Early 2013 Winter Season Conditions

By John H. Foy, director, Florida Region
January 23, 2013

Sunny and clear skies have been a rarity this winter in Florida. Persistent cloud cover is resulting in very slow drying out of the turf canopy, and when combined with very mild temperatures, reoccurring outbreaks of disease has been a concern at many courses in the central to southern part of the state.

The late summer and fall of 2012 presented a number of challenges in preparing Florida golf courses for the winter play season. While highly variable throughout the region, frequent and at times very heavy rainfall events during this time had a negative impact on course conditions and turf health. Reduced sunlight due to the persistence of dense cloud cover limited photosynthesis and in turn carbohydrate production and storage. As noted in the November 14, 2012 regional update, Still Trying to Catch up from the Summer, a common concern at many courses was heading into the primary winter play season with thin and weak turf conditions on tees and fairways.

Fortunately during the latter half of November and through December, mild and above average temperatures prevailed. With aggressive fertilization it was possible to produce a good recovery response and reestablish improved course conditions heading into the time when peak seasonal play is hosted. At many courses it was even possible to recover from early winter season cart traffic wear and damage.

While the official end of the Atlantic hurricane season is the first of November, the transition to the dry season in Central to South Florida is typically gradual and not completed until mid to late December. As also discussed in earlier regional updates, leaf spot disease on bermudagrass putting greens tends to be a very common problem during this time. Based on experiences over the past few years, preventative fungicide treatment programs are being conducted on putting greens at most courses. Yet, even with preventative treatments on seven to 14 day intervals, completely preventing leaf spot disease is not always possible. On a positive note, bermudagrass leaf spot disease is not a devastating problem that causes major turf loss.

An increased incidence of Pythium disease has been being found in samples being submitted to university diagnosis labs in the southeast. This is much more of a concern as far as turf thinning and loss on putting greens. Thus, including a Pythium specific control material in the fungicide rotation program would be advised.

Normally by the first of January, the transition to the dry season has occurred and with this, fungal disease pressure is reduced. However, during the first couple of weeks of January, mild to warm temperatures and high humidity have persisted in Florida. Also, there have only been a few days without cloud cover, and thus environmental conditions have remained very conducive to disease activity. Continuing with preventative fungicide treatment programs on putting greens has been necessary.

The lack of any real cold weather so far this winter in South Florida has also favored continuation of other pest problems. During recent Turf Advisory Service visits, mole cricket tunneling damage has been observed on a frequent basis. Animals and birds foraging for these large overwintering adult mole crickets are causing additional damage in spot locations. Another concern is plant parasitic nematodes.  A lack of cold weather last winter resulted in nematode problems arriving much earlier (February to March) in South Florida and also contributed to overseeding transition difficulties at courses in the central and northern part of the state later in the spring. Based on environmental conditions so far this winter, implementation of nematode management treatments in the next couple of months would be advised.

During the week of March 11 – 15, 2013, the Florida USGA Green Section will once again host a series of workshops. These workshops provide educational sessions to golf course officials (general managers, golf professionals, green committee members, superintendents etc.) on golf course maintenance topics. The half-day workshop has been renamed this year to Green Committee University. Programs will be mailed in the next two weeks, but we ask that you make plans now to attend with all course officials. Workshops will be held on March 14 at Boca West Country Club in Boca Raton and March 15 at Audubon Country Club in Naples. A third workshop will also be offered during this same week at a site in the Tampa area. The exact date and location has yet to be determined. Please check with our office for additional details.

Source: John Foy, jfoy@usga.org or 772.546.2620


Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.

Rolex image

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website, www.usopen.com, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit http://www.usopen.com/IBM

AmEx image

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit http://www.lexus.com/

AmEx image
American Express

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit www.americanexpress.com/entertainment

AmEx image