Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Deep Tine Putting Green Aerification

"Why do you have to poke more holes in the greens right when they start to put well?" To say that any type of putting green aerification is detrimental to putting green quality is an understatement, however, this is a very near-sighted approach to viewing an entire putting green maintenance program. Golf course superintendents throughout the world utilize various forms of aerification to achieve a wide number of goals for their putting greens. Benefits of aerfication include, but are not limited to organic matter reduction, improved air and water infiltration, and compaction reduction. Without achieving a proper balance of the above mentioned components, putting greens will eventually fail. When developing a putting green maintenance program each golf course manager must develop a customized prescription to meet the needs of his or her golf course.
At NSCC, we will aerify the putting greens at least four times throughout the year. Fall core aerification is the most disruptive to play, requiring the greatest amount of time for turf recovery. Venting, or spiking, is almost imperceptibe immediately following and is utilized in the middle of hot and humid summers. The solid tine aerification which was completed on Monday helps to promote a healthy root system on the turfgrass plants as we prepare them to overcome summer stresses.

NSCC's greens are comprised of two layers. The top four inches of each putting green's soil profile is comprised of sand which has accumulated over the last twenty years of consistent sand topdressing. Unlike modern golf courses or courses with newly rebuilt greens, a soil layer which drains very poorly exists below the sand layer. In order to encourage a healthy root system, we must penetrate deep into this layer. Conventional core aerification does not allow us to aerify to this depth. On Monday, we used solid tines (3/8" diameter) that are ten inches long to penetrate into the underlying soil. Following tine insertion, the specialized aerifier kicks the tine backwards, fracturing the soil even more. The end result of the fracturing process is increased air space within the soil profile and compaction alleviation. This increase in air spaces allows for a healthier root system, even within the soil portion of the green profile. Without a healthy root system, the putting greens would not survive the inherent stresses that summer brings.

Following the solid tining, the putting greens were rolled, verticut in multiple directions, sand topdressed, swept, mowed, fertilized and watered. This time consuming processes will allow for quick recovery, making Monday's aerification unnoticeable in only a couple days. While putting green aerification is a short term inconvenience while playing, the long term benefits will pay off throughout the summer.

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