Monday, December 1, 2014

Trying to Make a Hazard... Less Hazardous

According to the United States Golf Association (USGA), there is no rule on bunker rake placement, and although the USGA places rakes outside of bunkers for their Championships, for daily play the USGA understands that placing rakes inside bunkers is preferred at most golf courses. Placing the rakes inside of the bunker has been the protocol at Olde Florida since its inception in 1993. Among other reasons, if the rakes remain inside the bunker, mowing and mobility of other golf course equipment around bunkers is more efficient. 

The bunkers are raked every day at Olde Florida. Each morning after a member of the golf course operations staff rakes a bunker they place all of the rakes on a flat surface several feet inside the bunker. Rakes are not placed along the back edge - in the “line of play”. Placing the rake several feet inside the bunker, on a flat surface, is done to prevent a ball from coming to rest against a rake on a steep slope within the bunker, a hazard. 

Regardless of bunker rake placement, if a ball comes to rest against a rake, and the ball moves once the rake (a movable obstruction) is removed, the USGA Rules of Golf require that the ball be replaced (see Rule 24-1). If the rake were placed on a steep slope, replacing a ball on the slope is not always possible. If the ball won’t stay where it must be replaced (Rule 20-3d), or anywhere within the bunker not nearer the hole, the player may either drop the ball, under penalty of one stroke, outside the bunker (Rule 1-4; Equity) keeping the point where the ball lay directly between the hole and the spot in which the ball is dropped, or play under the stroke and distance option of the unplayable ball Rule (Rule 28).

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Being Social!

This past week I was honored to be a speaker at the Carolinas GCSA Annual Conference and Show in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The annual gathering of golf course superintendents, assistant superintendents and industry representatives is one of the most successful and well-attended regional trade shows in the golf course industry. 

At the event, I joined Pat Jones, Editorial Director and Publisher of Golf Course Industry magazinto co-present a half-day seminar, “Communicating for Success: Social Media and Beyond to an engaged group of superintendents and assistants

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Our presentation was essentially a two-part lesson in public relations and communication. We stressed that social media can be a valuable component of a communications program, which every superintendent should have. We professed that the program needs to begin with clear, simple goals on what one wants to achieve and that those goals should be written and reviewed periodically to insure you are achieving the desired results.  

I stressed to the attendees that blogging is a critical linchpin that can drive much of your communications program. It's a great way to reach your audience (golfers and others) in your own words and setting up a blog is easy and free. I also encouraged the use of multiple social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, FourSquare, YouTube, Instagram, etc.). Individuals prefer different social media platforms and it’s relatively easy to put your content on each of them. My co-presenter and I agreed that Twitter and Instagram are probably the most effective tools for superintendents to tell their stories. I also provided attendees with a brief overview of my website , which in addition to being a valuable communication tool, also serves as the hub of all of my social media outlets.

During the conference and show I also participated in the one-hour panel presentation, “GCSAA at your Service.”  My co-presenters were Rhett Evans, the Chief Executive Officer of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), Chava McKeel, GCSAA Associate Director of Government Relations and Ron Wright, GCSAA Field Staff. The take home message was that GCSAA’s commitment to delivering services to its members has never been greater.   

In addition to presenting, while at the event I was able to attend numerous valuable educational offerings and network with a terrific group of golf industry professionals.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

"I Feel the Need ... the Need for Speed!"

"I feel the need ... the need for speed!" Although it's a line from the 1986 blockbuster Top Gun, many golfers have the same feeling when it comes to putting green speed. 

While not the only aspect, green speed is an important component of a putting green’s overall quality. Consequently, in the winter golf season at Olde Florida, green speed is checked daily on two greens (the two greens are rotated each day). 

Green speed is the distance, measured in feet and inches that a ball travels after being released from the inclined plane of a measuring device. Although Eddie Stimpson developed the original Stimpmeter in the 1930s, an improved design of the device was released and endorsed by the United States Golf Association in 1977. 

More recently, in 2004, another device used to measure green speed was released, the PELZmeter. The PELZmeter was designed to reduce the variability associated with the Stimpmeter. The PELZmeter implements a bubble level system to ensure the ball is released from a consistent height on a tapered ramp, which releases the ball horizontally onto the green to minimize ball bounce. The PELZmeter’s three side-by-side grooves help to minimize ball-tracking effects.

While both devices work well, the PELZmeter is the preferred green speed measuring device at Olde Florida, primarily due to the consistent results obtained when used by multiple employees.

At a minimum, in the winter golf season the greens at Olde Florida are single cut seven days a week, often they are double cut and sometimes they are also rolled. This is all based on the previous days green speed.
Assistant Golf Course Superintendent Andrew Polzin using the PELZmeter on #1 green at Olde Florida

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Season is Near!

The rainfall that inundated the golf course in September finally subsided. Historically the average precipitation in September is a little over 8". This year Olde Florida received in excess of 17"! With drier conditions now in place the staff has been busy making a big push to have the course in terrific condition for the upcoming winter golf season.

After a productive summer of performing the necessary cultural practices (aerification, vertical mowing, top dressing, etc.) the turfgrass needed nutrition. This month two "wall to wall" fertilizer applications have been applied to the golf course to improve health and the plants ability to recuperate from the increased winter traffic.

