It's the last full week of August. Many golf courses are aerating their greens this week. Some have already completed this standard maintenance practice. And still others, like Forest Greens, will aerate their greens next week or even beyond Labor Day. But there is one thing you can count on - all courses will perform this critical activity.
I'm no agronomist but I can tell you that the scientific knowledge, experience and gut feel required to maintain the excellent putting surfaces that golfers demand is amazing. The pressure felt by superintendents to keep their greens alive in the summer is enormous. Think about it. There's environmental stress - heat, dryness, humidity, rain. There's mechanical stress - mowing, rolling, topdressing. There's disease pressure from Summer patch, anthracnose, dollar spot, brown patch and Pythium, to name a few. And this year, there has been an outbreak of annual bluegrass weevil on bentgrass putting greens. Trust me, this is just the tip of the iceberg of what keeps superintendents up at night. And possibly the worst thing that happens to putting greens in the summer is people play golf. All of the foot traffic on the greens in the summer causes soil compaction which effects root health and the ability of the turf to cope with/ and recover from all of the issues cited above.
But, the superintendent has a magic elixir. A cure all of sorts. A way to give the turf a fighting chance to survive all the stresses of the summer and start getting healthy again. That, of course, is core aeration. This is a cultural practice that ALL golf courses employ for a reason. So don't let some small holes and a little sand detract from your enjoyment of this great game. All courses will be aerating their greens and all will recover rather quickly given the ideal growing condition we are now enjoying. So embrace aeration as a small inconvenience that will help ensure great putting surfaces this fall. And, don't kid yourself by thinking the aeration holes caused your bad putting round (unless your name is Ben Crenshaw, that is).