Pay to play good greens.
Don't Let Aerification Ruin Your Round
By kickntrue on 3/29/10
By Matt Snyder, ClubSG Contributor

Matt is an opinionated* golf enthusiast from Pennsylvania. He coaches at the high school level, molding the minds and swings of our next generation. His column will appear each Monday on ClubSG. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts and opinions of Matt in the comments. Don't hold back- because Matt won't.

With the beautiful spring season comes one of the ugliest acts in golf. Aerification! There is no worse feeling that walking up to the first green and seeing huge holes covered with top-dressing. Your entire round is pretty much ruined. What makes it even worse if that you may have paid full price at the pro shop. Some of my most frustrating moments in golf have come from this scenario, however, I have learned from those moments and I suggest that you do your best to avoid aerification frustration.

Over the course of a season, greens and the soil beneath the greens become very compacted with the constant mowing and rolling of the closely mowed grass.
First of all, I do want to answer why this act takes place, not once, but twice every year. Aerification is actually a very necessary process for maintaining healthy greens. Over the course of a season, greens and the soil beneath the greens become very compacted with the constant mowing and rolling of the closely mowed grass. Long story short, this compacting causes the soil to lose its ability to absorb the proper amount of water and air that is needed to stay thick with grass. If greens are not punched, the grass will slowly die and become patchy. Fungus and bare spots will replace the disappearing grass and slowly but surely, the greens will die.

In most cases, when superintendents choose to aerate their greens, they also backfill the holes with topdressing. The topdressing is a rich mix of fine topsoil, sand, and occasionally some seed. All this dirt and debris is not a result of the holes being punched, but it is applied to the greens intentionally after the fact in order to speed up the recovery process. Sometimes, however, courses will punch smaller holes and not choose to apply topdressing. This is usually done if the course is having problems with its greens in the middle of the season as the smaller holes cause much less of a disturbance to play and also heal much more quickly. Municipal courses and tracks that do not usually roll their greens or cut them very closely may also choose to fully aerate their greens only once in the spring and just use the smaller holes without topdressing in the fall.

Sometimes, a course will offer you a discounted rate to play during the week or so after the greens have been aerated, but, in my opinion, it’s not worth it.
Back to our point though, don’t let the process of aerification surprise you. Courses will begin this process in the next week or so, depending on the climate in your area, and you need to be ready. I recommend checking with your home course immediately about when they are scheduling to aerate. I stay away from the course for at least a week to two weeks after they have aerated. If you plan to play some other courses, be sure to ask them if they have aerated or plan to do so before your tee time. Courses will often do their best to keep aerification a secret because they know it costs them business, so be persistent if the shot attendant hesitates to give you the specifics about when they plan to punch the greens. Sometimes, a course will offer you a discounted rate to play during the week or so after the greens have been aerated, but, in my opinion, it’s not worth it. I’d rather pay full price somewhere else to play on good greens.

Spring is a great season and an excellent time to head out to the links, but there’s no way to get around the fact that it is also a time when courses are forced to temporarily ruin their greens. As long as you aren’t caught by surprise, you can use the opportunity to play some other courses in your area until your home course gets a chance to heal. It's a necessary evil that we have to live with if we want to enjoy fast and smooth greens for the rest of the season.

* Matt's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.

photo source

[ comments ]
kickntrue says:
I'm with you on this one. I'd much rather pay full price than play freshly punched greens. Don't take the discount! I haven't seen too many cases where a course is dishonest about it- but you definitely need to be aware of it happening.
davmurray says:
with our climate becoming ever wetter I think that using mini holes through the season will become a necessary evil.with modern equipment this can be done on a Monday and the greens are fine by the weekend.
tainter says:
we started our golf this year 2 weeks ago and all three courses I've played had aerated greens and fairways, To be honest it wasnt a huge problem, just happy to be out there beating balls.Michigan
HMTrey says:
Tainter I agree and I too am in Michigan yes mid to high 70's this week!!!!!!!!!!! What a great way to end March and start April!!
The Devil says:
We at our golf club in the UK are due to start the process this week. Its the very first time we have been notified of this in advance. Whilst its a pain in the backside, I understand its a neccesary evil. It has certainly helped smooth the complaints and moans, letting the members know in advance. I agree, there is nothing worse than getting to your course looking forward to a game, and finding big holes in the greens. AAHHHH!!! it helps when one of the greenstaff actually play golf.
MetalHeadGolf says:
My course notifies everyone- it's posted on the club calendar. Everyone gets a discount. Hard to go to a different course when they all do it around the same time. Heck, I've seen just as many cases where it helps a putt go in as it has to keep a putt out. Does take away a bit of fun, but as long as everyone is playing the same conditions, it's fine. Better than snow!
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