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Think of the golfers!

As a golfer I have come to hate aerated greens with a passion. It’s no fun to find your ball nestled in an aerator hole and wobble to the vicinity of the cup. My friends and I all hate it and become grumpier as the round progresses, and we part on barely speaking terms at the end of the day. Sometimes we walk, rather ride, off the course.

As a superintendent I loved to aerate. I knew from experience that the tired grass at the end of the summer would grow with renewed vigor after aeration. It seemed to jump out of the ground and sometimes required two cuts in a single day. But oh, how the golfers bitched and I did not care because I was the Lord and Master who knew what was best for my domain — never mind the golfers.

Now that the shoe is on the other foot, I feel compelled to advise my erstwhile colleagues how to reduce the pain. Following are some words of wisdom in no particular order.

— If you absolutely must aerate greens during the playing season, use smaller tines, preferably pencil tines. They least effect the roll of the ball.

— Fill the holes with sand or topdressing immediately after aerations. Water in and fill again. A light rolling often helps smooth the surface.

— Be prepared to syringe when aerating with temperatures higher than 80F.

— Never start aerating on either #1 or #18 green, in case something goes wrong. On the #1 hole, golfers get a first impression and on the 18th, a lasting one.

Never start aerating on either #1 or #18 green, in case something goes wrong. On the #1 hole, golfers get a first impression and on the 18th, a lasting one.

— Never aerate greens on a Friday and then head for the cottage.

— Be visible during the process on the first tee and on the course. Commiserate with your golfers and listen to their gripes. No lengthy technical explanations please.

— If you are aerating to reduce compaction, consider partially aerating greens in the cupping areas only. That can save a lot of time.

— Some superintendents at courses with large greens or fewer golfers, may not need to aerate at all and some don’t.

— If you must use large diameter tines, do so in the shoulder season, when fewer golfers are affected.

— Don’t wait too long, because the turf needs to recover before winter arrives.

Finally, no matter how you do it, aerating is like major surgery and as in modern medicine, we should look to do it laparoscopically. With fewer golfers taking up the game and many dropping out, you must do your part to keep the players happy so they’ll come back and play another day.

One Response to “Think of the golfers!”

  • Spot on Gordon, on its all about the golfer/customer. Golf has the most to learn in how to treat golfers as customers. Some do it well, most not so much for sure.
    If the game is to grow, it needs to evolve, and be less burdensome.