Notes from our Superintendent, Steve Keller:

Great Reviews from a Busy Month!

We recently held our 11th annual Toys For Tots golf tournament, hosting industry professionals including golf superintendents, vendor reps, course owners and even a tour caddie. The comments were great on the course condition. The event was concluded with a storm that dumped 2 inches of rain and a few of our players were soaked but in good spirts and overall it was a great event!

Following this tournament, the day after, was our annual Big Dog Challenge. The staff worked extremely hard preparing the course and refining every detail, providing an awesome experience for all to enjoy! Keeping greens speedy can be a challenge with high humidity combined with warmer than normal weather. Staff watches the weather and plans on seasonal trends to slow growth down and gain speed and smoothness on the greens. When weather doesn’t cooperate, additional measures are taken to ensure the best playing conditions are provided. Often when temperatures drop into the 30’s, we see the greens get pretty quick as was the case this weekend hosting the IGTA event which included some players from the Golf Channel Big Break. We had a lot of players on the course, from all over the world, enjoying great central Florida weather during the upcoming holiday season. Thank you and wishing all a Happy Thanksgiving!

History of Golf Hasn’t Changed

Golf practices and games that are similar to today’s game dates back some 600 years. The earliest games were played in fields and even on ice! Wind swept animal burrows created the earliest hazards we now design as sand bunkers. The actual rules of the game were documented around 1741. Historians mention earth worms as being one on the major problems on early greens. It was also realized that these worms were also beneficial as they provided a form of aerification as they tunneled, so brushing the surface and applying sand help keep surfaces smooth provided a better putting surface.

Hundreds of years later we find grounds crew staff encountering very similar pest problems and controlling them is still very important providing improved playing conditions. At Juliette Falls, the design was made to create corridors between and around holes so natural inhibitors can co-exist with the course and help to manage those thresholds. We enjoy hearing golfers talk about sightings of animals including our infamous fox squirrels, rabbits and hawks just to name a few! Sharing our outdoor space with these critters adds to the nostalgia of our location in beautiful Central Florida.

The staff really works hard to provide the best playing experience for everyone including all the wildlife that roams around the property, like they have done on courses for many, many years. Our history here at Juliette Falls is short at 11 years but, we are proud we have carried on some traditions from early golf history. Thank you for all the golfers that come out and play as we see a very bright future for many years to come!

If Turf Could Talk

If you know what to look for when looking at turf grass, one can see deficiencies and apply necessary nutrients to improve the health of a plant. Often, a complete nutrient combination is applied to ensure certain elements are available. Not having 1 or 2 elements available for the plant can cause problems with the entire growth cycle! Like us, plants need food to survive and often many nutrients are in the soil but, may not be available or in the necessary form for the plant to use. This often gets very complicated and can puzzle the best managers. Soil samples are periodically taken to establish a good base line to work from such as, in the spring before the plants begin to grow is a good time to see what is going on. Nutrient programs can be adjusted to include only the nutrients that are needed for the turf and those that are in abundance that can be deleted from a program and monitored, thus saving money and not applying something that is not needed into the environment.

Another step that is often taken, is collecting tissue from a plant and having it tested. In our case, we take clippings from a green or two that have been collected from the mower and air dry them, we put them in a bag and ship it off to a lab. There, they test them and see what nutrients the plant is actually taking in and see what they are deficient in. Greens are sprayed almost every week with a nutrient mix and these can be further enhanced by having this information to help us decide on what nutrients are important to our greens and what we may have enough of already and can eliminate. Tissue tests will tell us what the plant is using and what it is not, even if you have applied something the plant may not take it in, because it’s not in a form the plant recognizes. Again, these tests help us look for the products that work best for us and each and every site is a little different, just like all diets for people are a little different. Little did you know we’re running a very large chemistry lab out here!

At Juliette Falls we are always trying to improve and use the resources available to us and not over apply something that may not be needed. We like to keep the course healthy but not overdo it. Firm and fast with good turf cover throughout in our bread and butter! The course continues to be in great shape and we strive to improve areas that may be struggling with some extra attention as our staff keeps a keen eye on things. Thank you to the many golfers coming out and playing what we feel is really a great course!

Promote Pink

October is Breast Cancer awareness month and you see ‘pink’ being promoted everywhere! At Juliette Falls we support Breast Cancer by displaying our pink flags on every hole and we also hosted a ‘Play for Pink’ golf tournament for The Lifestyle Venture Tours group from the Villages yesterday! A great time was had by all as they played a 4-Man Scramble Shotgun and also had the opportunity to “Beat the Pro” for a small donation on one of our Par 3’s. Fun prizes and giveaways were handed out at the end, along with our FAMOUS Burger & Beer! We appreciate each and every one of you for coming out and supporting a GREAT cause!

We have a lot of great tournaments coming up in November, one of them being the Seven Rivers Golf Course Superintendents Association Tournament on November 8th. This is where we invite Superintendents (professionals in the same role as me, from other courses) to play Juliette Falls and we ask everyone to bring a toy and we collect a HUGE donation for the Toys for Tots. This event is followed up by our famous Annual Big Dog Challenge on Friday, November 9th & Saturday, November 10th. We host a Calcutta on Friday afternoon followed by a Prime Rib Dinner and start Saturday with a putting contest then start our tournament with a real live cannon shotgun start at 10 AM! We hope you will join us for this really fun event!

