Teach Your Old Greens New Tricks: Improve Greens Drainage with the Air2G2 324
Just outside the buzz of New York City, The Seawane Club in Hewlett Harbor on Long Island is a haven of manicured grass and ocean views. Close enough to the city to provide an escape for busy city-dwellers, Seawane’s team of 16 crewmen, three assistants, and one mechanic is responsible for keeping the course lush, beautiful, and always available for its members. Maintaining the beauty and playability of a 90-year-old, 18- hole golf course is no simple task. No one knows this better than the club’s superintendent, Brian Benedict. For 17 years Benedict has grappled with everything from wind to flooding tides to hurricanes to keep Seawane at its best.
When a golf course is located on a coastline like Hewlett Harbor, saltwater intrusion is inevitable, making efficient drainage an absolute must for sustaining the health of the turf. Seawane’s classic design by noted golf course architect Devereux Emmet in 1927 includes push-up greens where rapid drainage can be a particular challenge. Benedict and his team have tackled the challenge in some extreme scenarios — including during Hurricane Sandy, which destroyed nearly half of their greens. This would be a challenge for any course, but for a classic course like Seawane, built before modern drainage technology, keeping the greens dry and useable requires an innovative approach.
“Having the drainage in the greens is important,” Benedict said. “Whether you have a freak thunderstorm or just a normal irrigation cycle, you want to be able to displace water. Golfer satisfaction is what you strive for. Nobody wants to play on a wet, sloppy green.”
To combat poor drainage at Seawane, Benedict maintains a regular soil cultural routine on the course year-round. The centerpiece of his program is the Air2G2 324 which fractures underground fissures that enable airflow and water movement.
To combat poor drainage, Benedict maintains a regular soil cultural routine on the course year-round. The centerpiece of his program is the Air2G2 324 which uses the Air2G2 air-injection process to relieve Compaction, increase Porosity and enhance Respiration by laterally injecting air into the soil profile without damage to the surface level or the roots below.
Benedict said the Air2G2 324 enhances the performance of existing internal drainage in his greens by allowing the water to easily find the drain lines.
“If you get a rainstorm or an irrigation cycle, you don’t want mushy greens,” Benedict said. “The Air2G2 allows you to move water through your profile to your drain lines.”
Seawane’s course is prone to compaction and water buildup. Benedict uses the Air2G2 324 every seven to 12 days on his 1927 push-up greens. It only takes two days to treat 19 greens. This schedule is possible because the Air2G2 324 can operate without disrupting play as treatment creates minimal surface disruption. By making the Air2G2 324 a part of his regular maintenance program, Benedict indicated that spot-treatment is rarely needed.
“When you’re religiously using the Air2G2, you don’t really have any problems. You don’t have problems that crop up that you need to spot treat specifically because it’s in regular use,” Benedict said.
In a conversation with Benedict during the Golf Industry Show in Orlando in February 2017, he looked out at the trade show floor referencing the thousands of other golf course superintendents in attendance. “If you polled every guy in here together and asked them what’s the number one thing they’d want for their greens, they’d say you need porosity. You need to move water. Why do guys build greens out of sand? Because they want percolation, they want water to move down. And this machine helps that,” he said.
Based on his two years of experience using the Air2G2 324 regularly at Seawane, Benedict offers tips for success.
Tips 3 Tips for Success:
1. Vary Your Depth
According to Benedict, programming the Air2G2 324’s probes to inject air at different
depths means better drainage all throughout the soil profile rather than just in one place. Turf has different drainage needs as the seasons change, and it is up to the
superintendent to ensure soil is fractured throughout the profile.
2. Preventative, Not Curative
Set a maintenance cycle that works for your course and stick to it to avoid issues like puddling or excessive compaction. Regular use can prevent these situations from occurring in the first place, and Benedict believes other classic courses can reap the same benefits as he has at Seawane. “I would think it’d be 1,000% effective on old pushup greens. I think it would help those greens immensely,” he said.
3. Don't Let Your Air2G2 324 Gather Dust in the Shed
The Air2G2 324 is non-disruptive, so don’t be afraid to use it in any season or between play. At Seawane, Benedict follows play with the Air2G2 324 to ensure that aerification doesn’t impact golfers. With the Air2G2 324, you can aerify regularly without your members ever knowing you did.