Every golf season, the courses require maintenance work to revive the grass from our harsh North Dakota winters. One of these beautification processes is green aerification. The purpose of aerifying is to create healthy playing surfaces by relieving soil compaction, stimulating root growth and improving drainage.
There are several factors that come into play when aerating a course. Some of those factors are:
- The greens need to be actively growing and complete with an irrigation system to heal properly.
- Outdoor temperatures must be just right, not too hot and not too cold.
- Weather conditions must be clear; wind speeds must be low and it can’t be raining.
How a green is aerated depends on the age of the green, previous culture practices, soil and turf composition, and how often the specific green needs aerifying.
Rose Creek Public Golf Course’s Superintendent Eric Hansen explained how aerification programs can change from year to year:
“No one aeration program fits every course or even the same course every year. Superintendents continually monitor the conditions of their greens and adapt their practices to what the greens need… Personally, I am a believer in core aeration in the spring and fall. I think it does the best job of preparing the greens for the hot weather and lots of traffic during the summer, and for the long winter and dry springs that we have had recently.”
Now, what is the process?
- Maintenance starts with a vertical cut of the greens to remove thatch and create more room for sand topdressing.
- Then they mow the greens and remove the putting cups and flags.
- Next, they aerate greens with solid or slicing (knife) tines.
- After aerating, a sand topdressing is applied into the turf surface.
- Maintenance then rolls the greens and replaces the putting cups and flags.
- The greens are then sprayed down with water to mix the sand in and cool them off. Fun Fact: The turf can lose a lot of moisture during the process, especially if it gets hot and/or windy.
- Once sprayed down, the course is reopened for play.
- Lastly, maintenance rolls the greens the day after spraying it with water. This gives the sand time to settle in the aeration holes.
So now you are probably wondering “What happens if maintenance doesn’t aerify the courses?” A few of the horrible things that can happen are:
- Decreased root growth due to lower oxygen levels in the soil, which can lead to turf failure.
- Organic matter becomes too thick which allows the ground to retain water at the surface after rain and irrigation.
- Excessive organic matter creates soft surfaces prone to ball marks, foot printing and inconsistent playing conditions.
The preparation, execution and aftercare of aeration a green is extremely important, when it comes to creating beautiful greens that golfers enjoy playing. Thank you to the wonderful maintenance staff at Rose Creek, along with Superintendent Eric Nelson for making sure the greens stay in top shape.