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Number 16 East Par 3, 165 yards Laurel Oak C.C. Photo by Daniel Zelazek

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Number 16 East Par 3, 165 yards Laurel Oak C.C. Photo by Daniel Zelazek LAUREL OAK COUNTRY CLUB A Real Community Asset By Joel Jackson, CGCS Retired Eighteen years ago, Laurel Oak opened the Gary Playerdesigned
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Number 16 East Par 3, 165 yards Laurel Oak C.C. Photo by Daniel Zelazek LAUREL OAK COUNTRY CLUB A Real Community Asset By Joel Jackson, CGCS Retired Eighteen years ago, Laurel Oak opened the Gary Playerdesigned West Course just a few miles east of Interstate 75 in Sarasota north of Bee Ridge Road. Five years later, the East Course opened in It was also designed by Player. Then in 2006 Rees Jones and Southeastern Golf tackled a major renovation and redesign of the West Course. The course is maturing nicely according to Director of Golf Course Operations Adam Wright, who has been at the helm of the 36- hole complex since We may have opened a tad early last year, putting a little more stress on the new turf initially than we would have liked, but time heals all wounds and the course has really shaped up and is performing well, said Wright. Ten years ago Wright was finishing up his degreee in agronomy at Tennessee Tech University. He said, Like many college students I was seeking my path and had changed majors a couple of times including Engineering and secondary education. They are wonderful fields to major in, but neither made me happy. I was looking for a profession that would View from the fairway bunker of the par-4, 15th hole on the East Course. Photo by Daniel Zelazek. 'Our assistants also serve as irrigation and pest control technicians, so it is imperative that they learn how the different courses and especially the different greens grasses perform and respond to pest and environmental stresses.' allow me to be outdoors, be free and enjoy what I would be doing for a living. That type of career choice finally led me to golf course management. Now he finds himself leading a 40- person staff that maintains the 220 acres under his charge. Fortunately, Wright says, the roadways and common areas are maintained by an outside landscape firm, so he and his crew can concentrate on the golf courses and clubhouse grounds. The renovation to the West Course introduced TifEagle greens to the list management responsiblities, while the East Course still has Tifdwarf greens. To make sure his superintendents, Adam Ellison and Zach Lane, and assistant superintendents Jimmy Barker, Matt Eichmann and Theo Evans get well-rounded experience and learn all the nuances of each course Wright is experimenting with a rotation system that will move his managers around every 3-6 months so they can become familiar with the required management practices. Meanwhile at the maintenance operations center Equipment Manager Andrew Messina runs the shop and keeps the equipment tuned up and reels sharpened. In the office, Wright s indispensable administrative assistant, Lori Brown, keeps the paper work moving so he can spend as much time as possible on the golf course. Wright said, Our assistants also serve as irrigation and pest control technicians, so it is imperative that they learn how the different courses and especially the different greens grasses perform and respond to pest and environmental stresses. Laurel Oak is fortunate to have an ample supply of reclaimed water as its irrigation source, so the current 2 2 T H E F L O R I D A G R E E N COURSE FACTS Laurel Oak Maintenance Staff Laurel Oak Country Club Location: Sarasota Ownership/Playing Policy: Private Number of Holes: 36 - East (6,898 yds) and West (6,934) Courses; both Par 72 Designed by: Gary Player. Constructed by Wadsworth; West opened: 1989, East West redesigned by Rees Jones, rebuilt by Southeastern Golf and Cal-Golf in Management Team: David Whalen, club manager: David Gale, club president; Ed Nettles. green chairman; Chris Brandt, head club professional; Adam Wright, CGCS, director of golf course operations. Acreage under maintenance: 220 Greens: Tifdwarf (East), TifEagle (West); avg. size: 6,500 sq.ft.; total acres: 5.6; HOC in.; green speeds: 8-9 ft. summer; 9-10 ft. in season. East greens only are overseeded with Poa trivialis at 8 lbs/1000 sq. ft. Tees, Fairways and Roughs: Tifway 419; tees 6A, HOC.500 in., rye overseed tees 20 lbs/1000 sq. ft.; fairways 46 A; HOC.550 in.; roughs 140 A, HOC 1.75 in. Bunkers: East 59, West 53. Sand type: GA26. hand- and machine raked with Toro Sand Pro Natural areas: 12 crushed coquina waste areas under trees and with cordgrass in roughs Waterways: 23 lakes and ponds. Outside contractor maintenance. Irrigation: Effluent with supplemental well; East - Rainbird Hydraulic, West - Toro Site Pro; 1,900 heads, fertigation system. Staff: 40 total including superintendent and 2 part time (student and retiree); weekly budgeted hours 40 straight time. Key team members: East Superintendent Adam Ellison, West Superintendent Zach Lane. assistant superintendents Matt Eichmann, Theo Evan and Jimmy Barker, administrative assistant Lori Brown. Special events: The annual Laurel Oak Cup which benefits the Special Olympics. PGA Tour Pro Paul Azinger is heavily involved. 