Core Aeration, Why and Why Now?

Core Aerifying the 16th Green
   On August 25th and 26th the putting greens were core aerated. The tees were core aerated the following week. On September 18th the maintenance team will focus on core aerating the fairways.  The dilemma with core aeration of the golf course features is that from an agronomic perspective it is the best possible preventative maintenance that can be done to the turf and from a playing perspective it is one of the more disruptive maintenance practices. From all accounts, there was a general concensus that the greens putted great within a few days after this process. Many thanks to the membership and guests for understanding the importance of completing this core aeration at this time.


Topdressing with Sand Post Aerification
    The process of core aeration falls under the general term called "aeration" There are multiple types of aeration that involve the process of mechanically inserting a metal spike or tine into the turf. These terms include; core aeration, needletine aeration, deeptine aeration, solid tine aeration, slicing, and spiking. There are also multiple terms that are used to describe core aeration. Such terms are plugging, punching, or coring.
    The goal at Stowe Mountain Club is to remove organic matter (OM) that has built up just under the surface. Excessive OM will lead to poor growing conditions which in turn may lead to compromised playing conditions. OM left unchecked will lead to: slow water percolation
Notice light colored sand core in top 2 inches
into the soil profile which creates wet playing
conditions that persist over many days; shallow rooted turf that burns out very quickly leaving dead spots; thatchy or puffy turf that gets easily scalped from mowers leaving an unsightly appearance; soft turf that footprints easily leading to bumpy putting greens; and an increase in winterkill due to excessive moisture in the turf canopy leading to poor conditions for Spring golf.
    Included with core aeration, especially with putting greens, is the application of sand post aerification. This is done to dilute the OM with the porous sand.

Why Now?:

    Late August is the best time to aerate golf course turf in the Northeast due to good growing conditions. The daytime temperatures are still warm but not too hot and the night time temps are starting to cool. The good weather provides a quick recovery from the surface disruption. Pushing the aeration window later will reduce the recovery time leading to extended bumpy putting greens. Aerating during colder weather can lead to multiple other undesirable outcomes. The USGA Green Section published a great article on this issue of aeration timing. Click the link to read. Aeration Timing