A Week after Aerification : Update

For the last few days, a low pressure system has been swirling over Chicagoland.  At Sugar Creek, we have had around 3 inches of rain in total.  Not all at once, though, but in six hour soakers spaced about 12 hours apart.  Wonderful!  Believe it or not, these are very busy weeks for a maintenance crew -- in a different way than usual.  We have not been able to mow fairways, but we have been able to mow everythings else very slowly.  Sand traps have been a constant battle.  In weather like this, we pump them just to give us a shot at drying them faster after it stops raining.  Since you never know when will be the last shower for the week, sometimes we pump them only to have them fill up again.  That's just the chance you take.

On a positive note, the greens have healed quickly from aerification last week.  After one week's time, they now look like this:

1 Week after Aerification

Close-up of #1 Green

They will be putting nicely once they get a chance to dry out a little.

Flooded bunkers have been common this week:

This is Gary's third time pumping traps this week.  You can also see him pulling weeds while he waits for the double sump pump arrangement to do its job.  Great job, Gary!

Gary's daily ritual : Pumping and weeding!

The last problem areas are filling in with slit seeding and aerification:

5 Tee slit seeding

The 5th tee has always been challenging to grow.  It is affected by morning shade, hard subsoil, and heavy use.  Being a short hole, divots are often very large and numerous.  We ask that players refrain from practicing, or taking multiple shots, on this tee for obvious reasons:

Divots on 5 tee

Divots taken during the course of regular play are necessary, but these divots were not between the tee blocks and are probably from just one golfer "practicing".  Ouch.

Looks like we may have one more sprinkle before a nice dry week! 



Aerifying Day 2011

It's that time of year again!  The greens at Sugar Creek were aerified on September 21 with a deep tine machine that loosens up the ground up to 8 inches deep.  Aerifying is essential to the long term health of a green.  Here are a few pictures of the process.

We started spreading sand before the deep tine machine this year.  This helped it dry out before brushing.  Here is the deep tine machine on the first green:

Topdressing the greens:

In this photo, you can see the brush in action on the 5th green and the tractor aerifying the 7th green:

After brushing as much sand as possible into the holes, we used some custom built brush reels on the old greens mower.  These reels have a bedknife set to a little under our usual height of cut.  Brushes then come around to pick up extra sand and debris and collect it in the baskets.  These brush reels help to create a puttable surface:

After the first day, the greens look something like this area:

We try hard not to over-sand them even if all the holes aren't full to the top. It is easy to add more sand later but very difficult to get rid of too much.  After testing many spots, the holes almost never interfer with putting after we roll the greens out.  At least in my opinion, excessive sand is more difficult to putt on and can delay recovery. 

At the end of the process, we used a pull behind roller to smooth out any bumps.  One of the difficulties of dealing with recently aerified greens is dew in the morning.  The next two mornings were too dewy to mow or roll the greens without making them clumpy and unputtable.  Instead, we will be brushing and mowing them in the afternoon after they have dried out. 

They are putting smoothly and especially in the dry afternoon are almost too fast.  Some golfers even told me they loved putting them the afternoon after they were done.  Others said they liked the challenge of the different speed.  I hear a rumor that some golfers are not big fans of aerification, but I haven't run into them yet . . .  Well, maybe one or two!

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