Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring Greens Aeration

The weather and fertilizer perked the greens up quickly
Pulling a lot of thatch out of the putting surface!
  Earlier this week, the grounds staff completed our spring greens aeration.  This is always a busy few days for the crew and this year they did an amazing job getting all the work done on schedule.  The weather leading up to aeration improved and allowed the greens to wake up just in time for the process.  One week before we were scheduled to start punching holes on the front nine, Doug, our chemical technician, applied some granular fertilizer to the greens to help wake them up from dormancy and get them growing.  We time the fertilizer to kick in just as we start the project so that a quicker recovery is encouraged and the greens will be back to normal as quickly as possible.  The weather post aeration is also very important to how long the recovery takes.  The weather has been ideal, with several rain showers, sunny days and mild nights.  It seems we are right on schedule for our usual 1-2 week recovery window.

Most golfers deal with the after affects of aeration on putting greens, but few know exactly how it is performed and why we must go through the process.  While there are many ways to perform core aeration, this is the process that works for us.  First, the greens are "verticut" with our greens mower two times at perpendicular directions.  This creates little square grooves for sand to settle into.  More information about verticutting can be found here.  Then we mow the greens to clean up the longer leaves that are left behind the verticutter.  Once the green has been mowed, the aerator pulls the cores out of the green and pulls them to the collar for removal.  As you can see from the picture on the right, the aerator removes a large amount of soil.  This sand based soil contains built up organic matter that can create wet, soft conditions and harbor disease.  Removing this material, and replacing it with straight sand allows us to maintain drier, firmer, healthier putting surfaces.  After the cores are all cleaned off, the greens are then blown completely clean so the holes are all open and ready for sand.  The next step is to topdress the greens with a very specific amount of USGA topdressing sand.  This sand has a very specific particle size that is compatible with the sand found in our greens profile.  This sand is allowed to dry completely and then is drug into the holes using a drag mat towed behind a utility vehicle.
Sand is heavily applied and left to dry before dragging into holes
Once the sand is worked into the holes, the greens are rolled to smooth out any depressions from tire tracks or footprints.  The greens are drug once again to be sure to incorporate as much sand into the holes as possible.  Water is then applied to settle the sand into the holes and keep the grass from stressing out from all the aggressive cultural practices.

The greens are then left to rest for a few days so the grass can begin to fill into the holes we made and allow the sand at the surface to integrate into the canopy.  Today, the staff spent some time rolling, dragging and mowing the greens to get them as good as possible for the weekend.  Over the next week, the greens will seem less sandy and the turf growth integrates the sand into the canopy and normal putting conditions return.  We appreciate everyone's patience during this time.
 

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