One Season Ends and Another Begins
Traditionally in South Florida, the winter golf season comes to an end shortly after Easter and subsequently there is a fairly rapid decline in play. Once the winter play season has come to an end the summertime course maintenance season begins.
With a very early Easter this year, moderate to heavy play continued through April, but it is also being reported that total winter season rounds were reduced relative to previous years. The current state of the economy is definitely having an impact, and when combined with significant increases in fertilizer and other basic material costs, course managers will be challenged to continue to provide a level of overall conditioning and quality in keeping with golfer expectations and demands.
As discussed in previous web updates, the prolonged drought that has been plaguing the state continues to be a major concern at all golf courses, except those fortunate enough to have an unrestricted irrigation source. Although, with each passing month, there have been incremental increases in the amount of water available for course irrigation, which has naturally helped. Also, as a result of timely winter rainfall, on April 18 th , the South Florida Water Management District went back to a Phase 11 (30% reduction) restriction from the earlier Phase 111 (45% reduction). Yet, Turf Advisory Service (TAS) visits have been made to several courses where a lack of sufficient water has already caused significant problems and a pronounced deterioration in turf health and quality.
With the occurrence of mild to warm temperatures throughout the winter, there has been no real slow down in plant parasitic nematode activity. This has exacerbated drought stress problems and caused additional turf loss. With fairways and roughs, producing a recovery from drought stress and nematode damage will be extremely difficult without regular and adequate rainfall. Thus, the start of the summer rainy season cannot come soon enough.
With the winter play season finally winding down, most courses in Central and South Florida are implementing routine summer cultural management such as core aeration and aggressive verticutting of putting greens, tees, fairways, and roughs. These practices will always be unpopular with golfers because of the disruptions and inconveniences caused, but accomplishing them on a timely basis is critical for promoting the resumption of active turf growth and recovering from the cumulative negative impacts of the winter season. There are inevitably requests and demands that cultural management programs be delayed because during the month of May, the start of reciprocal play and annual summer membership programs can help increase play and, in turn, revenues. The importance of timely initiation of cultural management programs cannot be over emphasized and the old adage of " pay me now or pay me later " certainly applies in this situation. Furthermore, with reduced availability and/or increasing costs of pesticides, fertilizers, and other materials, there is even greater importance and need for agronomically-sound, basic practices and programs to maintain a healthy turf and good quality conditioning the majority of the time.
As a reminder, the USGA Green Section TAS early payment discount expires May 15 th . Pre-paying by May 15 th saves $300 on a half or full day Green Section visit. In these difficult economic times take advantage of all discounts that come your way.
Source: John Foy, firstname.lastname@example.org or 772-546-2620