Friday, August 24, 2012

Greens Aeration.............WHY???

Inevitably, when greens aerification takes place at any golf club, the members begin to cry out……….”WHY DO WE HAVE TO AERATE”??? The answer is a long one.

For turfgrass conditions that are subject to traffic, CULTIVATION (i.e. aerification) is necessary in either spring or fall, or both ideally.

More specifically, on golf course putting greens,



Beyond 25,000 rounds, non–core CULTIVATION

methods, such as SOLID–TINE, must be used in the

overall TURF CULTIVATION. (Whitevale is consistently north of 30,000 rounds)

TURF CULTIVATION (i.e. aerification) is the answer to many problems.

• Carbon dioxide toxin is better released from the soil

• Compaction in the soil is alleviated

• Disease resistance of turf is improved

• Fertilizer applied to the soil is more effectively placed

• Heat and drought stress resistance of turf is improved

• Organic matter in the soil is removed

• Oxygen absorption in the soil is improved

• Oxygen movement in the soil is also improved

• Root system is deeper, healthier, and revitalized

• Seed germination is improved for over–seeded turf

• Soil is loosened and easier for roots to penetrate

• Thatch decomposition is increased

• Water absorption in the soil is improved

• Water movement in the soil is also improved

An adequate TURF CULTIVATION program will tend to DECREASE turf susceptibility

to the following diseases

• Anthracnose Basal Rot

• Anthracnose Foliar Blight

• Pythium Root Rot

• Summer Patch

• Take–All

Moreover, SOLID–TINE CULTIVATION, combined with frequent light vertical

mowing, mechanical grooming, raking, spiking, top–dressing, and vigorous

brushing, WILL DISRUPT the growth and development of the following diseases

• Algae and Algal Scum

• Moss

• Slime Moulds

The greens aerification this past week was completed three weeks earlier than in past years. Before 2012, the late summer greens aerification was done in the second week of September. I had been requesting a change to the end of August for a few years for a number of reasons but with Club Championship on Labour Day weekend there was no way to get the greens back into 100% shape quick enough for that event. Once Club “C” had been moved to the Civic weekend, the door was open to change the date to August. In 2011 we hosted the Canadian Senior Ladies Championship in late August, so we stuck with the September date, but finally this year we made the change. With the help of both borrowed equipment from Granite Club, and rental equipment from Turf Care we were able to complete the process in the best time ever.

But the other big factor in moving the date to late August is we still have our full crew. University students have not yet retreated to the lazy world of campus life. After next week we lose 9 staff, who all return to studies at different schools across Ontario. This makes it very challenging attempting to keep all things consistent through September and early October. Ultimately things start to get neglected due to staffing issues. We have already found 3 new bodies to join the crew, but we are simply at a deficit for staff after Labour Day. I would love to get away from hiring students for this reason alone, but the only way to attract more full time staff is to pay higher wages. Currently 64% of my operations budget is to cover wages. Approvals of such a wage increase would signifantly increase my operations budget.

The aerification event itself was smooth and successful, but not without any problems. One equipment break down required our staff to remove cores from a number of greens with the use of snow shovels……………..back breaking work to say the least. And we had one major problem on the 6th green when one piece of equipment we were using which has a single front tire, dug in and cause significant damage. Of all the places for this damage to happen, of course it happened right on the walk on where every member and guest will see it. Unfortunately with the aging fleet of equipment we rely on, the equipment at fault for this damage is an out dated 3 wheel vehicle. A newer 4 wheel vehicle would not have caused the same problem. The area has been plugged, but it will be 2013 before the area is properly healed.

Remember that the green speeds will slow considerably over the next week to 12 days. Immediately after the greens are top dressed and we have an abundance of sand, which is usually the first two days, the greens are bumpy, but most golfers will comment they are fast. Then on days 3 through 12 they become very slow……..Let me repeat that, they become PAINFULLY SLOW! The reason for this is because the mowers will be dulled down on the first few passes due to the sand. A dull mower tears grass and the surface becomes ragged and uneven. Until the majority of sand is below the crown we will continue to get a very poor cut. After about the 12 day mark we find the mowers are picking up minimal sand and the quality of cut increases significantly. We also stop mowing in the morning because the dew makes the sand stick to everything and things can get very messy. So playing in the mornings now has poorly and unevenly cut greens that are covered in dew………..probably stimping at about 6 to 7 inches!

We will be returning in the late afternoon and early evening to mow greens when they are dry. So allow me to thank you for your patients now. Full healing will happen after 14 to 21 days due to the larger holes we have made over the spring aeration.

1 comment:

  1. Stimping at 6 to 7 inches... let's hope Blair meant feet. :)