COURSE CARE
Early Winter Season Course Conditions February 27, 2015

Early Winter Season Course Conditions

By John Foy, Director
January 9, 2009

As noted in Todd Lowe's December 9 th , 2008 Florida regional update, the early onset of abnormally cool to even cold temperatures resulted in bermudagrass growth coming to a stop. For the month of November, daytime and nighttime temperatures were approximately 10 degrees below normal. In the central to northern part of the state, it was sufficiently cold enough for bermudagrass and seashore paspalum to enter into a semi to fully dormant stage, which in turn resulted in a loss of green color. With growth activity coming to a stop, the negative impacts of cart traffic wear and damage were highlighted, and, regardless of inputs, producing any degree of recovery was not possible. With winter overseeding programs being discontinued at numerous facilities in the central to northern part of the state, golfers have had to adjust to distinctly different aesthetics. While the putting surfaces, fairways, and roughs may not be vigorous and green, appropriate and good quality conditioning can still be provided with a semi to fully dormant turf. Yet, aggressive ongoing cart traffic management is critical to keep traffic and wear damage to a minimum.

Fortunately during the latter part of December and through the first week of January, normal to above average temperatures persisted throughout the state. As a matter of fact, on January 6 th , daytime highs in the upper 70's to lower 80's were recorded throughout the entire state. With this, a green up response and some degree of bermudagrass growth has occurred. At courses where it was possible to take advantage of this stretch of warm weather and conduct supplemental aeration treatments, in combination with appropriate fertilization, it has been possible to achieve some recovery. However, as we all know, the winter is not over, and a survival management mentality still needs to be employed until the spring when temperatures and day length are again adequate to support the resumption of sustained active growth.

As we move into the new year, and what is normally the peak of the winter golf season in Florida, the current state of the economy and the impact it is having on clubs and courses throughout the region will continue to be a major topic. Unfortunately it is being reported that rounds and membership numbers have been declining at facilities throughout the state, and with reduced revenues, cuts in both capital and operating budgets are required. Cost cutting options or strategies that do not result in compromising long term agronomic course health will continue to be an integral component of our Turf Advisory Service (TAS), which provides site specific recommendations and value satisfaction.

Expanding upon the above, keep in mind our fee structure for TAS subscription is held to minimal levels through a generous dose of underwriting by the USGA. If you think the economy has placed TAS fees out of reach, I suggest the exact opposite - the tougher the economy, the greater the value of the service. The USGA agronomists continue to see more golf courses and maintenance regimes than any other entity in golf. Our recommendations are anchored on university research and field observations. So are you willing to relinquish to the competition the agronomic, economic, and political value we offer? While our visits, reports, and recommendations are confidential, there will commonly be advice that applies to more than one golf course in an area. Disease, insect, nematodes, and weed problems also will often be area specific. Plan now to subscribe to the TAS in 2009.

Half day visit - $2,300, or $1,800 if paid before May 15 th
Full day visit - $3,100, or $2,600 if paid before May 15 th

Plan ahead and take advantage of the $500 discount offered for prepayment by May 15 th ! Take advantage of this substantial savings, as the actual TAS visit can be scheduled any time during the season.

Source: John Foy, jfoy@usga.org or (772) 546-2620