Thursday, September 17, 2020

Enough is enough!

PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK FOR THE FULL ARTICLE - This summer started out extremely dry. We only had rain on two separate events throughout the months of June and July. No rain in summer months is unheard of in Florida and we needed rain. That all changed during the middle of August. In fact, we have experienced rain on 22 of the past 27 days, 13 days so far in September, and in the past 5 and a half weeks it has rained on 28 separate days. The total rainfall hovers around 15" for the time span which isn't too extreme for our location but the fact that it has come in consistent doses has prevented the golf course from having any chance to dry. 

One of many days with standing water. When you encounter water on a path, slow down but remain on the path. The surrounding grass is extremely wet. Keep in mind, you wouln't drive your car through someone's front yard to avoid a puddle on the street.

Obviously, the consistent rain has had an impact on the golf course and its playability. While I've lost track, I am confident we have set a record for the number of days being "Cart Path Only." Under normal conditions, we often will implement Cart Path Only restrictions after a significant rainfall, usually one that leaves standing water. It normally doesn't take long for the ground and turf to soak up the moisture and we resume normal 90-degree cart operation. This time it's different. We have had so much rainfall that the top 4-6" of the ground is saturated across much of the golf course. So while you might notice areas of standing water are drying up, it is important to understand turf that looks perfectly dry may actually be mushy underneath. 

Dry soils have better structure than wet soils making it easier for them to support the load of a golf cart. When you add moisture to the soil, you make it easier to compact which in the long run is detrimental to the health of the turf. Compaction reduces the available space needed for air and water movement through the soil as well as room for the roots to grow. Cart Path Only restrictions aren't only for the purpose of preventing getting stuck in the mud or leaving tracks. Preventing compaction, the unseen damage, is just as critical as preventing tracks. In a year where every golfer has their own cart, the need for these restrictions becomes even more significant. 

Not only has the rain presented challenges with soggy playing conditions and cart restrictions, it has also made it difficult to keep up with the mowing. Right now I have the U.S. Open on my TV and I would say our rough challenges theirs in some locations. Of course, we have no rough around our greens which is very fortunate during a time like this. I couldn't imagine losing a ball 5 feet off the edge of the green. Mowing the golf course is not as simple as spending an hour in the back yard on the old Cub Cadet followed by a lemonade on the porch. Rather, under normal conditions it takes close to 35 hours to mow our rough just one time. When it's deep and wet, it takes much longer to mow and results in scalped grass and piles of clippings. Even once the rain slows down, it will take some time to get the rough under control.

U.S. Open on Golf Channel

Uncut Rough at Isla


Our fairways are in a little better shape than the rough but they too are getting much taller than desired. Under normal conditions with minimal golfers, it takes about 35 hours to mow our fairways one time. Just like the rough, once they are too tall it adds significantly more time to accomplish the mowing. We typically mow all of the fairway height grass two times per week to keep them at the proper level without scalping or producing an abundance of clippings. Over the past month we have mowed them a total of 4 times versus the normal 8-10.  

13 Fairway looking more like rough!

There are times when it is Cart Path Only for golfers but mowers are still out operating. Please understand that before sending out mowers, we evaluate the current conditions to decide whether there are areas that the mowers can safely operate. It may be possible for them to mow some locations while avoiding others. At times, they may even get into areas we wish were avoided. We use these instances as training opportunities for the next time. When we decide to send mowers out during wet conditions, we have made the decision that it is more critical to minimize overgrowth of the grass than it is to manage wear and tear from wet conditions. We don't like to do it but when weighing the options sometimes it is the only choice. What we don't want to do during these circumstances is compound the situation by sending out an additional 50-100 golf carts.

As I look to the forecast ahead, it is predicted that our weather will turn drier next week. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if we are praying for rain in 10-14 days. In the meantime, we appreciate your patience and support.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Laboring Before Labor Day

If you have been around Isla over the past few weeks, you have most likely noticed a lot of "laboring" done by the Grounds Department.

First of all, we are beginning to wrap up our summer cultural practices that we have discussed in previous posts. As the calendar flips to September, we begin to put all the pieces back together in preparation for cooler weather and our winter golf season. We appreciate your patience as we verticut, aerified and circle mowed the golf course.

Hole #9 Recovering Well from the Cultural Practices

We've been inundated with invasive vines across much of the property this summer, especially growing in the ficus hedges that surround the golf course. These vines are very difficult to control. There is no selective herbicide to safely remove them from landscaping. This means we have to hand-pull all the vines. The next step is to trim the hedges back. Using special equipment, we are able to trim the hedges and clean up their shape to reign in their size. At the same time, it makes it easier to identify where new vines are starting from the ground up. This will allow us to use a brush killer targeting just the new vines as they start from the ground before they grow into the hedge.