Given the time of year in terms of normal golf course maintenance, there is a very relevant topic I would like to quickly highlight today. So, with that said, let’s talk about every golfer’s favorite maintenance practice – aerification. I can hear the collective groan from here…
Although most golfers abhor the process, it’s a necessary evil to maintain the health of green surfaces. This practice of preventative maintenance is a prerequisite to healthy greens in the long term. Without aerification, our green surfaces would be, shall we say, sub-par (pun intended). So what exactly does aerification help with? Glad you asked.
To put it as simply as possible, the three major goals of aerification are to 1) improve the soil content/mixture at an area of the grasses roots nearest to the surface; 2) help remove and thin out thatch; and what I want to talk about today, 3) to relieve compaction.
At a public course such as ours that sees a high volume of play throughout the year, the last of those three is especially important. Compaction, as you can probably deduce, is a direct effect of foot traffic on the greens. Thus, the higher volume of rounds a course hosts on a yearly basis, the more important it is to relieve that compaction in the soil. The greens turf roots grow deeper through small air pockets in the soil, but if there is a high amount of compaction, those roots do not have any room to grow.
Outside of the full-throttle aerification we undergo twice each year, you may have noticed there are times when certain greens appear to have small puncture marks or slits cut into the surfaces. This process of needle-tining helps to create more of those air channels to encourage root growth, and has become a practice that has greatly helped us with a couple of our “problem” greens.
We are scheduled to undergo our usual Fall aerification next Monday and Tuesday (9/14 & 9/15), and although I understand it can be frustrating for golfers, it is also a necessity. My hope is that, in reading this, maybe you will have a little bit better of an understanding as to why this process is helpful.
See you at the Muni soon!