Golf Course Comments

Dear Spring Run Member,

In the last Quick Survey responses that are sent out three time per year to 1/3 of the membership each time, we received some comments that were expected given the course conditions over the past couple months. I will address a number of various concerns over several blogs, but wanted to start off with this one. These are all anonymous FYI.

“The fairways and roughs are cut way to short. There are bare spots all over the course. There many areas that you can’t use your short irons because there is no grass. The course over the summer was in great shape. What happen to the course? It’s not due to the amount of play. People have told me the course in being neglected because of budgetary reasons. I can’t believe that after spending $3.1m+. Why is the course being neglected . This is our #1 asset. I will be embarrassed at the member/guest on the 20th. If the condition of the course is not improved. I am speaking for myself and many of our golfers. This needs to be addressed ASAP.”

The comments in this survey response are understandable. The current situation is counter-intuitive. “The golf course was in great shape over the summer. What happened to the course???”  I’ve heard it often, and I felt this would be a good forum to give the explanation to a larger audience.

First, the golf course was in great shape before renovation. Regardless of its irrigation, drainage, and turf issues, it had a very thick protective organic layer built up between the roots and the grass shoot.  It was green and lush. Then we killed it off and dug it up, dispersing the organic layer throughout the course. Remember that this course was built years ago on top of a very sandy soil. It will not hold nutrients in the plants until it builds up an organic layer. So, fast forward to the summer: we had a brand new course with no organic layer, but it had sun, heat, and rain. Not too much rain, but some rain.  Enough to help it grow. Simply add some fertilizer, and BAM! It grew green and lush. The summer and fall were filled with positive compliments on its condition, and frankly, I thought we were out of the woods. But, along came a very rainy fall. So much rain that it washed away any nutrients in the soil, along with any fertilizer that had been applied. The grass looked good and the late fall temperatures were actually quite nice, but the course was starving. By the time we got to December, it was weaker than it normally would have been. It had no protection and not enough nutrition remained in the plants. It wasn’t being neglected. But it had been set back enough that it took longer to recover.

Then the worst thing possible happens. In January, it gets cold, and the course stops growing. And there are wild storms and inconsistent weather patterns that produce lots of cloudy, cool, wet days. Fertilizer that is applied keeps washing away. But the maintenance and cultivation of the course continues on regardless of temperature. We didn’t have to mow for 14 days straight! We heaped on lots of fertilizer….significantly more than budgeted. And once the sun came out and the temperatures increased, the course has flourished.

Height of Cut: We began raising the fairway heights in November, and we are now up to a ¼”. But cart traffic compounds the illusion that we are mowing too closely. The reality is the young turf is not able to withstand all the cart traffic.  Just look at the areas we have roped off. They look great!

Fertilizer/Pest Program: in January,  we began applying a special blend of fertilizer, combined with crushed shellfish, to combat nematodes populations in locations that have a history of nematode activity.   In addition, we are using an organic fertilizer to encourage microbial activity in the soil and provide a longer lasting food source for the turf.  All signs point to a fully recovered golf course shortly.

Third Party Professional comments from an independent turf grass professional…. who reminded me that “the most important thing to convey to your members is that this not confined to Spring Run. This is widespread throughout Florida” and “Overall there is great coverage on the greens. Much better than at many courses I have seen. They are rolling very true.” He went on to say “I would put your greens up against any other course in the area. I truly cannot say anything bad about them.”

Mike

 

Advertisements

Ground Under Repair

Dear Spring Run Member,

With several areas of turf being roped off recently, some are uncertain as to how to play the ball if they land in it, or next to some rope.

Ground Under Repair (GUR) will be defined by either:

  1. Complete circle of white paint
  2. Completely roped area, or
  3. Combination of the two

Some areas are partially roped, and then connected with white paint to surround an area. Either way, it is Ground Under Repair.

NOTE: Maintenance has painted white dashed lines running lengthwise along some fairways. This is for the equipment operators to show them where they should move the line of cut to, NOT GUR

The Rules of golf allow you to play the ball as it lies within the boundary of Ground Under Repair, but it is recommended to take relief as described by the diagram below.

