As you are playing golf the next few days or so you may see some holes out there that are brown or tan in color. This is due to a fertilizer burn on 15 & 16 fairway. We are currently applying our mole cricket prevention application and incorporating some foliar fertilizers to help with the heal up from the winter damage and struggles we have experienced. The fertilizers can sometimes singe or burn the leaf blades on the grass a little if the air temperatures get to warm before the application can dry.
This is what happened on a few holes. We have made the adjustments to the timing of the application to avoid any future burn issues. This fertilizer burn will not kill the grass or set it back. The burn will disappear in a few days or so and everything will be greened up and growing rapidly. As always thank you for your patience and understanding as we strive to make Spring Run Golf Club the best bundled community in southwest Florida.
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.
I am happy to inform you that all the cultural practices on the putting greens have been a success. We have seen a dramatic improvement in the overall health of the green. Though we have seen the desired improvements, we are still cautious of excessive traffic and want to take our time reopening it. The current plan is to reopen Monday morning as the chipping green. The reason is that it will not be the same speed as the greens on the course. Until such time as I can get the practice green speeds matched up to those on the course, we will keep green for chipping only. I am hopeful that it will not take long. Then we will switch the greens back to their normal uses and anticipate a great rest of the season. Thank you for all your support and patience as we have worked diligently to resolve this situation.
There are a few things that every golfer can do on the Golf Course to help maintain the conditions not only for you but the group that is playing behind your group. If every member could do just these three things on the golf course while playing, the enjoyment and conditions could exceed everyone’s expectations during their round.
Repairing ball marks on the Green As golfers, a small amount of our time and attention can go a long way in helping to maintain high-quality playing conditions on our course. Repairing ball marks on the putting greens is an easy way to make a positive impact, but the importance of ball mark repair and the proper tools and technique are often misunderstood. Here are five things every golfer should know about repairing ball marks:
The proper technique for ball mark repair is easy and fast. Insert the ball mark repair tool behind the ball mark and gently pull the top of the tool toward the center. Continue working around the ball mark, pulling the surrounding turf in toward the center of the indentation. Avoid using a lifting or twisting motion because this can damage turf roots. Once you have finished pulling turf in toward the center, gently tamp the area down with your putter to create a smooth, firm surface.
Unrepaired ball marks cause lasting problems Failing to repair a ball mark may seem like a minor oversight, but there are lasting consequences. Unrepaired ball marks can take weeks to heal, during which time they can cause balls to bounce off line. The damage to the putting surface is also an entry point for weeds that can cause serious problems.
Certain putting greens are more vulnerable to ball marks than others. Any putting green that typically receives high, lofted approach shots will be more susceptible to ball marks. The putting greens on par-3 holes are a perfect example. If you recognize that a putting green is prone to damage from ball marks, it is important to be mindful of repairing your own ball mark and a few unrepaired ones nearby.
Soft conditions mean more ball marks. When putting greens are wet or soft, ball marks will be more of an issue. This is just one of the reasons why our Golf Maintenance staff works hard to promote firm playing conditions with aeration, topdressing and other maintenance practices. If excessive thatch accumulates beneath the putting surface, ball marks and other turf issues will be more problematic.
Almost any pointed tool can be used to successfully repair a ball mark. Many different tools have been created to repair ball marks, including single-pronged and fork-shaped tools. Almost any pointed tool, including a golf tee, can be used to effectively repair a ball mark. Using the proper technique is the key to success. Repairing ball marks is one of the easiest ways that golfers can help Golf Maintenance staff deliver high-quality playing conditions. After hitting a great shot onto the putting green, fixing your ball mark and a couple nearby is an excellent way to keep the green looking great!
If you need a Repair tool, please see the starter before your round. If you need further assistance on how to repair a ball mark, please see any member of our Golf Staff. Below is a diagram on how to properly repair a ball mark on the green, and Kelsey properly repairing a ball mark on the green.
Raking a Bunker
Our Golf Maintenance staff works hard to provide good bunker playability and presentation, but the maintenance team can only do so much. Once they have completed daily bunker maintenance it’s in our hands as golfers to keep bunkers looking and playing great. Doing a good job raking bunkers is an easy way to maintain good playing conditions for everyone and it’s a great way to demonstrate care for the course.
