Blog: Aeration Musings

On Tuesday and Wednesday of last week we completed the topdressing and aeration of the approaches. The aeration was timed wonderfully as Thursday and Friday saw us getting more and 1.5″ of rain. A couple photos below show the results.

Aerating at Northland, as at just about every golf course has become the scorn of golfers. However, aeration is a vital and necessary practice. Below are a sampling of the comments I have heard over the years regarding aeration with my response in italics below.

* What if we didn’t aerate?
o Without aeration the condition of the golf course would slowly but surely deteriorate. Eventually growing grass of any quality would become impossible.
* Why don’t you aerate when the weather is bad?
o Using only solid-tines we are now able to do some aeration in bad weather. On Thursday we were able to aerate three fairways despite the rain. If we had been coring this would not have been possible. However, when topdressing is involved we must have dry weather as we cannot work with wet topdressing.
* Why does the golf course always need to be under construction?
o Aeration is not construction, it is a necessary cultural practice performed by every golf course on the face of the earth. It must be performed on a regular basis. If you want to have a golf course then you must put up with aeration. Its that simple, there is no way for me to sugar coat it.

We have not completely ignored the comments of golfers. What we have done is to adjust our cultural and nutritional practices such that we are no longer coring the golf course. Coring is far more disruptive and requires a much longer healing time than solid-tining. Most of the aeration we do to the golf course leaves the playing surfaces immediately playable . In fact most of the aeration we perform is difficult to even detect, if you do not know it took place. In past years we cored the greens in the spring, cored them again in the fall, this resulted in two weeks of healing each time. This left about 1 month of the season with poor conditions on the putting surfaces. Not acceptable with our short season.

Its no doubt hard to keep up with all the changes in cultural practices over the past four seasons. Heck, even I have a tough time keeping up. Its a good thing I have it all on my calendar or I would not have a chance of remembering year to year. The bottom line is this. We have drastically altered our practice since 2007. We started out very aggressive and have slowly but surely made our aeration less and less disruptive. I would wager that Northland is one of the few courses in Minnesota who does not close for at least one day in the fall for aeration. From the middle of May until days before closing our greens will be uninterrupted by aeration and the aeration on other areas of the course has little to no affect on golf.

There has been an endgame in mind every since 2007. An endgame that would give the membership a better course for a larger numbers of days without very little increase in budget. This fall is the culmination of a long process but we are there now and the golf course is right there for everyone to enjoy.

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