Course Conditions and Remedies

Dear Spring Run Members,

I am aware of the many comments and concerns about some of the course conditions we are experiencing this season. I want to assure you that no one is more aware of these issues than me, and we are working diligently to resolve them as quickly as possible. I would like to take this opportunity to explain why we have struggled this year more so than in recent years, and tell you what we are doing to remedy it.

This past year was been very trying for everyone for sure. Beginning in March of 2020, we had to change react differently to a changing and uncertain environment. One of the decisions we made was to perform our closure procedures early last April when the course was shut down and we were in the midst of lockdown. We performed extensive maintenance, and decided to forego the 2nd closure in August so we could stay open and bring in more revenue to help the bottom line. This idea initially worked great, and the club did much better than expected financially. The reasoning was based on the idea that we would be able to do various cultural practices and spot aerifications to weak or struggling areas on the course throughout season that would allow us to get by. That did not pan out like we had hoped, because of the extensive cold spells from November through February. Because of this we had to hold off on some practices as the turf would not have healed properly, creating worse conditions. Bermudagrass needs several things to grow vigorously and heal properly: Sunlight, which we definitely don’t lack here in Florida; Water; Fertility, which we have been pumping out as fast as we can; and most importantly, Warm Temperatures. This turf needs a minimum soil temperature (not ambient temperature) of 65 degrees F to grow. The soil takes a lot longer to warm up after it gets cold. If you get a 2-3 day cold spell where the ambient temperatures fall to 55 degrees or less, the soil temperature will also fall, and once the soil temperatures fall below 65 degrees the turf slows or stops growing altogether. The result is slower healing and increased stress. It can take 6-10 days of warmer weather to get the soil temps back to optimal growth conditions. Therefore, a 2-3 day cold spell stop the growth for up to a week and a half. When the turf stops growing, the canopy of the grass becomes tighter and shrinks. This causes the appearance that we are mowing the turf more tightly… and I can assure you we are not! We actually raise the mowing heights during these periods to reduce the stress on the turf and mow less frequently.

Also, it is important to note that some off-type strands of Bermudagrass, like common bermudagrass (of which we have a lot), will tighten up and thin out, leaving the patches you may see out there in some of the fairways. Common Bermuda occurs when our normal 419 hybrid bermuda, which is an initially sterile plant, mutates back to an “of-type” contamination. Unfortunately, the only way to eliminate off-type grasses are to dig them up and replace them with more 419 or Bimini. The areas on the fairways and approaches that look nice and lush are the 419 and Bimini. The thin areas are mostly common bermuda.

The good news is that we appear to finally be breaking the cycle for the year and moving into much warmer conditions for the remainder of the season.  This will allow us to do a number of invasive procedures that will help these struggling areas healed up. Some of the things you will see us doing is something called “knife-tining”.

These are slits in the ground that will help get water and nutrients into the soil faster, as well as loosen up the soil so the turf and its roots can more easily grow. Along with the knife-tining, we will also be doing some localized core aerifications where we will be removing material from the soil and top dressing it to help provide better growing conditions. I am confident that all these efforts will result in marked improvement very soon.

I will be publishing another article that describes some different practices that we have tried and the results that we have seen.

As always, thank you for your patience and support.

Sincerely,

Benjamin S. Hanshew

Spring Run Golf Club Superintendent

6 thoughts on “Course Conditions and Remedies

  1. Ken Greene

    Thanks for the update, Ben. It’s frustrating when I play other courses and they seem in better shape than our normal great conditioned one this year.

  2. Donna Theisen

    I understand what you are going through, stay with it, I think you and your team are doing an excellent job considering the weather and something you didn’t mention…..the number of rounds!

  3. Stephen Karpowich

    Over the past year I have noticed no effort to repair pot holes, damaged and nonexistent grass and landscaping adjacent to the cart paths. Almost every hole has unsightly damage. Why can’t these problem areas be repaired with seed, sod or fill and then protected with a barrier of rocks, some of those green/white stakes (which seem in abundance) or plantings? I do realize these problems are caused by members not keeping all four cart wheels on the cart path and maintenance machinery but that’s not an excuse not to fix it.

    1. Benjamin Hanshew Superintendent

      Mr. Karpowich,
      We have made some recent efforts to fill these holes in along the path. However, when the cart path conversion was started prior to my arrival at spring run, the decision was made to go with 6 foot wide cart paths. It was not taken into account the width of our maintenance equipment and has thus led to these issues. Since my arrival we have made the adjustment and all the cart path renovations that have been done since I have arrived have been done to a width of 8 feet which has eliminated this issue. We have a few plans we are going to try this summer to resolve the pot hole issues and if they work than we will discuss a program implementation on all the remaining areas to fix this issues once and for all.

  4. Mike Fisher

    Ben,

    Appreciate the difficulty you have faced. On the holes with knife-tining, consider winter rules.

    Mike Fisher President, MGA

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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