Saturday, May 5, 2018

Fairway Aeration - Success!

So yes, we delayed fairway aeration due to the persistent wet weather.  Was that a good decision? You bet! We had perfect weather the last week of April and here's some pictures which show just how well the process went.  
Check out the gorgeous sunshine as we're pulling cores around the 18th teeing grounds.  Okay I keep calling them fairways but really since our fairways and teeing grounds are all connected it's hard to distinguish between fairway and the other short grass areas like tees and approaches.  We treat all the short grass the same and we call all the short grass the "fine turf".
The machine we used to punch the holes is brand new and we just acquired it a few weeks ago.  The main reason for getting this new machine is that it simply is amazing compared to other aerifiers.  It is super fast and the cores come out of the ground in fragments.  Check out this close up of the turf right after this machine has done it's thing.
You can see there is quite a bit of soil brought to the surface.  That's really the whole idea.  Bringing up soil and then returning it back into the turf canopy is what in turn makes for a healthy stand of turf.  Yes punching holes and getting air into the surface is important and yes punching holes for better infiltration of water is nice too, but in my opinion it's the recycling of the soil that is the key here.  When soil is recycled there is nutrients and micro organisms that are turned over and this is where the power of nature takes over.  For centuries the "turning over" of soil has been known to be important for growing healthy plants.  We're getting back to the basics by pulling cores and it's working.  Our fine turf is now much healthier and our summer diseases like fairy ring are much more manageable. 
After punching the fine turf and letting the surface dry out a little, we drag the areas with a harrow mat.  This breaks up the soil and knocks it down into the turf canopy.
In this picture you can see the difference between an area that has been drug with the mat and an area that has not.  Pretty cool huh?
The last step is to now pick up that little turf plug which is left behind.  It helps to condense them by blowing them into long rows.
This marvelous time saving machine gathers them up and now we're done.  Waiting for the good weather, and having the new punching machine made this the most successful fairway aerification I've ever seen.  Thank you for your patience. The result is some pretty gorgeous fine turf.  Hope you're enjoying it today.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Fairway Aeration??

If you click on "Calendar" in the menu at the top of the blog you can see the entire golf schedule for the year which includes the dates for punching and sanding the greens and fairways.  Above you can see a picture of the calendar page and notice that we have 3 weeks blocked off for fairway aeration.  Does this mean it takes 3 weeks to punch fairways? No, in fact it takes about 5 or 6 days to punch fairways but this time of year it takes 3 weeks to find enough "good weather" days for the process.  Remember we absolutely cannot have it rain during the process or it turns out to be a big mess.  The reason I'm bringing this up is that in case you haven't noticed, we've only punched 5 fairways and there's only one week left on the schedule.  What's the hold up?  Check out this tweet from the other day sent by the national weather service....

Some how we managed to punch the greens on schedule, but as you can see we simply haven't had appropriate weather for punching the fairways so we are very much behind.  There is some hope though.......check out the forecast for the next two weeks.

It looks like starting this Wednesday we'll actually be seeing some spring like weather which should allow us to get all the fairways punched.  I just want you to know that since we are so far behind it's likely we will be finishing up on the 23rd or 24th.  I'm sorry if this inconveniences any of you but this spring the fairway aerification is very important since we skipped punching them last spring due to the demands of the new pro shop renovation.  

Saturday, March 31, 2018


If you were on the golf course last week you may have seen this machine working on the fairways.  This machine is one of our newest acquisitions and what it does is slice into the turf and at the same time it drops seed into the slit created by many round knives. It's really quite remarkable and is a very effective interseeder.  What is interseeding?  Well it's when you plant seed into existing turf with the intent to supplement the sward with new grass plants. You could call this overseeding but it is very different from the process many refer to as overseeding when the intent is to have an entirely new stand of grass like in the example of overseeding dormant bermudagrass. When you see the beautiful fairways at Augusta National this week you'll be looking at overseeded bermudagrass.   
Here's a picture of what this machine did when we tried it on #2 fairway.  As you know #2 is the most shaded fairway on the golf course, and because of excessive shade the turf there is simply not strong enough to handle the aggressive slicing nature of the machine. We only made one pass of the machine on #2 fairway.

Here's what it should look like after using the new machine.  You can see that there are slice marks but for the most part it is a very non disruptive machine and process.  So why are we interseeding?  Think of the fairway sward as a population.  A population is stronger with more numbers and more diversity.  When we introduce new young seedlings into the turf population we are increasing its strength.  The new plants can increase the overall density of the sward and by introducing new species we can hopefully reduce disease severity, and improve drought or cold tolerance.  So what grass species are we introducing with this new machine?  Fescue of course.  Chewings fescue to be exact.  Golf was meant to be played on fescue.  A fescue sward has the proper skid factor and firmness for golf.  In addition, fescue is the native grass in our area and was the predominent grass species upon the prairies that once covered the Puget Sound region.  Now don't get me wrong, we will never be able to convert the fairways to fescue with this machine, our goal is to have a mixed stand of grasses with fescue.  Remember there is strength in having diversity so a mixed stand is the way to go.  This will not happen over night and it will not happen at all if this process is not funded. We own the machine but buying enough seed to cover our 40 acres of fine turf will cost about $14,000 annually. In order to get the funding we need to see if it's going to work.  The proof is in the pudding so we're interseeding a few fairways to see what happens.  I'm not going to lie.  This is pretty exciting for me.  I can't wait to watch and see the results of this trial. Stay tuned.