Greens Aeration at Sugarloaf Golf Club

Greens Aeration, and other Thoughs

By Patrick Knelly GCS Sugarloaf Golf Club

We find ourselves wrapping up one of the most challenging golf season’s in recent memory. As I sit in my office watching Tropical depression #16 drench the course, I was finally able to find some time to reflect upon the golf season and begin to plan for our annual fall greens aeration. The weather we faced this season was a complete shift from last season’s cool and wet trend. We dealt with extreme heat followed by extreme stretches of rainfall followed up again by more heat! I have never quite experienced anything like this season, but despite the trials the weather provided, we were able to maintain healthy turf on our greens all season.

As some of you may already know, greens aeration is a integral part of any well thought out greens maintenance program. Our number one focus at Sugarloaf Golf Club is to maintain quality putting surfaces for as much of the golf season as possible. Some of you may have noticed that for two seasons, we have NOT aerated greens in the Spring. This decision was made so we can avoid a 10-14 day disruption to play in the Spring of the year. I feel we can successfully avoid this aeration in the future, but I also must adjust our other practices accordingly to avoid the common problems associated with missed cultivation on greens.

First, you will notice some changes to the way we complete our fall aeration. This aeration is crucial to our greens management program, and will be taking place on October 11th. You may notice that this aeration is much later then most course’s in our area. We chose to move to a later day to avoid our busy tournament schedule, and also to leave the turf plenty of time to recover before winter. Last seasons we chose a date in November but the greens did not completely heal before winter, so we are adjusting our date this season. You may also notice that the “holes” we make will be larger. This is absolutely necessary due to the fact that we do not aerate in the spring we must remove more material in the fall to prevent excessive accumulation of thatch, and to reduce the compaction caused by foot and mower traffic from the golf season. The holes will be completely filled with sand to reduce the affect on ball roll, and to speed recovery.

Other changes of note all take place in season, and you may not have noticed any changes due to the way they are done. We have increased our light topdressing program to help dilute the thatch prodution of the turf, and we have also increased our spiking/venting efforts to reduce compaction and allow gas and water penetration into the greens. We strive to preform these practices without any disrution to play, and we feel we have been quite successful.

We understand that aeration is disruptive to your round, but remember that we are only aerating greens once per season! If we can get through the ten days of disruption then next year we can all enjoy another aeration free golf season at Sugarloaf Golf Club!

If you would like more information about the “how’s and why’s” of greens aerification, plese visit the following link: http://www.usga.org/turf/articles/video/aeration.asx