Friday, August 8, 2014

August aerification is in the books

Monday and Tuesday once again marked that time that superintendents and golfers have a "Love/Hate Relationship" with.  I'm talking about aerification of the golf course, especially the greens.  Although it is a necessary evil to maintain healthy turf, aerification is a tremendous amount of work on the golf course staff and drastically increases the stress level of being a golf course superintendent.  We are given only a few days a year to undo the damage, compaction, and wear and tear that occur the other 360+ when we are closed for aerification, we do as much as we can to improve the golf course.

As we are not afraid to try new techniques that we believe will improve the playing conditions of the course, we borrowed a process from our friends at East Lake Golf Club and moved our verticutting practices of the greens to the back of the show. Normally we verticut first but this year we decided to wait until after the greens had been aerified.  Once the cores had sufficient time to dry they were drug with a drag mat and we verticut on top of that surface.

Our greens are over 10 years old and during that time we have not been overly aggressive with them in the sense of removing thatch from the greens properly.  Well that all ended this year.  In an effort to return our greens to the extremely high caliber they were several years ago we got aggressive and removed a ton of unneeded material.  I have to admit it was very scary to see the greens "ripped up" like they were but I am very confident they will recover quickly and be some of the best available.            

While we all know the greens are the most important we took the time to verticut the tee boxes as well.  Verticutting the tees will remove the unwanted thatch, or dead/dying plant material, which makes the tees soft, spongy, and susceptible to disease as seen on the blue tee on #3 recently.  This process has needed to be done for years and we will be putting it into our monthly arsenal of projects from here on out.

Not so the fairways would feel left out and more than anything because they needed it, we also took the time to verticut the fairways during the closure.  It was amazing the amount of material that was removed from the playing surface during this process and will go along way to making our fairways stronger and healthier, all in an effort to reduce/eliminate the effects of a harsh winter like this past one, if it happens again.  Making sure our turfgrass is healthy and prepared for the long dormant winter months will help ensure we have a great playing surface in the spring.

Another practice that we got to do while closed was the topdressing of the tee boxes.  We routinely spot dress divots on the tees but have not had (or taken) the opportunity to topdress the entire teeing surface before. This process, in conjunction with the verticutting and aerifying, will help to smooth the tee boxes out and make the plants much healthier.

Once again, not so the fairways would feel left out, we have begun the process of topdressing the fairways as well.  If you played over the past couple of days you have seen a sand layer on a couple of the holes each day.  We are only able to topdress a couple holes per day due to the fact that we are having to use our greens topdresser to do the job and it does not have the capacity of a large area material handler which would be able to cover 4-5 times the area with a single load.  Hopefully we can show over time the benefits of having a sound fairway topdressing program and we can purchase a machine of this type.

As if aerification and verticutting of the greens, along with verticutting and topdressing of tees and fairways, was not enough to put on our plate this week we also worked on repairing some of the bunkers which have been neglected for far too long. The crew have added new sand to several of the bunkers on the course and it will take time for this sand to become packed and firm so please be patient.

Like I said in the previous blog post, our golf course maintenance staff works extremely hard to provide you with the best course possible.  We don't have all the tools and gadgets that some of the bigger, better financed courses have but we make up for it with creativity, desire, and hard work.  This photo was taken today, four days following one of the most aggressive cultivation practices that we have ever done to our greens.  I am pleasantly surprised by how well the greens handled all the different abuse they were placed under.  Our greens were healthier going into this aerification than they were in June so I feel very confident they will be back better than ever shortly.

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