The weather has really cooled off and we have already seen several nights and mornings in the 40’s! This is normal for this time of year and is the seasonal change we all look forward to, for those of us who reside here in Florida. We welcome the break from the heat!

We have seen more total rain over the summer. Although we have not seen much rain over the past couple months, we still have standing water in some of the retention areas as the water table is higher as a result of state-wide rainfall, and drainage is a little slower. The course is really well drained and only a couple of holes actually are affected when a big storm comes in, one being 18. This is already a tough finishing hole with water in retention areas on both sides, so one must keep it straight on approach shots or you lose your ball! We see most players playing this as a drop from casual water with no penalty as normally these areas are dry and the ball can be played from normally. Green speeds will increase as we go into the cooler months and grass really begins to slow down in growth. We have not witnessed any frost yet, but the change in weather has brought out many golfers and we thank you for all the support and the many wonderful comments on the course we feel is better than ever!

Weather That is Hard to Top!

October is always one of our favorite months as temperatures start to drop. It's just fun to be outdoors and what better way than to enjoy a round of golf!

Looking at the future log-range forecast, predictions are that we are going to have a little gloomy weather with more El Nino type winter weather, which means cooler and wetter here in the south. We can only hope that doesn't trend to be the case, looking at our programs and making sure the plants have what they need to help combat harsher weather conditions. Our site drains well but, low sunlight and grey cloudy days will cause stress on turf and potential problems if nutrients are less than adequate and we are making sure our turf is supplied with what it needs to recover.

Night temperatures in the 40-50s will stop all turf growth as we have all warm season turf (Bermuda) that requires soil temperatures in the 60s. With that being said, as golfers we can help by keeping our carts on the fairways and using the 90 degree rule on paths to limit traffic in rough areas and around course that get trampled from golf cart traffic. We also provide green/black sand so that when divots are filled, this will aid in quicker recovery drawing warmth from its dark color. Ball marks also recover much quicker when repaired as they are made. They take as much as 2 weeks to recover so we encourage players to fix their ball marks and help with a couple others that were missed. These are a couple areas we hear complaints about as we get more traffic on the course. Staff is dispatched frequently to help fill divots and fix ball marks as its only helps with the overall experience on the course.

New sand is being installed and rakes are provided for players to repair their tracks, smooth them out and respect those players that will follow you. We hope the weather forecast doesn't hamper our winter golf schedule but, if we do see wetter and cooler than normal temps, we can promise you the course will be ready to withstand these elements. Thank you for all the support and great feedback on the current course conditions, we are excited to see you out enjoying what we work so hard for to provide everyone.

Finishing Touches for Season

October brings so many great things that we all enjoy each Fall. We have seen a cool down with temperatures in the mid 50s a few mornings so far and the greens have gotten a little quicker as a result.

Our staff is working on all the finishing details that are going to spruce everything up with new pine straw being added to freshen beds and landscape, new bunker sand is being added to enhance the visual appearance as well as making the bunkers more playable. Ornamental grasses are blooming and one of the fall favorites is the Pink Muhly grass which has a very showy pink plume during the month of October, first frost will turn them white.

All the fine details are being touched with mowers being set for the season with the height of cut a little lower on the greens and a little higher everywhere else. The rough is cut at 2 inches and can now be a little challenging until we see the first frost then it lays down and is relatively easier to play from.

We are starting to see our players from the north gradually migrating down for the winter and we thank you for your support and really think you will enjoy the course as staff has put the finishing touches on everything and are always striving to improve! We can't wait to see you out here!

Beautiful Weather Has Arrived!

Spectacular weather October brings can still be on the warmer side in the early afternoons but, we have seen high 60's in the mornings now on several occasions, which is a good sign! The sun is slow to come up and quick to go down as days begin to get a little shorter. People from the northeast are coming down here to find the weather like a July day up north with balmy breezes. Leaves are falling from a few trees and everyone is getting into the fall spirit and upcoming holiday season.

Our staff has the course right where we want it and we will see excellent conditions now through the spring. Anyone looking for great conditions will be pleasantly surprised how great they are here! We have seen frost in past years in early October but, they're predicting our first cool snap will be the later than normal this year. We are looking forward to putting on a wind shirt and are so greatful for this weather everyday.

Our Oktoberfest Invitational last Friday was a huge success and lots of fun! Thank you to all who came out to join in on the fun and we look forward to more great events to come!

Season is Upon Us!

The Ryder Cup was a loss for the USA side this weekend, but golf is in a good place and it was an exciting year. As the PGA winds down their season, here at Juliette Falls we are ready for the most exciting & busiest time of year!

Preparing the course for the winter season begins in late May and for 4 months our team works very hard with 3 renovations completed and various other cultural practices that ensure we are in the best possible shape for the busy season.

