1. With 2+ weeks of course closure for aeration (spring and fall) why do we disturb the playing surfaces while open?
Following the Thanksgiving Holiday, daily play at KGC slows tremendously. So, although disturbing the surfaces, this pocket of time represents the best balance between slow play and actively growing (albeit much slower) grass. Secondly, the disruption is mostly aesthetic and not functional. In other words, the shot off of the fairway is not terribly compromised during these processes. And finally, but most importantly, we do not have the time to get these practices done in March and its too hot in mid-to late August. During our March aeration, we hollow-core aerate and top dress the entire property and that alone takes all of our efforts during Spring Aeration.
So, as you read the description and benefits of these practices, please understand that we are cognizant of the disruption and will pace ourselves so that only 1-2 fairways will be disturbed at a time. As always, we appreciate your support as we try to make KGC better each season.
Deep Tine Aeration
This process is a form of solid tine aeration. There are no plugs or cores; only a "punched hole." What makes this operation unique and crucial is the depth of the hole. This particular machine is able to puncture the turf to a depth of 6-8" at a diameter of 3/4". Furthermore, the machine is designed to "kick" as the tines go in and out of the soil. This "kicking" fractures the soil creating additional pore space between the visible holes. The end result is that we are able to promote deeper, denser rooting. Deeper, denser rooting allows the plant to survive drier conditions. So in the summer months, the plant requires less irrigation to make it through the hot days. This in turn allows us to promote firmness throughout the driest stretches of summer.
This process is designed to remove thatch. Thatch is the by-product of growing grass and is comprised of dead and decaying plant material. Although soil microbes help to decompose thatch, there is a plant protein called lignin that is very difficult for "bugs" to digest. Over time, this lignous material builds upon itself until you are left with a soft, spongy layer called thatch. Aside from creating a sponge effect on the surface, thatch can be a breeding ground for insects and disease. Vertical mowing uses special blades to go down into the canopy at a depth of 1/2" and mechanically pull-out and remove thatch. The aftermath is continuous channels 1.5" apart that are 1/2" deep. As we beat back back the thatch through vertical mowing, core aeration and sand top-dressing, we increase water and nutrient efficiency while reducing the sponginess of thatch itself.