Thursday, July 14, 2022

Aerification Week Recap!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Thursday, July 14th and the 150th Open Championship is underway at The Old Course at St. Andrews! I don't know about you, but I have felt like a kid in a candy store all week trying to absorb all the content about the amazing history of the golf course and town. I'm hoping for a little magic on the course the next few days and a feel good story come Sunday afternoon. Hope you get an opportunity to take in as much golf as you like and enjoy the competition too.

I wanted to recap the cultural practices performed on the course last week and talk a little about the decision to move the process from June to after July 4, but before I do let me bring you up to speed on the abrupt change in our recent weather.

You may notice our irrigation reservoir is several feet below full pond. This is a direct result of June 2022 being the driest June at Carolina Golf Club since 2012! We only received 1.59 inches rain the entire month of June this year and one-third of that total came in the last week so we were really dry with just a few days to go.

On top of the dry conditions June 2022 was the 16th warmest all-time, including our first official triple digit high temperature in seven years! That's right, the last time Charlotte recorded a high temperature of at least 100 degrees was back in 2015 before setting a new record of 101 degrees on June 23rd. 

So the hot and dry conditions really had the course a little toasty on the edges and playing firm. Then the pattern changed just as aerification week began. It actually started with a thunderstorm that disrupted Independence Day festivities when 1.05 inches rain quickly fell at 2:00 pm.

For seven consecutive days we received measurable rainfall tallying 2.98 inches. Needless to say, the pump station has enjoyed some well deserved time off and luckily after the 4th, all the other rain events took place in the early evening or overnight hours meaning it did not interrupt our cultural practice activities. In fact, if it is going to rain nearly 3 inches at the golf course I want it to be after spreading nearly 300 tons of sand on all tees, fairways, approaches, and surrounds. ;)

So, while you were away all the fairways were verticut to a depth of 4.75 mm removing countless cubic yards of thatch. Following the debris removal the fairways were circle mowed to clean and make them ready for sand topdressing. Sand is applied at the rate of 10 tons per acre and then brushed in using old driving range mats towed behind utility vehicles. Mother Nature then supplied the water overnight and the fairways are healing rather quickly.

Lots of Debris

Cleaning it Up

Ready for the Sandman


Dragging it In

While all this is happening, we were also core aerifying all the tees, removing the cores, topdressing with sand, and dragging in. All the approaches and closely mowed green surrounds were also topdressed and solid-tine aerified. It really is a large undertaking and my team and I are extremely thankful you allow us the time to perform these cultural practices in a safe and efficient manner. 

I mentioned above this process used to take place in June but recently has been repositioned on the calendar to closely follow Independence Day. This decision was approved by the Committee because closing the course this time of year gives the putting greens a nice break during what is typically some of our warmest weather. The reprieve from traffic in mid-summer really helps the greens to recover and better tolerate the remainder of our summer schedule. In fact we vented the greens on day 1 of aerification week before equipping the machines with the tines needed to aerify the tees.   

In other news, we recently completed the summer mowing of our warm-season native areas. You may recall the areas predominantly consisting of fine-fescues are mowed in late winter and early spring, but the areas dominated by broomsedge and bluestem are mowed in the summer. 

With these tasks behind us the team is now tackling the dam and it is time to reapply growth regulator to tees and fairways to help us manage the rate of growth and quality of cut. 

Enjoy The Open,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG