By Steve Webster, Head Green Keeper
Over the early part of winter the aeration programme of the greens commenced. This uses the Vertidrain machine, followed by the Aercore machine, both before and after Christmas.
By early March weather permitting I hope to verticut all greens; this will smooth out most of the disruption caused to the putting surface by the aeration machinery, and prepare the greens for top dressing. Golfers are asking why this aeration has to be done.
Historically, the greens at Canwick were built using soils on site; consequently the soil is very heavy with little natural drainage. By using the aeration machines this allows surface drainage as well as allowing more air into the soil, which in turn allows the grass to grow more freely with a better root system as well as being far healthier, requiring less fungicide to control diseases which in turn saves money.
So Why Use two Machines?
The Vertidrain makes holes around ten to twelve inches deep at around six inch spacing, and it also has a forking action which levers up the turf, again allowing more air spaces by fracturing the soil.
The Aerocore makes holes at around four inches deep and four inches spacing, as well as helping to level out some of the bumps caused by the Vertidrain machine.
Holes at different levels allow the root system to develop without causing a root break situation. Root break occurs where all roots develop at one level, making the turf prone to drought and often require more feed and irrigation.
Another question is “Why are all the Roots Crowned?”
Again, this comes back to the aeration work; as I said earlier the Vertidrain has a forking action which raises the soil and surface slightly. The frosts we have had have also currently lifted the surface. Once golfers start playing on the greens the ground around the hole becomes compacted again and settles, but around a six inch diameter where the hole is remains at its original level.
Around the course, work has started on various areas where existing drainage pipes have become blocked with tree roots. The 16th fairway, which has had problems for some years has been unblocked, although it may need new pipes putting in at a later date – for now we will see if it works. Further down the pipe another blockage has been removed, though this will need some new pipe. At the rear of the 11th green another blockage has been repaired; this water flowed down to the 15th green and bunker, making it almost continually wet.
Periods of snow have prevented much work taking place this year, however the next main job will be to provide a walkway from the 4th tee to the fairway, and again from the 4th fairway to the 5th tee. We will be using the supply we have of green matting, which was laid as an experiment on the 5th path; it has however proved its worth and will be laid in other areas.
Prior to the snow all fairways and tees were cut, and certainly be March some cutting of all areas will commence.
The problems we face with the Chafer Grubs is an ongoing one. The Crow and Magpie populations have been successfully controlled, and certainly there is not as much damage now as there has been in previous years. Chemically controlling the grubs is out f the question; subscriptions do not allow us to spend in excess of £15,000 on a single problem. Cheaper options will be investigated this year.