Aerification: A necessary procedure

Updated: November 1, 2021

Golfers might not like it, but aerification is an important part of golf courses keeping their grass healthy and green. It happens twice a year – once in the fall and once in the spring. The greens and fairways might be tough to play on when they are punched and sanded through aerification, but the process is vital.

Greens that have been aerated are known as punched greens because the aeration process involves using a machine that punches down into the putting surface and pulls up a small core of the earth, leaving behind a small hole about a quarter-inch to a half-inch across. The process helps circulate air down to the grass roots, keeping it full and healthy all season long. 

Greens that have just been punched will have hundreds of these small holes, typically spaced from one to two inches apart. Such greens are often referred to as “punched greens,” and while many golfers can and do play on punched greens, some golfers prefer to avoid the putting surface during the punching period.

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What’s the point of punching the greens? The short answer is that aerification enriches the soil and allows the grass to “breathe,” which makes for lusher, thicker putting greens that can be trimmed down perfectly to provide a smooth surface for short-range putts. Punching the green (also called “coring” the green) counters the tendency of the soil on putting greens to compact over time and circulates air down into the soil and to the grass roots, helping keep the turfgrass healthy. 

There are many different names used for punched greens, so if you are venturing to a new area and listening for announcements about the conditions of the course, you should look out for the phrases aerated greens, aerified greens, cored greens and plugged greens.