Golf Column

The hole truth about aerification

By Paul Viau | Sep 12, 2013
Photo by: Paul Viau Recently, a man performs the aerification process on the golf course at the Maggie Valley Country Club.

Ah fall, when the weather cools off and golfers get hot under the collar — over aerification
It happens at least once a year at every golf course I know — just when the greens are rolling nice and true, the grounds crew comes in one day (or more) with heavy equipment and pokes holes in everyone’s dreams of a long birdie putt.
Well, I hate to tell you, but for most of the area’s golf courses, it’s that time again — time for aerification.
But before you moan and groan and start looking for tee times outside Haywood County, let me tell you that three of the area’s most popular golf courses have already aerified. So by the time you read this, their greens are well on their way to healing. More good news — one of the area’s great golf courses only aerifies in the spring.
That leaves only one Haywood County golf courses where (Dare I say the word again) aerification looms in the near future.
But before I disclose which courses are done with “the ‘A’ word” and which is planning on it soon, you need to know why all golf courses need to undergo this costly and temporarily destructive process.
Aerification — as the name implies, is the mechanical process of adding more air space to the soil to promote a healthier turf root system. It’s a necessary healing process for golf courses and athletic fields where the turf takes an incredible daily pounding.
At most golf courses, fairways and greens are mowed daily. In addition, the greens are frequently rolled after the mowing for a smoother putting surface. Finally, hundreds of golfers take to the greens, adding thousands of footsteps daily.
I think Kermit the Frog spoke out for all the frogs in the world — and all the putting surfaces at golf courses — when he sang, “It’s not easy being green.”
Over time, the traffic from golfers’ feet (as well as mowing equipment) tends to compact the soil under the putting green — particularly when the soil contains a lot of clay. 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 become weaker and will eventually wither and die.
That’s where aerification comes to the rescue — relieving soil compaction, helping to control thatch, and making oxygen more available to promote a deeper rooting system.
Deeper rooting is critical, especially when grass is constantly mowed to a height of a mere 3/16-inch.
Turf grass thrives after aerification, both because of the improved growing conditions and the addition of topdressing, which usually includes fertilizer.
As a matter fact, just a few days after aerification greens are usually puttable without any bouncing or erratic roll.
So, there you have it. Now that you understand the importance of aerification, you should be happy to know that as of this writing, (1) Lake Junaluska Golf Course, Maggie Valley Club and Resort, and Laurel Ridge Country Club have all completed fall aerification; (2) Springdale Country Club only aerifies in the spring; and (3) Waynesville Inn, Golf Resort & Spa is not scheduled to aerify until Oc.  15-17.
Wherever you golf in Haywood County, you should be “on a roll.” Happy golfing.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Char Avrunin | Sep 14, 2013 11:08

Another good one, Paul!  Thanks!

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