Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Autumn: The Season of Driving Around in Circles

The calendar says the new year begins in January. The city's finance department says the new fiscal year starts on July 1st but in the northern golf course industry, Labor Day marks the end of one year and the beginning of the next. Everything that we do from that point until the snow flies is aimed at getting the course ready for next year.

For some reason, a large portion of the golfers put away their bags after Labor Day. This may be due to football, the kids going back to school or some other reason, but play really drops in the fall. It shouldn't be the weather, because in my opinion, the fall is the best time to play golf. On many days in September and October, the high temperature will be in the upper sixties or seventies with very few clouds. If we are lucky enough to have this type of weather in April or May, golfers will be lining up to get out on the course. Of course, after a long winter, cooped up inside, I don't blame them for wanting to get outside. During the fall, this same weather will be met with open tee times and discounted rates.

Aerification cores from a tee.

This drop in play gives us an opportunity to perform some maintenance that is disruptive to golfers. Aerification is the first and most labor intensive of those practices and is why I call Autumn the "Season of Driving Around in Circles." We aerify in order to decrease compaction in the soil and to slow the accumulation of organic matter in the soil. We can do this by either removing the plug created when we "punch holes" or by dragging the plug until all that remains on the surface is the thatch layer. This dragging is done by pulling a plastic mat around on the tee that breaks up and separates the soil from the organic matter and a lot of driving around in circles. Do not eat a big lunch before doing this, motion sickness can be a real problem.

A drag mat. This is one we use on fairways.

Dragging the cores on a fairway.

A tee can make you dizzy.

After dragging, all of the soil is gone and just the thatch and other plant material is left.

The greens at Huron Hills were aerified September 14 through 16th. Leslie Parks greens will be done on the 28-29th. The back 9 tee at Leslie Park have also been aerified. After the greens at leslie are done, we will finish the front 9 tees and the begin work on the tees at Huron. Remember, you cannot trust the calendar. The New Year starts in September.

1 comment:

Brian Kuehn said...

Or driving back & forth with the leaf blower.