Throughout the month of June, our Maintenance staff will aerify one or two fairways a day completing the task by June 22nd. On Wednesday, June 24th and Thursday, June 25th they will aerify the greens. The front nine will be closed Wednesday, June 24th and the back nine available for nine holes twice (non-aerified greens). Thursday, June 25th we will aerify the back nine which means the front nine will be open for play twice (on aerified greens). Friday, June 26th all 18 holes will be open.
People always ask, “Why Punch the Greens”? Over time, bad things happen to areas of grass that are hosts to a tremendous amount of foot traffic and heavy mowers. The result is compaction — the earth is packed and packed until the root systems under the grass are struggling for elbowroom, which makes it harder to bring in oxygen and water. An aerification machine’s hollow spikes — some courses use three-inchers, others are as long as nine — punch holes in the turf and remove thousands of tubes of soil that are then discarded and dealt with later. Those open spaces are filled with sand and fertilizer which become avenues to healthier greens, for several reasons:
- They allow water and oxygen to get to the roots.
- They allow better penetration for fertilizer and pesticides.
- They promote better drainage.
Additionally, late spring punching speeds up the transition from wintertime rye to the bermuda grass which is coming out of its cold-weather dormant stage. The aerification process also thins out the buildup of thatch — more ominously known as “decaying organic matter”. The thatch issue might be the most underrated as this area of thatch is where fungus and insects live. You have to get rid of most of the thatch while trying to keep a thin layer throughout the season.
So, if you are thinking…uuuuhhhhhh, there’s no way am I playing on punched greens, keep in mind that Tom Watson shot a sizzling record 58 at his-then home course, Kansas City Country Club, just days after the greens had been aerified.