From the course maintenance team and I we would like to wish each and everyone a happy 2022 and we hope that you had a great festive season with family and friends. It has been a very busy season period on the golf course, with the course fully booked almost every single day.

Summer has also finally arrived and with it, it brought us the first couple of days which saw the temperature hit 38 degrees mark – great for the holiday makers but, combine this with wind, and it will put the maintenance team under pressure as the course dries out very quickly. We saw this especially on some of our greens and we are in the process of ensuring that this does not happen again. Sprinklers are being checked and replaced where there is no head-to-head coverage of irrigation water across the whole surface of the greens. Additional turf valves will be installed over the next few weeks to enable the team to hand water the dry areas. It is normal for some areas on greens to become hydrophobic and we have implemented bi-weekly soil surfactant products to also relief the stress on these areas. The agronomy programme has been adjusted to allow for additional fertilizer and preventative fungicide applications.

We started with a tee’s aeration program and we will be working through the whole course targeting all tee boxes now that the course is a bit quieter. Compaction relief will play a big role in the health of the turf. Tees have also become very hard. This prevents air from moving through the growing medium, water from penetrating the root zone and also makes it very difficult to tee your ball up. Through continuous aeration and granular fertilizer applications, I am sure that we will be able to present our tee boxes in a healthier condition.

This year will also see us hollow tining the greens twice. The reason for this is because they have not been done for two to three years and it is evident in the amount of black layering, water that can not penetrate the root zone and the patches of moss and algae.

Knysna golf

So why do we aerate greens?

There are several reasons for greens aeration. Below is some information that will assist in explaining this.

Thatch removal

is part of the reason we aerate and this can and should be done on all areas including tees, greens & some areas on fairways. Thatch can be described as a tightly intermingled layer of living and dead stems, leaves and roots which accumulates between the layer of actively growing grass and the soil underneath. Thatch is a normal component of an actively growing turf grass. If the thatch is not too thick, it can increase the resilience of the turf to heavy traffic. Thatch develops more readily on high-maintenance lawns. This sums up why it is important to remove thatch on greens.

Compaction relief.

By this I mean compaction caused by machines & golfers moving over the greens on a daily basis. The same principle applies to animal paths created largely by foot traffic creating compaction. Compaction relief is achieved by the hole that gets punched into the greens surface. This immediately breaks the hard crust under the surface and,  depending on the severity of the compaction, the Superintendent can set the depth of tine accordingly. Hollow-tining is the extraction of a core from the green. We will use a 12mm solid tine to achieve this and to allow for improved air circulation and root growth. So, the more roots you have, the stronger the plant and the stronger the plant the less it will suffer under the stresses of heat and disease.

These holes also promote air movement within the soil and, like all living things we need air, water and food in the ideal temperature, to stay alive. I think I have touched on most of the key components now, except water. With compaction relief water drains freely through the soil profile where the plant can absorb the water through its roots. A lot of unwanted and harmful salts also get washed out of the soil during this process.

The best time of the year to do aeration is dependent on weather, golf days and scheduled tournaments, but most courses do it between September and November and some courses also after the busy season between April and May.

At all times, our focus remains on improving the playing surfaces of our tees, fairways, and greens and through these types of cultural practices. In September we will be doing a bent grass inter-seeding on all greens also. This will improve playability and will also help the greens to be stronger during the warmer periods as the bent population will be higher than the poa-annua.

I would like to thank my team for all their hard work and dedication over the festive holidays and I look forward to 2022 where we will be taking the course to improved levels of maintenance.

Hope to see you all out on the fairways soon.

Best Regards,

Andre Gerber

Course Superintendent