Tuesday, October 24, 2023

October 2023 Update

 It has been a very productive month for Copperleaf GCM as we gear up things for our busy season and prepare to take on the many rounds of golf that come with it.

The turfgrass on the golf course is in excellent health. The cooler temperatures that we have recently experienced have slightly reduced the growth rate on both our turfgrass and landscape material, which is a nice change. Keeping up with all of the mowing and trimming on our property is extremely time consuming, and a nice break in the intensity allows us to focus elsewhere and complete small projects and detail work to enhance aesthetics around the property.

Looking back at a sunrise from #4 green. The muhly grass is in full bloom and the course is currently in excellent playing condition.

We recently completed our biannual soil testing of the putting greens, which gives us a clear picture of soil pH, salinity, and nutrient levels. This is similar to getting bloodwork completed on the human body. Any deficiencies or issues are identified and subsequently remediated. In addition to soil testing, root depth is monitored on a monthly basis. During our October inspection, we observed deep, healthy roots, validating the success of our cultural practices and overall agronomic program.

Healthy, white roots are observed in this soil sample. When temperatures and daylight decrease, a reduction in root depth soon follows. It is critical to enter the cool season with healthy roots and a thriving plant. 

Root depth is routinely monitored and logged as a data parameter used to evaluate turfgrass health.

During the fall and winter months, the intensity of our cultural practices are greatly reduced and primarily consist of light surface grooming and biweekly topdressing applications. These methods will provide us with optimum green speeds and a healthy playing surface.

Topdressing #18 green in early October.

One of our summer projects included the reshaping of the greenside bunker on hole #7. Over the years, there has been an accumulation of sand on the grass face at the top of the bunker. This is a common issue with greenside bunkers, specifically those located in front of greens, mostly due to excessive sand splashing from bunker shots. As a result, the bunker becomes much more difficult to play out of. Additionally, approach shots that barely clear the top of the bunker will take an aggressive bounce, oftentimes rolling over the green. The reshaping process consisted of removing the turf around the bunker, softening the slope, and replacing the turf. Fresh bunker sand was then added to finish the project. The end result is a bunker that is much more aesthetically pleasing with an improvement in playability.

The process consisted of removing the existing turfgrass, pulling the sand back, lowering the soil around the bunker and placing the sod back.
A view of the greenside bunker on hole #7 after the work was completed. Notice the top edge was lowered and softened and more of the green is now visible. 

We recently added new material to all of our tennis and bocce courts. This is completed to replace any clay lost through the year from heavy play, winds and rains. Each fall, the courts receive a fresh dressing of new material which ultimately provides us with an optimum playing surface through our busy season.

Over 3,000 lbs of Hydroblend surfacing material was added to our tennis and bocce courts in early October.  

Lastly, I want to thank our members for their continued adherence to the lead group pace of play policy. As a reminder, lead groups are permitted to play no faster than 1 hour and 45 minutes for 9 holes, and 3 hours and 30 minutes for 18 holes. This policy provides the Golf Course Maintenance staff with sufficient time to set the golf course up each morning prior to play. Our team begins working each morning at 5:30 am in order to fully prepare the golf course for play each day. When the first groups of the day play faster than what is deemed to be appropriate, our course setup operation is rushed and the golf course is not properly prepared for play. For example, bunkers may not be raked properly, debris and leaves may not be blown off greens, etc. Additionally, if the first groups of the day happen to pass our fairway, tee, or approach mowers and blowers, our team then becomes sandwiched in between play, extending the time it takes to complete their assignment by an hour or more. While closely monitoring speed and not playing too fast may seem counterintuitive, our ability to properly set up the golf course each morning creates an opportunity for all golfers of the day to fully enjoy their experience.

As always, please feel free to email any questions, comments or concerns to parkerf@copperleafgc.com.

Friday, September 15, 2023

September 2023 Update

It has been an extremely busy past few months at Golf Course Maintenance as we have been working hard preparing for season and wrapping up our summer cultural practices. 

In early August, we were almost fully recovered from our major aerification when a main line irrigation leak was observed underneath the road crossing between holes #13 and #14. The repair was extremely problematic and took 8 days to fully complete the repair. Unfortunately, we were left without irrigation water for 8 days in the heat of the summer while the system was shut down during the repair. I am incredibly thankful for my staff in persevering through the challenges and successfully executing the repair. 

