Q. How often do you spike the greens and why is it necessary?
A. More often than you might think as some types of spiking will be virtually invisible after the greens have been cut. Through spring and summer ideally once fortnightly with pencil tines and in the winter months every 3 weeks depending on the weather and growth with chisel tines. The one that produces the most disruption is when we Verti-drain. This makes 200 to 300mm deep holes as well as lifting the whole surface shattering the soil underneath. This is usually done 2 or 3 times a year, in spring and autumn.
Timing is critical, as the soil has to be firm but not too hard. If done whilst the grass is growing well the greens will have settled down in a few days. The operation where the holes remain open the most is hollow tining where a core of soil is removed approx 100mm deep. This operation is used to allow the exchange of soil and remove thatch.
And the reason for doing all this? The all important roots of the grass live in the spaces between the soil particles and a balanced mixture of air and water is needed for healthy living and nutrient uptake. Your feet plus maintenance equipment squashes those spaces together stopping not only healthy growth of the grass but reducing nutrient uptake and reducing drainage rates as well. This in turn creates an unbalanced air/water ratio and roots will die.
Q. How often do we water the greens?
A. All rainfall amounts, wind strength and minimum / maximum daily temperatures are recorded. This along with some charts helps to determine the evapo-transpiration rates for that day. This is how much water the plant is using. From this we can calculate the amounts of water and when we need apply it, to keep the plants growing healthily (water balance sheets).
The irrigation system we have has individual-valving headed sprinklers on the greens, which enables us to apply the correct amount of water that is needed. Too much water will create soft lush surfaces which are susceptible to damage from compaction and disease and will be slow to putt on. Applying the correct amount of water as is possible will encourage the finer grasses and is used only on the greens and tees. Fairways are not irrigated. Hand watering is essential to top up dry spots as with any irrigation system it is near impossible to apply water evenly across the entire greens surfaces, especially when the wind is blowing!