Monday, February 1, 2016

Florida - The Sunshine State

They call Florida the Sunshine State. After the month of January; I would like to know who "they" are. Out of the 31 days in the month, there were 24 days that were cloudy and overcast and over 12 inches of rain fell on the golf course. Not what I would call "sunshine".

Constant rain and overcast weather have plagued most of the State in January

Those are some staggering numbers that have made it extremely difficult to present the golf course to highest standards expected on a daily basis. During the month there was also frost experienced for a brief time. To help combat those issues, several cultural practices have been implemented on the golf course including:

  • applications of liquid fertilizers to promote growth and strengthen the turf grass
  • applications of plant protectant products to prevent diseases from impacting the turf health
  • applications of sand to the greens to help protect the turf canopy
  • spiking of greens to encourage oxygen exchange
  • increased mowing heights in fairways, tees and greens to capture more sunlight
  • trimming of trees to allow more sunlight to turf canopy
  • the use of the golf cart computer system "Visage" to prevent golf carts from entering wet and low lying areas
  • the use of directional signs and stakes to guide cart traffic through compacted areas
Shade has been an issue on two of our greens on Holes 7 and 10. The Palm trees on Hole 7 to the left of the green as well as the Shady Lady trees behind the green of Hole 10 have recently been pruned to allow more sunlight and to help increase soil temperature. Not only does the lack of sunlight cause a problem but the shade also decreases the temperature of the soil. Our warm season grass needs both direct sunlight and soil temperatures above 65 degrees to actively grow. With the sun so low in the sky this time of year, the effective sunlight is diminished due to the low angle in the horizon. This creates greater problems from surrounding trees and buildings as they cast a larger shadow across the turf.

Shade from trees on Hole 10 have a detrimental effect on turf grass quality at the back of the green
The suns elevation in the sky is at its lowest point in the horizon during the winter months

The cool weather experienced during the month, including a mild frost, has had an impact on the color of the turf grass as well. The warm season Bermuda grass that is used throughout the golf course turns to a straw color during the cooler weather as it struggles with dormancy. This, coupled with excess traffic that compacts the soil makes it difficult to grow green, healthy turf. As the warmer weather returns and cultural practices resume, the turf grass will return to its natural vibrant green color.

As a golfer, there are many things that you can do to help prevent damage and make the golf course as enjoyable as possible for other members and, importantly, your next round of golf:
  • repair ball marks by pushing the sides in to the middle
  • fill divots with sand
  • keep four wheels on the cart path - please
  • use the 90 degree rule as much as possible to get your next shot
  • keep golf carts out of low lying areas and drainage basins
  • scatter your driving pattern to help reduce cart compaction
  • follow directional signs and warning notices
  • encourage your playing partners to do the same
Your golf maintenance team is doing everything it can to provide quality playing conditions for all golfers. With your help, and hopefully some sunny weather from Mother Nature, the golf course will remain healthy and enjoyable for the remainder of the golfing season.

Members  enjoying a round of golf on Hole 18 February 1, 2016

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