The North Shore golf courses command a slightly different agronomic management process than other courses that are farther south and west of the city. The cooler and wetter weather conditions found closer to the lake tend to result in playing conditions that are not as dry as those in other Chicagoland areas.
Most North Shore courses were built 80 to 100 years ago on black clay soils which stay a bit wetter and softer than some of the more recent built clubs that may have a "lighter" soil type that drains and dries at a quicker pace. Heavy - black -clay soils tend to hold water longer resulting in the fairways being softer than the sand based greens on the red and blue nines.
Below are the processes that we have been implementing over the past 4-5 years to provide firmer playing conditions. Striving for firmer conditions includes a number of agronomic processes.
The process below is the same for the fairways, approaches and tees.
The fairway, aerification, topdressing and verticle mowing processes are utilized several times each year for the following reasons and to achieve these results:1. To relieve compacted soils from golf cart traffic
2. To improve the surface dryness of the fairways
3. To increase irrigation & rainfall water infiltration into the soil
4. To reduce the amount of "thatch" in the fairways for improved firmness & less disease
5. To increase oxygen availability to the rootzone of the plant
6. To reduce "wet spots" in the fairways
The complete process includes:
Step 1 - Aerifying the fairways
Verticutting the fairways with the purpose of reducing thatch accumulation & stimulating an upright growth of the turf
This photo below exhibits a verticle mowing reel
Blowers are used to collect the thatch debris
Sand topdressing is implemented to assist in firming the fairways, reducing thatch
The final step in the process is mowing the fairways
Notice the sand layer on top of the clay layer. This photo is from White #4 where we have been most aggressive with our aerificaition and topdressing programs. What was once our worst fairway is not one of the best as we have been successful in changing the upper part of the rootzone
It takes time to change the soil structure of a golf course. It also causes an inconvenience to the membership. Our goal is to provide a balance of an aggressive agronomic program with member access to quality playing conditions.