No one likes bumpy greens, especially superintendents. After all, the last person who wants to disrupt the playability of putting surfaces is the one who works so hard to maintain them. But for many courses throughout the Mid-Atlantic, including Pound Ridge Golf Club, aerification is a necessary process to keep greens rolling smoother than Miguel Ángel Jiménez’s warm-up routine.
But what exactly does aerification do, and how does it benefit golfers’ experiences? To really understand the impact of “punching” greens, we talked with Pound Ridge Superintendent Will Heintz to clean up the stereotype surrounding golf’s “dirty” word.
(Call the pro shop at 914-764-5771 to learn more about our money back, aeration satisfaction guarantee).
Buffalo: Why do courses aerate?
Heintz: Aeration is needed when the soil beneath the putting surface becomes compacted making it hard for grass roots to breathe. “Punching” holes in the green allows some much-needed air into the soil.
How does soil compact? Consider this: the average golfer takes roughly 45 steps per green. Now multiply that by four players per group (180 steps), then multiply that by the number of groups playing per day, which for us is about 72 foursomes. That’s 12,960 steps per day per green. If we could play golf every day of the year, that would equal 4.7 million steps. Add to that all of the equipment used in maintaining the greens which can weigh over a half ton and that’s a lot of compression (a mower can add more than 180,000 pounds of compression per year). It’s a wonder that greens can even survive as long as they do.
Buffalo: Is there an optimal time of year to aerate and why?
Heintz: Ironically, the best time for aeration is when the grasses are at their strongest. Mid-August through early September are the best times to aerate for bentgrass, which is what we have here at Pound Ridge Golf Club. Thankfully, when grasses are strong is also when they can heal the fastest.
Buffalo: What happens if a course doesn’t aerate?
Heintz: If courses don’t aerate their greens, numerous things could happen and none of it is good. Worst case scenario: the greens could die. Just as scary, if aeration is not performed and the soil becomes too compacted, beneficial grasses like bentgrass and Bermuda are swallowed up by strains like Poa Annua which can tolerate lower oxygen levels in the soil. If that happens, your greens won’t be as smooth.
Buffalo: What type of aerification does Pound Ridge do and what are the benefits?
Heintz: Every course is different. Our team uses the smallest core (1/4” quad tine) to aerate our greens. With smaller tines there’s minimal to no disruption in play. After we aerate we remove the plugs by hand, roll, top dress, brush and water the greens allowing them to recover much faster while producing the best possible putting surface. We’re so confident in our aeration process and the result that if you aren’t happy with the greens we’ll give you a refund!
Buffalo: How are Pound Ridge’s greens compared to others after aerification?
Heintz: Pound Ridge Golf Club’s greens are sand based which allows us to do less invasive practices to aerate them. Older clubs with more soil-based greens have to do more to keep their greens healthy. So don’t let experiences at other clubs deter you from teeing it up at Pound Ridge after we aerate, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how playable our greens are.
Buffalo: What is the typical recovery time needed?
Heintz: Again, every course is different, and there are a lot of factors that go into play. But at Pound Ridge our typical recovery time is only five to 10 days.
Buffalo: Any advice for golfers playing on aerated greens?
Heintz: At Pound Ridge, the only difference between aerated greens and regular ones is look. When we use small tines (about the size of a golf tee) to aerate, there is almost no effect on how the ball rolls. So putt with confidence here; see it, roll it and hole it.
Buffalo: What is the most important thing golfers need to know about aerification?
Heintz: Look for golf courses that incorporate small tine aeration like we do here at Pound Ridge. Because we fill the holes with sand, you don’t have to wait for them to heal. You can play immediately after aerification with little-to-no change in playability. You won’t have to play connect the dots to sink that six footer for birdie.