BAYER STANDS BEHIND IT’S CHIPCO CHOICE

Bayer's Topchoice product
I have to say that I love when people and companies keep their word. This spring, I contracted to have over 30 acres of turf treated with Bayer’s Chipco Choice for control of mole crickets. Chipco Choice’s active ingredient is fipronil which is very safe and effective at ultra-low doses. The product was sliced into the turf with perfection and carries a six month guarantee. We hit the tee tops, collars and all of the fairways.Mole cricket damage on 419 Bermudagrass

The application provided 98% control and I recently noticed small areas of cricket break through on a few fairways. I picked up my phone, took a picture of the damage, sent it to my vendor and within less than a week, I had Top Choice at my door step to treat the areas. Great job Bayer, and way to stand behind your products.

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S & P DOWNGRADE WILL HURT GOLF

Money in Golf by Eric J. von Hofen
Just when things were showing signs of picking up in the golf world, the last two weeks of financial news has struck fear back into the business. The politics of Washington D.C., problems in Europe and unemployment figures here in the U.S. have cast a shadow on the world economy. The stock market has lost 10% in the last two weeks alone, and is still trending down. Things are so negative that gold, investor’s “safe haven”, hit an all-time high and then sold off from it’s high point during Thursday’s 500 point drop.

On Friday night, August 5, it was announced that the S & P rating for the United States was downgraded from AAA to AA+. What does this downgrade mean for everyone? For starters, the amount of interest the U.S. government pays on it’s debt goes up. Rates on car loans, mortgages, credit cards and student loans will be going up. This downgrade will hit the pocket books of the American people, and discretionary spending on golf will be no exception.

I was traveling last week in New York and was a guest at a few clubs in Southampton. You could feel it in the air. Everyone was talking about the problems facing the country. This morning on the range tee in Miami, a buzz of “whats going to happen next?” was heard down the tee line. If the members are taking cover, its only a matter of time that conversations about cut backs at clubs will take place.

This downgrade will give golf courses enough of an excuse to delay capital expenses and cut back on operating budgets…just what we don’t need to have happen. Many superintendents have been asked to do more and more with less every year. This next inevitable round of cuts may be the breaking point for many guys.

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COOL GREEN SPACE CREATED IN NEW YORK CITY

HIGH LINE landscape project in New York City by Eric J. von Hofen
High Line, New York City’s new green space project, is an elevated area that runs along the old train tracks on the lower West Side.  The first section of the project opened on June 9, 2009, and runs from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street.  The second section, from West 20th Street to West 30th Street, opened in June 2011.

According to the Friends of High Line website, “The High Line was built in the 1930s, as part of a massive public-private infrastructure project called the West Side Improvement. It lifted freight traffic 30 feet in the air, removing dangerous trains from the streets of Manhattan’s largest industrial district. No trains have run on the High Line since 1980. Friends of the High Line, a community-based non-profit group, formed in 1999 when the historic structure was under threat of demolition. Friends of the High Line works in partnership with the City of New York to preserve and maintain the structure as an elevated public park.
View on the tracks of HIGH LINE by Eric J. von Hofen

In 2004, Friends of the High Line and the City of New York conducted a process to select a design team for the High Line. They selected the team of James Corner Field Operations, a landscape architecture firm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, an architecture firm, and experts in horticulture, engineering, security, maintenance, public art, and other disciplines.

In November of 2005, The City took ownership of the High Line from CSX Transportation, Inc. (who donated the structure), and the City and CSX signed a Trail Use Agreement.  Taken together, these two actions effectively preserved the High Line south of 30th Street.”

Over the next four years the first section of the above ground park began to take shape. The tracks were removed, cleaned and stored for later installation in the landscape design. The team began to bring in dirt and to install the plant material. Walkways and stairs were added for access throughout the track system. Tracks were then reinstalled into the design as the final touch, reminding anyone visiting the High Line that they are standing on a part of New York history.

The next time you are in New York, check out the must-see High Line project and support the Friends of High Line. This project is truly something special and it will be enjoyed by everyone for many years to come. This HD video shows the final product – the result of years of hard work to build new green space in New York City.

