|Core aeration cultivation|
In The History of Stowe Country Club author Lynn Altadonna, explained that the greens were sodded to velvet bentgrass when the 18 hole course was built in 1962/63. The sod came from a defunct golf course called Kearsarge Golf Club in New Hampshire. The Village Course architect, William Mitchell, was known throughout New England for using and promoting the use of velvet bentgrass. There is no doubt that he had a role in this procurement of sod. The problem with sodding greens, especially velvet, as opposed to seeding greens is the existing thatch layer. Thatch is the layer of old stem material that builds up below the turf surface. Bentgrasses as a whole are prolific thatch producers. While thatch is simply the by-product of producing quality playing surfaces, proper thatch management of is the difference between good and bad turf. The basis of proper thatch management is to mechanically remove the thatch through core aeration and vertical mowing. The USGA recommends the removal of 15-20% of thatch surface annually for quality playing surfaces. This chart explains how to get to those percentages Surface Impact. The strategy at Stowe Country Club is to complete two 1/2 inch core aerations at 1 x 2 inch spacing with an additional Graden verticut. All three methods of cultivation equate to an 18% surface impact. At Stowe Mountain Club a less aggressive management is effective due to the young age of the greens to where the frequency of aerification will impact 10% of the surface.
As stated earlier, velvet bentgrass has fallen out of favor in the golf course industry. The main reason for this is that it is the most prolific thatch producer out of all the cool season grasses. If aggressive aeration and vertical mowing is not done on a regular basis the velvet will become puffy, bumpy, and play poorly. Since velvet at Stowe Country Club was initially installed and was not aggressively cultivated over the years, it has aggressively produced a determinate layer of thatch. Moving forward, proper agronomic practices will be initiated such as aggressive aeration and verticutting to regain the quality of the putting surface. In addition to controlling thatch levels, the cultivation of the greens will assist in conditioning the Penncross to be much smoother and less grainy.
It is our goal at Stowe Golf to produce excellent playing conditions through the production of quality bentgrass. Thank you for your patience during these periodic maintenance procedures to restore the turf. We hope that players will appreciate the high quality playing surfaces that will grow in based on sound management practices.