Saturday, May 13, 2017

Cussing Down Core Aeration

"The process of aerating is just as tough on the crew, as the playability of aerated greens is on golfers.  It takes time to aerate greens because the machines used to accomplish this task run at a turtle's pace. Depending on the size of your greens, it usually takes two operators close to six hours to complete.  And that's if one of the machines doesn't break down, which usually seems to happen.  The machines themselves are not glamorous by any means.  They're basically a 3ft. by 3ft. box on three wheels, powered by a 16 horsepower engine with belts connected to a drive shaft which aggressively move the aeration tines up and down at a frantic pace.  Operating one of these fuckers is like wrestling, George the Animal Steel.  The clamorous nature of the machine makes it painfully loud, difficult to maneuver, a bit spasmodic, and as previously mentioned, slow as fuck.   It's also not a gig where you sit on your ass soaking in the majestic green that is a golf course while daydreaming about how rad Natalie Portman is, because you're constantly stepping with that piece. (*1)   By the time you're finished punching all those greens, you kind of feel like punching your boss in the face for assigning you such a goddamn awful job.  It's a shit job to say the least".

This diatribe laced with some pretty choice cuss words, written close to six years ago, was nearly submitted to my green committee chairman for approval of the club's monthly newsletter.  After letting our assistant proofread, what I deemed to be a full on masterpiece, that was guaranteed to inject some "life" into the already lifeless piece of crap they deemed a newsletter, our Vice Executive of Agronomy, intelligently swayed me not to submit my cynical but honest take on aeration. (*2) Dejected, I went back to the keyboard, and busted out some weak ass piece of shite that I know most of you have written to your constituents, bullet pointing what we greenkeepers totally consider the "pros" of "core" aerating greens.

Most of us are in the know as to why we "core" aerate, and if you happen to be some bumbling hack that just happens to stumble across this blog, which by the way,  Mr. Latshaw recently cited as,"the hot new blog of 17", hit the link ↓. (*3)

Ok.  Now that we're all caught up on why we totally fuck up the putting surfaces twice a year, I'm really beginning to question the entire process of core aerating greens. And throughout my entire existence as a greenkeeper,  I can honestly say that if some moron golfer ever asked me why punching a million stupid holes on a putting surface is absolutely necessary,  I would've given this mindless twat the obligatory tongue lashing as to why, we as greenkeepers, core aerate.  For example my brother-in-law, whom is neither mindless or a twat, but is an avid golfer was going off on how lame it is to putt on aerated greens.  Honestly, I was a wee bit peeved, but I calmly listened to his rant, then attempted to explain why we do this arduous task twice a season. (*4)  Unfortunately, my spiel was pretty much useless, because no matter how tough I attempted to stress the importance of alleviating compaction, enhancing gas exchange, developing stronger roots,  removing organic matter, along with all the other force fed lines we greenkeepers love to vomit from our mouths concerning core aerating greens, he just shook his head in disbelief, while uttering a million times, "there has to be another way."   Despite my informative lecture, while slightly buzzed on Double Duck Pins, my brother-in-law just wasn't buying it. (*5)  And in years past I would've been totally annoyed.  And honestly,  I was kind of annoyed at his stubbornness.  Just accept it, dude.....we have to fucking core aerate greens.  But perhaps I was being a moron?  What if there was another way?

If you had asked me last season what my core (no pun intended) fundamental to greenkeeping was, I most likely would've answered,"core aeration".  However, my tune has changed significantly, and yes, brother-in-law,  I believe there is another way.  If the organic matter or thatch on your putting surfaces is totally manageable , and if you can manipulate the growth in a way where the organic matter remains consistent, then why core aerate?  I am wholeheartedly committed to micro managing growth this season, to the point where I can roll up on my green committee chairman and confidently tell him we are not core aerating greens the Tuesday following Labor Day. (*6) We've already accomplished our "all important" spring core aerification and trust me, I really wanted to skip it.  Unfortunately, at least for me, I just did not have balls to pull a full on skippers, and honestly, I core aerated the greens so I wouldn't have to hear all the goddamn music from the 19th hole.  Those dudes know everything you know, and trying to convince a bunch of golfers who are nearly six martinis deep as to why we didn't core aerate the goddamn greens, would've been miserable.   So I just decided to punch them up, because in my mind, it was much easier to hear them bitch about bumpy putting surfaces than not core aerating at all.  Oxymoron? Definitely!

