Golf Course Conditions - Per Eric Van Gorder, Director of Executive Golf Maintenance

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Old 05-31-2016, 03:13 PM
ddharrold ddharrold is offline
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Default Golf Course Conditions - Per Eric Van Gorder, Director of Executive Golf Maintenance

On Saturday, May 28, 2016 I sent the following email to GolfTheVillages.com. Though the response comes from the Director of Executive Golf Course Maintenance, I suspect what he shares applies to Championship Courses as well.
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Our neighborhood group played Saddlebrook & Hawkes Bay on Friday, May 27, 2016. Both courses are a disaster. As I recall one or both of these courses were closed for an extended period about the time last year. Apparently whatever was done didn't take. It seems to me that The Villages should have one or two persons on staff with training in golf course turf maintenance and these professionals should be visiting every golf course on a regular basis and instructing the contract maintenance people exactly what needs to be done to ensure good playing conditions. Perhaps even partnering with one or two colleges that specialize in golf course turf management to provide intern positions. Yes, I read the recent explanation in the paper about "transitional" conditions, but several places throughout The Villages aren't suffering from "transitional" issues; they are suffering from improper turf management.
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This is the response I received on May 31, 2016
Hi David,
Thank you for the email and your concerns are valid and understood. I will be as brief as possible and try my best to help explain without excuses on conditioning and that all avenues are being addressed to correct the situation with these golf courses.

Currently myself on the District side and one other person on the developers side oversee the agronomy plans for each of these contracted Executive golf course maintenance companies based on soil test, contract requirements, and past histories. Ultimately the companies are responsible however to enact these plans thru their superintendents and any repairs are expensed to their companies. Many of the companies use the extension services, USGA and local Universities here in Florida. The different companies also have Doctorates of plant pathology, and turf biologist on staff such as Dr Barry Troutman and Dr Todd Burnell for whom both have visited these and other courses in The Villages.

The course conditions after this winter were not visible with over seed masking Bermuda issues from the winter that became more pronounced this spring with less than favorable conditions. Much of our current conditioning was caused by trying to manage two grass species in the same environment thru the warm winter wet months with full capacity amounts of play. Some superintendents were more successful than others based on timing when seed was installed, experience with over seed, the soil types and even the age of the greens.

The maintenance companies have made several changes to personal and their management teams in all these areas. In the case of Saddlebrook and Hawks the superintendent has been replaced this month. They are working every day to repair and we as a group have been closing courses to help speed recovery along. Sometimes we do not close two courses in the same area because we want everyone to have the ability to play in their perspective neighborhoods. When we get two courses in the same area in less than favorable conditions they are perceived as not caring or inability to manage but this is far from the truth. Today we have scheduled a course closure on June the 6th for SaddleBrook leaving Hawks open for play until Saddlebrook is recovered. At this time the maintenance company Valley Crest will be installing a new green on #2 Saddlebrook and working on all other areas to reopen as soon as they recover. After this closure at Saddlebrook if Hawks hasnt fully recovered while open we will close it next. All other areas we expect to see good playing conditions return after the 21 days of aeration scheduled.

Please accept our apologizes and please be patient all groups are working due diligently for the return of good playing conditions.

Eric Van Gorder
Director of Executive Golf Maintenance
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Dave Harrold
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Old 05-31-2016, 03:28 PM
alancusa alancusa is offline
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Total BS!!!!!
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Old 05-31-2016, 03:32 PM
ddharrold ddharrold is offline
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And you know that how?????
It's so easy to spit out one-liners, it's something totally different to share informed content.
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Dave Harrold
  #4  
Old 05-31-2016, 04:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alancusa View Post
Total BS!!!!!
And you know this how? What is the reason and solution? Engage your brain before, in this case, engaging your fingers.
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Old 05-31-2016, 04:29 PM
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Thank you for posting. Did the same thing happen to the expert at Palmer?
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Old 05-31-2016, 05:03 PM
ddharrold ddharrold is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by golf2140 View Post
Thank you for posting. Did the same thing happen to the expert at Palmer?
Can't address Palmer.
If you care to inquire go to Golf The Villages and scroll all the way to the bottom and look for Contact Us. I've communicated with this office several times - always in a positive manner - and have ALWAYS received a timely, thorough and complete reply.
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Old 05-31-2016, 08:31 PM
waynet waynet is offline
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The only issue I have is this is not the first time that our courses have been awful. Transition for 10 months good for 2 months. And how about the novel idea to switch to the newer grasses that do not need alot of the maintenance issues he talks about.
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Old 05-31-2016, 08:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alancusa View Post
Total BS!!!!!
That so intelligent.
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Old 06-01-2016, 04:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alancusa View Post
Total BS!!!!!
How about you give us some factual backup to support your thoughtful analysis.
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Old 06-01-2016, 06:13 AM
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I appreciate Eric responding with an explanation and what is being done to correct it.
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Old 06-01-2016, 07:25 AM
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Ddharrold - thanks for taking the time to share the response.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
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Old 06-01-2016, 08:50 AM
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This site gives one a little better understanding of overseeding http://www.aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu

If the link doesn't work, you can type it in, or Google it.
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Old 06-01-2016, 09:12 AM
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Default Golf course conditions

As far as the executive courses go, you get what you pay for, and most pay little or nothing.

The executive courses will always suffer because they get too much play. Even now, in the so-called low season, they are still crowded. "Free golf for life" was a good sales strategy 20 years ago. Now, with 80,000-plus owners and more on the way, I'm not so sure that strategy makes sense with respect to the health and maintenance of the executive courses.

We should expect the norm to be "in poor condition" and live with it, unless the number of rounds played is reduced or more executive courses are built to handle the increasing number of golfers (many of them beginners) moving here.
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Old 06-01-2016, 09:16 AM
westcoast westcoast is offline
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Cant agree with you on that. All greens get about the same amount of play, only some are bad.
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Old 06-01-2016, 09:59 AM
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Dr Winston O Boogie jr Dr Winston O Boogie jr is offline
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Everything stated in that e-mail is completely reasonable. What is not reasonable, IMHO, is that the maintenance for these course is contracted out. Companies that do this kind of contract work are more concerned with their bottom line than course conditions. Their goal is to spend as little money as possible while keeping the contract.

I would much rather see a system where we have several USGCSA head superintendents in charge of several courses with good, experienced apprentices in charge of two courses each. We would then have people on board who care about the condition of the courses and not so much their bottom line.

To me, the people in charge are taking the easy way out. With this system they have a lot less to do. They do not have to worry about managing individuals. The contracted company does all of that for them.

I got a job at a golf course for just that reason. Prior to me they had a golf course management company come in. There was a different golf professional every few months and he did almost nothing. The club members were running the club themselves. The course was in terrible condition. They hired me and a USGCSA member and within a year the course was in much better condition, the tournaments were run better, the golf shop looked good, their carts were clean and ran well.

Within three years, the course had the best greens in the area and went from a laughingstock to a place that people wanted to play.

Having people on the job that report directly to the course owners is much better than contracting services out
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Last edited by Dr Winston O Boogie jr; 06-01-2016 at 10:13 AM.
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