In the early stages of the repair, the existing pipe was removed from the 15" sleeve located underneath the road.

The removal process of the existing pipe proved to be very challenging as there was not much room between the sleeve and the existing 10" pipe. Several different pieces of equipment were required to dislodge the pipe and remove it from the sleeve.

Once the pipe was removed, a new 10" pipe was inserted into the sleeve and the appropriate fittings were installed.

The repair consisted of many days working sun up to sun down.

Once the new 10" pipe and fittiings were installed, the system was slowly repressurized and operational following an 8 day shut down.

While we were fortunate not to have any long-term negative effects as a result of this leak, there have been several areas that suffered from the dry conditions needing some extra TLC, specifically in the fairways and greens. We have been diligent in our recovery efforts and these areas are slowly showing signs of new growth. We are confident that the golf course will be in pristine shape by early October.  

It pains me to post a picture like this, but it is important to recognize the stress observed throughout the golf course without the appropriate irrigation.

This photo was taken 25 days later. New growth has been observed and these areas are fully recovering.

Our September, three-day-closure allowed us time to deep tine aerify all fairways with 3/4 solid tines. This allows for additional compaction relief and oxygen exchange at a depth of over 8 inches. During this closure we were also able to catch up on much needed trimming, edging and detail work. 

All fairways were deep tined during our September closure.

Additionally, on September 13th, we completed our annual Dryject application to all putting surfaces. Dryject is a technology that uses high pressure water to inject columns of clean sand into newly created aeration holes. The benefits of this process are compaction relief, an increase in water infiltration and percolation, and amending the organic layer of the rootzone with sand. Furthermore, this is an extremely non-invasive procedure that hardly affects playability. 

The Dryject machine is loaded with kiln dried sand. Three machines in total were used. Each machine required three of our staff members to keep the hoppers full of sand at all times.

#1 Green immediately following the Dryject procedure.

#1 Green after rolling, dragging, and mowing. Picture was taken 24 hours after the photo above.

The Dryject process fractures the soil and inserts a column of sand into the soil profile diluting the organic layer and creating a healthy growing medium for new root growth.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

2023 Aerification

Despite the record setting temperatures experienced over the past several weeks, the weather has cooperated and allowed us to successfully carry out all necessary cultural practices during our aerification closure. 

Our final week of closure will consist of some final cultural practices, fertilization, and putting the golf course back together so it is ready for play upon reopening on July 31st. 

Here is a breakdown of the major cultural practices that will have been completed upon reopening:

Greens - Verticut 4x, Aerified 2x, Topdressed 2x

Fairways and Approaches - Verticut 4x, Aerified 2x

Tees - Verticut 2x, Aerified 2x, Topdressed 1x

Rough - Aerified 2x

The most time-consuming part of the process is cleaning up after each of these practices. The cleanup process consists of numerous tractors, utility vehicles, sweepers, vacuums, brushes, mowers and blowers. This ensures the playing surface is as clean as possible for sufficient recovery. 

Prior to reopening, the entire golf course will have been fertilized to encourage new growth and expedite the recovery process.

While the golf course was in excellent shape prior to our closure, it is vital that we carry out these major cultural practices each year. Aerification and verticutting both offer numerous agronomic benefits, such as compaction relief, thatch removal, improved air exchange, deeper rooting and enhanced nutrient and water uptake.

We are incredibly fortunate to have such a hard-working maintenance staff at Copperleaf. The team has endured extreme temperatures, late hours and a myriad of different tasks necessary for us to successfully complete all of our aerification practices.

Below are some pictures highlighting our work over the closure.

Prior to the greens being aerified, a layer of topdressing sand is applied to the surface.
Once topdressed, greens were then aerified with 5/8" coring tines. The cores are collected in the rectangular box mounted behind the machine and dropped at the end of each pass, where a crew will remove and haul off the debris.
Once the greens have been aerified and cleaned, they are rolled and brushed in several directions to help incorporate sand into the channels created by the aerifier.
Finished product of our putting surfaces after two aerifications.