A 5-4-0 fertilizer blend containing all-organic nitrogen is loaded into a spreader for application

In addition, the staff installed a truck load (7,000 sq. ft.) of Celebration bermudagrass along the perimeter of some golf holes. The areas that were converted to Celebration bermudagrass were high traffic, shady areas. Celebration is a deep blue-green bermudagrass that has performed extremely well in university research studies. While certainly not a miracle grass, Celebration is touted for its wear tolerance and recovery, drought resistance, and shade tolerance. 

# 17 (near the green) after the existing, weak turfgrass was removed 

Celebration bermudagrass being watered after installation

Finally, all of the larger, maintained "native" areas have received an application of pinestraw. Prior to the application, the cabbage palm and oak trees in these areas were trimmed.

Monday, September 29, 2014

It's Bunker Time

As we do ever year, we are in the process of performing a mini-bunker renovation. With the average annual rainfall in Naples being just less than 60 inches, and 65% of this occurring between June and September, bunker washing and bunker sand contamination is an issue. Annual maintenance at the end of each summer enables us to avoid a costly complete bunker renovation.

The first step in the process is to remove the top layer of sand (1/2 to 1") from each bunker. 

The sand that is removed is used to topdress the bunker face. 

The remaining sand is them leveled to a consistent depth (2, 3 or 4"). Finally, new angular bunker sand is added to bring the total depth to a consistent 5" 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fast and Firm Fairways

The golf course operations staff is performing the annual fairway topdressing this week. The application of sand to the fairways will reduce thatch and firm the playing surface (increase ball roll). 

Approximately 875 tons of sand will be dispersed on the 25 acres of fairways at Olde Florida Golf Club. The sand will be applied with four belt top dressing units. Two TyCrop material haulers will be used to transport the sand to the golf course from the golf course operations facility. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Applying "Specticle" to make the Golf Course look Spectacular

This week the golf course operations staff at Olde Florida Golf Club completed an application of "Specticle" to all fairways and rough.

"Specticle" is a pre-emergent for weed control. It provides broad spectrum control of grassy weeds including crabgrass, goosegrass and more than 60 broadleaf weeds. Specticle has a very low use rate resulting in effective weed control with up to 40 times less active ingredient. 

The application to the fairways and rough was made with a boom sprayer (20 foot boom). 

The application to the bunker faces was made with a walking behind "spray hawk". At the low usage rate (4.5 ounces of product per acre) a precise application is important.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

What a Difference a Year Makes!

The ability to manage and maintain a golf course is often dictated by forces outside the control of the golf course superintendent. The most obvious of these forces is weather. 

Each summer there are routine tasks that the golf course operation staff must complete in order to produce the highest quality playing surface in the busy winter golf season. The two primary and most critical of these tasks are aerification and vertical mowing.

Fairway Aerification 

I am pleased to report that due to the terrific weather and lack of exorbitant rainfall this summer, the staff is approximately 30 days ahead of schedule. This year, the rainfall recorded at Olde Florida Golf Club from January 1 to August 31, 2014 was 38.05”. As a comparison, last year for the same time period, Olde Florida had received 52.45”.

The average annual rainfall in Naples, Florida is just under 60". The majority of this occurs in the summer and is often heavy  

The last major cultural practice that will occur this summer will be fairway topdressing. The fairway counter lines have been redefined and the height of cut is slowly being lowered. Fairway topdressing will take place during the last closed week of the summer, September 15 - 22.

Re-establishing fairway counter lines at Olde Florida Golf Club

Monday, August 25, 2014

Bermudagrass .... Stand up and be Recognized!

The golf course has been closed for play this week (August 18 – August 25). During this time the staff was diligently preforming necessary cultural practices. Although hot, the weather cooperated and the staff was extremely productive. The greens and tees received sand topdressing followed by solid tine aeration. 
Topdressing the practice green

Solid tine aeration 

In addition, the fairways were vertical mowed in four directions. Vertical mowing is an extremely important cultural practice for bermudagrass fairways. 
Vertical mowing #4 fairway (first direction)

Inherently bermudagrass has an extremely aggressive lateral growth habit. To provide a more upright growth pattern, which will enable the ball to “sit up” better, vertical mowing is performed. 
Bermudagrass stolons lifted by vertical mowing

Fairway vertical mowing cuts stolons (above ground runners) and pulls them to the surface. After vertical mowing, blowers and vacuums were used to remove debris. This was followed by a cut with rotary mowers, which helped “lift and cut” bermudagrass.    
Second direction of vertical mowing 

Rotary mower's being used to clean up vertical mowing 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Like a Good Neighbor … Olde Florida is there!

Earlier this year Olde Florida Golf Club entered into an agreement with Collier County to “Adopt-A-Road”. The section of road that Olde Florida "adopted", and has agreed to maintain, is the two-mile stretch of Vanderbilt Beach Road Extension east of CR 951. 

Both Collier County and the management of the club recognize and desire litter free roads, and due to the proximity of the selected road to the club, the club receives an additional benefit of maintaining a more aesthetically pleasing entrance to its property. 

The agreement requires the club to "remove litter at a minimum of once a month and whenever the appearance of the road is objectionable".         

In addition to cans and other "traditional" roadside trash, occasionally large items are discarded on the rural stretch of road leading into Olde Florida Golf Club