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It is my intention to give the readers a better understanding of what we do to maintain The Farms Country Club's 18 hole championship golf course and grounds.

Friday, August 31, 2012

What to Expect After Green's Aerification

We are all well aware that aerification, overseeding and topdressing of fine turf, especially greens, is the key to their season long, high quality and playability. Not one player or maintenance staff employee likes going through the process. It is grueling. It's the hardest work the maintenance staff will perform and under the most pressure. They've heard a myriad of quotes like "Just when the greens get good they tear them up!" or "this guy put way too much sand down". Superintendents have a million resources to prove the necessity of the practice and how we perform it but it rarely softens the blow.

I would rather focus on what we do to shorten the time period of member inconvenience. One week prior to the "hole punching" we fertilize the greens heavier and cut back on growth regulator applications. Equipment is tested and prepared. The timing of these practices are designed to keep the greens in outstanding condition until the day we begin the aerification and have recuperative potential at a maximum the minute we have started the process.

Next is praying for optimal weather conditions for the allotted three days scheduled on the calendar. If it is too hot or it rains, we must delay the start because we could actually kill grass instead of improving its growing environment. Delays, especially in late August or early September, can negitavely effect subsequent member tournaments or revenue generating outside events. Despite some rain issues the first two days, we were able to get the front nine open on the scheduled third day.

The fourth day was used for another heavy dose of fertilizer and wetting agent. This will speed the recovery rate. The fifth day was a fungicide application which protects the stressed plants.

Our goal is to use every tool possible to speed recovery and playability while maximizing agronomic benefits. In essence we are trying to make the desirable creeping bentgrass germinate, do everything we can to get the greens to heal, then be ready to be back to premium conditions within the two weeks.

What to expect:
Greens this week will be slow and bumpy because the mowers, which are set at .115 of an inch, are mowing through abrasive sand. They dull quickly. We will continue to sharpen them every three days. We will roll the greens almost daily. The key, especially during week one, is performing mowing and rolling in the afternoon. Mowing and rolling in the morning, when the greens are dew covered, just brings up more sand and creates a worse putting surface.

I expect conditions to improve daily. Our goal is to be back to normal conditions by September twelfth, two weeks after completion. Anytime before that is "A Win!"

I wanted to explain one more benefit of aerification. The plugs that are picked up from greens (or tees) are used to repair areas in the rough around the course. A great example is along #18 cart path this spring. The plugs are spread, seeded and fertilized. We then run the knobbed tires of the sand pro over them. This packs the material and helps hold water to improve seed germination.

Plug piles behind #14 tee
Chris fertilizing plugs on the corner of #14
Ryan packs down plugs with sand pro on hole #18