The ultimate goal of raking a bunker is simple – use whatever rake is provided to produce as smooth of a surface as possible. This includes raking your footprints and whatever disruption was caused by the golf shot. In addition to this basic goal, there are a few other things to keep in mind while raking that can help maintain the bunker and surrounding grass areas:
• Always enter and exit on the low side of a bunker – do not jump down or climb up steep faces, even if it might be a faster. Climbing steep grass faces can cause serious turf damage in an area where it is already hard to grow grass. Walking up and down sand faces can cause the sand to shift and collapse, which creates playability issues and a time-consuming repair job for the maintenance team.
• When raking near the edge of a bunker, do not pull sand out of the bunker into the grass. Sand can accumulate in the grass around bunkers over time, causing the grass to dry out. Raking sand over the bunker edge also makes it difficult to define the edge, which can be problematic from a rule’s perspective.
• As you are exiting the bunker, use your club to knock any sand off the bottom of your shoes. This is especially important following greenside bunker shots. Walking across the green after hitting a bunker shot can leave sandy footprints that cause playability issues for other golfers and may even damage expensive maintenance equipment.
• The final step is replacing your rake in the location preferred by the course. Courses opt to set things up differently, so you should make yourself aware of the desired location before playing. If you’re not sure what to do, place your rake outside the bunker in a location where it is easily accessible by others and not likely to have a negative impact on play. Lastly, knock the sand off your shoes and then go make that par putt!
Below are photos of Kelsey raking the bunker properly.
Filling Divots on the Course
Just as ball marks require a certain technique to correctly fix, divots also require attention to detail for proper repair. So, the next time you hit a take a divot please keep the following in mind:
When using sand provided on the cart or on buckets that are placed on all par 3’s, it is important to avoid over or under filling divots. Under filling a divot will result in a depression that affects golf ball lie. On the other hand, overfilled divots will damage mowing equipment and create poor playing conditions. To properly fill a divot, bend over and directly place sand in each divot, making sure the sand does not spill onto undamaged turf. Add sand until it is even with the base of the adjacent turf. Finally, just as with replacing divots, use your foot to compact and level the sand. This will provide better soil-to-ground contact to enhance the growth of the turf.
Below are pictures of a divot replaced with sand and a divot that has been left untreated. You will be able to see the growth on the sanded divot versus the divot that has not been properly maintain. Also, pictures of Kelsey properly maintaining a divot on the course.
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!
This has been a rough start to the winter season for all of Southwest Florida. We have been experiencing very long cold spells since the end of November. With the consistent cooler temperatures, it has had some detrimental effects on the health of the turf. Bermuda grass is called a warm season grass and requires consistent temperature of 65 degrees at night to 85 degrees F during the day for optimal plant growth. The last couple months, we have been experiencing regular night time temperatures of 40 degrees to 60 degrees F. When this happens, the grass shuts down and stops growing, resulting in a longer healing time when stressed or damaged. It also causes the plant functions like respirations and photosynthesis to slow down significantly, and in some types of Bermuda grass, like common Bermuda, causes the grass to go dormant, turn brown or turn off color.
I have been getting the question, “Why are we mowing the grass so tight?” We aren’t mowing the grass shorter. In fact, we have raised the mowing height to relieve stress. The tighter shorter look is a result of the continued extended cold spells we have been experiencing. The grass reacts to the cold much like the muscles in your body do when you get cold, which tighten up and shrink. The same reaction happens when the turf gets cold. The blades of the grass shrink and tighten up, thus appearing mowed low. We also mow less frequently, currently once a week.
In addition to higher mowing height and less frequent mowing, we have our staff take different routes around the course to spread out the traffic and wear patterns. We also make routine foliar fertilizer applications to help keep the grass as green as possible at this time. We also put green dye in the foliar applications; it helps track where we have sprayed so we do not over apply any chemicals and helps keep the canopy of the turf warmer. When the canopy is warmer, the plant is able to perform vital living functions again.
While the cold temperatures have had detrimental effects on the turf, we have been employing everything we can to minimize the stress and reduce damage to the turf. As the weather warms up, we will hopefully see a quick flush of growth. As always, thank you for all your support and patience. Stay safe and healthy in 2021. We look forward to a great season moving forward.
