Friday, 1 April 2016

More sand Honeyman, More sand!

Following a very intensive week of Course Maintenance or renovations as some like to call it, I thought it would be fitting to call this blog 'More sand Honeyman, more sand!' after the great Old Tom Morris. 
Who is Old Tom Morris? Some of you will know and some won't that Old Tom was the Professional and Greenkeeper at St Andrews for many years. He had a spell away from the club at Preswick again in the same rolls. He was the major influence in creating a golf event called 'The Open championship'. He even struck the first ball ever at the British Open and ended up winning it four times. He was a golf course Architect but amongst greenkeepers he is considered the first ever Greenkeeper. 

When Tom Morris returned to St Andrews he was provided with an assistant, Mr Honeyman, who armed with a wheel barrow and shovel was sent out daily with Old Toms words echoing in his ears 'More sand Honeyman, more sand'. 
Mr Honeyman applied sand to the greens and fairways to improve the surfaces and make the ball roll smoother. Old Tom would not know it then but he was setting a standard which would change golf all over the world as he had invented Topdressing! 

Things have moved on from a wheel barrow now but this week we have carried out some essential aeration work and applied a lot of sand! 
Topdressing at high levels has become the 'norm' is recent years, mainly as greenkeepers look to improve drainage and smoothness. Our target this week was 90 tonnes on Greens and Aprons!

What are the benefits of using top dressing? 

•It helps to maintain a smooth, true running surface
•Improves mowing efficiency
•Helps prevent the buildup of thatch
•Enables control of organic matter content, water infiltration and aeration
•Essential in the maintenance of rootzone depth
•Improves germination in overseeded areas
•Improves soil texture 

Course Maintenance Week

Our week got off to a slow start mainly due to Storm Katie who smashed into us on Monday morning leaving behind broken limbs, fallen trees, debris and damaged our nets. Tuesday morning meant some of the team on clean up, just enough for play to continue and this is something we need to re address in the coming week. Due to this the verti cutting of greens was delayed until next week but we carried on with everything else. 

I have decided rather than me rambling on for to long this blog about the rest of the week, I thought we would now move from the past and into the present and I have put together a video on YouTube of the works that we carried out last week. This is a medium that I intend to use more and more in the coming blogs. 

The link to the video is here, I hope you enjoy it :-

Why do we do all this work?
I know that some golfers think we love smashing holes in perfectly good greens for fun but believe me we don't. 
Now don't get me wrong I enjoy seeing the work done because I know how much it improves the quality of the surfaces each time we do it but it is a massive amount of work and long days by the team to achieve our desired goals. 

If we could achieve the work another way other than stopping golf being played on them ;-) we would! Remember we get upset about pitchmarks or the wrong spike so you can imagine how we feel about the tines but no pain, no gain. 


Aeration (or tining) is one of the most important jobs we do out on the course. Not only does it improve root development, green drainage, it allows and stimulates nutrients in the soils. 
But why do it again and again? 
The answer is that golf greens are other sports turf areas don't allow the grass plant to fulfil its natural cycle. 
This increases turf stress as illustrated below. 
In the spring the turf stress consists of many things including frost damage, shade issues and the winter sun, which is lower than the summer sun, nutrient deficiency due to prolonged wet or cold periods and the soils are not working right or can't due to water logging. On top of this we have continued threats of wear and tear from golf being played with no growth and the risk of disease due to climate conditions.  

Plants in the wild can grow long enough to attract sunlight and turn into food. They have little or not compaction caused by golfers, let alone 10,000 rounds a year or so. It's important we also change our aeration depths so we don't get layering in the soil. 

Verti drain v hollow coring v compressed air 

These are three very different types of aeration. 

The verti drain uses bigger tines and can go to great depths. These are normally solid tines especially to depths over 8 inches. 
You can add heave to to machine also, so it breaks up the soil underneath a bit like digging a fork in and out of your lawn. If you lean the fork back towards you eventually it goes in straight and comes out on an angle creating 'heave' in the soil beaking it up giving it a better structure. We are doing this at the moment because our soil analysis show a slightly high level of Organic Matter (thatch) down low too. Deeper than a core could go but we can activate the bacterial and fungi in the soil by adding air to help them effectively eat this layer. 
It also improves drainage! 

The hollow coring
The hollow tines are a lot small and are used for punching holes into the surface around 5 inches and below. The tine has a side that is open and this allows the soil in the tine to come out sideways after a hole is done. This leaves a core on top that needs removing. By using a hollow core you actually physically remove the OM layer. This not only helps reduce it in the area of the tine but the remaining area can then spead out again but as it does it naturally thins out too. For me the best way to describe it, would be like rolling play doo or pastry. Roll it out take some out of it using a knife then re spread covering the same areas again... I hope that makes sense but now I am talking about pastry, how did that happen!!

Why do we keep hollow tining ? 

 Each time we tine we only cover about 13% of the greens surface per operation. So doing two this maintenance week (Air2g2 doesn't count here) we roughly have hit 26% of the green, so you can see four times of this to get the entire area. 

Remember again the plant is always producing thatch so it's increasing again as we speak. Granted not quick but you get what I mean. 

Do we not remove topdressing from previous years when hollow coring? 

Well some maybe but not a lot. 
We targeted 3 inches this time to hit the main OM areas and as little soil as possible. Also during the clean up a lot of the excess soil falls off and is dragged back in when brushed but our main aim is to get on top of thatch content in the greens and this has to take priority as we want better greens year round. 

The Air2g2 

This machine as mentioned in previous blogs blows compressed air into the green to different depths. To relieve compaction and open up the soils. We decided to go at 12 inches as this was deeper than we thought the greens could handle with a deep tine but allowed us to link all the works above it up and blast that area. 

Well, so much for a short blog. Sorry I can't help it once it get going! 

That's enough from me for now. I hope you understand a bit more about maintenance week. Feel free to ask me if you have any questions when you see me around the club if I haven't covered everything. 

Let's hope for a quick recovery! 


1 comment:

  1. A great blog Matt, very informative and great pictures to to embellish your blog. As you know none of the members like to to see the greens effected by you, they just want to play on good greens all the year round. Deep down they all realise what has to be done to achieve a first class course. Well done to you and the team, keep it going.