Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Summer of 2023 Fairway Aeration & Sand Topdressing

We have recently completed our scheduled fairway aeration and topdressing on the back nine and are almost complete with the front nine. Our new Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda fairway turf is a warm season grass that will recover rapidly during the warmer weather of summer.  In 2024 we are going to schedule our spring aeration and fairway topdressing closer to the end of spring when the warmer recovery weather will be more predictable then in April.

This aeration was the first core aeration to these fairways since they were sprigged in the summer of 2021. This process will be very beneficial to the overall health and performance of these new fairway surfaces and will allow for  more consistent  moisture throughout the soil profile. Additionally getting another 30 to 40 tons per acre of sand topdressing down will continue to smooth and fine tune these surfaces. This will be the 4th sand topdressing since sprigging in 2021, and we have noticed a difference in fairway smoothness after each one of them. They will continue to get better with each subsequent topdressing in the years to come. Below are pictures of the process we employed this past week.

First step is to flag all of the sprinkler heads, valve boxes and yardage markers so tractor operator can hopefully avoid them. I spent allot of time on one of our two fairway aerators, The Toro Procore 1298, and can share a couple of  things. First the Procore is a wonderful, state of the art  fairway aerator that feels like your pulling a sewing machine when the soil conditions are good, but when the soil conditions are not so good, which is vastly more often then not on our property, it feels like your pulling a cluster bomb. Its was a not so subtle reminder of the main overall challenge of this property, the native soil.  Secondly avoiding all those sprinkler heads, valve boxes and yardage markers  identified with the little white flags is another challenge all unto itself.

  Above is a good image of the actual aeration process. We uses 3/4" coring tines that were penetrating as deep 2"- 3", depending on the soil, so yes more 2" depths then 3".

Above is a closeup of the actual cores pulled during the process and the holes awaiting to be filled with sand, then irrigation so it can penetrate and soak and hydrate the profile.

After the cores have been allowed to dry for awhile, we use a keystone drag mat to break up the cores. Some of the soil we are trying to extract and replace does remain because of this but it mixes with the organic matter and subsequent sand topdressing making it a much better growing medium.

Next we start to use our turbine blowers to wind row the cores and debris for removal as well as clean the surface after sweeping and mowing.

Next comes the sweepers which sweep up all of the cores and debris 

After cleanup, The Man, The legend, Enrique Reyes Huerta starts to topdress with topdressing sand. This represents an application rate of  about 30 to 40 tons of sand per acre.

The sand is allowed to dry then we start to drag it into the aeration holes and turf canopy with the same keystone mat that we used to break up the extracted cores

Prior to aeration we turn off irrigation for a day or two. So after the sand is properly drug in, we irrigate fairly heavily, (0.30" - 0.50"),  to push the sand further into the aeration holes and turf canopy as well as hydrate the soil profile. The following day we apply fertility and wetting agents to help out further irrigation events and promote recovery.

#12 Fairway on Tuesday 7/25/23. We core aerated & processed this on Tuesday 7/18/23 7 days prior and topdressed on Wednesday 7/19/23  only 6 days prior. The nature of the warm season Hybrid Bermuda recovers very rapidly during the long days and warm weather of summer. 

Closeup of this recovery 7 days out from actual core aeration event.

The Best Is Yet To Come

Summers have always been hard on this golf course as the heat of summer combined with the native soil conditions have proven difficult to consistently overcome. Our new Santa Anna Fairways are more tolerant of the bad soil conditions and continued timely aeration and sand topdressing will just continue to make these summer loving surfaces better and better. The addition of Tall Fescue to our cool season rough will help with summer hardiness, but the tried and true solution for our cool season rough in this suspect soil when summer comes is improving irrigation coverage to ensure consistent & adequate soil moisture, keeping the soil profile from drying out. It's only worked every where we have done it.

Thanks as always for your support

Friday, July 7, 2023

Fairway Aeration & Seed Head

Our fairway turf conversion in 2021 from cool season turf to warm season hybrid bermuda included the choice of  Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda as our warm season turf choice. If you recall, we chose Santa Anna because it held onto its color longer and came out of winter dormancy sooner then any of the other hybrids we were sampling. One of the knocks on Santa Anna though is its propensity to to produce seed head and the seed heads associated stalks. 

We can mitigate this seed head production with growth regulators, and were successful through June in doing so and honestly thought the applications we made were going to suffice all season. However we learned quickly it is a futile task  attempting to out smart nature, and almost overnight our fairways exploded with seed head. We all need to be reminded on occasion that the field that we play the game that we love on, is a living breathing complex organism that will do what it does despite our efforts at times and you just cant fool mother nature. 

The seed head  of hybrid bermuda is sterile. It wont even germinate or make another plant, its just unsightly, especially from afar. When your standing over the top of it the tan coloration is not that evident but from afar the fairways as a whole take on a tannish hue.  We have treated it with another application of growth regulator which will help mitigate the appearance in a short period of time we hope. Scheduled core aeration and sand topdressing will help as well.

From afar the hue of the accumulated seed head seems tan or yellow in color and looks like there is something wrong or the fairways are stressed out.

But when you are standing over your ball you see healthy turf and a pretty good lie in most instances.

Laying down you can really see up close what is going on. Some of the seed stalks, which are tan or yellow in color, are sticking up but many are lying down, and the accumulation of these are what gives us the overall tan appearance from afar. Pesky seed heads!

2023 Summer Fairway Aeration

Our scheduled fairway aeration is coming up in mid July. The golf course will never be completely closed as we will only work on nine holes at a time so there will always be nine holes available to our Members. Our plan this summer is to core aerate, drag the cores, mow then sand topdress, then drag the sand topdressing in. I'll provide plenty of pictures of the process when we get started. Below is a schedule of the work and associated closures.

Tuesday 7/18/23 - Thursday 7/20/23 B9 Closed for Aeration. F9 Open
Monday  7/24/23 - Wednesday 7/26/23 F9 Closed for Aeration. B9 Open

This is us aerifying #6 fairway in April of this year. We utilized solid tines that application. We will be pulling cores this coming application.

Swan Update

Nature is exacting and it was stated in a previously  linked bird fact article on swans "around 50% of cygnets fail to survive longer then 2 to 3 months." So far that statement is true for our new family of cygnets, as we started with six and now have three. 

Recent photo of the abbreviated family near ladies tee on #1.