Monday, August 30, 2010

The Benefits of Aerification

The Rim Golf Club is a unique club. The breath taking views from every hole are like no other golf club in Arizona. The idea that we live in a desert climate is sometimes forgotten when we live among the largest forest of Ponderosa Pines in America. There is no doubt; it is tough to find a better environment to enjoy playing the game of golf.

Growing grass in Payson is much different than anywhere in the State of Arizona. Cool season grasses grown on decomposed granite is not accomplished anywhere else in the State. Sedona, Flagstaff, The White Mountains, all have more desirable soils to work with. Sedona is the closest to our climate with warmer summers to cause substantial disease pressure in the Monsoon months. The northern courses will never experience destructive disease like we do. Cooler overnight temperatures keep pathogens in check.

A frequently discussed subject among members is our soil or lack of. Adding soil or organic matter has been a topic for as long as I can remember. This could sound like I am contradicting myself, but we don’t have a problem with not having enough organic matter, actually we grow all of our grass in a two inch thick blanket of organic matter (thatch) that caps our native granite soil. We can utilize this organic layer by incorporating inorganic sand to create an optimum playing field. An ideal soil is shown in this diagram. If you notice mineral (rock, gravel) is a key ingredient. Organic is only a minor piece of the pie.

Building a soil is a slow process. The inability to make use of our native soil has become a reality. Making use of the organic matter (thatch) we have in place and mixing in sand through aerification and topdressing we can create a decent growing medium for turf. It is a slow process. I have been here for four seasons and three years ago we started a consistent cultivation program. The benefits of incorporating sand have been fairways that are more firm, slightly better water infiltration through the organic matter and a healthier root structure. Benefits we will see with continued cultivation will be less disease pressure due to better drainage, deeper roots that will endure drought better and utilize nutrients and water more efficiently. Aerification can be a dirty word in the golf community, but to a turf manager it is literally a breath of fresh air.

In my opinion, Payson is located in the most beautiful area in Arizona. Complementing the surrounding environment is quite a challenge as a turfgrass manager. Grass, being a living organism, needs adequate oxygen, water, and light. Aerification is the most important practice to oxygenate the soil, a practice that is needed twice a year to enhance the course’s future. Conditions will only improve over the years with consistent cultivation.

Aerification Dates
September 20th Greens
September 21st – 24th Fairways

If you have any questions about our upcoming aerification practices please feel free to contact me at any time.
Justin Ruiz, CGCS

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Watering The Rim Golf Club

Applying water to the golf course is the most important practice we perform every season. With limited storage, it is imperative that we make sure every drop is used properly. To ensure optimum efficiency when scheduling our irrigation events, we use evapotranspiration (ET).
ET is the combination of evaporation from the soil surface and the transpiration from the turf plant. The ET is the amount of water used by the plant in a 24 hour period accounting for wind, humidity, temperature and solar radiation. Our goal is to replace the amount water used in a single day.
The height of cut also makes a difference in the rate at which water is used by the plant. The lower the cut the more evaporation loss from water applied. As the height of cut increases, the evaporation portion of the plant water use decreases. Transpiration from the plant increases as the plant gets bigger. The relationship between the two values is not equal. That is why the larger plants will use less water. We expect to see some savings with the new height of cut in the fairways.
The way many people apply water today is by using time intervals. Watering 5 to twenty minutes per station per night is common practice. Our computer uses ET so we can water to the second, replacing the water used that day. The computer’s database contains information about each head’s makeup. Gallons per minute, area covered, arc pattern in degrees and spacing with other heads to calculate a specific precipitation rate for that designated head. This information was what we were working on three years ago to make sure the computer could accurately make watering decisions using the ET. Each night the run time is changed to meet the plant’s water usage and throughout the year adds up to a sizeable amount of savings due to the accuracy of water application.
The central control system that we use is by far, one of the most important and most powerful tools in our arsenal. Minor inconsistencies in programming can lead to major watering inefficiencies. Incorrect adjustments in the field that are not corrected in the computer can also contribute to poor use of water. There is no doubt, each year we are close on the amount of water needed to maintain the turf and the amount of water in our storage lakes, but with the efforts made over the past three years, we have lessened the our historic water shortages.
Water is our most precious resource. Making sure to apply it in the most efficient way is important to the sustainability of our club. Superintendents still make use of time interval irrigation, but calculating the actual plant water use and replenishing that water, is the most accurate application method available today. When you are out on the course enjoying the summer weather, you can appreciate the science behind the way we use our water.
If you have any questions about ET or how we apply water to the golf course please feel free to contact me.
Justin C. Ruiz, CGCS

The Rim Golf Club is a Great Place to Live and Play.

GCSAA TV Video Contest Entry

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