Although most areas on our greens have made significant progress in their healing, we have seen mechanical damage to some areas on more greens than we would normally anticipate during this type of event. In order to get through the aerification process as efficiently and productively as possible, we borrowed an aerifier from a neighbouring course. Unfortunately this equipment caused gouging every time it was lifted or lowered into the turf. By the time we had caught up to this aerifier significant damage had occurred.
Another challenge and one of the most frustrating issues we had is what we call lifting.
When the aerator tines are being pulled up out of the soil there is a certain amount of friction between the soil and the tine. This causes a lifting action on the surrounding turf.
This is very common and we specifically roll the greens to level them out and firm them up after cores are removed. But in some areas we experienced more “lift” than usual. When the roller goes over these areas it is not heavy enough to fully firm the surface to where it was. Then, when the top dresser which is loaded with heavy sand, goes across the surface the wheels leave depressions. Renting a very heavy roller to possibly give us a better firming of the surface will also cause compaction, one of the main things we are trying to reduce.
These depressions now hold sand at a deeper depth than the areas around them and this can cause a couple of problems. The sand can smother the grass and the sun can heat this sand up to temperatures that can be detrimental to the turf. We did send crews out to reduce the sand in these depressions and did extra watering to keep temperatures at bay, but clearly there is some damage that has been sustained. This lifting is a bigger problem in areas of heavy compaction. So what can we do to reduce or eliminate this problem in the future? Simple, aerify more often!
All greens were over seeded at the same time as our aerification and we have significant germination in all areas, unfortunately, as you know they won’t fill in over night.
Green speeds have improved since the first 10 or 12 days but have still not returned to normal. We attempted to lower heights yesterday but found we were still mowing sand, so we determined it necessary to leave the height of cut where it is at least through this weekend.
We began the process of verti-cutting fairways this week ahead of aerification which starts Monday. This is another necessary program to ensure the continued health of our fairways. Removal of the thatch that accumulates through normal growth will, if left unchecked, cause significant turf loss under drought conditions, which can happen in the form of desiccation in the winter just as easy as drought in the summer. A thick layer of thatch is also ideal for insects and significantly promotes diseases which would cause increased pest control applications which are very expensive. And by using cultural practices instead of chemical control, we continue to show our environmental commitment.
Just like our aerification program, we have planned this event to coincide with the best possible growing condition for our quickest healing time.
If you remember how awesome the course was on opening day, all these programs are imperative to having a strong healthy stand of turf, especially heading into winter.
The old saying “PAY ME NOW, OR PAY ME LATER” really does play here. We could put off all these cultural practices until late in the season, but we would not see recovery until well into June the following season, and we set ourselves up for major winter kill to a weakened stand of turf.