Forging new roads at Wayzata Country Club

Wayzata, Minn. club shakes up its cultural practices by turning to Air2G2 for greens aerification.


Air2G2-336 air-injection machine
Foley's Air2G2-336 air-injection machine has helped the staff at Wayazata Country Club provide outstanding conditions for golfers with minimal disruption. Photos courtesy of Foley

Editor’s note: The following article was supplied by Foley Co. All product claims, research cited and other information is directly from the company.

The less disruption caused by the turf maintenance department on the golf course, the happier the members are at Wayzata Country Club.

However, that hasn’t stopped Jesse Trcka, the GCSAA Class A superintendent at the 18-hole private club in Wayzata, Minn., from trying to provide the best conditions possible. But to do that ­— and keep members content — Trcka has to use the right tools in his proverbial toolbox.

One of the technological tools that has helped Trcka and his staff provide outstanding conditions while keeping golfers happy is the Air2G2-336 air-injection machine from Foley Co. Trcka brings it out of the maintenance facility several times a month to use on the club’s bentgrass/Poa annua greens.

The machine uses three probes to laterally inject pressurized air at about 6 inches and up to 12 inches beneath the surface of the soil to fracture compacted layers, allowing the soil profile to breathe by pumping good air in and forcing bad air out.

Trcka, who has used the Air2G2-336 for about six years, has noticed improved root growth below the surface, among other agronomic benefits. But what’s also pleasing to him is the machine doesn’t disrupt the surface of the greens like other aeration equipment. Hence, there’s no post-aerification cleanup required — and golfers aren’t complaining that they have to putt on bumpy greens.

“Playability is everything,” the 20-year GCSAA member says. “We try to use the Air2G2-336 as much as we can during the middle of the season as a supplement for any kind of surface-disturbance aeration.

Air2G2-336 air-injection machine
Jesse Trcka says the Foley Air2G2-336 has improved drought tolerance for the golf course at Wayazata Country Club.

Healthy roots

The greens at Wayzata are original to the 66-year-old course, and over the years, a significant sand cap has built up below the turf over that time, Trcka explains.

“The root zone of the greens has obviously been limited to the sand cap for all these years,” he says. “But since we've been using the Air2G2-336, we've been able to establish rooting past that sand cap down into the sub-soil layer. We do a good job with our other agronomic practices to sustain and grow roots, but I don't know that we would be able to have roots as healthy as they are without the Air2G2-336.”

Several years ago, Trcka saw the Air2G2-336 advertised in a trade magazine, and the product piqued his interest. He later found an online video of an operator using it on a green in standing water.

“I could see air bubbles coming out of all the holes the operator was making,” Trcka says. “The more injections made, the more bubbles came out through the pores. It left little doubt in my mind there was a significant amount of soil fracturing happening that would lead to better and improved rooting.”

Even during stressful times when its challenging to grow turf, Trcka says the Air2G2-336 has made a difference by improving drought tolerance. During those times the greens’ roots can “back up,” Trcka says. But since he implemented the machine into his operation, he says roots aren’t backing up as far. “Newer root growth also seems to be generating through the parts of the season where we ordinarily wouldn't see it,” he adds.

Trcka says the machine’s lateral air injections “provide a great amount of relief in the middle of the summer” for increasing the overall macropores in the soil profile. It also has improved soil drainage.

“For me, it's all about porosity and doing what I can do to create some fracturing in the soil without disturbing the surface,” he reiterates. “It’s the best tool available to us to do that.”

Air2G2-336 air-injection machine
Jesse Trcka hopes to use the Foley Air2G2-336 on tees and fairways in the future.

Smooth sailing

Trcka uses the Air2G2-336 on most Mondays when the course is closed. The operator will inject 12 or 13 greens and then finish the remaining holes on Tuesday morning. The machine doesn’t leave much behind in terms of signaling to golfers that some kind of agronomic treatment was made to the greens, Trcka says.

“It doesn’t impact play at all,” he adds.

Occasionally, members will remark to Trcka that they noticed small holes on the greens. “But those members also say in their same breath that their playability wasn’t impacted,” Trcka says, adding the members say they are just curious what caused the miniature holes that typically heal within days. Even Trcka, who has a trained eye to spot such things, can’t find any evidence left by the Air2G2-336 a few days after it is used.

While Trcka only uses the it on greens, he has “aspirations” of using the machine on tees and may even try it on fairways.

While Trcka hasn’t had to use the Air2G2-336 in what he calls a “rescue scenario,” he has heard of other superintendents who have used it in such circumstances to combat added stress and compaction caused to greens after a weekend event or tournament. Trcka says he heard the product performed well in such scenarios.

Trcka says he’s impressed with the force of the Air2G2-336, which is powered by a Kohler Command Pro 19-hp engine. The self-propelled machine is also easy to operate, he adds.

“With the turnover that we've had on our crew, we've able to easily train new people to operate it,” Trcka says. “The learning curve to use it is low.”

That’s a major factor because Trcka wants to give everyone on the crew the opportunity to use it and not assign them the same tasks over and over.

Trcka quickly learned six years ago that the Air2G2-336 was a welcome addition to his aeration program, which also includes core aeration, solid tining, high-pressure water treatments, and topdressing. But now the machine has become a mainstay in his operation, especially considering how it has helped improve the greens’ root structure and with minimal surface disruption.

“It’s definitely a priority for us to put it out there as often as we can,” he says.

Lawrence Aylward is a freelance writer from Medina, Ohio.

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