This isn't to say I'm totally against core aerification.  If the organic matter on your greens are inhibiting performance (both health and playability wise) by all means, have at it.  But for my personal situation, the organic accumulation on our putting surfaces is pretty ideal, so I feel confident I can keep it palpable by micro managing growth.  And this is how I plan on accomplishing this realistic goal.

  • Using Growth Potential to time plant nutrient applications.  (I'll let, Dr. Micah Woods explain. Hit link ↓)

  • Basing my growth regulator applications on Growing Degree Day intervals.  (I'll let Dr. Bill Kreuser explain.  Hit link ↓)

  • Topdressing.  Traditionally, Monday was a day off for our putting surfaces, meaning no mow or roll.  This season, I will attempt to topdress every Monday in an effort to match sand with growth.  This application will be so light!  In fact it will be, "Lighter than a butterfly's wing". (*7)  Dr. Jim Kerns explains ↓

  • OBSERVATION!!!!!!!   I will literally, "look" at the turf and soil to deem if core aerating is necessary this fall.   If  the organic matter is at a level I deem unacceptable, I will core aerate. What a novel idea....observing.
Similar to how I was so regimented with my pesticide and plant nutrient applications in the past, I was just as anal concerning core aeration.  I actually knew of fellas in my network that had not core aerated in years, and personally thought these dudes were a bunch of kooks.  In all honesty. I really believed it was only a matter of time before their putting surfaces were completely obliterated by compaction, root loss, thatch, disease, wet wilt, nematodes,  metal spikes, algae, moss, ball marks, localised dry spot, weak ass gas exchange, Japanese beetles, Donald Trump or any other evil on this earth, that could destroy a green because of refusing to core aerate. (*8)  However, these thoughtful greenkeepers never lost a green as far as I know, and most of them have a reputation for producing some pretty sick putting surfaces. (*9)

Anyhow...that's my deal.  I really don't ever want to core aerate a green ever again, because I'd much rather put that energy into something much more constructive.  Say, renovating a couple of bunkers, adding some drainage, clearing some brush, building a kick ass tee, or maybe even leaving at a reasonable hour to slay some Rockfish on the Chesapeake. (*10)   If I do regulate growth this season to the point where I don't have to core aerate on the Tuesday following Labor Day, the September news letter will be epic.  And I full on guarantee it will be laced with some pretty choice cuss words explaining why we won't be punching a million, fucking, goddamn, bullshit, bitchy ass little holes on our putting surfaces.


*1- If you're a female greenkeeper replace, Natalie Portman with, Bradley Cooper.  If you're a gay male greenkeeper replace, Natalie Portman with, Bradley Cooper.  If you're a gay female greenkeeper, leave, Natalie Portman.

*2-The title of, "Assistant" Superintendent totally blows.  I know I despised the title when I was an assistant because an assistant to me is someone who fetches coffee,  runs mindless errands and fills their boss's ego with complimentary banter.  When I was an assistant I wasn't doing any of that shite. I was applying pesticides, dropping urea bombs, hand watering dry spots, learning how to speak a respectable form of Spanish, while also accomplishing a slew of other craptacular jobs which rarely get recognized nor ever appreciated.  Therefore, I am (un)officially changing the title of, "Assistant" superintendent to the much cooler, and way more respectable sounding, Vice Executive of Agronomy. This title change has been long overdue.

*3-Mr. Latshaw HAS NOT cited, "The Walking Greenkeeper" as the hot new blog of '17'.  I will bet you a sleeve of gently used pinnacles he has no idea who, or what, a "Walking Greenkeeper" is.

*4-I actually LISTENED to my brother-in-law!  My New Year's resolution for '17' is to be a much better listener.  It seems to me, people just can't wait to interrupt with their opinion without hearing out a person's entire thought.  I was a serial offender of this so I am really trying to be a better listener. Perhaps I'll learn something.

*5-Union Craft Brewing, out of Baltimore, Maryland brews this amazing double IPA known as Double Duckpin.  I really have not tasted a better beer in my life!

*6-The only thing I'll ever micro manage is growth!

*7-If you ever rolled cigarettes or another type of tobacco which is green and sticky, you will know that, "lighter than a butterfly's wing" was the motto for the best rolling paper ever made. 

*8-Shout to my peeps across the pond who spell, localized with an, "S".  I love it!

*9-Sick=really good!

*10-Rockfish are Striped Bass