Monday, August 8, 2016

Finally, a bright sun shiny day....oh wait, spoke too soon

This blog post was over a two day period. My how things change fast.

Sat afternoon.....

Ever since the first aerification in June it's been raining a lot. So much so that it's been difficult to do most remedial things like mowing some times. Here is a list of rain events since June. 

As you can see the rain has been pretty consistent. Due to the constant rain threat I've been hesitant to fertilize the course in fear of it being washed down the drains. The result has been a slowly  recovering turf. 

Thankfully this last week the rain subsided a bit and my team was able to get the course fertilized to promote growth. Due to the rain being so relentless this summer the grass is still a little thin, so I am going to modify the third aerification series a bit so it's not so aggressive. It is better to have more grass this time of year than not enough. 

This aerification session my team will just punch holes and sand most things, plug bare areas in the new green's perimeters, sod some areas where the insects have destroyed the grass, continue raising sprinkler heads and drains, and general maintenance stuff.  There will be no wall to wall heavy verti-cutting. 

So it was a beautiful weekend, Sunny, hot, and then Sunday evening rolls in.

Monday morning.....

Over night the course received constant rain for hours totalling 1.25" in all. Thankfully the rain stopped around 3 a.m. and the course drained a bit as today I am having the course injected with a chemical called Curfew to kill soil living pests. Wouldn't you know it though, it rained again right before the Curfew guys started. Thankfully it was just a quick blast and not substaintial. 

The Curfew material is custom injected by an outside company. It is sliced into the ground six inches deep as a high pressure gas that vaporizes and diffuses up through the soil killing all insects and pests except ants. For some reason ants are immune. The super high soil moisture content of the course actually helps in this case. Since there is no tarping to hold the gas in place, irrigation is needed afterwards to retard the volitity of the gas. Due to all the rain, my staff will not have to irrigate as much after the application. The reason the course is closed for 3 days is because of the re-entry restrictions. Any treated areas cannot be entered until 24 hours after application. So all day today and most of tomorrow my staff will be working in the landscaping and other areas of the course. Wednesday my staff will be out repairing any sod damage and putting the course back together for play on Thursday. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

A message from my friends at the UF extension office.......

When  designing a privacy hedge, its a good idea to use multiple species of shrubs. The ficus whitefly destruction was an example of what can happen when we have a monoculture (one plant species in a hedge). I now see a replacement monoculture of Clusia (pitch apple) and hopefully we won't have a new Clusia insect or disease which will wipe out these new hedges. For lonterm sustainablilty, think of hedges composed of multiple-species to avoid pest ruination (an IPM tactic)!
See native plant selection ideas in our new video filmed at the Naples Botanical Garden with Chad Washburn:

Sweetpotato whitefly (Photo by Jeffrey W. Lotz, FDACS)- be on the lookout for the new Q strain, especially on hibiscus, lantana and crossandra. This one can be a major problem on 100's of species of vegetables and ornamentals. See info here:

Oleander caterpillar numbers seem to be on the increase  compared to the last few years. If you see these beautiful, wasp-like moths (above), look for the clusters of eggs (above) they are depositing and clip the leaves off! Repeating generations of caterpillars can wreck the appearance of an oleander hedge! The caterpillars (below) are a day-glow orange with soft black hairs. See more at: 

Doug Caldwell, Ph.D.

Doug is the Commercial Landscape Horticulture Extension Educator and landscape entomologist with the University of Florida.

The Extension Service is an off-campus branch of the University of Florida, Institute of the Food and Agricultural Sciences [IFAS] and a department of the Public Services Division of Collier County government.

Copyright © 2016 University of Florida | Collier County Extension, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you are a landscape professional or a homeowner who has shown an interest in beautifying your landscape and protecting the environment.

Our mailing address is:
University of Florida | Collier County Extension
14700 Immokalee Road
Naples, Florida 34120

The Cooperative Extension Service is an off-campus branch of the University of Florida, Institute of the Food and Agricultural Sciences and a department of the Public Services Division of Collier County government. Extension programs are open to all persons without regard to race, color, creed, sex, handicap or national origin. For updates on the southwest Florida horticulture visit Doug's website:

Fertilize Your Palms Regularly

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

tee renovation update and other news

The tee renovations are all complete and the sprigs are growing.  Growing so much so that we are already mowing the newly planted grass.  To ensure that the tees are level when they open for play and not all clumpy like they are now, a lot has to be done.  The basic principle pretty simple, take the top down and bring the bottom up at the same time...along with some verti-cutting and other things.  As the cut is lowered it will purposefully scalp off the mounds of grass, and sanding every week will fill the voids giving a smooth surface for the grass to grow on.

Fresh planted 

Little over a wk old

The purpose of the tee renovations was to increase the available teeing ground to accommodate the golfing demands of the club.  In 2009 when the course was redesigned we were only playing 25,000 rounds of golf so the smaller tee sizes worked.  Now that the club is full, or nearly full, we are playing over 30,000 (probably closer to 35,000) rounds and the smaller tees were not able to spread out the wear enough.  What was left behind essentially was perpetual divot during the winter months, not much different than the range tee.  Too much use and not enough area to spread it out. 

