Photo Quiz: Strange shaped mark on green, off-colored areas

Can you identify the sources of these mysterious turf issues?


Problem A: Strange-shaped mark on green after snowfall

Image of a small pile of pale material next to a putting green collar.
Location: Bella Vista, Ark.
Turfgrass area: Putting greens
Turfgrass variety: Champion bermudagrass

Problem B: Set of three off-colored areas

A patch of brown turf on a practice putting green
Location: Winter Park, Fla.
Turfgrass area: Putting green
Turfgrass variety: Jonesdwarf bermudagrass

Scroll down for answers.












Image of a small pile of pale material next to a putting green collar.

Problem A: Strange-shaped mark on green after snowfall

The strangely shaped mark on this golf green appeared after a snowfall; however, it is not snow mold as you might have guessed. This golf course is located in Northwest Arkansas, and because it has Champion bermudagrass, the greens are double covered with a white, lighter-weight tarp on the bottom and a heavy black tarp on top when harsh winter conditions like snowfall are expected. The course usually receives a couple of small snow events each winter. The brown area is a snow angel, most likely created by neighborhood kids. Since the greens had been covered since late December, the grass wasn’t completely dormant. Cell walls were crushed, resulting in the damage. Because kids will be kids, the facility also had damage on the courses featuring bentgrass greens. The snow photo was taken on Jan. 16 of this year, and the damaged turf photo was taken after the covers were removed on Feb. 21. The course hopes using these photos will help explain why it covers greens and want to avoid traffic. 

Photos submitted by Kyle Soller, the GCSAA Class A superintendent on the Scotsdale Golf Course at the Bella Vista (Ark.) Property Owners Association. Keith A. Ihms, CGCS, a 43-year GCSAA member who served as association president in 2014, will retire this month as Bella Vista’s director of golf maintenance.

SeaDwarf paspalum putting green

Problem B: Set of three off-colored areas

This series of three off-colored areas is the result of using a pressurized air aerification machine. The superintendent at this 40-year-old course has USGA greens that were rebuilt 17 years ago. They used the machine to introduce pressurized air 12 inches deep into the root system a week before Christmas to help move water through the profile. He was instructed to water heavily after the process, but rain was in the forecast for that evening, so they only ran the irrigation cycle for about two minutes per head, which produced only about 0.04 inches. The rainfall was not as much as expected, so the aerification method caused a wicking of water from the areas where the probes went into the soil. This caused these areas to dry out, leaving behind these three lighter-colored circles on the surface of the green. No major harm was associated with the incident, and with normal maintenance, the patterns faded away in roughly five weeks.

Photos submitted by Bryce Gibson, CGCS, the GCSAA Class A superintendent at Interlachen Country Club in Winter Park, Fla., and a 22-year member of the association.

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.