First mow on greens following both aerifications - Friday, July 21st.
Our Toro Procore 1298 in action aerifying #9 fairway.
Fairways were verticut immediately after being aerified. They were verticut a total of 4 times during the closure.
Our two VC60 Fairway verticutters are seen on hole #6 with the 1298 aerifier finishing in the background.
Aerial view of our three vacuums cleaning debris on hole #4.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

June 2023 GCM Update

Summer has officially begun at Copperleaf! We have fortunately been receiving steady rains to help fill up our lakes and provide the Golf Course with some much needed moisture.

The turfgrass on the Golf Course is in excellent health as we begin to put plans in place for our major cultural practices scheduled to occur during the three-week July closure. 

The recent summer rains have balanced out our aesthetics and
filled up our lakes.

Our annual Curfew soil fumigant application was successfully completed during our June, three-day closure. Curfew is a nematicide applied to eradicate parasitic nematodes in turf. Nematodes are microscopic roundworms that feed on plant tissues. Each year, this product is applied to control nematode populations to ensure that our turfgrass is healthy and performs to our high standards. The slits from the machines have left temporary scars, as expected, and should be healed in the next week or two. We recently applied a bulk fertilizer application to the entire golf course which will expedite the recovery process.

The Curfew application is completed by injecting the product
5-7" into the soil. 
Temporary linear scars can be observed for 2-3 weeks
following the application. 

With the warmer temperatures and active turfgrass growth, we have been routinely vertical mowing (verticutting) our putting surfaces. Verticutting is accomplished by utilizing a mower with thin blades that cut vertically into the green. This practice is completed to remove excessive leaf growth, improve surface smoothness and promote upright turfgrass growth. 

Our Summer Annual flowers were installed earlier this month. Red and Green Coleus have been planted and are growing in nicely. The red and green color contrast will offer enhanced aesthetics around our key areas of the entrance and clubhouse over the next several months. 

We have recently started the process of preparing to install turfgrass to a large area in between holes #16 and #17. The Greens and Grounds Committee has supported the idea to eliminate a large section of pinestraw and native grasses. In the past, this bed was nearly 400 yards long consisting of native grasses, palm trees, olive trees, and other native plants. Unfortunately, this extremely large area was very popular for golf balls, in addition to consuming a great amount of our time and resources in both trimming and weed control. During our July closure, we will harvest sprigs from our fairways during the verticutting process, and then plant this area with Celebration bermudagrass. We are confident that the pinestraw bed reduction will be aesthetically pleasing and much easier to play from, with a secondary benefit of helping pace of play.

During the aerification process, we will use sprigs generated from
our fairways to plant this area with Celebration Bermudagrass,
matching our existing turfgrass.

Ornamental grasses, native plants, and pinestraw were removed in
a large section of the bed located between holes #16 and #17.

A view of the project from #17. The existing palms and trees
will continue to offer separation between these two holes,
but playability and aesthetics will both be enhanced. 

As always, feel free to email any questions, comments or concerns to parkerf@copperleafgc.com.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

May 2023 GCM Update

While we are now in the rainy season in southern Florida, we are missing the...rain. It is seemingly raining everywhere but Copperleaf, but I remain optimistic that will come very soon. As of today, the lake levels are the lowest they have been in my nearly 2 years at Copperleaf. We are continuing to selectively irrigate dry areas through the day, but our supply is quickly diminishing. Fingers crossed, we will soon receive the much needed rain to fill up our lakes and balance out the turfgrass aesthetics.

Our new butterfly garden continues to thrive with several species of butterflies having found this new location. With its early success, we are likely going to be expanding the garden on both sides to provide additional habitat and enhance the aesthetics around this area. 

Our first Wednesday closure of the year included a small-tine aerification on the putting greens. Small, 1/4" coring tines were used to open up the soil profile in order to reduce compaction, promote oxygen exchange and encourage new root growth. The greens were topdressed prior to aerifying in order to fill the holes and incorporate sand into the soil profile. 