Turf conditions are great here and the greens will gradually get faster as night temperatures begin to drop. This is the time of year we have all been waiting for, the cooler months to come out and enjoy the course at it's prime condition!

We are not entirely out of the Hurricane season but with each day that passes, we feel confident we won't see a named storm this season. The summer was not without challenges, with frequent rain episodes that hampered some of our programs. Our staff was creative and found ways to get the work done even if the weather didn't always cooperate but we're very familiar with mother nature not always going the way we want!

Our season opens this week with our Annual Oktoberfest Invitational this Friday, October 5th, that will kick off an exciting season and we thank you for all the support.

Make The Fairway Your Roadway

Lots of excitement around the golf world and we are thrilled to be going into the winter in great shape! For our players, keeping carts in the fairways and off the rough, is best. When playing shots, we prefer driving in fairways more than the rough with carts. The rough we don’t mow much as it begins to grow slower during the cooler months and carts trample and damage the rough. This is the reason we have rangers out there helping to keep carts away from the greens. Directional cart signs, ropes and stakes begin to go out to assist the players on where to go on the course. The team dislikes these directional devises as much as the golfer. Obeying these areas, using 90 degree rule and using fairways while traveling around will keep the rough healthy. We take a lot of pride in the course & it drains so well that we never have cart restrictions and appreciate everyone keeping carts in the designated areas. Join us for one or ALL of our fun upcoming events including the 2nd Annual Oktoberfest Invitational on Friday, October 5th and the Seven Rivers Superintendent Toys For Tots, 11th Annual event November 8th. Check our Facebook for other fun upcoming events! Course conditions continue to remain exceptional and we look forward to seeing you out here soon!

Protecting The Environment is Key

As we move full speed ahead, Fall is almost here & everyone loves this time of year! The TEAM, at Juliette Falls measures success from the players experience and each team member thrives to improve. Working on a golf property is more than taking care of turf. It is about more managing natural resources and being a good steward to the environment. With the TEAM concept, Together Everyone Accomplishes More, is a good way to look at how working together and being part of a group with common goals is our top priority. We are encouraged by the positive comments we hear and work to improve in areas of constructive criticism. In the news, we hear about all the algae problems and loosing our native bee populations; these are very important parts of the environment. As a whole, we ALL need to make every effort to better understand what we can do to help our environment.

We are very careful on how we use nutrients and products that control pest problems. We have run across honey bees on the course and have been able to contact a bee keeper to move them out of harms way. This has been done on several occasions. We are very careful with spraying around the time plants are flowering to protect the pollinators. We watch the birds, squirrels and other animals that often give us tell tail signs that a pest problem is becoming a problem or maybe we can let it run its course with out using products to control. We always have the staff keeping an eye on animals around the course letting each other know what they are seeing, scouting and monitoring pest populations. Managing our ecosystem is very important to us and keeping a balance is what makes our community unique with a diverse range of plant and animal species for all to enjoy. The team continues to learn and improve and the results on the course are showing how much we care. Thank you for all the positive feedback and we will continue to work hard to make your experience the best it can be!

'Draining The Swamp' Happens Fast Here!

We are on schedule to have one of our best seasons with 33 total inches of rain between June and August, slightly over our historic average for rainfall during summer months. What we have seen with this summers rain is that although at times very heavy, we're getting more of the 1-2" rains as opposed to the 3-4" rains, which are absorbed better with less wash and damage. The soil has taken the rain better and we see a lot of standing water around our retention areas and out of play areas, but turf playing areas are really good and dry even just minutes after the rain. We hope that the hurricane season is beginning to wind down but, we see a lot of storms which have potential, time will tell, but so far we are doing really well. The course drains so well, we have rarely, if ever had any cart restrictions and recall a rain episode that deliver about 9" inches of rain in one night and the following morning we were mowing greens and fairways with no standing water or wet areas, truly remarkable, as the site drains extremely well! We can see better weather is around the corner and thank you to all the golfers that have come out this summer and continue to support us. We are excited about great playing conditions this season.

Tree Trimming

Staff at Juliette Falls celebrated Labor Day and reflected on all the summers hard work that was accomplished. Kudos to all the staff for their hard work, which is paying off as the course is as good a shape as it's ever been! As we move into the Fall season and welcome cooler weather, the details never end and to continue our success, our staff works around the clock to keep everything maintained for all the golfers to enjoy. The days have begun to get a little shorter and much needed sun is necessary for turf grass growth. The tree shade along edges of the course are being evaluated and trimming of trees is ongoing to allow sunlight to turf grass areas. Removing trees is not always the first choice but, often necessary to allow enough sunlight to adequately establish grass. If the decision is to keep trees in an area, sometimes the turf is removed and mulch or pine straw is used as a ground cover in the area where the grass has a hard time growing. The harmony of turf and trees is a delicate balance and no one likes to remove trees, but many times there is no choice. Despite the rainy weather we have seen, many golfers are coming out and enjoying the course and we look forward to our best season yet! Now is a great time to come out before all of snowbirds flock down to play!

Course Superintendent

Steve Keller