Friday, September 18, 2015

Golf on Sand

 THE "FINE" TURF AT TACOMA IS REALLY A BEAUTIFUL SWARD OF PERENNIAL POA ANNUA.   WHAT IS THE "FINE" TURF?  THE FINE TURF IS EVERYTHING BUT THE ROUGH TURF OR "ROUGHS".  SO I'M TALKING ABOUT GREENS, TEES, APPROACHES, COLLARS, AND FAIRWAYS.  AS YOU CAN SEE BY THE PICTURE BELOW WHICH SHOWS THE 12TH GREEN AND THE 16TH TEEING GROUNDS, IT'S HARD TO DEFINE WHERE THE FAIRWAYS OR TEES START AND STOP SINCE IT'S ALL MOWED TOGETHER AT ONE MOWING HEIGHT WITH THE SAME MACHINE.  
FOR THIS REASON, WE NO LONGER HAVE MAINTENANCE STANDARDS THAT ARE DIFFERENT FOR FAIRWAYS, TEES, APPROACHES, ETC.  WE SIMPLY TREAT ALL FINE TURF THE SAME AND WE HAVE A LOT OF FINE TURF.  40 ACRES IN FACT. SO THIS TIME OF YEAR WE ARE TOPDRESSING A LOT.  TOPDRESSING 40 ACRES IS A SERIOUS UNDERTAKING.
HERE'S HOW THE 18TH HOLE LOOKED YESTERDAY AS WE BEGAN TOPDRESSING FAIRWAYS WHICH WE  DO EACH SPRING AND FALL.  OVER THE NEXT WEEK WE WILL BROADCAST OVER 800 TONS OF SAND OVER THE FINE TURF.  AS WE DO THAT WE WILL ALSO BE AERATING THE SWARD WITH A 5/8" SOLID TINE.   YES I KNOW GOLFERS HATE THIS PROCESS BUT THIS TOPDRESSING THING IS SO IMPORTANT TO GOOD GOLF SINCE GOLF REALLY IS MEANT TO BE PLAYED UPON SAND.  TACOMA WAS BUILT ON A PRAIRIE WITH GRAVELLY SOIL SO THE DRAINAGE IS EXCELLENT BUT THE TOPSOIL IS NOT SANDY.  IN FACT THE HISTORY BOOKS SAY THAT THE MEMBERS TOPSOILED THE FAIRWAYS IN 1923 AT THE COST OF $75,000 (MORE THAN A MILLION DOLLARS IN TODAY'S DOLLAR).  WHATEVER IT WAS THEY USED AS TOPSOIL, IT WAS NOT SAND AND IT WAS VERY HEAVY AND RICH.  THIS TOPSOILING PROJECT WHICH TOOK PLACE OVER 80 YEARS AGO RESULTED IN A PLAYING SURFACE THAT WAS FREE OF ROCKS AND COULD SUPPORT TURFGRASS.  BUT, SINCE IT WAS NOT SANDY, OVER TIME THE PLAYING FIELD BECAME THATCHY AND DIDN'T REALLY HAVE THE FIRMNESS THAT A GOLFER DESIRES.  I STARTED HERE AS SUPERINTENDENT IN 1999 WHICH WAS ABOUT THE SAME TIME THAT FAIRWAY TOPDRESSING BECAME FEASIBLE AND WE STARTED A FAIRWAY TOPDRESSING PROGRAM. 
THAT WAS 15 YEARS AGO AND LOOK WHAT WE HAVE ACCOMPLISHED.  IN THE PICTURE ABOVE YOU SEE A SOIL PROFILE TAKEN FROM THE MIDDLE OF 5 FAIRWAY.  SINCE 1999 WE HAVE ACCUMULATED APPROXIMATELY 3" OF SAND OVER ALL THE FINE TURF AREAS.  I FIND THIS AMAZING.  WHEN WE STARTED THIS FAIRWAY TOPDRESSING THING, WE KNEW IT WOULD BE BENEFICIAL BUT I'M NOT SURE ANYONE KNEW IT WOULD MAKE THE GOLF COURSE AS GOOD AS IT IS TODAY IN REGARD TO FIRMNESS AND PLAYABILITY.  MAKE NOTE THAT IN THE PICTURE ABOVE YOU SEE A SAND CHANNEL THAT IS ALMOST 6"DEEP.  THAT IS THE RESULT OF USING THE VERTIDRAIN OR DEEP TINE AERATOR.  ONLY RECENTLY HAVE WE HAD A VERTIDRAIN AND MAKING DEEP SAND CHANNELS LIKE YOU SEE HERE HAS REALLY IMPROVED THE DRAINAGE WHICH WAS ALREADY EXCELLENT.  THE COURSE ALWAYS HAD GOOD POSITIVE DRAINAGE BECAUSE OF THE GRAVELY SOIL BELOW THE TOPSOIL BUT THE RICH TOPSOIL MADE THE DRAINAGE SLOWER THAN DESIRED.  THE VERTIDRAIN HAS INCREASED THE SPEED OF DRAINAGE.  THIS IS A HUGE POSITIVE CONSIDERING WE HAVE NO CART PATHS.  WHEN WE DECIDED TO MOW THE FINE TURF FROM TEE TO GREEN AND THEN STARTED TOPDRESSING ALL OF IT, WE HAVE LITERALLY ELIMINATED ALL THE PROBLEMATIC WET AREAS DUE TO CART TRAFFIC COMPACTION. 
THIS PHOTO SHOWS A SOIL PROFILE TAKEN FROM 13 FAIRWAY.  HOLES 13-15 WERE RECENTLY CONSTRUCTED (1989) AND THEY WERE BUILT UPON LAND THAT WAS "SAND CAPPPED" MEANING THERE WAS A LAYER OF SAND PLACED OVER THE SOIL BEFORE SEEDING.  SO NOW WITH THE TOPDRESSING PROGAM IN PLACE, WE HAVE MORE THAN 6 INCHES OF SAND TO PLAY GOLF UPON IN THAT AREA OF THE PROPERTY.  THAT IS HIGHLY DESIRABLE.  
 YOU CAN SEE HERE I'VE TAKEN A SOIL PROFILE FROM AN AREA THAT WAS ROUGHS BEFORE WE STARTED MOWING FINE TURF TEE TO GREEN.  IT HAS ONLY BEEN TOPDRESSED MAYBE 4 TIMES.  CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENCE.
 YOU CAN SEE THAT THE SURFACE IS PRETTY THATCHY AND HAS JUST A LITTLE SAND IN IT.  YOU CAN ALSO SEE THAT MY SAMPLE HIT A RECENTLY PUNCHED AERIFICATION HOLE THAT IS FULL OF SAND.  BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, THESE AREAS WILL ALSO HAVE SEVERAL INCHES OF SAND BUILT UP AND THAT MEANS THAT TACOMA'S SURFACES WILL ACTUALLY GET BETTER BECAUSE THERE WILL BE MORE ACREAGE OF SANDY GROUND AND LIKE I SAID, GOLF WAS MEANT TO BE PLAYED ON SAND.

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