Robert Lewis, Green Committee
The process of overseed is just around the corner. Once the winter grass is planted, however, one very important course maintenance function stops. That is the process of aeration. Aeration of our greens, fairways and teeing areas typically means puncturing the surface of the grass and on the greens, then applying sand to the surface. This allows oxygen and water to the roots of the grass for proper root growth. Once overseeding commences and for the duration of the annual winter grass season, we cannot use traditional aerator methods (punch large holes in the greens and fill them with sand). So our greens, fairways and tee boxes, for a large portion of the year, do not get the required air and water needed for growth.
The United States Golf Association (USGA) has established recommendations for the frequency for aeration. Aeration is a year-round requirement. Overseed, however, eliminates the possibility of using traditional tine (holes in the green filled in with sand) for aeration. Even if we didn’t overseed, the dormant greens and fairway grasses would preclude aerating. This means for about seven months, we do not/cannot use the traditional aerating methods.
The studies conducted for us by the ISTRC (International Sport Turf Research Center) have indicated that we have a significant loss of grass root depth (they recommend a minimum root depth of three and a half inches). Current root analysis shows a depth of less than three inches. One of the recommendations from our USGA reports is to evaluate newer aerator technologies. The goal is to find a device that can be utilized year-round.
On Monday, 14 August 2017, the Green Committee was invited to a practical demonstration of the Air2G2 aerator on the Quail #1 green. The Air2G2 has three tines/rods that are spaced about three feet apart. The rods (in various lengths from seven inches and longer) are forced into the ground using compressed air. A second blast of air is then forced out through holes at the end of the rods, breaking up the soil beneath the surface. The machine is then moved about four feet, then the process is done again. Overall, it should take about 30 minutes to complete a standard-size green. We then immediately rolled the green to tap down the small holes. Most importantly, the process was fast, was barely noticeable, was cost-effective (no sand or staff time to disburse and rake) and had no negative effect on putting. The Course Superintendent also took a core sample from the green after the aeration, and it showed significant ground fracturing below the surface of the green without damage to the grass roots. We also tested the Air2G2 on some bare (very hard ground) on the fairway with excellent results.
The Course Superintendent will be scheduling an evaluation of a “slit” type aerator in the near future.
Applying new technology will allow aerating throughout the year and will save time and money.
You can view a demonstration of the Air2G2 on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XJ5aJXn8W8.