Core Aeration 
2022-03-12-Nicoludis-Zach-Core_Aeration_copy- As the 2022 golf season approaches, many golfers are likely getting the itch to play the first round of the year. Similarly, golf course superintendents are getting the itch to perform some important agronomic practices. Most notably, cultural management practices like aeration. Here are a few points to keep in mind when you play a course where aeration has recently been performed.
  1. Cultural management practices like aeration need to be performed. This is like changing the oil in your car. Yes, a car will operate just fine for a period of time without changing the oil, but eventually serious issues will develop. The same is true if cultural management practices are not routinely completed.
  2. Organic matter in the form of leaves, stems, and roots are deposited by the turf as it goes through its normal growth processes throughout the year. Cultural management practices must be routinely performed as a result of the turf continuously shedding organic matter.
  3. Determining where organic matter levels should be maintained is a bit of a goldilocks paradox. Some organic matter is necessary to aid turf resiliency but too little organic matter can result in a weaker playing surface which translates into more receptive conditions. Conversely, too much organic matter will result in a spongelike layer forming where too much water is retained creating soft, bumpy conditions, not to mention increasing disease pressure and the likelihood of scalping. There is a sweet spot for organic matter levels at every golf course where turf health and playability are maximized.
  4. Since organic matter is constantly being deposited and there is an ideal range for where organic matter levels should be maintained, golf course superintendents often work with soil physical testing labs to measure organic matter levels. The data generated by these tests can then be used to tailor a cultural management program to address the specific needs of the course.
  5. The disruption to playing surfaces from cultural management practices is temporary. Mother Nature will play a significant role in how quickly playing surfaces recover. Above average temperatures this spring will promote more rapid recovery, while cooler temperatures prolong recovery. Patience is critical when conditions are not ideal and recovery is slowed.

The video Fore the Golfer, The Ins and Outs of Golf Course Aeration, offers more insight into this agronomic practice. For access to more multimedia like this as well as articles related to the agronomic side of the golf industry, please subscribe to the Green Section Record
If you would like to learn more about the USGA’s Course Consulting Services, please reach out to Zach Nicoludis at
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