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USGA details issues facing golf course conditions

A report released this week from the United States Golf Association links El Niño, tree coverage limiting sunlight and aging infrastructure as some factors contributing to worsening golf course conditions in The Villages.

The visit from Chris Neff, a consulting agronomist with USGA, comes amid a string of executive golf course closures due to renovation and rehabilitation needs. Over the course of three days, Neff, along with Mitch Leininger, the Director of Executive Golf Maintenance, visited 36 courses across The Villages, according to the report. 

One of the initial report findings found some courses were not immune to the weather conditions presented by El Niño’s weather pattern this year. 

“Wet conditions and cloudy cool temperatures were a recipe for disaster for finely mowed turfgrass, similar to putting greens,” Neff wrote in the report. 

The four courses impacted significantly by weather included Bacall, Pelican, Bonita Pass and Redfish Run. The four courses all contain high organic matter and have an older variety of bermudagrass called “Tidwarf” (a highly mutated variety), according to the report. 

“This combination makes it challenging to uphold high-quality putting conditions, especially given the prevailing weather patterns,” Neff wrote. 

Additionally, tree growth around the courses has led to canopies blocking sunlight from reaching the greens, along with roots competing with the turf for nutrients. 

Neff also noted the need for traffic management on courses throughout the year, consistency in agronomic programs carried out across courses and a continuation of landscape projects on the courses. 

The entire report can be found here.

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