Photo Quiz: Visible rhizomes, dark blue turf stain

Turf discoloration characterizes the two mysteries in this month's photo quiz.


GCM’s Photo Quiz is presented in partnership with STEC Equipment.

STEC Equipment

Problem A: Rectangular area of turf with rhizomes showing

strange brown marks on golf course
Location: Atlanta
Turfgrass area: Putting green
Turfgrass variety: MiniVerde bermudagrass

Problem B: Dark blue material on turf by lake

strange brown marks on golf course
Location: Indianapolis
Turfgrass area: Fairway
Turfgrass variety: Bentgrass

Scroll down for answers.












Close-up of green, muddy and dark with grass rhizomes visible above the ground

Problem A: Rectangular area of turf with rhizomes showing

Several years ago, this golf club experienced a consistently cold and wet winter followed by a warm, wet and overcast spring that brought on an uncontrolled growth of algae on some of the greens. A member of the crew had previously worked on baseball fields, where they used a pressure washer on the bermudagrass lip of the baseball fields to remove infield clay that typically builds up in these areas. He reasoned that it might work well to also remove the algae that was plaguing these greens. After the pressure washing, the turf had a lot of stolons exposed, so a heavy topdressing was applied to smooth out the putting surface. The crew also made sure the areas had adequate moisture and kept mowers off these areas as much as possible, as well as applying additional fertility at low foliar rates. Crew members repeated the process in some areas the following year and are now able to control algae issues by improving internal drainage and modifying their IPM program to target algae reduction through the winter months.

Photo submitted by Charles Aubry, the GCSAA Class A superintendent, and Ralph Kepple, CGCS, director of agronomy, at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. Aubry is a 16-year GCSAA member, while Kepple has been an association member for 40 years.

SeaDwarf paspalum putting green

Problem B: Dark blue material on turf by lake

The dark blue material on this fairway turf is powdered pond dye. The real story is how it got here. The superintendent applied a highly concentrated colorant to the lakes in the form of a water-soluble packet. As it turns out, water-soluble packets can become brittle in cooler weather. A student intern was tasked with tossing the packets into the lake from the shore. When she went to throw the packet into the lake, it somehow broke open in midair, and the wind blew the powdered colorant back on her and the fairway turf. When the superintendent saw her and realized how blue she was, he said it was better for her to go home and get cleaned up. The dye came out of the fairway after about 10 minutes of intense squeegeeing, but the showering process took two showers and a copious amount of scrubbing to remove the Smurf look. She was amazed at how well the dye also colors people and their hair.

Photo submitted by Kassidy Powell, a turfgrass science student at Penn State and a two-year GCSAA member, who was an intern at Brickyard Crossing Golf Course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when this incident took place. Jason Stewart, a 27-year GCSAA member, is the GCSAA Class A superintendent at Brickyard Crossing.

Editor’s note: Have a photo of an on-course anomaly? GCM would love to have a look! Email it to Photo Quiz author John Mascaro.

John Mascaro is the president of Turf-Tec International.