Friday, December 22, 2017

The Shortest Day of the Year .... and Why it Matters

Today, December 21, is the winter solstice and that means it’s the shortest day of the year for those living in the northern hemisphere. Technically speaking, the winter solstice is when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, or 23.5 south latitude. Non-technically speaking, it's the day when the sun rises and sets to our south at the lowest angle, and it marks the first day of winter.

Because the earth orbits around the sun on a tilted axis, between September and March the entire northern hemisphere gets less exposure to sunlight. Because of our location, it’s not a coincidence that these months coincide with the seasonal influx of residents to Southwest Florida and the play at Olde Florida Golf Club is at its peak.

In basic terms, for turfgrass to thrive it needs sunlight, the correct amount of water, adequate fertilizer and a good soil structure. Of these needs, the one that is least in our control is sunlight, which is why an understanding of the earths rotation and the winter solstice is vital.

Also influenced by the angle of the sun are air and soil temperature. Bermudagrass, the turfgrass that comprises the playing surfaces at Olde Florida, is a warm season turfgrass. That means it grows best when the average daily temperatures are above  75°F.  In addition, soil temperature, as influenced by air temperature is also important to the growth of bermudagrass. Soil temperatures above 65°F are required for significant growth, and the optimum soil temperature for root growth is around 80°F.

Since the duration and intensity of the sun's rays (and air and soil temperature) is out of our control, it is extremely important to have plant health peaking on this day and do everything in our control to maintain plant health for the next 60 days. By March 1, the nighttime temperatures have increased, the sun is high enough in the sky and  the days are long enough that sunlight essentially becomes a non-factor.

Hole 9 (pictured above) is the southernmost hole at Olde Florida Golf Club. The hole plays from east to west, so the sun rises to the southeast of  the tee and it sets to the southwest of the green.  On the day after the winter solstice, the angle of the sun will continue to shift slowly to the north until the sun rises to the east of the back 9 holes at Olde Florida. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Turning Boards

During the winter golf season, the greens at Olde Florida Golf Club are single cut, single cut and rolled or double cut every morning in advance of play. The approaches to the greens, and the chipping areas around the greens are also cut several times a week. In addition, the traffic on and off the greens from golfers increases dramatically in the winter months. Consequently, extra care is important to maintain healthy turfgrass on the 48" collar that surrounds the putting surfaces.

To help reduce the wear on the collars, the golf course operations staff utilize turning boards from November to March. This is the time of year that the grass is growing the least, and the traffic from golfers and the mechanical stress from maintenance equipment is at its highest.

The turning boards we use at Olde Florida are made of high density polyethylene and measure 24" by 96". There are handles cut into each to help with the transport and movement of the turning boards. When cutting greens or approaches, each operator has at least four boards in their possession. When the green is being mowed, two or three boards are placed at each end of the green. The operator moves the boards after six to eight turns of the greens mower. The photos below depict the process.

Turning boards in place on 10 green
An operator approaching turning boards
An operator disengaging a greens mower on a board to make a turn  
An operator engaging a greens mower on the board to make his next pass on the putting surface
An operator setting a greens mower down on the putting surface 

Even with the turning boards in place, the collar and greens perimeters receive significant wear during the winter golf season. To help reduce compaction and encourage growth the collar and greens perimeters also receive periodic supplemental fertilization, hand watering and solid tine aeration or water injection aeration during the winter golf season.  

Monday, September 25, 2017

Hurricane Irma Update, Golf Course Reopens

Two weeks ago yesterday, Hurricane Irma devastated Southwest Florida. Much of the region is still in recovery mode and will not be back to "normal" for many months. However, I am pleased to report that Olde Florida Golf Club will be open for play tomorrow morning, September 25.

The club was previously scheduled to be closed for golf course cultural practices last week (September 18 - 25). If you have read my September 14 or September 20 blog entry you are aware that no aerification, vertical mowing or other routine maintenance tasks took place last week. My staff was focused solely on recovery efforts.

September 25, 2017
By the end of the day, all of the lakes will be at "control" level   
Below are some "before and after" cleanup drone flyovers of hole 12, 16 and 17. There is still work to be done, but "tree line to tree line" we are in VERY good condition.

Hole 12   Day 3      (Click Here)
               Day 14    (Click Here)

Hole 16   Day 2      (Click Here)
               Day 14    (Click Here)

Hole 17   Day 2      (Click Here)
               Day 14    (Click Here)

The final step in the cleanup efforts is to remove silt from the floor of the bunkers and level the sand to a consistent depth. That will occur before tomorrow morning. Over the next few weeks, additional sand will also be added to replace what was lost from the winds of Hurricane Irma and the torrential rains we received this summer in Southwest Florida. Sand will be added to achieve a consistent 5" depth in all of the bunkers.

Year to date Olde Florida Golf Club has received 83.89" of rain. The majority of this occurred this summer. In June we received 22.56", in July 17.23", 17.58" fell in August and so far in September we have had 17.15"

See you soon!
Darren J. Davis, CGCS

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Hurricane Irma Recovery

As detailed in my September 14 blog entry (click here) the eye of Hurricane Irma crossed over Olde Florida Golf Club on the evening of Sunday, September 10 causing significant wind damage and flooding. While there is still a great deal of work that needs to take place, I am extremely pleased with the significant progress that has been made to return the golf course and all facilities to pre-Irma condition.

Due to the extensive flooding on the golf course, and the inability of my staff to get to many of the holes on the golf course on the days following the storm, our initial efforts focused on removing trees, limbs and debris from the incoming road and clubhouse. This is a link to a video of one of the many oak trees that were uprooted by Irma and needed to be cut in pieces with a chain saw and dispersed with our Vermeer chipper (click here).

The golf course staff removing one of the many oak trees at the clubhouse uprooted by Hurricane Irma
When staff was able to return to work, Tom and his personnel had the primary focus of removing plywood from the clubhouse windows and doors. After this was complete, his staff assisted mine in the cleanup around clubhouse by raking and removing the smaller debris from the landscape areas.

As the water receded, beginning with the driest holes, my staff went hole by hole to remove trees and other debris on the turfgrass. The greens took first priority. Fortunately, no trees fell directly on any of the greens and only minor damage occurred to the putting surfaces.

Removing one of the many large pine trees from the turfgrass. Hole 1.  
Tree trunks stacked for removal at a later date. Hole 1.
Debris removal from turfgrass took priority over other areas. The turfgrass took precedence in order to minimize turfgrass damage or death from lack of sunlight. Due to the hard work of my staff, the lack of additional heavy rainfall following Irma and the quick drop in the lake levels, I am very optimistic that we will have minimal turfgrass loss.

The green side bunker on hole 5 after the storm water receded. 
Cleaning perimeters, landscape areas between golf holes, and things such as removing this palm tree, which Irma lodged in an oak tree between hole 10 and 18, will occur as time allows.
Many of the Olde Florida staff were without power for well over a week after the storm making life very challenging. With any challenge the opportunity for a positive reaction exists. Olde Florida has always had a "TEAM" approach (Together Everyone Accomplishes More). This was certainly the case in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. When Tom didn't need his staff in and around the clubhouse, they assisted my crew on the golf course. In addition, Tom and I decided having a group lunch each day in the grill room would enhance the "team" concept and show deserved appreciation to the entire Olde Florida team.

The Olde Florida staff after lunch on Thursday, September 20

I hope that you are having a great summer and your Naples residences did not incur extensive damage. I am looking forward to another awesome winter golf season!

Darren J. Davis, CGCS

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma made landfall early evening Sunday, September 10 on Marco Island as a Category 3 hurricane. The eye of the storm crossed over Olde Florida Golf Club causing significant wind damage and flooding.

Olde Florida Golf Club (blue circle) on the evening of Sunday, September 10 

The clubhouse was boarded up and only received minor wind damage (outdoor light fixtures, ceiling fans, gutters, screens etc.).

The clubhouse (Pre-Irma) on the morning of Saturday, September 9  

Unfortunately, the golf course operations facility, which is a 24-year old metal building sustained much more significant damage, but it is secured and functional.

During the storm the golf course was battered by strong winds and rain causing countless trees to be uprooted or snap in half. Branches and other debris are also scattered throughout the golf course.

Pine tree behind 18 championship tee
Pine tree left of hole 1
17 championship tee

10 green
Clearing the incoming road
The path between hole 17 and 18
Links to drone videos taken the day after Hurricane Irma (Monday, September 11) are below:

A flyover from hole 6 to the clubhouse on the morning after Irma.

A flyover of hole 6 on the morning after Irma.

A flyover of hole 5 on the morning after Irma.

Links to drone videos taken two days after Hurricane Irma (Tuesday, September 12) are below:

A flyover of hole 1 two days after Irma.

A flyover of hole 16 two days after Irma.

A flyover of hole 17 two days after Irma.

Links to drone videos taken three days after Hurricane Irma (Wednesday, September 13) are below:

A flyover of hole 12 three days after Irma.

A flyover of hole 14 three days after Irma.

Also, on my YouTube  channel are links to additional videos, including drone footage taken on Saturday, September 9, the day before Hurricane Irma made landfall.

