I learned a long time ago that refusing to try something new means staying right where you are, and usually falling behind. Think about it, architects would never come up with new building styles, vehicles would never improve, there would be no cell phones, microwave ovens or stereo equipment, and………no new clubhouse for Whitevale Golf Club. The human race has thrived, for the most part by constantly making changes and improvements for the betterment of tomorrow.
Closing the golf course for 5 days to complete all the aerification was a massive commitment to making improvements. The 5 days of closure coincided with the grinding and removal of our original parking area and the construction and finishing of both the new entrance road and parking area. The timing to complete all this work was perfect and could not have been accomplished while the course was open.We could not have known the exact outcome or all the benefits of the aerification without golfers present unless we tried it. I am happy to say we learned a lot, and found many benefits.
We found we were able to aerify all the greens and the entire fairways in just two days. Compare that to only getting two fairways done in a day with golfers present in past years. This does not include other steps such as top dressing and clean up. But the productivity was easily doubled compared to previous timing. The following 3 days were used to complete top dressing, brushing, level lawning, over seeding, fertilizing, core clean up, tee and approach aerification, and mowing. Best of all, there were no unexpected damage or machinery malfunctions connected to rushing.
An unexpected benefit was with the upbeat morale of the staff. Even our part time staff who were working 10 hour days with the full time crew working 12 to 14 hour days between Monday and Thursday were all in high spirits. Friday we managed to get everyone out of here with a 9 hour day. This is an ideal time for me to thanks my staff for their commitment and dedication to their jobs; Awesome job gang thanks!
Even with these long days everyone was in a great mood, and after discussions with many staff they all commented how great it was to be able to accomplish the tasks they were given without disruption or having to stop and wait on anything; focus and attention to detail was the payback for having a positive, engaged staff during a tough, long process.
We also completed a new process called 'Drill and Fill' to the 5th and 13th greens which have some of the heaviest soils and poorest drainage on the golf course. With two machines on site it took over 6 hours to complete the 8,000 sq ft. This process removes channels of soil 12 inches deep, and then fills them with sand. This process improves drainage and turf health dramatically. These two greens also received the traditional aerification with the 5/8 inch tines. We also drill and filled the weakest collars. (front of 4, 5 and 13). Have you noticed how much better the front of 5 collar is? As I said last year, regular aerification, top dressing and time are needed to improve this area, and it has. And it will continue to get better with these treatments.
Here is a great comparison photo of the Drill and fill and traditional coring tine.
The Drill and fill is an awkward looking and slow moving unit.
After the drills are raised sand it automatically poured into the open holes
And the finished product after the soil has been removed from the green surface.
When golfers did return Saturday, we were able to put all staff back onto regular course conditioning tasks, which we were able to ignore over the previous 5 day. In the past we have had to neglect jobs such as bunke
to keep the aerification process moving. You may have noticed almost all divots
had been filled when you returned. We were also able to edge all irrigation heads
and yardage monuments. The only damage sustained was some lifting/tearing in
weak areas in fairways where the soil is stickier and tends to hold onto the
tines. Most of these areas were sodded or seeded before members returned.
We continue to mow greens in the early afternoon when the green are dry to reduce sand being picked up by the mowers which causes them to dull and give a poor quality cut. Each day the quality of cut improves and the bumpiness to the greens surface diminishes slightly. Scott is constantly re-sharpening and adjusting the mowers to improve the cut.
It is unlikely that any of us will be pushing for a full 5 days of closure next season, but we already have some ideas for improvement to the full process which will be discussed with the greens committee and the Board with the plan to make next years event faster, less disruptive to play and precise. This year made for a good trial to gain information.
Unfortunately we don't own all the equipment required to properly complete the aeration process. Fortunately I am able to access some needed machines from local colleagues. The equipment I had to borrow, demo o
r rent to complete the weeks work was:
-Two Toro 648 greens aerifiers-Bannerman greens top dresser
-Toro workman heavy duty utility vehicle
-60 HP Kubota Tractor
-60 HP John Deere loader
-4 Cubic yard sand delivery trailer (which weighs 11,800lbs)
-30 HP Kubota tractor
-PTO driven fairway aerifier
-Two Drill and fill machines
and a flat bed trailer to move much of this equipment on site.
Once again I would like to thank the members and Board for their support and vision in helping us complete an invasive, but very necessary process for the long term benefit of our playing surfaces. Enjoy the Fall conditions as we hope for an extended, dry golf season.