Heavy Rains Impact Course Conditions in South Florida

Is it ever going to stop raining? Many golf courses in South Florida have just been hammered with heavy rains this summer. Here in Miami, we have received all of our yearly rain fall by October 5th. I have been hearing rain fall totals over 70 and 80 inches in this area. Naples is coming in around 45 inches and Palm Beach in the mid 70’s. It’s incredible to think that other parts of the United States are still feeling the grip of the summer drought.

According to the latest USGA Green Section report, many courses are feeling the affects of a variety of turfgrass diseases. Courses with Champion Bermudagrass greens are in the roughest shape. Bermudagrass decline and pythium have been discovered and are actively being treated. Tifeagle and MiniVerde are not much better. Aggressive topdressing and spray programs are being used to battle out breaks of algae and thinning turf on the edges of greens.
Tifeagle Green in Miami after 70 inches of rain by Eric J. von Hofen
The Farmers Almanac is forecasting a wet and cold winter for the Southeast and above normal temperatures for the West Coast of the United States. For all of us turf managers, I hope they are wrong.

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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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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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Riviera Puts Ross Back In It’s Bunkers Part 1

Eric von Hofen and Riviera CC #18 green

Riviera Country Club was designed by Donald Ross in 1924 but it was not called Riviera. The course, located in Coral Gables, Florida, was called the Miami Biltmore Golf Course and was part of a 36 hole design with a resort. The North and South Courses were built at the same time. During the great depression and World War II the resort and courses were abandoned. The government took over the resort and turned it into a military hospital. It was run as a hospital until the mid 1980‘s and then sold to the City of Coral Gables. The City renovated the resort and returned it to its intended glory. In 1948, a group of Coral Gables businessmen, led by Mr. McCormick, set out to purchase 17 holes located south of Bird Road from the government. They were successful and Riviera Country Club was born. The gentlemen had the task of building a clubhouse and adding a hole, successfully completing the 18 hole course.

Over the next 62 years the 105 acre course has been tweaked by some of the best Architects in the business. In 1962 Golf Course Architect Dick Wilson was the first to get his hands on the course and his marching orders were to eliminate a few of the bunkers and make the remaining bunkers smaller. Mark Mahannah worked on a few greens and added some bunkers back. David Wallace worked on tees. Lloyd Clifton worked on bunkers and green surrounds. In 1993, Architect Brian Silva, a Donald Ross historian, came into the picture and Riviera has never looked back. Mr. Silva found room to add a driving range and chipping practice area. He also added a pond, which is the only body of water on the property. The installation of the pond never affected any of the original Ross designed holes. In 2003, Mr. Silva restored several putting surfaces and replaced some of the Ross bunkers that were taken out by Mr. Wilson. At that time the course was re-grassed; the greens with TifEagle Bermudagrass, the collars with TifSport Bermudagrass, the tees with paspalum and the fairways with 419 Bermudagrass.

Eric von Hofen and Riviera CC #17 green

With 17 years of wear and tear the bunkers had to be rebuilt. Miami receives over 65 inches of rain each year and that rain creates havoc for the bunker sand. Where Riviera is located, coral rock is the main soil make up, not sand like other areas of Florida. That coral rock works its way to the surface in the bunker and contaminates the sand. There were areas of the bunkers that surface water from the greens and approaches washed into, exposing even more coral rock. The coral rock pieces range in size from as small as a quarter to as large as a baseball.

The following video shows you the layout of the course and the design of the old bunkers before the construction started. In the video I show every hole. I also show you #17 Greenside bunker and the damage that takes place after a 2.75 inch rain. Part 2 in this series will be the details of the construction and design work with Brian Silva.

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