2 4 T H E F L O R I D A G R E E N Environmental Laurels The Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection, in conjunction with the Florida Golf Course Superintendents Association and other agencies and groups, has just released a manual for the Best Management Practices for Enhancing Environmental Quality on Florida Golf Courses. Of course many facilities like Laurel Oak have already been engaged in Best Management Practices. Here are just a few. Photos by Joel Jackson. Some extreme rough areas have been converted to bahiagrass turf which requires less water and fertilizer. Bulrushes line the shore and littoral zone along the second hole on the West Course. The plants provide food and shelter for fish and birds and help filter storm runoff. A 30-foot buffer zone (left of the red stakes) was created around this wetland on hole No. 10 East. The height of cut is 4 inches and no chemicals or fertilizers are applied in the zone. Hand watering of localized dry spots with wetting agents is more efficient than just turning on the a sprinkler head. S U M M E R With its Tifdwarf greens, overseeding on the East Course is mandatory to have a consistent playing surface during winter, when 200 rounds per day are not uncommon. With a warmer and drier winter and spring than usual, the transition back to the bermuda base has been a challenge. drought restrictions have not affected turf conditions as severely as courses on consumptive-use permits. The latter are being restricted more heavily as the current drought continues. But even reclaimed water is not always available in the amount needed, so Laurel Oak has a supplemental well to refill the irrigation lakes when needed. Wright said, Relying on effluent irrigation water can be a double edged sword. On the one hand turf irrigation it is an excellent use of treated water. On the other hand the quantity and quality of the water can t always be guaranteed and sometimes if we have a super dry spring and summer and our winter visitors are gone back north, the amount of available treated water declines and supply shortfalls can occur affecting our ability to grow consistent quality turf. The renovation of the West Course included several improvements to enhance the turf quality and playing conditions. Improved drainage on the native heavy soils was accomplished by surface shaping and contouring which directs storm water runoff into swales and ultimate storage into the twenty-four lakes and ponds on the two courses. Additionally, Wright says, subsurface drainage pipe is installed in critical areas at the rate of half a mile to a mile every year. A new Toro Osmac computer-controlled irrigation system improved coverage and watering scheduling. And last but not least, wallto-wall cart paths will help prevent damage from cart traffic during rainy periods. Renovations to the East Course have been mentioned but remain an item for the future. The East Course has a lot of character and we wouldn t need to do much, Wright says, but it would be nice to upgrade the irrigation system to Legendary greens and bunkers have one thing in common... they both began with the best soil. Beneath every meticulously groomed green is dirt. And, the best dirt doesn t just happen. At Golf Agronomics Supply & Handling we ve been perfecting golf course soil and sand for more than a decade. Our computerized soil blending equipment ensures that the mix you receive meets your exacting specifications every order, every time. With production facilities located throughout the Southeast, Golf Agronomics offers volume orders and next day service. GOLF AGRONOMICS SUPPLY & HANDLING Serving the Carolinas and Florida FAX (941) T H E F L O R I D A G R E E N Judicious use of aquatic plants enhances playability and water quality on hole No.12 West. Photo by Daniel Zelazek. 'It s right and proper that we are critical of course conditions. That is our job, but I sometimes think we do it to ourselves when we become overcritical... Sometimes we push the turf and ourselves to the edge and that s not good for either.' make it more efficient in an era where water conservation is a critical issue. If we tackle the East Course it would likely be in stages and not all at once like the West Course. With its older Tifdwarf greens, overseeding on the East Course is mandatory to have a consistent playing surface during the winter golf season where 200 rounds per day are not uncommon. With a warmer and drier winter and spring than usual, the transition from the overseeding back to the bermuda base has been a challenge. Wright said he only had two frosts this winter and they were on back-to-back mornings. Regarding this year s transition Wright explained, We talked it over and rather than have a prolonged, indefinite period of transition with questionable quality putting surfaces, we decided to bite the bullet and spray out the Poa