Please let us know if you have any questions. Thank you.

GROUND

 

 

Golf Course Update

Dear Spring Run Members,

I would like to take this opportunity to relay to you the action and progress that we have taken over the past few weeks on the golf course. I have heard a number of comments and questions about recent conditions and I hope I can adequately address them.

Several weeks ago, we began to notice a slight decline in the turf in certain areas of the course. Of particular note were fairways areas on #2 and #7, and around the edges of a number of other greens. And there were more than a couple comments that the greens were soft and/or too wet. We have taken a number of steps to address each problem, and would like to review those steps and provide you an update. In addition, members are noticing a patchy color in the fairway grasses.

First, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that we are experiencing an El Nino, perhaps one of the strongest since 1950. El Nino is characterized by warmer Pacific Ocean temperatures, which in combination with a stronger Southern jet stream,  bring cooler temperatures, damp conditions,  and abnormal cloud cover. Without getting into to the technical aspects, suffice to say that we have seen more fungus  and more thinning of the turf, especially in areas that typically get more shade. We have roped off these areas to traffic and are looking to thin some of the canopies that are blocking sunlight. But El Nino is a contributor, and not the main reason for the problem…but it will be with us throughout the Spring.  The main problem is nematodes.

Nema-what? That’s what I often hear in response. Nema-todes. Microscopic pests that love sandy soils and delicious turf roots. Any time you see a thin, balding patch of turf, you can bet that 9 times out of 10, it’s nematodes. Its not a mower scalping the grass. Its not a lack of fertilizer or water. It’s a pest. And if they persist, you can fertilize and water all day long to no avail. Nematodes attach themselves to the root and suck out all the nutrients, resulting in shorter root systems and unhealthy plants. Nematodes are the scourge of the golf course greenskeeper, and unfortunately, there is little on the market left to control them. In years past, we would simply apply Nemacure, and the problem would go away. Can’t buy it anymore. We spend a lot of money on Curfew, which is good but it is only so effective. Fortunately, we have stumbled on a natural substance that we hope will help control the problem. Its call Shellfish Fertilizer, or Crustacean Meal, a natural source of calcium, nitrogen, and many trace minerals. Derived from crab shells, shrimp shells and crab meal, it contains chitin, which the nematodes really don’t like. Once it leaches into the soil, it drives the little pests away, and the turf gets healthy again. Gregg has applied this meal on thin areas around the course and we are monitoring the results. They have also been applying a very strong insecticide to control other pests that like to wreak havoc on a golf course, and fungicides to control the rapid growth of various fungi that thrive in overcast conditions, and we are slowly seeing results in those areas as well.

As I mentioned above, the thin areas around the greens are not man-made. This is again another example of a pest or fungus causing a decline in certain areas. While we are combating this conditions, we have raised the height of cut for a short period of time in order for the roots to grow thicker and healthier. When you mow too low, there is less leaf blade, and therefore, less chlorophyll and nutrients for the plant. In the absence of sunshine, and in conjunction with the aforementioned pest factors, the turf declines.  Raising the cut is helping the root system grow longer, which will help the Tif Eagle Bermuda thicken back up.

While these other applications and practices are being implemented, the crew has also been spiking,  topdressing, and also aerifying. This was the last piece of the perfect storm that occurred in mid December. We have a machine called a Toro “Hydroject” aerator. This little beauty keeps the greens in great shape by injecting high pressure water jets into the soil, aerifying them without the traditional coring that you see twice a summer. Those 2 “cores affect play and causes a bumpiness that we can’t tolerate in season, so the hydroject allows us to continue to cultivate without interruption to the membership. Of course, it broke down in November. We got it back two weeks ago, and we are back on our regular schedule.  And the Hydraject also helped open up the greens surface, which allowed it to drain better. The turf and the roots on the greens is so thick in most areas, that it needs that regular aerification to drain more effectively and not hold water.

