Tuesday, August 11, 2015

DryJect--Sand Injection Aerification

Just like a mechanic can not overhaul an engine with just a 9/16" wrench, a golf course superintendent has to have several "tools" in his tool chest to maintain a golf course to high standards.  As many of you know the course was closed last week for two days so we could aerify the greens.  Well this year we broke out one of those different tools in our arsenal and were VERY pleased with the results.

The process is knows as DryJect.  The DryJect process, as you can see in the video, uses high pressure water to inject sand into the greens.  This process eliminates the mechanical removal of material from the greens which is the main cause for bumpy greens following aerification. In the video you can see the sand being delivered through the tubes into the injection chamber and then being injected into the green.

Close to 20 tons of dried bagged AS45 sand were injected into the greens during the process.  Our staff did a fantastic job keeping the hoppers full of sand and dealing with the heat and the popup rainstorms that slowed us down a bit.  Being able to inject this much sand at one time is incredible.  If we were to try and apply that much sand on top of our greens and drag it into aerification holes we would have had to place a layer of sand close to 3/16" deep on the green.  That would have been almost impossible to get drug into the holes and everyone would have been upset.

This is a photo of one of the injection points that I lucked up and got down the side of a cup as we reset the holes for play. There are better pictures of DryJect applications online if you are interested.  What this shows me is that we definitely achieved the goal we were shooting for which was to get below, or through, the traditional 4" aerification layer that we typically get during aerification.  If you look about half way down the cup you will see a dark layer and then it changes to a light brown.  The dark layer is where our traditional core aerification stops at, which in turn is where water and oxygen infiltration stops at, and where our roots stop at.  The light brown layer is where we want our roots to be but they can not get there due to the hardpan layer formed at the bottom of the coring stroke.  The DryJect application blasted a 1/2" column of sand through this layer and into the green between 6-8" inches deep.  Better oxygen and water infiltration will result in better roots and in turn better putting surfaces.

Here is a photo of a green following the DryJect process after it had been drug with our carpet drag.  The holes are 3" x 3" apart and the disruption to the putting surface is about the size of a 3/8" coring tine.

This is a photo of the same green after an application of our dyed greens topdressing sand and a drag.  Not pulling a core reduces the disruption to the putting surface and the use of the green sand helps to mask most of the evidence of the process being done.

One of the added benefits of using the DryJect process is the ability to inject helpful amendments into the soil that otherwise would be almost impossible to incorporate into an existing green.  On a couple of holes we injected Profile Porous Ceramic which will aid in firmness and water movement in the green.  We also injected Harrell's Divot Recovery Mix which has MaXand, EarthMAX, and Milorganite into one green to test how it would aid the green in recovery and overall health.  The options for this process are almost limitless and the return on investment, almost priceless.

I have to give a special thanks to Chad Gamble of DryJect of Tennessee, and his assistant Patrick, for providing this service for us.  Was it worth it financially?  The greens were injected on Wednesday and Thursday.  We did over 400 rounds Friday-Sunday with zero discounts and zero serious complaints (always have that one person, you know).  I had some of my biggest critics come up and tell me how nice the greens looked and how well they were rolling.  Time will definitely tell but as for now I feel it is worth every penny spent.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Bunker Maintenance and Etiquette

Bunkers on golf courses have come a long way from when they were simply hallows dug out by sheep and other livestock trying to escape the stinging sand driven by the winds off the Scottish coast.

In today's world of golf course maintenance, bunkers have taken on a whole different meaning.  Bunkers are considered a hazard but for many golf course superintendents they consume the most time and money from their budgets, just behind greens.  In many cases good golfers, especially professional golfers, will aim at the bunkers because they are almost assured of a close to perfect lie or at least one that is relatively consistent and predictable.

 Along with the daily maintenance performed on bunkers including blowing out leaves and debris and raking the bunkers, there is also the special work that has to be done including removing water and silt after storms, pushing back up washouts, adding new sand, packing the sand, or complete rebuild of bunkers when needed.  There is also the maintenance of the turf surrounding the bunkers that has to be done as well.

This week the agronomy staff spent two days in the hot sun flymowing the faces of the bunkers, edging the lips, pulling/removing grass runners from the edges, blowing out the bunkers and packing and raking the bunkers to get them back in the shape they should be and golfers expect/demand today.

So after all the work and expense put into preparing the bunkers the way golfers demand it is extremely frustrating and disheartening to find bunkers left in this condition by the very golfers demanding pristine playing conditions.  If you are a golfer it is your responsibility under the rules of golf, and simply common courtesy, to leave the surface as close to the condition that you find it for your fellow golfers following you.  Golf course maintenance teams all around the world do their best each day to provide the best playing conditions possible but you, the golfer, also have a part to play in the success or failure of the course you play.

Please do your part and rake your tracks out of the bunkers, fix your ball marks on the greens, fill your divots on tees and in fairways, put your trash in the trash cans, ect. In general, treat the golf course as if you own it and want it to be the best it can possibly be each and every day.