Friday, 23 October 2015

Why We Aerate Those Greens...

In case you missed it in the Goderich Signal Star this week my monthly column:

The Importance of Aerating Those Greens
This month’s column is giving you an inside scoop on one of the most important jobs a Superintendent has worldwide.  I’m breaking down why we aerate greens and the importance behind it.  Aeration is a very labour intensive maintenance practice of pulling a plug of soil, thatch, and grass out of the ground by means of a machine equipped with a row of hollow tubes called tines.  I know from experience that golfers tend to view aeration as an inconvenience that takes the greens out of play for a day.  What I’m hoping you get from this, is the importance of why we complete aeration, as it’s not to inconvenience the golfer, it’s to make sure the green can heal and produce healthy turf.
Here’s the best analogy that I learned in school: over time the traffic from both the golfer’s feet and mowing equipment compacts the soil under the putting green.  When the soil becomes compacted, the air pockets which the roots depend on are crushed and the roots are left without air.  Without oxygen, the grass plants become even weaker and will eventually die.

The mechanical process is done by removing half-inch cores (which are those plugs that are sometimes left on the fringe) from the compacted soil, allowing for an infusion of air and water that brings a resurgence of growth.  From there the mini holes are filled with sand, which in golf world we call topdressing, it is then that over seeding occurs.  This helps the soil retain air spaces making it easier for the roots to grown downward.
For those of you golfers who have seen this process unfold, the number one question I get asked is: “Why is so much sand applied?”  Playability is our number one concern after aerifying, by filling each of the aeration holes with sand it will promote quicker recovery and improve ball roll. Unfortunately the playing surface is not as smooth immediately after this process but the effects on playability as a result of aeration can be minimized if aeration holes are completely filled with sand.  The short answer to the question is that by applying enough topdressing sand to fill aeration holes it will result in a smoother post-aeration surface that recovers quicker than a surface with open aeration holes.

Timing is everything when it comes to aeration.  Depending on your golf course location and your grass type means that your course could be aerated in mid-August to early September.  Most courses in our area the desired turf is Poa annua, where aeration can be performed later in the fall.  There is less chance for stress on Poa annua in the late summer early fall.  Your golf courses tournament and league play will also play a part in when the Superintendent can do the aeration. 

Please remember this fall when aeration is performed it’s done every year to improve turf health and playing conditions. Core and deep-tine aeration are critical for the health of highly maintained grass. Just keep in mind that every time you comment on the exceptional conditions during the golf season, a large part of maintaining those conditions is routine core aeration. It’s important to focus on the long term goal and not the short-term inconvenience.

Ashley Gravett

PGA of Canada Golf Professional

Goderich Sunset Golf Club

Monday, 19 October 2015

Move It Monday: Medicine Ball Ball Swing Toss

How it’s done: Stand in your regular golf stance, knees slightly bent, leaning forward through hips with back straight, holding a medicine ball in place of a golf club.  Be sure to get your butt out on this one.  Swing medicine ball as you would your club (arm and hand motions will be different), and when your arms are at a 45° down angle, release the medicine ball, throwing it against a wall. Make sure all the rotating is done with your upper back we do not want to over rotate the lower back and create stress on back.  This should be a quick motion just like a normal golf swing. Do exercise on both sides of the body (switch leading hands).

How it benefits your golf swing: Builds strength through actual swing motion focusing on all muscles involved to help add extra distance to hit without losing control.  It also helps with your range of motion on the follow through.

Program: 3 Sets per side; 5-12 Repetitions: 2-3 Times per week

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Which snacks are best while golfing????

Nutritionist Nicole Kirkpatrick is guest starring on the blog today filling you in on which snacks are best for you when your out on the golf course.

Snacking while golfing is a given. So- which ones are good for ya?

Trail Mix vs Peanuts

Trail Mix hands down. This medley allows your body to get healthy omegas from a variety of different nuts and seeds. These help to deliver lubrication to your joints, increase your focus and concentration, and fight inflammation. The snack also usually comes with dried fruit which will give you a bit of a sugar boost for those last 9 holes. It is a pretty balanced snack and will help to keep you and your body satiated while playing.

Chips vs. Chocolate Bar

Depends. Chips can be a healthy option if they are baked. Tortilla chips with salsa or hummus would be healthy and help to give you other sources of energy and fibre.  If craving a chocolate bar, opt for a dark chocolate. These guys deliver tons of antioxidants that help to fight off free radical stress in our body.  Always read the ingredients list and make an educated decision.

