Friday, October 7, 2016

Golf Course Maintenance Weekly 10/7/16

Fall 2016 Fairway Aeration

 Linked here is another article from the USGA that addresses Aeration Timing and the perfectly legitimate question of why do "they always aerify the golf course when everything is perfect". Also in the spirit of managing expectations and communicating the hows and whys of what we are doing on the golf course, below is another pictorial covering recent fairway aeration for those interested members. 

Step #1 - Flag sprinkler heads. A HUGE necessity of  the aerification process is avoiding hitting sprinkler heads with the aerifier. We also have to flag yardage markers and drainage inlets so the equipment operator can see them and maneuver around or in most instances lift and lower aerifier over sprinkler head

Step #2 - Aerify the fairway. Above picture is a brand new aerifier that we are using for the first time here at Granite Bay. Very smooth piece of equipment that is designed so tractor tires don't run over wet cores which smash cores into turf which is hard to mechanically pick up.

First pass on #15 fairway. The voids are where the aerifier was lifted over a sprinkler head, yardage marker and / or drainage inlets.
 Step #3 - Dragging aerification cores to break them up. All of the pictures we have been presenting have been taken in daylight. Much of the actual aerification is done in the dark early morning hours so when these cores are removed they are wet. It is imperative that the cores are allowed to dry to a certain extent before we attempt to process and remove. Believe me, we have tried removing the cores directly after they were extracted resulting in a muddy mess that requires more cleanup and an inferior result of mud smashed into the fairway surface. We do turn the water off to a certain degree to mitigate wet conditions, but if the the turf  is overly dry during aerification substantial damage will occur as well.          The need for this necessary drying is what drove the decision years ago to have alternating F9 / B9 closures during the aerification season. 

Step #4 - Vacuuming / Sweeping debris. All of this debris is stockpiled and composted in the nursery green area off of #4 fairway.
Another reason for the alternating closures is this is a noisy, dusty dirty process that is best done without the presence of golfers.
Step #5 - Blowing behind the sweeper to get the surface even cleaner.
Step #6 - Mowing to clean up little tufts that are drug up during the cleanup process.
Step #7 - Broadcasting seed. There are many ways to introduce seed to the turf canopy. Here we are broadcasting seed over the aerified, cleaned & mowed fairway surface ahead of applying sand topdressing. 
Ryegrass in the spreader hopper.
Step #8 - Apply sand topdressing. 
Old Tom Morris. His battle cry was rumored to be " more sand!"

Step #9 - Dragging in the sand topdressing.

After this dragging of the topdressing we normally mow again to even out the playing surface and mow down the tufts created by the drag mat. With all of that seed and sand down we do need to keep things moist to ensure good seed germination. Weather forecast for the next 10 days are for highs in the mid 70's to mid 80's and nighttime lows in the low to mid 50's which is perfect for cool season turf recovery and ryegrass germination. We should be in very good shape by the time Jones Cup rolls around. 

Next week we will finish fairways on Monday and start surrounds  Tuesday on the back 9.  Below I have included the 2016 Fall aerification schedule again for a reference.   Thanks

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Golf Course Maintenance Weekly 10/5/16

Fall 2016 Putting Surface Aerification

A great article on Why Do Golf Courses Aerate is linked here and does a concise job on explaining the whens and whys of aeration of putting surfaces. Below is a pictorial of the process we did yesterday (Tuesday, October 4, 2016) We did have a hydraulic malfunction on the piece of equipment the we use to remove the aeration cores first thing in the morning on #12 green. This will require some re-sodding from our nursery green next week. Other then that, the process went well as interested members can see from the below pictures.

Step #1 - Core aerify. This is the process that removes an actual core of  grass with attached roots and sand. Benefits are removal of excessive organic matter and relief of surface compaction & drainage.

This is what a green looks like when almost completly core aerified ahead of cleanup.

Step #2 -  Core Removal. The above machine is called a core harvester and is a big part of getting all of the greens done in a day here at Granite Bay. This front section corrals the aeration cores into an elevator belt with paddles that......
....... dump the cores onto a cross conveyor that ejects the cores into the back of a workman utility vehicle. We utilize an extra guy to keep the cores from piling up and obstructing the cross conveyer.

Another crucial part of cleanup is to keep the path clear so the core harvester doesn't run over wet plugs smashing them into the turf canopy. 

Step #3 - Apply sand topdressing.

Step #4 - Deep Tine Aerify. We run a separate aerifier over the topdressd surface that does not remove a core but pokes a hole 6" to 8" deep. This helps break up layering that can impede rooting and created a deep channel for air and water. 
Close up of the "VertiDrain" deep tine aerifier.
Step #5 - Apply soil amendments.  When the green is opened up during the above mentioned practices it is a logical time to add soil nutritional products. We usually add organic carbon based fertility, calcium in the way of gypsum and a coated slow release  potassium product.
Step #6 - Brushing in the sand and amendments.  This is a time consuming process that must be done when everything is dry. Time consuming because it does take some doing to get the 6" deep holes from the deep tine aerifier filled. Additionally if this step is done improperly or  in a situation where it is hot you can really experience some bruising and burning to the turf surface. Fortunately yesterday the weather conditions were perfect.
Step #7 - Rolling. This step is repeated for several days and a key to getting the surfaces smoothed out. 

The aerification holes will typically recover in 10 to 14 days and full putting quality can return in 21 to 28 days give or take. We typically like to let sand in the holes settle and then verticle mow and seed along with another light topdressing 6 days after the initial aeration process. Something  that was slightly different this fall is the coring tines we used were longer and we set the machine deeper in an effort to get deeper rooting which has been elusive amongst all of our successes with these putting surfaces. Time will tell. 
Thanks for your support!