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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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COLLIER’S RESERVE PUTS WATER WHERE IT’S NEEDED

Collier's Reserve irrigation project
Irrigation system deterioration and reliability issues have really given Collier’s Reserve Country Club in Naples, Florida something to think about over that last few years. After 19 years of operation and weekly repairs of PVC pipe and replacing Pierce fittings, the membership stepped up and unanimously voted to replace the entire irrigation system. This 130 acre, Art Hills designed course is getting a much needed state of the art irrigation system this summer. The Club hired irrigation design consultant A. S. Altum to deliver a new system design to them. President Tony Altum had quite the task in front of him laying out a system that will help the Club maximize their water sources. The Club receives effluent water on a daily basis and it currently can’t use what it has contracted because of poor system performance. With that part of the system not working up to par they have to make up the difference with their surface water pump station. The blending of these waters with high pH, high bicarbonates and high Na gives golf course superintendent Nicholas von Hofen a challenge on a daily basis, and then throw in a few massive irrigation breaks a week and poor water quality and Nicholas stays a very busy man at Collier’s Reserve.
Colliers Reserve irrigation project
During the Spring, the Club hired Leibold irrigation to install the new system. Leibold will be responsible for installing 37,000 linear feet of main line HDPE piping, 65,000 linear feet of lateral piping, 1.2 million linear feet of copper wire and 2,237 sprinkler heads. They will be working over environmentally sensitive areas by attaching 2,100 feet of pipe to bridge crossings around the course and 4,000 feet of directional borings through easements. Nicholas selected the new Toro Lynx controllers and a Flowtronex pumping station with two 60 HP motors that will provide 1,200 gallons per minute.
Collier's Reserve new pump station
The project started in March and will be completed by September. The course is open while the work is being done. Bill Berutti, General Manager and Nicholas decided to close only one hole a day so the contractors can get the work done without having to wait for golfers. Both Bill and Nicholas tell me that the members are extremely happy with the progress and they already see improved turf quality on the holes that have been completed. When this system is done, Collier’s Reserve will have the latest technology for irrigation systems and will surely know where every drop of water is going.
Misting heads at Collier's Reserve

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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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A LOOK AT ELYRIA COUNTRY CLUB

ELYRIA COUNTRY CLUB by Eric J. von Hofen
The club and course first opened in 1905 with only a few holes. In 1925, famous golf course designer William Flynn rebuilt the course and added 9 more holes. Flynn went on to design a hand full of courses in Ohio and also designed Cherry Hills (Englewood, CO), The Country Club (Brookline, MA) and Shinnecock Hills (Southampton, NY). In 1975, golf course architects Jack Kidwell and Michael Hurdzan updated the course and added some new tees. Today the course is a mature beautiful 18-hole course that plays to 6,750 yards from the championship tees. Massive Oak trees line many of the fairways and the clubhouse area. Water is in play on 10 holes with the Black River providing a interesting views on 6 of these holes. The Bentgrass greens, tees and fairways are some of the best around.

Elyria has had only 5 golf course superintendents since the doors opened. It many areas of the country, this is unheard of. I was the superintendent of a course in Naples, Florida that had 12 supers in 5 years. This tells you how special Elyria CC really is and how crazy I was to take the job in Naples. In 1988 and 1989 I worked at Elyria, under CGCS Frank Feck, as a foreman and learned how to maintain bentgrass from a master. It was great to return 22 years later and see that the course is still on track and better then ever. Current superintendent, Pat Rodgers is the one calling the shots these days and he differently has his finger on the pulse of the operation. Congratulations to the member’s and staff for keeping a piece of Ohio history alive and well.

This HD video takes you on a tour of one of the oldest golf courses in Northern Ohio.

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TURFUNDERGROUND’S TOP 5 VODKA LIST

Grey Goose, Ketel One and Belvedere Vodka's
Had a rough day at the golf course? Well, being a golf course superintendent, you might have said “yes”. Sometimes you need to knock the edge off and relax a little after mother nature has kicked your butt up and down for most of the day. I usually hit the gym to blow off some steam but sometimes only a nice vodka and soda will do the trick. I’ve tried them all, and below is my top five list:
1.Ketel One
2.Grey Goose
3.Belvedere
4.Roberto Cavalli
5.Hanger 1

Don’t try these at work. At home only. Remember don’t drink and drive your car or your golf cart.

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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 5 GOLF SHIRTS FOR THE SUPERINTENDENT

Polo and Peter Millar by Eric J. von Hofen
Ask any of my former employees and they will tell you my saying. If you dress like a farmer on the golf course, they will treat you like one. As a result, I have always dressed up the part and have kept my golf shirts on the cutting edge. I have based this list off of price point, durability, cut, and style. Superintendents spend just as much time on the golf course as some teaching pros but we have different needs in our shirts. Here it is, the top 5 shirts superintendents must have.

1. Polo by Ralph Lauren
2. Peter Millar
3. Fairway and Greene
4. Donald  J. Ross
5. Nike Golf

I’m not much into the performance materials(polyester), although they do provide some better UV protection than the cotton threads. To me they seem hot and tend to have a “plastic” smell. Nike Golf makes some that don’t smell.  My preferred material for the shirts listed above is cotton. Hit up your golf pro and have him get you the same deals they get from the manufacturers. You can get these shirts at cost and you will look like a million bucks watering that green.

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