My staff and I have been very busy with the recovery efforts for several days. Unfortunately. it will take time to remove trees, clean debris and of course time to allow the lake levels to drop. As of today, Thursday September 14, there are still areas of the golf course that my staff and I can not access. To make matters more stressful, most of my staff are still without electricity at their homes, but they are working diligently to get Olde Florida opened as soon as possible.

I appreciate your patience!

Darren J. Davis, CGCS

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Summer Update

After a very dry winter and spring, we have had an abundance of rain this summer! In June we received 22.56" at Olde Florida and we are currently over 11" in July. Even with the excessive rainfall, we have had a very productive summer!

The two most significant projects we undertook this summer, the collar renovation and bunker addition are now completed. Since my earlier blog entry on the collar renovation in May, the eradicated turfgrass was removed and new TifGrand sod installed.

Removing Eradicated Sod #4
Preparing Collar for Sod
TifGrand Sod Practice Green

#3 July 22, 2017

This week our golf course contractor, Glase Golf also completed the additional bunkers on holes 4, 6, 7, 17 and 18.  They look awesome! Photos of the completed bunkers will be provided in a subsequent blog entry.

The exact location, sizes and contours of the new bunkers were determined during a site visit from Greg Muirhead, Senior Vice President at Rees Jones, Inc.  After the bunker perimeters were established a significant amount of irrigation re-routing and relocation had to take place. Our irrigation contractor, Leibold Irrigation, Inc. completed this work in late May.

Moving 6" Mainline on 18
Constructing Green-side Bunker on 17
Adding Sand to 4 Fairway Bunker
In addition to the two significant projects, my staff have also completed the routine cultural practices. Information on aerifictaion and other cultural practices can be found in my May, 2016  cultural practices blog entry. 

Fairway Aerification June, 2017 

Fairway Vertical Mowing Clean-up June, 2017 

Greens Topdressing June, 2017
If you utilize social media and would like updates on the golf course, you can find links to the Olde Florida Facebook page, as well as my Twitter, Instagram, etc accounts on my webpage

Darren J. Davis, CGCS

Thursday, May 4, 2017

TifGrand Collar Renovation

This summer, in addition to the routine cultural practices (aerification, vertical mowing, etc.) we will undertake a couple of significant summer projects at Olde Florida. The first is an in-house collar renovation.

The collar renovation will be a repeat of a project we performed in 2013. In 2013, the existing 48" collar surrounding our TifEagle greens was converted to the turfgrass variety, TifGrand. TifGrand, which was released to the market in 2010, is a semi-dwarf bermudagrass with a naturally blue green leaf blade that performs exceptionally well in shade. The dense turfgrass also has a vertical blade orientation, requires less nitrogen, less water and has better cold tolerance than older bermudagrass varieties. In addition to the aesthetic value of the TifGrand collar, the collar provides a barrier/buffer between the TifEagle greens and the surrounding, more aggressive turfgrass varieties.

TifGrand collar/TifEagle green interface

Since 2013, we estimate that approximately 50% of the existing TiFGrand collars has been contaminated by the surrounding bermudagrass varieties. Therefore, it has done its job of maintaining the integrity of our TifEagle putting surfaces. Due to the contamination, it is now time to repeat the process.

Encroachment of surrounding bermudagrass into the TifGrand collar on #11 green

Encroachment of surrounding bermudagrass into the TifGrand collar on #11 green
The initial non-selective herbicide application was made to the collars on Monday, May 1. A second herbicide application will be made in approximately three weeks.

Applying a non-selective herbicide to the 48" collar on the practice green

After eradication by the herbicide, removal of the dead turfgrass will be the next step, followed by leveling the 48"swath with greensmix (sand/peat mixture). Clean TifGrand sod from Pike Creek Turf in Adel, Georgia will then be installed.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Darren J. Davis, CGCS elected vice president of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America

It is truly an honor and a privilege to represent the nearly 18,000 members of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.

