Thursday, August 28, 2014

Aerification

With the falling temperatures imminent and autumn just around the corner, aerification will be in full swing in just a few short weeks. Aerification is the process of pulling cores or punching holes in a playing surface to beneficially help with turf vigor and quality.

This year we will be pulling cores in all parts of the golf course, unlike last year where we deep tine aerified the greens. The biggest difference obvious to all is the cleanup process between the two different processes. Pulling cores has much larger of a cleanup process having to remove all the cores off the playing surface before topdressing the green and brushing in to fill those holes; whereas with deep tine aerification there is no cleanup process.
The agronomic side of the two different processes is about as different as explained above. Your deep tine aerification does little to no help when concerned about relieving compaction. It is designed more to create deep channels for roots to dive into helping the health of the turf, by increasing not only the density but also the length of these roots. By doing so, when in summer stress periods where roots shrink up due to the stresses of mowing, traffic, & heat; they have ample roots to survive through these periods with little to no damage to the turf.
When comparing to pulling cores, which is done to help relieve compaction, the integration of both processes is essential. By pulling and removing the cores, we will relieve compaction on the greens due to traffic and mowing. This creates smaller channels for the grass to dive into, but also creates more macro and micropores within the soil for better root growth. These pores also help with gas exchange within the soil (oxygen) which is essential to a healthy turfgrass plant along with helping increase water retention with those same pores.
A few common benefits of both processes of aerification consist on reducing the amount of thatch. Thatch is a layer of dead organic material (leaves, grass blades, etc.) between the growing surface and soil. This thatch layer can cause problems with greens being real spongy even during times of drought and is also great at retaining water. This is a problem on multiple accounts as it prevents the water from getting down into the soil and to the roots of the turfgrass plants. It also has a negative effect on the turf, as many disease originate in the thatch layer and with water being the key to all life processes’, eliminating as much of the thatch layer as possible is essential.

Topdressing done after aerification is the process of applying a later of sand to later be brushed in to the putting surfaces. This process done after aerification and at times throughout the year also helps reduce thatch build up in the turf. Topdressing also helps with firmness of the greens along with smoother playing surfaces. The sand fills in voids in the turf or old ballmarks that haven’t filled in making a truer putting surface. Another major benefit of topdressing is the ability to provide lower heights of cut for quicker playing surfaces. The sand helps bury the crown of the plant where the plant grows from allowing the superintendent to lower the height of cut as the crown is more protected with a continuous topdressing program. Once topdressed, the sand will be dragged in with a brush to fill in all the holes left from aerification. Another practice we utilize to better incorporate the sand into the root zone is to do a deep verticut, cutting channels in the grass for that sand to settle into.

Once topdressing is completed the greens will be fertilized to help the flux of growth with filling in those holes. We will also hold off on mowing for a few days to let that sand settle into the canopy of the grass, as the sand is very harmful to the mower reels. We will roll the greens to help maintain a consistent speed over this short period of time.

This year we will also be pulling cores on our tees and fairways, which will be done in the next few weeks. Our greens aerification is scheduled for the week start on September 5th, so if one wants to volunteer to help pick up or clean the plug off the green contact myself. When we do aerify the tee’s I do ask all of you to stay off the box until we finish our maintenance practices. This will allow those plugs to dry up and also allow us to drag the plugs in and clean the tee box up before play. We will be doing our greens aerification on the week of September 5th, so if there are volunteers that would be willing to help assist in the cleanup process contact myself, as with help we will hopefully be back open by the end of the day.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Bunker Maintenance

With the heavy rains these past few weeks, we have been spending a lot of time in the bunkers getting them back into shape for play. During most rains our bunkers are capable of holding up with very few to no wash outs, but with these multiple hour downpours we have been receiving quite frequently as of recent the sand up on the faces of the bunkers tend to wash down to the bottom of the bunker, often carrying silt & mud with it.

Once the rain has seized, we go out and pump out any excess water that may still be residing at the bottom of the bunkers. After the renovations last year and addition of new french drains our bunkers drain fairly well so we never have that much standing water in them or for that long. We also go out on a bi-weekly basis and apply a wetting agent called Duplex to the bunkers. This wetting agent also used in conjunction with our greens program, allows water to percolate through the sand quicker. We have seen some great success with this in helping reduce standing water.

