Even though every golfer seems to hate it, aerification of the greens is an extremely important process. We like the analogy that we in golf maintenance are just farmers, growing a crop of grass, yet one of the biggest disadvantages we have is that farmers can easily and greatly improve their soil by discing or turning over their soil and crop once the harvest is over. This kind of manipulation of the soil frees up important nutrients, invigorates microbial activity and lets much needed oxygen into the soil profile. Aerification is one of the few ways we have here on a golf course to achieve similar benefits in our soils to keep our grass alive and healthy under stressful times.
Below is our aerification process:
First we Aerify (Punch Holes) – We use 5/8″ hollow tines that punch a hole and pull the plug out of the ground for removal so we can replace all those thatchy areas with fresh sand, oxygen and water.
Then we pick up the plugs – We use a machine called a Core Harvester, along with several guys with shovels, to remove all those pulled plugs from the green.
Then we Verticut the greens. Verticuting is a mowing technique that instead of mowing the grass blades horizontally, it cuts vertically down into the thatch layer, removing even more dead organic matter that can seal off the greens to water and oxygen. It also serves to clean up the few left over plugs and provide better entry points for the seed we will plant later in the process.
Sometimes we then apply soil amendments like gypsum, sulfur, fertilizer or other nutrients or helpful soil additives, directly into the soil through the holes depending on what our lab tests show we lack in the optimum healthiest plants.
We then topdress heavy using sand in order to fill all the holes back up to restructure the soil and enable the greens to heal faster. The sand also fills into the thatch layer and vertical mowing lines to dilute the thatch and help break down what is still left in the green.
Lastly, we use a medium bristled brush to move all the sand around to fill in all the holes as best as possible and even the surface of the green out.
It’s quite a process, and we finish it all in a few days to provide minimal disruption for our members.
The greens will be slower so just hit them firm, but everyone gets so scared of aerification that you may have the course almost to yourself. And most who play out here at this time say the greens aren’t that bad at all. But if you’re still turned off by sandy greens, they should be in much better a little over 2 weeks from now you’ll probably have a hard time even knowing it happened at all.