1421 Research Park Drive • Lawrence, KS • 66049 • 800-472-7878
Craig Smith, Director
Communications and Media Relations
(P) 800-472-7878, ext. 4431 or (c)785-691-9197
Florida’s Darren Davis elected vice president of Golf Course Superintendents Association of America
Davis enters sixth year on association’s board of directors.
Lawrence, Kan. (Feb. 14, 2017) – Darren J. Davis, the golf course superintendent at Olde Florida Golf Club in Naples, Fla., was elected vice president of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) at the association's annual meeting, Feb. 9, 2017, in Orlando. He also serves as a member of the board of trustees for The Environmental Institute for Golf (the philanthropic organization of the GCSAA).The (GCSAA) is a leading golf organization in the United States. Its focus is on golf course management, and since 1926 GCSAA has been the top professional association for the men and women who manage golf courses in the U.S. and worldwide. From its headquarters in Lawrence, Kan., the association provides education, information and representation to nearly 18,000 members in more than 78 countries.
The board sets the strategic direction for the association as it strives to serve its members, advance the profession and enhance the growth, enjoyment and vitality of the game of golf.
Davis, a certified golf course superintendent, is serving his sixth year on the GCSAA board of directors. He was first appointed to a one-year term in 2012, re-elected to two-year terms in 2013 and 2015, and elected secretary/treasurer at the 2016 annual meeting in San Diego.
Before becoming superintendent at Olde Florida GC in 1992, Davis previously was an assistant superintendent at the Loxahatchee Club in Jupiter, Fla. He also served two stints at Augusta (Ga.) National Golf Club, the first as an apprentice superintendent in 1990 and then as the integrated pest management technician in 1991.
 A 27-year GCSAA member, Davis is a past president of the Everglades GCSA, and a past president of the Florida GCSA and Florida Turfgrass Association. He is currently a director with the Musser International Turfgrass Foundation. In 2004, the FGCSA honored him with its Distinguished Service Award, and in 2011 the FTGA presented Davis with the Wreath of Grass - the association’s highest award.
 A native of Tallahassee, Fla., he earned a turfgrass management certificate from Penn State University in 1991. He also obtained an associate in arts degree from Tallahassee Community College in 1987 and a bachelor of arts degree in communications from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2007.

About GCSAA and the EIFG
The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) is a leading golf organization in the United States. Its focus is on golf course management, and since 1926 GCSAA has been the top professional association for the men and women who manage golf courses in the U.S. and worldwide. From its headquarters in Lawrence, Kan., the association provides education, information and representation to nearly 18,000 members in more than 78 countries. The association’s mission is to serve its members, advance their profession and enhance the enjoyment, growth and vitality of the game of golf. Visit GCSAA at or find us on  Facebook or Twitter.

The Environmental Institute for Golf is the philanthropic organization of the GCSAA. Its mission is to foster sustainability through research, awareness, education, programs and scholarships for the benefit of golf course management professionals, golf facilities and the game.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Olde Florida Golf Club Recognized for Environmental Excellence

CONTACT:  Allie Smith, Program Specialist
            (518) 767-9051, Ext. 116

Olde Florida Golf Club Recognized for Environmental Excellence

NAPLES, FL – Originally certified in 1995, Olde Florida Golf Club has retained its designation as a "Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary” through the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses, an Audubon International program. In 1995, Olde Florida was the 4th golf course in Florida to achieve certification and the 50th in the world.
Participation is designed to help course personnel plan, organize, implement, and document a comprehensive environmental management program and receive recognition for their efforts. To reach certification, a course must demonstrate that they are maintaining a high degree of environmental quality in a number of areas including: Environmental Planning, Wildlife & Habitat Management, Outreach and Education, Chemical Use Reduction and Safety, Water Conservation, and Water Quality Management.
"Olde Florida Golf Club has shown a strong commitment to its environmental program. They are to be commended for their efforts to provide a sanctuary for wildlife on the golf course property," said Tara Donadio, Director of Cooperative Sanctuary Programs at Audubon International. 
Olde Florida Golf Club is one of 110 courses in Florida and 892 courses in the world to hold the honor. Golf courses from the United States, Africa, Australia, Central America, Europe, South America, and Southeast Asia have also achieved certification in the program. The golf course was designated as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary in 1995. After designation, courses go through a recertification process every three years.
This year the recertification process, coordinated by Darren Davis, Golf Course Superintendent, required a visit by a third party representative. Delphine Tseng, Manager of Member Services at Audubon International, was given a tour of the course and sent her observations to Audubon International. “Olde Florida Golf Club has gone above and beyond with Audubon International’s certification program.  Mr. Davis uses every opportunity to promote the importance of wildlife habitat management,” Tseng reported. 
“We see the site visit as an important component of a course’s recertification,” stated Donadio. “It provides an objective verification of some of the more visible aspects of the course’s environmental management activities. In addition, it offers an opportunity for golf course representatives to share publicly some of the voluntary actions they have taken to protect and sustain the land, water, wildlife, and natural resources around them.”
About Audubon International
Audubon International is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) environmental education organization dedicated to providing people with the education and assistance they need to practice responsible management of land, water, wildlife, and other natural resources. To meet this mission, the organization provides training, services, and a set of award-winning environmental education and certification programs for individuals, organizations, properties, new developments, and entire communities. 

For more information, contact Audubon International at 120 Defreest Drive, Troy, NY 12180, 1-844-767-9051, e-mail at, or visit the website at                     ###