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Assistant super’s skills set a boon

Computer savviness adds to Innisfail’s operations


October 20, 2020
By Mike Jiggens


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Curtis Playfair, assistant superintendent, Innisfail Golf Club, at his computer.

Combine a passion for golf course maintenance with a savviness for computer technology, and it’s a recipe for a more productive and efficient operation. That is what’s being realized at the Innisfail Golf Club, thanks to the efforts of assistant superintendent Curtis Playfair.

Employed for the past seven years at the Alberta club, Playfair took it upon himself to utilize his computer skills and develop a website dedicated to turf maintenance operations. Information aimed at superintendents, assistants, mechanics and others involved in the day-to-day agronomic operations includes such content as record-keeping, budgeting, cultural practices, water quality data and job boards, to name a few.

“There’s a little bit of everything,” he said, adding there is also a section for Audubon-related information that includes wildlife sightings and entomology records. Innisfail is a fully certified Audubon co-operative sanctuary.

Information posted to the website is split between private and public content, with private information accessible only to industry insiders while public content can be enjoyed by golfers and other members of the general public.

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Playfair embarked on his website project a few years ago on his own time during his Christmas break and updates its content daily. Information that delves into equipment inventory, fertilizer calculations and fungicide applications have contributed to a more efficient, more productive golf course operation.

The website has been configured to record data each night and compiles everything into pie charts for easy, at-a-glance viewing. For example, job hours worked by the grounds maintenance staff are meticulously broken down to reflect the actual amount of time spent on greens, tees, fairways and roughs as well as time devoted to bunker maintenance, equipment maintenance, irrigation and administrative matters. Personnel information such as sick days are also figured among the compiled data.

“I’ve always been into computers,” he said, and much of his data entries can be input with his cell phone. “It’s been huge for time management and record keeping.”

The graduate of Olds College has shared what he’s done with turfgrass management students at his alma mater.

The electronic job board Playfair created can be readily viewed by seasonal staff and has helped considerably with time management. Both morning and afternoon jobs are detailed. Each employee’s name is listed on the board along with the day’s scheduled tasks. In a separate column, notes are posted to indicate such additional information as the relocation of tee markers and the cleaning of restrooms.

Record-keeping includes daily accounts of temperature (including wind chill), rainfall and snowfall.

The 27-hole Innisfail club is made up of the Aspen, Spruce and Hazelwood nines. Data is entered and compiled specifically for each set of nine holes.

Playfair also utilizes his own drone and Go Pro to accurately measure the entire golf course property and document the progress of ongoing construction projects.

“He’s definitely spent a lot of time developing the website and electronic job board and deserves the recognition,” superintendent Erwin Alvarez said.