Atalaya Golf & Country Club has an ongoing course maintenance programme. During this continued period when both of our championship courses are closed, our grounds staff is spiking and topdressing the tee boxes on the Old Course.

Surprisingly, soil compaction is more of a problem on tees than it is on putting greens. The primary reason is that on tees fewer root zones have been modified to prevent the compaction. Another factor is that many tees are too small for the intensity of play they receive which accentuates soil compaction problems even more.

Tee box size is particularly important on par-3 holes where many deep divots are formed during play and the tee boxes are not large enough to allow adequate rotations of the tee locations. Such rotations facilitate regrowth of the grass before the tee zone is needed to be used again.

Coring and spiking are the main turf cultivation approaches that we use for the tees. We routinely employ these processes twice a year, once during the summer and again in the autumn. This year we are taking advantage of the time when our courses are closed to core and spike, carrying out this work now, since we have already completed the hollow tining of our greens.

The same high quality, silica sand that we used on the greens is being applied as a topdressing and for levelling the tee surfaces. Topdressing of divot damage improves the turf recovery rate and smooths the surface area to allow a level stance for the player. The quantity of topdressing used on tee boxes is in general higher than the quantity typically used on putting greens.

Because the creation of large divot damage areas is commonplace on tees, weed problems also increase. First, divot craters provide ideal sites for the invasion of weeds – blue grass, crabgrass, grama catalana and the like – as these weeds require sunlight for seed germination. Second, extensive deep divot damage on par-3 tees may also disrupt a protective surface zone of pre-emergence herbicide, which also increases the potential for weed development. To solve these problems, we at Atalaya employ the effective and proper agricultural practices to enhance turf recovery in the areas that suffer from this damage. These best practices go a long way in reducing potential maintenance problems.

When play resumes, we encourage all members and guests to participate in a divot damage and repair programme by restoring divots with replacement sand. This sand is available in containers conveniently located near the tee markers. Simply use the small shovel provided to fill and level the divots with the material provided. This important campaign will go a long way to positively maintain our tee boxes.

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