Why Do We Sand?

Firstly, apologies for not having posted much on here lately. As spring and now summer conditions have ramped up, focus has been on the course with many jobs keeping us extremely busy.

One of the jobs you may have seen us carrying out is the sanding of the greens. Sometimes referred to as topdressing or dusting, it involves a light application of sand across the greens which is then brushed in.

So, why do we do this?

To assist in producing a more consistent year round playing surface, is is very important that the surface layer of the green is kept firm and smooth. This is aided by the continual application of small amounts of sand applied approximately every 2 weeks.

Sand being applied to greens

Light amounts of sand are worked into the surface canopy to gradually remove minor depressions and assist in keeping the top layer dry. It is important that the amount of sand being applied is reviewed based on the time of year and growth. For example, you can apply more sand when growth is plentiful during late spring/early summer but care must be taken during the hottest days not to scorch the plant as sand can become very hot. The general rule is that the sand should be barely visible after a brush or drag mat has been over it. Sometimes this process is carried out in conjunction with verticutting (a very light grooving) to help incorporate the sand.

The continual addition of sand also aids in combatting the organic material that is accumulated as the grass grows. Instead of of dense layer of thatch, the sand works into it and helps dilute the material which in turn assists in drainage and aeration. Traditionally, the organic material is targeted by twice yearly coring or scarifying which is extremely disruptive. It is worth noting that even though it appears that much of the surface is impacted by coring, approximately only 5-6% is the realistic portion affected. By prioritising the regular dusting, it is hoped that the need for such invasive renovation practices can be greatly reduced.

Sand may look distracting but it has little impact on ball roll

Another key benefit to regular sanding is the creation of  a firmer and drier surface. Firmness is key for resisting footprinting and bumpiness leading to a smoother and truer ball roll. Being drier helps reduce issues with disease and positions the greens better to cope with rainfall as water infiltration is directly impacted by surface thatch content. 

Having the right equipment is key and this is an area we have worked on and are now well set up for. Thanks to the support and generosity of our members and sponsors, the fundraising tournament this year allowed us to purchase a new sand spreader. This has allowed for a much quicker operation while also applying the sand much more evenly than in the past. Combined with the brush we built for our bunker rake machine, it is now a much more refined process with the ability to adjust based on the days conditions.

Our new sander and brush

Achieving good quality putting surfaces isn't an easy task and it takes a lot of planning, effort and a dose of good luck. Sanding, as with many jobs we do, may seem inconvenient for players at the time but please appreciate the long term benefits outweigh the short term disruption. As always though, we do strive to carry out such tasks with a view to minimising the impact on play where possible.

Good Golfing

The Maintenance Team

Hamilton Golf Club


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