Pontardawe Golf Club
A hidden gem with spectacular panoramic views

Greens Maintenance Works begin Monday 14th of March, Weather Permitting.

Saturday 12th of March 2016 09:46
Hollow Tine Cores

The Weather seems to be taking a turn for the better and Greens Maintenance Works begin Monday March 14th weather permitting. We will be solid tining the greens and topdressing. The work will commence on the back 9 on Monday 14th and continue with the front 9 Wednesday 16th

We've all had that sinking feeling when we haven’ t read the notice boards and we approach the first green and suddenly see it's all full of holes or slits and sand on the surface, We think to ourselves, Arrggh! that's our round of golf ruined. Just remember this "Tom Watson shot a 58 in a PGA tournament in Kansas City two days after the greens had been hollow tined”

"Every golfer needs to understand why greens aerification is necessary to achieve a healthy green"

Again this year we've had some of the best putting surfaces in South Wales, and that's entirely down to the experience and planning of greens maintenance by our head green keeper Jamie Probert and his first class team of ground staff.

The truth of the matter is, "hollow tinning or scarification” is nothing more than a brief interruption of greens, that on the surface look in fine condition that will give us long term benefits for the greens, It can be carried out twice a year if required, which is a small price to pay for approximately 48 weeks of perfect, firm and fast greens

Micro and Hollow tining is the physical removal of cores of turf from the greens. The holes can be approx 6mm-16mm in diameter and of varying depths depending on the reason for the tine. The cores are ejected, swept up and removed.

Scarification, is a liner aeration technique which removes the organic thatch build up on the greens to get to the desired smooth playing surface. Thatch build up reduces water penetration and can also lock up nutrients in the soil as well as providing an ideal environment for weeds and disease.

Solid tining is a method of punching holes in the green without removing any cores.

Obviously, the science of green keeping has vastly improved over the years especially with the innovation of new machinery and previous historical problems at Pontardawe may be due aeration work not being carried out for fear of upsetting members and competitions or couldn’t be done owing to weather conditions.

Why do we hollow tine or scarify the greens when they look so good ?

The time to aerate is dictated by a number of factors. The general rule is that you should aerate turf when it is actively growing. This allows turf to recover quickly from the stress that occurs with aeration, and to exploit the newly loosened root zone. With this in mind, then, you can deduce that spring and late summer to fall are appropriate times for cool-season turf. Remember, aeration is performed for the health of the grass, and ultimately, the playability of the greens throughout the year

Why hollow tine or scarify our greens?

1. Control and removal of organic matter (Thatch)

2. To create conditions that encourage healthy bacterial activity.

3. Promote the development of deeper rooting grasses.

4. Improve the rate that water percolates through the soil profile.

5. Relieve soil compaction.

The aeration work will relieve the compaction of the soil, to provide a better oxygenation of the soil around the upper part of the roots and reduce the accumulation of organic matter (Thatch) As so many things, the quality of a good green goes beyond what we see. In fact, the condition of a green has more to do with what is happening below the surface. In order to get a strong healthy deep rooted growth, you must have deep, healthy roots, receiving the oxygen from small hollows of air between the soil and the sand particles (topdressing) and makes it easier for the roots to grow downward. Aerification is a process that creates more air space in the soil.

So what happens if we don't aerate the greens ?

1. Limits new root growth

2. Increases disease

3. Produces soft and slow putting surfaces

4. Means that excessive amounts of water are held near the green surface

5. Causes slow warm up of the soil in the spring, which inhibits growth

What is Thatch and why do we need to remove from the greens ?

Thatch, it may be useful to understand what it is and how to treat it. The first thing to say is that all grass needs an element of thatch in order to retain some moisture, the problem at Pontardawe is that we have too much.

Thatch is the buildup of a layer of dead grass leaves, stems, shoots and roots. In most cases a microbial action rids the grass of this excessive build up of thatch however this process is limited in areas where the soil can become compacted or waterlogged. Gradually, the traffic of golfers feet and the daily passage of maintenance machines tend to compact the soil of the green. When the soil is compacted, the roots run out of oxygen, so roots become weaker and, finally, wither and die.

Here at Pontardawe we have "clay bowl” type greens which retain water creating water-logging during periods of excessive rain. Therefore we must continuously treat the greens for a buildup of thatch.

The impact of thatch is that the greens will feel spongy underfoot when it is wet, produce more pitch marks and foot marks owing to their softness, harbour other disease such as fusarium, produce shallow root growth allowing meadow grass to thrive over the more desirable grasses.

In order to reduce thatch and improve the natural microbial action there are various treatments, most of which you will have seen on the course this year. In order to stimulate the natural microbial action the greens need oxygen to get into the soil nearest the surface. This is done by hollow coring and deep scarification.

Without doubt, aeration, combined with applying sand top dressing is the best way to dilute the existing thatch layer and prevent further build up of thatch.

Ultimate benefits of aerating the greens

1. Firmer putting surfaces

2. Better surface drainage

3. Healthier Greens

4. Alleviates compaction

5. Encourages deeper rooting

6. Breaks down thatch

7. Increased playability

8. Reduced disease

9. More greens speed

10. More sustainable greens

11. Increases microbial activity

12. Improves nutrient uptake

The final part of the process is top dressing being brushed into the holes made by coring which dilutes any fresh accumulation of the dead matter and also forms more areas in which thatch is less likely to accumulate. Top dressing can continued throughout the year.

Jamie will be closing 9 holes at a time as per previous years, he will be using one of two methods for aeration pending on availability of machinery.

Plan 1 - Micro hollow tinning (if we can get a demo machine for week) deep solid tinning and brush in top dressing

Plan 2 - Verticut /scarify greens Top dress greens solid tine and brush in topdressing.

We are obviously maintaining the course and greens to a very high standard. You only have to listen to the compliments by members and guests and even professional golfers who have played our course all telling us what terrific condition the greens have been in. Again you only have to look at all the new members we've attracted due to the superb playing condition of course. Our open days and charity days have been really well supported and tee off times have been fully booked for all events, with guests all commenting on the immaculate condition of the greens.


"Everybody wants to play golf at Pontardawe Golf Club"


"Jamie and his team should be really proud of what they've achieved and congratulated for presenting us with such a superbly manicured course with fantastic greens at Pontardawe Golf Club throughout the summer. Without doubt the best condition of any course in South Wales"


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Pontardawe Golf Club
Cefn Llan

01792 863118