Why do golf courses aerate their greens? The answer is underneath your feet

toro golf course aerator

They might be hated by golfers, but aerators are a crucial element of golf course maintenance.

Courtesy Toro

If you’ve ever had a root canal, you understand your superintendent’s conflicted feelings about aerating greens.

“The misnomer is that we love doing it — we hate it just as much as golfers do,” says Chad Mark, director of grounds operations at Muirfield Village GC, in Dublin, Ohio. “It’s a lot of work and it creates a lot of unhappy customers. We don’t like it either, but it’s a necessary evil.”

The people who make the machines that get the job done know this too, which is how Toro’s ProCore 648 Aerator became the standard for Muirfield (and for supes across GOLF’s Top 100 Courses list). The ProCore streamlines the aerating process for maintenance workers and players, improving the course’s health while returning to form more efficiently. If aerated greens are the root canal of course management, the ProCore is Novocain. Here’s how it works.

(1) TINES

Tines act like teeth, grinding through the ground to create holes in the turf. Those pesky holes are critical to the overall aeration process because they help with soil compaction. When soil compacts, it restricts grass from receiving water and oxygen. The holes punched by the tines help, Mark says, because they “create space so the grass can breathe, absorbing more water and oxygen.”

(2) TINE HEADS

Tine heads are what connect the tines to the motor. After the machine has been started up, the tine heads rotate similarly to the pistons in a propulsion engine, cycling through as the tines strike the ground.

The Toro ProCore is one of the most popular aerators used in the industry.

illustration: beaudaniels.com

(3) ROTALINK SYSTEM

The RotaLink System is specific to Toro models and is what allows the tines to “walk” across the turf surface. Toro’s model moves significantly faster than other green aerators, which can only punch holes moving up and down.

(4) TIRES

The tires live inside the machine behind the tines, which allows a wider surface area for aerating (some 48 inches wide). This tire location allows the machine to operate without crushing the ground that’s already been churned up, improving efficiency and making cleanup a breeze.

(5) TRUECORE GROUND FOLLOWING

TrueCore, another piece of tech implemented by Toro, allows the machine to hug the ground as it passes over green contours. The outcome? Consistent hole depth, which keeps the green evenly aerated throughout.

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