North Course greens aeration: September 4 & 5
The usual question for this time of year: “I know that it’s necessary, but do you really have to punch holes in these greens? They are rolling so smooth!” Yes, the greens are rolling very smooth and yes, it is extremely necessary for this process to happen. This year, we have experienced a much drier year than most. Although this is great for golf, it becomes very difficult on grass, and more importantly, soils. Without some help from mother nature, the soils become very tight and non-porous. I am sure you have seen us out on both courses a handful of times this year season carrying a process referred to as “needle tining” or “venting”. Although this helps loosen surface tension, nothing replaces the process of removing material from the greens soil profile and replacing it with a high quality 1.5mm sand. It is very labor intensive, but we have a well ironed out routine. Greens should return to a steady putting surface within a week. I have included some pictures from past aerations that will help tell the story.
It all begins with an aerator machine…
This machine pulls cores from the green. The cores are spaced at 2″ apart and are 3/8″ in diameter. They range from 3″ – 5″ deep. This is done to allow oxygen, water, and nutrients to reach the roots a little easier. It breaks up and removes thatch from the subsurface as well as loosens up compact soils. It is the first step in the aeration process.
The cores are then pushed off and collected. This part of the process can be the most labor intensive and requires the most amount of people.
Chris and Dave are pictured here hustling to get the cores off of the 4th green.
Next, the cores are picked up and the green is blown off to allow for the topdressing sand to be applied. Pictured below are the cores being collected so the green is finally ready to be topdressed.
We use sand to fill the holes. It is 1.5mm particle size. We do this for a few reasons. First, the porosity is larger than soil so it allows for better drainage and nutrient delivery. It also doesn’t allow for the soil particles to bind as easily so the green remains soft enough to receive approach shots. Last, the sand allows for any imperfections to be filled making for a more consistent putting surface. Pictured below is a green covered in topdressing sand before it is dragged and blown in.
Once the green is topdressed, we allow for the sand to dry for approximately 30 minutes. This is crucial because dragging wet sand into the holes will cause bruising and stress to the bentgrass plant. An organic product called Renovate is applied and then the sand and Renovate are dragged and blown into the holes pictured below.
The holes fill in pretty quickly and we are left with a clean surface that is ready to seed and fertilize.
We seed with a G1 bentgrass variety. This is an aggressive moving bentgrass that will help heal the holes in approximately 2 weeks. The fertilizer is a 5-4-5 organic blend that helps feed the existing turf and the new seed being applied. Once the green has been seeded it is ready for some water. Water is one of the main components after aeration because the green has endured so much stress. Each green is watered for approximately 20 minutes immediately after and then they are watered again that night. The water helps hydrate the plant and push some of the sand through into the holes.
Thank you for your patience during this time of cultural practice to our greens. It is extremely beneficial to the putting surface. It will ensure a much healthier green throughout the season. It will also allow us to use less water and product over the entire season. For any other questions regarding aeration, please feel free to contact me. If nature cooperates and temperatures remain respectable at night, the greens should be back to normal in one week. See you on the course!
-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent