Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shade Letter to Members and Local Tour Players

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is in regards to some selected tree removal that is scheduled to take place on holes #2 and #13 of The PLAYERS Stadium. Shade has been a major concern in our efforts to grow a successful stand of bermudagrass for many years. There have been many locations throughout The PLAYERS Stadium that have suffered the negative effects of too much shade. As trees have grown, several have been selectively removed from time to time to improve the turfgrass growing environment. Greens #2 and #13 are currently the most chronic examples of these negative effects.

TPC Sawgrass Golf Course Maintenance hired ArborCom Technologies, Inc. to complete a shade/sunlight analysis. ArborCom produced a computer generated study that computed sun angles at any given time of the year and correlated that angle with the surrounding trees of differing size and shape. The analysis illustrated shading on problematic areas, while also producing an accurate sunlight analysis which illustrated the quantity of sunlight on a particular section of each studied area at specific times throughout the year. Using the quantity of sunlight illustration, and the understanding that ultradwarf bermudagrass requires a specific amount of sunlight for each month of the year, we completed the study and accurately selected the problematic trees for removal.

Bermudagrass, especially the ultradwarf varieties, do extremely well with warmer canopy and soil temperatures. Regarding sunlight and shade, research states that “ultradwarf bermudagrass requires full sunlight year-round.” “Eight hours of full sunlight is the minimum for maintaining a healthy bermudagrass putting green.” When temperatures are low, especially this winter, and sunlight is restricted, the stand of bermudagrass suffers. Couple those inputs, with foot traffic, and the effects are exponential. The plant cannot recover from the stresses that occur on the golf course.

Why haven’t these problems ever occurred before? These effects were not as noticeable when the golf course was overseeded. During the fall and winter, the temperatures and day length changes into less than favorable conditions for bermudagrass. The overseed covered many of the problematic areas. The overseeded grasses, which are cool season varieties, withstood the lower temperatures and shorter day lengths that occur throughout the fall and winter. Cool season grasses are also more shade tolerant than bermudagrass. Additionally, a more actively growing overseed allowed the golf course to withstand foot traffic in less than favorable growing conditions.

The back half of #2 green suffers throughout the year due to the two large oak trees behind the green and the stand of 7 pines to the right of the green. These trees are scheduled to be removed. Moreover, the two large oak trees behind the green are ill and have significant structural concerns that deem them as hazardous. If one of these trees were to fall on someone or something, it would not be considered an “Act of God.” They pose a significant liability concern. They have been inspected by a certified arborist who suggested they be removed. These trees have been selectively trimmed over many years in an effort to improve the sunlight situation, with little to no improvement. Not only have they become safety issues but they no longer offer any aesthetic value to the hole.
The #13 green area has had the most extreme effects of shade. As was stated, “eight hours of full sunlight is the minimum for maintaining a healthy bermudagrass putting green.” Much of #13 grows in an environment that averages 3-4 hours. That is less than half of the required amount of sunlight. Even on June 21st, the longest day of the year, the front section of that green is only receiving 7 hours of sunlight. The extreme effects really begin in August, a time of the year when turf needs to begin storing carbohydrates to aid in surviving the winter. Upon completion of the ArborCom Study, three oaks to the right of the green, two oaks behind the green, and two leaning oaks across the lake were recommended and are scheduled for removal.

TPC Sawgrass deals with many stressing factors, and we believe that by eliminating problems associated with the lack of sunlight, we can significantly increase our opportunity to provide quality playing surfaces year round for our guests and for the PLAYERS in May.