Video Clip: Vertical Mowing to Increase Surface Firmness

The top-rate manicure of Uplands GC is no accident. Here, master Superintendent Brian Youell explains how they make their fairways run firm and fast...

You can see it an embedded version or read the transcript below or view the video on youtube HERE

Hi, everyone, I'm Brian Youell, the master superintendent at Uplands golf club.

This time of the year in April, we usually work on our aeration practices in order to improve our air and water movement through the profile.

One of the comments that came out through the membership survey that was quite common is people wanted firmer fairways.

So we have two options to look at... is this a subsurface problem or a surface problem?

The subsurface problem would be using aeration or slicing.

So in our case, in March, we actually went out with our deep tie aerator and we carried that down about six inches with a bit of a kicking action to open up the subsurface and allow air and water to drain through.

The second part to improve firmness is a surface aspect of it.

In this case it's a layer of decaying organic matter called thatch.

As you can see we're standing here on the right of the sixth hole and we've run our power rake on here.

So our power rakes are great and a vertical unit actually slices into the ground very similar to a power rake that you rent and it removes this type of debris out of the profile here.

So we have this decaying organic matter that's removed.

It leaves channels approximately three quarters of an inch deep & around two inches apart.

So we have a lot of material that comes out here.

We actually will remove the equivalent of about 30 dump truck loads off of our fairways and the rough.

As you can see the expansive area here, the amount of debris that comes up when we go through the 'verticut' process.

When you clean the profile, you'll see that we're left with these channels here and these little channels that we can use to fill up with sand.

These channels will be really the changing part of how we can improve the firmness of the fairways.

So the practice is that we run the vertical mower through the fairways and rough.

It will take approximately two to three hours per fairway in order to get the material removed.

Then we use a couple large blowers and we blow the debris and wind rows and then we vacuum up the debris and then the final piece of the puzzle is we taught rest our fairways to fill up these little channels.

And now we have these little sand bands or mini bands of sand through the whole profile.

And this is a big improvement as far as how we can get firmness.

We will put the equivalent of 300 tons of sand on the golf course.

For example, our sand bin holds approximately 80 tons of sand as the picture shows.

So we have to fill this up three times and get that material out onto the golf course.

And once we do that, then we use a drag mat to drag the sand and the final piece of the puzzle, especially on the approaches, is we want the ball to release to the green.

So we're using our greens aerators with five eighths inch tines with one inch spacing so a lot of holes go in front of the greens here and we'll fill these holes up.

So a combination of vertical mowing aeration removing this organic matter.

We are looking forward to some firmer, faster fairways, a ball that will release onto the green, happy golfing everyone.


(Transcribed by