To solve the problem I consulted with the golf course architect, Gordon Lewis, about making some adjustments and we came up with the current shape and size of the renovated tees.  These very large teeing grounds should give ample room to spread wear out and provide sufficient time for the grass to recover during the winter golfing season.  Remember, these are par 3 tees and most people are taking large divots which require time to heal.

Although the vast majority of the changes to the new teeing grounds are completed, there are a few items left to do to wrap up the projects.  The new teeing ground on 6 still needs to have some landscape grasses added at the bottom of the new tee slopes to tie into the existing landscaping.  On hole 12, I will be adding a few trees between 11 fairway and 12 tee.  Not many as I don't want to create a shade issue again, but some to give just the slightest hint of separation between holes. 

The range tee is healing in quickly and should produce a fantastic hitting surface.  The tee is basically in a grow-in mode. There's lots of new growth filling in. 

Day after leveling

In other news, it has been raining constantly! The constant rain has played havoc on my plans to complete some of the items that would normally be done during the closure week - like sanding fairways.  The ground is so saturated that it is becoming difficult to even mow, let alone drag a loaded sand trailer around.   The only good thing about all the rain is that it is showing us where we need to do a drainage project, or two, or six.  This next intermission between aerifications will be concentrated on landscape trimming and leveling of sprinklers and drains.  Fortunately none of that work requires machinery so the soggy ground should not be an issue.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Closure #2 - feeling dead but rising

This past week has been one of the hardest aerification weeks I have experienced in nearly 20 years of golf course maintenance. The relentless rain, tremendous work load and my uncompromising expectations for the week kept the pace at a breakneck speed. The good news is although we are not ahead like usual, we are not slipping too far behind.

A lot of this past week's focus was vertical mowing the fairways, tees and green's followed by aerifying. This is a massive endeavor, let alone to do it in 5 or 6 days. "What about the 7th day?" you might be thinking. The 7th day is needed to put the golf course back together just so it's playable. We have to blow out all the bunkers and repair the edges, put back all of the yardage markers that were removed for aerifications, reset all the pins, tees, trash cans, and all sorts of stuff that gets removed in preparation for aerification week. So out of this week's closure I really only have 6 days, and those 6 days were filled with a lot of set backs.

Due to the Celebration grass's aggressive growth habit, it generates a lot of thatch and grain.  To manage all of this it is imperative to heavily vertical mow the turf.  This is what heavy vertical mowing looks like. My rule of thumb is if the material isn't flying at least as high as the canopy of the tractor then we are not going deep enough. 

Here is a video of how aggressive the fairway vertical mowing is.  For those up north, you should show this to your Supt up there.  Be careful though, he might freak out! 

The resulting mess then had to be cleaned up. I rent 3 turf vacuums, plus use the one I have to clean it all up 

All of the vertical mowing produces a tremendous amount of thatch that needs to be hauled off.  In total approximately 450-500 cubic yards of dead thatch and material will be removed.  This is just a few hours worth of material from vacuuming the fairways post vertical mowing.

Then, after cleaning up the verti-cutting we aerify everything making another huge mess, have to vacuum up all of that as well, then we come in and circle cut down the remaining grass to eliminate grain. It's a huge under taking, but it's worth it.

Circle cutting is not a real fun job. It's hot, dirty, it's a you go home with dust where it shouldn't be type job. 

This is why is called circle cutting 
this is not CCN, just a great pic to show circle cutting

Circle cutting is a very aggressive style of cutting because the cutting unit isn't riding flat across the surface, it's being forced into the canopy by the "turn" of the machine.  It is a great way to really attack the excessive grain of the grass during times of active growth. 

Nearly everyday though, it has rained.  Not your typical summer rain where you think to yourself "Oh, look honey it's raining."  It has rained like the end of days type rain, massive quantities in very violent fashion.  All of the heavy rains didn't do the course any favors.  Lots of washout in bunkers, lots of flooding, lots of washout on newly sodded areas.
soil wash out under new sod

Despite all of the adverse weather, the crew persevered daily and just repaired the previous day's damage and made daily progress.  Some of the great progress made was on the teeing ground renovations of holes 6 & 12.  The only thing we have left to do for these two huge projects is install the cart path material on hole 12.  All of the construction and grassing is done.

hole 6 from start to finish 

starting to fill in the low areas
adding more dirt to expand the tee north
this was all landscaping
rail road tie curbing installed on the new blue/white tee #6
grassed with sprigs
grassing complete
aerial view over 6 tee, the front and middle of the tee is almost 3 times as wide

Hole 12 start to finish
stripping the tee from the red to the back of the white
grassing complete on this huge tee
aerial view of 12 over the back tee
We also completed moving the cart path away from the green on 5

clearing out all of the trees in the way of the new cart path

new cart path area filled, cart path material installed and ready to grass
laying sod from the old cart path edge to the new cart path
project complete

