As you know, over the past several months we have experienced a wide range of temperature swings. These conditions enabled us to aerify the greens in January and have them covered immediately afterward. This will allow our greens to recover sooner, providing for an early spring green-up period. With our next aerification scheduled for August, golfers will have an excellent surface throughout most of the season.
Aerating in the winter as we do allows us to do "core removal" at a time that will not interfere with the golfing season. This process is very important to remove excessive organic matter near the top of the surface, creating greater breathing room for the turf and improved drainage. This will keep the greens healthier and enable deeper root growth.
It has been our strategy to aerify during the winter so that our greens are not disrupted with the aerification process during prime golfing season. You might visit other courses at this time and see their greens in better condition than ours. This means that they have chosen to aerify later in the spring. While their greens may look good now, they will have a disruption in April or May, as all courses must aerify their greens. Lakewood, on the other hand, will feel its pain early and reach prime golf season with its greens ready to go. Aerating in the winter also puts little stress on the greens as the grass is mostly dormant during these times. With the climate we have during most summers - high humidity and heat - it's important to have a deep root profile. Then, when we do have a drought, as we have in recent years at times, the greens are better able to adapt and not burn-out. The aerification we perform in August is done with small tines, loosening the soil and breaking up some organic matter while providing for air movement after a summer of play.
In addition, removing the cores as we do in January, followed by covering the greens, enables the grasses to heal quicker than they would during traditional cold weather. Of course, with the wide temperature swings we experienced in early March, we did remove the covers earlier than anticipated, exposing the greens to the warmth and sunlight, allowing them to heal faster.
All in all, we anticipate having our greens in excellent condition early in the season and throughout the summer, with minimal impact on Members golfing enjoyment for greens conditioning.
On other items across the grounds, we have installed curbs at select locations and we are allowing the grass behind the first green to grow higher, improving the turf and making it an easier walk from the cart path to the green. We have also "deep-tined" all our fairways and approaches to the greens. A light top-dressing of these areas will take place in April.
Elsewhere, we are creating a new white tee on the eighteenth hole, lengthening it by approximately 30 yards. We expect this to be completed by the end of March, followed by a few weeks of grow-in before opening it for Member play.
However, a great deal of my staff's time was also spent assisting with getting the Club's new Air-Structure up and running. We installed a new irrigation system for each court and aided the various contractors as needed to meet schedules.
Our final steps in March will be going through our bunker prep process, cleaning the edges, checking for consistent depth of sand and adding as needed. With over four acres of bunkers, this is a very time consuming process, but one which is important to maintaining a premier course. We will also be adding sod at select areas in the short-game area. Obviously, the amount of heavy traffic this area receives results in a very slow recovery time. By adding new sod now, the short-game area will be in good condition when Members begin to use it in the coming weeks.