It’s that time of year again!
Hollow tining might be something that you feel has created an uninvited interruption to what could have been a perfect day for a round of golf. This may be especially true as the wonderful spring weather has made its arrival. The truth is that we need to see hollow tining as a brief and temporary exercise that plays an important part in achieving perfect course condition.
Hollow tining basically involves the physical removal of cores of turf from the playing surface. The holes are generally 13-16mm in diameter and of varying depths depending on the reason for the tine. The cores are ejected, swept up and removed. They make excellent compost. When completed, a smaller mass of soil will occupy the same area of green/tee/fairway. The need for hollow tining is a result of course traffic that, over time, causes the ground to become compacted and hardened. This resulted in inadequate drainage on the course which means that grass roots don’t get the oxygen they need.
The holes left behind by the hollow tining process allow the compacted turf to expand so that air and moisture can be more easily absorbed. The coring helps address the problem of thatch – a layer of grass stems, roots, and debris that settle and accumulate over time. A thin layer is acceptable but too much thatch holds water like a sponge.
Hollow tining also removes accumulated fibre in the grass’s root zone, helps prevent diseases through improved drainage and allows for poor soil to be exchanged for a better one through top dressing. That’s why the greens are normally covered in sandy top dressing immediately after they’re cored. Coring allows for over-seeding – another effective way of improving the quality of the playing surface.
Hollow tining for South African golf courses is done just after the winter season before the start of the wet rainy conditions of early summer. It is vitally important to finish hollow tining before the rainy season in order to give the holes enough time to seal up. This does unfortunately overlap with the early spring season when many golfers are keen to play. This is why green keepers will go out of their way to carry out the process as swiftly as possible. The process is carried out wherever it is needed on the course including fairways, greens and tees.