IT’S SEEDING TIME AGAIN IN MANY AREAS OF THE COUNTRY

Prep for overseeding in the Desert
During the month of October, golf courses in the sunbelt areas of the country are faced with a huge task. Overseed, yes overseed. This process is different in each region and requires a ton of work for it to be successful. In the desert regions, winter nighttime temps drop into the 30’s and 40’s and warm up into the 70’s during the day. These temp changes make the Bermudagrass go dormant and turns it brown. Overseed is a must during the winter months when golf demand is at highest point of the year. The goal with a desert overseed is to completely cover the bermudagrass with ryegrass. Period. Any areas of bermudagrass still thriving in the fresh new ryegrass stand will stick out like a sore thumb in December. These courses will be growing this new crop for the next 7 months then they flip the switch and grow bermudagrass for the rest of the year. I wish it was that easy. These superintendents work magic during this process.
Verticut prep of fairways for overseed
In Florida, I call this seeding process interseeding. The goal here is to have 60% stand of bermudagrass and a 40% stand of ryegrass. Only areas in north Florida have nighttime temps in the 30’s and the rates might be higher. South Florida has only a hand full of cold days a year that knock back the bermudagrass and seed is not needed. With seed comes the stripes. Many clubs that push for green at any cost want to see a bang for their buck. “Hey Sup stripe it up baby”. Somehow they think that your growing bentgrass and they want the place to look like their club up north. Just relax and play it as it lies.

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GREENS AERATION MIAMI STYLE

Greens Aeration by Eric von Hofen
It’s that time of the year when putting greens around the State of Florida go to the spa, yes the spa. Aeration on Tifeagle bermudagrass greens is a must and is well under way by now. I like to punch holes in the greens at least four times a summer. May kicks off the first time, followed by June then July and the last time in August. This has greatly helps the control of thatch and improves the Ksat levels. Remember we get over 65 inches of rain a year.

I first circle verticut the greens and collars. We then bring on the Toro Procore, collect the cores, clean off the greens, and then apply a heavy topdressing of coarse sand. Out come the drag brushes, one brush to fill in the holes and one the finish groom the greens. An application of Harrell’s 17-1-10 is put down to help the greens recover, we turn on the water and sit back for the next three days. The greens will be brushed one to two more times this week and rolled to level them out. We will mow them later in the week.

Check out this HD video of the aeration process and how we do it Miami style.

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OPEN ASSISTANT GOLF COURSE SUPERINTENDENT POSITION

Assistant Superintendent position
Riviera Country Club in Coral Gables, Florida is looking to fill an open assistant golf course superintendent position. Riviera is a 1925 Donald Ross designed course. The Club is located one mile from the University of Miami in historical Coral Gables. Riviera is on the list of Top 100 Platinum Clubs in America. This is a full service five star Club. We have 1,100 members with 575 of them being golf members. The golf course will be going through a re landscaping project this summer. More details on the Club:

Course Type: Private Membership
Annual Rounds: 26,000
Open Year Round: Yes
Primary Grasses: Tifeagle Greens, Paspalum Tees and 419 Bermudagrass Fairways
Staff: Crew of 23
GCSAA member: Preferred
Education: Bachelors or Associates Degree in Turfgrass Management
Experience: Must have three years of golf course experience. Warm season grass experience is a plus.
Salary: $40,000 to $42,000 per year.
Benefits: Health insurance, annual vacation, meals, dues paid for GCSAA membership, golfing privileges, and 401(k)
Duties: Golf course maintenance, payroll, record keeping, fertilizer/pesticide applications and irrigation management.

Send resumes to: Eric J. von Hofen at turfunderground@gmail.com

Postion available immediately. Application deadline is April 29, 2011
Eric von Hofen and Riviera CC #13 fairway bunkers

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Tif-Eagle Greens Are Growing Again And Ready For A Circle Verticut

Eric von Hofen and Toro
It is that time of the year once again.  Soil temps are up, and  the Tif-Eagle bermudagrass is alive and growing aggressively.  The active growing is taking place on top while the thatch is growing under the surface. Tif-Eagle produces a ton of thatch that has to be removed, otherwise your green speeds will pay the price. To remove thatch, I use a proven method in a Tif-Eagle putting green. I started using this trick back in Naples, Florida, 10 years ago when I grew in the course at Calusa Pines Golf Club. Using this method and pulling cores three to four times a year will produce outstanding results. Remember that you have to feed your greens before, during and after to rip them up. Check out my video below showing my method of circle verticutting on a Tif-Eagle green.

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New TifGrand Bermudagrass Preforming Well and Living Up to it’s Claims.

eric von hofen and tifgrand bermudagrass
In June of 2009, I kicked off a small tee addition project here at the 1926 Donald Ross designed Riviera Country Club in Coral Gables, Florida. We wanted to add some length to a few of the holes and give us more options in setting up the course for play. The entire course was designed on only 105 acres, this includes a clubhouse, tennis courts, parking, and one pond. The course plays tight and now measures just under 6,600 yards with the new tees.

During the project, I knew that we where going to be challenged growing turf on one of the four new tees. The tee surfaces on the entire course were grassed with paspalum in 2003. I was worried about the placement of the new tee on the 5th hole because of shade. As you can see in the picture, this tee is covered with shade from the Live Oak trees for most the day. I contacted Pike Creek Turf to see if TifGrand was available yet and if I could get my hands on some. I was able to get 500 square feet from the test program that Pike Creek Turf was participating in with Dr. Wayne Hanna and Dr. Kris Braman, world renowned turfgrass breeders, from the University of Georgia.

