COURSE CARE
It’s Time To Rejuvenate! September 12, 2012 By Keith Happ

(L) Aeration is essential and there are a number of ways to meet the needs of turf at your facility. The one common, denominator, however, is that aeration needs to be completed. (R) Size does matter! The need for aeration, however, is dictated by science and this can be validated by using an accredited physical soil testing laboratory to complete an ash test to determine the organic matter percentage in the soil profile.

Preparation for the Fall Golf Season is Underway.

Most golf facilities have completed aeration and topdressing treatments. Some have elected to use multiple procedures. Common combinations include core aeration combined with either deep tine aeration, linear aeration, or deep verticutting, sand injection or some combination thereof. Why so many variations in treatments? Soils and turfgrasses being managed are different at every golf course. Therefore, there is no one procedure that is best for every golf facility in every situation.

Timing for aeration of creeping bentgrass, for example, is critical. Aerating when the turf will heal quickly and resist Poa annua encroachment is a best management practice (BMP). That may be the reason a neighboring golf course aerates in August and the course on the other side of town aerates at the end of September. One golf facility may be managing bentgrass while the other is managing Poa annua putting greens. Another factor is the golf schedule. While it may be difficult to accept, in many instances aeration is performed when it is best for the golf schedule, not necessarily best for the turf.

As for aeration procedures used, the decision is, or should be, dictated by the amount of organic matter (thatch) each golf operation is managing. Superintendents can quantify the amount of organic matter present in the soil profile by submitting intact core samples to an accredited physical soil testing laboratory. This is very useful to establish a baseline to monitor soil physical properties over time as well as progress made by different cultural programs and strategies. Different aeration methods can be used to address varying levels of thatch accumulation. Suffice it to say, at every golf facility, some degree of surface disruption has to occur to maintain consistent playing quality through the golf season.

Summer weather patterns have again placed environmental stress on trees. Leaves are already falling in fairly large quantities. It is early for leaf drop, but it is just another indication of how difficult the weather has been this season in the Mid-Atlantic Region. When it comes to prioritizing leaf removal efforts, after the putting greens, consider cleaning out bunkers first. There are fewer Rules of Golf issues to deal with when bunkers are free of debris.

The current weather pattern is shaping up to be a mild and dry fall, which is perfect for conditioning golf courses for desired playability. Autumn can provide some of the best playing conditions of the growing season so get out and take advantage of it!

Always remember that the agronomists in the Mid-Atlantic Region are part of your agronomic support team. If you have a question of concern, especially now, give us a call or send an email. You can reach Darin Bevard (dbevard@usga.org) at 610-558-9066 or Keith Happ at (khapp@usga.org) at 412-341-5922