Aeration is bad for putts, good for greens

August 31, 2003

It's that time of year when practically all golf courses undertake the rigorous job of protecting turf for the upcoming winter season with the aeration process.

For some, it's one of the two times yearly the process is completed.

If you've been on a course lately and wondered why there are holes in the greens and are not totally familiar with why they are there, understand for a few short days your putt might be a tad bumpy on the way to the hole, but in the long run it's for the betterment of the greens.

Greens are the main focus of aeration that is done to open up growing room and increase oxygen for the roots.

Over a short period of time, the aerated holes will begin to naturally fill in and, before you know it, the greens will be back to normal well before the winter season. Some courses will even go to the trouble of aerating fairways.


The entire aerification process is done because golfers have compacted the grass and dirt walking and driving on it.

The 18-hole story

There are many novel thoughts of how a round of golf became 18 holes.

One of the most common is that Old Tom Morris, in Scotland, took 18 holes to finish off a fifth of his favorite Scotch. Therefore, St. Andrews adopted a change from the 22-hole layout at the Old Course to the current 18.

However, replies from the United States Golf Association indicate otherwise with a more realistic understanding of the move to 18 holes.

In the first half of the 19th century, courses varied from eight to 25 holes, the largest in Montrose, Scotland.

St. Andrews purely and arbitrarily adopted 18 holes and the USGA indicates it was also by accident.

Originally, St. Andrews and its rival to the west, Royal Prestwick, each had 11 holes.

St. Andrews' holes were designed along the River Eden. Golfers would start at one of the holes at the River Eden and play 11 holes, and then turn around and play the same holes in reverse.

In 1764, the Royal and Ancient Club passed a resolution that converted four holes into two, going out and coming in. Thus, the "round" conversion went from 22 to 18.

So there's the official explanation, passed by resolution by the R&A, how a round of 18 holes came to how we know it today.

And, in case you wondered, the term "gawf" was the originating word for golf today.

Birdie notes

Congrats to Kevin Simmers, as he registered his first hole-in-one at the Waynesboro Country Club. Playing in a group including Pat Amatucci, Skip Fielden, Tim Kell, Bill Sellers and Terry Knode, Simmers aced the 175-yard No. 10 with a 7 iron.

n The Arthritis foundation is presenting the Linda Keller Delauter Memorial Golf Classic to be held Sept. 16 at Beaver Creek Golf Club. It will be a day of golf including prizes, dinner and a silent auction. Contact Michelle Grimm at 301-663-0303 for more information.

n The Mount St. Mary's baseball team will sponsor a four-man scramble golf tournament Sept. 26 at Quail Valley Golf Club in Littlestown, Pa., with a shotgun start at 12 noon. Proceeds for the outing - which for $100 includes green fee, dinner, prize and course beverages - benefit the Mount baseball team. For more information, contact Scott Thomson at 301-447-3806.

Tim Koelble is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His golf column appears every other Sunday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at

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