Busy mason bees

Our first mason bee hatching project was a great success! Back in April, we hung two mason bee boxes along with several hundred cocoons ready to hatch. The bees soon emerged and were as busy as bees throughout the spring and early summer, collecting pollen and laying their eggs in the cardboard tubes lining the bee houses. All of the tubes were eventually filled, creating dividers between each egg and neatly sealing the ends.  Mason Bees

The cardboard tubes were collected in July to protect the developing larvae from predators such as parasitic wasps and woodpeckers, and are being stored in a safe, dry place through the fall and winter. Early next year, the cardboard tubes will be opened and the cocoons will be given a quick cleaning with a soft brush to remove the dried mud and any mites.

Once the weather begins to warm and the early trees and flowers begin blooming in the spring, the cocoons will be moved outside and a new generation of mason bees will emerge. Each tube holds on average 8-10 cocoons, so we are hoping that over 1,000 new bees will hatch next spring and help pollinate the local trees, flowers, and gardens.

A few tips in chipping

Improving chip shots requires a few basic adjustments to your body and stance, and with the help of a golf instructor and a little practice, you can perfect your chipping. photo_wine (4)

  • Put your hands lower on the grip and your feet closer to the ball.
  • Your ball position is best two inches behind the middle of your stance. Stand close enough to the ball so that when you raise the heel of your club, the toe is down.
  • Use an accelerating swing by making a follow-through about 20 percent longer than your back swing and using a rhythmic, smooth and steady swing.
  • Keep your wrists firm.
  • Put more weight on your front foot (left for right handed golfers) and keep your hands in front of the club face.
  • At the end of your swing you should be able to hold a glass of wine on your clubface.

Don’t be overwhelmed – chipping takes practice and if you hit the greens on a regular basis you should see improvements over time. If not, you may want to set up a lesson to find out how you can improve your stance and swing.

Hélène Delisle, PGA of Canada Professional
Fairwinds Golf Club

Fast and firm fairways

There have been a lot of questions about the condition of the fairways this past week. The main concern is the appearance of the dried outlines on the fairways and why the fairways are so dry.

First, it’s important to understand that the lines that you can see are not from the irrigation project. They are from 25 years of drainage added to the course after the initial construction. When Fairwinds was built, it was done without drainage in the fairways or rough. The fairways and rough were grown in on the native ground, which is primarily soil and clay. Over the last 25 years, the maintenance crew has added drainage as needed; a process which includes digging trenches approximately one foot wide and two feet deep. Drain tile was then added and topped up with some drain rock and finally sand, before the sod was placed back on top of the drain lines.  IMG_0298

While we are still irrigating the fairways, the drain lines quickly absorb the water through the sand, leaving the turf on top to dry out. The rest of the grass that is growing in the native soil or clay are receiving adequate amounts of water as the moisture holding capacity of these areas is much greater than that of the drain lines.

To put some perspective to this, as of June 21 we have used approximately 1 million gallons of water more than we had at this time last year. In 2013, May and June brought us nearly 4.5 inches of rain while in the same time frame this year we have had 1.4 inches.

If we were to irrigate to the extent that the drain lines were green it would leave the other areas extremely wet. Basically, the drain lines would be green while the rest of the turf would be mud or at least soaking wet. There is also the fact that we have run out of water available from Enos Lake – our prime source of irrigation water. During the spring and summer we pump water from Enos Lake to Dolphin Lake, behind the 14 tee, and then syphon it through the creek running along the #13 fairway until it eventually makes its way to the irrigation pond between holes 11 and 18.

As stated in our water use license, we are allowed to draw Enos Lake down to a certain level before July 15 to permit the spawning of Stickleback fish in Enos Lake. This has nothing to do with our Audubon certification, it’s the law. After July 15, we are able to draw Enos Lake down further in order to accommodate our irrigation needs on the course.

By mid-July, if there is not enough rain to help replenish Enos Lake, then Dolphin Lake and our irrigation pond may still be under a watering restriction as the supply may not be there to draw from. By that time, we will have at least two more months of irrigation season left, and would not be wise to deplete the source as we will need to ration it to get to the end of the season.

I have also been approached by a couple of concerned members about the possibility of adding some moisture holding material to the drain lines so they will stay wet enough to grow healthy turf. While this may seem like a sound solution now, it would cause problems in the winter months when our drain lines are holding water rather than draining it.

