Friday, May 5, 2017

My Reasoning for Aerification


Aerifcation isn’t fun for anyone involved. I grew up playing the game so I genuinely understand aerifications short term effects on putting quality. No one dislikes disrupting a putting surface more than I do but I assure you all that it is a necessary evil and the benefits are felt long after recovery. I would bore you with the intricacies and the science behind the benefits of aerification so I won’t get too into the weeds. However, I do think you all deserve to have a better understanding of why I aerify. I will keep it simple, general and hopefully helpful. 

The most widely and publicly accepted reasons for aerification are to remove thatch and relieve compaction. In general, this is true, and we do use aerification, to varying degrees, as a tool to accomplish these two things. However, compaction isn’t a super critical issue on greens constructed with sand as ours are. *Side note: I have no experience with push-up greens profiles so my thoughts here only pertain to sand profile greens*. Core aerification has its greatest impacts on compaction in heavier, finer textured soils commonly found in fairways and rough areas. And, as for thatch management, aerifications benefit isn’t so much the physical removal of the thatch layer as it is the creation of a healthier soil environment where thatch accumulation can be slowed and thatch breakdown can be accelerated. Don’t get me wrong, core aerification does in fact remove thatch but when you do the math the total volume of thatch removed in any one coring process is surprisingly low.

For me, and I try and only ever speak for myself, it essentially comes down to preventing anaerobic (non-oxygenated) condition’s by providing fresh, clean, un-obstructed sand channels that allow adequate gas exchange throughout the root zone. For me it’s really that simple, I aerify to promote gas exchange. There are certainly a number of secondary and tertiary reasons for aerification, but allowing the root zone to “breathe” is the reason I aerify. In fact, a majority of the secondary and tertiary benefits are simply direct and indirect effects of a healthy, oxygenated root zone.

So… although I know, in the short term, aerifcation isn’t an ideal situation I assure you it’s well worth it. I really appreciate your understanding and patience with the process.





Here is a photo of a plug from a green that does a wonderful job of showing the sand channels created during aerification. This particular plug still has visible sand channels from a number of years ago. This is exactly why I do what I do.

An Important Note: In this industry there are numerous thought’s, ideas, process’, principal’s, etc.… when it comes to managing a golf facility. Please remember that what I say here only pertains to me and my approach. I don’t ever want to speak on behalf of anyone but myself. I will never comment on another’s facility and nothing you read here should ever be perceived as a commentary on what someone else is or is not doing. My articles are not arguments for what is the right or wrong way to do something. They are simply an explanation of why I do what I do (and what I do is far from perfect). 


Why We Avoid Trafficking Frosty Turf


 It’s pretty apparent spring is here and this year’s golf season has gotten off to a cool and wet start. Frost delays are a certainty in spring and although we are rapidly approaching the end of the frost season it is not uncommon for frost potential to linger into May. I get the impression that not a lot is understood about frost and its effect on turf so I hope the information below sheds some light on the subject.

Turfgrass relies on its elasticity to withstand wear and tear from the mechanical stresses of cart and golfer traffic. When the leaf blade is frozen, the turfgrass becomes rigid and its ability to withstand mechanical stress is compromised. Cold temperatures can lead to the formation of ice crystals within the intercellular spaces of the leaf blade. These intercellular spaces are essentially the voids that exist between the plants cells.


When mechanical pressure is placed on the leaf blade, the sharp edges of these ice crystals pierce the plants cell walls resulting in cell collapse. Imagine what happens when you pierce a water balloon with a needle. This is essentially what happens when ice crystals protrude a cell wall. Once the plant loses the rigidity provided by the cells turgor, or hydraulic pressure, the plant will collapse. This is the primary reason we delay play on the golf course until we are frost free. It is not because we want more time to enjoy our morning coffee, although that would be nice.

It is important to note that temperatures do not have to drop to 32°F to experience frost. Also, keep in mind that a golf course has a number of different micro-climates, and warmer temperatures, around, let’s say, a clubhouse doesn’t guarantee the rest of the course is in the clear. We have found 5 - 8 degree differences in areas on our course and I am sure this is the case with a number of facilities.

No one likes frost delays. It puts pressure on the pro shop staff, prevents the grounds crew from prepping the course, and it throws off the golfer’s schedule. Unfortunately, though, it is a reality so please be patient and understand it is out of our control. The facility will have you on the course as soon as Mother Nature allows.

Frost damage from cart traffic

Frost damage from foot traffic


 An Important Note: In this industry there are numerous thought’s, ideas, process’, principal’s, etc.… when it comes to managing a golf facility. Please remember that what I say here only pertains to me and my approach. I don’t ever want to speak on behalf of anyone but myself. I will never comment on another’s facility and nothing you read here should ever be perceived as a commentary on what someone else is or is not doing. My articles are not arguments for what is the right or wrong way to do something. They are simply an explanation of why I do what I do (and what I do is far from perfect). 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Spring Greens Aerification

Spring aerification is in the bag and the process finished up without a hitch. Mother Nature and the clubhouse staff took care of things and made our job much more efficient. Thanks to you both!

A photo from a 2012. We've since diluted this layer and moved it another 1 1/2" from the surface

There are a numbers of posts from years back describing the importance of aerification on greens so this year I decide to provide a video documentation of the process. I can promise you all that it is thrilling footage! The link below takes you to a YouTube video of our aerification process and some of the management process that will follow.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

April Hail Storm



April 27th's hail storm at Indian Creek was unlike anything I have ever experienced. Hail and rain rates exceeded 5 inches an hour. We were fortunate the hail was small and caused very little damage. Bunkers did need some repair work but the crew knocked that out today. Mowing was all but shut down today and this sets us back going into the weekend. We have our work cut out for us tomorrow but the we will certainly work hard to catch up as quickly as we can. All things considered the course escaped relatively unscathed and we are grateful for that. The storm was actually pretty awesome and I am glad I was on site to witness it.

Below is a link to a YouTube channel with video footage of the aftermath. Sorry its shaky. I was recording while driving and holding onto children.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCv4Mdj0eeNws3WfgHNOHdoA






Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Charging The Irrigation System

 
The most important process of the new season is charging up the irrigation system. Fortunately it appears everything overwintered well and is holding tight, so far. Now its a matter of avoiding any major malfunctions for the next 9 months. Our fingers are crossed.
 
video

 
video