Fall is the time of the year when the golf course is typically at its best. Any turf stressed out by summertime conditions is now recovered and from an aesthetic standpoint the golf course is at its best. This is especially true this year since we have not really had a frost yet to kill off the annual plantings-very rarely will we see Marigolds looking as good as they are now at this time of the year. From a playability standpoint the golf course is-other than excessive divots and unrepaired ballmarks-at its best. Putting greens are true and the rest of the golf course is firm and fast. Not only is this is a great time of the year to play golf but also this is the time to perform necessary cultural practices to ensure that we can offer great playing conditions into the future.
The two main cultural practices we are performing throughout this fall are tee core aerification and heavy topdressing as well as fairway and approach dethatching. Note that we are not performing aerification on greens until after we close for the season. The procedure for tees is as follows:
- Core aerify all tees with 5/8” tines at a spacing of 1.5” to 2”. The purpose of this is to remove organic material i.e. thatch and to change the soil profile on tees to one that has a higher percentage of sand. This aids in keeping the tee surfaces firmer in all conditions and thus better playability. As we continue this process year after year we will, in effect, change the soils on tees to a more beneficial sandy medium.
Tee Aerification Cores - September 2015
- Remove cores from tee surface-extensive hand labor
- Apply heavy layer of topdressing sand to tee surface (about .25”). We used approximately 8 semi loads (176 cubic yards) of sand for the process this year at a total cost of about $9600.
- Drag in with cocoa mat. This also aids in smoothing out depressions left by old divots.
For fairways the procedure is different:
- Deep verticut with an Australian implement called a Graden. This machine was developed originally to condition grass bowling lanes but found its way to use on golf courses around the world. This machine cuts a deep line anywhere from ¾” to an inch deep and removes much more thatch than traditional aerifying with less surface disruption-at least on fairways.
1 fairway right after Graden – September 2015
- Clean all thatch off of fairway using blowers and sweepers.
1 fairway after cleanup – September 2015
- Mow fairway to smooth out imperfections in the playing surface.
The process on fairways is highly mechanized and is less labor and material than the process we perform on tees. Combined with the solid tine aerification we perform on fairways twice a year, I feel very good about the steps we are taking to keep fairways optimal while staying within our financial means.
Performing this process helps to keep the fairways as firm as possible and thus improve their playability over time. In a perfect world, we would perform the same process on fairways that we perform on tees but the cost to perform the same chore on fairways in both labor and materials is simply too high to warrant. These fairways are simply too big-though we do treat par 3 approaches much the same as tees and hope to add a few thatchy approaches like 4 and 6 to the more intensive maintenance procedure employed on tees in the future.
Busy times on the golf course and we hope that performing these tasks does not interfere too much with your golfing experience. Understand that these processes are necessary for the future health of the golf course.
Thank you all for your attention and hope to see you on the golf course.
Vincent Dodge CGCS