The turf came in sod form and was rooted down in less than 6 days. We mowed the new sod with a walk mower 11 days after we planted it. We have been applying light levels of fertilizer and keep the water controlled. TifGrand has shown me that it can handle the von Hofen test and that it can grow very well in the shade. When I’m asked by other turf managers or developers about the latest and greatest turfgrass, I tell them that what ever the claim is, test it yourself. I also tell people to look at a new bermudagrass in January and check it again in June. It might look great in the summer and look dead in winter. We have to find a balance on what you are looking for. Cost is the next factor. How much will it cost to maintain the new grass and will the membership put up with the maintenance practices that have to be done in order to produce the best playing conditions.

TifGrand growers claim it’s the world’s first seed and pollen sterile(triploid hybrid) Bermudagrass scientifically developed to thrive in 60-70 % continuous shade. It is attractive, dense turf and uses less fertilizer and less water then 419 bermudagrass. I like how it has performed and suggest you consider using it on your next project.

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Helminthosporium on TifEagle Bermudagrass Greens

eric von hofen
Almost over night we see the results of Helminthosporium on our TifEagle greens. This is the first time this year we have seen any signs from our little friend. We have had two weeks of well below temps that have taken the soil below 50 degrees. This was just enough to increase the pressure of the disease and for us to see the damage. One good thing is that we have had full sun and no rain. This will help bring the soil temps back up above 58 degrees and start growing turf again. I plan on starting a program of applying fungicides on a 14 to 21 day rotation. I will use Heritage, Insigna and Daconil for control and prevention of the leaf spot this winter. It has been 32 days since my last fungicide application so I’m not surprised to see the spots pop up. I spray my greens every friday with a light fertilizer package so adding fungicides will be easy to do. I will keep you updated this winter on the progress on the control of helminthosporium.
Eric von Hofen

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Golf courses feeling the cold in Florida early this year

Eric von Hofen new #17 green
This year’s golf season in the Sunshine State kicks off to a cold reception in December.  Over the last two mornings, golf course superintendents have arrived at work to find temperatures in the 30’s and frost in some areas.  Normal temperatures during this time of the year are in the mid 70’s during the day and low 60’s at night.  But not this year.  I’ve received reports that courses in the Palm Beach and Jupiter areas were covered with heavy frost and play had to be postponed until it melted.  The Naples area was hit just as hard.  Greg Norman’s Shark Shootout kicks off Thursday at Tiburon in Naples with another fun field of PGA TOUR players, including Ian Poulter, Bubba Watson, Fred Funk, Matt Kuchar and Anthony Kim.  Thursday morning might be interesting if we have another night that produces a heavy frost.
Eric von Hofen and green temps

Last winter Florida was knocked around by cold fronts that swept through the state on a weekly basis.  We had four days that produced frost on golf courses in Miami, which is a rare occurrence in South Florida.  Bermudagrass loves to grow when soil temperatures are above 58 degrees.  As you see in this picture, we are well below that.  I have not mowed greens for the last two mornings, trying to keep the turf we have.  Green speeds have increased to above 12 on the Stimpmeter even without mowing. So stay tuned this weekend to the Shark Shootout to see quick greens and the affects of the cold weather.

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Seashore Paspalum looking good but sometimes in the wrong places


This is the time of the year that Seashore Paspalum shines. The heavy summer maintenance is all done, the rain has stopped and temps have cooled off. I have been using the Harrell’s 8-0-0 Paspalum liquid fertilizer with Primo and a high Mag combo product to produce some great results. I tried this Harrell’s product during their research period and it worked great. I will continue to groom and lightly topdress the tees over the winter months depending on the weather. Miami had a cold last winter but it did not affect the Paspalum on the tees, although it slowed down the 419 bermudagrass on the fairways and rough.

You see here when Paspalum looks good in the wrong places. This problem is a project in itself. We continue to spray out and remove the Paspalum each summer but spots keep showing up. To be continued….

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Overseed or Interseed this winter. What are you going to do?


This time every year superintendents decide if they are going to drop seed or not. Here in South Florida, after a rough cold winter last year, I think many golf courses might just do it. I don’t like to call this process overseed here in South Florida, I call it Interseeding. Interseeding of what you may ask. If you have a new ultra dwarf bermudagrass on greens and the golf course is located south of Jupiter, Florida, I say no way. If the golf course is located in the desert of California or Arizona, I say you better. I worked at PGA WEST, in La Quinta, CA and we overseeded everything on each of the 9 golf courses. We had to make sure that every bit of bermudagrass was covered with seed. If it was not covered you would see the brown bermudagrass come through and look bad all winter long. It gets so much colder at night in the deserts and frost is more common. Last winter in Miami, we had 4 mornings of frost and the grass went off color but did not go brown. The Palm Beach area was not so lucky. They had many more days of cold weather and cloud cover which made growing turf very difficult. I have made the call to interseed my driving range tee only this year and that is it. I want a 40% ryegrass and 60% bermudgarass stand of turf. That will work great for us and help with the small size of the range tee. Golfers will have grass to hit from. What are you going to do?

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