The Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort had water issues that were negatively impacting its bermudagrass turf. The golf course’s main water supply is recycled water that is held in four holding ponds. This water source is supplemented with brackish water to meet the demands of the turfgrass. Bermudagrass can be damaged by the high salt content in the brackish water, so careful attention to salt levels in the soil was necessary. Salt levels in the soil varied depending on the area of the course, rate of turfgrass growth, levels of rainfall and the amount of irrigation that was applied. If rainfall is scarce, it is necessary to occasionally irrigate with high volumes of water to flush salts out of the rootzone.
The second water issue the course faces is the threat of salt water damage from the adjacent Atlantic Ocean. The bermudagrass on the Ocean Course was severely damaged following a devastating storm surge during Hurricane Matthew in 2016. The incoming ocean water affected multiple fairways, roughs, tees and even some putting greens. The lack of power and inability to irrigate prevented the staff from being able to flush the salts through the soil, resulting in extensive damage to the lower-lying bermudagrass areas.
Following the storm surge damage, there were two solutions proposed to address the salt issues, both necessitating course closure. The first option was to remove the most severely damaged bermudagrass and salt-contaminated soil, then replace those areas with clean soil and replant new turf. The worst areas would be replanted with bermudagrass sod, followed immediately by perennial ryegrass overseeding in order to reopen the golf course for play as soon as possible.
The second option was to remove all the bermudagrass and convert the golf course to seashore paspalum, a more salt-tolerant turfgrass. This would result in full course closure and loss of golf revenue from resort visitors for an entire year, but it would provide a long-term solution to the water issues.
The turf conversion option was implemented; with greens, tees, fairways and roughs all either sodded or sprigged to Platinum™ seashore paspalum in early spring of 2017. The golf course was closed for 13 months while wall-to-wall seashore paspalum was established.