Why do greenkeepers punch holes in the greens?

Many golfers get frustrated when large holes appear on the greens just when they think they are getting to their best for the season – so why is it that greenkeepers have to regularly create these holes and what is their purpose?

Every greenkeeper’s objective is to develop a healthy turf and soil profile on their golf course(s) to provide the best possible playing surfaces wherever possible for members and visitors alike.


Inevitably, factors such as weather, constant golfing traffic or perhaps club budgetary restrictions may present greenkeepers with some major challenges in maintaining playing surfaces at their best.

Free Draining Playing Surfaces

It is desirable to maintain a free draining soil profile across all key areas of the course – greens, tees, fairway landing zones etc. to encourage movement of water from the playing surfaces when required and to create the correct soil environment for chosen grass species to flourish. All of which contribute to enhancing golfer’s playing experiences.

Key to achieving free draining playing surfaces is the management of available air spaces within the upper soil profile – compacted soils with little air space will not allow roots to develop and grow to suitable depths to sustain consistently healthy turf. Where the available air spaces fill with water roots, despite requiring this water, will stagnate and die back impacting on the turf quality.


Aeration programmes during the wetter, winter period have proved to increase infiltration rates on traditional greens from 10mm/hr up to approx. 60mm/hr and on sand based greens up to approx. 280mm/hr, underlining the significance of aeration operations at this time of year, assisting in the removal of water from the playing surfaces, maintaining firmer, drier surfaces for golfers at all times.

Aeration, therefore, is a critical course maintenance practice to mitigate against the potential impact of:

  • soil compaction
    • smearing/sealing of playing surfaces
  • thatch accumulation
    • restriction of root growth
    • flooding in times of heavy rain
    • forced course closures

Aeration can take many shapes or forms – solid tining, hollow coring, slitting and even pressurised injection of water. Requirements as to operation will be site-specific, however, adoption of a regular aeration programme will:

  • Alleviate soil compaction
  • Encourage strong, deep root development of the grasses
    • Increase permeability through the soil profile i.e. better drainage across all treated areas of the golf course
  • Increased resistance of grass species to drought periods
    • Create  the  right  environment to  encourage  establishment  of  the finer grasses providing firmer, smoother, truer putting surfaces

Aeration should be recognised as a year-round operation, with micro-tining and top dressing during the playing season often going un-noticed by golfers, yet providing substantial benefit to the health of the turf.

Aeration will also accommodate other regular course maintenance practices finishing off quality playing surfaces e.g. mowing, verticutting, rolling, turf ironing, and top dressing – all vital to providing members and visitors with the best possible playing surfaces to enjoy their game.

So next time the aeration holes appear please remember the greenkeepers are undertaking these aeration programmes to help create the best possible playing surfaces for members and visiting golfers whenever possible.

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Cathkin Braes Golf Club

Cathkin Road
G73 4SE
United Kingdom

+44 (0)141 634 6605

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