2020 Aerification Dates Notes & Info
Please mark your calendars!
- Tuesday March 3rd , 2020 Back Nine Greens
- Wednesday March 4th, 2020 Front Nine Greens
One question we often receive is: “Why does our superintendent aerate when course conditions and weather are perfect?” This question is very perceptive, and explains why aeration is performed when the weather and course are best. Weather plays a large role in turf recovery. Thus, performing aeration when the weather favors turf growth leads to quicker recovery. Additionally, aeration is stressful on plants. Performing aeration on healthy, “perfect” turf is critical. If aeration is conducted on already stressed turf, the result could be disastrous.
The range of ideal weather varies depending on the desired turf species. In other words, if your course is promoting healthy Bermuda grass, mid-August through September is a good time to aerate. The warm days and favor Bermuda grass growth and quicker recovery period.
Another question we often receive is: “Why is so much sand applied?” Superintendents realize aeration is never popular. However, the benefits of aeration far outweigh the potential problems if nothing is done. Superintendents also understand that playability is a concern. Following aeration, especially on greens, filling each of the aeration holes with sand will promote quicker recovery and improve ball roll. There is no denying that surface disruption occurs during aeration and that greens will play differently following aeration. However, effects on playability as a result of aeration can be minimized if aeration channels are filled with sand. Ultimately, applying enough topdressing sand to fill aeration holes will result in a smoother post-aeration surface that recovers quicker than a surface with open aeration holes.
Aeration is performed every year to improve add soil amendments which improves turf health and playing conditions. Aerations are critical for the health of highly maintained grass. Keep in mind that every time you comment on the exceptional conditions during the golf season, a large part of maintaining those conditions is routine core aeration. Do not lose sight of the long-term goal because of the short-term inconvenience. Blayne Sparks Golf Course Superintendent at The Wilderness in Lake Jackson can is available and can answer any of your questions specifically related to golf course maintenance.
General Manager Doug Borow 979-297-4653 Ext 4. [email protected]
Course Superintendent Blayne Sparks 979-297-4653 Ext. 5 [email protected].
Presented by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America
It’s a perfect, sunny morning and you’ve just reached the first green in regulation. You feel great and you know you’re within birdie range. Then, you see them, those little holes in the green. Arrggh! They’ve just aerified the course, and it’s going to ruin your round, right?
Well, maybe not. Consider the fact that PGA TOUR legend Tom Watson shot a sizzling record 58 at his then-home course, Kansas City Country Club; just days after the greens had been aerified.
Consider also that aerification is merely a short-term disruption that has long-term benefits for the course. When you see them, remember that without those little holes, the greens would eventually die.
Preventative maintenance is an integral part of successful golf course management. Golfers view aerification as an inconvenience that takes the greens out of play for a day, pulling cores from the greens and leaving holes that can affect putting for many days before healing. To add insult to injury, aerification is best done in many parts of the country during mid-summer, at the height of the playing season and when most greens are in prime condition.
But a golfer needs to understand how important aerification is to producing healthy turf.
Aerification achieves three important objectives. It relieves soil compaction, it provides a method to improve the soil mixture around the highest part of a green’s roots and it reduces or prevents the accumulation of excess thatch.
Like so many things, the quality of a good putting green is more than skin deep. In fact, the condition of a green has a lot to do with what goes on below the surface. In order for grass to grow at 3/16-inch, it must have deep, healthy roots. Good roots demand oxygen. In good soil, they get the oxygen from tiny pockets of air trapped between soil and sand particles.
Over time, the traffic from golfers’ feet (as well as mowing equipment) tends to compact the soil under the putting green – particularly when the soil contains a lot of clay. When soil becomes compacted, the air pockets on which the roots depend are crushed, and the roots are essentially left gasping for air. Without oxygen, the grass plants become weaker and will eventually wither and die.
Aerification is a mechanical process that creates more air space in the soil and promotes deeper rooting, thus helping the grass plants stay healthy. In most cases, it’s done by removing ½-inch cores (those plugs you sometimes see near a green or in fairways) from the compacted soil, allowing for an infusion of air and water that brings a resurgence of growth. The spaces are then filled with sand “topdressing” that helps the soil retain air space and makes it easier for roots to grow downward.
Older greens often are constructed of soils with significant amounts of silt, clay and fine organic particles that are prone to compaction. Filling aerification holes with sand improves drainage and resists compaction. The periodic introduction of sand to a green’s top layer can over time, avoid or postpone expensive rebuilding or renovation of greens.
Finally, growing of turf adds to a layer of organic matter on the surface. This layer, called thatch, is an accumulation of dead stems, leaves and roots. A little organic matters makes for a resilient green, but too much invites diseases and insects. Topdressing with sand can prevent thatch buildup, and aerification is one of the best ways to reduce an existing layer and prevent an excess of thatch from becoming established.
Other aerification techniques use machines with “tines” or knives that simply poke holes through the soil profile. A new technique even uses ultra high-pressure water that’s injected through the soil profile to create small holes that relieve some compaction but heal quickly.
There are many types of aerifying machines with different attachments that address different problems in the various stages of the life of a green. So the next time you’re ready to scream when the aerifiers are brought on the course, remember that a little preventative maintenance produces the best greens over the long haul.
The bottom line is that aerification is a necessary practice. But before you curse the superintendent for ruining your day, just think of Tom Watson.
For more information regarding golf course management practices, contact your local superintendent or the GCSAA at 800-472-7878 or www.gcsaa.org.
Sources: USGA’s Green Section
"The Wilderness at Lake Jackson transcends time and delivers guests back to the days when early settlers traveled from town to town in search of the next gold nugget."
501 Hwy. 332 - West PO Box 308
Lake Jackson, TX 77566