Coring, scairfying, vertidraining, spiking, anything that disrupts the putting surfaces falls under the broader heading of renovations.
You, the golfers, hate it!
We, the greens staff, arent big fans of doing it either!
So why on earth do we do it??!!
Because the grass likes it. In fact, the grass not only likes it but in some circumstances need it.
Low cutting heights (as low as 3mm), rolling, removal of clippings, machine and player traffic, regular fertiliser and water applications are all things that grass isnt really accustomed to. These procedures are critical for producing good putting surfaces but they come with a trade off. Soil structure can be compromised due to the compaction created by weight of machinery, particularly in wet conditions. Stimulation of plant growth leads to the production of organic matter (thatch) which harbours disease, restricts drainage and leads to spongy surfaces.
Contrary to popular belief, grass roots dont grow in soil. They grow in the spaces within the soil called pore spaces. These pore spaces also allow for the movement of air and water in the soil. Compaction reduces the pore spacing which means that the plant not only struggles for air and water, there is less room for it to grow the roots which are the powerhouse of the plant. For those with green fingers think how much better those pot plants grow when you re-pot them from a small container when they become root bound. Once given extra space to move, the plant gets a new lease on life and thrives again.
As grass grows, not all of it grows straight up. Some of it lays down sideways, some of it spreads laterally. As new growth emerges, the older leaves and shoots are left behind in the top of the surface and they build up over time. This build up of "thatch" leads to many of the above listed issues and is one of the big factors in putting green quality.
So, now you know the why, how did things go for us?
On Monday the 3rd April we had contractors pull the core plugs out of the greens and sweep them up. This freed up our staff to apply the sand which we got on to about 12-13 greens that day. Things were looking good.
Tuesday morning, things went a little pear shaped! Starting at about 6:30am, we received 80mm of rain in 24 hours and then a further 30mm in the next 24 hours. The result was all the sand we applied got washed into the surface rather than into the holes.
Wet sand is virtually impossible to move so we were unable to brush it into the holes. On Thursday, when the weather was improved, we tried sanding again but the resulting damage to areas in front of greens from the tractors was so severe we had to abandon it. We waited until the following Monday when things had dried out enough and the weather was fine to apply more sand. The downside was the core holes had already begun to grow over and it was very difficult to get sand into the holes.
Where are we now?
Many core holes in greens are still slightly short of sand. While this isnt ideal, we need to now work on promoting recovery and getting the putting surfaces back. We will achieve this with some additional fertiliser and some more sand to level out the surface as the holes close up further.
Some of it went where it was supposed to
What does this mean for you?
The greens should recover, weather dependent, in the about same amount of time anticipated if things had gone well. The lack of sand in the core holes does mean we wont get quite the same benefits for as long as we would have experienced had things all gone well. Dont worry though, we have a few tricks up our sleeves on how to achieve what we need to aid in producing good surfaces for you, the golfers.
Mother nature pretty much wins every time when she decides to enter the fight. We did our best but she won pretty comprehensively this time around. It is hugely appreciated the understanding attitude of the golfers in this situation and the support we have received.
The Maintenance Team
Hamilton Golf Club
Hamilton Golf Club