Prepping For The Winter Season

By John H. Foy, director, Florida Region
September 18, 2013

Cleaning up existing infestations of weeds and especially tropical signalgrass is a primary concern at many courses in central and south Florida.

College and professional football is back on television, major league baseball is heading into the playoffs and the official beginning of fall will be here in a few more days. At golf courses throughout the Florida region, this is a very important and busy time for completing final preparations for the quickly approaching winter play season. The weather, and in particular the occurrence of frequent and at times heavy rainfall has negatively impacted being able to keep up with routine course maintenance practices and accomplishment of summertime cultural management programs, along with renovation and updating projects. There are also a lot of frustrated golfers around the state because courses have had to enforce cart path only restrictions or remain closed because of saturated conditions. Unfortunately, weather conditions are continuing to be a major challenge in completing preparations for the winter. 

A dense and healthy turf cover is essential for being able to survive the winter and early spring months when peak seasonal play is being hosted. Warm to hot temperatures favorable to the continuation of bermudagrass and seashore paspalum growth will no doubt persist for another six to eight weeks. Yet, with sunlight intensity being reduced by moderate to heavy cloud cover and a progressively shorter day length, photosynthesis, carbohydrate production and storage can be limited at this time. Thus, extra care needs to be exercised with regard to heights of cut and employment of practices such as verticutting of putting greens to avoid exerting additional mechanical stress on the turf and causing a setback in health and quality. Furthermore, regular and adequate fertilization is a key consideration in maintaining sufficient levels of available nutrients in the soil to support sustained and balanced growth. 

On TAS visits to courses in south, central and north Florida, reestablishing and maintaining an acceptable level of pest control has been a primary topic of discussion. Prolific weed growth and reduced residual control activity from earlier applied pre-emergence herbicides are both consequences of a very wet, rainy season in Florida. There are a number of effective post-emergence herbicide treatment options that provide control of goosegrass, crabgrass, sedges and kyllinga weeds that plague Florida golf courses. Yet with all of these materials, timely repeat applications are required and staying on schedule has been especially difficult with rainfall events occurring on a frequent basis. Many of these herbicides are characterized as having lower per acre application rates, but even with employment of spot treatment programs, costs have dramatically increased relative to five to ten years ago. 

At courses throughout the central and southern part of the state, tropical signalgrass has been a concern for a number of years and has literally exploded into a major problem this year. This is a direct result of the loss of the post-emergence herbicide MSMA in Florida. Several different herbicide combinations have been tried, but to date a truly cost effective tropical signalgrass control has yet to be identified. Further complicating matters is the fact that we are quickly running out of time for reestablishing a dense and healthy bermudagrass turf cover in spot locations where heavy infestations of signalgrass are removed, or at least reduced. 

The other big concern for courses throughout the state is mole crickets. Late season mole cricket activity and damage is much heavier than anything that has been experienced for the past several years. For the next couple of months, an aggressive “chase and treat” control program will have to be employed with contact type insecticides to control mole cricket outbreaks and in turn turf damage. Following up with spot supplemental applications of fertilizer is also advised to accelerate the recovery process. Otherwise, sod repair work could be necessary and this might be a problem because some producers are reporting difficulties with being able to get into production fields and harvest acceptable quality material. 

Source: John Foy (

Information on the USGA’s Turf Advisory Service

Contact the Green Section Staff

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,, 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

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

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

AmEx image