We are working to complete any remaining entry access issues by Monday Jan 18. The mag locks should be installed on the pedestrian gates on Monday, along with the loops for the sensors for the large gates. The Privacy and Safety committee on Tuesday agreed that the pedestrian gates should be locked at all times, and since the fobs are going to be used to open those gates, we will be making 2 fobs available per unit at no charge. However, replacements for those will be a $10 per fob.
The transponder reader is a work in progress. Oftentimes, when a transponder on the windshield doesn’t work, we add a new one to the head light and it works. The electrician continues to observe cars coming in, and testing a transponders in different places on the cars. That said, we are going to install a long range reader soon to see if that works better. That should take about 4 weeks.
The water feature is still not running optimally, or as of yesterday, at all. We believe there is a hole in a pipe either underground or internally that is causing the reservoirs to drain out quickly. The installer will be here Monday to find the leek and repair it.
Club Care will be here on Tuesday to finish plantings around the new gates, and then our Maintenance Department will install St Augustine sod to clean up all the remaining areas.
Thank you all for your patience and please reply with any questions. Stay safe!
I am sure many of you are wondering what the status is of the putting green, and when it will be back to normal again. The putting green is coming along nicely. We have taken care of all the issues with the green and have made all the necessary applications to correct any foreseeable issues that might arise.
The green is still trying to heal up a little bit, and the healing process has been slowed a bit due to the cold weather we have experienced lately. Because of the slower healing process, it has prevented us from switching the chipping green and putting greens. My plan is to switch the greens back the 1st of January. When we do so, however, the upper ridge of the green will still need some healing time, and to prevent it from being used or walked on, we will rope off the area to allow it to finish healing. We will continue to give the area all the necessary attention. With the right growing conditions and no further set-backs, we should hopefully be back to 100% soon. As always, thank you for all your continued support. We are looking forward to a great season and a much happier and healthier 2021.
Just a few updates on the entryway project. The stone was supposed to be installed yesterday, but a covid outbreak at the company shut down their operations. They have a few installers who have tested negative and those employees are being deployed to do the work this week.
The water feature is still an empty hole due to the extended period of time it took to get the permit. Paperwork turned into the Village of Estero must sit for 3 days due to the virus, and there have been multiple issues involving resubmittals. If a permit is granted today, we can have it inspected tomorrow and footers poured on Saturday.
I have spoken to the electricians and once the internet is installed (underground wiring was dug yesterday morning) then they can rehook the gate operators and hardware in the gatehouse itself.
The main gates and fencing will not be ready until Dec 1, but the precast for the tops and bottoms on the columns will be installed Thursday or Friday.
Finally, I am trying to get a night crew to do the asphalt work next week to minimize the disruption to traffic as well as avoiding the tracking of tire marks. The asphalt company will be putting a lot of sand on the pavers while they install it to keep the new pavers from being marked up.
Thank you for your patience. Feel free to reply back with any further questions.
As you may have seen, we are dealing with some issues on the practice green. We have double aerified it, top dressed it, and sodded some of the bad areas on the green as well. There are several reasons for all of this work being done. The first issue is that we are dealing with nematode issues on the green. Nematodes are microscopic worms that feed on the roots and nutrients that the turf needs to survive. The second issue is that the green had a couple of diseases called fairy ring and Pythium that were stressing out the turf. The third issue was a problem call “black layer”. Black layer is an excessive build-up of organic matter in the soil that causes the soil to seal itself off. When this happens, it holds too much water and doesn’t allow the nutrients to move freely in the soil so they can be absorbed by the turf. Subsequently, the roots shrink and die, and the turf thins out and struggles to survive. If not caught, it can eventually kill the turf.
By double aerifying the green, we physically removed the black layer and opened up the soil so the turf can breathe and begin to heal. Aerifying will help the roots to grow, strengthening the turf. Sodding will allow the green to get back to normal putting conditions faster. And implementing a fungicide program has helped to combat the diseases that were forming on the green.
With all these corrections and careful water management, I am confident that we should see a dramatic improvement in a couple weeks, and hopefully back to normal in a month or so. Thanks for all your understanding as we navigate through this situation. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. We are looking forward to a great season at Spring Run Golf Club. Thank you for all your wonderful support!