Dear Spring Run Member,
In the last Quick Survey responses that are sent out three time per year to 1/3 of the membership each time, we received some comments that were expected given the course conditions over the past couple months. I will address a number of various concerns over several blogs, but wanted to start off with this one. These are all anonymous FYI.
“The fairways and roughs are cut way to short. There are bare spots all over the course. There many areas that you can’t use your short irons because there is no grass. The course over the summer was in great shape. What happen to the course? It’s not due to the amount of play. People have told me the course in being neglected because of budgetary reasons. I can’t believe that after spending $3.1m+. Why is the course being neglected . This is our #1 asset. I will be embarrassed at the member/guest on the 20th. If the condition of the course is not improved. I am speaking for myself and many of our golfers. This needs to be addressed ASAP.”
The comments in this survey response are understandable. The current situation is counter-intuitive. “The golf course was in great shape over the summer. What happened to the course???” I’ve heard it often, and I felt this would be a good forum to give the explanation to a larger audience.
First, the golf course was in great shape before renovation. Regardless of its irrigation, drainage, and turf issues, it had a very thick protective organic layer built up between the roots and the grass shoot. It was green and lush. Then we killed it off and dug it up, dispersing the organic layer throughout the course. Remember that this course was built years ago on top of a very sandy soil. It will not hold nutrients in the plants until it builds up an organic layer. So, fast forward to the summer: we had a brand new course with no organic layer, but it had sun, heat, and rain. Not too much rain, but some rain. Enough to help it grow. Simply add some fertilizer, and BAM! It grew green and lush. The summer and fall were filled with positive compliments on its condition, and frankly, I thought we were out of the woods. But, along came a very rainy fall. So much rain that it washed away any nutrients in the soil, along with any fertilizer that had been applied. The grass looked good and the late fall temperatures were actually quite nice, but the course was starving. By the time we got to December, it was weaker than it normally would have been. It had no protection and not enough nutrition remained in the plants. It wasn’t being neglected. But it had been set back enough that it took longer to recover.
Then the worst thing possible happens. In January, it gets cold, and the course stops growing. And there are wild storms and inconsistent weather patterns that produce lots of cloudy, cool, wet days. Fertilizer that is applied keeps washing away. But the maintenance and cultivation of the course continues on regardless of temperature. We didn’t have to mow for 14 days straight! We heaped on lots of fertilizer….significantly more than budgeted. And once the sun came out and the temperatures increased, the course has flourished.
Height of Cut: We began raising the fairway heights in November, and we are now up to a ¼”. But cart traffic compounds the illusion that we are mowing too closely. The reality is the young turf is not able to withstand all the cart traffic. Just look at the areas we have roped off. They look great!
Fertilizer/Pest Program: in January, we began applying a special blend of fertilizer, combined with crushed shellfish, to combat nematodes populations in locations that have a history of nematode activity. In addition, we are using an organic fertilizer to encourage microbial activity in the soil and provide a longer lasting food source for the turf. All signs point to a fully recovered golf course shortly.
Third Party Professional comments from an independent turf grass professional…. who reminded me that “the most important thing to convey to your members is that this not confined to Spring Run. This is widespread throughout Florida” and “Overall there is great coverage on the greens. Much better than at many courses I have seen. They are rolling very true.” He went on to say “I would put your greens up against any other course in the area. I truly cannot say anything bad about them.”