Why do we perform aeration on the Greens?
Putting greens get more use than any other type of playing surface. The aeration process helps to alleviate the traffic-induced compaction. Controlling thatch and promoting healthy turf roots, also aids in the creation of a firm, smooth putting surface.
Thatch is a layer of decomposed plant material that builds upon the surface of the soil. If aeration and topdressing do not dilute the thatch on putting greens, it will act like a sponge, holding water near the surface. Excessive thatch softens the playing surface, causes inconsistencies in green speeds, and raises the risk of disease.
If you ever wondered why aeration is so common when putting greens are at their peak performance, it's because the grass is healthy and actively growing, aerating it reduces damage and allows for a quick return to optimal playing conditions. While aerating at other times is more convenient for the golf schedule, it prolongs recovery times, increases the risk of weed invasion, and may cause long-term damage.
At Abu Dhabi Golf Club we perform core aeration or hollow tining, which involves physically removing small soil cores from the turf (e.g., 0.5-inch diameter cores). Aeration holes allow excess moisture to evaporate and promote soil gas exchange, resulting in stronger root systems and turf that can withstand golfer traffic.
Following aeration, a heavy application of topdressing may appear to make putting greens less playable. Filling aeration holes with sand, on the other hand, aids in the creation of a smoother surface. Sand also creates channels for water and air movement, dilutes thatch, and speeds up the recovery time of putting greens after aeration.
Although aeration can cause temporary disruption, it is a highly beneficial program that keeps greens healthy and playing well.
Most golfers place a high value on playing conditions, and aeration is required to keep turf healthy and performing well. Aeration can be disruptive, but the long-term benefits far outweigh the short-term inconvenience. Keep in mind that aeration is done for the long-term health of the course the next time you play on newly aerated greens. The greens may not play their best right after some aeration treatments, but everyone is playing under the same conditions, and golfers can still enjoy the game and make plenty of putts.