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Onward to the Season!

by Adam Sando, Assistant Superintendent

I would like to extend a welcome back to all golfers for the 2018 season. The Haymaker is in great early season shape thanks to the hard work of our maintenance staff.

I would like to start by addressing the most commonly asked question this time of year; “What’s up with the greens”?  Every season we begin aerification on the greens ASAP.  No other process on the course receives more scrutiny and ire than aerification.  It goes without saying that this cultural practice is aggressive and has an undesirable effect on the surface of the greens.  It’s difficult to convey to players that the long term benefits of the process far outweigh the temporary inconvenience but I promise you that this process is the most critical step to guarantee that Haymaker’s greens continue to thrive for years to come. 

Why aerify?

  • Allows water to move into the soil profile more efficiently
  • Increases the space available for oxygen to enter the green, this promotes healthy roots early and prepares the greens for heavy traffic and maintenance
  • Removal of organic matter from the upper profile of the green. At Haymaker our greens are USGA standard putting greens built upon a sand base.  We continually remove the organic matter from the upper portion of the green and fill the voids with topdress sand to keep the organic levels in check.  When organic levels increase the thatch layer can act as a sponge holding moisture and creating a potential for disease.
  • And finally, aerification alleviates compaction caused by traffic from both maintenance practices and play throughout the golf season. This also softens the surface allowing them to be more receptive to approach shots.

Where are we now and what’s the next steps for the greens?

Every season the greens react differently to aerification.  Most of this has to do with a combination of weather and nutrient recovery/overlap from seasons past.  Our approach to nutrition is not on a whim but rather is calculated and planned from a soil analysis that’s done every season to see what we do or do not lack as far as micro and macro nutrients are concerned.  What this means is that when the greens wake up from a winters’ nap we feed them exactly what they require to put them in an optimum state for growth and recovery.  This season what we seemed to lack from said combination was that soil temps did not climb as quickly as we would have liked.  Now that soil temps are on the rise and the bentgrass is fed, the greens are beginning to fill in nicely and growth has taken off.

The next step for the greens is a gradual lowering of the mowing height and our first vertical cutting. At the moment our greens are at our highest height which is .187” or 3/16”.  On Saturday morning the mowers will be lowered to .171” or 11/64”.  The following Saturday,6/2, our greens mowers will be brought down to our target height for the summer months of .156” or 5/32”. The lowering of the greens mowers in combination with scheduled rolling will dramatically increase the rolling distance of your putt (greens speed) and also provide a smooth and uniform surface.

Our first vertical cutting of the greens will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week 5/29 and 5/30.  This will also help get a clean clip on the greens and even out the surface.  If you are interested in reading about the vertical cutting process at Haymaker it is posted on Turf Talk from 2017.

Our goal every season is to afford customers at Haymaker an opportunity to play quality and consistent greens. The month of May is always a bit frustrating for both players and the maintenance staff as we all want the greens to recover quickly.  In short time we’ll be there and you can bet that that 10 foot left to righter will do exactly what you read. 

Stay tuned for upcoming plans and projects in the month of June.

Haymaker Golf Course
34855 US-40 East
Steamboat Springs, CO 80487