trivialis and concentrate of growing them back in as quickly as possible. So far so good. They roll okay, but don t look great color-wise, but with the warm weather they will green up in a hurry. Another challenge that Laurel Oak shares with many other courses is dealing with off-type bermudagrass in the fairways. The renovation of the West course helped remove a lot of the patches of off-type grasses and has given Wright and company a foothold to fight the infestation with repeated coordinated applications of Round-up and Fusilade and eventual resodding of some areas. On the East Course Wright uses applications of Primo in the spring to suppress the seedhead production phase of the off-types and, when kept mowed on schedule, they are virtually undetectable to all but the trained eye. 2 8 T H E F L O R I D A G R E E N Perennial purple Plumbago plants are highlighted by just a few bright-colored impatiens. Aquatic plants like these Blue Flag Iris, above, filter runoff from the shoreline turf and provide food and cover for wildlife. Landscapes ecological assets Besides providing color and character, golf course landscapes can also be environmental assets. Photos by Joel Jackson. Using colorful perennial plants like these Mexican Bluebells instead of short lived annuals saves labor hours and materials cost. Laurel Oak is using more native plant materials, left, to reduce maintenance costs and inputs like water, fertilizer and labor for excessive required pruning. S U M M E R SUPERINTENDENT FACTS Adam Wright, CGCS has been at Laurel Oak C.C. for five years. Photo by Joel Jackson From: Murfreesboro, Tenn. Education: B.S. in agronomy, Tennessee Tech University, 1997 Employment: 2002-present, director of golf operations Laurel Oak C.C.; superintendent Legacy Course, Greystone G & CC, Birmingham, Ala.; assistant superintendent Pine Tree GC, Boynton Beach. Adam Wright, CGCS Professional Affiliations: GCSAA, FGCSA and Suncoast GCSA vice president Work philosophy and advice: Work, play and laugh hard. Treat people the way you want to be treated and always remain professional when others are not. Mentor: I owe a lot of credit to Tom Valch who hired me right out of college to be his assistant at the I have had two general managers since I have been here and both of them... knew the value of having me engaged in continuing education to stay on top of the latest technology and the latest issues facing golf course management. Pine Tree Golf Club in Boynton Beach. Then he hired me to be a superintendent at the Greystone G&CC in Birmingham, Ala. He believed in my ability had taught me everything I know about the business. Accomplishments/Goals: Attaining CGCS status at the age of 28. Begin work on an MBA degree. Hobbies: I am a fantasy football junkie. And as for that trained eye, Wright says, It s right and proper that we are critical of course conditions. That is our job, but I sometimes think we do it to ourselves when we become overcritical. We need to discuss expectations and communicate freely and often with our managers and members, so we really know what they want and need. Then we can provide the best conditions we can within the allotted resources. Sometimes we push the turf and ourselves to the edge and that s not good for either. I asked Wright his thoughts on the future of superintendent associations and if job stresses and demands are depleting the ranks of potential volunteers who are the lifeblood of the local and state chapters. He commented, There s no question that expectations are higher than ever and superintendents are very conscientious about their responsibilities. I m sure some are not always comfortable being away from work. However, I feel like our chapter s 3 0 T H E F L O R I D A G R E E N At 582 yards, No.17 West is the longest of all the par-5 holes. The shot to the green is guarded by a native wetland. Photo by Daniel Zelazek. Daily morning crew meetings and assignments coordinate the maintenance routine with club functions while enabling maximum turf care. Additionally Wright attends weekly manager meetings and monthly green committee meetings. participation is up and our educational speakers are better than ever. I am confident that leaders will always step up to keep the flow going. The city of Sarasota and Sarasota County have been very concerned about environmental impacts of lawn care and golf course maintenance practices over the past few years. A small contingent of Suncoast superintendents, including Wright, has been representing the interests of the local golf course industry supported by a couple of vendors and a few general managers. The key to crafting responsible regulations is to base the decisions on sound science which result in best management practices. Laurel Oak demonstrates the spirit of many environmentally friendly practices in its normal maintenance routine. For example, storm runoff on the property is carried by surface drainage swales to ponds and lake on the property. As Wright says, stormwater runoff is very slow to leave the property. Many essentially out-of-play roughs have been converted to bahiagrass which requires fewer maintenance inputs, and at least 12 native waste areas of crushed coquina rock under large stands of trees eliminate the need for even trying to manage turf in the dense shade, a frustrating exercise at best. The use of crushed coquina on golf courses is a becoming a more common occurence. Besides being used under trees, it is often used as natural pervious cart paths and as a mulch if you will in native or waste areas. The material does not float like woody mulches and does not blow out of hazards like sand in windy conditions. 