DROUGHT RELIEF FELT IN MOST AREAS OF FLORIDA

Rain clouds over South Florida
Be careful for what you wish for is the saying. Well that’s the case for sure in many areas of Florida. With record cold temps this winter and a drought for most of the spring, we have finally seen a good amount of rainfall in July. Here in Miami we have received about 10 inches and Naples has seen about the same. Palm Beach area has reports of 8 to 11 inches for the month.
Drought Monitor map
Looking at the drought monitor map, you can see that many areas are out of the red. This is great for anyone that is trying to grow something in the State. All of the wild fires are reported to be out and things are getting back to normal in the Everglades. Lake Okeechobee is now at 10.28 feet and climbing. Many areas in Texas and Arizona are dealing with a record breaking drought of their own. These states are have some rainfall headed their way this weekend. Let’s hope they get some good rains and the turf starts growing again.

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LEARN HOW TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE TURF AND ORNAMENTAL INDUSTRY

FTGA Conference September 13-16, 2011
I will be teaching a session on using social media in the Turf and Ornamental industry on Thursday, September 15, 2011, at the Florida Turfgrass Associations 59th Annual Conference & Show in Palm Beach Gardens.  Learn about Blogging, Tweeting, Facebook, Linkedin and YouTube.  I will show you the ins and outs of  using social media and how to establish yourself on the web.  Educate your existing clients and become a source of information for new clients.  Grow your bottom line using social media. For details go to https://www.ftga.org/attendees and download the Attendee Brochure.  See you in Palm Beach Gardens.

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DROUGHT LEAVING IT’S MARK ON SOUTH FLORIDA COURSES

Hand watering fairways during the 2011 south florida drought by Eric von Hofen
Growing turf in South Florida this year has not been easy.  This past winter brought with it below normal temperatures, with many areas of the state dealing with frost delays and brown turf.  We just can’t seem to catch a break and the hits just keep on coming.  The National Weather Service predicts the drought for this area will last well into the wet season.   Here in Miami, we’ve only had 11.25 inches of rain so far this year.  Naples reports in with only 10.4 inches and Palm Beach with 13 inches of rain this year.  The rainy season usually starts around the middle to end of May.  Hurricane season begins on June 1st and lasts until November 30th. At the rate we’re going, it doesn’t seem like it will ever rain again.

southeast drought monitor by Eric J. von Hofen
The drought monitor shows just how bad the conditions are around the state.  South Florida Water Management District and local water utilities have implemented water restrictions for all golf courses in our area.  Surface water usage must be reduced by 15% and effluent water usage from utilities must be reduced by 35%.   These cut backs change every month because the permitted usage amount during the summer rainy months reflects the historical rain fall that is supposed to happen.  One problem now, it has not rained in the month of June and usage has been cut big time.

Low lake levels by Eric J. von Hofen
To make things worse, many golf course irrigation lakes are drying up and the water level is below the intakes on the pump stations.  The courses that can still pump water are reporting that the water quality is so bad that they are holding off on using it.  The chlorides are high as the water in a swimming pool and the pH is in the 9’s. At this point there is not much you can do other than watch your course burn up and pray for rain.  Courses are going to cart paths only and moving the aeration practices back because you can’t water enough to keep the place alive.  This is how bad it is down here.

I have been using the Harrells Symphony wetting agent product to pull me through these hard times.  We have been spraying the greens and tees with this product and the results have been outstanding.  Hand watering during the day is broken up into teams for the approaches, tees and greens.  The rough is left to fend for itself.  Plant material is stressed out also and water wagons are being used to keep the non native plants alive during this drought.

Golfers have been understanding so far because their yards are also burning up.  Let’s hope things change soon and we get some nectar from the gods.

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Turfunderground’s Top Five Public Courses In Naples

Tiburon and Shark Shootout
Heading to Naples, Florida this winter for some sun, relaxation, and golf? Naples is the spot, it has the highest number of courses per capita in the country. You better do your homework if you want to play some golf. Just like Palm Beach Country, many courses in Naples are private and you can’t get through the gates. So if you are lucky enough to have a wealthy uncle or friend from college that lives in the one the gated golf course communities, you will be hard pressed to find a game.

