Explanation of chemical applications to be used during re-grassing project

Dear Spring Run Members,

It has been brought to my attention that there are some questions and concerns about the spray applications that will be applied next year prior to re-grassing. I would like to take this opportunity to educate and inform everyone about the products being used and all the precautions that we will take to ensure the safety of all our members, their guests and the environment.

Before I had this posted, I made several calls to fellow superintendents who are either doing renovations this year, or who have done renovations in recent years, to find out what they used for their applications. I contacted Heritage Palms, Palmira, Bonita Bay, and Kensington, as well as talked to several vendors to ask if anyone they knew had substituted something else for round up. Every single one of the people I spoke to all said they used Roundup. The reason is that it is the only thing on the market that will give the most effective and proper kill on the grass. There is no substitute for it. If you remove Roundup from the spray, nothing can replace it, and the effectiveness of the kill will be compromised. As we stated in the Board Meetings, the most important aspect of this project is the kill of the current grasses. If we can’t get a good kill then there is no reason to even do the project. We will because we will be right back in this current situation in a few years and we will have wasted $500,000. Because Roundup is not the only chemical in the applications, we will be using a lower, but still effective, rate of in conjunction with two other products: Trichlopyr and Turflon Ester, along with some ammonium sulfate, and an additive to help the chemical stick to, and be absorbed by, the plant.  

I understand the concerns about Roundup, considering all the news that has been written about it in recent years. A couple facts to keep in mind though, is that it would take years of direct exposure to Roundup to have any harmful effects on anyone in the community. We will just be doing four sprays to the course and it will be completely closed on those days so no one except myself or my assistant will be around the chemicals. No members or guests will be allowed on or anywhere around the golf course.  Once the chemical is dry, it is in the plant and doing what it is supposed to be doing. The morning after the spray, we will run an irrigation cycle on the turf to wash off any residue that might be left. This will ensure that no one will come in contact with chemical applied the previous day. There has also been some concern raised about waterways and the chemicals getting into waterways. We are not going all the way down to the ponds when we re-grass. We will stay about 18″ to 2 feet away from the edges of the ponds, so there is little to no risk of us contaminating any water sources around the property. To ensure that our water is safe from chemical contamination, we will spray down to about 3-4 feet from the pond edge. The remaining 1-2 feet will be hand sprayed to control the application and apply it only to where it is intended. We will also watch the weather closely and make sure not to spray if rain is expected to negate the risk of run off. Leaching is not a big concern since the chemicals being applied are sprayed at low enough rates that the soil will be able to break it down and prevent it from getting to any subsurface water sources.

I can assure everyone in Spring Run that we will take all precautions to make sure that no member or guest comes in contact with the chemical. I hope this answers any questions, but if not, please don’t hesitate to email me or talk to your greens committee representatives. I will be more than happy to answer any questions or concerns anyone has. As always thank you for your continued support as we strive to make Spring Run Golf Club the Best Bundled Golf Community in Southwest Florida.

Thanks

Benjamin S. Hanshew

Superintendent

Fertilizer Burn

Dear Spring Run Members,

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.

Sincerely

Benjamin S. Hanshew

Spring Run Golf Club

Superintendent

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

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