April 1, 2019
As it is April, the topic of conversation at many golf courses is the dreaded aerification events that will be happening. Although the goal here is to help our customers understand that aerification is nothing to be dreaded, but something that should be welcomed! Wishful thinking, for sure, but the reasons why we aerify the turf and what you can expect are important as well. Please remember, we certainly don’t like to aerify or want to spend the additional money on aerification (and we ALWAYS want to provide good playing surfaces), but we do because it is extremely important.
Obviously the turf needs four basic items to survive: soil, water, air and sunlight. Soil and sun we have plenty of (in most cases), but air and water are essential and getting them to the roots of the turf plants are a big reason why we punch holes in the ground. Water and air movement into the soil gets limited over time for a few reasons and our goal is to combat that to give you healthy, well-performing greens.
One reason is that. If you’ve ever played on a fairway or green that feels spongy under your feet, this will help you understand what thatch is. It is made of the dead and decaying parts of turf plants, and it accumulates as the grass grows. If it is not removed, it forms that spongy layer that you feel and doesn’t let air and water into the ground for the living roots. So…we need to remove it, or at least poke a hole through it.
A second reason is compaction. The soil under the turf gets compacted from all the foot traffic of golfers, as well as the constant mowing and rolling equipment that prepares the surfaces throughout the season. As soil compacts, it loses its ability to hold enough water and air to keep the plants alive. Aerification loosens up the soil, and allows for room for roots to grow and capture this air and water.
The third main reason is soil modification. You’ll notice that following an aerification process the holes on the greens are filled with sand. Sand provides a good growing medium for the turf and improves playability for our golfers. It improves the way the surface drains and also provides for a firmer, smoother putting surface.
We are often also asked why we do it twice per year. The reason is that to provide healthy, sustainable, high quality putting surfaces greens need to be aerified to a measureable amount, which is very difficult to achieve in just one aerification process. So, in simple terms, we perform it twice to add up to our annual goal of surface disruption.
This year, our processes will vary depending on weather conditions. Last year the cold temperatures that endured through April drastically hindered the turf’s ability to heal from aerification. We are hoping we get more “normal” temperatures and sunny days to help recovery; but we are planning on a traditional coring aerification process on Courses 1 and 2 and some more benign processes on 3 and 4. The aerification schedule is available online or in the golf shops. Thank you for your time and we will look for you on the courses this spring!