Superintendents Report – Spring Green Renovations 2016

23rd Mar, 2016

Greens Renovations March 2016

With the bi-annual greens renovations completed last week I thought I would give the members an insight into the work that is undertaken on the greens surfaces here at Woolooware Golf Club.

Our greens renovations are a very large process that requires all greens staff to work from before sunrise until sunset on both days the course is closed in order to correctly complete the renovations of our greens. Thankfully this time although very hot, it remained dry so we were not interrupted by rain as we were last September.

Members often see the end result as sandy, slow, bumpy greens so the following is the process of how we renovate the greens to give a clearer understanding of how our important renovations are achieved:

8/3/16

  1. We start by hollow coring the greens with 1/2 inch hollow tynes to a depth of 75mm with a 50mm x 50 mm spacing
  2. Cores are picked up from the green immediately by scraping cores to the edges of greens and shoveling into our utility vehicles.
  3. All cores that are picked up are reused on the course to cover any worn areas on fairways. These cores will grow in over time after topdressing/watering.
  4. Once all cores have been scraped/shoveled from greens, all greens are blown using petrol blowers to disperse any remaining cores off the green until the green is completely clean.
  5. Fertilisers and soil amendments are then applied to all greens at specific rates.
  6. All greens are then watered to wash in the fertiliser and also to wash in any loose soil into the core holes.

9/3/16

  1. Day 2 of renovations we top-dress all of the greens with USGA topdressing sand and leave on the greens until dry. We use a drop spreader to apply the topdressing material and ensure the correct amount is being applied.
  2. We must then wait until all sand has dried on the greens before we can begin to broom in the greens. On Wednesday it took about 6 hours from the initial topdressing of the green before it was dry enough to be broomed in, as the sand we received was still rather wet.

10/3/16

  1. Brooming of green in morning to remove dew, once dry areas on greens that require extra sand is completed by hand and all greens are broomed by hand after 1pm to help rub in topdressing sand.
  2. Monitoring soil moisture levels to determine irrigation run time required for evening.

11/3/16

  1. Brooming of green in morning to remove dew, once dry areas on greens that require extra sand is completed by hand and all greens are broomed by hand after 1pm to help rub in topdressing sand.
  2. Monitoring soil moisture levels to determine irrigation run time required for evening.

12/3/16 – 16/3/16

  1. Brooming of greens to remove dew in the mornings, monitoring moisture levels of greens to determine water needed

17/3/16

  1. Greens given their first cut since renovations in the afternoon when grass is dry. Further greens recovery from renovations is expected over the coming weeks as weather permitting, we will resume regular maintenance practices of the greens surfaces.

 

Reasons for renovating greens

I feel it important to discuss various reasons as to why we need to renovate greens in the first place in order to improve our playing surfaces. Below are some key reasons as to why we need to renovate our golf greens:

  • Relieve soil compaction – Throughout summer the greens are very prone to soil compaction caused from various methods including high foot traffic, machinery on greens and also compaction caused by rainfall/irrigation practices. Compaction of greens reduces available pore spaces in the soil and ultimately reduces available room in the soil for pockets of air/water to move through. It is essential to unlock these pore spaces to allow water/air movement to pass freely through the soil.
  • Relieve/remove thatch accumulation – thatch is the accumulation of dead organic matter formed from dead plant material. As the turf grows more quickly, thatch increases. A certain amount of thatch is desirable as it provides a barrier between the rootzone and the playing surface. However, over time as thatch increases and thickens, it becomes spongy and causes various problems including a lack of infiltration of water to soil, provides a host environment for disease pathogens to produce amongst wet thatch layer and can also cause soil in the top layer to become hydrophobic which will lead to Localised Dry Spot occurring on greens.
  • Promote new root/shoot growth development – As bent grass is a cool season grass it prefers cool, moist conditions. In Sydney we are in a transitional zone, which doesn’t provide ideal conditions for bent grass growth. In order to achieve quality putting surfaces a strict maintenance regime is required to reduce overall stress on the plant.

We aim to promote a healthy turf plant below the surface so that we can withstand extreme temperatures throughout the summer period. For example this year we just had 39 consecutive days above 26 degrees Celsius. From this, rootzone gradually decreases as we move through summer as the plant struggles to take in the water required. Mowing greens at very low heights and constant stress of the plant all leads to a smaller rootzone. Therefore it is essential that we renovate to allow the greens a chance to increase their rootzone length before we reach the cooler, wetter months.

  • Improve moisture and nutrient penetration to plant root zone – by physically removing existing soil cores we are allowing better infiltration of rainfall and nutrients entering soil profile. As explained earlier reducing thatch helps this process by giving water/nutrients an easier passage into the rootzone where it is needed most.
  • Allow gas exchange between atmosphere and soil profile – opening up greens at renovations allows for much need air to enter the soil and ultimately increases available room in the soil.
  • Restore turf to full health after stressful summer season

It is important to understand that Agrostis palustris/Poa annua isn’t intended to be mowed at extremely low mowing heights and cutting greens at 4mm or lower places an extreme amount of stress on the plant. From this increased stress the green requires more frequent fertilisers, water, pesticides and general cultural maintenance to keep the green healthy throughout the seasons.

We constantly strive to provide consistent, high quality putting surfaces and greens renovations are an essential part of the maintenance program to restore the surfaces to healthy conditions that are conducive to turf growth. Hollow coring is an essential win-win situation for a short period of inconvenience.

Cameron Dunn

Course Superintendent