Fall Aerification Update

Weibring Golf Club @ Illinois State University 
Agronomic Update-Fall Aerification

Many golfers are aware that a golf course must aerify.  Here at Weibring GC, our fall aerification practices are set to begin Monday Oct. 16th.  Here are our plans for aerification, followed by a brief explanation of why we aerify.

The Plan: 

Greens- Back 9 on Monday, Front 9 on Tuesday.  Putting Green will not be aerified until on-course greens heal enough to roll smooth. Every green will be topdressed with sand before aerifing; aerified with a half-inch solid tine, followed by another topdressing, brushing, fertilizer, and water. Greens with excessive black layering and black algae accumulation at the low points will be core aerified in those trouble areas only. 

Fairways- 4 inch vertical slice offset at 1 degree, brushing, verticutting, and aggressive mowing. We will solid tine the fairways in the Spring, a practice we started this past spring and received better results. 

Tees- Aerified with a solid half-inch tine and aggressively brushed, verti-cut, and mowed.  

Our entire Practice facility will also be aerified following the on-course practices.

The Why: Remember that it is because we aerify that the playing surfaces are so good.  If we didn't aerify during the growing season you would be disappointed in the playing conditions for years to come.

All of our playing surfaces face a tremendous amount of traffic and stress. Consider this-a green and tee are the only place on the golf course where all players eventually congregate at and  step, walk, and dance/stomp in celebration  (or disgust). All of this foot traffic is concentrated within the same small square footage day after day. All other turf areas receive a tremendous amount of abuse from cart traffic and mower traffic.  All of this is important because the grass grows its roots into the soils that compact under all that traffic and roots are responsible for almost all exchanges of air, water, and nutrients for the plant. 

The roots use the pore space within soil to exchange air, release gases, and uptake water and nutrients.  Looking closer, soils are comprised of small open spaces called micro-pores and larger spaces called macro-pores.  Ideally there is a good ratio between of micro and macro-pores, but when soils become compacted, the number of micro-pores increase and  water bonds into more of the pore spaces creating a wet surface. When this happens the roots lose their ability to access air, eliminate toxic gases,  and uptake nutrients from the soil.    By aerifing we re-establish the ratio of micro to macro-pores and allow roots to thrive within the soil.  Good roots create good turf leaves.

In golf, turf leaves are the part of the plant we use to play golf. Without proper soil structure we lose quality leaves and thus quality playing surfaces.  

Please take a look at the video for a up-close and slow-motion look at aerification. Notice the heave action of the turf surface, an indication that the soil structure is being fractured and macro-pores created.  Send me an email or flag me down on the course and I will be happy to answer any questions.  Thanks for you patience and understanding while we prepare the course for another great year. 

-Travis Williams, Golf Course Supt.


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