Fine Turgrass Management

Fine Turgrass Management

Steve Cook, CGCS, MG - Director of Agronomy

Friday, March 4, 2011

Putting Green Aeration

It is more important than you think

by Darin Bevard, USGA senior agronomist, Mid-Atlantic Region

No maintenance practice on golf courses receives more scrutiny and golfer ire than core aeration, and the role of aeration in the management of high-quality putting greens is often misunderstood.

Harsh winter weather may lead to golfer requests to eliminate or reduce spring putting green aeration programs. The spring golf bug makes many golfers desperate to get out on the golf course. Snow cover, cold weather, and wet, sloppy conditions lead many courses to close for the entire winter in many areas. Golfers are anxious to try out a new driver or other equipment accumulated since the end of the golf season, and when the weather breaks, the golfers soon follow. Superintendents and their staffs are cleaning their courses and beginning to establish grooming programs for the growing season. As the weather warms, the grass starts to grow and the greens are ready to go. Golfer comments then follow: "Now the superintendent is tearing up the greens with core aeration and covering them with sand. Can't we just skip aeration since the greens are so good?"

Most commonly, golfer requests tend to range from eliminating core aeration from spring programs to, at least, reducing the size of tines and disruption created by the process. Eliminating or reducing spring aeration programs will not cause an agronomic catastrophe in the short-term, but it is important to realize why aeration is an essential process and to understand the ramifications of eliminating any planned aeration.

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