Drumstick ice cream vs. Magnum ice cream

Both of these taste delicious.  This choice you may just have to throw caution to the wind and forget about a healthier option.  Make sure you hydrate afterwards a walk a few holes instead of driving:)

For more information about Nicole please visit:

Monday, 31 August 2015

Whats In My Bag...

For the monthly blog post regarding “What’s In My Bag.”  Today’s post features Dave Meriam a previous member of the PGA of Canada and our newest Club Champion.
Dave’s Bag- Regular Round
  • Titleist ap 2- 5 iron to pw
  • Titleist vokey 54 58 degree wedges
  • All irons 2 degrees flat Cobra baffler 20 and 23 degree hybrids
  • Taylor made R1 driver 11 degree Rbz 3 wood
  • Odyssey 2 ball white hot 32 inch
  • Prov 1x golf ball
  • Two gloves,
  • Tees,
  • Orange divot tool,
  • Titleist ball marker
  • Water bottle
  • Power aide
  • Pink sharpie
  • Two towels
  • Either banana or trail mix
  • Dave’s Bag- Tournament Round
    Prov 1x golf ball marked with pink line through the v1x and 15 on the other side
  • Two or three gloves
  • Long sleeve coat or rain jacket
  • Toque
  • Pink sharpie
  • Pea nut butter sandwich
  • Water and Power-aid
  • Two towels
  • Orange divot tool
  • Titleist ball marker
  • Always extra score card (yardages)
  • Banana or trail mix
  • Umbrella
I use a ping carry bag and use a bag boy 4 wheel cart. On days where the carry bag won't do I have a large Titleist bag that I use. I also always start with a heavy club for warm up but it doesn't go in the bag. I also have 1 pink ball and 1 yellow ball to use around the practice green gets people talking.

Friday, 28 August 2015

How To Practice In 45 Minutes....

In case you missed my article in the Goderich Signal Star last week here it is for you golf nuts!!!
Driving Range.  Do you find yourself leaving the driving range feeling frustrated and defeated more times than not? It might be because you’ve been swinging away with the wrong club- your driver.  That 45 minutes at the practice range should be used to maximize your time and improve your skill.  That is exactly what this month’s column is focusing on.  It takes about 1.5 seconds to hit a shot-  that’s only two and a half minutes of swinging for 100 balls. So let’s get real and start setting real goals on the driving range, to get real results.
Here are some tips to get the most out of your time at the range:  
1. Full swing (15:00)
During your full swing time you should include a warm up.  Ideally, start with 10 practice swings with your 9 iron to loosen up your body and get it golf ready.  Your goal during this time is to become aware of your swing and make sure you are brushing the grass each time.  This is a very deliberate and mindful practice.   Take a well thought-out practice swing before each shot, mimicking the feel or technique you're working on that day.  For example, if you are working on your follow through be sure that you hold your finish for two seconds after each shot to work on your muscle memory.
Take 10 Golf Balls – Hit with 9 Iron - Make sure to take a practice swing between each shot, two if you don’t brush the grass.  Hold your finish for two seconds after each shot. At the driving range there are multiple targets.  Pick one that you can hit your 9 iron close to so you have something to aim at.
Continue the same thought process with the following:
Take 5 Golf Balls – Hit with 7 Iron
Take 5 Golf Balls- Hit one of your Hybrids
Take 10 Golf Balls – Hit with Driver- When using your driver, simulate a fairway by trying to land your shot between two sets of flags or markers.
For the Advanced Golfer: Now that you’re nice and loose, it’s time to visualize a course you know well and "play" an entire nine (minus putts). (If you have more time to practice do the full 18 holes) If the first "hole" calls for driver, then 4 hybrid, then wedge, hit those clubs in succession; choose a specific target for each shot, and follow your normal pre-shot routine. This drill makes you hit your clubs in random order, just as you would on the course, and it also helps you work on visualization. Turn it into a game. Give yourself a score -- one point for a quality swing, zero for each so-so shot, and minus-one for poor shots (tops, chunks, slices etc).  The next time you do this your goal is to beat your score by at least one point.
2. Around The Green (15:00)
Avoid practicing from ideal conditions, and alternate among chips, bump and run, pitches and bunker shots. Set up unusual lies to keep your brain in problem-solving mode. If you don't have to think about how to play the shot, change it up.  I love getting my students to practice hitting over the bunker out at our range as it adds an element of fear and they have to stay focused on each shot.  Chip 5 golf balls to one target on the putting green.  Sink those 5 putts with your goal of a maximum of two putts.  Repeat the chipping and putting drill to two other holes.
3. Putting (15:00)
Have three golf balls, place a golf ball one foot, two feet and three feet away from the hole. Knock in the one foot putt.  Continue until you miss a putt at which time you will go back to #1. Once comfortable move the balls back to four feet, six feet and eight feet.  This drill works on speed, slope and accuracy while putting. 

