Golf Course Management

JUL 2019

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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54 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 07.19 AT THE TURN (aerification) Steven McDonald, M.S. On the clock Let's be honest — there are few perfect times for aerification. But with some tried-and- true tips and a healthy dose of experience, turfgrass managers can make sure they're making the right call about when to aerify their golf course. As an independent turfgrass consultant and researcher, I get hundreds, if not thousands, of agronomic questions each year. I could easily write a monthly column about some of the most perplexing questions I get while visiting golf courses. Most of those visits take place along the I-95 corridor — from Richmond, Va., north to Boston — but my work does allow me to venture out of this region as well. One of the most common questions I get no matter where I am working is about aerification timing. Whether you complete the same practice at the same time each year or switch up prac- tices (depths of impact, for example) and when those take place, everyone at some point makes some sort of hole or opening in greens, tees and, hopefully, fairways. „ere are sound agronomic reasons for making holes in seemingly healthy playing surfaces. Aerification is one of the most important practices used on fine turf areas that receive heavy machine and foot traffic. Among the many documented benefits of aerification, two of the most important are: • It enables root systems to grow deeper and more densely. • It can improve playability and firmness, as well as dilute thatch. Unfortunately, I am often invited to consult when even aerification can't save the day, when greens are on the verge of death and I have to make suggestions to nurse them back to health. Sometimes a call has to be made to close greens to play while they recover. Other times I feel like a coroner when asked to explain death of greens. „e presence of green grass in old aerification Aerification is one of the most important practices used on fine turf areas that receive heavy machine and foot traffic. Aerification of dormant greens in early spring when there is no leaf growth on trees can sometimes be a longer recovery versus waiting until the greens resume normal growth. It is entirely weather-dependent. Photos by Steven McDonald

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