Lastly, I would like to comment on the two different colors of turf that you are seeing on the course. You are seeing the new, darker 419 Bermudagrass, and some of the old 419 Bermudagrass in patches together. First, please understand these are two healthy, quality stands of turf. The mutations and lower quality Bermuda were plowed under and have a hard time competing with the more aggressive 419. That said, we didn’t kill off all the old stuff. We tried. Hard. Except that in order to have killed off all that old Bermuda, we would have had to fumigate the entire course. We did apply methyl bromide to the greens prior to grassing them, at a cost of $70,000. But that was only for about 4 acres of greens. We have 40 acres of tees and fairways, and 40 acres of rough, which would have cost well over a million. And keep in mind that no courses that I am familiar with are doing that. Most didn’t even rototill their old grasses under before sprigging anew.

Please remember that a golf course is a living thing, and maintaining a healthy balance requires enormous skill and constant attention. I hope that this answers some questions and addresses some concerns.  Thank you

Mike

 

You asked, we listened – Golf Operations

Dear Spring Run Member,

Each year, we survey our membership at the end of the season, and the results are discussed with the staff and committees in an effort to make improvements. Yes, we do read everything you submit, and do our best to address each area of concern.

So I got to thinking…. “But how do the members know we pay attention to their survey concerns?” The answer is found in a new series of articles entitled “You asked, we listened”, which will list the solutions to specific comments by department that were made in the End of Season survey. While there were numerous comments included in the survey, we only list the ones that we have found solutions for. The second article is Golf Operations.

Speed of Play

  • COMMENT: “I feel something needs to be done to speed up play. If you are going to have rangers, have them do their job and not just wave and say hello and have a good round.”
  • SOLUTION: Training is always ongoing with our Rangers, but it would also be beneficial if the members understand how they are supposed to do their jobs. Click here to  read Mike Frattarelli’s article explaining Rangers duties, policies and procedures, red flags, golf shop involvement, and training. Head Pro Jeff Carter recently wrote an article in the News on the Run with tips on improving pace of play. Tips to speed up play ( click to read)

Outside staff approaching members after play   

  • COMMENT “The Bag Boys are instructed to approach golfers after the round like a flock of vultures. They need to relax.”
  • SOLUTION: The outside staff is instructed to take care of members after the round in a non-rushed approach. However during certain times such as shotguns, members are waiting on the carts to start their round.  We are developing ways to speed up the turnaround process for the staff by scheduling more staff during the busy hours, hopefully making the membership not feel so rushed after the round.

Merchandise in Pro Shop                            

  • COMMENT “Merchandise in Golf Shop not so great”.
  • SOLUTION: In the Golf Shop for the 2015-2016 season, new women’s and men’s apparel will start to be introduced in September and fresh stock will be coming throughout the season.  New fashion groups, including some new vendors’ product, will be coming in regularly to keep a nice variety available. Special orders are always available to meet specific requirements.

Chelsea points for Transfer Members   

  • COMMENT “I think we as owners need to be advised on how Chelsea points are applied to Transfer members.”
  • SOLUTION: Click here  to read Jeff Carter’s article that explains how the points are determined for Transfer members as well as how we allocate Transfer tee times.

Winners for Weekly Events       

  • COMMENT “It would be nice to know the weekly winners of golf events especially the club championship.“
  • SOLUTION: We will be letting the members know where to look in the Golf Section on the web site for weekly golf events winners, and also in the Event Book located at the Handicap station in the hallway.  We will also include the results in the Club Connector.

Also, several members made comments in regard to a personnel issue, and we have addressed that issue.

GPS Blind Spot

Members have asked the question, “why can’t we see the carts that are in front of us on the course?”  You probably have noticed that you can see the carts in front of you on three holes (#2, #10, and #12) Their system calls this function “blind shot”.  I emailed our Account Manager from GPS industries for his response.