Rod Siddons, our Superintendent, and I have had several discussions about our irrigation priorities and agree that we need to ensure we have enough water to get us to the end of the season. As you have likely noticed we have stopped irrigating the rough and backed off the fairways. We are doing our best the keep the tee decks in the best shape possible. The greens will continue to receive the proper amount of water needed in order to keep them in excellent playing condition.

If you have any questions or concerns about our water issues please do not hesitate to contact me or stop me on the golf course to talk. In the meantime, enjoy the fast and firm conditions.

Rick Munro
Assistant Superintendent
Fairwinds Golf Club

It’s a Challenge

Everyone has challenges and they are all different and personal. Fairwinds golf professional, Brett Standerwick, played 200 holes of golf in one day to support The ALS Society of BC (ALS). The PGA of BC initiated this fundraiser eight years ago and Brett has participated in the last seven. He doesn’t just participate, but challenges himself. One year he played golf up the Golden Hinde, carrying with him golf balls with the names of people who lost their fight with ALS. The goal was to hit these balls off of the summit, however, unsafe conditions kept him just short of this. Last year he honoured the late Lou Gehrig by wearing a baseball uniform and hitting each tee shot with a baseball bat. This year he committed to playing 200 holes. And when I say this, I mean Brett Standerwick played 200 holes of golf in one day, every tee shot, every approach shot and he holed every putt. I think he left the flag in but we might want to let that rule slide this time.   Brett

He played in the midst of a busy golf course. He played through some groups three times as they cheered him on. Oh, and he didn’t park his cart on the green – he ran from it to the green and back. I don’t think you could play 200 holes more within the Rules of Golf. He even hit provisional balls when a drive went astray.

Here are some numbers that will impress you. Brett’s first round commenced at 5:15 am. By 6:30 am, he had shot 66, his personal best round on Fairwinds Golf Course. By 12:45 pm, he had finished five rounds of golf, 73, 74, 73 and (gasp) 77…hacker. At 7:05 pm he started round 10 and was tiring and his rounds had gone, 74, 76, 71 and 76. Disgusted with this he dug deep and birdied 15, 16 and 18 for 70. Seriously, 180 holes of golf and you shoot 70! Round 11 was a respectable one over par 72 and he only had two more holes to play. Yup, birdie 3 on #1 and a smooth par 3 on #2.

I would say he rose to the challenge – his own challenge. I really can’t think of a better way to contribute to a great cause and to also acknowledge the immense challenge that comes with battling ALS or any other debilitating disease. Brett would agree that what he did was nothing compared to that but in my opinion what he did was impressive and honorable. Well done Brett.

Ward Stouffer, Director of Golf Operations

So far this year, Brett has raised $2,100. If you would like to make a contribution, you can donate directly on his Golf-a-thon for ALS page.

Are you for real?

If we are talking about whether to practice your golf off of real, living turf or mats, then you have to go with real.

Fairwinds grass tees

Grass tees at Fairwinds Learning Centre

Evidently, it makes sense because that is what most golf courses are made out of and what you will eventually be golfing on. What might not be obvious is the benefits it has to your ability to hit the golf ball properly and the rate that you learn to hit the ball accurately.

Mats are forgiving; they grab the club just before it hits the ball and aligns it so that you make better than average contact. You can hit behind the ball and it bounces the club into the ball for perfect contact. Grass won’t do that for you.

Mats can also injure you. There is much more vibration and strain on your wrists when you hit off of a mat and, therefore, a lot of us scoop the ball off of the mat to avoid that risk of injury which is not the best way to hit a golf ball consistently. Mats can also alter the lofts on your clubs – in most cases making them stronger or delofted. This makes it difficult to hit the ball the distances that we might want.

Grass tees for practicing are ideal but they aren’t common at golf courses. At Fairwinds Learning Centre, we are lucky to have grass tees seven days of the week for a good part of the golfing season. This costs more to maintain but we think it’s worth it. It promotes a good impact to follow through position and teaches you to hit the golf ball solidly. It’s exactly what you will be hitting off of when you get out on our beautiful golf course…. For real.

