Slow Recovery From Core Aeration And A Lot Of Divots

By Adam Moeller, agronomist, Northeast Region
May 10, 2012

(Left) Cool air, low soil temperatures and occasional frosts have limited turfgrass growth throughout the Northeast, causing slow recovery from core aeration. (Right) Heavy use of the practice range has resulted in a lot of divots at many facilities. The early usage of the practice range may compromise conditions as the season progresses.

Over the past few weeks of Turfgrass Advisory Service (TAS) visits two consistent themes have been heard at golf courses throughout the Northeast. The first issue is slow recovery from core aeration. Warm, dry weather in March and early April looked promising for rapid recovery from early season core aeration. Unfortunately, the second half of April and beginning of May brought more typical cool air and soil temperatures and several moderate frost events, causing turfgrass growth to slow dramatically. If the turfgrass is not actively growing, recovery from core aeration will be slow. Fertilizing the putting greens prior to or immediately after core aeration helps stimulate growth and recovery but if the soil temperatures remain cool, this cultural practice will not be as effective. Avoid over-fertilizing the putting greens to try to overcome the slow recovery because this will compromise turfgrass root production, carbohydrate (i.e., energy) storage, and eventually lead to excessive shoot growth. Want to avoid slow recovery from core aeration in the future? The answer is not to abandon core aeration because this is one of the most important practices to produce high quality putting surfaces! Instead, core aerate in the spring when air temperatures and turfgrass growth are more consistent, often mid-April through mid-May. Scheduling core aeration is often complicated and each golf course must balance the pros and cons of when is the best time for your facility. To read more about the relationship between aeration how to encourage rapid recovery read the article, Core Cultivation – Timing is Everything

The second issue commonly heard on TAS visits over the past few weeks is concerns with excessive divots on the practice range and par 3 teeing grounds. The early spring brought a lot of golfers out much earlier than normal, which was an unexpected revenue boost at many facilities. Unfortunately, heavy use of the practice range has brought on a lot of divots. This has also been the case on par 3 teeing grounds. As mentioned above, turfgrass growth has been slow and inconsistent in most parts of the Northeast so divot recovery has been poor. This means that the condition of these teeing grounds may deteriorate as the season progresses. On the practice range, this may require limiting use and increased overseeding and fertility inputs. When using practice range, taking the best possible divot pattern is also recommended. You might want to share the article, Practice Like A Pro, with the players at your course to solicit their help with this problem. 

Unfortunately, not even taking divots properly, increased fertility, and frequent tee rotation, can completely overcome the limitations of an undersized, and heavily used practice or par 3 tee. The same can be said with teeing grounds that are heavily shaded. Rebuilding and enlarging teeing grounds and removing trees to increase sunlight exposure should be a high priority for facilities with chronic problems with divots. Two Green Section articles that will be helpful in this regard are Building A New Practice Tee – Super Size It! and Guidelines For Building Great Tees

USGA agronomists can provide insightful and invaluable information involving all areas of golf course maintenance, which will help maximize turf health, playability, and efficiency. Contact Dave Oatis, Director; Adam Moeller, Agronomist; or Jim Skorulski, Senior Agronomist for a Turf Advisory Service visit this season.

Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.

Rolex image

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website,, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit

AmEx image

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit

AmEx image
American Express

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit

AmEx image