This is often a dirty word for golfers…it ranks right up there with ‘frost delay’. Both things are inevitable during the golf season and both make you as the golfer unhappy. But the key to accepting aerating, is understanding why we do it.
There are many benefits to aerating and they all go a long way to allowing us to prepare a great surface for golfers to play on.
Air & Water exchange – over the season the playing surface can actually seal off and the greens don’t breathe so well. By opening up the surface regularly throughout the season we can keep the greens surface from sealing up and in turn keep the greens healthier.
Deeper Roots – the roots of the turf plants will follow the path of least resistance. If there are open channels for them to follow they will dive as deep as possible. These deep roots give the plant more strength and staying power throughout the stress of the summer.
Deep roots from June of this year
Reduces Compaction – if left alone the soil beneath our playing surfaces can become tight and hard layers can develop. These layers can inhibit root development and cause the plants to be weak.
This picture shows compaction as a result of excessive golf car traffic
Thatch Reduction – “thatch” is the word we use to refer to all of the dead and decaying organic matter that accumulates just under the putting surfaces. Both poa and bentgrass grow quite a bit through the season, and if not removed the decaying tissue can cause a lot of problems. Applications of water, fertilizer, and chemicals are all compromised by to much thatch.
There are also different types of aeration that can take place during the season…
Core Aeration – This is the process we will be undertaking a week from today (Finn is setting up the Procore 648 as you read this). It involves using hollow tines that physically remove an aeration plug from the putting surface. We then shovel them off, and then follow that up with a thick layer of sand that we then broom into the holes. The sand works to firm the surface back up and speeds up the healing process.
Solid Tine Aerating – This is a less invasive process that we try to do monthly throughout the season. It involves using a solid tine that simply makes a small hole in the surface. When we follow up with a rolling afterwards you would hardly know we were there. This process helps quite a bit with the air and water exchange we spoke of earlier.
Deep Tine Aerating – This is a process that involves using solid tines that penetrate the ground to a depth of 8″-10″. The channels go a long way to fostering deep rooting for the plants.
Aerating is one of those practices that no one seems to like much (including us…there is a lot of shoveling involved!) but it is definitely a necessary evil. When we core aerify also plays a big role in the playability of the greens. For the last few season we had waited until the last week of October to complete the process. By punching a couple of weeks earlier this season we should be able to gain a bit of healing time for the spring.
Thanks for reading.