Greens were topdressed prior to the 1/4" small-tine aerification

This was the first aerification with coring tines of 2023

Following aerification, the sand was brushed in and rolled for smoothness

During this one-day closure, we also had a contractor on property to conduct our annual root pruning of the golf course. Trees compete with turfgrass for both water and nutrients. The root pruning is a one-day process with a tractor-mounted pruning system that makes its way around the golf course pruning roots around large trees. The machine that is used is very efficient, with minimal surface disruption and virtually no cleanup necessary. It severs roots up to 6" in diameter and slices to a depth of 10" into the soil. This process prevents tree root encroachment into the turfgrass, ultimately eliminating the loss of water and nutrients. 

Tree root pruning is an annual process that promotes turfgrass health without causing harm to the trees

Our annual Curfew application is scheduled during our June 6th - 8th closure. Curfew is a soil fumigant and is extremely effective in eradicating plant-parasitic nematodes. Nematodes are microscopic roundworms that feed on living plant tissue. These extremely destructive pests can potentially kill very large areas of turf. During this application, Curfew is injected into the soil as a liquid. It then volatilizes and moves through the soil, eradicating the unwanted pests. Following the application, the injection lines or "slits" in the turf will be visible throughout the golf course for several weeks. A fertilizer application is scheduled soon after the application to expidite the recovery process and help heal the temporary scars. 

Lastly, we have formally achieved our recertification as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. Copperleaf initially earned this designation in 2006, with a recertification requirement every three years. Over the past 17 years, Copperleaf has continued to demonstrate a commitment to environmental sustainability through enhancing wildlife habitat and protecting natural resources. 

As always, feel free to email any questions, comments or concerns to parkerf@copperleafgc.com.

Purple Martin hatchlings

Great Crested Flycatcher nesting on Hole #10

Repurposed tee marker stones have been cleaned and will now serve as permanant tee markers for the yellow tees.

Monday, April 17, 2023

April 2023 GCM Update

The CMGA Men's Invitational was a tremendous success this year, and capped off a wonderful season of golf at Copperleaf. As the temperatures continue to increase and the rains begin to fall, we shift our turfgrass focus from general maintenence to cultural practices. This includes verticutting, topdressing, aerification and all of the beneficial practices that provide us with fantastic year-round playing conditions. The rate of growth tremendously increases this time of the year, not only on the golf course turfgrass, but landscape material as well. This requires a shorter interval of time between mowings and trimmings, greatly increasing our work intensity. 

#18 Green on the final day of the CMGA Men's Invitational

The Men's Invitational concluded with a highly competitive shootout on #18

Prior to April 12th, we had accumulated a grand total of 0.23 inches of rain for 2023 - well below average. The lakes were extremely low and the golf course was in desperate need of rainfall. Between April 12th and April 17th we were fortunate enough to receive a total of 2 inches of rainfall which saturated the soil profile and provided us with a nice flush. The turfgrass on the golf course now has a much more uniform appearance and the lakes have filled up with enough water to get us through the rainy season. 

We are currently in the process of identifying tee markers to use for our yellow, forward tees. You may notice some different options on holes #1, #2, and #3 as we gather feedback and ultimately decide on the best long-term solution to effectively identify this teeing ground. 

As mentioned in the March update, we are currently in the process of completing our recertification for our Aubudon Cooperative Sanctuary designation. This process includes case studies, backup documentation, application logs, scouting reports and other ways to demonstrate our high standard of environmental stewardship at Copperleaf. We have recently completed the installation of our butterfly garden, which is located between holes #3 and #4, to the right of the bridge before #4 tee. We filled this area with a variety of pollinating plants such as milkweed, lantana, sage, firespike, firebush, sweet almond, powderpuff, passion vine, blue daze, tibochina, hibiscus and jasmine. The butterfly population has already increased in this area, and we are hopeful that this area provides a suitable habitat for years to come. 

Butterfly Garden located between #3 Green and #4 Tee

Next week, we will be adding pinestraw to key areas around greens and tees. This application is scheduled every spring and will enhance aesthetics in addition to providing erosion and weed control. 

Lastly, I wanted to share an infographic developed by the USGA and GCSAA to serve as a reminder to always do your best to leave the golf course in better shape than you found it. The Golf Course Maintenance team works very hard to provide high quality playing conditions, and we greatly appreciate your help in practicing proper course etiquette.

As always, feel free to email any questions or comments to parkerf@copperleafgc.com.

Please enjoy a few photos below that were taken over the past month!