Brian responded: “It is our intention to only show “blind shot” for 3 holes.  Our software limits the number of blind shot allowed.  There is no upgrade that will show all carts on all holes”.  “I think you are probably comparing this system with your previous system.  The previous Uplink system had a Cart Ahead feature that would show all carts on all holes.  This system we have now has a Blind Shot feature that will only show the other carts on the hole if they are in the Blind Zone”.  “As many courses that loved the Cart Ahead feature, there were an equal number of courses that did not like it”.  “Courses would complain that it wasn’t accurate enough, so we decided to only show carts on the Blind Shot holes that the course has designated”.

Another reason for the limited viewing has to do with cost and limited broadband. The old Parview system used radio frequencies that bounced around the course from repeaters, a very inexpensive technology. The current system uses cellular broadband and it has been cost prohibitive to maintain enough broadband frequency to track real-time location of each golf cart and then communicate that to each cart.  All that said, GPS inc. has told us they are considering this option for those clubs that are interested in it in the future.

Hopefully this information provided we give an answer and explanation why we do not currently have this feature on our golf carts.

Jeff Carter, PGA Head Golf Professional

Pitfalls and Progress! 

I took a drive around the course on a utility cart today to see how the deluge of rain from yesterday’s thunderstorms affected us. Sure enough, everywhere I went I saw the tell tale signs of relentless rain on sandy turf..deep gullies of washed out soil and crushed shell, often preceded by patches of undermined sod, like deflated mini-moguls. Two days worth of work for several staff to repair the damage from each rainfall. It is constant maintenance in the rainy season. Thankfully, once the turf is established and the roots penetrate into the soil, we will eliminate a large amount of the erosion that is occurring now. That said, the soft paths and waste bunkers will continue to rut out like the regular fairway and greenside bunkers do now following any significant rain event.

Amidst the devastation to the perimeter areas of the course, a beautiful sight came into view. The fairway on #7 was being core aerified and top-dressed…a sure sign of progress! This newly planted course is now lush enough in many areas to handle an aerification that bores hundreds of thousands of 5/8” inch holes into each fairway, followed by a hopper full of top-dressing being spread across the freshly cored turf. Once dragged and redistributed, the fairways will begin to smooth out… they are anything but that now….until we can produce the ideal conditions that you have been used to experiencing at Spring Run.  And from a cultivation standpoint, this aerification helps to bring about a huge growth spurt, not only in the leaf blades, but also in the root zone as air can get to them, strengthening the entire stand of grass. Certainly the back 9 has a way to go, but judging from the progress underway on the front 9, a lot of growth can occur in two months. 

On a related note, the golf course should still open on time barring unforeseen circumstances. We are watching the progress of the turf on #9 and will make some decisions on opening the range earlier once the finish paver work is complete. When we decide when we can reopen it, we will let you know immediately. In addition, many members have indicated their desire to get out on the course for a tour. Currently, we have scheduled Thurs Oct 30th and Fri 31st as course tour days in preparation for Opening Day. However, we have secured some 8 passenger carts for October, and hope to do some tours ahead of those dates…just not too soon due to the condition of some of the holes right now.

Thank you for your patience!  Let me know if you have questions.

 Sincerely,

Mike

Golf Professional

Dear Spring Run Member,

Our Head Golf Professional, Joe Allinder, announced yesterday that he is leaving Spring Run to become the Head Golf Professional at Imperial Golf Club, effective Oct 1. We sincerely appreciate all of Joe’s hard work and dedication over the past 12 years and we wish him the best of luck in his new position. Joe’s career began at Imperial, and now he has the opportunity to return to work for his old boss who was recently promoted to GM.

I have already submitted this search to the PGA, and expect many qualified candidates to come forward. I will be coordinating this search with the Golf Committee over the next few weeks, and hope to have a PGA Class A Professional in place prior to reopening. In the meantime, we will start the Merchandiser, Valerie McQuade, much sooner than planned so she can be trained and ready after Joe leaves. With the course still on schedule for a Nov 1 opening, there is a significant amount of work to be done in the Golf Operation, and we plan to move forward with the hiring of a new Head Golf Professional without delay.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reply to gm@springrun.com.

Thank you. 

Mike