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.

Issue link: http://gcmdigital.gcsaa.org/i/1131538

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64 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 07.19 aerification hole made from March 1 through May 1 will likely not heal fully until mid-May in most years. So why is it we want to run out and make holes as soon as possible in spring? For many, the golf schedule drives this train. When pos- sible, consider waiting until the grass has re- sumed normal growth (May or early June). Coring when grass is actively growing will impact golfers for fewer days in spring. For ex- ample, if the hole is made on May 15, it will likely heal in 12 to 14 days; by comparison, a hole made on April 1 can take 30 to 40 days to heal fully. Further complicating matters is spring weather, which can be unpredictable, with cold soils and low sun angles. Numerous early- spring golf events that most facilities host make timing spring aerifications even more difficult. ‰e other big factor driving aerification scheduling and timing, regardless of when su- perintendents are considering doing this work, is staffing. All of us in the green industry are well aware of the labor issues facing superin- tendents, and aerification is certainly a labor- intensive and time-consuming process. Many golf course managers feel they have more labor in August and September than November, for example, and schedule aerification accord- ingly. But don't sleep in the off-season, when you can do four to six greens a day or take the course of two weeks to finish as the weather al- lows, since the growth rate of the grass is slow, and the golf course may not be as crowded. As with anything, this might not be possible at all golf courses. Pick your poison ‰e dilemma of aerification timing is not going to change anytime soon. ‰ere is no ideal time to aerify putting greens, but there also is not an ideal time to close them for four to six weeks because of poor turf health or turf loss from a lack of oxygen or excessive thatch. My suggestion would be to try different timings and methods, see what works and what doesn't for your situation and trust your instincts. If your aerification program is work- ing well both below the ground — you're keeping thatch in check, roots are deep and dense, etc. — and above it — you're getting good grass performance — then there is no need to consider changes to your aerification timing. Otherwise, try some of the suggestions noted above, even if only on a practice green, to learn how timing the process impacts re- covery. Regardless of when and how aggres- sive your aerifications are, there will be com- plaints. But for superintendents, that is just par for the course. Steve McDonald, M.S., is the president of Turfgrass Dis- ease Solutions located in Pottstown, Pa. The dilemma of aerification timing is not going to change anytime soon. There is no ideal time to aerify putting greens … Aerification and sand topdressing are needed to prevent excessive organic matter accumulation. Photo by Steven McDonald

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