The summer is behind us and I for one am ready to move into Autumn and what is to me the best time of the year. Golf course work begins to change focus a bit away from summertime chores such as dealing with drought and disease stress and more into cultivation techniques required to keep the golf course strong in the long-term. One such technique is aerification.
We have already started to aerify a few areas of the golf course-such as the Par 3 greens and the chipping green. Pictured below is Gabe Anderson aerifying one of the Par 3 greens.
August 2020- Gabe Anderson and Toro 648 Aerifier
Pictured below is a closeup of what Gabe is doing to that putting surface.
Par 3 August 2020
In this instance, we are using coring tines to remove plug of grass, thatch, and soil from the stand. After aerifying, we remove the cores, apply a heavy layer of topdressing sand, and then work the sand into the open holes with a specialized brush. The final step is to roll greens multiple times until they become true again. Recovery from this process takes roughly 10-14 days depending on conditions. Cold temperatures mean longer recovery times. Warm temps accelerate the time that it takes for holes to close. Regardless of how long recovery takes, greens are playable after the work but are by no means in the same condition as they were before the process. We ask for your understanding during this process and please understand that we are performing this work because we care about the long-term health of the golf course and want to be able to deliver, well into the future, the conditions that players deserve at Nemadji.
The main agronomic reason that we are aerifying is to relieve compaction in the putting surface caused by both the many thousands of rounds of golfers and our own mowers and rollers in compacting the soils on the golf course. Aerifying also facilities the movement of oxygen from the atmosphere into the soil profile to avoid what is called an anaerobic (low oxygen) situation in soils. We indeed had such a situation on the chipping green where the smell of sewer gas was released after we aerified. This is indicative of a low oxygen soil environment. In the case of our older, clay soil greens another reason to aerify is to replace the clay soil medium over time from clay to sand by filling the aerification holes with sand. This helps to improve drainage and rooting. The last benefit of aerifying is the fact that it helps to remove excessive thatch in the putting surface. This is not a particular problem ay Nemadji as the thatch levels are not that bad at all, but we need to keep on it on some greens in order to keep it that way. Tees, on the other hand, are loaded with thatch but that can be the subject for another newsletter. One thing, however, that I would like to discuss is divots on the practice tee. I have labelled the pictures below in order of worst, not good, better, and best regarding the types of divot patterns I have seen develop on our newly functional practice tee.
This pattern takes the longest to recover as the turf can only recover from the edges. We do overseed and topdress periodically on the practice tee but areas such as this will take many weeks to recover properly. Getting this area to be properly level with the surface around it can be more difficult as well. Please stop this. On a personal note, this is the worst single utilization on a practice tee that I have seen in my entire career.
Similar to the “Worst” pattern but nearly just as bad-just not as big. Not as deep either. If we want the practice tee to be as nice as it can be please refrain from this technique.
When grass exists between divots it will recover laterally to help the divot recover faster. Also having intact turf between divots helps us to keep the tee surface more level when we topdress heavily.
More space between divots always a good thing if possible. Of all the previous range pics, this one will recover the quickest of all the patterns shown.
One final common golf course occurrence is the following:
Left side 3 East Green August 2020
This is damage caused by a golfer applying insect spray to their legs while standing on a putting green. Note the two footprints surrounded by singed turf around them. This will often happen on a hot, humid day when mosquitos are bad. Just remember to apply bug spray while on a cart path or in the rough somewhere-but whatever you do stay away from greens with the bug juice.
This has been an excellent summer at Nemadji and I feel honored to spend time here with all of you.
See you on the golf course, Vince