I finally got to see what all the aerating talk was about this week when I participated in my first greens aerating project. In the past six years, I have always had to leave my summer job to go back to school before aeration started. This year, however, we aerated the greens a little earlier than in the States, so I was able to see the project from start to finish. The role I played was core management. This meant that myself, and my colleague Alan were to work with one of the coring machine operators and clear each green of all cores and extra debris.
At Mount Juliet, we do most everything we can by hand, to limit the invasive nature of larger equipment. With the aerating process, it is hand work from start to finish. Two Ryan GA-24 aerators are followed by two two-man "core management" teams, who in turn are followed by the topdressing crew.
Topdressing is done the old fashioned way: by shovel. Three wheelbarrow operators move back and forth from the Ty-Crop sand hauler, dumping piles of sand on the green in specific spots designated by the three shovel-wielding 'topdressers'. The topdressers then spread the sand out in an even layer across the entire green. The sand is allowed to dry and is then raked in with bunker rakes by crews of two per green.
The entire process took a little over two days. Had we had a bit more sunlight, the greens would have been in great shape by the end of the week, but, due to some cloudy and damp weather, it took just a little longer for the surfaces to get back in playing order.
I liked that I was able to mesh right into the process so easily, just like a small cog in a big wheel. Even though it was my first time, I felt as though I was able to keep right up with the rest of the crew, making for a solid team effort through both days. In the future, Id like to try different jobs, but, for this years experience, it was a great way to see first-hand how much material was getting removed, and what the recovery process looks like for the stand of turf on the green.
The final product after topdressing.