Why aerify?

It’s a perfect, sunny morning and it is that time of year again. This is the time when area courses begin their summer “maintenance” programs a.k.a. aerification.

While some in the golf industry view this process as a disruption to the game many view it as what makes the courses so great. Every year we aerify looking to achieve good, quality putting conditions in the season.

Consider that aerification is merely a short-term disruption that has long-term benefits for the course. When you see them, remember that without those little holes, the greens would eventually die.

Like so many things, the quality of a good putting green is more than skin deep. In fact, the condition of a green has a lot to do with what goes on below the surface. In order to keep grass growing at 1/8-inch you have to have deep, healthy roots. Good roots demand oxygen. In good soil, they get the oxygen from tiny pockets of air trapped between soil and sand particles.

Over time, the traffic from golfers’ feet (as well as heavy mowing equipment) tends to compact the soil under the putting green. When soil becomes compacted, the air pockets on which the roots depend are crushed, and the roots are essentially left gasping for air. Without oxygen, the grass plants will wither and die.

Aerification is a mechanical process that creates more air space in the soil and promotes deeper rooting, thus helping the grass plants stay healthy. In most cases, it’s done by removing various size cores (those plugs you sometimes see near a green or in fairways). The spaces are then filled with sand “topdressing” that helps the soil retain air space and makes it easier for roots to grow downward.

The bottom line is that aerification is a necessary practice. But before you curse the superintendent for ruining your day, just remember that the reason that area courses are so good is in part to aerification.