newsletter: The Saturday Golfer
How to Putt on Aerated Greens

Last updated Nov 06, 2023

How to Putt on Aerated Greens

Aerated greens can be frustrating to golfers, but necessary for a healthy course. Here are my top 3 tips for putting on aerated greens.

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Why aeration?

Many of you are familiar with the process of aeration—when the golf course grounds crew intentionally punches small holes in the greens during the spring (and often fall).

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How could those evil groundskeepers do such a thing?!

As golfers, it's easy to get frustrated when this time of year comes around because making lots of putts on aerated greens is... Next to impossible.

But aeration is essential for maintaining a healthy golf course, which YOU will benefit from in the near future! Here's what those little holes in the ground do for you home course:

  • Soil Compaction Relief: Thanks to all of us golfers thumping our feet all over the greens on a daily basis, the soil becomes compacted. Aeration loosens things up and allows for better water filtration.
  • Enhanced Root Growth: Aeration encourages deeper root growth, leading to healthier grass that can better withstand stress, disease, and environmental factors.
  • Improved Air Exchange: By creating channels for air to reach the root zone, aeration ensures adequate oxygen supply, which is vital for root respiration and overall turf health.
  • Water Drainage: Aeration helps prevent water from pooling on the greens, reducing the risk of waterlogged and disease-prone turf.
  • Thatch Reduction: It helps break down and reduce thatch (organic matter buildup) on the surface, promoting a firmer and more consistent putting surface.
  • Better Nutrient Uptake: Aeration facilitates the movement of nutrients into the soil, promoting efficient nutrient uptake by the grass.

In other words, aeration is like working out—nobody really likes it, but we know we need it to stay healthy.

Tips for putting on aerated greens

I've played lots of golf on aerated greens—including high-pressure college golf tournaments! I have felt immense frustration watching those 10 foot birdie putts get knocked off-line at the last second when it matters most.

Through this frustration, I've learned a few secrets that I want to share today with you.

Tip 1: Line up your ball on short putts

Lining up your putts is a great way to regain some lost confidence on aerated greens.

We can't control how the greens roll, but we can control the stroke we make. Lining up your putts will help you focus on the part you can control.

Rather than focusing on the outcome (whether you made it), judge your putting by the number of great strokes you made that day. This will keep your confidence high and prevent you from letting outside factors ruin your entire round!

Tip 2: Defensive lag putts, aggressive short putts

When you're playing aerated greens, lag putting isn't the enemy. Instead, it's those 3-5 footers that will destroy your round.

Remember this—as the ball slows down, the aeration marks affect the roll more.

Because of this, our strategy needs to change. If I'm playing on perfectly smooth greens, I might get aggressive with my 10-15 foot putts and try to make them. On aerated greens, I'm still trying to make those putts, but focusing more on speed control than anything else.

On the flip side, if I'm standing over a 3-foot putt, I want to hit it hard to make sure it holds its line.

Here's my rule of thumb for aerated greens:

  • If it's less than 5', hit the back of the cup (faster speed, play less break)
  • If it's more than 5', trickle the ball just over the front edge (slower speed, play more break)

By doing this, you'll still give yourself a chance to make some, but won't have the pressure of knocking in a 3-footer on every hole!

Tip 3: Set your expectations

When putting on aerated greens, you will miss more putts than usual. It's just part of the game, and you have to accept it before teeing off.

Shift your mindset from "I should be making more putts" to "I'm making more putts than I thought I would!".

It's a small mindset shift, but a necessary one to fend off the inevitable frustration that comes with aerated greens.

Most golfers get frustrated by the aerated greens and let that frustration seep into their long game. Before they know it, the entire round is going poorly even though their swing felt fine on the first tee!

Don't be that golfer.

And with that, I'll see ya next week.

Hit 'em straight!

About the author: Zach Gollwitzer

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Hey, I‘m Zach, the founder of The DIY Golfer! I created this site while playing D1 collegiate golf with a simple mission—I wanted to learn the golf swing and get better at golf myself.

Fast forward a few years, and my “journal“, The DIY Golfer, has been viewed by millions of golfers worldwide looking to do the same with their games. my mission is to make golfers more consistent in just a few hours a week through advanced practice strategies and timeless, first-principle golf instruction.