3 2 T H E F L O R I D A G R E E N Wildlife habitat aids Audubon certification Laurel Oak is awaiting final certification in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program. The fauna list includes otters, fox, deer, rabbits, squirrels, songbirds, wading birds, hawks, migrating white pelicans, softshelled turtles, a few alligators and an occasional visiting bald eagle. Photos by Joel Jackson. White ibis, two adults and one juvenile (center) rest in the shade of bald cypress trees. A Great White Heron stands vigil watching for his next dinner. Water birds like the moorhen, above, forage for food around the aquatic plants in golf course lakes. Clear golf course lake water reveals female tilapia, left, guarding her sandy nest along the shoreline. S U M M E R FUN FACTS ABOUT ADAM The Wright Stuff Vehicle: Toyota Sequoia Last good movie I saw: Departed If I could do it over: I wouldn t change a thing My fantasy is: To eat whatever I want and not gain a pound The book I ve been reading: The Blind Side by Michael Lewis Favorite meal: Steak & Lobster with a baked potato Prized possessions: My friends & family Personal Heroes: My brother Greg and my mentor Tom Vlach The one thing I can t stand: People who are late If I could change one thing about myself: Become more patient My most irrational act: Thinking I could do it all myself Most humbling experience: Death of my grandfather My dream foursome would be: My dad, brother, Tiger and me My best fish story: Catching my first tarpon last year in Boca Grande Pass I stay home to watch: T H E F L O R I D A G R E E N It tends to have minimal weed invasion and does not require very much maintenance. If a golfer hits a wayward shot into the crushed stone areas, it provides a much easier recovery shot than from a fluffy lie in pine needle mulched areas. Wright said, The members have also made a concerted effort to convert has many formal landscape beds as possible to native plant materials which reduces the amount of water, fertilizer and labor involved in maintaining them. We have also changed several out of play areas in the roughs from bermudagrass to bahiagrass which also reduces inputs. On the 10th hole we instituted a 30-foot no-spray and no-fertilizer buffer zone around a wetland bordering the right side of the hole and the lake near the tee. We raised the height of cut and only mow the area a few times per year. The course is irrigated with treated effluent, which provides a disposal service for the local utilities and does not affect the underground water resources needed for public consumption. Rather it recycles and filters the waste water to put it back into the hydrologic cycle. But reclaimed water is also a limited resource as more municipalities begin to convert municipal landscape irrigation sources to reclaimed water. Consequently Wright and others have adopted the practice of using wetting agents and penetrants in conjunction with spot hand watering of severely droughty areas on their courses. This practice allows superintendents to supplement dry hot spots without turning on a head or zone and watering adjacent areas not under drought stress. Laurel Oak and its fellow courses provide jobs, revenues and recreation for the people of Sarasota and the club members should promote the benefits their course provides the community. A golf course is a living ecological system subject to attack and infestation from insects, diseases and weeds. Wright s biggest foes are mole crickets and grubs which he controls alternately with applications of slit-injected Chipco Choice and Alectis. For weed control, Wright applies the preemergent herbicide Ronstar with his seasonal fairway and rough fertilizer applications in February, June and September. He normally applies a poly-coated, slow-release blend, usually from Harrell s, but the formula also depends on soil sample results. The greens are fertilized with a combination of granular slowrelease fertilizers and foliar sprays to provide continuous feeding for the closely mowed turf. A Tru-Prill blend of is applied every few weeks and weekly foliar feedings supply micronutrients like iron and manganese and perhaps 0.1 lb. of nitrogen in solution for quick uptake by the turfgrass. Three core aerifications are made to the greens per year and two on the fairways. During the winter 3 8 T H E F L O R I D A G R E E N This dogleg on No. 10 East shows one of the 12 crushed-coquina native areas that take several acres of turfgrass out of maintenanc
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