You can experience some of the best public golf in Naples if you follow my list.
1. Tiburon Golf Club designed by Greg Norman. Home to the PGA TOUR Shark Shootout.
2. Naples Grande Golf Club designed by Rees Jones.
3. The Rookery at Marco designed by Bob Cupp.
4. Lely Resort Golf & Country Club designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and Lee Trevino.
5. Old Corkscrew Golf Club designed by Jack Nicklaus

While in Naples you better eat dinner early, like before 9 pm, after that many places shut down for the night. Also do not drink and drive. This is very little crime and the police would just love to meet you while you in town.

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Turfunderground’s Top 5 Public Golf Courses in Palm Beach

Eric von Hofen and the Breakers Hotel
Heading to Palm Beach, Florida this winter for some sun, relaxation, and golf?   You better do your homework if you want to play some golf. There are over 290 golf courses in Palm Beach Country, but most of them are private and you can’t get through the gates. So if you are lucky enough to have a wealthy uncle or friend from college that lives in the one the gated golf course communities, you will be hard pressed to find a game.

Palm Beach county has a population of over 1,200,000 million people so the courses are packed in the season. Palm Beach island has a year-round population of 10,468, with an estimated seasonal population of 30,000. The winters are mild and produce night time lows in the 50’s and day time highs in the 70’s. This winter has been below the norm and like many areas of the country. It has been cold during the month of December and January should be better for sure.

You can experience some of the best public golf if you follow my list.

1. The Ocean Course at The Breakers Hotel. Course was redesigned by Brain Silva.
2. The Champion Course at PGA NATIONAL. Course designed by Jack Nicklaus and also home to the PGA TOUR’s Honda Classic.
3. North Palm Beach Country Club. Course was redesigned by Jack Nicklaus in 2006.
4. The Rees Jones Course at The Breakers Hotel. Course was redesigned 2006.
5. The Palm Beach Par 3 Golf Course. A gem by the sea for sure. Course was redesigned by Raymond Floyd in 2009 and was voted Best Par 3 in America by Golf Digest.

Have fun, bring your sunscreen and your wallet.

 

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Turfunderground Takes You To the Abaco Club, Bahamas


Looking for a weekend trip this winter to get out of the cold, you should check out the Abaco Club in the Bahamas. This gem of the islands is the work of Englishman investor Mr. Peter De Savary. Mr. De Savary has teamed up with Ritz-Carlton to take his dream to the next level. The Club has a 18 hole golf course that was designed by architects Donald Steel and Tom McKenzie. They have created a wonderful links style course in the tropics. The course is a par 72 and it measures 7,100 from the back tees. The course was grassed with paspalum and it looks great, some of the best I have ever seen. The greens are large, like The Old Course, and take some time getting use to them. The views you get during your round of golf are amazing. The first par 3 on the front nine takes your breath away. Hit two balls to enjoy very minute of it. You feel like you are hitting over a sand dune to a large section of green carpet on the beach. Holes 17 and 18 have put Pebble Beach on guard.
The property is now being managed by the Ritz-Carlton Clubs so the service is top notch to match the golf course. They have cottages you can rent that provide the views of the Winding Bay. The beach and pools provide plenty of access to fill anyones swimming needs. You can fly into Marsh Harbour Airport and have a car service take you on the 30 minute trip to the property. Check out my video below showing my day trip to play golf and have lunch at the Abaco Club. We flew out in the morning from Palm Beach International and landed at Marsh Harbour. After a great day of golf we flew back and were home by 6:30 in the evening. Thanks again Mr. De Savary for a wonderful day.

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First Day of Winter and Golf Courses are Off Color

Eric von Hofen and frost damage on bermudagrass
This year’s golf season in the Sunshine State kicks off to a cold reception on the first day of winter.  I wrote a post last week explaining just how cold it has been in Florida and it has not let up.  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. Over the last two weeks, golf course superintendents have arrived at work to find temperatures in the 30’s and frost in some areas. In the picture above, it shows that the roughs on golf courses in Miami are damaged from the frost. Normally we have two or three days of cold weather a year and the turf bounces back when it warms up. Golf courses up and down the east and west coasts of Florida have been hit very hard. Palm Beach County is home for many snow birds living in gated golf communities are realizing that for the second year in a row the turf behind their homes will be dormant. Those golf courses that chose to overseed the roughs will look good while others will look brown and in need of water. It just needs sun and a few 80 degree days and we will be back in business.
Eric von Hofen
This picture shows frost on a paspalum tee box in Miami. It is a shame that this has to happen during the high golf season when so many people come from around the world to enjoy the sun and emerald green fairways of Florida. This Holiday season, golfers will have little to show off at their home courses. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that January will bring some warmer days. We need to see some green fairways to see some green in the cash register.

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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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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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