Friday, 14 August 2015

PGA Championship: Predictions

With the PGA Championship being hosted at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, Wisconsin the boys are in for a tough weekend.  The forecast is a nice balmy 80 degrees Thursday-Saturday with a bit warmer on Sunday.  In other words perfect golfing conditions.  The top 4 FedEx Cup point getters are hitting the links.  Currently in first place is Jordan Speith with 3,839, second place Bubba Watson with 2,358, third place is Jimmy Walker with 2,014 and fourth is Jason Day with 1,859.  For the Rory fans the excitement grows as he plans on playing in this weekends event.
Golfers have been coming into the Pro Shop all week and asking me if he's response did you see him hit driver that he posted online...yup he's ready.  I'm not sure if he's ready for walking potentially 72 holes that will be the true test.  You have to remember that these golfers are athletes there's a certain drive they have that the rest don't poses.  I hope Rory isn't coming back to soon but he wants to win and I don't blame him I just don't want this to set him back.  Jordan Speith is defiantly in the hunt this weekend with his stellar year so far you cant count him out!!

This course is going to benefit the distant hitters but what's going to make the difference is course management.  For those of you readers who are new to golf, course management and the mental part of the game are extremely important.  An example of course management is when you have really big greens you are chipping on to you want to take a look at the slopes and figure out where you want your ball to land not so much focus on where it will end up.  On Hole # 2 on the Baby Boomer Par 3 Course the back of the green has what we call a death trap.  If you don't get your ball onto the high part when the flag is back there you could easily 3 putt.  Your course management thought should be to hit your chip a little father to the right on the flatter surface which gives you an easier putt.

In an interview Tiger Woods expressed his concern for the mosquitos at the Whistling Straits Golf Club stating: "I've never seen mosquitoes like this, like they've had here. I live in Florida and we go out in the evenings and you may get bitten, but here you get eaten alive." I'm so glad to hear we aren't the only course with those pesky bugs!!!

John Ziomek, Sports Center Coordinating Producer has picked Rickie Fowler for the win commenting: Betting that one of the best young players who has never won a major wins the Wanamaker Trophy this week. Take your pick between Jason Day, Dustin Johnson or Rickie Fowler. I'm going with Fowler to finally break through. His run in the majors last year, combined with his memorable win at the Players, shows that Fowler has been building for this moment. Very few players are playing better right now. The time is now for Fowler to earn that first major.

Monday, 10 August 2015

What is Match Play?

Stroke Play Vs. Match Play

Golfers watching or, especially, playing match play need to be aware of the differences in the rules between match play and stroke play. Some of the differences are major, some are minor and some involve a different type of penalty when rules are broken.

Here is a rundown of some of the most important differences in the Rules of Golf for match play:

The Way It's Played

In this sense, match play is a whole different game than stroke play. In stroke play, golfers accumulate strokes over the course of 18 holes. The golfer with the fewest strokes at the completion of the round wins.

In match play, each hole is a separate competition. The player with the fewest strokes on an individual hole wins that hole; the player winning the most holes wins the match.

Golf Rules Many Golfers Break

The stroke total for 18 holes simply doesn't matter in match play. Stroke play is more a player vs. the course approach; match play is directly player vs. player, or side vs. side. There is one opponent you must beat, and that's the opponent you're facing in the match you're playing right now.

Conceded Putts

In friendly rounds of golf, golfers often ask for and give "gimmies," very short putts that one simply picks up rather than holing out. Gimmies, needless to say, are illegal under the Rules of Golf, but many recreational golfers use them anyway.

In match play, however, conceded putts are perfectly legal. Your opponent can concede a putt to you at any point, whether it's six inches from the cup or 60 feet. But conceded putts almost always come, of course, on very short putts.

Fellow-Competitor vs. Opponent

This is a semantic difference. In stroke play, the golfers you are playing against are your "fellow-competitors." In match play, the golfer you are playing against is your "opponent."

Hit That One Again

There are several scenarios in match play where a transgression might result in your opponent canceling your shot and requiring you to replay it; whereas in stroke play, the same transgression would result in a 2-stroke penalty or no penalty at all.
 Playing out of turn: In stroke play, order of play is a matter of etiquette. If you hit out of turn, it's a breach of etiquette, but there is no penalty. In match play, if you hit out of turn your opponent can require you to replay the shot in the proper order. And if your first shot was a great one, you can bet that you'll be replaying.
I hope this helps for when you’re playing your first match out on the links or watching the PGA Match Play Events.