Keeping the greens pristine

The golf industry has longed been accused and criticized for its perceived overuse of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Golf Course Superintendents and Assistants are well-trained and experienced turf growers, or agronomists, who take great pride in providing exceptional golfing conditions.

Fairwinds Golf Club is no different. In order to produce excellent playing conditions for 12 months of the year, Fairwinds Superintendent, Rod Siddons, needs to apply enough fertilizers to feed the turf and at times needs to apply pesticides to keep the turf alive.  IMG_0664

We are vitally aware of the potential dangers and negative connotations associated with pesticide use on golf courses and have made great strides over recent years to learn more about what causes turf pest (insects, disease, and weeds) problems and do our best to minimize the problems in order to reduce pesticide use. At Fairwinds, an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program has been designed to help us limit the amount of pesticides used.

When determining the fertilizer program at Fairwinds, there are many factors to consider including: budget constraints, available labour, application equipment, time of year, and environmental considerations. Soil samples are taken annually from randomly chosen greens, tees, and fairways to get a determination of what nutrients need to be applied to the turf to ensure excellent playing conditions. The samples are sent away to a diagnostic lab where they are studied and the results are used help to determine the fertilizer program.

Organic fertilizers are used as much as possible as they present a much lower environmental impact than synthetic fertilizers; however, they are often less effective and require greater quantities to achieve similar results.

The colour or appearance of the turf, the clipping yield, general turf health, and weather forecasts all help determine the timing of fertilizer applications. It is beneficial to apply fertilizers when it is raining or rain is expected as it helps the fertilizer dissolve into the soil or make it more readily available to the turf plant. Fertilizer applications need to be made when the turf plant can make the best use of the nutrients to ensure efficient use.

Pesticide use on the golf course is limited to the greens and these products are applied on a remedial basis only. Fungicides are not applied until the greens are exhibiting damage due to the presence of a turf disease. The prime disease we fight at Fairwinds is Pink Snow Mold, which can occur with or without the presence of snow and is a pest problem throughout Canada and the northern United States.

Efficient and safe use of fertilizers and pesticides is a priority as we strive to provide excellent playing conditions for members and guests while protecting the environment. If you have any questions or concerns about the maintenance practices at Fairwinds Golf Club, please do not hesitate to contact Rick Munro, our Assistant Superintendent, at rmunro@fairwinds.ca.

Rick Munro
Assistant Superintendent
Fairwinds Golf Club

Some new additions to the course

Happy Earth Day! The grounds and landscaping crews at Fairwinds have been busy as proverbial bees over the past few weeks, and the results of their hard work is plain to see both on the course and throughout the entire community.

One of the Garry oak seedlings planted near the Audubon garden.

A Garry oak seedling, planted in the Audubon garden.

Golfers may have noticed some new additions to the Audubon garden near #14. Ten tiny Garry oak seedlings were planted, and are now under careful protection and the watchful eye of our landscaping team. Garry oaks are very slow growing trees, and seedlings can take 5 or more years to grow to 1 m in height, though eventually they grow between 12m and 35m tall. Garry oaks are the only native oak species to British Columbia, and these trees and their associated ecosystems provide critical habitat for a number of rare or vulnerable species of plants, animals, and fungi.

One of the mason bee houses put out this spring.

One of the mason bee houses put out this spring.

Two mason bee houses were also put out this spring, along with several hundred bee cocoons ready to hatch. Mason bees are very important pollinators for trees, flowers, fruits, and vegetables, especially as honey bees and other pollinators appear to be at risk across North America and around the world. Mason bees are solitary bees and do not have hives.  This means they are quite docile and very rarely sting as they are not protecting a queen or nest.

A mason bee.

A mason bee.

There are no “worker” bees and they do not produce honey or beeswax. Instead, fertilized females lay their eggs, along with a pollen and nectar food supply, in narrow holes or tubes with a partition of mud between each egg. The mason bee gets its name from its habit of building these mud compartments.


Dave Lineker, our Landscaping Supervisor, installing the bat box.

Dave Lineker, our Landscaping Supervisor, installing the bat box.

A bat box was also installed on the side of the golf course maintenance building, and while bats are not the most cuddly of neighbours, they are important pest controllers, eating mosquitoes and other insects. You may not ever notice them swooping out at dusk and back in at dawn, but we all benefit from having fewer pests in our yards!