November 20, 2011

That Looks Familiar...

I took great interest in watching the Presidents Cup this year for a few reasons. First off, any time a great classic course is hosting a major event I like to see the course as much, if not more than the golf. Secondly, the ties formed between Claremont and Royal Melbourne at this years MacKenzie Cup (the team from Royal Melbourne won the Cup here at Claremont) had me even more interested. In the first few minutes of the TV coverage, I knew we were in for a treat as much of the talk was related to course conditions, the firmness and speed of the greens and the classic MacKenzie design. Perfect for a golf geek like me!

One thing I noticed right away was how the bunkers were maintained. As you can see in the picture above, the bunker faces at Royal Melbourne are packed and smooth raked while the bunker floor is raked as normal. This technique is very similar to what we have been doing here at Claremont for the last two years.

We maintain the bunkers in this fashion for a few reasons. The main reason we smooth rake the faces is to keep golf balls from plugging in a steep bunker face. I, and most golfers would say that a plugged lie in a bunker face is unfair and by smoothing and compacting the faces of the bunker, most of the time, the ball will roll to the bottom of the bunker. Of course, from time to time, a ball will plug in the bunker and all I can say to that is... Don't hit it in there! It IS a hazard. This method of raking bunkers, on most days, allows us to spend less time than usual working in the bunker and gives the staff more time to focus on other detail oriented work. During the golfing season, we rake the entire bunker only twice a week. The other five days, we rake out the bunker floor and do not touch the faces. The time it takes to prepare the bunkers is cut in half on those days when we are only raking the floor all while the look and playability continues to be great throughout the week.

During the winter months, weather dictates how and what we do in the bunkers. Following a large rain event, the priority will be to remove any standing water, repair wash outs and remove any bunker sand that has become contaminated with silt, soil or debris as result of the storm. Once all bunkers are repaired and if the forecast is for clear weather, we will rake the bunker floors and prepare them for play. Many times, if there is another storm on the way, we may forgo re-raking them as they will soon be damaged again. After a large storm, it can take days to repair and re-rake all of the bunkers so please bear with us as we will do all we can to get them back in shape. Thanks and we'll see you on the course!

Josh Clevenger
Golf Course Superintendent

November 3, 2011

Last One of the Year

Monday and Tuesday we performed a solid tine aeration to the greens. This was our last aerification of the year and an important one going into winter. The following is a detailed sequence of events that we use to accomplish our goal of aerification to the putting greens all while minimizing the disruption to play.

Step 1: The greens are verticut in two directions.This vertical mowing results in shallow lines into the turf canopy where grass and thatch has been cut and removed leaving space for sand to settle into.

Step 2: Greens are sanded then aerified with a 1/4" solid tine tine to a depth of 9". The machine used is called a vertidrain and one of it's many benefits is the "kick adjustment". This allows us to adjust the tines to kick while they are below the surface of the green resulting in fracturing of the soil and a break up of the hard pan layer that naturally develops after a typical core aeration program. The point here is, while the result to the surface is a small 1/4" hole, the process is very aggressive under ground opening up new pore space for water, air and roots.

Step 3: Once the sand is dry on the surface, the green is rolled taking out many of the imperfections and working the sand into the turf canopy. We then brush the green with a mechanical drag brush and roll again. 

The finished result was a smooth but sandy surface and all in all, a very succesful aeration. Thanks and we'll see you on the course.

Josh Clevenger
Golf Course Superintendent