After a very dry January, February and March we are finally getting some much needed rainfall and it just happens to be coinciding with our scheduled spring aeration. I have explained on many an occasion that for all of the processes of this job conditions need to be dry and it almost seems predestined when we schedule aeration it's going to rain.
These cultivation practices are a necessary evil for turfgrass playing surfaces to maintain the quality we desire. Core aeration is where a core is extracted from the playing surface, picked up and removed, and in the case of greens, a sand topdressing is applied and swept into the holes. This process allows avenues for necessary air to infiltrate the root system, removes excessive organic matter and relieves surface compaction creating rapid surface drainage. De-thatching is a new process we adopted for our fairways last fall which vertical blades set 3/4" deep remove the thatch which is the culprit of our soft conditions in the summer. This de-thatching or deep vertical mowing is the process that makes the visible lines in the fairways and creates a superior avenue for topdressing sand to work it's way into this thatch layer and dilute it.
|Sweeping in Topdressing|
A full inch of rain fell on Sunday 3/31/13. The course took this amount of rainfall eagerly however conditions were too wet to get started on the practice greens the next day, Monday 4/1. The following day we were planning to finish up with all of the greens but conditions were still wetter then ideal making our process slower then normal. We had a back nine closure scheduled the following day, Wednesday 4/2 and perfect weather so we were able to finish the remaining greens and aerate, de-thatch and cleanup #10, #11, #12, #13 & #15 fairways.
|Close-up of the actual blades that cut into the surface 3/4"|
deep and bring up the thatch.
The next day Thursday 4/3 rain had been fore casted but it wasn't raining in the morning at 5:00 AM and we had a scheduled front nine closure. So we went ahead and got started de-thatching and aerating #1 fairway and then it started to rain lightly. It never really poured but it doesn't take much to make a real mess and nearly impossible to mechanically pick up the thatch that is laying on the ground getting wet. We ended up having to remove a large portion of the extracted material with rakes and shovels. Good times.
|Air in the rootzone is necessary for fairway playing|
surfaces as well so we are punching holes with solid
tines just ahead of the deep vertical mowing process.
|Removed thatch waiting to be picked up on|
#9 and #12 fairways
Completing these high impact areas by next Friday 4/12 will allow us to work on tees and rough through the last two weeks of April. These areas are easier to work on amidst member play as we can shift tee locations around and work aerating and cleaning the rough much easier then fairways and green surrounds.
|Removed thatch from fairways. After a few years of composting it can|
be returned to the golf course as an organic nutrient source.
Aeration needs to be a scheduled event. We plan events and and associated staffing around aeration in all departments of the club. Members obviously schedule their golfing time around aeration. What I am getting at is we have to set these dates and adjust to the weather that befalls us. With this in mind a collaborative decision between GBGC Management and the Golf Committee to move our spring aeration dates back to the second week in March starting in 2014. The upside's are we will potentially be farther along if not recovered by the end of April which is a much more desirable time of the year for golfing and non aerated playing surfaces. Getting the greens punched earlier and subsequently healed earlier might bypass some of the springtime inconsistencies we can experience with the poa on our greens "waking up" earlier then the bentgrass. Downsides with earlier aeration scheduling can be a heightened readjustment to the weather as March is historically wetter and cooler then April along with the associated slower recovery. It will be worth a try as it seems like we have to re-adjust to weather conditions to some extent in April anyway. Thank you all for your understanding and support.