way more efficient with the amount of fertilizer applied.

The second set of speakers that came to Olds College to talk to the Turf Students were various Assistant Superintendents from around Central and Southwestern Alberta. These Assistant Superintendents came from different types of golf courses with varying budget ranges and maintenance capabilities. They sat as a panel at the front of the lecture hall and were then bombarded with questions prepared by the Turf students. They all handled themselves very well with the questions presented to them, giving us clear responses of what to expect as an Assistant Superintendent. Each one of the speakers from the panel had their own path to becoming an Assistant Superintendent and they shared some advice that they learned on the way. This proved to be very informative to us who are preparing to make that next step in the Turfgrass Management Industry.

Brandon Conrick

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Degree Students Visit to Priddis Greens G&CC

On Tuesday, September 27th, the third year degree students of Olds College had the pleasure of touring Priddis Greens Golf and Country Club. The course is located near the town of Priddis, Alberta, southwest of Calgary. It was the first course in Alberta to join the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program. It has recently played host to the CN Canadian Women’s Open in 2009.

This field trip was a part of the class Environmental Management for Golf Courses. Our tour focused on how the turf care department at Priddis has been practicing environmental management and the challenges they have had to overcome. Course superintendent, James Beebe, led the tour along with his assistant superintendents Chad Armitage, Chris Prodahl, Lance Morris, and Mike Mackinnon.

Our outing began on the course where we toured the back nine of the Raven golf course. There James shared some of the difficulties they had faced during the summer, and a few of the tools they use in their day-to-day maintenance. We discussed several other areas including water management, low-maintenance areas, Audubon certification, and chemical usage. The tour then moved into the shop area to see their equipment bay and chemical storage shed. It ended with a meeting in the Priddis lunch room where they explained some of the unique ways they approached course setup using the EZ Locator program to set pin locations and their staff management.

Thanks go to James Beebe and to the staff of Priddis Greens for hosting us. It was an excellent chance to see the successful application of environmental management in the golf environment.

Photos courtesy of Andrew Leggett and David Smith

David Smith

Monday, October 03, 2011

Display Case

click photo to enlarge
The Olds College Turf Club display case in the Land Science Center on campus has been in need of a renovation for quite a few years. Starting at the end of the last school year, Andrew Leggett and I began to develop a plan to redo it. In collaboration with the program coordinator Dave Moroz, we constructed a cross section of a USGA specification green. This included the clay subgrade, trenched in drain tile, 4” of a gravel drainage blanket, 2” choker or intermediate layer, and 12” of rootzone mix, with an artificial turf on the surface. The Flag with the new Turf Club logo was supplied by Brett Young & Standard Golf. The plan is for current and future members of the Turf Club to continually bring golf balls with their course logo to be placed on permanent display. 

Cam Champion

Degree Students Visit to Banff Springs GC

September 20, 2011 the third year degree program students were welcomed by Bob Burrows and his wonderful crew of Fairmont Banff Springs. Bob talked about the history of the golf course and how they have become Audubon certified and continued to re certify themselves every two years since 1999. Bob and his staff walked us around the course and showed us the beautiful layout and pointed out some of the challenges they have had to deal with in terms of wildlife and the difficult growing conditions being in the shadow of the mountains. He also spoke about how he had cut back on the amount of naturalized area to speed up pace of play. The reason why they had to cut back on the amount of naturalized areas was because they had too many forced carries and this was interfering with the resort play.
Thanks to Bob and the staff of Fairmont Banff Springs for a wonderful and memorable trip to the area.

Photos taken by Andrew Krek.

Cody Inkster

Thursday, April 07, 2011

First Annual Winter Classic Long Drive Competition

Fore! The first annual Winter Classic Long Drive Challenge went down last Thursday evening with some big hitters and big snowflakes attending the event. There were 22 competitors that were fired up and ready to hit the links. They just couldn't wait any longer!
It was a different style long drive competition; we had head to head elimination rounds to go through to the finals. This made it a little more interesting going up against somebody Mano-a-Mano.