 Last Thursday, during the course closure, the Club hosted another Celebration field day for turf managers across the state.  There were 30 guys that showed up from all across Naples and Ft. Myers, some from the east coast and even the two USGA agronomists in Florida attended.  It was a great day to share ideas and showcase our maintenance practices as a template for others to build their programs from.
One of the new practices the USGA wanted to showcase is what is called Fraze mowing.  This is a cultural practice that has come out of the sports field area that is being adapted to golf.  Essentially when you Fraze mow you are milling the surface off at a specific thickness.  Think of how roads are milled down before being repaved....same concept, only a smaller machine.
approx. 1.25" milled off
As you can see in the picture above, the road milling analogy is very accurate.  This pass is about 1.25 inches deep.  The purpose of going so deep on the range tee is to try to level it out somewhat.  Over the years of daily random sand applications to the divots the tee has become very, very bumpy (or wavy). Traditionally there is no way of correcting this without stripping the entire tee, laser grading, and then regrassing.  Now with the invention of these new machines it is possible to laser plan the tees regularly to prevent from having to do a traditional re-grass.  All of the stems left behind as seen in the picture will sprout new leaves and the turf will recover in a 3-4 weeks. 

Even though I had the top 1.25 inches of the tee removed, you can see from this aerial picture that there are still several low spots indicated by the green patches.  The milling process will fix the entire tee if you keep going deeper, but that will eliminate all of the needed grass rhizomes for recovery.  If the tee is truly pot holed like ours was, it will take several years to level it back out and still have some grass left to regrow from.
green spots mean the area was more than 1.25" below the rest of the area.
Some of the green spots were really low, as in the case of this sprinkler head.  This head was leveled to the teeing ground two years ago, but is now still 4-5 inches low.  That's how much sand is added annually to the range tee.

Having the range tee Fraze mowed served two purposes: 1) to level the tee somewhat 2) to generate sprigs for the new par 3 tees being renovated.  The Fraze mowing machine generates spectacular sprigs as it pulverizes the thick grass on the tee into perfect sprigs, and then shoots it out the conveyor belt.  Check out this video of what happens to the turf as it is Fraze mowed.  It is literally a sod to sprigs conversion.

I will take weekly aerial pictures of the range tee to show how fast the grass recovers.  Think of the turf loss like one enormous divot!

During this past week's closure the staff successfully finished recapturing the putting surface perimeters on the back nine.  After only one month the new perimeters on the front were nearly grown in, so there's no reason to not expect a rapid establishment and grow-in for the back nine as well.
#11 perimeter freshly replanted with aerification cores
#2 putting surface perimeter after only 30 days being planted

Another great thing that happened this past week I'm sure all the people who use the pool will love is the conversion of the pool from a traditional chlorine pool to a salt water pool.  No longer will liquid chlorine be used to keep the pool clean.  These new units will spilt the ionized salt molecule back into their separate atoms of sodium and chlorine.  The chlorine atom keeps the pool sanitized and then the two ions will eventually bond back together to form salt.  This type of system is not hard on swimmer's clothes, hair, or eyes.  Salt is silky they say!  Due to the size of the pool and production capacity of the units, two units had to be installed to keep up with the sanitation demands of that much water.

As many of you know I am good friends with the Superintendent at Royal Poinciana.  He and I were talking last week and he told me that RP is getting ready to start landscaping the median island from Goodlette up to the entrance of RP.  I'm happy to say that today they started to install the underground infrastructure in the median.  It won't be long before the entire median will be landscaped from Goodlette Road to Burning Tree Drive.

Don't forget to check out the clubhouse renovation blog at Clubhouse renovation . There's lots going on everywhere around here!  

Monday, June 27, 2016

Green's update

It's been a couple weeks since the perimeters of the putting surfaces were redone and I'm happy to say the new grass is coming in nicely. 

It's been raining like crazy here so that's been helping a lot with the grass growth. 

The course is in great shape considering what I did to it last month. It's amazing how fast the Celebration recovers. 

Tee expansion project work continues on 6 & 12. This morning we are removing all the rocks and steps on 12 to prepare for hauling in more dirt to widen the tee. 

The tee will be widened to the West all the way to the edge of the cart path and cut to be all the same level. This will give tremendous variability for spreading divot wear. 

5 green / 6 tee.... fill dirt is being hauled in for the raised cart path by 5 green. 

We are doing two things by raising the cart path by 5 green. First, the intention is to make it harder for a rolling ball to go left across the path and into the landscaping. Secondly, we are sculpting the ground to channel surface water to the existing drain basin so we do not have to modify it as well. There are a lot of things to consider for even a small project like this one. 

Also be sure to check out the clubhouse renovation blog as well. The clubhouse is looking good and moving along nicely. The goal is to try and have the roof sheeted and dried in by the end of week. That would be a huge milestone.