Help Needed

A large part of the Master Plan work was green expansions. If you recall, the procedure for expanding greens was to excavate the soil down 5″, then refill that cavity with a mixture of soil/sand that matched the existing topdressing of the green as close as possible. Several areas of subsoils were even created during the project, meaning we brought in soils to build up the green, to create an areas to expand the surfaces.

Over the past 20 years, we’ve been deep-tining greens, which fractures not only the 5″ of topdressing soil, but more importantly, the subsoils. This promotes frost cracking during the winter months, which helps drain the water through those subsoils during the golf season. The existing green subsoils have been getting natural frost cycles for 100 years, and are fairly good at draining for our local heavy “farm” soils.

Unfortunately, we are seeing many of these new green expansions not performing at a high level yet. The cause is the subsoils not releasing water, and they are essentially sealed off. The accumulation effect of this situation is the thinning of turf at the surface. Without the expansions draining properly, the soil become saturated, roots decline, and necessary gas exchange (oxygen) doesn’t happen.

I was hoping to make it to our normal winter preparation deep-tine cycle in October, but these underperforming areas are becoming too thin for our standards. Yesterday, I took our deep-tine aerifier to the worst of these areas on greens – 1, 4, 5, 8, 16, and 18. Only select areas were deep-tined, not the entire green.

Below shows after the green was deep-tined to 10″, but has not yet been rolled or mown.

All of these aerified areas have now been rolled many times, and will have minimal effect to play. However, we need to keep these holes open to quickly promote drying of the subsoils, and gas exchange, so they will not be filled with sand. I will closely monitor all other areas of green expansions and will deep-tine additional areas as needed. It’s critical to have a healthy stand of turf leading into winter, and that is the main focus right now.

Below is a deep-tined area of 8 green, post roll. 

As I’ve written many times before, what you see on the surface of a turf canopy is reactionary to prior repetitions, good or bad. We need to be proactive with this situation, as the long-term health of the canopy is paramount.

Thanks for your patience as we help these struggling areas by improving their growing conditions.

Mike Manthey

10 Replies to “Help Needed”

  1. Brian says:

    As always, thanks for the detailed report. Keep up the great work. bg

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Thanks BG!

  2. Michael Dunn says:

    Mike – You do a great job so I hope everyone trusts your opinion (as I do) and deals with a very minor situation. Thank you for doing a stellar job over the years. We appreciate the effort and hard work from you and your staff.

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Thanks Mike, we all appreciate the support!

  3. Ron mason says:

    thanks as always for keeping us informed.

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      You’re welcome Ron!

  4. Diane Amer says:

    Dear Mike, I just wanted to let you know how very much we appreciate having the water refill stations installed! They are WONDERFUl! Plus so environmentally friendly. YAY! Thank You.
    Diane and Greg

    1. Mike Manthey says:


      Thanks, they are a great addition!

  5. Scott Caskie says:

    Enjoyable read! Always curious about what other Superintendents do to improve play. I am questioning the drainage/filtration issue you seem to be experiencing. I am wondering if a soil horizon has been created by the two different soil conditions. One being in place for years and new cleaner yet amended to match existing conditions?
    Scott Caskie
    30 year golf course Superintendent
    Landscapes Unlimited

    1. Mike Manthey says:


      I believe that’s exactly the issue. It will take us some time to overcome, but with aerification and deep tining, I’m certain we’ll find long-term success. This is the downside of not starting completely over and seeding the surfaces.

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