Finals had the likes of Stephen Masters, Tyson Sauser, and Chad Fawcett to make it, just to name a few. Come podium time it was Richard (3rd Place), Cody Inkster (2nd) and all 5'10, 150 pounds of Erik Stromquist that threw down to take 1st and a brand new Nike 9.5
° driver, courtesy of Nevada Bobs Golf shop in Lethbridge, Alberta. Thanks to everyone who came out and supported the event, we raised $170.00 dollars for breast cancer. We also cannot forget all the local businesses that donated prizes including; Panago Pizza, 360 Snow Skate, Tracks Pub, Movie Experts and Uptown Hair Designs.
Franz Unterberger

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Water Conservation

How good would it be to cater to the transpiration rate of each species? In our first year Irrigation program with Ian Morrow, we designed a three hole course and put together the most water conservative irrigation systems that you could come up with in those holes. It included individually irrigating zones, separating your fairways from rough, approaches, greens and so on.This looks totally out of the norm right now and is a tough concept to grasp. Water restrictions will gear you towards a set up like this in the not so distant future.
 You will start to see more naturalization and less unneeded turf around your tees. More controlled watering within zone will be accomplished by a higher number of sprinklers with a smaller radius. As water restrictions grow tighter every year, you as a superintendent might have to look at zoning each individual micro climate. Having three to four rows of full circle rotors up the middle of your fairway and part circle rotors to the perimeter will keep the fairway and rough separate to accommodate different transpiration .

Back in the day superintendents didn't really have to be cautious with their watering practices, but times are changing.  We are entering into an environmental sensitive time that  will require us to adopt  styles like this for water conservation. It’s the way of the future and our industry, and we will be seeing more of it.

Franz Unterberger

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Audubon International – Cooperative Sanctuary Program

A presentation by Travis Ekelund, Assistant Superintendent of Earl Grey Golf Club

On Monday March 21, Travis Ekelund, the Assistant Superintendent of Earl Grey Golf Club, came to speak to the Turfgrass students at Olds College. The topic was on Audubon International’s Cooperative Sanctuary Program and how the golf course became certified. He was joined by Valerie Hammond, who was employed to aid the golf course in this certification.
Ekelund’s talk focused on the steps a course must go through for this certification. A golf course must meet criteria in the following areas: Environmental planning, outreach and education, wildlife and habitat management, water conservation, chemical use reduction and safety, and water quality. Finally, they must complete a case study project in one of the six criteria.
While sharing his experiences, Ekelund focused on a few points. The first was that the overall process was not as difficult as he first imagined. Many of the management practices golf courses already employ are a part of the certification process. Audubon International mainly wants to make sure that managers are aware and moving forward in these areas and are documenting there progress. Another point was that the whole process is possible, practical, and enjoyable. Because of this program many improvements have been made to the course, improving the beauty and wildlife diversity of the property. Some of the highlights were an outreach program to a local school. The students of the Grade 4 class helped to color bird and bat houses for the course. For the case study project, the maintenance staff built a natural area called “Barron’s Bluff”. This beautiful and scenic area, formerly a waste area, is now dedicated to a former member who was an important champion for environmental awareness at the golf course.
The talk was educational and informative. Many courses are looking to become Audubon certified as pressure mounts from an increasingly environmentally savvy public. Ekelund’s experiences taught the students that Audubon certification is a reachable goal and can be beneficial to any golf course.

Dave Smith

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bunker and Tee Construction

In our 2nd year Design and Construction class we have been designing and building bunkers and tees in the landscape pavilion. Our class worked on them the 10th, 15th and 17th of March. The tees were shaped to 6 meters by 7 meters. We installed 4” drain tile which sloped 3% from front to back draining out the back of the tee. The finish grade was sloped 1% front to back. The bunkers were constructed on the irrigation side of the landscape pavilion. This was a great feature seeing that the drainage of the bunkers could actually be tested and the water returned to the wet well for reuse. 3 bunkers were constructed varying in sizes. They were all shaped by hand by the students in the class. Drainage was installed using 4” drain tile. Liner was laid and stapled down and bunker board was installed then staked in to hold it in place. Once that was done the drainage was tested. The work of the class had been done correctly and the bunkers drained promptly to the wet well. A lot was learned by our entire class and jobs well done.


Andrew Leggett


Hi all and welcome to the turf club blog. The purpose of this blog is to keep all Olds College Turfgrass alumni in touch with the current students, and the activities of the program. Feel free to share this link with anyone from your class that is still in the industry, as well as anyone that is interested in turfgrass.

Sincerely, Cam Champion