Golf Course Page
Construction of the green began this month. Before starting, we spent some time studying information about golf greens, including information on the Putting-Greens.com web site, and also information from the University of Florida IFAS Extension Service web site. Our friends told us we were making a mistake, as maintaining a green would be too much work, but we figured they were golfers, and this was really more of a farming project that a golf project, so we decided to ignore their advice and dive right in.
The soil in this part of Florida is very sandy, and we didn't think that drainage would be a problem. Instead, we guessed that keeping moisture in the green would be a more likely problem. We couldn't afford to build the green to USGA specs, and so we simply built up the green area with local fill dirt, which had a lot of clay in it. We also mixed in the sandy soil that came out of the areas we dug out for the sand traps. Maybe the clay below the rootzone will help to retain some moisture.
A few days later, most of the sod was in place. All of the TifDwarf was down on the green, and about half of the TifWay was down on the apron. While we were waiting for the second delivery of TifWay, we painted up the tee markers that we made out of pressure treated wood and spikes. We plan on having three cups and flags on the green. One red flag, one white flag, and one blue flag. We laid out locations for six tee boxes and six fairways, and plan that the first and fourth hole use the red flag hole, holes two and five use the white flag hole, and holes three and six use the blue flag hole. Once a golfer has played all six holes, we rotate the flags and play from the same six tee boxes, again going red, white, blue, but now the holes all play differently as the hole locations have changed. After those six holes have been played, we rotate the flags again, and play six more, so the course actually has 18 different shooting conditions. Par is 60 for 18, as holes two and five (and thus eight, eleven, fourteen, and seventeen) are par four doglegs with no direct first shot to the green.
During November, we focused on keeping the green wet, but not too wet. The sun was starting to get lower in the sky and we were worried about dampness causing fungus and moss problems. We also worked on the tee boxes and fairways and spread Poa Trivialis grass seed on all tee boxes and fairways.
During December, we continued to keep an eye on green moisture. The sun was now very low in the sky and shade was a big problem. We cut down several trees near the green and removed limbs from others to allow in more sun.
During January, the green continued to brown and moss started to become a real problem. In addition, many weeds were germinating every day and we were spending a couple of hours every other morning pulling weeds on the green. At mid January we began building the water hazard for the third (and ninth and fifteenth) hole, which we named "The Dells" after our favorite summer vacation spot in Wisconsin when we were kids. The Wisconsin Dells is all about water and rocks.
During the last week of January, we got a delivery of 18 cubic yards of white beach sand from a quarry in Marion County. We figured we needed about 10 yards of sand to fill the sand traps and the rest we planned to use in the future for topdressing the green.
At the beginning of February, the grass on the green was practically dormant, but sprouting weeds were a big problem and the moss on the green was also get worse every day. We were still spending two hours every other morning pulling weeds that continued to sprout on the green. At mid February, we made the biggest mistake so far. We sprayed the green and apron with pre-emergence weed killer. We researched the use of the pre-emergence product on TifDwarf bermudagrass and it seemed as though it would be almost harmless. We may have applied it at too concentrated a rate, because it almost killed the green and apron. After spraying the green, we had some mix left, so we sprayed some of the Poa Trivialis on the tee boxes too, not being particularly careful, as we thought it would be harmless to already germinated grass. By the end of the month, big stripes began to appear on the green where we overlapped the spray. We thought we had completely killed most of the green. We also found a list of Florida native plant nurseries on The Florida Native Plant Society web site, and went to Green Images in Christmas, Florida and bought a number of Florida native grasses and plants, and began to establish them in the sand dune. Once all of the native plants were in, we declared the construction phase of the golf course to be complete, and now starts ongoing maintenance.
As described above, we laid out six teeboxes and fairways, shooting to three hole locations on the green. By rotating the flag location amoung the holes, we can play a full round of 18 holes, all with different first shots. Here is a table of the holes and their colors, names, lengths, pars and descriptions.
|1 (7,13)||Azalea||30||3||Long and straight, water on right|
|2 (8,14)||Palmetto||25||4||Dogleg right around palmetto|
|3 (9,15)||The Dells||27||3||Over water and rocks|
|4 (10,16)||Rodanthe||30||4||Oak trees on right, sand dune beyond the green|
|5 (11,17)||Twin Pines||32||3||Dogleg left around pine trees|
|6 (12,18)||Oak Tree||20||3||Shortest hole, oak branches above|
|Total|| ||164 (492)||20 (60)|| |
The green is now rapidly deteriorating as the sun is still low in the sky and moss is continuing to take over all the dead areas on the green. The stripes in the Poa Trivials are also now severe and we began to fully realize the magnitude of our mistake in February. Focus now shifts from construction, to saving the green and all the work we've done so far.
The TifDwarf nursery behind the shop was also very brown, but it had more sun and moss wasn't so much of a problem. Also, by accident, we had applied less pre-emergent weed killer to the nursery than to the green, and so the nursery was simply looking dormant and not really dead.
On the plus side, the Azaleas, Redbuds, Dogwoods, and Crabapple trees were in full bloom around the course.
In April, we decided to take more aggressive action to try to save the green. Various fungicide treatments had had no effect on the moss, and the green was rapidly dieing as the moss was spreading from the dead stripes into the healthy grass. We guess that our best hope to control the moss is to put down a heavy layer of beach sand topdressing, so on April 2, we spread sand on the green at a uniform thickness of one quarter inch. In the middle of April we built and painted four golf club holders. When we have a golf tournament, we plan to put one of the wide ones next to the first tee to hold an assortment of pitching wedges for guests to use, another wide one near the green with an assortment of putters, and then put a narrow rack near each sand trap each holding a left and right handed sand wedge.
By the end of April, the topdressing along with a higher sun angle has killed all of the moss on the green, and healthy green grass is starting appear in the areas not killed by the February mistake.
The sun is higher now, and we're mowing the green now every other day at 7/16" height. Applying water, fungicide, and low nitrogen fertilizer is about all we are doing this month. We're also pulling any weeds we see on the green by hand. The native plants on the sand dune are doing well, and many are starting to flower.
The sun is still higher now, and we're mowing the green now every other day at 3/8" height. Applying water, fungicide, and low nitrogen fertilizer is about all we are doing again this month while the sun continues to provide energy for the TifDwarf. The Poa Trivialis on the fairways and tee boxes completely died around the middle of May, and we seeded the tee boxes and fairways with common bermudagrass. There are very few weeds on the green now, and we might pull one or two every evening while we are playing a round. Most nights however, we find no weeds. Here are some photos taken early morning on June 22, 2011.
We also installed a first generation
low-resolution GreenCam web cam
so we could look at the green from anywhere in the world.
July 1, 2011
The green continues to improve, but we're still mowing the green now every other day at 3/8" height. We don't want to go any lower until the green is fully covered with TifDwarf, and we have applied top dressing sand a few more times. The green now gets full sun for much of the day. We started cutting grass plugs out of the best parts of the green and then inserting the plugs in those areas of the green that still have no grass. The TifDwarf continues to spread fairly rapidly, and if we are lucky and don't make any more gross mistakes, we might have full coverage of the green by the end of July.
We also installed a first generation low-resolution GreenCam web cam so we could look at the green from anywhere in the world.
At the end of the first week of July, we top dressed the green again with white beach sand. We broomed the sane to a fairly uniform depth of 1/8 inch. We also topdressed the nursery, which continues to brown and be in pretty bad shape. After the topdressing was leveled, we spread a fairly heavy application of Milorganite over the green so the course will smell pretty badly over the next few days. Lastly we started the green sprinklers to water in the sand and Milorganite.