Friday, June 12, 2009

Fairway Aerification

Everyone has heard this before, "We never grow out of toys, they just get bigger ....... and more expensive." A great moment in the life of every superintendent is when a new piece of machinery arrives. It opens up the possibility of improving the course to a level that could not be achieved prior to this machine's arrival. I will give you one example before introducing the new member of our equipment fleet.

Three years ago, the greens were very compacted and had black layer everywhere. The lack of oxygen in the soil leads to this condition and adversely affects the turf and its quality. One great improvement to the maintenance program was the introduction of walk mowers. These machines provide a better cut without the compaction created by a ride-on mower. The greens are now rolling very well and there is no black layer. The new mowers were just a small step towards this goal, but the results would not be possible without them.

Starting the week of June 22nd, we will aerify fairways using a new machine. The Wiedenmann aerifier is the first machine the club has owned that is capable of penetrating our very firm, clay soils. The last few years we have used a Soil Reliever that actually belongs to Brookside. The old machine is outdated and did not perform well. Last fall we demoed the Wiedenmann on #9 fairway side-by-side with the Soil Reliever. I put a flag in each hole from the two machines to compare their operation. The portion with 6x the number of flags is the new unit. Notice the lack of disruption of the surface compared to the Soil Reliever. Also, the Wiedenmann can travel over twice as fast.

Opening up the fairways in this manner will greatly improve the course. Both wet and dry spots will decrease as drainage is increased. Best of all, this practice will lead to greater uniformity, and therefore, playability. Aerifying is the most important cultural practice that takes place on greens, tees, or fairways. I am very excited to finally give these fairways what they need. Approaches will also be aerified at a depth of 6-8 inches. As the turf conditions improve, I bet you will enjoy our new toy as much as I will.

Look for a video post of the Wiedenmann's operation in late June. This is an impressive machine that will be extremely useful in providing optimal playing conditions.