Don't Let Aerification Ruin Your Round
By Snyper on 4/19/10
Matt Snyder is an opinionated* golf enthusiast from Pennsylvania. He coaches at the high school level, molding the minds and swings of our next generation. 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 oobgolf.

photo source

[ comments ]
coojofresh says:
i wonder what the deal is in florida? we don't really have a spring lol. it's just usually hot and rainy. although i wonder how the little winter thing we just had here effects everything.
birdieXris says:
aeration cost me at least 5 shots in the tournament Sunday before last. I can't stand it.
Kickntrue says:
@birdieXris- a tourney on aerated greens? That's brutal.
sepfeiff says:
I booked my group of four foursomes on short notice at a course the week after aeration. Man they were all really pissed off. :(
theredmission says:
shoot just about ever course ive played this year was already aerated, must be getting to things early with the 'early' spring.
jbird2011 says:
Im sorry, but suck it up people. Its part of golf and you havent experienced it then you dont play a lot of golf. I recently just joined a club and the greens are immaculate. What I noticed is that when they punch them, two things happen:

1) discounted rates so my poor friends can afford to play a quality course
2) I appreciate the greens more when they are in good shape.

Guess what people, its cold in the winter....greens get punched in spring and fall, and in the summer its hot. Gotta roll with the punches.
Swingem says:
@jbird2010: Amen Brother, Aeration happens. Most good courses will post their aeration schedule and offer a discount. If they don't, its easy enough to ask before making a tee time.
birdieXris says:
@jbird -- yea Aeration does happen, and it normally doesn't bug me, but as kickntrue said, it's brutal when it's a tournament. You don't want stuff like that affecting the outcome.

@kickntrue-- yea man it sucked. it was bad for everybody. putts were bouncing like crazy. the other guys in my group lost a few shots as well. It was like playing basketball. It was even a golf channel tour tournament. I thought they'd at least look for stuff like that and try to keep the tourneys to 3+ weeks away. To be fair though, it was "2 weeks after" the actual punching, but they didn't heal worth a crap. they probably shouldve been better than they were.
Bryan K says:
I think this is a great article.

Yeah, I know aerification has to happen. That doesn't mean I have to like it.
meatball413 says:
I've played on aerated greens twice in the last 2 weeks on 2 different golf courses. Neither course advised us that the greens were in such bad condition. A discounted price was non-existent. Worst of all, 2 of the greens were so bad that the entire green was gated off and the flag was stuck in a hole 20 yeards short of the green in the fairway. Having to putt on 2 inch grass is def a reason to give golfers the heads up about the course condition, but they didn't. We found out the hard way. This just tells you it is only about the almighty $$$ and golf itself is the last concern for some course owners. They know that if I was aware of the greens being aerated I would have played somewhere else...
Nethmonkey says:
Sometimes I enjoy seeing a nice grid pattern on the green while I'm putting, it's almost like a video game. not that it helps my putting...
Kurt the Knife says:
Our local clubs gave us a huge discount when we arrived.
The holes and backfill were nothing compred to the Black Poplar fluff and blossoms capreting the greens.
Incredible...6-7 lbs of loose impediments.
Bryan K says:
I've been thinking of carrying a little hand-broom in my golf bag to clean up those loose impediments that tend to hamper the Spring-time rounds. Is that allowed in the rules?
Banker85 says:
i dont mind the holes as much as the little terd looking pieces of dirt that are in the way. Last Fall i played a course that aerated half of the greens so the hole was cut on the non-aerated side i kept hitting it of course.... not even on the green most the time but when i did it was on the terd side. bolgna!
jeremyheslop says:
bjohn13, I think you can use anything to move loose impediments from the green:

Do you have to pick-up loose impediments or can you brush them away with your hand?
Loose impediments may be moved by any means, except that, in removing loose impediments on the line of putt, the player must not press anything down. Decision 23-1/1.
Bryan K says:
@jeremyheslop: Thanks for the info. It looks like my next golf purchase will be a little hand broom:)
wolverine2u says:
This is my first time on a forum here, although i have been an oober for over a year. I do enjoy reading these forums when i get a chance. I currently work at a golf course where we are yet to aereate the greens for the summer. Our greens are in remarkable shape for a public course. We have started spiking the greens which is close to aerification, although the holes are not nearly as deep and big and does not cause any changes in the way the green plays. I know that the aerification is coming soon for our course; but if other golf courses would use smaller aerification spikes more frequently, it would not be nearly as bad for the players and the condition of the greens.

Hacker Al says:
Wow good call on the date, I work at a country club & we're aeriating this Monday, so there's no play. Good collumn.
delgue says:
Why all the frettin'? Try 1 putt to make it, if it doesn't go in pick up your ball take 2 putts for your score and more on yo the next hole. No big deal. It has to be done.
BobKersey says:
My company is going to change aerification as we currently know it, greens playable right after aerification. Share this information with the courses you love to play. I also play and I can't stand it.
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