Members of Penrith Golf Club; I hear you all cry, “Why are the greenkeepers ruining the greens in August”?! What we are actually doing is carrying out essential maintenance which is for the benefit of everyone at a time when weather conditions mean that work can be carried out to the highest standard and at a time when recovery will be as quick as possible. Timing of such operations is always the most difficult balancing act for greenkeepers.
What is being done?
We are deep scarifying greens to a depth of 5mm, followed by hollow tining – removing a 2” – 3” deep core. Followed by top dressing with sand to fill the holes.
Both scarifying and hollow tining are operations which remove thatch from the playing surface. Thatch is a layer of grass stems, roots, and debris that settle and accumulate over time. Thatch makes the putting surface soft, hold water, and it encourages disease. Thatch is constantly being produced – so regularly carrying out operations to remove, control and dilute it are the most essential parts of maintenance after mowing the green.
Hollow tining is also essential to:
- Relieve compaction of the surface.
- Ensure better penetration of water and air.
- Release toxic gases from the soil.
- Improve playability during winter months.
- Ensure fertiliser and nutrients are delivered to the rootzone.
Top dressing dilutes the thatch, improves drainage, improves the quality of the soil, improves trueness and permits better grass growth. Top dressing straight after scarifying and aeration work means that the material is integrated into the soil profile and not just spread on top.
What will the result be?
Drier, firmer, faster greens which retain less water and will be less susceptible to disease. This means better surfaces during the summer months and more playability during the winter months.
Greens should recover fully within 2 – 3 weeks, this entirely dependant upon weather and growing conditions.
Why is now the right time to do it?
If when you hollow core the green, the holes are clean, firm, dry and stable it means that clean dry sand can fill up the hole completely. This means that we can retain the benefits of the maintenance work for longer and the putting surface will be truer than it would be if the holes were partially filled with wet sand. Also, carrying out the work during the growing season means we have the growth to ensure a much quicker recovery time of around 2 – 3 weeks. If we wait until the season is finished in October it means that growth has dropped off and recovery can take 3 or 4 months. We took the decision more than 12 months ago that doing this work between the Whitelaw competition and the open competitions and the end of August would be the best compromise.