A VIDEO MESSAGE FROM ZACH LAPORTE
DESERT SPRINGS GOLF CLUB
Dear Member / Property Owner,
Desert Springs Golf Club Course Superintendent, Zach LaPorte has prepared a short and informative video to provide you with an update on the important maintenance procedures which have taken place on the Indiana Course, to advise you of the works carried out and the results which we look forward to you experiencing for yourselves when playing the course.
The video can be viewed by clicking HERE
QUARTERLY MAINTENANCE UPDATE
This last spring, we aerated the greens with 20cm long solid tines with the Verti-drain. This process makes deep holes that improve drainage, alleviates compaction, and delivers important oxygen to the rootzone where typical aeration cannot reach. At the same time, we used a new machine with a new technique of scarification called the GKB Sand Filler. This machine simultaneously performs a deep scarification of 3mm removing excess thatch and fills the area scarified with dry sand.
Since the opening of the Indiana course, this year we have experienced the hottest May-August on record. To protect the greens from the extreme heat stress, we raised the heights of cut and applied many applications of bio-stimulants. The amount of water required to maintain the greens with their moisture needs led the greens to become softer than normal. Now that temperatures have started to finally lower, we can start to water less and concentrate on bringing back the firmness and speed that we are accustomed to on the greens.
Every month we evaluate the greens conditions looking at density, coverage, speed, colour, firmness, and the most important – ball roll (trueness). Depending on results the maintenance programme is then adjusted accordingly, but what will not change is the light topdressing and verticut that will be completed every two weeks, continued applications of bio-stimulants, growth regulators and foliar fertilizer.
Fairways and Approaches
As you are aware, Desert Springs invested in the future sustainability of the course by converting the fairways from ryegrass to paspalum, a warm season grass that is better adapted to our climate. Paspalum reduces the need for pesticides, this is important with the constant restrictions and reductions on available chemicals that the Spanish government is implementing. The ever-increasing water prices and restrictions also make the conversion a great investment.
This is our second full year with Paspalum, and we are extremely pleased with the results. Fairways and approaches have 99% coverage with just a few small areas left to fill in. The quality of the turf is outstanding and improves every day. We have also seen a huge improvement when it comes to divot recovery.
Last year we prepared a test area to see how long the paspalum could maintain its colour throughout winter. As I have explained in previous communications, warm season grasses go dormant in cold temperatures and generally turn brown. We were very impressed with how long the paspalum maintained its colour and how quickly it returned post dormancy. We enjoy a special climate here with warmer temperatures until late January and by the end of February the temperatures are already starting to rise. Consequently, this year we will not be overseeding the fairways with ryegrass.
The tees are looking great, and you can now appreciate the benefits of their completed conversion to paspalum. The benefits are all the same as the fairways and approaches with attention focused on the quickness in which the divots repair during the warmer months.
Unlike the fairways and approaches, the tees will be overseeded this year. This is mainly due to the paspalum slowing down its growth rate in the cooler months and divot regrowth being not as strong as in the summer. By overseeding ryegrass, we can repair divots quicker.
The rough, although converted to tall fescue has had a tough time this summer. After the record-breaking rainfall in April and May, and immediate rise of temperatures and humidity, much of the fescue suffered from disease. When we treated the disease, we noticed that the roughs were not recovering like they should, and further investigation was needed. Samples were sent out to the laboratory and the results came back as elevated levels of plant parasitic nematodes. Nematodes are small, microscopic worms that live around and in plant tissue. There are two kinds of nematodes (beneficial and non-beneficial), unfortunately the results showed the latter. Nematodes can cause serious problems in turfgrass. They essentially stunt or kill the plant by feeding on the roots or entering the root and blocking the uptake of any nutrients, water or chemicals applied. Having such elevated levels of nematodes explained why the disease was not being cured with fungicide applications. This also explains why areas of rough were suffering from drought when ample water was being supplied to the plant. Curing the soil of this problem is not an easy or quick process, but we have already started with the correct applications and are on the right path.
Apart from the nematodes and disease, insect damage has also occurred. As mentioned previously, the BTA beetle is a major issue for us with the damage that they cause. Current registered insecticide for golf courses do not have a positive result on the BTA grubs. We were able to procure with permission from the Spanish government the right to use an insecticide for exceptional use. This product was applied and has showed excellent results, although by the time we received the permission and applied the product there had been some damage.
There has also been great damage suffered by wild boar entering the golf course and digging up the turf on many occasions. Of late the boar have become a major problem in the Almanzora area and special permissions have been granted for their removal.
On the positive side, the temperatures are lowering, and we will very soon be able to overseed the roughs and get them back to where they should be.
Native Desert Areas
Several native desert areas around the course have been restored. The right-hand side of hole 3 and tee area, between holes 3 and 4, the right-hand side of hole 15, and the area between tee 18 and fairway 1 have all been cleaned and cleared of unwanted vegetation and restored to their natural beauty. Our plans are to continue to improve the native areas around the course throughout the winter.
As you will be aware, Desert Springs made a significant investment for the maintenance of the Indiana Course with the purchase of a new fleet of machinery. Some of that machinery has already arrived and the benefits to the course have been immediate. One of those machines is the Air2G2 which injects high pressure air via three spikes into the soil relieving compaction, increasing drainage, and delivering much needed air to the rootzone. We are very excited about receiving the rest of the machinery that will allow us to increase productivity and of course continue to improve the presentation quality and playability of the Indiana Course.
Hole 4 – New Forward Tee
In the knowledge that many golfers struggle to reach the fairway from the current tees, we have constructed a new forward tee on the 4th hole which will be open for play in October. The new tee sits around 50m from the fairway and should allow for an easy carry of the newly cleaned native area and dry creek.
Hole 18 – Middle Tee
The middle tee on hole 18 has been extended to the right by 4 meters. This further enhances the protection afforded to properties along the right-hand side of the 18th fairway from errant hit shots. Coupled with the palm trees that border the tee and hole along the right-hand side, this tee extension essentially forces the golfer to aim more to the left, resulting in them actually playing the hole the way it was designed and setting themselves up for a great angle to the green for their second shot. The extended tee area is now establishing itself and will be fully open for play in October.
You will be able to keep up to date with the full tournament and social calendar, format and any additions, information of how to enter, and much more, by visiting either our official website www.desertspringsresort.es or by contacting the Resort Reception at Desert Springs.
We and the staff at Desert Springs are looking forward to seeing you on The Indiana course in the near future.
As always please remember to fix your ball marks and replace your divots.
Golf Course Superintendent