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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56 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 07.19 holes often provides useful clues in an other- wise dead green. ese holes show that there are significant benefits to aerification. Stressed out Despite its documented benefits, aerifica- tion, without question, can be stressful on turf when done under environmental pressures such as heat and shade or to turf that is in poor health to begin with. In most parts of the country, all of those factors need to be consid- ered during the most popular time for aerifica- tion, which is late summer and early fall. Making that aerification hole — whether through solid tining or by removing a plug of soil/thatch/turf — incurs the risk of heaving the turf, meaning the roots separate from the soil. is is especially problematic in late sum- mer, when root systems are weak. A heaved turf will take a few weeks to re-root and, in the meantime, will require more water, mak- ing the surface softer than it was before aeri- fication. Aerification is also stressful because of the sand commonly used to topdress the green and the cleanup that is required. Sand on greens in late summer can store a lot of heat, especially when it is sunny and temperatures are higher than 88 F. ink about walking barefoot on beach sand on an August day — Blowing and dragging high amounts of sand on the surface of the turf is needed to fill the holes, but when done during stressful weather or too aggres- sively, these practices can lead to abrasion and physical damage. the sand hurts your feet, so you wear sandals. However, on a putting green, the grass does not get a reprieve from the heat of the sand, which can cause severe heat stress to the turf. Additionally, the sand must be worked into the holes to achieve the best benefits of core aerification. Sand is abrasive, and extreme care needs to be taken not to abrade the turf. e impact on green speeds must also be considered. More nitrogen is typically applied following aerifcation to get the holes to fill in quicker, which can reduce green speeds for three to five weeks or longer. Applying addi- tional nitrogen to speed recovery might have an unintended negative impact, too. For ex- ample, the stimulated grass may require more frequent mowing and rolling to obtain tar- geted speeds, but mechanical damage may re- sult from that increase in maintenance, espe- cially if there is a significant amount of sand in the leaf canopy. Greens injured by late-summer aerifica- tion will likely remain in poor condition until late autumn. Lifting and other mechanical injuries may also result in slow recovery, and greens may remain weak until the following spring, sometimes until April or May. In my career, which has included more than 1,500 golf course visits, I estimate I have seen more than 80 occurrences of greens hurt by late- Aerification, without question, can be stressful on turf when done under environmental pressures such as heat and shade or to turf that is in poor health to begin with.

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