to plan your golf trip for September/October and notice many of
the courses will be closed for Overseed? You show up to a course
you have been thinking about for months and say to yourself, “What
the heck is going on out here? Are they trying to ruin my golf trip
to Las Vegas?” Well first of all we need to look at the process
as a whole and then you will see that what is being done is a necessary
evil and you may decide for next time to plan around the golf course
overseed schedule for Las Vegas. The same goes for aerification;
once you realize what it is actually doing for the course/greens,
you may not be that upset next time you see scheduled maintenance
or end up playing on slightly bumpy greens. Let’s face it,
golfers want green grass year around and tour like PGA quality when
they are on the links, but that is unrealistic year around. Las
Vegas as we all know cannot survive without lush, green conditions
all year as to why we must endure these processes.
start out by talking about overseeding. Overseeding is done when
a golf course’s main grass (generally Bermuda) in the fairways,
tee boxes, and greens is about to go into its dormant stage. When
Bermuda is dormant, it is brown and unsightly which generally takes
place when the temperature drops below 60 degrees. That is why September/October
is the time every year Las Vegas courses go through this process.
The superintendent will actually slow or stop watering the course
all together generally about a week or two in advance to speed up
the dormant process, this is called scalping. The course will actually
look dry and desolate as if it hasn’t been watered in months
even only after a couple days due to the 105 temperatures with virtually
no humidity. We actually recommend not playing a course a week before
its closure date due to these pre-overseeding conditions. The process
by which overseeding is carried through, is when the golf course
superintendent sees that the Bermuda grass is about to go dormant,
he will close the course and begin the overseeding process by placing
a huge amount of seed onto the course. This is usually Rye grass
which does well in cooler weather. In order to get the seed to take,
he must water the course enough for the seed to germinate. Once
the seed has germinated and grown strong into the ground he will
still remain heavily watering the course just to make sure the seed
takes. If not, the course would not be able to reopen on its scheduled
date and in turn could potentially lose thousands of dollars and
hundreds customers and he may be looking for new employment. Once
the course reopens it will be on strict cart path only restrictions
for 2-6 weeks depending on how the course is taking to the new seed.
Most courses will not allow handicap flags during this time, so
keep that in mind if you must drive on the grass or near the greens
due to a physical impairment. Cart path only means just that, you
can only drive on the cart path and not on the grass. It can make
your day quite difficult if your find yourself hitting it to the
opposite side of the cart path on every hole. So to make your day
a little easier and to conserve some energy, if the path is on the
left hand side of the fairway, hit your shot in that general direction
to keep yourself from having to walk 50-100 yards for every shot.
Let your opponent hit a huge slice with a left hand cart path so
he gets tired quicker and you can win all of the bets.
It is unfortunate that most courses in Las Vegas are not open
during late August through early October, but as we all know golfers
only want to play on lush green grass during their vacation. So
the courses either spend the extra money and make their courses
green again and visually appealing or let them sit dormant and brown
and no one will play their courses through February of the following
year; then they could stand to lose in the millions. The benefits
of overseeding include better playing conditions
in the winter, a more beautiful golf course during those months
and more income for the daily-fee courses. Then there is the question
of whether or not to overseed and it is often very controversial,
because that of the lost revenue if they decide not to overseed
and the cost associated with the actual process. We have seen year
after year when a course decides not to overseed, they end up kicking
themselves in the you know what wishing they did as no one wants
to play on a brown golf course; no matter how low the price is.
It is unfortunate, but true…golfers of today are spoiled.
I think they quickly forget how golf used to be played in the beginning.
Take St. Andrews for instance, without the history that it holds,
golfers of today would not want to pay $100 to play a course in
that condition. We all watch golf on TV and see the pure green grass
and expect every round we have to be on similar playing conditions
which is unrealistic but true. There are on the other hand a hand-full
of courses in Las Vegas that run a seed year around that do not
have to overseed or may have no water restrictions due to their
agreement with the state. They will go through an arduous aerification
process or an inter-seed that does not take as long to recuperate
and they will only have to close for a couple days. So ask a VIPGS
representative which courses we recommend that will not be affected
by the overseed process during your dates.
let’s talk about aerification. It is another necessary evil
that all courses must do. Let's start by looking at what goes into
producing a high-quality green which everyone expects these days
out of a destination like Las Vegas. In order for grass to grow
and root at such a short cut (3/16 of an inch or less), it must
have a deep, strong-rooted system. Good roots need oxygen. In quality
soils, the roots get oxygen from tiny pockets of air trapped between
soil and sand particles. All of that foot traffic each and every
day tends to compact the soil directly underneath the green, particularly
when the soil contains a lot of clay. During compaction, the tiny
air pockets on which the roots depend on are crushed, and the roots
are left basically suffocating. Without oxygen, the grass plants
become weaker and will eventually wither and die. Of the three objectives
of aerification, the most important is relieving soil compaction,
which lets the roots breath.
Aerification also provides a method to improve the soil mixture
around the highest part of a green's roots and reduces or prevents
the accumulation of excess thatch. Thatch is a layer of living and
dead organic matter that occurs between the green matter and the
soil surface. Excessive thatch (over 1/2 inch thick) creates a favorable
environment for pests and disease, an unfavorable growing environment
for grass roots, and can interfere with some green care practices.
It can actually starve the lawn from receiving fertilizer, water,
and other necessities to ensure plush playing conditions.
Aerification, like overseeding, is more visible in 365-day golf
destinations like Las Vegas. When a golf course plans on operating
year-round, routine maintenance is bound to affect dozens of rounds
but with a constant schedule, golf courses can't be expected to
be perfect every day. Depending on a course's annual traffic volume,
the aerification of greens and fairways occurs two to three times
per year. To
aerify, most courses use a machine that punches holes into the ground
and removes dirt in a certain pattern. The most common in Las Vegas
are hollow tines. These units use a vertical action to remove cores
of soil. They force the tines to penetrate or "punch"
holes in the soil surface to a depth of 3 to 6 inches. Larger units-often
called deep-tine aerators often offer optional cutting or spiking
tools that can penetrate to greater depths, usually up to 12 inches.
Tines cane range from 1/4” to 1 1/8” in size, with the
bigger holes requiring a longer time to heal or cure. The holes
can even be separated with more or less holes per square feet, but
that may be getting a little too detailed for the purpose of this
article. Aside from alleviating compaction, it also opens growing
room and increases oxygen to the roots. The aerification process
has actually been known to help chase ryegrass out from the overseed
during the spring transition back to Bermuda.
with all of this said, we recommend doing the research or speaking
with one our local golf staff members who already know the courses’
maintenance schedules and can ensure your golf trip doesn’t
run into any unforeseen maintenance. Some courses won’t actually
mention their maintenance process on their websites or when speaking
to a golf shop assistant on the phone. Sometimes we feel they do
not realize playing their course for free everyday is not the same
as someone paying $100+. When a golfer is paying that kind of money
to play golf on their vacation or business trip, they would like
to know about any kind of maintenance that will be taking place
on or before their golf date. We actually recommend not playing
a golf course at least a week before a course closes for overseed
due to the dry condition nor a week after due to the soggy conditions
because of over watering trying to make sure that new seed pops.
As far as aerification, we recommend giving most courses 10-14 days
for the greens to heal so you can have the best chance at making
those birdie and par putts; we know none of you out there are putting
for bogie or higher. Long story short, ask us and we will help you
make the best decision on where to play during these aggravating,
but necessary times.
Hit it pure!