By Rick Martin, Golf Course Superintendent for Monaghan Golf Group at Shadow Ridge Golf Club
“Why do you ruin the greens by punching them?” This is a question I have often heard during my years of being a Superintendent.
In fact, aerification is a very important aspect of agronomy and, believe it or not, the short term pain is for your long term gain. One of the big criteria in judging the quality of a golf course is the quality of its greens and aerification plays a big part in the maintaining of its health.
Let’s look at it this way: turf grass is a living entity just like we are. Grass, like humans, need three things to survive: food, water and oxygen. Fertilizer feeds the grass and water irrigates it but the most over-looked factor in the well-being of turf grass is oxygen.
The plant root zone needs oxygen to survive and the only way to provide this to turf grass is through aerification. Some have asked ‘why don't you fertilize more’ or ‘why don't you water more?’ Have you ever held your head under water for ten minutes? You can't breathe! Here is another way of looking at it. Imagine you walked into a completely sealed room. Even if you filled that room with food and water, if there is no oxygen coming in and no carbon monoxide going out, life would be pretty short. The same concept applies to turf grass.
Aside from providing an opportunity for oxygen/carbon monoxide exchange and extending the life of the greens, aerification also reduces compaction and aids in thatch removal. The results of this are improved playability, green speed and overall aesthetics.
So, next time you see aeration holes all over the golf course remember we are doing it for the overall health and longevity of the course. When we are able to provide strong, healthy greens we are ensuring your enjoyment of the course and improved playability for the future.