Fieldscout Meter by Eric J. von Hofen
Over the last few weeks, I have had the chance to ride shotgun with a few PGA TOUR Agronomists during PGA events and I have to say I’m very impressed. Bland Cooper, CGCS and PGA TOUR Agronomist, took me through the steps on how the TOUR has taken tournament preparation and hosting to a whole new level. They have put every new tech gadget available on the market to use and have built a sound agronomic plan around them.
Eric J. von Hofen in Mexico

During advance week the data collection and charting begins. They first look at height of cut on the greens and the speeds that are produced in the AM and PM. Morning and afternoon soil moisture readings are collected and then plugged into another chart. This data is collected using the FieldScout TDR probe. The probes are an inch and a half long and easily pierce the turf with no problem. Within seconds the data pops up on the screen and after three sites are probed, a average is displayed on the screen.
By Eric J. von Hofen

The superintendent and PGA TOUR Agronomist both have their own FieldScout probes. They walk each green in a grid-like pattern mapping and collecting the soil moisture data. During this process the data is averaged and areas in need of water are located. This need of water could be 30 seconds to 3 minutes with a hose. Overhead irrigation is not used at all.

All of this is happening while there is yet another series of data collection occurring. Firmness, yes firmness is measured. This too is collected in the AM and PM. This is the missing piece to the puzzle. When this information is charted and overlaid with Stimpmeter and moisture readings, it shows where the performance of the greens is headed for the week. Basically the height of cut did not change for the entire two weeks. Green speed was increased by decreasing the moisture and pure rolling. When the greens moisture read around 25% to 30%, it made for the best conditions after rolling. The TOUR does not want the greens dried out below these levels.
eric von hofen

Next time you are watching a PGA TOUR event on TV, just think what goes on behind the scenes to make those greens so good. It takes a sound plan in place and a year worth of work to get things right. These PGA TOUR Agronomists really know their stuff. The saying should be “TOUR Agronomy, These guys are good”.

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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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