You would have to be blind Freddy not to realise the approaches to some greens are thin, very wet, and struggling. We expect some deterioration in surface quality through winter, with the colder weather reducing the warm season growth grates to next to nothing and why we paint the blue lines and put in place traffic measures to decrease the wear from players, one problem we cant avoid is the wear from mowing greens with a triplex mower and we try to limit the turning where we can in these areas.
At the heart of the problem you are witnessing is a very thick layer of iron buildup (from our water) and thatch close to the surface, (see pic) which is restricting water movement through the top soil surface effecting drainage and keeping the surface very wet, it is also reducing air flow and movement of air and gas exchange, all very important to healthy turf.
Options we have considered to deal with this and reasons they were ruled out or in are,
Removal of turf and the layer, replacing with sand and turf.
It is true this is an immediate definite fix, however with the amount of area to attend, it would be very labour intensive, extremely disruptive to play during works and grow in, also expensive due to the shear area of work, turf would have to be sourced from somewhere on course or purchased as the existing turf is not healthy enough to lift and relay and also the depth we would need to cut the turf would in fact also cut the layer we want to remove, the result would be still having a heavy iron layer close to the surface (see pic).
Drainage usually isn't an issue as we are sand based and in fact no formal drainage exist on the course. We will consider drainage as a step should other efforts not achieve the results we are after.
Coring and sanding to dilute and break down the layer.
This is our preferred option and one we will be undertaking, the aim is to break through the layer into the sand lower in the profile (pic) allowing drainage to occur, sanding after coring will dilute the iron and thatch layer further creating channels for air and water movement and resulting in healthier turf. It will not be a quick fix however and time will be required tho some immediate improvement will be experienced.
It is less disruptive to play and all approaches can be completed relatively quickly.
During the rest of this winter due to the cold weather and slow recovery rates we will only be mini tinning (very small needle like tines) and not sanding, some improvement in wet conditions should be experienced but not a great deal, come spring and summer a program of monthly coring and sanding will be implemented and turf health will improve dramatically.
Our planned solution to fixing the problem is -
1) mini tine the areas affected through winter without sanding this year
2) Hollow core and sand the effected areas monthly through Spring and summer.
3) Evaluate if further action is required, IE drainage /excavation of iron layer.
Not all approaches are the same and in some cases turf and iron removal may still be necessary however attacking the problem with this 3 stage approach will ensure excess needless time and expense is not spent on solutions where simple extra maintenance could solve the issue.