Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fairway Sand Topdressing and Maintenance

Prior to 2008, fairway maintenance at NSCC had centered on core aerification which occurred on an annual basis. This process was beneficial to the turf at NSCC as it alleviated soil compaction, reduced thatch and allowed for proper water, oxygen, and nutrient exchange, but was often completed to the dismay of golfers due to the often muddy conditions for two to three weeks following the process.

In 2008, the Board of Directors approved a new three phase fairway management program that addressed these same goals, while at the same time eliminating the muddy conditions following core aerification by gradually improving the quality of the soil.  The process included:  solid tine aerification (no more cores/mud), aggressive vertical mowing, and sand topdressing. 

At about the same time as this process began, the economy suffered and club membership trended downward.  Tough decisions were made to reduce expenses throughout the club.  The expense of the sand proved to be too much and became a casualty as well.  The golf course maintenance staff has continued to aerify with solid tines and aggressively verticut since this time, but the lack of sand applications has caused the fairways to become thatchy and soft.  Excess thatch reduces playability and creates a moist environment that promotes an environment for disease development.

Why Sand?

The new fairway maintenance process serves to improve fairway conditions by modifying the underlying soil with the addition of sand. Just as the greens at NSCC were improved over the last 30 years by continual sand topdressing, we aspire to the same outcome on the fairways. We plan to apply roughly ¼ inch of sand per year on the fairways. At this rate, after ten years we will have accumulated a two inch sand base underneath the fairways allowing for improved turf health, better drainage, firmer fairways and improved golf cart accessibility following rain events.

In order to apply the desired amount of sand, the golf course maintenance staff has once again begun to apply sand to the fairways.  We will make three applications in the spring and three applications in the fall.  The first application on the White Nine will be completed by May 1st.  The Red and Blue Nines will be treated immediately following or as soon as the weather permits.

,Even thought the sand is swept into the turf canopy, the fairways will be somewhat sandy for a couple days.  As you play, you may notice that your ball picks up a small amount of sand.  This will occur until the turf grows through sand.  This inconvenience is small compared to the improved fairway conditions that will occur over the next couple of years.

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