Post-Aerification Update

Aerification started 7 days ago. The weather Monday was absolutely ideal with sunny and dry conditions. During the day, we cored the putting green, as well as 14 green, removed those cores, and filled them with sand. The tees and approaches were topdressed and solid tined in, as well as the front nine fairways being topdressed and solid tined in. Roughly 500 tons of sand was handled, worked into the ground, and detailed clean. Over 300 labor hours were worked day one.

Monday night and Tuesday morning was not ideal. We received just shy of 1/2″ of rain throughout mid-morning, which was ideal for watering in all of the sand that was applied, but less than ideal for the remaining sand in the parking lot. It was also not ideal for getting the soils wet at the surface right before we applied the remaining 450 tons of sand.

A lot of effort by our team has gone into getting the calculation, and application rate of sand, to match up. First 950 tons of sand is very expensive, and secondly, we don’t have the time, nor the ability to get sand quickly if need be. We use 5 different kinds of topdressers simultaneously on different parts of the course. It’s a logistical nightmare, but we spend each year improving the process. Some years, the sand is delivered to us from the sand quarry very dry, other times, it’s been recently rained on.

Once the pile of sand in the parking lot got rained on, its bulk density increased. By my math, over 3,000 gallons of rain fell on the pile, increasing its cubic feet by 416 feet. Obviously some of that rain leached out the bottom of the pile. But once the rain stopped, we immediately starting applying it to the course. We never change our topdresser settings – conveyor belt speed, spinner speed, height/angle of topdresser, tractor gearing/speed, hydraulic pump flow, topdresser gate opening, etc., because it can be a recipe for disaster. I knew once we began applying sand after the rain, we would essentially be applying less sand, but unsure exactly how much less. Wet sand is not only “bigger” by bulk density, but it doesn’t spread as evenly when wet. With the golf course opening Wednesday morning, we trudged on, working another 300 labor hours Tuesday.

With the ground being wet, hauling and applying 450 tons of sand created some collateral damage to the roughs. If you’ve played, you’ve seen us aerifying (or seen the aerificaiton holes) in the rough. This is to relieve the surface compaction created by the hundreds of trips with the tractors, sand haulers and topdressers. Essentially, we’ve been aerifying roughs all of last week, and will continue all of this week. This will prevent the rough from thinning by the hard pan created by driving on wet soils.

We finished topdressing, aerifying and the clean-up process ahead of play last Wednesday, and put the golf course back together the remainder of the week. Remember that even though we’re aerifying, the grass doesn’t stop growing, so not only did we complete aerification, but our normal maintenance program was also carried out Wednesday thru Friday to catch up. If anyone thinks our department enjoys aerification week, you haven’t seen how ragged we are come Friday. It’s nothing pretty…

After Wednesday we were left with ~100 tons of fairway topdressing sand. That was the difference in the sand being wet. Today, we went back 0ut and applied a light rate of sand to fairways 6, 15 and 17. These holes have the worst worm castings (our biggest objective in topdressing fairways is to reduce the effects of worm casts and improve playability).

Old worm casts on 15 Fairway

The rate of sand was light enough that no aerification was needed, it was just brushed in once dried. This should have very little effect to play, and by the end of the week, hardly noticeable. The extra sand on these holes are needed so it does have a positive ending.

As far as the rest of the course, now that we are actually holding night time temperatures of 50 degrees and above, the turf is finally starting to grow like we need it to. Some areas slower than others, but that goes to show you how many microclimates exist throughout the property. Aerification also goes to show you that no matter how well we plan, that plan is implemented outdoors, and weather dictates results. Always.

Our property maintenance regimen is finally at full operation, and as of today, we are fully staffed. Things are setting up nicely for the golf season. A huge thanks to our staff for their huge efforts last week, as well as now focusing on getting the details of the course where we aim them to be. It’s been an unconventional Spring to say the least with so many up and downs in regards to temps, we look to have finally turned the corner for Summer. Thanks for staying patient!

See you out there,

Mike Manthey


12 Replies to “Post-Aerification Update”

  1. Ken Majkowski says:

    To Mike and the whole staff….Thank you for giving us a wonderful golf course to play on !!!

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Thanks Ken, we’re lucky to have our team!

  2. Larry Bell says:

    Good email Mike. It reveals just how hard it is to keep the course in outstanding condition. Thanks to you and the entire team for the extra effort.

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Lots of moving parts to every corner of the club (as you well know!)
      Thanks Larry!

  3. Brian Gorecki says:

    Always love to read Mike’s updates. b

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Appreciated Brian!

  4. Robert J. Etten says:

    Thanks Mike and team! Your expertise and dedication is reflected in this awesome gem of a course we are so fortunate enough to play! By the way, you neglected to mention that our fescue areas are also growing again – yikes I’ve already found some NASTY lies in there! HAHA

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Haha, the fescue deserves its own post! Avoid at all costs.

  5. Paul Kirkegaard says:

    Wow- thanks for another great update. And thanks to the whole team for all the work they did, do and will do.

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Thank you PK!

  6. Josh Hill says:

    Thanks for the update Mike. I’m looking forward to seeing you and the team’s work. Always appreciated how you keep us informed.

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Thanks for reading Josh!

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