Golf Course Conditions, Efforts & Concerns

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.

Mike

Cold Weather and Turf

Dear Spring Run Members,

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.

Sincerely,

Benjamin S. Hanshew

Superintendent

Putting Green Update

Dear Spring Run Members,

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.

Sincerely

Benjamin S. Hanshew

Superintendent