Dear Spring Run Members,
I feel it is important at this time to take a moment and let you know the status of the golf course conditions and the efforts underway to address concerns about it. First and foremost, please know that the staff is working hard to determine the reasons for decline in certain areas, especially at the practice facility. The recent cold spells have really knocked the stand of turf back considerably, as Bermuda grass hibernates when the nighttime temperatures average 55 degrees F or less. This has been going on for periods of time at a stretch since mid-December. The grass never has a chance to get back into growth mode before it is forced to shut down again. When the usually hearty turf stops growing, negative effects from other factors begin to show up.
I have complete confidence in Ben Hanshew as our Golf Course Superintendent. I have managed Superintendents for 25 years, and I can tell you that Ben is second to none. He is dedicated, knowledgeable, and proactive. He has the resources he needs to address any issues that come up. He has reached out to vendors and fellow superintendents for assistance with testing and advice. While we have gotten some good suggestions, no one has said that the course is being mismanaged in any way. Everyone agrees that chemical and nutritional measurements are all in line, and we need to try some new procedures that might get to the bottom of it.
Every course deals with mole crickets, nematodes, Pythium, and other fungus and pesky pests intent on destroying the turf for their own benefit. Thankfully, our pest levels are low due to proactive applications to control them. The course isn’t hungry. Ben has implemented a very aggressive fertilization program to feed the turf. And fungus is just something you have to fix when it occurs, due to various weather conditions. I feel confident the appropriate measures are being implemented as best management practices. So while some other undiscovered issue may be at play, we are doing what normally needs to be done to maintain 92 acres of turf to USGA standards.
This past week, Ben has needle-tined the practice green, with nearly immediate positive results. Aerification gets oxygen to the roots, resulting in incredible proof of growth. He sprayed a flushing agent on all the greens, which begins to bind various organic chemicals, including sodium bicarbonate, in advance of a “flush” of the greens, which will eliminate most of the nutrients, but also any potentially hidden damaging elements. We will immediately replenish nutrients following the flush. Please know that we are consulting with others who successfully employ this procedure on a regular basis with very positive results.
Finally, we are locating the “blowout vents” that were installed in each green when they were rebuilt. We will force oxygen through the network of pipes under each green, permeating the roots of the turf and encouraging immediate growth as it migrates to the surface. This is a novel procedure, but one we would like to incorporate on a regular basis.
While we anticipate that these procedures will be effective, I can assure you of what will be…warm weather and a little rain!
Thank you for your patience and understanding.