Then we have to go out and clean that top layer of mud and silt from the bunker, preventing any contamination. All of that material is removed from the bunker. Once that is completed, we take some hard rakes to push the sand back up onto the faces, sometimes even adding sand if necessary to the bunker followed by raking it. After multiple rain events like this the sand is usually very crusty and hard on the top and this past week, we came in with a "Mantis" garden hoe to really turn over all of that sand. The Mantis did a great job of turning over the top 4-6" of sand in the bunker to make them nice and fluffy again. Another great benefit of fluffing that sand back up is that water will penetrate back down to the drains a lot quicker than before when we had a top layer that was a bit crusty.

Below are pictures of the process.




Wednesday, June 11, 2014

New 150 yard markers

A concern expressed over the past year since we converted from the flex stakes in the fairways to painted blocks to mark distances to the green, has been that it's too tough to find those blocks especially when in the rough. We have been creating 4' long 4x4 cedar posts similar to our tee markers that will sit a foot in the ground. These posts will sit 3' above ground and have 3 rings around the top.They sit inside a sleeve so can be easily removed when mowing rough or during the winter. We are excited about finishing all of them over the next week and getting them on the course as it will help with finding distances to the greens quicker along with speeding up the pace of play. Pictured below is one of the posts already on the course.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Bunker Etiquette

Since last year I have noticed a few issues with how golfers are taking care of our bunkers. When we renovated the bunkers last year we added a crisp clean edge around the entire bunker. This clean edge can only be maintained if you properly enter and exit the bunker. I have seen multiple times people stepping right on the edge of the bunker putting all their weight on the edge and after numerous times that part of the edge starts to cave in. I then have to re edge the bunker as they creep closer and closer to the green. You are supposed to enter and exit the bunker from the back side or low side of the bunker. The other thing that I have noticed is that when golfers are exiting the bunker they leave the rake right in the collar areas between the bunker and green. The rakes are placed on the outside or in the rough area so they don't affect golf shots. The other day on #2, one could have had a great shot, just clearing the bunker and had their ball deflect off of the rake instead of having it hit that collar and roll right up to the middle of the green. This short video by the USGA highlights proper bunker etiquette.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Quick Update

While I was cutting out some 8" plugs today from the back of our practice green to be used on the areas where we lost some turf last year due to the localized dry spots, I saw this in one of our plugs. This is the perfect reason of why I decided to deep tine aerify for the first time ever on the course. You can clearly see the channel of sand and the roots going several inches deeper into the profile. If you look closely on the rest of the plug where it's our native soil, there is very little root mass there compared to what you can see in that aerifier hole. This is good as it's showing already how much those roots developed down those holes after aerification in early September.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Making a Great Putting Surface

This is the update everyone has been awaiting since the closing of the course last November. We will be opening up the course for the year this Saturday, April 5 for regular play. I do want to advise you to repair your ballmarks as the grass is still not growing so want to make sure we are doing what we can to keep the greens in good condition until they begin growing. I would also like to advise to stay away the weaker areas on the backside of #4 and right side of #9, these areas have been and will continued to be plugged out along with seeded once soil temperatures get warm enough to help restore them back to optimal playing conditions. I am looking forward to the new year and all the changes we have made as they will make a great difference on the course. I have also attached a short video by the USGA on "Making a Great Putting Surface"



Thursday, March 20, 2014

Course Setup

A new app I have recently came along will greatly benefit the membership this coming golf season. This new app is called a clinometer. This app allows me to measure the slope of any surface. I will be utilizing this during course set up. This will allow me to measure the slope of the green before cutting a cup. After some research I am came to the conclusion that during this next year there will be no cups cut with more than a 2.4-2.8% slope. I came up with this number from talking with other superintendents and also because of our greens being relatively flat with quite a few hole locations. I have also put together a hole location sheet based on trying to provide challenging, but fair hole locations. These locations will located throughout the entire green by creating 9 different sections on the greens. If the hole location for the day would be a 1; for example there will be a front, middle, back rotation. There will also be holes in the front left, front middle, front right and so on for the middle and back portions of the greens. For most part we will try to stick to each of these quadrants, but there will be times that placing the hole in the location will not provide a fair location, so we will keep it as close to that quadrant as possible. The attached document will be what we will be using so if you want to print one off to keep in your cart feel free. We always try to make 3 easy, medium, and tough locations each time to provide some variance between each hole. I am looking forward to utilizing this new app as it will help with cutting consistent cups on a day to day basis. I have also added a few more USGA videos on cup cutting and selecting hole locations that I hope you all enjoy.

Click Here for Hole Location Sheet!