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GOLF COURSE CONSTRUCTION STILL WEAK IN FLORIDA

Eric von Hofen and Riviera CC #14 bunkers

Looking at the numbers of projects going on in the state paints an interesting picture.
There are only three new course construction projects under way in Florida: Streamsong Resort, Bonifay at The Villages and Ocala Meadows.

Streamsong Resort under construction
Streamsong, a 36-hole resort project in Polk County owned by Mosaic, is a 16,000 acre site formerly mined for phosphate. Streamsong is located between Tampa and Orlando. Three big time architects got the tap for this job. Tom Doak is designing 18 holes, and Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore are designing the other 18 holes. With this powerful design team at the helm, I can’t wait to see how the project turns out.

The resort is slated to have 140 guest rooms and a spa with enough land to build more rooms if needed.

Bonifay at The Villages, also in Central Florida, is adding 27 holes to their portfolio. This project will be part of their “Play for Life” membership program.

Not too far down the street is an 18-hole project called Ocala Meadows. This course is scheduled to open in the fall.

Renovation’s are picking up however, are still down from last year. 25 to 30 courses are doing touch ups to their tracks this summer.

Tom Fazio has been busy redesigning Emerald Dunes and The Floridian. Jim Fazio is doing work at Boca Grove and Trump International. Bobby Weed has blown up Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club in Tampa and, from what I hear, has put a new face on the course. Many courses are re-grassing fairways, greens or tees. The trend continues with courses changing greens to a new ultra dwarf bermudagrass such as mini-verde and tif-eagle. A few courses are installing tif-grand on their tees and I must say, after having this grass for the last two years, I understand why…It performs. Fairways are being converted at a record pace to celebration bermudagrass, with many clubs using the no till method with great success.

New palms on the golf course
Bunker projects are still going on and a few new irrigation systems will be wrapping up by September. I just finished the first phase of my master planned landscape project this week. We did our bunkers last summer and added a few new tees the summer before. Just enough work to keep the members excited about the course that they play every day.

Let’s see what happens in the summer of 2012. If I missed one, please let me know.

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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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PERFECT WEATHER FOR FAIRY RING ON TIFEAGLE

Fairy ring
Fairy ring shows up after a three year hiatus. Summer time is here and soil temps are at their peak and boom out comes the fairy ring. Yes, it’s that time of the year when our mushroom producing friend shows his face and tries to kill the greens.

On Monday morning we did not have any signs of fairy ring and by Wednesday afternoon we could see the rings of decline with mushrooms starting to show up. What changed so fast you may ask? We started the third round of aeration on the Tif-eagle greens and the soil temps are at 95 to 100 degree. This is all it took to let the fungi wake up and take off. Remember that there are over 60 different fungi that can be associated with the symptoms. The odds are against you not experiencing this problem in your turf management career.
Fairy ring on tifeagle bermudagrass
I went to the office, picked up my Fieldscout moisture meter and headed back out to the three greens I noticed with the rings. I tested the moisture inside the fairy ring and then outside of the ring and was shocked at the difference.

Moisture meter
Inside the moisture was 22%.

Fieldscout meter
Two inches away the moisture was 33%

We sprayed a strobilurin fungicide along with a wetting agent this morning and watered it in for six minutes. I do not spray any preventive fungicides and only treat when I know the problem will not go away by itself. We have not sprayed any strobilurin based fungicides for six months so it should work in one shot. I will keep you updated on the process of keeping the disease in check and when the rings disappear. I would love to hear your story about dealing with fairy ring.

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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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