Golf Course Management

JUL 2019

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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60 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 07.19 Do you trust the weather forecast? Keep in mind, if significant damage does occur, it could mean 30 to 60 days of additional stress on your greens. Ideally in the Mid-Atlantic and North- east, autumn greens aerification would occur in mid-to-late September or early October, which would generally give 14 to 18 days of good growth prior to frost. Unfortunately for many clubs, this timing overlaps with the height of year-end golf events, at a time of year that typically provides outstanding weather for playing golf. Once frost occurs in Octo- ber/November, there will be a significant re- duction in growth and recovery, so pushing aerification back later into the autumn can sometimes lead to other issues. Late-autumn aerification (late October/ November/December) is the least stressful on the actual turf, and more aggressive practices can be performed during that time frame. ‰e downside is that sunlight hours are short, and nighttime temperatures are cool, so even if there are some warm days, the holes will not typically heal until spring. Additionally, if the turf has shade from the south, soil usually takes longer to dry out following aerification. Despite all of the factors superintendents must consider regarding late-fall aerification, I do have many clients aerifying with high levels of success after their closing-day events in October. When they are aggressive in late fall, it takes pressure off early-spring aerifica - tion, enabling them to do something less in- jurious in spring, followed by some small-tine openings of the surface in May/June (which heal in seven to 10 days). ‰is regimen should allow superintendents to comfortably main- tain putting greens in a healthier condition with little to no disruption from the middle of April until late October. I have never seen an increase in winterkill or any issues with late- autumn aerification, even when it is highly aggressive. If holes from aggressive late-autumn/win- ter aerification are still visible in the green in spring, a simple solid tine, smaller coring tine or less aggressive sand injection (or a combina- tion of those) could be done in the spring. ‰is lowers the pressure to be aggressive during spring aerification if the greens are performing well and thatch is not excessive. It also reduces the dilemma of how aggressive to be, knowing spring weather is highly unpredictable. The challenges of spring Spring is one of the most challenging times to aerify, especially for sand-based bentgrass greens in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Upper Midwest. No matter the timing, an Late-autumn aerification is the least stressful on the actual turf, and more aggressive practices can be performed during that time frame. There's little question that making holes in seem- ingly healthy playing surfaces is one of the most important practices used on heavily trafficked fine turf. But timing is key. GCM file photo

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