Aerifcation isn’t fun for anyone involved. I grew up playing the game so I genuinely understand aerifications short term effects on putting quality. No one dislikes disrupting a putting surface more than I do but I assure you all that it is a necessary evil and the benefits are felt long after recovery. I would bore you with the intricacies and the science behind the benefits of aerification so I won’t get too into the weeds. However, I do think you all deserve to have a better understanding of why I aerify. I will keep it simple, general and hopefully helpful.
The most widely and publicly accepted reasons for aerification are to remove thatch and relieve compaction. In general, this is true, and we do use aerification, to varying degrees, as a tool to accomplish these two things. However, compaction isn’t a super critical issue on greens constructed with sand as ours are. *Side note: I have no experience with push-up greens profiles so my thoughts here only pertain to sand profile greens*. Core aerification has its greatest impacts on compaction in heavier, finer textured soils commonly found in fairways and rough areas. And, as for thatch management, aerifications benefit isn’t so much the physical removal of the thatch layer as it is the creation of a healthier soil environment where thatch accumulation can be slowed and thatch breakdown can be accelerated. Don’t get me wrong, core aerification does in fact remove thatch but when you do the math the total volume of thatch removed in any one coring process is surprisingly low.
For me, and I try and only ever speak for myself, it essentially comes down to preventing anaerobic (non-oxygenated) condition’s by providing fresh, clean, un-obstructed sand channels that allow adequate gas exchange throughout the root zone. For me it’s really that simple, I aerify to promote gas exchange. There are certainly a number of secondary and tertiary reasons for aerification, but allowing the root zone to “breathe” is the reason I aerify. In fact, a majority of the secondary and tertiary benefits are simply direct and indirect effects of a healthy, oxygenated root zone.
So… although I know, in the short term, aerifcation isn’t an ideal situation I assure you it’s well worth it. I really appreciate your understanding and patience with the process.
Here is a photo of a plug from a green that does a wonderful job of showing the sand channels created during aerification. This particular plug still has visible sand channels from a number of years ago. This is exactly why I do what I do.
An Important Note: In this industry there are numerous thought’s, ideas, process’, principal’s, etc.… when it comes to managing a golf facility. Please remember that what I say here only pertains to me and my approach. I don’t ever want to speak on behalf of anyone but myself. I will never comment on another’s facility and nothing you read here should ever be perceived as a commentary on what someone else is or is not doing. My articles are not arguments for what is the right or wrong way to do something. They are simply an explanation of why I do what I do (and what I do is far from perfect).